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mounting an electronics project

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by davidfromtas, Aug 2, 2004.

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  1. davidfromtas

    davidfromtas Guest

    Hello sci.electronics.basics

    I hope this post is not off topic. If so my appologies. Also since I
    dont really know what I am doing I may not express myself that
    clearly. Please bear with me.

    I bought a bunch of PC parts the other day and build a little PC on
    our guest bed. Now I want to clean it up by putting it in a box or at
    least mounting it cleanly. I have a hard drive, a tiny little ITX
    motherboard and a power supply.

    I have built PCs before in standard cases, but this time I want to
    make the housing. My idea is to use some kind of sheet metal (a flat
    piece of aluminium?) and drill holes in it to mount the parts. Where
    I need vertical stuff I was thinking that perhaps I could find some
    little angle brackets and use them to mount strips of metal going
    vertically. If that works out I might make a persphex cover for the
    whole thing but that is for part 2 of the project.

    After some thought I decided that must be the kind of problem that you
    electronics project people do all the time.

    Could somebody recommend a resource on how to do this? I went to
    Fry's, Radio Shack and Home Depot (I live in Orange County, CA) but
    couldnt find the kinds of things I am guessing I need. What is the
    kind of store that sells things to do this called (a googleable term
    would be nice).

    I dont have a lot of tools or stuff, but am willing to spend some
    money to be successful in this project. I dont want to go out and buy
    some premade solution. I want to build it. Also if you want to make
    some suggestions please make it pretty simple I am starting from
    scratch here. For example: dont say "cut some holes in the back panel
    for the ports", say "use an sonic screw driver to cut some holes in
    the back panel for the ports".

    Any advice much appreciated.


  2. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Do you mean that you have components just lying there loose? Then,
    although you don't want to hear it, you can essentially do anything
    you want to. But your question is kind of vague. And I don't know if
    you have the background to start cutting holes in sheet metal, if you
    need someone to say "use an[sic] sonic screw driver to cut....". Which
    doesn't make any sense anyway, by the way.

    Go shopping around. OC? Geez - go to the malls and look for educational
    toy stores with construction kits. Go to industrial liquidators and
    check out relay racks. Go lurking in the hobby/recreational build-stuff

    But saying, "I want to put some stuff in a cabinet, but I don't know
    what I want to make it out of or what I want it to look like, and by
    the way, I've never had a tool in my hand, so I need detailed instructions
    down to how to put a screwdriver blade into the slot" probably isn't
    going to yield much in the way of useful information.

    Good Luck!
  3. Randy Day

    Randy Day Guest

    Sounds like you'd find all kinds of stuff
    for this at your local hardware store.
    Since you say your Home Depot doesn't have
    anything appealing, I'm not sure what to
    suggest. An electrical supply store might
    have unusual cases and such...

    One funky option might be to use plastic
    zip-ties to hang the motherboard in the case.

    If you want a retro look, find an old wooden
    console record player, strip out the guts and
    mount your stuff in it. You can put the
    monitor and keyboard on top, and mount PC
    speakers where the old speakers were. ;)

    My one recommendation is that you mount the
    motherboard with something non-metallic; if
    a rough-edged metal mounting bracket rubs
    the coating off over time, and touches two
    traces, say goodbye to your mobo.
  4. cassandra

    cassandra Guest

    Well the components are lying there loose now. But now that it works
    nicely, my plan is to secure them to the flat plate and later build a cover
    for it. I noticed at Fry's they have metal and plastic project cases. None
    of them fit my needs. But I'd love to see one with somebody's project
    already affixed within it.

    Sorry, the sonic screwdriver bit is a Dr. Who reference. Please disregard.
    Sorry, I didnt mean to infer that I have never had a tool in my hand. And I
    did try to be as specific about what I planned to do. I just thought there
    might a standard way to do it that would make it all go a bit smoother.

    I want to mount the motherboard to a metal plate using some metal spacers
    using holes drilled in the plate to secure the spacers. I will do the same
    with the power supply, but without the spacers. I plan to find a way to put
    space between the plate and the hard drives too so they have some airflow
    around them. If I can find a little angle bracket then I can probably cut
    some strips off the base with a hacksaw and make a couple of little risers
    that I can screw the hard drive to. Does that sound like a worthwhile
    direction to try out?


  5. cassandra

    cassandra Guest

    I think there are plastic versions on the spacer I was planning to use to
    mount the motherboard to the metal plate I will use for my base.

    I took an old stereo appart today. Thought I might even be able to use that
    casing. It did have metal boards much like a I am planning on using to
    mount my motherboard, but they used them mostly to mount the transformer and
    mechanical parts of the stereo. Also the boards we pressed into funny
    shapes that pretty much ruled out my using them to mount my computer parts.
    I noted most of the circuit boards are mounted quite differently to a normal
    PC motherboard. As you suggest they did not have a lot of metal contact.

  6. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Oh, yes - sorry for condescending there. :) The Newark/Mouser/Digi-key
    et al catalogs probably have a wealth of hardware. For a flat piece of
    sheet metal, how about a case side from a "retired" computer? If you
    have access to a brake, bending some little upside-down-U-shaped brackets
    might be cool. When I was a kid, we got an Erector Set for Xmas one year.
    I don't know if you can still get such a thing, but you could build
    little superstructures and trestles and stuff, if you want. Erector Sets
    are _way_ cool. :)

    Have fun!
  7. Richard

    Richard Guest

    You can go to places like or or even Radio

    Look for an item called Standoffs. The come in different lengths and
    materials. Thoses are the little spacers your looking for that go between
    the chassis and your motherboard. You can get them in Brass, Aluminum,
    Nylon.... and different thread sizes.

    Almost every town I've ever lived in has a sheet metal shop somewhere. They
    can bend and cut sheet metal for you and generally pretty cheap. Most do
    not have the dies to cut the holes for computer connectors like the DB9 or
    DB25 but you can do that by using a drill then using a notcher.

    Sorry but that is about all the help I can provide. Have fun and try to
    keep the cut fingers to a minimum.
  8. KevinR

    KevinR Guest

    I got part of the way through doing this my self.
    I managed to get a piece of 3mm Dural sheet from a local Aluminum
    stockist. I drilled (carefully) through the mounting holes in the
    motherboard, not all the way through the dural, just enough to mark
    the positions, then moved the motherboard out of the way before
    drilling right through. I got M4 spacers and bolted them on to the
    dural and fixed the motherboard to the spacers using M4 screws.
    Then I got a right-angle AGP adapter which would allow my video card
    to fit horizontally ( I was after a low profile so it would fit under
    my telly like a VCR) . I made a mounting bracket for the harddrive
    from some angle aluminum with some of those soft rubber gromets from
    inside an old CD rom drive for vibration and bolted the PSU on like
    you were suggesting and that is as far as I got. I was going to fit a
    DVD drive which would sit just above the, now horizontal, video card.
    but the skeleton PC now sits under my telly whith no box around it and
    although I like the "borg ness" of it, it isn't very pretty.

    Kevin R
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