[STALLED] NFC S4M-C #524 - project šŸ¦RoadRunner (Battery Powered Portable PC)

Choidebu

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Aug 16, 2017
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[01-12-2019] New direction of the project: removable battery pack! Currently requesting comments and feedback.

[23-11-2019] v3 arrived! Pics of the pack, in the enclosure, in the case. Bottom balancing started.

[10-11-2019] v3 batt case sent out, all parts crammed in the S4M-C.

[07-11-2019] IT LIVES! pack built, wires soldered, everything assembled and test ran! Read up here.

[03-11-2019] proof of concept real soon! Cells tested, test fit done, v2 acryllic enclosure designed.

[25-09-2019] 2 years in, this build is evolving! Read my original plan here, my thoughts on battery powered PC here and technical details here.


-------====###ā™§ā—‡ā™”ā™¤ original post / build below ā™¤ā™”ā—‡ā™§###====-------

Hi all,

So I missed out on @Josh | NFC 's youtube sale last november but he was kind enough to let me buy what was supposed to be his personal one.

I have been planning this build since 4 months ago - my first desktop pc after maybe a decade with 1 laptop and 1 netbook. When I was looking for a case I stumbled on linus's video and went straight to hunt the elusive S4 MINI. I pretty much signed up to this forum because I wanted a MINI ^_^

While waiting I procured some parts which I was sure the price gonna go up - and I was right - my gpu and ram sticks. I was aiming for an nvme ssd too but wallet wasn't agreeing with me. I'm planning to reuse my netbook's ssd instead.

So here's the part list:
CPU
AMD - Ryzen 5 1600​
Cooler
Noctua - NH-L9a (with AM4 bracket)​
Motherboard
Asus - ROG STRIX B350-I​
Memory
Team - Vulcan 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3000​
GPU
Sapphire - Radeon RX 550 2GB​
PSU
@Kmpkt 's dynamo mini + HDPLEX 160W AC-DC unit​

The plan is to go brickless, as my setup shouldn't need more than 140W and hdplex 160w brick is small enough to fit in the S4M-C.

Of all parts above, I just need the motherboard which is coming next week. So exciting!!

The PSU came first..
When the case finally came, it's fitting time!


Reversed the end cap of the unit here, because I don't want the mounting tab to hang looking ugly.

On the other side, I bent the mounting tab 45 deg to make the whole unit fit flush with the notch in the case seen above. The screw cutout in the tab also served to route the input cable.

So does it fit with my gpu in?

Yes!!! With 3 mm to spare. The card needs to be installed first then the brick slides from the side. I plan to secure the brick with thermal sticky pads to the case wall. And maybe some foam between it and the gpu.

So I need an inlet now, and don't get me wrong - even S4M now have cutouts for C7/8 inlet, but I wanted a grounded one. C14 is too big, so I went to C5/6, also known as 'cloverleaf' plug.

Time to get the dremel out ^^b
Here's the plan:

So S4M-C's inner frame is 2 part and they're held together by 5 screw, 2 of which is in the way of my planned inlet.

Shaved too much, really..
Here's first part of the inner frame cut halfway:

And the outer part..

After that more trimming and sanding..

This is how it looks with the inlet and cable plugged:

Snug!
I still need to drill screw holes for it but I don't have 2 mm bit. Gonna have to wait for it - my local hardware store is more expensive than having it shipped from ShenZhen...

I sure hope my mod doesn't compromise the integrity of the frame, and the inlet holds.

Next update when I got the motherboard. I don't have any plan yet to paint the case atm, it's just silver bezel and black inner frame. As humble as it gets!

Thanks for reading so far!
 
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Choidebu

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Aug 16, 2017
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This is the latest state of this build:



(I've since used proper M6 bolts to mount the monitor arm, moved it to the left a bit and the monitor to the rightmost so it's more centered, which also made room for my internal USB3 SD card reader mod in the third skyslot from the right)

That's an 11.6" ex-netbook monitor, gutted and remounted to its original case, with display interface board mounted to its back like so:



The display board is connected via (20cm cable) hdmi, and it is powered by a custom 12V pcie to barrel jack connector I made, coming out from the dynamo mini through a skyslot beneath the arm mount. So it powers up and down with the pc.

The monitor arm is just a regular two joints 20x20 vesa mount, two arms ended up being too heavy and bulky that I removed one of them. Originally I planned on using the hinge assembly of the donor netbook, but couldn't quite figure out how to reliably secure them without scratching my case so...

This has been our daily driver (my wife uses it more, really) for over a year already. My only gripes with it are:
  • RX550 is only slightly better than 2400G. Could've dropped power requirement from 180W max to 120W max, 120W avg to 85W avg. Unfortunately...
  • Asus B350-i is great, but no display output meaning I'm stuck with dGPU.
  • I got an internal USB2 x2 connected to the header directly and two wireless dongles plugged to it, but a metal case means now my wireless keyboard and mouse cannot be operated reliably over 2 meter from the pc.
Things to do next, in order of priority:
  • Display interface board's enclosure is currently needlessly hits the arm making it cannot flush when folded.
  • Implement manual brightness control with rotary thumbwheel, maybe somewhere on the bottom of the display.
  • Open up my m.2 wifi card and try connecting the antenna input to use the ones built into the monitor case.... see and compare how it works.
Spec:
AMD Ryzen 5 1600
Noctua NH-L9a (with AM4 bracket)
Asus ROG STRIX B350-I
Team Vulcan 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3000
Sapphire Radeon RX 550 2GB
@Kmpkt 's Dynamo Mini + HDPLEX 160W AC-DC
Samsung 970 EVO 250GB
Samsung 850 EVO 120GB
Seagate HDD 2TB
 
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Choidebu

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Aug 16, 2017
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Bought my motherboard yesterday!


I was worried that the 24-pin looks too close to the ram slots in the pictures, but the dynamo mini fit nicely with 1 mm to spare.


The build was working perfectly on open bench but then it tripped my breaker in the case!!

This is the culprit:


One of the mains input cable to the hdplex I routed between the mounting tabs has melted. It was a bad idea - its enclosure (and the tabs) got hot and melt the insulation. I grounded the case - so mains meet ground, and *boom* you got a short!

Thankfully my parts were all fine, after I added some insulation and extra foam, everything is in working order!

Next, put windows in it and bench!
 

Choidebu

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Aug 16, 2017
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My pleasure josh!

So I haven't got the time to properly update and put some pics...

Just one taken with potato cam..

So prob around new year the drill bits came and I get to work, all fit perfectly, tight enough without a nut just relying on the threaded insert in the inlet. Now there's only power and hdmi cable going to it. Also I got myself a solder and some heatshrink tubing, and shortened the internal power cables going to acdc unit and to dcatx unit. Fixed that melted cable as well.

And this week I started benching.

With 3.2 Ghz cpu and 3000 Mhz ram, my Cinebench got 1149 cb (whatever that is).
Idle temp was 37Ā°C and stress temp (Prime95 blend) was 72Ā° C

Then I tried OCing via AMD Ryzen Master:
3.4 Ghz cpu and 2933 Mhz ram (the program wouldn't let me do 3066), 1158 cb (9 poonts improvement).
Idle was 45Ā°, stress was 85Ā°, had to stop prime95 after 10 mins.

Not that I mind stock, just want to explore how far NH-L9a puts me in the oc game.
Then I remembered that I did install the low noise adapter from noctua, and AFAIK it's just a resistor in series with the cable to reduce voltage in the fan, so I took it out and restart.

Man I didn't know how big a difference it will make!

At this point I forgo Ryzen Master entirely and go to BIOS directly. My first run was 2.2 Ghz (I thought I was doing 3.4, hex vs decimal problem) and it actually scored 1200 cb! Voltage was cool idle of 34Ā° and 70Ā° stressed.

So I was happy that I still have 10Ā° headroom, and upped the cpu to 3.5. The thing barely lasts 3 mins in prime95 reaching 85Ā° and I had to stop it. Last thing I dropped 0.05V from cpu voltage - put the cpu to 3.45, et voila, one hour prime95 later, still a steady 72-75.

Fan noise is audible at 2500 rpm but it doesn't bother me at all. Reckon I'll leave this as is now.

So, what next?

I want to install this

Somewhere discreet.

Per @rokabeka 's suggestion, and after some calculation from my part, I think (I think) I can fit it in one of the skyslots!

So what we need is a USB 3 header to USB female, angled 90Ā° top facing. That one is easy. Mounting solution, however...

Well, meh, zip ties and hot glue I guess?

Now, anyone think front audio out/mic is needed? I kinda always took them for granted - but apparently for this board, one of the front panel audio jack is needed to do 7:1 setup...

Is it worth to mod the back just to fit 2 audio jack? Or onboard 7:1 would still be shitty anyway that I'm better off with usb dac for that kind of stuff?
 
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Biowarejak

Maker of Awesome | User 1615
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Mar 6, 2017
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That cloverleaf is an awesome mod! Everything looks great so far :)
 

Choidebu

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Aug 16, 2017
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Thanks @Biowarejak ! Apparently some called it mickey mouse connector - idk why it's not being used more - the standard rated it up to 2.5A, so 550W for 220V, most PCs should have this instead of C14 imo.
 
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Choidebu

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So... I'm in a bit of a predicament



Kinda expected it, just not this close. So close... *sigh*

A bit more close up look...



Horizontally..



I really just need the plastic bit to fit, now the question is, which one do I shave?

Easier route would be to widen the skyslot - but even if done ever so slightly, my guess it'll be jarringly noticeable.

The right way probably to shave the reader, but I'm afraid I'll ruin it - plastic doesn't sand well...
 
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TheWhiteWolves

Caliper Novice
Jul 28, 2016
25
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So... I'm in a bit of a predicament



Kinda expected it, just not this close. So close... *sigh*

A bit more close up look...



Horizontally..



I really just need the plastic bit to fit, now the question is, which one do I shave?

Easier route would be to widen the skyslot - but even if done ever so slightly, my guess it'll be jarringly noticeable.

The right way probably to shave the reader, but I'm afraid I'll ruin it - plastic doesn't sand well...
I'd shave the reader, it would be less noticeable in the final product, just take extra care and do it a little bit at a time.
 

Choidebu

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Aug 16, 2017
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Finally got around to post an update:

Now I'm just waiting for the L male to female usb adapter to come through the mail.

Honestly I don't know how I'll secure all these: usb3 header to two usb3 female, then to L adapter, then this card reader.

It's not like I open the case every so often but wouldn't be nice if the reader pop off everytime I push a card in or out.

For usb3 header I bought this, thinking I'll desolder one of the usb port, and try to to cram the rest of it (one usb3 port and 2 audio jack) somewhere. The PCB looks simple enough that I can cut it to size.

Now how do I secure that too *head scratch*
 
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Choidebu

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Aug 16, 2017
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Hi all!

Just got myself a 2TB hdd, a small seagate expansion for 99 aud. What I'm really after is the inside though ^^

Since my current boot drive is a measly 120 gb samsung 850 evo, I really need extra space for stuff(tm).

So I planned to take it apart and install the drive in the mini! Why? Cause sometimes these portable drives sells for cheaper than naked drives, plus getting one from computer parts retailer here involved ordering and picking them up or have them delivered, which makes me nervous thinking how they handled mechanic drives like parcels. It's just easier to find electronic stores stocking these portable drives.

So as soon as I got time I started working on it - 15 min job, tops - but then I realised my stupidity:



See that acdc unit I proudly installed? It's blocking the mounting point for a second drive *facepalm*

My options are, drill 4 more holes in the drive bracket, or....

Stack two of em?

I felt kinda iffy dismantling this again to drill more holes in my precious, plus Idk how to do countersunk holes - so I tried the later option.



DIY drive bracket lol. Scavenged some hdplex parts (only managed two installed diagonally), drill some holes then I thought this was good to go, but then..



See that bend? Yeaaa that wasn't smart. I wanted some space between the drives but obviously 2mm was too much. Luckily after the outer frame went in it doesn't bulge. I'll leave it for now, next time either make a new side mounting or drill into the bracket..

Other updates:

I also wired the front panel audio to the back in the free pci slot, secured that to SkyBracket fastened to fan mount above gpu - now you see I wasn't keen on sharing the pics. It's a WIP. An ugly one.

Then for the sd card reader I'm still waiting for the L adapter, but since the usb3 cable is already here I tried mounting them. It kinda worked with the small space and cables looped up together, so it seems we're good on that.
 
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Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
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Feb 1, 2016
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Use the second M.2 on your motherboard? Also nice 2.5" stack. Very clever.
 
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rokabeka

network packet manipulator
Jul 9, 2016
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what about not stacking the drives? move one towards the CPU so only the last to holes will hold it but does not really make your cooling worse and the other drive can go behind it rotated by 90 degrees. for the second one you might need to drill a new hole on the storage bracket and still, it will be only two screws holding each drive. also, you might need longer cables which can be a pain if you already cut them to this lenght.
the intel ssd 320 I have is pretty light and caused no issues while I used it like that.
 

Choidebu

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@rokabeka , great idea, as always! I'll try it tonight.

My 850 evo is ~50 grams or less, the barracuda 2TB however, close to twice that. About 90.
 

rokabeka

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Jul 9, 2016
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the barracuda 2TB however, close to twice that. About 90.
and it is more sensitive probably to resonations. but depending on where you move it on the bracket you might find a spot for 3 holes and that I think is satisfying.
the problem still can be cooling and temperature on the back of the GPU. I do not know how hot the rx550 is and what hdd temperature you will have there. I have not yet seen anybody adding heat shields there so probably this is not an issue.
 
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