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Case Mod: The BriefCASE
Written by Mattthegamer   
Wednesday, 27 October 2004 01:36

Mattthegamer was inspired by an ugly mod to produce something more appealing. Armed with nothing more than an old computer, some crazy glue and a roll of duct tape, he wrought a far more interesting mod. Read on to find out just what you can do with those bits you find lying around the house. Who knows, maybe Matt's mod will inspire you to greater heights!

Introduction

About 2 weeks ago I browsing the internet, looking at various computer cases people had modded or built. I came across a picture of a guy who had built a computer using a very thick suitcase and the machine had many blowholes and wires coming out of it. I thought to myself, "That's a cool idea, but it looks weird and it's a huge shiny blinking blue LED eyesore." So I decided to make my own!

I had an old computer that still worked, so I figured that would do for the parts. The next step was to find something that I could fit those parts in without spending any money. I spied my Dad's old briefcase (well, it looked old to me!), and decided that it would make a good case for the project. All good projects need a name, so I figured the name "BriefCASE" was fitting.

BriefCASE closed

Assembly

I extracted all the parts from the old computer and layed them out, so I could figure out some way of fitting them all into the BriefCASE. When I got it all worked out, I grabbed a knife and took the pocket and paper holder sleeves on the top and cut them off to the bare wood that made the top. Then I grabbed the hacksaw and cut out a big chunk from the BriefCASE, to make space for the motherboard ports. Later, I found the jigsaw hidden under a pile of stuff. This would have made my work easier, faster and neater! Following on, I needed to do pretty much the same thing again, but for power supply on the other side. Now I had a case with a cutout for the I/O ports and a cutout for the power supply.

The motherboard doesn't have integrated graphics, so I needed to make space for a video card or the machine would be fairly useless! I cut a small knick in the top part and the bottom part of the BriefCASE for the Video card to plug into. This left rather a lot of sawdust and wood chips in the bottom of the case, so it was time to break out the vacuum, and suck up all the loose wood bits.

Now it was time to fit the motherboard, as the rest of the BriefCASE was just crying out for some real action. As I'd already cut the holes correctly, it didn't take much to place it inside, and line it up. Mounting the motherboard was a case of finding some short screws that wouldn't penetrate through the wood, as I didn't want them to stick through the genuine Italian leather. Once the motherboard was in place, it was time for the I/O shield. Of course, the average briefcase doesn't have a mount for the I/O shield, so I had to glue the thing in place. One thing you'll find about I/O shields is that they're a bit tricky to glue into place. It's no surprise then that it later fell out. I didn't have time to fix it back again before taking the pictures, so that's why it's missing.

I couldn't figure out a clever way of mounting the DVD-ROM without having to drill holes in the side of the case. If I had done that, you would have been able to see the screw on the other side of the leather. Since it's supposed to look like a hidden computer in a normal briefcase, the outside needs to stay fairly pristine. What's a guy to do? Well I grabbed the ol' crazy glue, and glued the DVD-ROM drive to the inside top of the case! This way you have to open it to put a DVD in, but at least it's not obvious from outside.

All of this computing requires something to provide power, so the PSU needed to be installed somewhere. Cue the greatest modding tool of all time - Duct Tape! Oh and some more crazy glue for good measure.

Those who have been paying attention closely will have noticed the hard disk is missing so far. I was a bit concerned that there might be an issue with the heat generated by the hard disk, so I decided to keep it in the original drive cage from the PC. This way the air has space to move around the hard disk, and hopefully keep it cool enough to avoid any problems. Once again, I used some short wood screws to mount the drive cage to the wooden frame of the briefCASE.

At this point, all the major components were in place, so it was time to connect them all up. This was a matter of running the two IDE cables for the hard disk and DVD-ROM drive, and the power cables from the PSU. Compared to the rest of the project, this was pretty easy! There's no floppy in this machine, so I didn't have to worry about running a floppy cable. There just wasn't enough room, and to be honest, I don't really use floppy disks any more. Whilst it would have been nice to have a CD drive as well, there wasn't room for a floppy, so there certainly wasn't room for another CD drive.

BriefCASE open

Power up

Now that I'd put everything together, and double checked all my wiring, it was time for the acid test - will the computer actually power up? Before I connected the system to the mains, it was time to take a few precautions. This mainly entailed running around the house ensuring I'd pulled all the batteries out of the smoke alarms, as there's nothing like a smoke alarm going off to distract you from tackling blazing computer. The first step in the test process was to plug the mains into the computer. As expected, there were no explosions. Encouraged by the lack of flames, I held my breath and hit the on button. I was greeted with the noise of the hard disk spinning up, and she was working! That was pretty good, as I would have been in big trouble if it hadn't! That's how I made the BriefCASE.

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