Prototype MT5: 5.4L Expandable case for mini GPUs

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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Here is the case fully assembled, minus the acrylic panels.





Special thanks to @yawacool for providing me with samples of their LI-Heat riser cables! This case is designed to work with the 25cm straight cable shown here.

After alterations to the motherboard tray, the parts fit right in and GPU mounting dimensions are accurate. The tray is warped because I have used the build in a horizontal position for two nights. But the case is designed to be used in a vertical standing position as you see here.

For reference, he's what it looks like in a horizontal position (with the body partly disassembled).



This is just for demonstration purposes, as tray is not quite suitable for prolonged use in this position. I'll try to improve the design so it's subject to less warping. The outer pieces, though, are pretty solid and hold up well. I didn't notice any permanent bending with those.
 

jujudk

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Oct 1, 2017
102
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Is this a 1u cooler or something ? It's super small !!

The case in white is just perfect <3
As for the patreon, it depend how you want to start, you may want to sell the case or "just" the 3d files ....
 
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smitty2k1

King of Cable Management
Dec 3, 2016
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This is just for demonstration purposes, as tray is not quite suitable for prolonged use in this position. I'll try to improve the design so it's subject to less warping. The outer pieces, though, are pretty solid and hold up well. I didn't notice any permanent bending with those.

What do you believe is causing the warping? Assembly tolerances? Weight of components? Heat generated?
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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Is this a 1u cooler or something ? It's super small !!

The case in white is just perfect <3
As for the patreon, it depend how you want to start, you may want to sell the case or "just" the 3d files ....

The cooler is Zalman CNSP2X which is a very short low profile cooler, so at 27mm I guess it can count as 1U :D

I might sell the STL files for cheaper than the case, that's if I get around to using a site like Patreon or Thingiverse. Don't know yet... I like the idea of having my own storefront :D

Amazing work CC Ricers!

Thanks! Nice to see you've found my project.

What do you believe is causing the warping? Assembly tolerances? Weight of components? Heat generated?

It may be a small chance of assembly tolerances being a problem, but more often than not it is the weight. The motherboard with all the components installed caused the tray to sag in the middle areas. 3mm of material for the tray is flimsier than I thought, but in a vertical position it shouldn't be a problem. The PCIe riser still lines up but it's just the middle of the edges that are warped so badly.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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Here are some pictures of the case with a complete build. I'll try to take some better pictures later, especially when the side panels are complete.




Some notes about the case:
  • Graphics card I/O openings need to be widened a little bit more to make room for some cable connectors. My HDMI plug was bumping into the side and had to tilt my card in order to fit it all the way in.
  • Four interlocking pairs of connectors along the inside front of the case keep both pieces aligned. It's still a little bit off in the bottom so I'll be adding another connector here.
  • Vent pattern in the bottom is not quite final. The center opening will be bigger but there will still be a series of long, narrow openings in which to mount 80mm fans or a 2.5" SSD below.
  • 80mm x15mm slim fans fit tighter than expected. Don't think the blades will move easily here. I'll either raise the motherboard up by 2mm or limit fan use to 80mm x 10mm.
  • There's also room in the front of the case by the motherboard side to mount a 2.5" hard drive here, even with a large plug-in power board like the HD-PLEX or Dynamo 160. But it cannot be used together with cards longer than 180mm.
  • light may shine through the front side of the case with some LEDs inside. In my particular case, it was the blue LED from the Dynamo 160 that shone through. But a SSD mounted in the front is sufficient enough to block the light.
 
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smitty2k1

King of Cable Management
Dec 3, 2016
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I've already got two pairs of "good" 80x15mm fans (coolermaster 3 pin and noiseblocker 4 pin) and I'm not sure 10mm fans would be worth a damn as the 15mm ones already are quite loud for the amount of air they move.
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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I've already got two pairs of "good" 80x15mm fans (coolermaster 3 pin and noiseblocker 4 pin) and I'm not sure 10mm fans would be worth a damn as the 15mm ones already are quite loud for the amount of air they move.

Yeah, I don't know of many 10mm thick fans other than Akasa's and Velkase's fans. I have one of the Noiseblocker 80x15mm but still very new as I haven't used them before. It's still waiting on a build.

Delicious Project, man. Congrats on the print quality. Awesome

Thanks! I don't have my own 3D printer but made sure that the supplier that does did a good job on it.

Next I will have to get the clear plastic side panels made to complete the case.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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Good news @smitty2k1, I'm able to raise the motherboard by some 5mm so 80x15mm fans fit with room to spare. However I'd have to make a complete new case to test that, and right now production budget is tight mostly allocating it for the acrylic panels and some cabling odds and ends. So stay tuned for that, I want to get this first case complete and show ready :D
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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One week update!

I've been using the case as it is in the complete build with no major problems. The GPU side chamber is noticeably hotter than the motherboard side as expected, usually get up to 60 degrees C just doing light 3D work and video playback but my RX 570 is semi-passive so the fans don't always spin up.

The hole for the power switch was a bit too small for it to slide without force, so I filed it until I could push it in. This hole will be enlarged for the next design update.

The front of the case has bowed forward slightly by about 1-2mm but hasn't gone past that. The top and bottom walls are slightly squeezed in as a result. This is probably due to the GPU bearing more weight towards the front but its position on the riser cable is still very straight. A thicker wall on the front would probably reduce the bowing, but at the expense of taking away some room for cards.

Adding in the side acrylic panels should help with the rigidity of the case since acrylic doesn't bend as much. I've gotten price quotes for laser cutting the panels and just one set is too much for me right now.

Also in the midst of designing the next parts, I forgot about having the proper wiring for the power switch, so I currently have to turn on the PC with a screwdriver :D

I have different vandal style power switches but all with bare wire ends, so I bought 100 metal pins that are used for the mobo jumper connectors. Those should last me a while.
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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The project seems to be semi-stalled because I currently don't have additional funding that I can put aside to complete the side panels. It's not a matter of just making less, since an order for 1 set is almost as expensive as ordering several (due to cost differences in scaling up).

So for the moment I may be in a chicken-and-egg situation. I can't make more cases unless I have several interested buyers, but I may not get more interested buyers without finishing the prototype in full.

At this point I don't know if I should go for a Kickstarter campaign or if that is more of a last resort thing since I haven't really marketed this case around. Just on this thread, and on a single post I made in Reddit.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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I have received a few private requests asking me if I could share or sell the model files for the case, so I want to state for clarity that I am not planning to sell or distribute these files for the time being.

Many other small case makers also usually don't release their project files for reasons of maintaining their support from selling the cases. At this point I want to stay in control of the production pipeline. For starters, I haven't even yet launched the MT4, so it's too early for me to consider releasing that property, even privately. Hopefully there are enough people out there that are still interested in buying a case when it's launched.
 

boingk

Caliper Novice
Feb 10, 2019
32
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Hi mate, cool build! Look into getting your own 3D printer if you are seriously interested in it. I have a modified Anet A8 which is fairly decent, especially for the price ($150USD).

If you need any smaller bits made let me know, I might be able to help out for the price of postage.
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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Hi mate, cool build! Look into getting your own 3D printer if you are seriously interested in it. I have a modified Anet A8 which is fairly decent, especially for the price ($150USD).

If you need any smaller bits made let me know, I might be able to help out for the price of postage.

Thanks for the support! Getting my own printer would really help with the cost and margins in the long run. Although money is really tight right now! The smallest piece here is the motherboard tray, which needs tweaking to improve the design. It needs to be less susceptible to warping all while keeping the profile from enlarging the width of the case.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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I think it's time to say this project is stalled for now. Work and budgeting problems keep me from making any further prototyping and physical development on it. Feels so close but also so far away. But I'm not killing this project.
 

Thehack

Spatial Philosopher
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Mar 6, 2016
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What about using acrylic for the mobo tray? You can also use sheet metal. 1.5mm no bends can be strong enough and be cheap if you make in quantities of 20+
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
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Nov 1, 2015
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What about using acrylic for the mobo tray? You can also use sheet metal. 1.5mm no bends can be strong enough and be cheap if you make in quantities of 20+
That's the thing, I will need a minimum order quantity to make this doable, and have the money from pre-sales to continue. However I don't know what's the best way I should conduct pre-sales. I don't have an online store.

On top of that, doesn't seem like too many people are interested because usually people would give opinions on how they'd like to build in the case or what parts they will use. Wondering how much of a market there is for a plastic case with this layout (most cases here are metal). So now I'm scratching my head. Marketing isn't my forte XD

But with the pre-orders, can I do that just with a Google sign-up form? Seems like a lot of case makers are doing just that, and collecting the emails to then bill for the payment.

Right now the MOQ I'm thinking is either 5 or 10, this would be enough to start seeing the first significant savings from cutting acrylic or aluminum. That helps keep the case at a reasonable price- I want to target $100 or less.
 

Tazpr

Master of Cramming
Aug 7, 2018
553
429
Looks great in the flesh, the gap in the bottom get me thinking about some cool pedestal options to add liquid cooling via QDC's haha - but it's a great design with a really classy aesthetic, coming together well!
 
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CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Original poster
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Nov 1, 2015
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Looks great in the flesh, the gap in the bottom get me thinking about some cool pedestal options to add liquid cooling via QDC's haha - but it's a great design with a really classy aesthetic, coming together well!
Thanks, and I haven't thought about using liquid cooling parts for the bottom gap. I was only thinking about using some AC power supplies. What do you mean by pedestal? Like, adding QDCs to connect a radiator to the bottom?