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Lego SFF case

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Here's something I've been working on for a little while. It's a mock-up of a custom SFF case made out of Lego.

I have been struggling to find a case that fits me perfectly, so I thought I would instead build one using something I know how to build with. rolleyes.gif

Most of you will have seen a bunch of cases made out of Lego, of varying quality. For instance, this is a nice one (and an inspiration for this project).

Some screens:
Leocad




With components in Sketchup


Component layout



Details




The plan is to fasten the components with screws from the outside using Lego Technic bricks for screw-holes, and washers to rise the motherboard.

Some specs:
ITX motherboard
SFX PSU
Dimensions: 280 mm (length) x 233.6 mm (height, not including legs) x 152 mm (width)
Volume: 9.9 l
Max GPU length: 264 mm
Max CPU cooler height: ~60 mm
Fan slots: 1 x 120 mm (there's also room for a radiator, as seen in the pictures)
Storage: 2 x 2.5" drives

Any comments? Do you think this will cool adequately with just one intake fan?
Edited by dumbom - 9/20/13 at 4:46pm
post #2 of 6
Nice idea thumb.gif

Single fan is fine for 10 litres. Especially with AIO water cooling and vents along the bottom for the GPU to get fresh air. But which CPU are you planning?
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post #3 of 6
Make sure the components are properly grounded first of all. Also be warned that ABS won't withstand heat very well, so don't plan on overclocking. I also recommend that you brace the walls with some Technic beams. If you alternate Technic bricks followed by two plates, then they'll fit perfectly up the walls. If you need to brace it diagonally, then the Pythagorean theorem comes in handy (3-4-5 and 5-12-13 right triangles work best, but ), but be sure to measure from the center of the stud or pin rather than the ends (since that's where the angle is formed, the axis of rotation in the center). If only for simplicity and stability, I recommend also that you build it in an even number of studs wide. If you need advice or anything, ask because 1) I'm more than happy to help and 2) I want this to be a thing. Good luck, good sir! thumb.gif
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post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your replies! smile.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by WiSK View Post

But which CPU are you planning?

It depends on whether I decide it's worth trying to overclock in a plastic case or not. According to this, the maximum temperature for lego is 80C. If not overclocking, the Xeon E3-1230 v3 looks like a good deal, and otherwise I guess an i5-4670K to not spend a fortune. Do you think the aftermarket cooler would be overkill if I went with the non-overclockable Xeon?
Quote:
Originally Posted by CynicalUnicorn View Post

Make sure the components are properly grounded first of all. [...] I also recommend that you brace the walls with some Technic beams. [...] If only for simplicity and stability, I recommend also that you build it in an even number of studs wide.

Any advice on grounding in a non-metal case? From my understanding this is normally achieved through the motherboard screws but also through the power supply to the wall socket. Is the grounding through the PSU not enough?

Nice idea on the Technic beams! I was thinking that I could use glue as a last resort if it turns out not to be strong enough, but that kind of defeats the purpose. I'll see if I can fit some beams in there. I'm trying to keep it looking clean, so that would have to be on the inside...

My original design was 20 studs wide (as opposed to 19 as it is now), but I decided against it because it meant the front fan had to be off-centre (and I'm superficial wink.gif). But you're right in that it's easier to build with even numbers.

Have you ever done a Lego build?
post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by dumbom View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by CynicalUnicorn View Post

Make sure the components are properly grounded first of all. [...] I also recommend that you brace the walls with some Technic beams. [...] If only for simplicity and stability, I recommend also that you build it in an even number of studs wide.

Any advice on grounding in a non-metal case? From my understanding this is normally achieved through the motherboard screws but also through the power supply to the wall socket. Is the grounding through the PSU not enough?

Nice idea on the Technic beams! I was thinking that I could use glue as a last resort if it turns out not to be strong enough, but that kind of defeats the purpose. I'll see if I can fit some beams in there. I'm trying to keep it looking clean, so that would have to be on the inside...

My original design was 20 studs wide (as opposed to 19 as it is now), but I decided against it because it meant the front fan had to be off-centre (and I'm superficial wink.gif). But you're right in that it's easier to build with even numbers.

Have you ever done a Lego build?

Not really sure how to ground it. I suppose the PSU connections are enough though, but be careful. Maybe take a wire running from whatever you're using as standoffs and attach it to the PSU? I'm not sure if the casing of the PSU itself, not just the internal circuitry, will ground anything, though it probably will if it has a 3-pin plug.

Glue is for losers. Don't do it. Never ever use glue. As long as the parts with the most stress are stable (motherboard, GPU, and PSU mounts most likely) then it should be fine. Know your SNOT math and you shall be in good shape.

I understand completely, don't worry. If you haven't heard of Bricklink, then go there. It's the best place in the world for uncommon parts. The Collectible Minifigure bases are 4x3 tiles with four studs in the middle row, and those are probably the best bet for reinforcing the "seam" in the middle. If you offset the fan enough, then you can use the asymmetry to your advantage (like the Millennium Falcon - it's iconic and looks great despite the offset cockpit), which could allow a reinforced wall (wall - Technic reinforcement - second wall) behind the motherboard. Alternatively, reinforce the PSU and GPU, though the latter is close enough to the base that it might not be too advantageous but the former is bulky and has a weird offset weight to take advantage of those reinforcements.

I have not, but I have experience from, uh, other projects.

(stop judging me Internet)
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post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your reply, and sorry for answering so late! I've been busy creating a new design based on your input and some private correspondence with user stormie who had some Lego at hand to build part of the case. It turns out it wasn't stable enough, so I set to work on something sturdier.

This redesign is a stud longer and one wider, making an even number of studs in both direction and accommodating the added support beams. It moves the PSU to its own cage in the front, giving more space for CPU coolers. I have yet to do the roof, as I would like a top exhaust fan, but am unsure how to fasten it... Any ideas?

New specs:
Dimensions: 288 mm (length) x 211.2 mm (height, not including floor and roof) x 160 mm (width)
Volume: Will probably be just over 10l with the floor and the roof in place
Max GPU length: 272 mm
Max CPU cooler height: ~100 mm
Fan slots: 1 x 140 mm, though I'm thinking of something for the roof as well.
Storage: 2 x 2.5" drives

Sketchup pics (first just the component layout, then with a lego "skeleton", then the whole thing):













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