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Know How... 13

Portable-ize Your Desktop PC

September 27 2012

Make your desktop PC portable! Future co-host of Photography Unfiltered Ryan Marsh guests to show off his desktop PC built into a case that he can take almost anywhere. Ryan even put together the instructions below so you can know how to do it, too!

The background story:
Thought up the idea when I was traveling back and forth between SF and LA for work and vacation.

Tired of dealing with the limitations of a laptop and being very comfortable with building my own desktop PCs, I grabbed an extra Pelican 1600 Case.

Finding the right monitor was difficult. I needed one that was very slim and could fit the case. I also chose a monitor with some built in audio so that I wouldn’t need separate speakers.

The Steps:
1. Pelican Cases are made of polypropylene and along the surfaces generate a lot of static charge. With sensitive electronics, I needed to minimize this property so I spray painted the interior surface with an automotive paint that bonded well with plastic. This removed the static properties of the case.

2. I removed the motherboard mounting plate from the inside of my old tower case using a metal cutting bit on my circle saw. I then sanded the edges and using very short wood screws mounted it to the bottom of the case.

3. I drilled out all of the fan and cable access holes in the sides and back of the case using hole saw bits on my drill. I also drilled bolt holes for each fan position.

4. Using the sawzall and dremel, I added the rectangular holes for the monitor back in the lid, the Blu-ray drive, and the front usb ports.

5. To put the Blu-ray drive and SSD in the spot I needed, I would need the mounting rack from my tower case so I cut it out of the old tower.

6. I premounted the SSD and the Blu-ray drive into the rack before screwing the rack into position.

7. PSU: I had drilled out an area for the power supply exhaust fans and used the existing bold holes on the back of the power supply to attach it to the rear right corner of the case.

8. I then electrically bonded the drive rack with the motherboard base plate and the shell of the power supply using connection wires to build up a path to ground.

9. I added all the fans and the cable access ports by either using glue (for the cable port plates) or bolts for the fans.

10. I had to creatively brace the motherboard, ram, CPU, heat sink, video card and wireless card so they didn’t slide out of their slots in transit.

11. Monitor: I had to use the dremel to remove some of the monitor’s plastic shell so that the back would slide out the hole I made for airflow and the front would not extend past the edge of the lid so that the case would be able to close completely.

12. Using some of the lid space, I mounted the wifi antennas on the inside of the lid below and to the side of the monitor.

13. I used zip ties to clean up the wiring. It also stopped the cables from moving around in transit and wouldn’t restrict air flow.

14. The final case piece was the lid. A small sheet of 3/8 thick black plexiglass was bought from tap plastics. Airflow and bolt holes were added to it. An intake fan was placed right above the CPU intake. Using hinges, the “hood” was then mounted into the case. A cabinet door latch was added to hold up the hood while working inside the case and the sticker diagrams of the motherboard were placed in the hood’s underside.

15. A custom power cable was created so that a separate power cable for the monitor would be unnecessary.

16. A beer cozy was bolted into some available space in the case to hold the wireless mouse during transit.

Send us an email at knowhow@twit.tv or leave us a voicemail at 408-800-KNOW (408-800-5669).