Hidden Media

I spent a few months off and on building this case for a computer so it would look nice in the living room. These are the step-by-step instructions.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hello Gizmodo

I thought I would answer some of the questions brought up by the editors at Gizmodo and the commenters there. Thanks for looking.

Why couldn’t he offer to do these case mods for others, charging them for the custom work?
Sounds good to me. You can contact me and let me know what kind of project you are interested in. I'm going to stick with computers in furniture for now. No UV lights and case windows for me. But if you want your computer put into some furniture piece let me know. In fact I will sell this computer to you if you would be interested in buying it. Magic DVD drawer and all.

Where did he find a 500Mhz PC let alone the ram for it?
It was my parents computer they were using up until a year ago. I had upgraded the RAM a long time ago and just recently replaced the whole computer with a new one. Rather than throw it out I figured I would make something useful.

Okay. Partly guilty on this one.

And what did he expect it to run in this day and age?
I expected to run Windows 2000 and it works quite well.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Look below for instructions on how I made this.

The building process

This is the computer that I started out with after I freed it from it's Compaq case. I was going to throw it out but I decided it would make a good place to store music and pictures.
It is a 500 MHz AMD with 384 MB of RAM.

I got this from Target for $20 and figured it would be a good size for a computer. This way I could put the computer in the living room and my wife wouldn't mind.

The drawers come out so on the bottom two I cut off everything but the front and screwed the front back on. I did something special with the top drawer which you can see below.

I made this custom tray to fit the bottom of the case to hold the motherboard. I used a piece of sheet metal and some fancy bending and cutting. In order to figure out all the cuts and angles I made it with posterboard first then transfered it to the sheet metal.

I got a Lite-On DVD+/-RW to put in but I had to modify it. I opened it up and found the eject button and activity LED. I removed them and soldered on wires to relocate them on the back of the case.

I used 4-flat phone wire and routed it out the back of the DVD drive with a little notch for the wire to come out.

I also had to relocate the power button and computer and HDD activity LEDs. I found a blank PCI slot cover and drilled some holes in it. I used epoxy to fasten the button and LED into the holes.

I removed the case from the power supply in order to attach it in the case. It's a small power supply but a 500 MHz AMD isn't a real power hog.

You can see the top of the power supply that I screwed to the side of the case. Also, above you can see the DVD drive mounted using the original mount for the CD rom drive from the Compaq case. The phone wire coming out the back is for the modem. Just kidding. Remember from above that it's for relocating the eject button and LED.

This is the DVD drive with the front bezel removed. You can see the front of the top drawer with the shims glued onto it. Also, I put a memory card reader above the DVD drive with some velcro.

This is why I needed to relocate the eject button for the DVD drive. I used epoxy to attach the top drawer front to the DVD drive. When you open the DVD drive it bring the drawer front with it.

This is the back piece where the eject button and DVD LED are located. I figured since I was using phone wire I might as well terminate it and put a phone box on the back piece. This way I can completey remove the back piece with no wires attached to it.

This is the computer next to my TV stand. My wife approved of it's living room looks.

Below you can see it booted up. I just got a 26" Westinghouse LCD on a good deal so I can use it as a monitor for the computer as well as a TV. I plan to have a slide show of our pictures running and playing music off of it. I am also using it as a print server for the printer on the TV stand since I have a laptop with wireless. The logical extension of this would be a PVR but that is for the future.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Starting it all out

I'm going to post a step-by-step guide here of how I made some common household furniture into a media server. I say server because I'm only hosting pictures and music on it. No video or PVR or those fancy things. More on this later.