Sheesh, where on Earth to start with this build?!
It has been an incredibly tough few years for me personally, with severe health issues making it impossible to work or just generally live life as anyone would normally seek to. Don't get me wrong, I still consider myself lucky - with an income protection policy that covers my rent and utility bills each month, and enough personal savings to have been able to support myself with the other basics of life during this time. Living in Australia also means large parts of my healthcare costs are covered by a mixture of our universal health system and relatively affordable private health insurance (compared to places like the US).
But as Jay would say, "I digress". I bought most of the parts for this build around February 2018, as well as the antique radio itself. The idea was putting together a funky little HTPC as something to try and keep me busy, active and learning something during the day. A year later, continued periods of poor health have meant only sporadic opportunities to progress the project, and I've only just managed to finish the thing!
It's the first time I've ever worked with acrylic, let alone in a custom case, and considering it was all done hand-held with a Dremmel and/or a mini hand saw I'm really happy with how it's turned out. My strengths are definitely with the tech, much less so with the hands on tool work, creating and modding etc. So definitely not perfect, but not too darn shabby either.
I mapped out in my head how I expected/wanted the finished build to look, and tried to translate that into key written notes and then onto the acrylic sheets I planned to use to secure the build components.
The main challenge overall was a combination of accurately measuring and cutting the acrylic when also trying to work with such an unusually shaped case. In particular getting the GPU slot height just right so that the GPU itself was able to be properly secured. Pinpointing exactly where the screw holes for the PSU was also an absolute nightmare. Happily though, this all worked pretty well in the end.
Airflow was another concern, as I wanted to retain the original cloth cover visible through the front vents that originally covered the radio's speaker. The 80mm PWM Noctua 1800 rpm fans I ended up using for intake (x2), seem to suck a surprising amount of air through the relatively thick cloth. I only went with one rear exhaust fan so as to promote positive air pressure and in turn minimise dust inside such a fiddly enclosure.
I would have loved to have used one of the dials on the front of the radio to facilitate turning the PC on and off, but because they are twist operated instead of push/pull it meant designing a custom circuit board to sit in between the dial and the Mobo. After a year of working on this bit by bit that has ended up being a step too far right now. I will probably end up selling this build because I could really use the money nowadays, but if there's nothing but eBay low ballers around and I end up keeping it, then perhaps this can be revisited. For now, I've just grabbed the power and reset switches from an ancient case I had lying around and glued them to the rear panel - which works well and looks fine.
Typically I'm not much for RGB, but including an LED light strip fixed across the top of the radio cavity has worked well as a replacement for the original lighting that was visible across the station tuning dial window when the radio was switched on. It's wired straight to the Mobo, and syncs with the onboard Mobo RGB lighting, which can all be controlled via the Gigabyte Fusion RGB software. Being able to adjust colours adds a nice touch when it's sitting on the entertainment unit next to the TV.
CPU - AMD Ryzen 3 2200G : I went with this ripper of an HTPC CPU because I was initially unsure if I would bother adding a discrete GPU to the build. I figured this would easily handle general HTPC Audio Visual duties as well as allow for some (very) light gaming from the couch; and would also pair well enough with something like a GTX 1060 or RX 580 if I ended up going down the discrete GPU route.
Mobo - Gigabyte GA-AB350N Gaming WiFi Mini ITX : The options for ITX boards in Australia is no where near as broad as in the US, and this board was the best available that also had a layout that most suited the planned locations for the other components of the build. Can't say I'm a huge fan of the BIOS, but the board itself seems reasonable enough.
Memory - Corsair Vengance LPX 16GB : These kits are literally the only ones I could find that would clear the overhang of the front intake fans, that also have heat spreaders. An easy choice.
Storage - WD Green 120GB M.2 SSD & Seagate Barracuda 2TB 2.5" : As an HTPC there really isn't much need for large SSD capacity, nor NVMe speeds, so the 120GB SATA SSD as a boot drive is fine. At $34 AUD it was also an absolute bargain. Ideally the HDD would have been 3.5" (and also 4TB), but a 2.5" is all that would fit in the build and 2TB the largest capacity available. I've designed the overall build so that another 2.5" drive can easily be added next to the existing one.
GPU - Zotac GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Mini : This GPU has been grabbed from another build of mine for now. It's a fantastic little performer and fits into the radio case like a glove. If I do end up selling this radio build then it can be done with or without a discrete GPU which is kinda cool.
PSU - Corsair SF 450W 80+ Gold : Not particularly high on the wattage count but assuming nothing more beefy than a GTX 1060 ends up in the case then it's more than enough. It was absolutely critical the the PSU be of SFX form factor due to space constraints, and also fully modular for similar reasons. It's the first SFX PSU I have bought and it seems to be absolutely fine.
TEMPS & PERFORMANCE
This little guy is doing well in the temperature stakes considering the very obvious limitations! CPU is sitting at around a 35C delta after an hour of Aida 64. The GPU is also doing fine, with a peak temperature delta just under 50C after running a bunch of benchmarks for another hour or so.
I hope you guys and gals all enjoy this unique little HTPC as much as I did building it. I can't say that I recommend working with acrylic unless absolutely necessary, but it has been a rewarding process nonetheless!