Concept Mini LP - general-purpose case for low profile cards

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Shrink Ray Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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I bought a refurbished MSI 750 Ti LP from Amazon yesterday for $99. Hopefully it should arrive sometime later this week!

Also, more design tweaks! This time I think I made a substantial improvement for PCIe card compatibility by switching the position of the card and power outlet. I figured out there won't be interference with the motherboard I/O as I once thought, all while not needing to increase the height of the case. This means no need for custom brackets!



Two holes are added for screws that will keep the tapered end of the bracket in place. Here's a side view showing the new location of the power input more clearly.



On the other side of the case, you can see that the mounting holes for the HD-PLEX 160W PSU are lined up with one of the bars for the mobo tray support.



I've started work on the mobo tray as we speak, but using only hand tools and require extra care to get the measurements right.
 
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jeshikat

Jessica. Wayward SFF.n Founder
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Feb 22, 2015
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Are you going to cut the retention tab off the video card or do you have something in mind for it?
 

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Shrink Ray Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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Are you going to cut the retention tab off the video card or do you have something in mind for it?

The retention tab isn't going to be cut, but I haven't yet modeled a support tab on the case. It will probably be bent outward from the PCIe expansion cutout, similar to the Diesel Engine case.
 

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Shrink Ray Wielder
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Well, got the motherboard tray almost done, except for the four standoff holes. I did this all with hand tools at home, just using a drill and a file. I don't have access to a saw at the moment, and my rotary tool died, so I have to improvise for now. I cut the metal beams by drilling holes through them, snapping them in two when they were weakened enough, and did a lot of filing to put all the parts lined up and straight.


I would've had this part done days ago, but I didn't have much time to work on the case.





I don't mind the scuff marks and scratches because it's going to be mostly hidden when the case is done, but I might buff it up a bit.
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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https://world.taobao.com/item/52039...&spm=a312a.7700824.w4004-11464131546.2.6TdoWW

#DesignGoals

Found the new inspiration to my case that most closely matches my vision. Not for its internal layout, but overall frame structure and quality of the build. This means I'll use thicker panels for some of the sides, in order to join the front and back.

I don't have access to a CNC, but I could cut just the right amount of vents for the CPU and GPU intake on two sides. Just need to do careful cuts and a lot of patience to sand them smooth.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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So... I'm posting just to say the exterior design has been redone, again, for practical reasons.

Two days ago, a light bulb lit up in my head when looking through some of those machined aluminum cases, and I figured out a chassis design that is easy to assemble with hand tools, machining optional, while also striking a balance with a sturdy feel and clean minimal looks.

It may also be expanded in the future for a Steam Machine style case for full-sized GPUs.
 
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cleveland

Master of Cramming
Sep 8, 2016
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I bought a refurbished MSI 750 Ti LP from Amazon yesterday for $99. Hopefully it should arrive sometime later this week!

Also, more design tweaks! This time I think I made a substantial improvement for PCIe card compatibility by switching the position of the card and power outlet. I figured out there won't be interference with the motherboard I/O as I once thought, all while not needing to increase the height of the case. This means no need for custom brackets!



Two holes are added for screws that will keep the tapered end of the bracket in place. Here's a side view showing the new location of the power input more clearly.



On the other side of the case, you can see that the mounting holes for the HD-PLEX 160W PSU are lined up with one of the bars for the mobo tray support.



I've started work on the mobo tray as we speak, but using only hand tools and require extra care to get the measurements right.

Looks freacking awesome, man!
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Nov 1, 2015
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Looks freacking awesome, man!

Thanks! I'm no longer using that exact design, but it's going to be similar and easier to build.

On that note, I didn't go with a local metal supplier as originally planned, but found a place that offers some cheap shipping, I noticed for USPS as long as the parts don't exceed 12" in length.

So earlier this week, I bought three pieces to make the front, top, and bottom sides of the case.



My parts shipped and arrived yesterday. More pics to come soon!
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
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Back with another update. I sanded the mobo tray with a 220 grit sandpaper to give it a brushed look.





Ended up scratching it again, though, as I had some issues with installing some of the standoffs.

The standoffs and screws I used were bought from Newegg, they're all painted black.



Which look nice with the motherboard, but the tolerances didn't account for the coats of paint. The black paint makes the screws tougher to insert, and the standoffs harder to thread. So when I had to use extra force to screw in the motherboard, they grip the standoffs too tightly. If I unscrew the screws the standoffs come loose as well!

Guess it's off to using boring brass ones later. Anyways, I have the mobo in place with two of the standoffs inserted. I used a scrap piece of acrylic temporarily as a shim to prop the other side up.



From the top side of the mobo, the fit is very tight.



There's a problem with this. I placed the standoffs too close to the edge. The cutout for the I/O shield would overlap a millimeter or two past the edge. So I have to increase the distance to the edge with hex nuts or some kind of spacer so that the top piece won't run into the I/O cutout. Probably some 5mm (about .2 inch) of distance would do.
 

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Shrink Ray Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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If it's a whole 5mm, can't you just re-drill the holes for the standoffs?

I could try that, but the bottom 25mm of the case is already reserved for the power outlet. With 275mm from end to end, parts are already very tight, but maybe I can still make it work and drill some more holes tomorrow.

If it doesn't work, no harm done, I'd just move the standoffs back and leave the other holes unused, and go with the other plan of extending the case by 5mm.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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This is looking better every update, keep it up !

Today's your lucky day, because here comes another update!

From @iFreilicht's suggestion, I moved the standoffs down some 5mm to new locations.



Then I started working on the bottom panel for the case. One 2.5" x 8.5" aluminum bar, 1/8" in thickness. I drilled in 4 holes to join the side panels and mobo tray. The holes are for #8 screws.



Bottom panel with the side profile joined.



And attached to the whole tray assembly, with motherboard.



The whole assembly is now able to stand up. It's actually quite stable!



Now time for some more pretty pics! Here's the motherboard with the current case assembly.




With GPU installed. Yes, I'm still using the R7 240 but I just have added the MSI low profile bracket so it fits well inside.



This pic came out more blurry but oh well :p





Resting back view. You can see from the closeup the space I left beneath the tray for the side panel that's yet to be installed.




The next thing for me to do is to attach the top side panel, which will be cut exactly like the bottom panel. Then I could create the small L-profiles to attach one of the important pieces, the front of the case.
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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So as you may be able to tell, this case has been put on the backburner for a while because I'm busy working on the Slim Machine. However, my interest in this project has come back now that low profile 1050 Ti's are out in full force. I am planning on getting back to this with a new design. Something that will truly rival the game consoles in size.
 
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Ceros_X

King of Cable Management
Mar 8, 2016
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Although the moment is past now, if you have issues keeping motherboard standoffs from rotating out, you might try some loctite (red or blue depending on how permanent you want them to be) for the tray > standoff threads.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
Nov 1, 2015
2,211
2,511
Although the moment is past now, if you have issues keeping motherboard standoffs from rotating out, you might try some loctite (red or blue depending on how permanent you want them to be) for the tray > standoff threads.

I'll keep it in mind if I have problems with the standoffs rotating out again. I will likely not use painted standoffs again, just bare aluminum or brass, or nickel plated if the plating is added thin.

With the new case design, the motherboard "base" is really flipped upside down as well when the case is assembled, like the !nverse case, so the entire mobo will sit upside down. With a base thickness of ~5mm, it should hopefully be thick enough to drill in blind holes that go 2/3 of the way in and still secure standoffs well.

----

I have already planned a possible build around this case. I want to do something with a sub $500 budget, and the embedded Intel Braswell and Apollo Lake platforms have piqued my interest.

I'm following the footsteps of this build on [H] that uses an ASRock board with embedded CPU, plus dedicated GPU for some light gaming, and performs rather well for the specs.
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Ray Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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More developments in project "make a cool 3L case that supports an internal PSU". Slowly but surely...

I've zeroed in on a design that can be constructed more easily. Figured that using milled aluminum is too much of a hassle, and cases like the S4 Mini are great at showing what can be done with just a few sheets of metal and some straightforward bends.

So here it is (some of it):



The outer shell will more or less will look like this. Two 'J' shaped wraparound pieces that are identical, providing ventilation for motherboard, PSU and GPU. Front and back would be made with two smaller sheets of similar thickness, with flanges to secure in place and add rigidity.

I've calculated the minimum required length for the case to be 11.25 inches or 286mm. But I'm going to extend it to 11.5 inches (291mm) for ease of user experience installing parts.



The AC-DC PSU will go in the empty area between the GPU and motherboard. I needed a riser extender to manage getting the flexible riser to reach the distance required.

A mockup arrangement of parts with 'U' shaped wraparound