First post, by BitWrangler
Things are coming together for a later "DOS" but extending into early 9x capabilities build. Apologies to anyone actually named Dustin btw. In some respects, this is a "dream rig" in that since I first started messing with PCs in the 90s, I've always wanted to put a machine into a small enclosure... abusing non-specialist parts to do so. The mini-ITX stuff doesn't interest me much for instance, because there's not much effort, goes together like lego. However, should I find something that I think "Hey, I wonder if I can cram an ITX board in that...." then maybe ITX will be the new shiny.
It felt like a good time to do this as I found I have a lot of boards.... and a lot of cases... but far more boards than cases, and I don't wanna give up the "good" cases to lower power, less than full width boards, or the old cases to stuff outside their era, when there's gonna be boards of their age looking for a home. So I remembered my old ambition "stuff a PC into a biscuit tin". Now your regular squareish (3lb?) biscuit (cookie) tin of the Rover, Crawfords or Peak Freans variety is just exactly the wrong size for an mATX, it's also exactly the wrong size for the baby AT board I want to use this time around, so you might accuse me of making the entire premise a bit of a crock, when I tell you it's gonna use a slightly larger footprint tin that had chocolates in it. It's also more of a crock that I deem this a bit too shallow for my purposes and therefore I'm gonna extend it to approx biscuit tin like height, maybe 4 inches, 100mm or somewhere near there.
So the tin is about 230mm square while the board is 220mm square, acres of space. (Bear in mind if looking for a tin for a motherboard, they have rounded corners while motherboards do not, unless you wanna get busy with the side cutters and hope they didn't sneak an important line round the outside of the mounting holes) Now the tins of my youth were somewhat sturdy, and this alas is rather ummm tinny.. that is to say thin and flexible, so I'm not sure if when I put mounting posts to the bottom and screw in the board, whether the tin is supporting the board or vice versa. We may be needing extra structure at some point. One really cool vision I had was to use a small offbrand 90s boombox as the entire front panel, (Gutted to just the fascia and speakers maybe using the amp if it was easy to hook in) however, the one I had I thought was small was too big for this, thought it was smaller until I dug it out, and the other possibility dimly remembered because I dunno how I got it and never used it, turned out to be a lopsided mono unit, 2/3 of a boom or something. I can't help thinking that there was a small radio only one around somewhere that might fit the bill, but unless it's exact location suddenly pops into my head, I am proceeding in another direction. I found a plastic part, maybe off an old fridge that has a handle recess that looks like it would cut out nice for a floppy drive, and it's the right width.
I am probably going to raise the lid up on some long standoffs, I believe there are suitable ones around somewhere. Ideally I'd like to be able to stand a 14" LCD on top of this when done, not sure if it's going to need an X across the top inside, or whatever additional material to hold one or not. For closing the gap at sides and back, I'm still undecided, it might depend on which direction the cooling system has to take, possibly it will be a mesh, possibly it will be a panel of some kind. I did think of heatgunning all the components off a scrap board, and using the board, or possibly using some copper clad PCB material I've got plenty of and allowing it to go to a steampunky patina. I thought possibly peel and stick woodgrain over something expedient and ugly, but no, this is a high class build dammit 😉 so backup plan is some real fake imitation marble formica. (Not that counterfeit stuff you see these days)
Okay, shut up BitWrangler stop all the arse-thetical claptrap and tell us the specs. What else to use but the the premier board of it's type, the fastest most high end board that I happen to have in the junk pile and that measures exactly 220mm square with onboard everything, but the mighty M748LMRT... I can tell you are thrilled. I have two, a 1.3A with LAN and a 1.5 without. Not sure which the winner is, do I really want the LAN? Is the 1.5 gonna run a better CPU more betterer? I know DOS machines aren't much of a speed contest but with the SiS graphics dragging butt a bit I want something that pushes a little hard to compensate. Now theoretically I can get a celly 700 working on one of these... in slotket... but I'd rather use the socket.. so hoping a socket mod works. Also theoretically, I could stick in a celly 400 and crank it up to 600... but that would be a tad warm. Yes, you guessed it, I'm just gonna use the onboard sound as well as the onboard graphics. Then a stick of RAM, not sure I need more than 128, might need to watch the power budget because the PSU ain't gonna be large. Thinking 20GB laptop drive and floppy is enough storage. Still pondering the CD question. Possibly I might have the ambition to wire up an adapter for a laptop optical drive.
Cooling is gonna be some wider flatter sink, of which I have some different choices, or I might go for an end blown one if the blower I found starts and runs reliably on 5V, or I guess 7V and is not loud. Got one sink that might manage "passive" cooling if there's a cross draft, which I guess needs a case fan.
Still juggling ideas a bit, will have to see what parts fall into place as things get going.
2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?