Prototype Mini ITX APU Case - Sub 3.0L - Billet Aluminium

One Works

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Man, if I could get my hands on the HDPlex gear I'd give it a go. Been waiting since May for the HDPlex 200w DC-ATX. Having said that, I like the square form factor, 200 x 200. Difficult to fit brickless into that size, but it's worth having a look into. I believe Meanwell is another option for the 200W AC-DC adapter, so I might take a look at that too.
 

One Works

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That one wouldn't fit within the 200mm square design at all unfortunately. There appears to be some smaller options from Meanwell. But they're open frame, which I'm not a fan of, terrified of getting zapped ?

Looks like I'd need to add 25mm to the height of the case to fit the HD Plex 200w AC/DC unit in. That will be good in some cases as it allows a higher CPU cooler as well. I'm working on the design now to allow me to make it out of a 200mm square extrusion. The plan is to have a common top and bottom panel as well as fan filter element, then 2 versions of the extrusion, 1 for an external power brick and one to house the HD Plex 200w unit internally. Also working on ideas for other cases which could utilise the 200mm extrusion to make it worthwhile getting a die cut.

This is the design for REV B of the external PSU version


 
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One Works

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Started machining the 2nd prototype over the weekend. This time I decided to be less wasteful and try keep the core of the billet. It was an interesting exercise in creating toolpaths and fixtures to do so, but at the end of the day, the extra time was not worth the value of material saved ?

Billet was rough machined closer to size using multiple facing operations. Much easier to remove material this way than side cutting.


Part way through OP1, outer walls finished and a heap of 10mm holes drilled through the billet. Again, drilling is a much more effective way of removing material than milling at that depth. Though, a thru spindle coolant carbide drill would have been a much better tool for the job than the standard HSS drill I used.


OP1 all done


Bottom of the part after OP1


Next I machined a solid top panel. This is used to support what will become a square hollow section in the vises while machining and prevent it from being crushed. It also has holes to allow me to attach the core of the billet to it so it's secure when I cut through and free it from the outer section.


Top panel in place and fixed to the core of the billet.


Everything ready to go for OP2. As there is no reference to pick up on here, the first step was to machine to rough height and take material off around the perimeter to allow the probe to touch off on the side walls machined in OP1.


After OP2.


Finally, the almost finished part, and the core of the billet saved for a future project. About 4.5kg of usable aluminium left. Which is somewhere around $60NZD worth of material. There is a witness line from where I machined from either side, largely present in the middle and not at the corners. The Material must have moved due to internal stress once it was parted off from the core. No stress for a prototype though.


I forgot to save this photo to my phone when I uploaded it to my instagram story. Saves me writing a caption for it.


This is the internal corner that was finished with the end mill above. Not too bad considering the length to diameter of the tool. Will clean up nicely with bead blasting.


All in all the whole thing would have been a lot easier if I had extrusion available at this point. Or access to a wire EDM machine. But I make do with the tools I have. Something I find myself saying often, and laughing about when I say it. I started my business with a CNC router I built in the garage at home. Now, the machine alone is worth somewhere in the region of $150k NZD and I still call it making do ?
 

RenG

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Man, I don't receive notifications from this project anymore. I thought it was dead. Glad I was wrong.

New top design looks great, still kinda like that cheese grater tho ?
 

Alloy Craft

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looking good. EDM would be pretty slow cutting these out anyway. For prototype purposes in aluminum I think milling is a better choice.
 

One Works

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Man, I don't receive notifications from this project anymore. I thought it was dead. Glad I was wrong.

New top design looks great, still kinda like that cheese grater tho ?

Yeah, didn't have much time to work on it for a while trying to get the business through all that's going on in the world at the moment. Very keen to get moving on it and hopefully have it as a revenue source going forward. Getting tired of making parts for other people and chasing them for payment.

At the end of the day the top panel is going to be a preference thing. Luckily since I'm milling rather than forming sheet metal or injection moulding, the tooling (fixture) cost to offer different designs isn't high (by comparison). I'll happily sell either option, possibly another couple of variations as well.

I'm learning no matter what I do you everyone will want something different, so if I can cover multiple preferences without overloading myself, then why not.


looking good. EDM would be pretty slow cutting these out anyway. For prototype purposes in aluminum I think milling is a better choice.

Cheers mate. Very true, only benefit really would have been that it could be left unattended and saved slightly more material. But like I said, I really should have just turned it to chips anyway haha.
 

One Works

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Now that the mad rush that is the lead up to the Christmas break is over. I've found a bit of time to get back onto this project. Unfortunately in terms of the how it's made photos, there's not a lot to show. A lot of what I've done is the same process as the first prototype, with a slightly tweaked design. So I didn't see the sense in going over the process again.

There are a couple of new elements for this design. The bottom panel, and power switch components so I'll include some photos of them being machined.

The bottom panel was first machined on one side to neaten up the stock surface as well as take an even amount of stock from both sides to reduce issues caused by internal stress. Though this plate stock is much nicer to work with than the extrusion I was previously working with. Here it is flipped over and roughed out.



And after the finishing operations.


Next up it was time to machine the power button and the switch hold down. These were both done as a single operation part with a t slot cutter to part them off leaving just a small 0.2mm tab that was cleaned up by hand afterwards. Potentially not how I'd make them if I were doing a larger qty. But for one off parts, a bit of hand finishing is much easier than setting up for a 2nd op.



Not entirely happy with the power button, it's difficult to say what exactly is going on, but it just doesn't quite have the feel I want. I have some springs coming to see if giving it a bit more resistance helps. Video below of the power button in action. Sorry for the vertical video, it was taken for an Instagram story.

After the power button I got onto the new top panel. The process for this was much the same as the previous, so no photos of this process. But I will include a video below (vertical again sorry) of it being removed from the fixture. It's a super satisfying part of the process to do.



Finally, some shots of the case as it is at the moment. This one has thrown me a bit, as I'm normally my own worst critic and see nothing but the flaws in everything I make. However, this, I actually quite like this. Next job is to get working on the filter that clips into the top panel. I'm struggling to find a mesh fine enough to make it, but will get straight onto it once I do.

 

Alloy Craft

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Nice, I am liking the top panel, doubles as a grill! warm up your coffee there, or if you overclock the cpu maybe even cook bacon on top.
 
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One Works

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Nice, I am liking the top panel, doubles as a grill! warm up your coffee there, or if you overclock the cpu maybe even cook bacon on top.

It does have a bit of a grill look about it doesn't it 😂 But if it makes people think of bacon as it has for you, surely that's a good thing?

damn! this looks fantastic!
Thanks for the kind words!
Damn, that’s the Mac mini that I want.
Thanks! That's what I'm going for. Though it's impossible to compete with apple on size with off the shelf components. I wish Thin Mini-ITX board were more readily available so I could make something based around one of those.
 

One Works

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For everyone that has been commenting that the power supply should be internal. This update is for you.

As mentioned earlier in the thread, rather than trying to please everyone with a single case design, I've designed a second version of the case. The height increases from 75mm to 100mm and allows a for a HDPlex 200w AC/DC power supply to be fitted internally, as well as a 2.5" SSD. It also allows for a taller cooler to be used. The stock AMD cooler should fit, along with something like the Noctua NH-L9x65, unfortunately the NH-L12S won't fit as it interferes with the AC/DC PSU. If I've worked everything out correctly, it should accommodate standard height DDR4 modules (no head spreader) as well as Corsair LPX modules. Other common modules with heat spreaders I looked at were quite a bit taller so I didn't think it was worth adding to the overall height to accommodate high end memory for an APU system.

This case uses the same top panel as the other. Bottom panel is a modified version to allow for the SSD mount. There's no reason I couldn't use the same bottom panel for both, it would just have an unnecessary riser and mounting holes when used with the lower, external power brick version. The same fixtures that would be made for the smaller version would be used for this, just with different programs for the bottom panel and body of the case.


 
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REVOCCASES

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REVOCCASES
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For everyone that has been commenting that the power supply should be internal. This update is for you.

As mentioned earlier in the thread, rather than trying to please everyone with a single case design, I've designed a second version of the case. The height increases from 75mm to 100mm and allows a for a HDPlex 200w AC/DC power supply to be fitted internally, as well as a 2.5" SSD. It also allows for a taller cooler to be used. The stock AMD cooler should fit, along with something like the Noctua NH-L9x65, unfortunately the NH-L12S won't fit as it interferes with the AC/DC PSU. If I've worked everything out correctly, it should accommodate standard height DDR4 modules (no head spreader) as well as Corsair LPX modules. Other common modules with heat spreaders I looked at were quite a bit taller so I didn't think it was worth adding to the overall height to accommodate high end memory for an APU system.

This case uses the same top panel as the other. Bottom panel is a modified version to allow for the SSD mount. There's no reason I couldn't use the same bottom panel for both, it would just have an unnecessary riser and mounting holes when used with the lower, external power brick version. The same fixtures that would be made for the smaller version would be used for this, just with different programs for the bottom panel and body of the case.



Nice and pretty space efficient design. 👍

Are you planning to add a few vent slots at the back or to the bottom maybe? The case being higher and having an additional heat source (the AC-DC unit) I think this might be useful in terms of better cooling performance.
 
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One Works

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One Works
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Nice and pretty space efficient design. 👍

Are you planning to add a few vent slots at the back or to the bottom maybe? The case being higher and having an additional heat source (the AC-DC unit) I think this might be useful in terms of better cooling performance.
I was actually looking at the back and thinking there's a good amount of space above the I/O to add some additional ventilation. Will add that in shortly. Thanks for the suggestion.
 

One Works

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Minor update.

One positive. I got the small springs to trial in the power button to see if it fixes the issues I have with the feel of it. Drilled some holes in the back for them to sit in. Not overly straight, in my defense, it is a tiny part to hold on to... and I'm too used to the machine doing the hard work for me 😅 But it was just a proof of concept anyway. And it has done that, much happier with the power button now.

The potential negative. I got the price for the extrusion die. Rough figures suggest I'd need to sell about 100 cases at $200 USD to make it worth while getting the die cut and machining up all the fixtures etc. Not sure if that is viable or not 🤔



 
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RenG

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Goodluck dude. Hope you get your numbers. I can only support you with one case ☹️
 

One Works

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Goodluck dude. Hope you get your numbers. I can only support you with one case ☹️
Cheers mate. Thinking I might do some sort of crowd funding at some point, never done that before though, so a bit at a loss as to how to do it all to give the best chance of success. I'm more about the designing and making, marketing is not where I shine 😅