Cheap And Flimsy PC Case Provides No Protection


[Rafael] tipped us off about a “case mod” he completed for his PC. The email he sent provides no details and the link just shows five pictures of his computer in a “dead file” container (we’re guessing he doesn’t want to be an Internet sensation). What we get out of this is that he took a corrugated plastic box meant to house old files on shelves, and thew a set of computer parts inside of it.

This would be a great hack if [MacGyver] needed a computer to defuse a ticking bomb while trapped inside of a room built completely out of metal. The plastic provides protection from shorting out the motherboard but, other than low cost, that’s the only upside of this hack.

The downside here is obvious, there’s no protection from physical damage. In fact, a good bump might flex the box enough to slam the motherboard into the PSU housing. And what’s with the external WiFi fob? We could understand the point of this a bit better if it could blend in with a rack of archived files in the back room.

We give this one an ‘A’ for creativity, a ‘B-‘ for execution, and an ‘F’ for longevity. This should have been built in an acrylic case sized to fit perfectly in the yellow plastic box. But what does your unorthodox PC case look like? Let us know by sending in a tip.

63 thoughts on “Cheap And Flimsy PC Case Provides No Protection

  1. The idea seems to be reasonably handy for a temporary case when assembling a junker, and it could be reinforced with a little scrap wood.

    Of course any old container could be adapted and plenty of folks have done better, so I don’t really see how this one is special. This story could be summed up thus: “Hey look! I found a box my junk fits in.”

  2. Now I’m not one of those that like to bitch and moan about content but really guys? There’s no creativity at work here, none, he stuffed some parts in a “cardboard” box. Oh yeah and he cut a hole for the PSU, yay. This is one step above having your parts spread out on the floor.

  3. you know things are getting bad when even the person posting the crappy “hack” is pointing out that very fact in the posting.

    sigh,yet another new low achieved by “hack” a day.

  4. I did this when I was 14. It may be fun, but I don’t consider this a hack.

    Hint: Get plastic-covered paper clips to hold things (eg: mobo) to the sides, or cover metal paper clips with masking tape.

    Depending on the layout and the type of equipment in the box, consider cutting some holes and sticking some fans in there. Definitely cut out the area behind the CPU if your mobo is directly mounted to the box.

  5. Ive done worse. I had my home server running inside a HP 27A toner box for about 5 months. Not much of a hack at all, but it was an extremely compact way of getting the server out of the way. Plus the parents thought I just had a spare toner cartridge for my OTT Laserjet 4050dtn so it got left alone.

  6. if this were meant to be used for a spy rig in say a long term records storage where noone goes. I bet a covert server on a shelf hiding as a file box would be a great network security bypass launchpad that noone would notice for quite some time.

  7. what the
    OK, Hackaday,really now. I’ve been kind of impressed lately that y’all have been adding a lot more content up here as far as the number of posts a day go, but this is ridiculous. Aren’t you trading quality for quantity here? You said yourselves that there is no information here besides “five pictures”.
    Even by spurring a discussion, this is hardly related even in the broadest sense. This is almost as bad as the LEDs on the clothing.
    sorry, I love you guys, but this needs to be addressed.

  8. I put a computer inside of an old crate guitar amp – worked pretty well for lugging around. Eventually, I mounted it inside of a desk cubbyhole, which was great. It never did get a real case, because it was a non-atx compatible Dell mobo, BOOO!

  9. ack! I’m so sorry guys. I tried to explain to Mike that you don’t really like to have intelligent discourse about projects that have questionable quality or use.

    Really, I don’t see the problem with this case if it’s just going to sit on a shelf. It isn’t the coolest looking thing in the world though. I generally prefer unorthodox cases that improve the looks.

  10. Ouch! While I don’t think this is really worthy of an entire hackaday post and the details are sparse you have to give the guy some points on resourcefulness. This is a creative use of some junk that would otherwise just go to waste. Of course there are always better ways of doing something, but that doesn’t mean that this guy didn’t do a good job with what he had on hand. Those are the true hacks, not going to a store and buying sheet metal and acrylic and making a perfect industrial case. Hacking is about making something useful/cool with the junk you have lying around and your creative mind!! Think outside the box! (sorry for the bad pun I couldn’t resist! :D)

  11. Actually, I think this is a fine post, as it encourages discussion on a relevant topic (as well as encourages submissions)

    The main issue with a case like this is the lack of RF shielding. This comes before thermal conductivity and structural stability as top answers to “why use a metal case”. Also, shorting on the case isn’t a bad thing, or at least not a problem with the case.

  12. I’m not that excited about this either, but I’d greatly prefer a little less negativity in the description. Sure it’s easy to be a critic and hate on it, but the guy at least took the time to build something and share it with the ‘nets. I’d much rather see people do something like this than sit around passively watching TV or wasting their time/money hoarding “collectibles.”

  13. What is happening to Hackaday? I can fold a paper airplane, should I send in some pictures and a write up? Maybe I misunderstand what Hackaday is about. This marks an all time low for Hackaday.

  14. @nrp I did the same thing! Cardboard box.
    @tej Big time Jacobs ladder.
    @divolb, don’t send in the paper aeroplane, but do send in something interesting please! SAVE US!

    Sad panda, therian… Heh Ive used that line before >< To convey serious unhappiness.

  15. I’m sure the guy who did this appreciates the level of hate towards his project. Even though it’s not really a “hack” at all, he did something and shared it with the Internet. There’s no need to bash his creation so harshly.

  16. 4 years ago I was trying to build a NAS machine in a compact junk case, and after it wouldn’t quite fit in an old fridge crisper drawer, I put it into a cardboard box for ‘elite coffee’. Grounded all components to the PSU and screwed 4 hard drives into the sides of the box. It’s gone through a few different purposes since then, but despite being moved across country a few times (pittsburgh miami) it’s never failed.

    Only problem I ever had was having to toss a rubber washer onto a screw that had started to tear through the cardboard.

  17. Case mod a beaver! Sick, really. Buddy there says, “Another plus with the MiniITX board is that it included an external power supply, which means a good bulk of the heat will not be inside the beaver. Good news, trust me.” Hmm he makes it sound like there could be a down side to beavers as computer cases.

  18. If you add some coroplast ribs to the interior, this might make a pretty stable case. Granted, it’ll never be sturdy enough to put under something else.

    Rather than demonstrate a superior building technique, this helps underscore the value of otherwise “wasted” materials, while forcing us to re-evaluate what a computer case is supposed to do.

  19. I agree with MadMods here. I once did a similar thing. My mother had thrown out the case for an old PC I had, so I ended up subbing a box that a pair of boots came in. It was perfectly fine, with some duct tape to hold everything in place.

    It really pisses me off that you guys go so crazy about RF noise (which my c-box PC never had problems with) and lack of shinyness. That’s really what it boils down to. The dude didn’t spend a fortune on fancy parts and didn’t use an Arduino. He hacked; he used what he had at hand to solve a problem.

  20. I agree with [RT (Panzer Time!)] here.

    Its nice to see a project show up that /doesnt/ feature an Arduino. Yes, the Arduino platform is extremely flexible, but it gets exceedingly old to see (nearly) every project on HaD/Make/generic electronics blog feature an Arduino as its core.

  21. Looks like a pretty clean case to me. Maybe it’s not a big enough thing to make it to the front page, but everyone’s acting like it’s such a piece of shit that he should be hunted down and have his eyes removed with ice cream scoops.

  22. I’ve got the guts of a dell optiplex inside a dell computer box, running OS X serving as my media computer hooked up to my flatscreen for watching movies and playing some games on the big screen. I had to cut holes in the side and top for the fans, cards and chords. I couldn’t find a good spot to mount the optical drive inside, so it is sitting on top of the box with the ribbon cable and power cable fished through their own custom holes. While it is ugly as sin sitting under my cable box, it runs pretty cool, and its my MacInBox and I love it.

  23. Hey, Mike. You put up several posts, in one day, and you were a little harsh on all of them in your write up. Were you trying to change the general tone around the site?

    Well, my junker PC is just a M/B bolted to a chunk of wood, with the PSU and HDD and Optical drives each bolted to it with scraps of aluminum made into angle-brackets. Oh, I also had to make brackets to hold each PCI card down in its slot. I use that one for quick Parallel Port projects, and for a Linux programming environment.

  24. Do I detect a new cynical edge here? ’bout time I’d say.

    Well there also no screening of RFI, but I can’t see the point when I actually have to get *rid* of redundant cases.

    Yo don’ care if yo unshielded mutha plays merry hell wit’ my microvolt hack? Weeel I’ll jes’ turn on ma 10kVA Tesla coil and see how yo com-puter likes DAT! Ha!

  25. I actually don’t mind this. That corrugated plastic stuff is pretty durable, and it doesn’t look like a very new motherboard. If you’re just throwing something together for a temporary server in your closet, this looks pretty easy. Punch 12 or so holes, cut a vent for the power supply, done. Needs no description. True hack.

  26. I have had this type of box for my sound amplifier for my PC. I gutted 2 pairs of cheap speakers with internal amlifiers. Just because I wanted to change volume and turn them on and off at the same time as having them stand as far from each other as possible. So now I have had such cardboard box for years actually. No temp is rising, almost surround sound ala cheapo.

  27. @RT (Panzer Time!) “t really pisses me off that you guys go so crazy about RF noise (which my c-box PC never had problems with)”

    How do you know it didnt cause RF noise ? do you have a spectrum analyzer? just beacause you pnone and wifi continue to work it dosnt mean it dont cause RF noise. If you had a HAM living near you I bet he trow a brick in to you window

  28. Someone could make a bunch of die-cut corrugated plastic computer cases. Flat-pack…simply fold up to make the case and drive bays, fasten with pop rivets or just zip ties. The door could just be a folded flap. Could be a really cheap case for developing countries. These could be shipped in a dense stack of flat pack sheets, instead of boxes of empty air like normal computer cases.

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