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mediaBIN3.0 Weighted Companion Cube Build

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#1
miniITX Weighted Companion Cube Build mediaBIN3.0

This project is now mostly done! Click HERE to go to page 4 for the final images :D

So, I've decided to scrap my old mediaBIN2.1 project (crappy idea and would've been a waste of space :laugh:) and instead invest my time in a new project - reproducing the weighted companion cube from Portal in it's full glory at (a rather downsized) 25x25cm :rockout:. I'm going to try to match the exact dimensions as I can gather them from pictures of the actual in-game cube. I've seen this tried before, but I wasn't happy with the efforts since they weren't reproduced correctly and the dimensions and thicknesses of the corners were off. :wtf:

A few things that are still in need of attention:
1) Air vents are made by offsetting the middle hearts by 5mm spacers at the moment, but will see if it can be made more authentic in some way (maybe using the indented pink lines?)
2) The back connectors of the motherboard doesn't have access in the preliminary design yet since I couldn't yet figure out how I can do it without cutting out 'n huge section of the cube. :confused:
3) Placement of power/reset buttons as well as power/hdd LED's have not been determined. Thinking of using a stainless steel panel mount push button hidden somewhere...

Oh, the specs of the design is:
  • Intel Little Falls 2 w/ Atom Dual Core 330
  • 2GB Corsair XMS2 DDR2-800 RAM
  • D-Link PCI Gigabit LAN card (needed for dual networking capabilities)
  • 1TB Seagate 7200.12 3.5" SATA drive
  • D-Link DWA-120 Wireless Adapter 108Mbps
  • Vizo Super Muffle Ultra quiet 80mm fan for a tad of airflow
  • picoPSU-120 and a 108W brick to power everything

I've rendered the preliminary design in Solidworks (well, the most important features anyway :rolleyes:). The inner box frame will be made from either plexiglass (Perspex) or masonite board (hardboard). The corners will be handmade from 25mm MDF and other layered materials to give the right height. I've followed a tried and true way of mounting the motherboard on hex spacers in a multi-tiered system.

I'm going to start building basically as soon as I get the components (already ordered, maybe I'll get them on Tuesday or Wednesday) and I can measure them properly with the digital vernier.

Here's a scene from the game with the cube... Awh, isn't it cute? :laugh:


Here is the inside construction drawing, showing the placement of the tier system:


Here are two outside perspectives. Notice the holes behind the hearts currently used for ventilation. They will be fitted with filters. ;)


Here's another view showing the inside tier system more clearly. Next to the hard drive I will mount the Wireless adapter and the hard drive will be SATA and not IDE as shown (I originally wanted to use a 320GB IDE hard drive so I modeled that first and I'm too lazy to change it :D)
 
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craigbru

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#2
Very nice concept and planning! I look forward to seeing construction start!
 
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#3
Very nice concept and planning! I look forward to seeing construction start!
Thanks, will keep you guys posted! I'll borrow a decent camera somewhere so I can show the progress in detail ;). I have the entire holiday for the build so I'll get some hours in as soon as I'm back at home.

I've also thought about experimenting a bit with pink neon, but will hold that idea in reserve for now :D
 
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#4
Pardon my ignorance, but what is it supposed to be? I did a quick google on this companion cube thing, saw a few pictures, not really sure what it's about? Your rendering looks far better than any of the other pictures I found, so you must be doing something right..

Re: the motherboard backplane connectors issue, is looks as if you have extra space in the cube that you can put the motherboard to one side, this would allow you to plug in the cables as necessary and run them out through some strategically placed holes in the bottom of the cube. Otherwise, if you have to cut a chunk out of one side, that can be the bottom face (motherboard does not have to be horizontal) and you can mount it on some feet of some description to give you space for the cables, no one needs to know. But that kinda spoils the cube look.

just throwin ideas out there.
Cuzza
 
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#5
Cuzza, the Weighted Companion Cube is an object you are given in Portal to solve puzzles with. It is a pretty sarcastic game and it's difficult to explain it without you having played it, but basically it is supposed to be your "companion" in a mission. They joke about the fact that the Weighted Companion Cube will not try to stab you and so forth, but since I love the game I decided it would be pretty cool to make my server like it ;)

Thanks for the input, I actually thought about the exact same thing, moving the motherboard forward and routing the cables through a single hole, but it's things like the video connector that's HUGE that will necessitate actually increasing the size of the cube to let it fit. :wtf:
There is one good thing though, since the cube will be a server, all that will need to enter the cube (since I'll be using remote admin) is two network cables and the 12V power cable from the brick, which might make it possible to position the motherboard so that the video connector is directly over the hole in the side so that I can make a quick release heart to access the video if necessary, with the lan cables running through another hole maybe... :confused:

Also, I haven't thought of putting the motherboard vertical thanks! :D Will play around with the idea to see if I can't come up with something.
 
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#6
Just thought I'd quickly make the D-Link wireless adapter so I can show the placement. :D

Will remove the plate off of a USB extension bracket that plugs into the motherboard header and plug the wireless USB adapter into it so I don't have to mount it externally ;)

 

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#7
As for the power switch, turn one of the heart panels into a push button.
 
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#8
As for the power switch, turn one of the heart panels into a push button.
Thanks for the idea, I just don't want someone to see the cube and then accidentally turn the thing off when they touch it :laugh:. Maybe something like pressing the heart inside the panel so it's normally flush with the rest of the center circle shape, but that's going to be tricky since it's quite a large area to coordinate. Might have to seriously play around with small bars and pipes to get that quite right... :twitch:
 
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#9
Ok, I've decided on what I want to do with the connectors.

Luckily, the Little Falls 2 motherboard connector placement puts the video connector toward the middle of the board, so I can get away with cutting a little slot in the back panel that will be covered by the heart under normal use (when I don't need video, only LAN) by threading the LAN cables probably through the opening between the panel and the heart circle thingy.

When I need video I'll make the heart removable so the video port can be accessed :cool:

Thus the whole motherboard will be moved forward about 18-20mm to make it possible for the LAN cables to plug into the motherboard and make a sharp bend out of the whole in the back panel. I've also thought about making extension adapters so I can mount the LAN ports on the cube with cables leading to the network ports... :D

Here's the basic layout then:


With the wire routing shown here:
 
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#10
This was a triumph
 
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#11

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#12
its hard to overstate my satisfaction.
 
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#13
"Aperture Science... We do what me must because we can." :D
 

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#14
for the good of all of us...
 
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#15
Thanks, will keep you guys posted! I'll borrow a decent camera somewhere so I can show the progress in detail ;). I have the entire holiday for the build so I'll get some hours in as soon as I'm back at home.

I've also thought about experimenting a bit with pink neon, but will hold that idea in reserve for now :D
are you talking of cold cathodes or plastic ?
if you are talking of using ccfl's i personallly would go for leds as they are less likely to
(a) get hot
and
(B)burn out
you can always frost them with some fine glass paper (experimental only as a last resort)
if you you can't get them that way:)
 
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#16
Nice Plan! great planning, space and visual representations of everything really sparks the imagination, But if your budget allows why don't you try and get a mobo with the ION platform for the companion Cube?
 
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#17
are you talking of cold cathodes or plastic ?
if you are talking of using ccfl's i personallly would go for leds as they are less likely to
(a) get hot
and
(B)burn out
you can always frost them with some fine glass paper (experimental only as a last resort)
if you you can't get them that way:)
I was talking about small cold cathodes. Mmm, good point. And the LED's are much smaller as well... Will probably see how much purple (or maybe UV or even white) LED's go for and maybe let them shine through pink plexiglass. Since you don't get pink LED's the last time I checked? :confused:

Nice Plan! great planning, space and visual representations of everything really sparks the imagination, But if your budget allows why don't you try and get a mobo with the ION platform for the companion Cube?
Thanks Bo$$! Appreciate it. :toast: The primary reason that I got the Atom platform is because it's small and inexpensive. The server isn't ever going to have to do HD movies or anything, it's basically a high-speed router and firewall with NAS capabilities. The ION can do that too, but it's way too pricey for my needs and other than lower power requirements I don't see the point. Also, I like the dual core w/ Hyperthreading setup of the Atom 330. Will probably run quite fast on Ubuntu Server 9.04 :rockout:
 

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#18
Thanks Bo$$! Appreciate it. :toast: The primary reason that I got the Atom platform is because it's small and inexpensive. The server isn't ever going to have to do HD movies or anything, it's basically a high-speed router and firewall with NAS capabilities. The ION can do that too, but it's way too pricey for my needs and other than lower power requirements I don't see the point. Also, I like the dual core w/ Hyperthreading setup of the Atom 330. Will probably run quite fast on Ubuntu Server 9.04 :rockout:
Ah, Sorry dude you specify the usage :) but that sound great for an ubuntu system :rockout:
You might want to have a 'Flip Down Heart' :rolleyes: (Heart mounted on a pair of sprung hinges) on the Back so that you dont have to remove it when you add the cabling inside :D
 
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#19
Ah, Sorry dude you specify the usage :) but that sound great for an ubuntu system :rockout:
You might want to have a 'Flip Down Heart' :rolleyes: (Heart mounted on a pair of sprung hinges) on the Back so that you dont have to remove it when you add the cabling inside :D
Awesome idea Bo$$, thanks! Will definitely see if I can make that happen... Will have to browse through the hardware store to see if there's anything I can use that also gives it an offset. :toast:
 

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#20
it will be a nice touch and prevent someone losing the Heart :laugh:
good luck finding such a small one :) :toast:
 
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#21
Sad but true:

The only parts I've yet received for the project:
  • 30/40/50mm hex spacers
  • 2x Super Bright 20kmcd White LED's (Left)
  • 2x Super Bright 4kmcd Blue LED's (Right)
  • 12V P4 Extension for picoPSU120W

Sorry for the horrendous photo quality - cell camera. Will definitely use another camera when I'm home. That's 450km away because I'm staying in a flat on campus. Home is where the action is going to happen and where all the tools are... haha :D LED's are for power and HDD. Not yet decided what colour I'm going to use... Maybe I'll get UV or Purple LED's as well just to check.

 
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Software Windows 8.1
#22
Damn, I'm having some trouble with stock availability on some of the items, so it's delaying my entire order. Hopefully I'll get some news tomorrow... Until then I'm pretty much in the waiting chair. :cry:
 
Joined
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Processor Intel i7-920 @ 4.0GHz LGA1366
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Cooling TRUE 120 with 2x120mm Thermalright FDB-1600 and 8x120mm Zalman/Coolermaster Case Fans
Memory 16GB DDR3-1333 Corsair @ 8-8-8-19
Video Card(s) Gigabyte GTX 1070 FE
Storage Intel 520 240GB + Intel X25-M 80GB + 4TB Seagate/WD Storage
Display(s) 24" Samsung SA350 + 24" BenQ G2410HD + 2x 22" Samsung 2253GW's + Hyundai 19" B91D+
Case Coolermaster CM690
Power Supply Corsair TX750W PSU
Software Windows 8.1
#23
It seems they are STILL waiting on the suppliers for the Little Falls 2 motherboard. All the other items are confirmed.

This is really starting to tick me off since I'm ordering from another store as well and I'm having just as much trouble with them not giving me the bank details where I'm supposed to actually pay for the items and "forgetting" that I need an invoice and such. This was NOT a good day for me or the project! :banghead:

On another note, I'm thinking of putting some expanded aluminium (if I can find some here in SA) over the ventilation holes so there isn't a huge gaping hole in the case where you can look inside. Something like this:


Also, I'm thinking of buying this type of switch in stainless steel. Will need to think about its placement though because it's got to be discrete. Maybe on the bottom panel? Any ideas?
 

Bo$$

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#24
looking good so far with parts :rockout: , keep ploughing on dude we all have our bad days :)

You can try making it out of steel and using that polish to give it a brushed look :cool:

:pimp:
 

MKmods

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#25
It seems they are STILL waiting on the suppliers for the Little Falls 2 motherboard. All the other items are confirmed.

This is really starting to tick me off since I'm ordering from another store as well and I'm having just as much trouble with them not giving me the bank details where I'm supposed to actually pay for the items and "forgetting" that I need an invoice and such. This was NOT a good day for me or the project! :banghead:

On another note, I'm thinking of putting some expanded aluminium (if I can find some here in SA) over the ventilation holes so there isn't a huge gaping hole in the case where you can look inside. Something like this:
http://www.wiremesh-yld.com/images/Expanded-Aluminium-Foil-Mesh-1.jpg

Also, I'm thinking of buying this type of switch in stainless steel. Will need to think about its placement though because it's got to be discrete. Maybe on the bottom panel? Any ideas?
http://img.techpowerup.org/091117/Stainless steel switch.png
I have one of those switches if you want, PM me.
I also have one of these if ur interested..
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813121359

By the way excellent job on the sketchup stuff.