View Full Version : The Mini-Rat Small PC.

06-14-2007, 03:02 AM
Now I have my new system for gaming, I want to put the old computer in a small case for using as a media centre. The smaller case will take up less desk space when I have two computers going.

To that end I just bought this as the raw material for the case:



Yes it's an awful shade of pink, but I am planning on painting it. Besides, the white version was $20 dearer. I guess pink doesn't sell...
The PSU mounts at the front of this case and it also has pre stealthed DVD doors and these nifty covers over where the floppy drive goes and the front USB ports etc.




This thing really is small compared to a normal tower. Very narrow and a lot shorter.

I decide on a colour tonight and go and buy some paint in the morning to start on it.

06-14-2007, 04:09 AM
Here's the case stripped down. You can see just how narrow the case is looking at the 5.25" bays.



06-14-2007, 07:46 AM
what are the advantages of having a psu in the front of a case ?

The main one is case height. With a normal case the PSU is above the MoBo, so the case has to be taller to accommodate that. With the PSU at the front it allows the case to be about 3"-4" shorter.
The mounts for the PSU allow it to be mounted either way up too, so I'll put the fan on top rather than the bottom.

There will be a fair bit of soldering on this case too, as I want all the cable from the PSU to be the exact length required. So I'll cut and shut them to make it all work. I'm considering putting in fan speed controls and hiding them behind the floppy disk flap on the front. I still haven't decided on a colour yet, but I do want to keep this case looking simple and sleek.

06-14-2007, 09:44 PM
It was still a $85 case. So not too cheap, but better than the $109 for the white. There was a black case the same size with a mesh front, but it only had one DVD drive cover and I wanted two for this system, so the pink case it was.

Normal PC sounds will be fine for me. I don't have too many problems with noise as it is, so I'm not too worried.
Besides, once I buy a new TV later this year, I won't hear the computer when I'm watching it in the next room.
I'll integrate it in with my stereo and the likes later. For now it will just be for watching TV and movies at my comp desk while doing things on the other PC.

I have decided to go for a green case like my current one. I like the green and I can reuse more cables and fans etc. I won't be painting today though. It's too cold and wet. Besides I have a doctors appointment in a few hours and don't want to get too dirty.
To that end I'll start on the PSU mods instead.
I will mount the PSU fan side up and first mod will be replace the stock 120mm fan with a green LED one.

06-14-2007, 11:32 PM
This is the spare PSU I had lying around from a previous PC that I will use.


I pulled the top off and removed the fan from it:


Then I soldered in the green LED fan and put the PSU all back together:


06-15-2007, 07:39 AM
More on the PSU. I shortened all the wire for the MoBo connector so it will be a nice neat fit. I removed around 7" from each of the wires and soldered them back together.

Part way through:


And job done:


The next step will be doing the other power wires for the drives and fans.

06-18-2007, 06:10 AM
It has been raining everyday since I bought the case, so I haven't been able to do any painting.
I did do a simple mod for the mouse I'm going to use. It's a HP mouse with a smoked base you could see the red LED through. I changed out teh LED for a green one to go with the case.

The guts before LED removal and the new LED.


And back together:



It works fine. I'll probably do some other painting on it yet, but for now the LED will do.

I also picked up some green LED fans today and some green molex ends.

06-19-2007, 07:49 AM
First you'll notice the new name for the thread. I've decided seeing as the Ratputer will be my gaming PC, I should have the Rat theme going for this case too.
I will stray from the rat them for the inside, which will be a bright green, but the outside will be a more Camo style green.

Tonight I cut a blow hole in the top of the case and was stripping the paint from it until my cheap-o dremel blew up.
I need new batteries for my camera, so I'll put up pics later.

06-19-2007, 11:38 AM
As promised, a couple of photos.

The blow hole:


As you may be able to make out, the hole isn't perfectly round, but once the fan guad goes on it won't be a problem.


You can also see how much paint I stripped off before my Multi-Tool went pop.

06-19-2007, 12:51 PM
is that PSU slot a vertical one?

No. It mounts the same way a normal PSU does, except at the front of the case. It does have two sets of mounts so that the fan can be on the top or the bottom though.

06-19-2007, 12:55 PM
I just realised you probably meant the grill at the back, its for two 80mm exhaust fans.

Here's a pic with the PSU dummied up so you can see where it mounts.

http://img517.imageshack.us/img517/5922/cameradump145qv2.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

06-20-2007, 11:09 PM
yeah, wow, now that i look, that is a REALLY small case. Its like the same height as the mobo!

On the box the case came in it says it's "The World's smallest ATX case".

I don't know if it's true or not, but for a case that can take a full size ATX board it would have to be close.

06-21-2007, 10:07 AM
The case comes with a cord that runs from the back of the case to the PSU in the front, so the normal power cord just plugs in at the back like any other PC.
The front has mesh so the PSU can still get rid of the hot air.

06-22-2007, 09:37 AM
Finally some Sunshine today! After two and a half weeks of wet or cold and overcast days.

It meant I could get the first of the painting done inside the case.

http://img510.imageshack.us/img510/2600/cameradump146wn0.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

I stripped the front panel down to nothing ready for some camo green, but the can of spray paint was a dud and wouldn't work. So I'll go and get a new can soon for it.

06-22-2007, 10:00 AM
The outside will be done the same as one of my bikes is.

http://img113.imageshack.us/img113/8907/00002200nzvd3.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

06-23-2007, 08:36 PM
The bike is a Yamaha TDM850 called Mr T. I've changed it slightly...

Here's mine:


Here's a standard one:


And yes, it has eyes on mine...


07-03-2007, 02:14 AM
Smallish update. I stripped the case down and painted the insides green, ready for reassembly once the outside bits are finished.

Green drive cage:


The chassis and MoBo tray:



I've also given the side panel a quick sand, and put some bondo on to cover the side vents and the iCute logo.


And bondo!

http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/7760/cameradump186ev4.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

I also stopped at the electronics shop and bough various switches, plugs, sockets and LEDs for this mod. More on that when I start building it.

07-03-2007, 03:14 AM
how do your paint jobs end up being so glossy?

Good paint and good technique. That is how it looks after the paint has dried. I just clean the inside of teh case and then spray. No sanding.

07-03-2007, 08:27 AM
Another update. You can see here the colour scheme I'm going for. Bright green inside, with flat red oxide and flat black on the outside.

I also have the top fan in too.

http://img150.imageshack.us/img150/8736/cameradump187lc2.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

http://img340.imageshack.us/img340/4655/cameradump188hi8.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

The fan guard isn't really finger proof, so I added some aluminium flyscreen between the fan and the case:

http://img299.imageshack.us/img299/4999/cameradump189na2.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Here's some of the stuff I bought today for wiring up the fans and lights and the control switches.

http://img340.imageshack.us/img340/7210/cameradump190xj6.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

07-04-2007, 04:19 AM
I couldn't find any cable sleeving around at the local stores, so I decided to improvise for the fan wiring.

$5 got me a 5m USB cable, which happens to be the exact size I need to put the 3.5mm stereo plugs on.


So now I have 5 metres of pre-sleeved cable to play with and it should look nice and neat.

07-05-2007, 11:07 AM
Doing work on this case is fun. The small size makes for some challenges as far as wire management goes.
I really like it and decided I would put my good stuff in it, assuming it will all fit. The 600W PSU length and the length of the 8800GTS had me thinking they might clash, but as you can see there is some space to spare.


I also did a test fit up with the front panel to make sure the DVD drive would work.


So rather than being a media PC, this will be a gaming machine, but otherwise the idea remains the same. I'm not doing much more than paint on the outside, but on the inside is where the magic will be.
I've been getting a lot better at cable management and I have some ideas I want to try out.
I plan on being the wire Nazi. I don't want to see anything I don't really have to, and what does get seen is very neat and good looking.

All the case fans will have a switch so they can be turned off, or run on 5v or run on 12v, so I'll be able to change the speeds depending on what I'm doing.
All the fan switches will be hidden behind one of the flip down panels on the front of the case.
I'll also have at least 1 green CCFL in the case which will also have a switch on the front panel.

07-06-2007, 06:57 AM
Just a small update. I've made up the video card power cable from a shower hose.

http://img179.imageshack.us/img179/1568/cameradump199rc7.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

07-07-2007, 05:40 AM
I'm just doing the wiring in small steps, making sure I do it right.

I did the fan wiring tonight for the CPU cooler.

Here's what the intel heatsink looks like with the fan off:


Getting ready to solder. You can see the section I cut out of the wires.


The fan reinstalled with the shorter, sleeved wiring.

http://img176.imageshack.us/img176/4373/cameradump209je0.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

07-08-2007, 03:41 AM
I did some work on the front panel today. I decided I couldn't just leave it standard, I had to mod it a little.

So to that end, keen readers will remember this case I was going to use for my Linux Box:


It was a case I only paid $10 for. I liked the DVD drive cover and the power switch. The rest of the case is pretty cheap and nasty though.
So I cut the power/reset switch out of it to use on this mod.

First up I cut out the front panel and also drilled a hole for a small fan:


Once I cut the front panel of the other PC, I glued it in place with superglue, before reinforcing it with Araldite:


When I did a test fit up, I discovered my measurements were out and the fan wouldn't fit after all. So I glues in the piece I cut out back in place, then ran a smear of Bondo over it and sanded it:



Then a quick coat of primer before it gets some spot putty to finish:


The other thing you'll see in the pics above is I cut out the front where the two small vents were at the bottom. seeing as that is the exhaust vest for the PSU, I decided it really could be bigger to make sure it gets sufficient airflow, so the cetre section was cut out and I have some mesh to fit in it.

07-08-2007, 08:29 AM
Here's how the mesh and the chrome surround will look on the front of the case.

They aren't attached yet, they are just sitting in place for the picture.

http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/4518/cameradump217hy4.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

07-08-2007, 02:52 PM
Nice Job it looks awesome!

07-08-2007, 11:56 PM
Who's face is that peeking through the power button?

I didn't notice that! It's some guy on the TV which was on in the background.

07-09-2007, 08:38 AM
I've decided I'm only going to run one DVD drive on the PC, so today I put the second DVD drive cover back on the case, along with the blanking plate and glued them in place, then added some spot putty to fill in the line around the edge.

I also started on the switches to control the fans. They will mount in the case where the 3.5" floppy drive is meant to go. The switches will be behind the floppy drive cover. I cut the floppy drive cover out to allow the switches to go through. In the gap between the drive bay cover and the actual mounts for the switches is around 3-4mm, so I'll light up the area with a couple of LEDs.

Anyway, some pictures.

The floppy drive bay cut out:


The switches roughly taped in place on the case:


And where the switches will sit on the front of the case and the putty work I've been doing.


07-10-2007, 09:40 AM
I've sanded down the front:


And I've given a couple of coats of paint. It still needs a little more work though.

http://img509.imageshack.us/img509/4158/cameradump235pm0.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

07-10-2007, 09:04 PM
I have been thinking my case needs something more and after reading Jergerjon's NLM thread last night it got some ideas ticking over in my head and I decided that for a Mini-Ratputer, it needed more Rat.

So this morning I found a scrap bit of 1/4" plexi lying around and set to work.

First up I marked out the letters I wanted:


Then using a combination of the Dremel, the scroll saw and a file I had the letters cut out:


As to where they are going and what I'm doing with them, you'll just have to wait and see...

I am also finishing off the painting on the front panel today (I hope) as long as the weather holds out anyway.

07-10-2007, 10:28 PM
I sanded them to give some paint something to stick to, and painted just the A flat black:


The other small thing I did was pull apart and paint a 40mm fan for the Northbridge.



On the Gigabyte DS3 motherboard I'm running there is no Northbridge fan standard, though there is some NB header pins for a fan. Even at idle the NB gets too hot to touch. I currently have a40mm blue LED fan on there at the moment which cooled it dramatically, but blue LEDs don't really fit in with this mod and I had the spare plain black one lying around, so with a coat or 3 of green t will be good to go. I'll just have to do a test fit to work out the length I need for the wires. I bought some three pin connectors from Jaycar a few days ago so I don't have to much around soldering on an old lead.

07-11-2007, 05:20 AM
Here's what I've been doing with the RAT letters.

First a coat of Iron Paint on them, except for around the circle on the A.


Once the paint had dried, I sprayed the acid reactor fluid over the iron painted plexi. Here it is before I sprayed it on, and an after pic from 45 minutes later:


Here's a sneak peak of what the front of the case will look like and what I'm doing with the RAT letters.

http://img244.imageshack.us/img244/6783/cameradump013ws8.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

07-24-2007, 09:44 AM
Just a small update. I've had a bit of a modders block lately on what I need to do. I've come up with a few ideas for mounting the hard drives, but first I needed to trim down the 5.25" bays to the bare minimum, so that is what I have done here:

http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/9283/cameradump040nd7.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

I'm only using the bits in the bottom of the picture to hold the DVD drive. The rest will go on my modding shelf of spares.

Tomorrow I'll repaint them and install them and start on the hard drive mounts.

07-24-2007, 12:44 PM
I know I said I'll start on the HDD mounts tomorrow, but I got keen tonight and this is what I have so far.

First up, a piece of mesh from the side of an old case:


Then it was trimmed to the height I needed:


To bend it I just used those clamps and the edge of that shelf for the hard edge, then pushed the mesh over by hand:


After going back and forward between the case and the mesh double checking measurements, I had this made after about 10 minutes of folding and bending:


Which will sit in the case like this:


I still have to do the bolts to mount it, plus reinforce some of it with some plexi, but that is the basis of the HDD rack.

07-25-2007, 04:01 AM
I chucked the PSU and the DVD drive in to make sure the mesh would fit.
This is how the HDDs will mount:

http://img440.imageshack.us/img440/5580/cameradump050fx0.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

I will have more than one drive and it will sit up higher than right on top of the PSU. I'll reinforce the back of the mesh with some plexi and run the SATA and power cables up behind the mesh and out through a hole lining up with each drive.

07-25-2007, 11:11 AM
I may or may not have a front fan yet. If I do, it will be another exhaust fan.

The intake fans will be at the back of the case where normally it's exhaust fans.

I don't want to turn the drives, otherwise I would have kept the original drive bays.

07-30-2007, 10:40 AM
I had my parts I ordered for PC Case Gear turn up today, so I've been busy doing some modding today.

First up, the Thermaltake Sonic Tower heatsink. This thing is freaking huge! I'm going to cut a hole in the side of the case for the top of it to hang out of.

http://img517.imageshack.us/img517/1801/cameradump083rj9.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

I also installed the clear 80mm fans with green LEDs into the back of the case and put on the air filters. These fans will be the intake fans.

http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/1922/cameradump082bm1.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

While installing the fans, I extended the wiring so those two fans and the top blow hole extend to the front of the case. All the wiring is tucked up at the top of the case and UV sleeving installed.

http://img441.imageshack.us/img441/220/cameradump084bs6.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

I needed them extended so I could plug them into this:

http://img514.imageshack.us/img514/4708/cameradump078cy8.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

I also started on the ATX cable. I bought new pins and a UV green plug. I also used some electrical conduit to get the bends I want so the cable sits right.
I still need to trim to the right length and install the pins and plug:

http://img517.imageshack.us/img517/3300/cameradump085tz8.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

It will sit in the case like this:

http://img408.imageshack.us/img408/8403/cameradump087ct2.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

I may still put green UV cable sleeving over the top of it yet.

the other thing I got was a PCI slot exhaust fan, to help cool the dead spot under the 8800GTS, where it gets quite warm:

http://img508.imageshack.us/img508/9469/cameradump086rf6.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

It will be painted too before being installed.

Expect another update tomorrow after I've done some more with my other bits I've bought.

07-31-2007, 10:47 AM
I've done a few more hours of work, nothing exciting, just the stuff that needs to be done. I've been working on the front panel of the case, putting in all the switches and lights.

I also do all the cable sleeving on everything coming off the front of the case.

I used part of a printed circuit board to make a small light bar for three LEDs to light the fan control dials. It also has one super bright green LED for the power on indicator in the front of the case. I'm just running the 4 LEDs off the power on LED from the MoBo.

http://img129.imageshack.us/img129/6792/cameradump090fj8.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Here's the wiring on the back of the front panel after I installed the switches and LEDs, along with the sleeved USB and Firewire cables and the front audio jacks.

http://img66.imageshack.us/img66/8629/cameradump093zf0.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Here's a couple of shots of the front with the doors closed and opened. I still need to paint the power and reset buttons before I put them in, so that's why they are missing.


http://img515.imageshack.us/img515/6182/cameradump096ld3.jpg (http://imageshack.us)


http://img159.imageshack.us/img159/7981/cameradump095pr9.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

I have also glued in the front green mesh along with adding a couple of small holes and a bit of rust paint here and there.

Here's an overview of the mostly completed front panel:

http://img339.imageshack.us/img339/9439/cameradump094ut2.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Thanks for the comments guys!

Hey bucko ...

You've taken the rat scheme into the puter ... wondering if you can also drag the computer back towards rat-biking .. get some rpm gauges for the fans .. and a throttle to control them :D .. it would take some servo work and electronics but would be way fun to do.

I won't be changing the design of this case too much, but I had already bought a pocket bike with the idea of putting a PC in it at some point.

08-01-2007, 05:41 AM
I started on some of the case lighting tonight.

I bought these project circuit boards for a dollar each a while ago, I knew they would be handy for something!

I made up a board with 27 green LEDs. It will go in the bottom of the case behind some smoked plexi.

here it is all done:


And lit up:


I'll sand the LEDs to diffuse the light a little bit too.

08-02-2007, 02:50 AM
I've had a fairly productive afternoon. The mesh is mounted and the HDD mounted to the mesh with holes cut for the cables. I aso ran some rubber around the edge of the mesh.

As you can see, I changed the layout of the HDD from what I originally planned.


Here's the back of the mesh where some wiring will be hidden and the HDD cooler is mounted:


I also put the front on and mounted the DVD drive. The front will have to come off again yet, I just wanted to make sure all my wiring was going to work.


I can definatly see light at the end of the tunnel. I'm getting closer, but I still have a lot of detail work to go as well as the side of the case.

Link to original thread (http://www.thebestcasescenario.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8879&page=9)