Prototype THE TINY BOY'S ADVENTURE! - Join me through the wonderful story of a tiny case... of 3.68L


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Mar 1, 2017
6- Designing/Starting point: The “Bare minimum Skeleton”

Baboom patatrak, I’m back!

Hello to EveryONE, I hope you’re doing fine, summer is coming!

So, in the previous chapter I was going freestyle, but now that we are into designing, I would like to focus more on technical aspect, I’ll spend more time structuring everything, explaining my choice and what’s around.

We will only talk about the
BMS, what it is, how to make it and his link to generative design… Ready? Let’s go:

The “
BMS” is (despite being another term I’ve invented) an acronym for Bare Minimum Skeleton. (not to mistaken with Battery Management System… or Banana Milkshake with Strawberry)

So, what’s a Bare minimum skeleton? Here’s my definition:

- Geometric sections in a design that will not be changed regardless of all possible designs -
(hum…help me find a better definition)

Let me try with some example:

For example, what’s the MBS of a bicycle ?

For sure, it needs 2 wheels, a handle bar and a saddle -> Everything else can be modified, as you can see in these 2 extremes:

(I’ll pick the old one and go ride 🤕)

For a car:

We know for sure that it needs 4 wheels, brakes, an engine and a driver cockpit -> Everything else is free to vary according to the designer! The engine location (front, back), the body design (open like a formula, enclosed like a normal car), the lights positioning (out like an old car or SpongeBob’s Garry snail, or fused with the body) etc etc…

For a PC monitor, whatever the design is, we know that it’ll always have a
screen and a stand.

And now… What’s the
MBS of a computer?

Well it’s The
IO back panel & The components mounting panel, everything else will be modified as we wish.

If you take 100 Mid tower pc cases, you’ll quickly find out that the io port and PCIe port are always in the same location, right? You can Add to that the mounting point for the motherboard, The Power supply unit, even the 90/120mm fan over the Motherboard IO etc etc…

I guess you start to understand what it is. As you get the concept, we can then understand
how to define a BMS:

- By taking many designs of a same product and figuring out what’s common between them -

This same structure allows your component to be compatible with every case, they just have a “Common skeleton” … Hum…Which is also known as Standards actually…

Wait, why are we even talking about that? What’s the BMS useful for?
Is the
BMS even another word for Manufacturing Standards?

Not really, while those are close, A
BMS is actually made from standards plus what you’ll not change in your design.

What I want for you (
dear reader ❤) is to not go in too many directions while designing.

One of the
worst problems for a designer is have too many ideas, too many things to think about, too many ways to try… And it’s indeed mine:

So this was the amount of idea I had in 2017…during a period of 8 month…
From then I had to switch to PC files

While creating a product we NEED to FOCUS on what we can change, not what we can't, so the only goal of an BMS is to fix some variables so that you can focus more on designing what you actually can change.

It allows you to not waste time and truly start your design

In other word: The BMS is our best starting line…

I’ll finish this explanation with something absolutely amazing that you HAVE to look at:

Generative design

Now that’s the future and mark my word: My brand will especially be known for that...

Generative design is about giving the computer some fixed variables (constraint, Or BMS for us) and letting the computer test thousand of design and find which one is more suited for what (strength, light, easy to manufacture, etc etc)

Guess who’s one of the leaders of Generative design?
AUTODESK! Yeah, the company that’s behind Fusion360.

It’s actually a pro feature, but you can watch here more on what it's about:

Another great trailer on their Website

Pretty impressive right? Do you remember when I talked about BMS? We can see those part highlighted in green right at the beginning:

Same here, those are called here “preserved obstacles region/geomtries”

I really hope you’re taking 2 min to watch this, because this is what our brain will never be able to create…

Hey, Did you watch alien movies? Do you remember what their spaceship look like?

It actually often have organic shapes!

Here’s another video about Bugatti brake system made by generative design

I’m blushing as much as this disk…This, my friends, is the future... and I hope to be among those who will bring it.

Can you just take a moment to admire how complex theses shape are? When I see those very thin wires, almost like neurons, I can only be stunned.
They look so Weak, we will never think of putting that low material here, Yet…

- In that location, for that much force… Those small wire are all the material needed to fulfill its function. -

Another example here, much more accessible, with our friend from CNC kitchen, who made those gorgeous shelves using generative design.

By looking here at his video:

we can see he’s talking about the BMS of his object, and we can see it with those green shadowed boxes at 1:11min.

And everything else, as I said… will change, take a look at

Fixed variables on one hand, Free one on the other hand, I’m sure you’ve got the idea:

- As we will fix our variables, we’re then free to unleash our creativity about everything else! -

(Ho, remember when I told you about being inspired by nature for the venting hole? Well I lied a little bit (shame on me 😅) I mean, I just didn’t mention that generative design did also influenced me a loooot back there)

Okay, I’m sure that you can, by looking at the layout of my case and my components, already figure out the
BMS of my case. Or in the other way, try to slice every unneeded panel.
We have an itx motherboard & and short GPU, in a sandwich layout: It’s pretty obvious that we will need a board between them (for the mounting process), and another one behind them (for the io cutout).

At this point I like to split the task, Let’s first work on the

This is where we have to think in advance about standards regulation, I definitely don’t want you to buy something that will fry every component and possibly put someone in danger and/or bring me problem 🤔.

The ITX motherboard is a 17x17cm Board, with 4 mounting hole and An IO Shield

The distance between the motherboard pcb and the mounting plate should be 6.35mm according to this
protocase resources page.

Quoted from it :

- “ Allow a minimum 0.250" (6.35mm) clearance from other board edges to their corresponding side panels.
It is possible to use smaller clearances for these sides however if you do - consider possible interferences between the board and enclosure details such as flanges, fasteners, and bend radii.”

(that said, my distance is 5.90mm according to “6mm” Standoff I’m using for the mounting process, I've tested the distance between the soldering point and the bottom: the margin was safe.)

And a wide enough cutout needs to be made so that we can access the underneath without have to dismount the mobo (for cpu cooler and Nvme/m.2). (Edit: Oops, forgot to make it)

That’s all we need to know how to make the BMS for the motherboard.

Here’s my old BMS back in time where I did it.
You can see the NH-L9i modeled to get the approximate size
and the venting side hole still shaped like Josh’s S4M 😉

Hey… I’m not going to give you just that…I’m too generous for that, I’ll give you more:

Let’s do the BMS from the beginning!

To start the BMS, I’ll recommend you to always make simple shape first, it’ll be a simple rectangle surrounding the motherboard with space in the center and 4 mounting hole, next to it, at 90deg a simple rectangle with a hole in it for the IO shield.

That's easily done by using the resources and projecting everything into the design:

Here is our very first frame minimal skeleton: The Motherboard BMS

Next task is making one for our lovely 1070 mini, at this point it’s the same thing.

We will use the same board from the Mobo BMS, the only difference here is to figure out where to make the IO cutout.
We need for that 3 distances - GPU compared to the Board: We need the
Height, Length and Width.

width is easy, the GPU bracket is against the BMS of the motherboard IO panel (2 pic above).

For the
height, I’ll define that by knowing where to mount the Riser cable, clearly explained here:

(I meant….BMS board, Though I often have Bare minimal skeleton in my plate after eating 😄)

From another point of view:

2 Downed. Last one will be defined by pushing the gpu all the way up, because:

  • We clearly don’t want to waste space in this case.
  • By playing lego with the component IRL, the best location for the HDplex is bellow the GPU

The only limitation to the lenght position will be defined by paying attention to how much, on top, I can compress the PCie x8 connector: I’ve measured it using Larry Hdplex cable and a Caliper. Turned out I can compress the wire by around 5-6mm.

Thanks to a 3D Model of a male connector from
Grabcad, I’ll just have to extrude the wire on top of the connector by about +6mm to have a representation of the space taken by theses. This is again a proof of what I said previously: use others creation to not waste time.

Finally, I can push that all the way up to the motherboard MBS side.

That done, we now can make a cutout and fuse the GPU & Mobo IO plate. I didn’t show the entire process, but It’s as detailed as it need to be.

Enough talking! Let’s see our wonderful BMS:

Hell yeah!!!

So in definitive, my “
Bare minimum skeleton” is just like that:

To finish that with practice, here's our MBS activated along my 2 finished design (more on that later):

You can see that it perctly "interfer" with the body shape.

Actually everything is similar in this case, only the way it's cut change.
I don't know if you figured out this before by comparing the thread picture and the tiny teaser video, did you?

Well, in the end, we finally have it… Our starting line, our golden base!

This one is actually the BMS v0.1, I want to call it like that because I know it’ll always be improved along the design process:
Indeed The BMS can evolve! Don’t mentally fix it permanently: It will slightly change with time by making more accurate placement of the components.

- By small modification, millimeter by millimeter , we get closer to our best iteration… -

However, this BMS should only help us start our design, not finish it… That's why we already need to move to the next chapter: 6B Designing: Defining case Material & Dimension

That’s it for now, thank you!
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The Tank

What's an ITX?
New User
Mar 24, 2019
Really love the amount of effort put into this thread but was wandering how much this cost you to produce by the end of it.


Average Stuffer
Original poster
Mar 1, 2017
Really love the amount of effort put into this thread but was wandering how much this cost you to produce by the end of it.
Hey there, thank you!

Don't worry, once we get to the manufacturing chapter, I'll show you a list all the manufacturer I've contacted and their quotation to make this case.

That's uncommon but yeah, everyone will exaclty know how much it cost to make this case, but not only, packaging, shipping, taxes etc etc...

I'm already dreaming of a pie chart at the end that'll explain every detail about the cost of the final product...

But huuuh I'm a little bit far from that. I'm actually still trying to find a great manufacturer (two more to test)
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Average Stuffer
Original poster
Mar 1, 2017
6B - Designing : Defining the Case Material & Dimensions

Yoooooo, what’s up human?! I guess you all missed the monotalking man!

It’s been a looong time… So take a deep breath, cuz I’m not dooone yet!

Hum… to be honest I struggled to start this chapter:
This is where I started to feel like I would never be able to express all of what I want, and share to you what I know by only writing….

To explain everything from scratch, I really need to make
videos to show you the process all along and have fun with you.
It’s deeply in my soul, but unfortunately, you’ll need to wait some time before that start to happen….

let’s just say that you’re looking at the book of my story instead of my movie 😄

Anyway, I’ll write and try to explain the most essential stuff.


So last time we designed our BMS and defined where our main component will be (Motherboard, GPU, Riser)

In this part we will create a very simple box, define the material, thickness and especially dimensions of it. You'll also be able to have a first look at the mounting process from the inside. (a unique one)


Going with my BMS, I had at first to define some rules :

-What material Am I going to use for my case?
-What's the thickness of my case sheet?

That’s where
Aikophobia helped me a lot (post here), we know that we basically have two choice when it comes to material:

AMD or Nvidia
Lol, more seriously:

Aluminium Or Steel.

back in the time where I started to think about how to create my case, I wanted a nice finish touch, therefore those very beautiful design are more achievable with an aluminum base. Typically, that’s why MakBooc 😂are made from that, this surface finish is possible with anodized aluminum is smooth, uniform and beautifull to look at.

This video is from 2009 but still, show you some infos

However, my case was very compact, so I knew that It’ll require to be thick enough to hold together.
I decided to use a thickness of 1.5mm across the whole design in order to save cost and cut all parts on the same sheet (wait… that’s smart! 🤓)

I wasn’t sure of how
rigid will the case behave until I ordered prototypes made of each material (Can't beat real life testing).
Turned out that the aluminum one bend a lot and isn’t suitable for such a small & beefy case. (we will see that in the prototype chapter)

In the end, I choosed
steel as it’s stronger, but also cheaper.

However, the 2 downsides with this material is that:

- We can’t reach a look as beautiful as one with aluminum (doesn’t mean our case will look ugly)
- We will have a heavier case, which doesn’t bother me as heavy reflect quality. (it reminded me of Beat’s headphone by Dr. Dre who put metal to make those heavier lol -
Article )

I still had another choice to make between
steel & stainless steel, but simply said:
Stainless steel won’t corrode with time, is stronger and cost a little more than steel.

Therefore, if you’re going to
paint your case, the coated surface of your case act like an anticorrosion protection.
There’s then absolutely no need for stainless steel which will make your case
harder to manufacture (example: tougher to bend) and more expensive.
So, except if you’re going with a no paint raw bare metal gear result… you should choose

that should make it for the
material, Once we will be through manufacturing, we’ll have to choose what type of steel you want your case to be made of, because indeed we have many types of steel across the globe 304, 316, QG325...

When I ordered my prototype (I’ve 4 now) there’s one who was made with a very poor-quality steel that bended really easily and felt so cheap… Anyway, that’s what you have to go through when dealing with manufacturers.

- Now let’s continue the adventure with a Steel sheet of 1.5mm -


At this point we can start to look at our BMS and think about how to design our case.
Each chapter have its problems and solutions, here you might ask:

Where to put the venting area position? How to mount it? Where to put the screw? The power button? Etc etc

Which I reply:

Hey, Do you want to be efficient?

If yes: then don’t waste your time on such details - 80/20 they said - so let’s focus on the most essential:
All we need for now to make our case is - just - the - fundamentals:

6 sides ! ( a box )

Starting from the BMS (1.5mm thick) we already know where’s the back side.
From there we will (again) need to know 3 measure to define our box:

Length, width and height of the Inner volume (so that we know what’s the minimal distance we need to allow for our components, See it as a “Big Maximal Volume“ Or… huuuh 😒).


So let’s go with the easier one which is the

This one will be directly linked to the length of our GPU, which is in this layout the longest component in that direction, ain’t that right joe? 🤠

So, from the inside of our case, how to define the Length?
Do i just have to leave enough space to fit my GTX 1070 from gigabyte?

hummm.... This is where my brain asks me a legitimate question:
ONE! To make this case widely compatible: what is the length of the most used ITX GPUs?

Glad you asked
one’s "brain"! We can thank this blog article on GRAPHICSCARDHUB.COM where we have a list of all itx GPU. (Awesomely updated!)

Basically, we have a range between 158 to 211mm (zotac 1080 ti) but the most common gpu seems to be 175mm long.

Previous generation are longer (gtx 970 mini =
But recent one are shorter (1070, 1660 rtx 2060 and 2070 are all </=
175mm)... less or equal*
R9 nano is even smaller (

I made the choice to go with a
182mm inner length to give some space to the wire that’ll for sure be thrown in front (for example the annoying 24pin header and GPU PCie power cable).

We can verify if it’s correct by placing a panel at 182mm from the inner BMS side.

Remember, we are talking about the inner volume, so we don’t consider the case’s panel thickness

So, the inner length of our case is L(i)=
182mm (GPU average size + cable clearance)
(Ho… I’m thinking about every poor American out here .. maybe I should spend an hour to convert everything to inches… )

And that's it “
brain”! We just defined that our lovely case’s length will be equal to:
1.5mm (BMS back panel thickness) + 182mm (GPU avg size + cable clearance) + 1.5mm (front panel thickness)

L = 185mm !! Whouhouuuuu! 🤩


One down, two more, let’s take a closer look at the 2nd easiest measure to have: The

For that I’ll start by giving an offset to the motherboard on the pcie side.

Damn it… Here, I just can’t explain every detail but to sum up: it was in order to make some element not interfere with the motherboard. (like the pcie cable, but not only. You’ll learn way more on that in the future video).

From that I knew where the height stop “on TOP” but now where it start from “BOTTOM” (bikini?)
To find out where my case should start I’ll need to know the exact position of a forgotten component: The
HD PLEX!! Let's go on the other side!

So I placed The HDPLEX literally over the Riser cable and few millimeters next to the gpu cooler enclosure.

Again, I can’t explain why it’s exactly here millimeter by millimeter because I tweaked that along many “lego party” with my component IRL, adding to that many “caliper pinching” to place everything well.

What you need to understand is that for the
Tiny-Boy (hoooo! I’m surprised for not mentioning it sooner 😮) these components are very carefully positioned.
Looking at the hdplex position, I knew that it represented the "
Bikini" limit of the inner volume.

Thanks to an accurate model provided by Larry itself, I’ve virtually placed the
HDPLEX and measured it from top to bottom:

Our inner height distance is...

183.70mm ! hell yeaaah that's small!

We don’t forget to add
3mm for the 2x sheet thickness and we have a Tiny-Boy that's 186.70mm tall!
He is so cute!!! 😍

Two down, let’s take care of the last ONE! (hey not me!!)


Now let’s talk about the depth of our case… This is where things start to be interesting, yet, exciting.

There were few iterations on how my case was holding together, but I’ll explain that on a video (Damn it again lol 😂).

What’s the height of our case? As there’s basically two
chamber”/sides made of GPU+HDPLEX & MOBO+COOLER with a 1.5mm sheet in-between (thank you BMS!).

We can split our problem in half and start by defining the height of one side then the other, let’s start with the GPU+HDPLEX side:

What I did again is to play in real life with the HDPLEX (all wire plugged) and try to know what’s the minimum height possible I can achieve by pressing it against its position. (I'm lazy to take a picture of this irl)

Using Mr. caliper to measure the height, I was able to crunch everything at around 45mm, but it was barely possible to
move something, and it was dangerously pushing against the pcie riser.

I then decided to add
5mm who make it much easier to move the cable and the HDplex (at 47-48mm)…

" Hey
ONE, Why adding 5mm and not 3mm then? I thought every milimetre count and we want the smallest case ever right? "

Well because it gives us 50mm… and what’s 50mm long?
STANDOOOOOOOFF! Hooooo did someONE said standoff?!

Ho yeah! I looooove them so much, sTanDOff everywhere, StaNdoFf, standOfF!!
They look like harmless munition! That’s soooo cute 🤗

Cought* Sorry…

Standoff have specific length, it’ll not be interesting for manufacturer to make a 47mm long standoff because it’s too specific. So at one point, they start to size them with 5mm range (35 – 40 – 45 – 50…) u get the concept here:

m.3 x 4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13/14/15/16/18/20/22/25//30/35/40/45/50/55/60 miliiiimeteer

And as I want to use parts that everyONE out here can replace and buy (that's one of my brand values), I need to build my case around largely available parts.

Problem solved, these standoffs put a neat distance of 50mm between our BMS and our side panel. So the height of the GPU+HDPLEX chamber is:

H = 50mm.

What for the other side then? Well it’s even more interesting! Really? Why? Cuz there’s even more STANDOFFS!!!

So we have our motherboard, who’s sitting on 6mm standoffs.

(but after verification they’re mostly around 5.90mm !)

We need to know the height of our cooler, the noctua nh l9i is 37mm high, so all we need to do is to add a 40mm standoff on top of the motherboard pcb right?

Well NO! don’t ever make this mistake again!

Because by acting like that you don’t consider the
height of the cpu and it’s socket you crazy!! 😱

Indeed, it’s around
6mm (idk for amd but it shouldn’t be far away)

So we need to put another
5mm to these 40mm standoff, which give us a 45mm standoff from the top of the motherboard's PCB.
But why on the motherboard? Why aren’t we screwing them directly on the

Good question! is your name also “brain”?


Well because we need to create 4 mounting point to hold a side panel (one around each corner) But we don’t have any place around the motherboard for that, That’s why we are directly
extending each mounting points of motherboard to allow us to reuse them as holding thread for our side panel!

Ho boy, I enjoy so much finding solution like that! 😬
maybe this solution was inspired to me when I watched Linus video about the velka 3?...

What an amazing brain we have… remember when I said that we're inspired by what we lived? I didn't noticed this detail back in the time where i watched this video, though at this time The Tiny-Boy was more like a watercooled flat system. Then this method to reverse mount a system saved me, Big up to Velkase Michael for that. 😉

So what’s the height from the
MOBO+COOLER side? Let’s then calculate it from the BMS:

5.90mm Standoff + motherboard PCB height + 45mm standoff = ...

Hum… My brain is asking me another legitimate question:

"What’s the thickness of a motherboard PCB?"

Hey "
Brain"! you're in a good shape today because that’s another great question!
let’s find it out together!

From many articles found on the dear web, I found out that the most used motherboard PCB thickness is 1.57mm / 0.63inch. (sources from there and there)
Using a caliper, I verified that and was indeed around this value. This tiny distance shouldn’t be neglected as, in my design, 1mm height off and you have a case that’s impossible to close… (However I rounded it to
1.60mm, but that's another subject for a video)

Thank you Mr Caliper

So finally, our final height for the MOBO+COOLER chamber is:

5.90mm Standoff + 1.60mm PCB thickness + 45mm Standoff = 52.50mm (Noiiiiiice!) 🤩

Coooool we have
both height! Let’s add All of that together to get the depth of our case!

GPU+HDPLEX chamber height + BMS thickness + MOBO+Cooler chamber heigth =

Depth = 50 + 1.60 + 52.50= 104mm !


We finally know them, all 3 distances, Fantastic!

Tiny Boy inner volume is 182 x 183.70 x 104 mm for 3.53 Liters
We now add all around the case a distance of 1.5mm for each side to represent the steel sheet thickness

Tiny boy enclosure volume is 185 x 186.70 x 107 mm for 3.69 Liters
( hum not the same as on the title but that's the theorical volume, the case is smaller tightened irl)

And there he is:

We finaly made it! Now we can start to dream about the next details (holes, stand, screw, panels, etc etc...)

to eventually think about the next chapter:

6C – Designing: Features & Assembly (holes, button, panel, mount etc etc...)

(I might talk about something completely different and change the title accordingly… 😅)

Haaaa man, I’m tired, I need to play some video games...Go ahead
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Average Stuffer
Original poster
Mar 1, 2017
Great idea! IMHO
If someone did the same as you without knowing about you, it mean you both found a great solution LOL

What's this case name? (however the standoff are very close to the card, I'm wondering about compatibility)

Here's another but similar picture of the Tiny-Boy:

Wow, my thumb is doing a nice curve!

Guys, you can't imagine how much I enjoyed building mounting this case, It's like a perfect DIY project
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CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
Great job so far! I like these DIY custom cases and I can see where you get the Velka 3 inspiration from with the mounting standoffs. (also seen it in a few tiny Taobao cases)

Would look forward to your future case projects espeically if you make a completely brick-less one :)


Average Stuffer
Original poster
Mar 1, 2017
Great job so far! I like these DIY custom cases and I can see where you get the Velka 3 inspiration from with the mounting standoffs. (also seen it in a few tiny Taobao cases)

Would look forward to your future case projects espeically if you make a completely brick-less one :)
I'll Indeed release a Flext atx and SFX variant, as this external psu solution was the first negative feedback from the reddit SFFPC comment.

I'm very excited to work on the SFX variant, because it'll allow me to extend the CPU cooler height compatibility along adding enough space for a full length GPU.

However, I'll not go with a classic "box" shape, but a very weird looking case.


Average Stuffer
Original poster
Mar 1, 2017
Hello boys!

Another picture to make you wait, I'm absolutely in love with my boy:

As you can see on This second prototype, few thing have changed, what you can notice however is the position of the power button who's now on the top right corner.

I'll make a voting request to know where's the best position for the power button.

What's your preference? Top or Middle?

ps: hey... liking isn't answering 😅
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