Little Star Case Mod Log

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

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Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Tue Apr 29, 2014 4:49 pm

!Update the final log post! viewtopic.php?f=16&t=93710#p1206817

So after I confiscated my father's computer for the spring cleaning contest. (http://i.imgur.com/nZmECQG.png) I was looking at how small it was compared to my current case, and was wondering how small I could make it and still use full size parts. So, after giving my dad an old conroe build, I preceded to rip out all the old nasty components and seal it up for Hazmat disposal.
What I was left with was a fairly clean chassis.
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Here is a little mock up I did in gimp, real fast.
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I had been thinking about how small I could manage with my first estimate at around 13x13.5x7.5in which is a consider drop from the 17x18x7.5in it was. Although do to the way the case is the final size was made 13.75" tall, 13" deep, and 7.5" wide.
I have no need for dvd/bd drive, and I'm geting creative with PSU placement in the rear exhaust area, I did want room for up to 12 inch graphics cards.

Going to go with a speaker cloth front bezel with two 140mm fans for intake, on the top have a 120mm alc and another 120mm fan for exhaust.

So today I started the tear down, and got as far and cutting before a storm blew in.
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The rivets were aluminum and quick to drill out.

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I got everything apart and measured here, ready to cut.

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With the help of my brother and his milwaukee angle grinder, everything was cut in less then 5 mintues.
Started to make the edge fold when the storm hit, so I'll have to wait till tomorrow. Hope to finish that and get it mocked up, and start looking at cutting the hole for the PSU.
Last edited by Esproc on Mon Jun 02, 2014 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Tue Apr 29, 2014 5:37 pm

Ugh. That ends up being way too much work.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Tue Apr 29, 2014 5:41 pm

Hahaha, just a few hours spent on it so far. The real pain is gonna be when it come to cutting the side panels and getting the bottom tabs all done up right.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:42 am

If you enjoy the work and are having fun then no amount of work is too much work... unless you are expecting to be paid for it :-)
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:56 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:Ugh. That ends up being way too much work.

Arvald wrote:If you enjoy the work and are having fun then no amount of work is too much work

Yeah, why not? It's a junky case, and a "free" one at that, so if you mess anything up, no big deal. From the looks of it, you've got a good start on a quality mod. Can't wait to see more of the process and end result.

Sometimes you just can't find a case that has the arrangement you want (for the right price). I ended up building my HTPC case out of wood to cram an ATX mobo into a mITX-ish volume enclosure that blends in perfectly with my entertainment system. At the time, the ATX system was free to me, and not even the Cooler Master Elite 361 wasn't small enough for the space this had to fit into. Now the case has a mITX mobo w/ APU in it, so there's lots of empty space...
Last edited by DPete27 on Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:03 am

good work so far.!

im going to mod a case soon just for the hell of it, ever since i got my 900D i havnt needed to mod anything with it as it fits everything i want and i dont mind the size of it

so im planning to mod a few cases of my own soon, a matx thermaltake case and an old thermaltake kandalf with some custom watercooling and a few fan and drivebay mods

modding is so fun and if you do it right you will be very proud of the work you do and want to mod more stuff - i miss that "mod" feeling when you successfully mod something and it looks awesome

keep up the good work and keep us updated - some of us here are really interested in other peoples mods
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:31 am

I did this to an early ATX case in the late '90s. We didn't have mITX back then so it was about making a PentiumII + 3DFX tower "portable"

I ended up using nothing but the motherboard tray and case buttons/LED's but it was fun and I had the benefit of a school workshop to do some quick brazing.
Sprayed the whole thing gunmetal grey and had a black acrylic sheet as a front bezel so that it didn't look like sh*t. It is (sadly) no more and it was before the days of digital cameras but I'm looking forward to seeing how you do with this old junk case ;)

Also, belated congratulations on finding the filthiest case for the spring cleaning contest!
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:47 am

Chrispy_ wrote:I did this to an early ATX case in the late '90s. We didn't have mITX back then so it was about making a PentiumII + 3DFX tower "portable"

I ended up using nothing but the motherboard tray and case buttons/LED's but it was fun and I had the benefit of a school workshop to do some quick brazing.
Sprayed the whole thing gunmetal grey and had a black acrylic sheet as a front bezel so that it didn't look like sh*t. It is (sadly) no more and it was before the days of digital cameras but I'm looking forward to seeing how you do with this old junk case ;)

Also, belated congratulations on finding the filthiest case for the spring cleaning contest!

I started getting interested in small cases only recently. Cases like the prodigy caught my attention but I don't like how wide many of the small cases are, and many of them aren't even that small.

I was thinking about making the bezel a nice smokey acrylic but the need for a dust filter overruled that.

And thanks.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:39 pm

So today was pretty productive, got everything bent up, cut the PSU hole, and sanded everything. Will have to go pick up some primer tomorrow, and some more steel rivets.

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These where a pain to get right, the top and bottom pieces.


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Here is the pieces mocked up, with the side panel for size comparison.


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Here is the PSU hole cut and drilled, the holes on the PSU that I used as a template didn't quite match the CX430, so I had to widen them a bit. Also the top was a bit weak so added a strip of metal to reinforce it.


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Got the holes cut for the two 140mm front fans, still need to drill holes for them though. Had to add a piece of metal to the top as it was quite flimsy from being cut down.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Sat May 03, 2014 2:26 pm

I am looking forward to seeing how this turns out!
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Mon May 05, 2014 3:22 am

So the last few days have been wet here in Florida, I did mange to get a couple of coats of primer on yesterday. Today was fairly successful, I managed to get the rest of the panels drilled and riveted back together. Its coming along nicely, and is considerably more rigid then before.

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The start of the day, the primer coats turned out okay, nothing great with a few spots that didn't get full coverage.

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Getting that right clamp on was tricky, took way too long.

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Its finally starting to look like something.

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And here it is, the wiring nightmare. Im not sure what I got myself into with all those cables.

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And here is a front view so you can appreciate how little room there is for cooling.


So tomorrow I plan to cut the top holes for the 120 fan and rad, finish the front two 140 fan mounts, and maybe cut down the side panels.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Mon May 05, 2014 4:12 pm

When you had to bend the flanges for the top and bottom pieces what did you use? Was just curious. I have a small metal brake but with flanking material on the sides of a piece like that you can't complete the bend.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Mon May 05, 2014 8:20 pm

Convert wrote:When you had to bend the flanges for the top and bottom pieces what did you use? Was just curious. I have a small metal brake but with flanking material on the sides of a piece like that you can't complete the bend.


For larger bends just used a 3" sheet metal seamer, for the small tab that insets used lineman's pliers and a small ball-pein hammer. I'm gonna post the pictures of how I made the bends in the panels soon.

For all this sheet metal work the seamer and ball-pein is invaluable.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Tue May 06, 2014 12:12 am

Whenever I've used one the radius was too rounded, then again I am typically working with ~1/16 aluminum. Your bends are very sharp. Been looking to buy a finger brake but am debating.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Tue May 06, 2014 12:38 am

Today I managed to cut down both panels and finish the fans holes.

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Here is the layout scratched out on the panel before cutting.

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And after cutting, as you can see how I oped to handle the tabs.

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This is how I bent the panels, just a peice of wood, a piece of square bar, 2 clamps, and a ball-pein.

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And bent, just remove from device and finish the fold with hammer.

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Action shot!

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One panel done, and fits good.

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Second panel done and fitting good, can see the top fan holes cut out too. In the process of cutting the top holes the paint on the edge bubbled up, so had to scrap it away.


Tomorrow I I need to sand and prime again, and start looking at how the front bezel is going to be done.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Tue May 06, 2014 12:41 am

Convert wrote:Whenever I've used one the radius was too rounded, then again I am typically working with ~1/16 aluminum. Your bends are very sharp. Been looking to buy a finger brake but am debating.


What I did to finish the edge was grasp piece I'm bending with the seamer and used the ball-pein on the corner, it sharpens the corner nicely.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Tue May 06, 2014 5:39 am

FWIW I think you're doing a great job with the tools you've got.
I had the benefit of the University's School of Engineering labs with more tools and machinery than you could shake a TIG welder at. It seems to me like you're using hand tools and a lot of patience.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Tue May 06, 2014 7:15 am

The power supply placement is pretty neat. Sort of the same layout mini-itx cases follow. It will be interesting to see the kind of clearance it leaves for the cpu cooler.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Tue May 06, 2014 8:05 am

Looks like it is going to turn out great. You are doing a fine job, I love modding cases but have never shrunk one down like you are now. My modding has only been stuff like adding fan holes or removing and re-positioning/redesigning drive bay brackets to fit a large video card in a case without a removable drive bay.

I am curious what components you plan on installing in you creation and what use will it be mainly used for? HTPC, Gaming or both? Do you plan on using a 280mm AIO cooling solution like the CM Nepton 280l or a 140mm solution ? Are you going the AMD 7850k APU route and overclocking it and its APU or Intel and a discrete card.

I would go the Intel/discrete graphics for a HTPC and or gaming rig and I think that is what you planned since you stated you wanted a small case that would support full sized parts.

Anyway it is looking great and I look forward to continue to watch your progress, you are doing a great job I love the position of the PSU as Superspy has stated.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Tue May 06, 2014 8:42 am

1) Too bad the existing fan holes on the side panel got cut in half instead of completely removed or untouched.
2) I wish there were more mod threads on TR (maybe we should start a mods forum category?). Really enjoying watching your progress and techniques. It's giving me ideas/ambitions.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Tue May 06, 2014 9:05 am

I like it. I like the placement of the powersupply, and I like how there is very little wasted space. The PSU will certainly help exhaust the CPU heat, but have you thought about adding an exhaust fan to the top of the case? I was also interested to see whether you put the HDD rack at the top or the bottom of the case, though I suppose it doesn't really matter. As for optical drives, I use mine so rarely that you could probably get away with using an external and disconnecting it when not in use.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Tue May 06, 2014 12:08 pm

The Egg wrote:I like it. I like the placement of the powersupply, and I like how there is very little wasted space. The PSU will certainly help exhaust the CPU heat, but have you thought about adding an exhaust fan to the top of the case? I was also interested to see whether you put the HDD rack at the top or the bottom of the case, though I suppose it doesn't really matter. As for optical drives, I use mine so rarely that you could probably get away with using an external and disconnecting it when not in use.


There is going to be a top rear exhaust fan although part of it will be blocked by the psu, but it will still help get the heat out. I had planed to mount my 2 hard drives on the bottom of the case, most likely in the easiest fashion possible.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Wed May 07, 2014 3:02 pm

If you're going full-DIY on the hard drive mounting, can I suggest the rubber-band otpion.

Soft mounts for mechanical drives are better than hard mounts, but they're a long way from this:

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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Fri May 09, 2014 9:07 pm

I think I will go with something more solid for hard drive mounting.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Fri May 09, 2014 9:34 pm

So a few days ago I ran by the home depot and was looking at what I could use to fill those fan perforations. A flexible body filler would be the clear choice, though a quart is like 25 bucks. After looking around I found some jb weld plastic-weld epoxy puddy. So That night I managed to fill all the little holes, though I did not get any pictures for fear I would get the stuff all over my phone.
Fast forward to today, and I had planed to sand down the filler and prime the whole case. Turns out the epoxy puddy is some serious stuff. Took all day to sand the filler down, and I managed to get 1 coat of primer on the panels.

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The puddy is so sticky I really couldn't get it on thin or even.


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This puddy is really hard on the sand paper.


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Six hours of sanding later. Sucks it came out blurry, its the only one I took before hanging it up to paint.


Today sucked. While I saved 20 bucks filling the holes, holy crap it was a lot of sanding. The puddy did the job and is very flexible, but I'm not sure its worth the effort.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Fri May 09, 2014 10:26 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote: Ugh... work.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Sat May 10, 2014 11:45 am

That's a lot of sanding... Maybe hit it with a lower grit and an orbital or wet sand next time? Orrr just buy the body filler :P
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Sat May 10, 2014 12:52 pm

Lower grit sanded slower, I guess that has to do with it being rubbery. I did use a orbital with some 220 to knock down some of the bulk. If I had not it would of taken 2 more hours.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Sun Jun 01, 2014 1:14 am

These last few weeks have been really busy with multiple projects and as such I haven't had much time to document the work very well. I did manage to snap a few pics here and there.
A lot of the time was spent painting, I used white plasti-dip for the interior and exterior. For the star I used red Valspar for plastics.
Other then painting I had to finish up the little things, like the usb/power holes and mounting, and the front bezel.
Then came the final assembly, and man was it tight. The parts where my old rig with a new psu and R9 270x.

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All ready to glue the usb/power mounting bracket to the panel.

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Front bezel I made out of shoe molding and painted black.

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The bezel here is finished, I wrapped it with 2 layers of power mesh, which is some spandex clothing cloth.

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Heres the star pattern laid out on the side panel, I got lucky with my placement. I used a printed pattern attached to the tape and a ruler to cut the tape.

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And now for the good stuff. as you can see theres not much room in the case.

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OMG those cables, no worry though I made sure they where not blocking air flow to the back of the case.
BTW room for another gpu?

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Here you can see there is about 3/4 inch gap between the cooler block and psu.

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Oh yeah came out perfectly. 2 140mm Prolimatech fans.

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I really like the hole shape so I I left it bare. Also like being able to see in. I did order another black wire grill to match.

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Very happy with how this turned out.

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The top looks odd in there picture but does not in person, weird light or very slight bends.


The case has great cooling, its really quite(I think part of that is thanks to the plasti-dip), its pretty small coming in at 13.75x13.5x7.5.
I would have to say I got lucky as it was really tight any smaller and it wouldn't of worked. I had to clip the corner of the alc fan so it wasn't pushed against the ram clips.

The specs for the build are pretty low end for a gaming rig but they work good.
asrock z75 pro 3
I3 3220
8gb 1600 low latency ram
msi r9 270x
corsair 430 psu
hyperx 120gb ssd
seagate 250gb hdd

Im happy with the way it turned out and I'm glad it done. Now its time to get going on my next case mod xcilo 380, which will be another chop down, I'm thinking heli theme.
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Re: Little Star Case Mod Log

Postposted on Sun Jun 01, 2014 6:32 am

Nice work with the front bezel, looks ace.

If, when 4K comes down to sensible 60" HDTV pricing, I can't power it with a single GPU, I'll have to ditch my mATX HTPC and put in a proper tower.
You've given me the idea to build a black wooden MDF cabinet and disguise it to look like my subwoofer ;)
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