The Dreamcast PC

Enclosures, modding, blowholes, and the power needed to run it all.

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The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:27 am

So I'm taking on a project for myself - I'm going to put a mini or pico ITX board and a 1.8" or 2.5" hard drive inside a Sega Dreamcast case, because NES PCs are played out. Also I have a spare FM2 A6 chip lying around so I may as well use that as the basis - it's mostly going to be doing HTPC duties but can also bust out a game of SC2 on low-medium is fine.

So I have three main concerns
1: Power button - will i need to solder the leads from the original DC power button to properly fitting cables to wire it to my motherboard? I know you have to for NES PC builds, not sure if I will have to on a Dreamcast build

2: Motherboard mounting - any opinions on how to rest the motherboard assuming I can't feng shui working standoffs in? Some have recommended polystyrene or similar - not sure what works and what doesn't

3: Low profile cooling - the dreamcast has a height of 76 mm - stock AMD heatsink is 60 mm - I can buy a low profile 40mm-ish cooler, but might it be better to buy a CPU-block water cooler and just route the radiator outside of the physical case?
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:07 pm

pikaporeon wrote:So I have three main concerns
1: Power button - will i need to solder the leads from the original DC power button to properly fitting cables to wire it to my motherboard? I know you have to for NES PC builds, not sure if I will have to on a Dreamcast build
You could verify this by googling up some internal schematics, diagrams, or simply photos. All you need are two wires connected to a simple switch. It's not difficult to get working. I do suspect you will have to add a header plug thingy to the end of the wires, at least, but I have never seen a Dreamcast in person (much less an opened one) so I have no real idea.
pikaporeon wrote:2: Motherboard mounting - any opinions on how to rest the motherboard assuming I can't feng shui working standoffs in? Some have recommended polystyrene or similar - not sure what works and what doesn't
Anything which isn't conductive can be used. Try to avoid using materials which will trap heat, like silicone. I might just hot glue the board in place if it were me, but I love hot glue. (´・ω・`)
pikaporeon wrote:3: Low profile cooling - the dreamcast has a height of 76 mm - stock AMD heatsink is 60 mm - I can buy a low profile 40mm-ish cooler, but might it be better to buy a CPU-block water cooler and just route the radiator outside of the physical case?
Using a closed-loop cooler with external radiator is certainly an option, but I sure wouldn't recommend it. The hoses don't really flex all that easily and you'll have this little bitty device with a pair of inflexible hoses and a giant block of metal hanging off of it ...

Cooling will be a problem with such a small enclosure. I'd make sure to use a down-draft cooler (which virtualy all low-profile coolers are) with as powerful of a fan as I can manage.

Still, depending on what A6 you have, you're looking at a best-case of 65W TDP. That's going to be hard to cool at load with a low-profile cooler. I don't really know what to tell you. High-speed fans are noisy, which is bad for a HTPC-style system. Maybe you could remove all the disk drive mechanics and cut out the bay so that the drive cover opens directly into the bottom of the machine and open it when playing games for extra airflow? Haha...

Alternatively you could use a tower cooler and cut a hole in the top to let it stick out the top of the machine like some kind of old V8 muscle car's supercharger. That would be kind of neat.
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:10 pm

Don't you dare strip apart that beautiful, useful console!
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Sun Jan 12, 2014 8:58 pm

pikaporeon wrote:NES PCs are played out.

I haven't built my NES PC yet. I didn't know it was too late :(

pikaporeon wrote:Power button

I would guess the Dreamcast power button would act the same as a traditional PC case button/switch. Just find the leads and solder the wires on.

pikaporeon wrote:Motherboard mounting...Low Profile cooling

If it were me, I'd mount the mobo upside down (aka, to the top of the case). That way your HSF intakes from underneath the case. Then you can either 1) cut a hole in the bottom where the HSF goes and put a fan grille on or 2) leave the hole open if you need a little more space to protrude out the bottom. Even if you had to use taller feet to get yourself an extra 5-10mm for HSF clearance or airflow, you wouldn't noticeably change the look of the end product that way. And you get past the limited internal airflow problem.
You can use some long stove bolts with the head on the bottom of the case, nut on the other side of the bottom panel for stability, nut on the "top" of the mobo, and nut on the "bottom" of the mobo. Everything is sandwiched and tight, only the bottom shows any signs of being modified, but nobody's going to see the bottom anyway.

PICTURES OF THE PROCESS AND FINISHED PRODUCT REQUIRED!!!
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:10 am

I will certainly provide pictures.
Once the hardware arrives I'll decide on mobo orientation - some part of me wants to play with having the ports on the side in the removable modem bay but I want to see how that lines up first. The build I found on youtube on a similar platform had heatsink up top, he cut a hole in the bottom of the disk tray for the heatsink but it was invisible with the lid closed.

I ordered a pre-broken dreamcast, you can have the innards* to see if anything works Funkenstein


*(innards not appropriated for the build - I think I can get the DC's exhaust fan to work)

CPU is actually an A8-5500 so it does fit the 65W envelope. I'll try with stock cooling first then dig into low profile options - a lot of low profile reviews I've read have mentioned specific issues with the motherboard I've got unfortunately, will see what happens when the hardware starts arriving.
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:43 am

pikaporeon wrote:The build I found on youtube on a similar platform had heatsink up top

After you mentioned this, I googled Sega Dreamcast PC and found this build which is oriented upside down like I suggested. Looking at it closer, they even cut the hole in the bottom like I imagined....I swear I hadn't seen this when I made my first comment.
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:04 am

Yeah I'd seen that mod, I think my compoennts are a bit smaller than the ones used there. A lot of NES PCs I've seen similarly vent out the bottom. If I need to make it happen, I'll make it happen. A lot of the work I'd imagine is just going to play with what orientation works best.

I wonder if the built in exhaust fan for the DC can plug into motherboard fan ports. It LOOKS like it can
http://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/ig ... D1R.medium

if so I'll likely leave it in as a bit of extra air circulation.

(this is the frustrating part of having all your parts and waiting for the shell of the system to show up)
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Mon Jan 13, 2014 10:11 am

pikaporeon wrote:I wonder if the built in exhaust fan for the DC can plug into motherboard fan ports.

How big is that? 40mm?
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:09 am

If I can't just leave the current fan where it's mounted in the case I'll swap it out for one of those badboys ty.
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Mon Jan 13, 2014 1:28 pm

http://www.mini-itx.com/projects/dreamcastpc/

looks like this guy got it to fit best with a sideways orientation. I certainly like how he slid the hard drive underneath the motherboard - If I do a heatink-points-up orientation I will probably rip that off.
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Mon Jan 13, 2014 1:41 pm

As far as adhering the motherboard (and various other parts) to the enclosure, I've used double-sided tape on a couple of projects, with good results. This 3M 411 tape is what I've used. Very strong, yet you can un-stick it with a bit of care for disassembly. Plus it's a bit thick and pliable, allowing forgiveness when adhering not quite flat surfaces together. Much less messy than hot glue and no drilling required. Doesn't seem to be conductive, but I've not tested it.
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Thu Jan 16, 2014 2:30 pm

Got everything and am going to town on it. Its looking like port cluster will be facing the back, motherboard will be oriented upright, and hard drive will be below the motherboard - i can take advantage of a few remaining existing standoffs this way to just BARELY fit it all in after some aggressive dremel use (I think. I'm still working at the top of the case to accomodate the cooler)

The gap between the HD and the bottom of the motherboard though is about a milimetre - im worried if it gets bumped the HD might touch the mobo (it's in place by velcro strips) - would putting a piece of paper between the two be okay? I assume paper is non-conductive, and its thinner than cardboard. Obviously heat in a case is a thing, but if my high school english classes taught me anything paper's flash point is 451F
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:52 pm

pikaporeon wrote:I'm still working at the top of the case to accomodate the cooler

How are you getting air into and out of the case to cool the CPU?
I don't want to beat a dead horse, but that's the main reason I suggested the upside down orientation. CPU fan pulls fresh air in, 40mm fan does its best to push it out. Positive air pressure obviously, so the rest leaks out the cracks. You could even put a dust filter on the CPU fan. (white to match the case?)
If you've got clearance issues with the hdd, you could then drop the mobo a little bit so the CPU fan protrudes out the bottom. No big deal.

Again, I don't want to force my ideas on you. It's your project and I'm sure you've done more research on it than I obivously have. All in good fun, just trying to help.
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:33 pm

I'm going to have to go with / try upside down actually. The port cluster doesn't quite fit with the back of the case at this angle and the cable from the ATX power is in a really awful position.
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:20 pm

pikaporeon wrote:the HD might touch the mobo (it's in place by velcro strips) - would putting a piece of paper between the two be okay?

Electrical tape is more durable than paper and it stays in place. It's thick enough that you probably wouldn't have to cover the entire surface of the hdd. Maybe just 2 strips. If you had/wanted to cover the whole thing, keep an eye on hdd temps to make sure it doesn't get too hot. (I assume you'll be doing some pretty thorough temp testing anyway; given the size / layout / limited airflow of the system)
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Re: The Dreamcast PC

Postposted on Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:19 pm

yeah the reason i didnt immediately jump to electrical tape was because I'm worried about the temp impact.

I have a much more annoying problem in that I did not fully enough study the motherboaprd layout - both the power supply cable and sata cable are borderline unroutable inside the case / they prevent me from closing the top down tight / make the mobo too wide on one side (and they directly oppose each other so it will always be one side)
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