Description

tl;dr I built a HTPC in a metal toolbox.

I've seen some of the builds in things like briefcases and NES shells. I wanted to do something similar, but I wanted it to also be my own. I had a few ideas, many of which proved to be somewhat pricy. I wanted something I could work with where I wouldn't feel like I'd wasted a bunch of money kludging it up. I solicited suggestions from family, friends, and coworkers who all proved marginally useful at best. It wasn't until I took a trip to the local resale shop that I found this little critter tucked away in a back corner of a poorly-lit room. Seriously, you should see this place. It used to be a sausage shop, and now it's like a big indoor rummage sale. But I digress... It had a sticker that said $5, but everything was 20% off that day, so I paid a full four dolla'.

Before this project, I had only done a wee bit of metalworking. Most of the work was done with a drill and a Dremel. For the Dremel, I used a metal cut-off wheel for making the large holes, and a grinding attachment for smoothing rough/sharp edges and removing burrs. I made numerous mistakes along the way. I measured the I/O shield incorrectly (twice), drilled the holes for the motherboard standoff in an incorrect pattern, drilled the PSU mounting holes just a little off and started the ventilation holes for the PSU intake fan in the wrong spot, resulting in the odd shape/pattern seen in a couple of the pictures. I originally wanted to have both a power and reset button, but one of the two switches I got from my dad was a momentary off switch, rather than a momentary on.

As far as parts go, I primarily went for inexpensive items. I didn't want to wreck anything expensive if I made a serious error. The PSU and RAM I had leftover from upgrades. I've used SSDs before, but this was the first time I've used one in conjunction with a CRT monitor. It's just an ancient thing I had lying around in the basement, which just happened to be where I was working anyway. I was amused once Windows had installed because it would boot into Windows before the monitor had a chance to "warm up" and actually display anything. The "case" had a nice little space to tuck away excess cables, which worked well.

After finishing everything, I fired up Prime95 and let it simmer for 60+ minutes. Considering that it has no dedicated ventilation besides that for the PSU and was running the stock CPU cooler, it seemed to run cool enough. I couldn't get a good reading on idle CPU temps (128C? I think not, SpeedFan!), but it didn't go over 52C under load, with the temp inside the box sitting around 41C.

I learned quite a bit from this experience and hope to take that knowledge into some similar types of builds in the future. This one is obviously meant to be at more of a HTPC level of functionality, but I have some ideas for integrating some higher-end components for a more gaming/enthusiast level of performance.

As a final note, I do plan on selling this, so if anybody is interested in purchasing, PM me.

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Comments

  • 74 months ago
  • 8 points

Wow. Ok. I don't even know what to say. I guess I'll just upvote.

  • 74 months ago
  • 4 points

I agree. A+ for creativity. Keep up with the fabrication skills and I bet the next build will be twice as good.

  • 74 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you for the A+! As a life-long student, there is nothing more rewarding to me than good grades!

  • 74 months ago
  • 4 points

That's a big case heatsink!

  • 74 months ago
  • 2 points

Very creative. +100 That's one way to satisfy build fever!

  • 74 months ago
  • 2 points

Definitely unique +1

  • 74 months ago
  • 2 points

I really like the creativity with this build; However, I was wondering if you decided to seal the tool box before you installed everything because of the rust?

  • 74 months ago
  • 2 points

The rust on the interior was pretty minimal. I briefly considered it, but kind of let the thought go.

  • 74 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks for the reply bud, the rust really shouldn't be an issue anyways. Again, very creative!

  • 74 months ago
  • 2 points

Looks great mate, are you going to mount the optical drive some how? Please add more pictures if you do!

  • 74 months ago
  • 1 point

I will not be mounting the optical drive. I just didn't feel up to that particular challenge. It has the rear USB, and I'm banking on that being enough. The optical drive in the pictures was just a temporary measure for the installation of Windows.

  • 74 months ago
  • 2 points

Very creative! Nice job!

  • 74 months ago
  • 2 points

Here, have all my WAT's.

  • 70 months ago
  • 1 point

did you have to download a bios update to run that ivy bridge cpu in that mobo?

  • 70 months ago
  • 1 point

It's been a while since I built it, but if I remember correctly, I did not have to update the BIOS.

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

This was alright...Only thing i didn't like was that one spot with dem holes o-o

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Otherwise really creative and nice :D