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Old February 25, 2011, 12:58 PM
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Default Frankenbox 4.5 - What used to be an HP case

Hello all!


Note this project is "complete" so see the last post by me for details.


I'm working on a Frankenstein-type mod on a HP a430n case. If you scroll to the end of this post you can see where I'm at - essentially I am hacking it up and reconfiguring it to have a bottom-FRONT mounted PSU and greatly enhanced cooling over the original case (which only has a 92mm exhaust with no intake).

Backstory:
After a LAN party with friends, I felt my Lancool PC-K62 was just another box and I need to build myself a fun PC again. Don't get me wrong, the PC-K62 is a great case as it's easy to work with and all, but it feels like I have just another gaming rig with it.
I saw some potential in my old mATX HP chassis in turning it into a mATX gamer. Why do I want to tear up a HP chassis?
  1. I can use it for free
  2. I haven't built anything like this in a while, so if my bad craftsmanship makes a mess, I won't be at too much of a loss.

Pictured: the victim

Note I'm not using ANY of those components (last thing I want is the Hipro blowing up at a LAN or making me lose WUs). If you look at the mATX rig in the "My System Specs" in my profile, that's what's going into the case when my build is done. I hope I won't have to do too crazy of a side panel to fit the Megahalems!

I'll solder together a new set of front panel LEDs and such as I don't want to deal with proprietary connections, along with a little secret plan I have for the on / off switch. (hint: touch-free)

Basic Design
I want to put together a single GPU gaming machine that will be easy to bring to LAN parties, and take up little precious desk / floor space when it gets to said LAN. I should be able to save a lot of space because I only want 2 drives, a 2.5" (SSD) and 3.5" storage drive. I looked at a lot of cases yesterday and I want to see how many uncommon traits I can cram into this build. So far, I'm thinking of the following:
  • Carrying handle or strap (like NZXT Vulcan)
  • Bottom-FRONT mounted PSU (like Coolermaster 360)
  • Vertically-mounted hard drives (like the HP currently has)
After growing used to how quiet I've gotten my Lancool PC-K62 though, I want to avoid making this thing a loud beast if I could avoid it. I know "loud" is subjective, so here's my definition of unacceptably loud:
  • AMD stock cooling fan, high speed
  • nVidia GeForce 7900 GS/GT cooling fan at any speed lol
  • Radeon 4850 stock cooling fan at high speed
  • First generation 7200RPM hard drives (the ones that have terrible motor whine)

Outdated drawing, for history only - see http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum...tml#post499666
Since a picture is definitely more useful than a lot of paragraphs, here's what I'm thinking for basic component layout:

Blocks are drawn to scale. Blue arrows indicate intake, while red arrows indicate exhaust.
Moving the PSU to the front allows me to point a bottom-mounted intake straight at the GPU cooler (provided I don't put a large expansion card directly below it). Note that my layout assumes a 150mm long PSU.

Thanks!
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Last edited by frontier204; May 29, 2011 at 03:24 PM. Reason: Swap title for complete
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Old February 25, 2011, 01:02 PM
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Have a look at the Dell case in my thread. Not pretty but may give you some idea's.

Is the HP the way it sits now ATX or M-ATX? Reason I ask with the power supply mod will that not block the PCI-E slot.

Last edited by howpet; February 25, 2011 at 01:21 PM.
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Old February 25, 2011, 01:28 PM
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It's a mATX case (4 expansion slots), and I plan to keep it that way. (although that probably means I'll have to give up my firewire card that hasn't had anything plugged in to it for 5 years )
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Old February 25, 2011, 06:41 PM
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Default Analysis of Victim Case

After taking all the non-riveted parts off of the HP, I looked how the case was constructed. The different pieces of the case are (digitally) highlighted in the following image:

EDIT: the PSU / 5.25" bay piece also makes up a piece of the motherboard tray (green and yellow are one piece)
  • The top, bottom, and front panel frame are all one piece
  • The back is a separate piece
  • The 5.25" bays are actually merged with a piece that extends all the way to the back, and includes half of the motherboard tray
  • The I/O shield and expansion card mounts are one piece
  • The motherboard tray is actually divided into two pieces, held together at the back with hooks
Since I don't have access to welding or sheet metal bending (although I do have sheet metal), I plan keep the back panel and both pieces of the motherboard tray together for use on the new "build", and the rest will be scrap metal. The bottom plate may be useful (after cutting it) to add strength.

The bottom plate could also act like a thermal chamber like what's done in the Antec P180 / P193, although here it would be more important since it could keep PSU exhaust out of the case.
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Last edited by frontier204; February 25, 2011 at 07:47 PM.
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Old February 25, 2011, 07:16 PM
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most new power supplys pull air in thugh the 140 mm on the top and exaust it out of the back where power plugs in. If you get a good silver or gold rated power supply it will cool the case.
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Old February 25, 2011, 07:51 PM
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Good day frontier204. I like your new design, adds the uniqueness that you are after.

You will bee able to do some bending with a couple of pieces of wood and some clamps. Wood top and bottom where you want the bend, clamped and then bend with another piece of wood to keep pressure along bend to keep a wave out. If you need to use hammer hit the wood NOT the metal.

If you would like my opinion, couple of questions.
Side panels - if you cut them how to attach - will it take the shape of the design or be square
PSU's exhaust out the back which will be your front ?
overall size would be 400x 330x 180mm ?
I think you can do this quite nicely with limited tools. Rock on and I'll watch :)
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Old February 25, 2011, 08:58 PM
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You could intergrate the carry handle by moving the opticlal drive further back and put the carry piont just in front of it.
Carry Point
________________________________^
/ XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
optical
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Old February 26, 2011, 07:45 AM
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Thanks for the comments so far!
@howpet - I looked at your Dell mod - looks like you started with somewhat the same case (vertical mounted HDD and dual 5.25" bays up top). Did the floppy drive bay scratch the paint or label on your hard disk? That's the issue I'm having with HP's sharp edge haven drive bays so I may just build my own drive bay (out of an old external HDD enclosure haha)
@Toyoracer -
Thanks for the advice about sheet metal bending - I NEVER got that right when I was building robots and just duct taped the sharp edges. I'll have to look that up to see if I can use that piece of 1/20" aluminum I have lying around.
  • One thing's for sure is that the original HP panels won't do, so I'll have to make my own. I plan to make them square and make a separate "cap" for the optical drive up top. That may even allow me to have some "hot swap" drive bay up there, as I only use ODDs for installing OS these days.
  • The PSU's INTAKE is actually at the front of the case, so it will dump its exhaust into the case. I'll also drill a hole in the bottom for bottom-exhaust PSU.
  • You're pretty close to my estimates as 345d x 420h x 190w. It'll probably go another 2-3 cm in height as I want a beefier frame for carrying, out of aluminum angle if I can ever find that piece I have lying around
@ZZLEE
You have a point given that my case will be front-heavy due to the location of the PSU. When I go to the CAD (cardboard aided design) stage I'll look at how the handle can go in relation to the ODD.
(I know I can go with an overpriced slimline ODD but that's cheating )
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Old March 25, 2011, 07:32 PM
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...seems other facets of life are getting in the way of my case mod: cold, school, career path decisions, etc. etc...

When NCIX e-mailed me about my replacement P67 motherboard, I requested to get refunded so I can get a mATX board instead. -OT- Kudos to NCIX for sending out notification e-mails rather than having to force me to poll their site -OT-
Being without a gaming rig is working as added incentive to get this done so the case is ready whenever decent mATX Sandy Bridge motherboards come in stock. I wonder how long I can survive without a main rig... CADing and preparing research papers on my laptop's 14" screen is torture!

After tearing up the case and examining the components closely, I decided to try NOT buying any new materials (mechanical wise) other than fasteners because this case doesn't "deserve" new materials to refurbish it. Anyway my friends' idea of "Frankenbox" has always been taking a whole pile of stuff and making a strange PC out of it, rather than making some showroom-ready piece.

I played around with Google Sketchup, and came up with this for the case design:


Essentially the plan is to chop the PSU mounting area off the top of the original case to shorten it, then make a frame on the bottom of the shortened box which will house the PSU. This has some interesting side-effects, like making it so I'll plug in the PSU by running the power cord under the case (rather than to the back of the case), and the 140mm fan will actually be on the "outside" of the case. This is better shown with a shot of the bottom of the CAD:


The red block is the 30 cm of GPU clearance I budgeted in the original design. I'm still not sure what to do with the 5.25" drive on the top of the case - I experimented with other places for it, but each idea ended up getting scrapped because it would cause cabling nightmares or the 5.25" drive would block access to something. Near the top front of the case is where the hard disk mounts will go - I plan to have two sliding trays similar to a Lian Li, made of either plastic or metal pieces ripped out of an external HDD enclosure.
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Old March 26, 2011, 08:22 AM
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Note those brown parts of the CAD... where are those coming from?
My old desk! I recently dismantled my desk because it no longer suits my needs (20" monitor + speakers didn't fit), so that left behind a whole load of particle board destined for the trash. I expect to get facepalms for my choice of materials but I designed the case in such a way that the particle board pieces will mostly be under compression loads rather than tension (especially when it comes to fasteners) so it should be OK.

Here's a shot of me failing at using a band saw:

I have a lot of material here to practice on

This is the chopped HP case pieces with the two columns at the front like in the CAD:


I didn't get a chance to hollow out the columns with a jigsaw yet, which I'll leave for when I've figured out exactly how to do the HDD mounts. That I'll do either before or after making the lower portion of the case where the PSU goes. I'm trying to incorporate the holding mechanism in on the bottom again so my scrap materials are not put under tension when carrying the case.
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