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Shoebox PC; computing for free!

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by Error 404, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. Error 404

    Error 404

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    Have you ever thought: "I want a PC, for free, and I dont care what specs it has as long as it goes on the internet, and is small enough so that I can carry it"?
    Well, my friend and I have, and thats why we're making the Shoebox PC!

    Challengers, start planning! I've had an idea (thanks to King Wookie) to make this into a kind of contest!
    The aim of this contest is to create a PC that is small, uses minimal amounts of power, recycles an old PC, is compact, and can be made operational relatively simply! (we did ours in an afternoon)
    Here's the link to the contest page, in General Nonsense forum: http://forums.techpowerup.com/showthread.php?t=65966

    The idea we've had is that we shall use the smallest and cheapest possible case to put everything in, therefore making the PC compact, portable, and FREE.
    The case? Its a Shoebox.:cool:
    So, now for the PC: Its an old lump of chips my friend got from his dads work for free.
    Specs are a little on the slow side, but servicable:
    CPU: Pentium III Coppermine @ 733 MHz
    RAM: 256 MB SDRAM
    HDD: 9.3 GB, damn noisy, soon to be replaced with a laptop HDD.
    Motherboard: SiS 630, socket 370, mATX, inbuilt graphics and no AGP.
    PSU: mAXT 120 watt that I found in a dumpster. :laugh:

    That, along with a CD drive, will hopefully fit in a Shoebox that came with my size 12 sneakers.
    "Now", you may be thinking, "thats not so special, I could do that".
    Not so fast: also attached to the box will be a Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers, and a modified LCD screen!
    Now we're talking.;)
    The speakers will be integrated into the side of the box, the keyboard will fold out (and will be held in place by a rubber band and a paperclip), the mouse will fit into a little side-box, and the LCD will fold down on top.
    Tomorow, we will begin! We have everything but an LCD screen, so if anyone wants to donate one we'll happily pay postage to Australia. ;)
    Pics will follow shortly.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2008
  2. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    i'm interested. this is similar enough to my 'fit 4GB of ram, a quadcore, and an 8800GTX into a matx rig' to catch my interest :D
     
  3. Error 404

    Error 404

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    Lol, good luck with that; you'll need to put holes into it for cooling.:laugh:
    A quick question though: does a mobo have to be grounded to a case, or does the PSU take care of that?
    I dont want my Shoebox exploding...
     
  4. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    i've already got it. its the lan rig in my sig. the other 2GB of ram goes in it this weekend.

    the grounding is more of a backup, my advice would be to run a wire from one of the screw holes in the mobo to the PSU.
     
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  5. Error 404

    Error 404

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    Cool, I'll try doing that; I think the metal base of the PC is detachable, so I might even just take that out and put it in the box. Do you know anywhere where I could get a free LCD screen? Doesn't have to be perfect, 14" or so, dead pixels dont matter; we need one for it the project to work properly!
     
  6. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    nope no idea man. small sized LCD's just arent cheap.

    Best i can think of, thermaltake and a few other brands released 7" ones for PC, but they'd cost a bit.
     
  7. Error 404

    Error 404

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    Hmmm. What about Computer Recycling programs? We dont plan on actually buying anything new, because our budget is probably less than $50. Either that, or Erecycler at eBay might have something.
     
  8. Error 404

    Error 404

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    Update!
    Well, me and my friend worked on it for about 6 hours (including a hot lunch), and finally finished the box!
    We started by removing all the important bits from the original PC, and then seeing how they would fit in the Adidas shoebox. Turns out that everything would fit fine. :)
    First we got a lid from another shoebox and put it on the bottom of the shoebox, so that the motherboard would have something to sit on. Next we put in the PSU, which fit in nicely.
    On that, we based the rest of the design.
    Next thing we did was find a place for the HDD: we put it in the space under the lid, between the bottom of the shoebox and the underneath of the mobo. There's enough space for about 2 - 3 HDDs under there, but we only need one.
    [​IMG]

    Next, we had to figure out where to put the DVD drive (got it out of my old Dell); we decided to stick it to the lid of the shoebox, above the motherboard's PCI ports.
    This went fairly well, and we stuck everything (including motherboard) down with sticky tape.;)
    We also made a carboard support that would help hold up the DVD drive, which fit in between the PCI slots and sat on some capacitors and the NB heatsink.:eek:
    Finally, we cut out the back sections for the motherboard ports, and taped them on, and did the same for the PSU.
    We booted it up, and it worked! Windows 98 ran, and now we're in the process of installing Ubuntu.
    We plan to find an LCD monitor to attach to the top, which will fold out like a laptop screen, and have a small keyboard and mouse hidden underneath the bottom in a secret compartment.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The final product!
    [​IMG]
    More updates as soon as we find an LCD, and we may soon upgrade the specs to 1 GB of RAM and 1 GHz PIII CPU, if we can find them. ;)
     
  9. King Wookie

    King Wookie New Member

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    Stupid question, but have you guys been watching the temps in that box?

    And well done on a rather different but fun project.:toast:
     
  10. Error 404

    Error 404

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    Temps so far have been fine, but we're going to be adding a small 40 mm fan for extra airflow soon.
    Thanks for the complement! :)
    We hope to take it to school one day, once it is finished, and see how many strange looks it gets.:D
     
  11. King Wookie

    King Wookie New Member

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    Now you have me thinking, what other bizarre enclosures might be found?
    Would be a fun thread, but the rules are to spend as close to nothing to build it, and the enclosure must not be pc related in any way.

    An odd case gallery, as opposed to the mod case gallery.
     
  12. Error 404

    Error 404

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    Haha, thats a good idea. I shall edit my first post to make this more like a challange!
    I've thought about getting an old monitor and putting a motherboard in it, but this seemed cooler.
     
  13. alexp999

    alexp999 Staff

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    Like your own home made apple mac pc hybird!
     
  14. Error 404

    Error 404

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  15. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    ah that things hilarious, i love it
     
  16. tkpenalty New Member

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    rofl. addidas branded PC. That is quite awesome looking considering its size and how its black lol.
     
  17. PVTCaboose1337

    PVTCaboose1337 Graphical Hacker

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    I did something like this once. I took a PIII (coppermine 750mhz) and a Dell mobo, some ram, an HD, and put them together (I hot glued the mobo to the cardboard) and since I had no case, I put it in a cardboard box, with some airvents (cut by a knife, basically just stabs) I also had do heatsink, so I welded together old .22 shells into a "heatsink" which worked quite well.
     
  18. Error 404

    Error 404

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    Lol, cool, you could enter something like that into the Shoebox PC "competition" that I've started. I'm currently trying to convince Linux to install onto it, and it looks slightly cooler now that I have put a black DVD drive into it (only had a CD drive earlier).
    The CD drive ate my Ubuntu 8.04 disk :mad:, Linux Mint needs a password (which I dont have) :banghead:, and OpenSUSE 10 just confuses me...
    So I've made an Ubuntu 7.10 disk!
     
  19. Error 404

    Error 404

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    Ok, slight update: I've installed Puppy Linux, which is running beautifully (and quickly! :) ), and I've put a small fan in the side.
    Here's a pic of it completely finished, DVD drive and all.
    [​IMG]
     
  20. newconroer

    newconroer

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    I think you're kinda missing the bigger issue here. It's not that making a small computer is difficult, it's making a small computer that has multi-facted functionality, beyond that of a normal computer ( no matter the size).

    I.e. can your mini-computer line or wirelessly stream music from the internet into a set of Onkyo speakers/amplifiers; without having to meet the demands of a generic computer whether hardware or software? And if so, can you recreate them in mass quantities? e.g. are they realistic, or just a flakey prototype?

    In the end, computers, televisions, consoles, media players and probably even some of your househould luxuries, will be controlled and accessed via a single box.

    And while some of what I've seen here is 'neat,' I don't see the purpose?
    So you found some old components lying around, stuff them in a shoebox, wire them up and ????????????


    Maybe I read into the 'project' too much.

    I was going to see if anyone wanted to work on some of our ideas overhere, for small computers (not with the intent of 'mini') but with the intent of more mobilisation, with ADDED features not found on normal desktops or laptops.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2008
  21. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    nah he just wanted to make a shoebox PC. most people make prototypes and then see if its feasible from there.

    I wanted to make a mATX gaming system, and it took three revisions to get it - in the end i have a 3.2GHz quad core 4GB 1100MHz ram (@960MHz), 150GB raptor X and an 8800GTX all running in a teeny little case.

    projects like this are made for curiosity sake.. its not like he was funded here, its a hobby, not a job.
     
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  22. Error 404

    Error 404

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    Yep, all I wanted to do was put a PC into a shoebox and make it vaguely portable, all for free.
    Sometime in the future I want to put an LCD screen, speakers, keyboard and a mouse onto it (all in little compartments), and maybe even fit a small UPS inside so it is actually portable!
    Dont read too much into this Newconroer, its just a project we did because we were bored and had the materials handy. If we upgraded the hardware, then we might be able to make it wireless be a good media center, but our budget is currently $0, so its not going to happen any time soon.
     
  23. Chryonn

    Chryonn

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    it's still utterly brilliant though! i'm all for novel ideas on how to make the case smaller or more striking to look at.
     
  24. Angelstorm9x3 New Member

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    JROTC Uses shoe boxes for computers

    I'm busy working on a computer in a shoebox made of random parts I found in a shoebox my JROTC commander gave me. Can you believe that "one of the best schools in the nation" has to do that? :laugh:
    AND the video card is specialized, so I cant hook it up to a normal monitor, and the school is AWFULLY stingy with their money. :shadedshu

    I wonder how many strange looks I'll get when my platoon watches me hook up a shoebox to their tv.
     
  25. brandonwh64

    brandonwh64 Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!

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    Hmmm army going on a budget I see. When I was in I hooked up claymores but maybe shoebox PC's are cooler :confused:
     
    Crunching for Team TPU

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