How to Make a Computer Case From a Plastic Container

Written by robert allen
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How to Make a Computer Case From a Plastic Container
You can build a small, ultraportable computer with a plastic container. (three black computer cases 02 image by WaD from Fotolia.com)

Most computer cases are made from metal, but this isn't always the most appropriate material. You might want to create a small, quiet computer, such as for a home theatre PC. If so, a plastic container might be a more appropriate computer case, particularly when it would fit the aesthetics of your entertainment set-up more than a metal one. Because plastic is nonconductive, modifying a plastic container to serve as a computer case is mostly a matter of making sure there's room for all the pieces.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Motherboard with integrated video card
  • Computer power supply
  • Ruler
  • Fine-tipped permanent marker
  • M3 diameter drill bit
  • Drill
  • 12 motherboard standoffs, 1/4 inch with M3 female and male ends
  • Hot glue gun
  • Rotary cutting tool
  • Hobby knife

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Check to make sure that the plastic case is large enough by setting the motherboard on the bottom of the plastic case with the IO panel flush against the wall of the container. A microATX motherboard is a 9.6-inch square and an ATX motherboard is a 12-by-9.6-inch rectangle, so a plastic container that is at least 18 inches long and 12 inches wide with around 8 inches of depth will be large enough to fit a motherboard, power supply and other components

  2. 2

    Measure the locations of the power supply's mounting holes with the ruler. When these measurements are recorded, position the computer power supply flush against the wall of the container in such a way that it does not obscure the mainboard.

  3. 3

    Mark the positions of all the mounting holes in the motherboard with the fine-tipped permanent marker and trace the outline of the power supply where it rests against the wall of the container. Remove the mainboard and power supply, placing them in a safe location.

  4. 4

    Refer to the measurements of the power supply's screw mounting holes, and mark the inside of the case appropriately for the power supply to be mounted in the plastic container.

  5. 5

    Lock the M3 diameter drill into the drill, and carefully drill a hole at each marked point on the plastic container.

  6. 6

    Screw the 1/4-inch motherboard standoffs into the plastic container --- note that you might not need to use all of them, depending on the size of your mainboard and the number of holes. Do not place standoffs into the holes marked for the power supply.

  7. 7

    Turn the plastic container over to gain access to the ends of the standoffs. Turn on the hot glue gun and, when it has warmed up, apply a small amount of hot glue to cover the end of each standoff --- this insulates them and helps to keep them in place.

  8. 8

    Place the mainboard back in the plastic container, setting it carefully atop the standoffs. Place the IO panel shield that was included with the mainboard on the outside of the plastic container and position it so that it exactly matches the location of the IO panel on the inside of the container.

  9. 9

    Trace the outline of the panel shield with the fine-tipped permanent marker. Set the motherboard and the IO shield aside.

  10. 10

    Cut along the outline of the IO panel shield with the rotary cutting tool and remove the plastic. If necessary, make any final cuts with the hobby knife.

  11. 11

    Cut along the outline of the power supply with the rotary cutting tool, making sure to cut around --- rather than through --- the holes drilled into the plastic container. Create an open space for the power cable and the exhaust fan, but leave enough of the container left (including the mounting holes) for the power supply to be screwed into the container.

Tips and warnings

  • Mainboards designed for lower power consumption are generally smaller and produce less heat --- ideal for a quiet computer encased in a plastic container.
  • A USB DVD drive can be used to make the basic computer smaller --- this also keeps you from having to drill additional holes in the case.

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