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  • DIY metal mATX case

    I just bought the materials/tools to make a basic metal case for my motherboard. so far ive been running caseless, and i have various problems doing that (its just not a cool way to go either).

    so, parts bought-

    18" metal brake- $35
    26guage sheet metal- $10
    rivet gun/rivets- $20
    metric tap bit for screws- $4

    basic design, will be just a box that fits the motherboard, and quite possibly a harddrive. just wondering if anyone has any hints or tricks for what im doing. i know i could just buy a case for about what i spent in parts and materials, but theres no case i really want. i dont think ill paint this right away, ill likely wait for summer to do that.

  • #2
    You don't need a tap, infact I seriously doubt you can tap sheet metal that thin. Just get some self tapping screws for any screwholes you need.

    Otherwise, having made my own case let me say... good luck to you! You might look in to getting a thicker piece for the motherboard itself to provide some rigidity, and to actually mount the motherboard to.


    Also, use locktite
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    • #3
      Trader, it's kind of funny that you are doing this. I'm in the same boat as you, sort of..... I don't have any hardware issues, but, my setup is most definitley NOT astheticaly pleasing. I just have a motherboard screwed down to some painted MDF. I was thinking function before fashion before I FINALY got it all working the way it should. Now it's been almost a year & it's doing what it's supposed to. I was thinking of dressing it up a bit. I'm just afraid if I disassemble I might fudge something, so I'm reluctant to pull the trigger. I like the thought process. Maybe if you don't run into any snags I'll jump on board & do a "carputer makeover".

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      • #4
        locktite... should have bought some. the tap is just for the motherboard standoffs. youre right though, ill probably end up just nuttin those off on the backside. i went with thin metal because its easy to work with. there are ways to keep thin metal from flexing, its all in the design. hopefully

        i have flexible pci risers too... i might make the case thick enough to hold these cards flat with the motherboard. that would be really nice anyway.

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        • #5
          i just dont like the premade cases for matx boards. i want something that is super small, not much bigger then the board itself... yet still can hold pci cards. the power supply (m2) will get its own case and continue to reside outside the main computer case (easier to work with like that)

          btw, the 18" brake was bought at harbor frieght. cant beat that place for odd things...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by trader007 View Post
            i just dont like the premade cases for matx boards. i want something that is super small, not much bigger then the board itself... yet still can hold pci cards. the power supply (m2) will get its own case and continue to reside outside the main computer case (easier to work with like that)

            btw, the 18" brake was bought at harbor frieght. cant beat that place for odd things...
            I don't like the "off the shelf" either. I actually did away with my pci cards because every once in a while one would come loose no matter how well I secured it. It drove me crazy!!! Nothing like hitting a bump doing 65 & getting BSOD!!

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            • #7
              yup i know what you mean. i had mine secured down with rubber bands.. actually worked well but man was it crappy. these flexible pci risers should take all the stress off the joints though, i actually think ill make thin boxes that just house pci cards- that way i can take off the bracket and mount the cards right to their little caddys. then, with that flexible pci cable, the caddys can plug into the motherboard and clip to the outside of the case. modular pci, if you will

              case is already coming along nice. i had to come inside for a bit to get warm, and toke up a little. i can definitely get the basic case done tonight, the hardest part will be lining up and cutting out the motherboard plate. that cant be off by even 1/8".... ill get some pics in a few hours.

              also, about vibration... thats another reason i wanted my motherboard in a case. it will be easy to mount the case with rubber mounts, or just wrap it in foam; it should help a lot compared to how its mounted now

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              • #8
                Here's Mine:
                http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/work...ml#post1354137

                Ron

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                • #9
                  I used even thicker sheet metal and ended up needing to add a support structure. Otherwise the whole thing bends and puts too much stress on the board.

                  Bolts into the standoffs work alright but if you want a cleaner look (and a flush mount) either use tack welds or some jbweld.
                  openMobile - An open source C# Front End (why choose openMobile?)
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                  Like what you see? Donations are always welcome

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by trader007 View Post
                    I just bought the materials/tools to make a basic metal case for my motherboard. so far ive been running caseless, and i have various problems doing that (its just not a cool way to go either).
                    I had to build a custom case because I had some goofy motherboard with a compact flash reader on the bottom. I built my case PVC. It's crazy strong.

                    This is missing lots of pictures and not very much detail but you get the idea:
                    http://43monkeys.com/carputer/



                    Ron: That's a nice looking case!

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                    • #11
                      yeah my fabrication skills arent quite where you guys are at. i blame it on tools though!

                      the grill is just laying on the fan to give you an idea where it will be on the cover. i ran out of sheet metal to make the cover for it, itll have to wait.


                      i missed the network light hole in grand fashion the first try as you can see.... i also dont have any way to make straight cuts so you see in some areas how free-handed this was. mobo plate was cut out with tin snips!


                      need a grill for the side exhaust fan. that fan might be installed backwards too, i cant think right now


                      the sheet metal, even 26guage, is plenty thick enough to tap and screw in the standoffs. however, you must not use the wrong pilot bit like i did on all of them but the first one. so as you can see, i had to make little square "nuts" and tap the proper hole into those. ugly, but nobody will see it.


                      its very solid! i dont know why you guys need such thick metal, i did cut these pieces so there are tabs on all the seams to punch rivets in (except one i screwed up, you can 3 rivets in a row to fix it). its very solid, and once the cover goes on it will absolutely rigid.


                      Ill take more pictures of the WIFI pci card bracket i made there. its a simple setup, im missing one long standoff so it sits crooked right now... but at least i have awesome pci wireless N and its still removable. and, its all inside the case!

                      the m2 should be a lot happier in a proper home too... this is going to be so much nicer, especially to work on because ill be able to just unplug the case and bring the whole thing inside for testing/fixing. also, this is not the motherboard im using, its just a template. this case should actually fit any mATX motherboard....







                      in the "front" of the case, you can see i left a few inches. the entire case is 9.6" deep, so it should fit any matx board. its 12" wide, and only 2.5" tall! its basically an xbox, you can put it anywhere. its also corner-to-corner dead nuts square in shape overall! within 1/16"! the harbor freight sheet metal brake works perfectly.

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                      • #12
                        Looking good Trader. I'm inspired. I might be stopping by Harbor Freight

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                        • #13
                          well first of all, its 9.4" deep. i completely missed the ball on that one, because the mainboard going in here is a full 9.6"

                          pretty easy fix though, ill just have to fold down the back and flatten it out/reshape it. im glad i didnt make the cover for it yet!

                          i also realized there will be enough room to house a full 3.5" harddrive. stay tuned for that, this is going to turn out to be a complete pc when im done it looks like.

                          also, jnyrad, look to see if your harbor freight has the 30" shown here- http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=41311 it would be better then what i have, because the 18" as you can imagine is a little small. it also has a floating die, so you must use 2 clamps to hold it in place for each bend. it doesnt make for a fast bend, but itll get it done nonetheless.

                          otherwise, if you want to spend the cash, i would bet this one gives a lot of flexibility and quicker bends-http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=45877

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                          • #14
                            good enough. i extended it 1/2" deeper, and my propane was running out so i had to finish this today. all i still need is my cdrom cables routed out... i want to mount a plug on the back, 1 for molex and another for sata but i dont have a sata extension cable (female/male) so ill wait on that.

                            because i had to extend it, i lost enough metal to keep tabs on the seams to rivet too. this made the whole case weak, so plan b was to bolt and dynatron a piece of plexiglass to the case underneath the motherboard. this keeps the bottom of the board safe from grounding out, and makes this case rigid. its like a brick once the harddrive is in too, that bracket actually puts back all the strength i lost when expanding the size of the case.


                            here are the caddys for the wifi and the harddrive.


                            its actually east to put together... even though its a mATX desktop pc crammed into a case smaller then many itx cases!


                            look at the wifi card. the pci adapter did interfere with the motherboard heatsink. thats why the wifi card is mounted crooked. i didnt feel like redrilling the ports on the back to line it all up again... ill do that later before this gets finished and painted.


                            no proper grommets right now, its just a wad of tape protecting the power wires. works fine


                            i made the cover in about 15 minutes. if you look closely, its obvious. physical appearance went out the window a long time ago anyway


                            still need a side grill. dont need it actually, would just look better. i think it still needs to be turned around too.

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                            • #15
                              I apologize for getting in on this too late to help much.

                              The build of my first case -- basically the same idea as yours -- is in the first post of my worklog.

                              The standoffs are often 6-32 thread, and 6-32 nuts are available at hardware stores and home centers.

                              You could use a couple of layers of shrink tubing around your wires to protect them.

                              If you go back to Harbor Freight, they have small metal files that make sheet metal work easier and a lot less damaging to our hands. The trick is to cut the openings a bit undersize and file them to what you need. I also take the file to every edge before I work with the pieces, because it means I don't donate blood to them.

                              Starting in post 603 of my worklog, there's a 10-post long discussion of sheet metal tools I used for parts of the project.

                              Maybe it will help next time . . . Again, I apologize for getting to the party so late.
                              .
                              If just enough is really good, then too much ought to be perfect.

                              2006 Scion xB with in-dash Atom & Lilliput 889GL -- Worklog at http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/work...res-links.html
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