Concept Introducing the carbon 1. World’s most configurable itx chassis.

Alloy Craft

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Modultra
Oct 25, 2019
152
634
As a engineer / machinist I have always wanted to design my own chassis, but until recently it seemed like I only had time work on other people’s products. However because of Covid, business has been down quite a bit. For better or worse this has given me the time to design the carbon 1 chassis. As it sits now nothing is set in stone, and community feedback is appreciated. This is an early design, if there is some interest in this chassis i will move forward with a prototype unit.



I have never been satisfied with traditional computer cases, it seems like they are all supposed to sit on the right side of the monitor with the IO coming out the back. This recipe is as old as the pc itself. Recently there have been newer style chassis that can allow for various io configurations but they still lack the flexibility that I believe should exist. I have taken a liking to the newer open frame style chassis and that is where this chassis inspiration comes from.



This chassis uses a one dimensional truss frame with round bars as the stringers and machined aluminum corners or nodes as the connectors. This feature allows for a ton of utility when it comes to chassis configuration. Because the base can mount to any of the stringers, the user can place the IO up, down, left or right. The base attachment method also allows the chassis to be tilted away from vertical for a unique look if the user desires, I call this the lean-back config. The stringers are not just for the mounting feet, this actually was an artifact of the original design intent. The main function of the stringers was originally to mount user accessories using mounting clamps. Because the stringer and clamps have a cylindrical mounting interface it is also possible to slide and rotate the clamps anywhere along or around the stringer. This means that the orientation of your components is only limited by physical interference's with other parts. If you mount a radiator on one of the stringers it should be able to rotate at least 180 degrees from perpendicular to the chassis motherboard. In the standard config the graphics card would plug directly into the motherboard. However it would also be possible to mount the graphics card on one of the stringers using a flex cable and mounting clamps. As with the other accessories the graphics card could be rotated to any angle the frame would allow around the stringer. Most likely the graphics card would only be officially supported to sit on either the left or right of the motherboard in order to keep the riser short as possible. However it may be possible to mount in other orientations with longer risers.



Dimensions:

SFF power supply kit with no accessories mounted = 152mm deep x 308mm x 378mm

Flex ATX power supply kit with no accessories mounted = 171mm deep x 308mm x 378mm

Volume = 18 liters * Calculated volume will depend on quite a few things. Taller graphics cards will increase total volume since it is the tallest component. Any lean back angle will increase calculated volume.

Motherboard:

Mini ITX, no restrictions on CPU coolers, excepting if glass kit was used, then 118mm high.





Power supply:

Support is either SFF or flex ATX. The flex ATX would take a different back shell kit but does clean up the front side quite a bit.



Graphics card:

2 slot with no limitations on length except when placing a radiator directly behind the card. Then 267mm to 311mm. Depending on which side of radiator the fans are attached. Rear mounted radiator could be rotated out of the way of longer cards.



Radiators:

4x 240mm in landscape. Radiator on IO side is only mountable @ 0 degrees to motherboard.

3x 240mm in portrait with IO down.

2x 360mm in either orientation. Radiator on IO side only mountable @ 0 degrees to motherboard.



Pump/ Res:

Sky is the limit on this. If it can fit on to one of the mounting clamps it can be mounted. Possible to mount one on motherboard tray if using flex ATX power supply kit.



Fans:

Not sure what people would want in the way of fans. In any configuration, fan brackets would double as radiator brackets and could be made for 2x 120mm or 3x 120mm fans. Possible to do 1x 120 brackets if demand warranted.

Cabling:

The chassis is designed to have most of the cabling done in a back shell compartment behind the motherboard tray. The back shell is larger than the motherboard tray by around ¼ inch on the left and right. This channel is where wiring could pass through. In addition there is a sheltered cable channel between the motherboard and power supply housing if using SFF power supply.



Hard drives:

2x 2.5 SSDs or HDD’s in back shell on removable bracket. Possible to mount one on motherboard tray front if using flex ATX power supply kit.

Front panel / power button:

This does not exist yet, hoping for some ideas from the community on this one.





Because of the open frame architecture used in its construction, this chassis can take the largest components and accessories and still feel small. This is because the actual volume is much lower than the calculated volume. Calculated volume is based on theoretical box surrounding the components, where in this chassis most of that space is unoccupied. Due to the multitude of configurations that could exist the calculated volume can vary quite a bit. In its base form with no accessories on the stringers it is around 18 liters, if you don’t count the mounting base it is around 16 liters.



Photos

Here are some photos of possible configurations of this chassis. This is just a small sample of what is possible with this design. Im sure the there are about 1000 more configurations that I haven't even thought of. If there is a configuration that you would like to see, let me know and I can post something up.


Chassis in portrait orientation.



Chassis in landscape orientation.






SFF chassis back shell



SFF chassis back shell removed.



Flex ATX chassis



Flex ATX back shell



Flex ATX back shell removed





 
Last edited:

Phuncz

Lord of the Boards
SFFn Staff
May 9, 2015
5,836
4,906
I like the concept very much !

Although I do recommend simplying some parts to reduce cost, like the base: make it a single, solid piece of aluminium with just the holes for mounting and maybe a beveled edge. But as an engineer you are probably aware of how expensive that base alone will be to manufacture unless you plan to stamp thousands of these.
If anything you can offer a baseline configuration with a simple base, 3D printed or off-the-shelf corners and offer the premium machined aluminium parts as an option.

Why ? Because every project starts off with a reasonable cost, but that cost balloons because of the low volume production and ends up being scrapped because only 10 people might consider a 400$ case project while a 1000 people might consider a 200$ case project.

For a few configurations, I'd also consider an optional larger base as watercooling with that many radiators at a relatively high center point might make it easily tip over. I'd do the calculations to make sure, especially given that cable tension needs to be considered in three of the four motherboard orientations.
 

Alloy Craft

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Modultra
Oct 25, 2019
152
634
HI Phunz, thanks for the reply. The pattern on the base plate is purely cosmetic and could be removed. I think I would shave around $5-$7 off the cost. The center of gravity on this chassis will be important in that any lean back configuration would have to reverse the base plate and the center of gravity would need be within 1 or 2 inhces from the base edge in order to maintain stability. Some configurations will have issues with stability, and that could be countered by a larger/ heavier base plate, or possibly a counter weight. If the chassis is heavy on one side you could add a resivour opposite the pivot point to help bring the balance back. However some configurations woudl be impossible without a very heavy base plate. For the external cabling there are zip tie locations on the back shell corners close to the pivot. Ideally all external cabling would route through a zip tie loop there in order to minimize cable torque on the chassis.
 
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neilhart

Cable-Tie Ninja
Apr 18, 2017
149
271
Alloy Craft I find your carbon 1 concept interesting and have several thoughts and questions.

The stringers for example; are they carbon fiber tubes or are they solid rods? What is the diameter of the stringer material?

User selected components mounted to the stringers with two clamping mounts points as shown in your renders would appear to be placing great stress on the stringers and the frame in total. Have you modeled these mounting clamps and the corner pieces?

Anyway it is good to see fresh approaches to case design and will follow your progress with interest.

Neil
 

Alloy Craft

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Modultra
Oct 25, 2019
152
634
Alloy Craft I find your carbon 1 concept interesting and have several thoughts and questions.

The stringers for example; are they carbon fiber tubes or are they solid rods? What is the diameter of the stringer material?

User selected components mounted to the stringers with two clamping mounts points as shown in your renders would appear to be placing great stress on the stringers and the frame in total. Have you modeled these mounting clamps and the corner pieces?

Anyway it is good to see fresh approaches to case design and will follow your progress with interest.

Neil


Hi Neilhart, thanks for the reply.

The stringers could be either carbon rod or aluminum tubing of 15mm out side diameter. I only used 15 mm because it is a standard size for film and photography equipment, so tubing and clamps on those sizes are readily available on the market.

The model for the clamps and corner pieces is done. They clamp on to the stringer in the same way as a brake lever does on a bicycle handle bar. Right now they are wrap clamps that would need to be slid on the stringer before the ends are attached. The clamps and end connectors would be machined from aluminum.

The carbon tube is very strong, I have also made some drone frames utilizing a similar layout and the strength is pretty amazing. I had hit a steel light post with my drone going about 60 miles an hour and did break one of the tubes. It didn't break completely, just cracked half way around the perimeter. So I think it should hold up ok for this static configuration? Also the tubing for this frame would be thicker than the stuff I used for my drone. If it is an issue though, the tubing size could increase. The thing that worries me the most for this frame is if the corner pieces can provide enough friction against the carbon tube to keep from slipping during the lean back configurations. I suppose a prototype would be in order to see if it can.
 
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neilhart

Cable-Tie Ninja
Apr 18, 2017
149
271
Okay! I was not aware that there was such an array of clamps and other bits for 15mm rod which was revealed by an Amazon search. And the prices are fairly reasonable.

The design of the corner pieces needs to be proved and modded if needed.

You have my attention.

neil
 

Alloy Craft

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
Modultra
Oct 25, 2019
152
634
Worked on the feet and base last week. Also cut the carbon fiber tube to size.

The legs start life on the lathe.



This is the second operation on one of the legs that connects to the base.



This is the base plate. Machined from 1/4 6061



Quick assembly to test fit.



Looking good, next is making the accessory clamps.