Mac Mini Mini

The Mac Mini has been roughly the same size and shape for 12 years, as the current design was released in June 2010. However, despite being the same general form factor, the internals has shrunk over the years. [Snazzy Labs] took advantage of this to make a miniaturized Mac Mini.

With a donor Mac in hand, they cracked it open and found an oversized power supply, a diminutive logic board, and a good bit of space. Unfortunately, the logic board attaches to a wide IO shield. He removed that, and the fan attached to the heatsink (checking to ensure it still booted). Relocating the WiFi antennas was the trickiest part of the whole build. Given that he wanted to shrink the power supply and the Mac Mini accepts just 12 volts, he devised a clever solution to use MagSafe as a connector. However, Magsafe negotiates over a complex protocol when attached. So, rather than smarten his port up, he dumbed the charger down by replacing it with a Microsoft Surface power supply spliced into the MagSafe connector.

With his mini Mac Mini board ready to go, he began designing a case to fit what was now a single-board computer. A fan of the channel offered a design reminiscent of the 2019 Mac Pro. Unfortunately, FDM printing struggled with the cheese-grater pattern, so [Snazzy Labs] printed it in resin with some mica powder. As a result, the mini mini looks fantastic while taking up just 28% of the volume of the original.

They’ve posted the STL files online with detailed instructions and a parts list if you want to recreate it at home. Perhaps with the smaller motherboard, it might be worth revisiting the Mac Mini inside a PowerBook hack from a few years ago. Video after the break.
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LCD Screen Windows Are This Summer’s Hottest Case Mod

Case modding took off in the late 90s, and taught us all that computers could (and should!) look awesome. Much of the aesthetic went mainstream, and now tons of computer cases come with lights and windows and all the rest. [WysWyg_Protogen] realized those simple case windows could be way cooler with a neat LCD hack, and set to work.

The concept is simple. Take an old LCD monitor, remove the backlight and extraneous hardware, and then install it to the window in a computer case. When lit from behind via LEDs in the case, the screen creates a ghostly display through which the computer’s internals can still partially be seen. It’s a really compelling effect, and in theory, quite easy to achieve. All one need do is mount the stripped-down screen to the case and pipe it video from the graphics card.

In practice, it’s a little tricky. Disassembling the screen and removing things like the anti-glare coating can be tough to do without damaging the delicate panel inside. The windows typically used on computer cases can dull the effect, too. However, [WysWyg_Protogen] is continuing to tinker with the project and the results are getting increasingly impressive with each iteration. It doesn’t photograph too well, but it looks truly amazing in motion.

We often forget LCDs are transparent in their basic form, as we generally only use them with backlights or reflective backers. They really do look great when used in this transmissive way, though. Video after the break.

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90s PC With Modern Parts Throws Many Off Track

When building a desktop computer, usually the budget is the limiting factor. Making sacrifices on one part in order to improve another without breaking the bank is part of the delicate balance of putting together a capable PC. If you’re lucky enough to have the sponsors that [Shank] has though, caution can be thrown to the wind with regards to price for some blisteringly fast parts. Putting them in a ’90s Hot Wheels case to build the ultimate sleeper PC, though, is just icing on the top.

This isn’t quite as simple as replacing a motherboard in a modern PC case, though. The Hot Wheels PC used a mini-ITX standard and is quite a bit smaller than most modern computers outside of something like a Mac Mini. To get the RTX 3060 GPU into the computer the shrouds needed to be removed to save space, plus an unusual 92mm form factor liquid CPU cooler needed to be installed. An equally obscure power supply was included to round out the Ryzen 9 build and after a lot of tinkering eventually all the parts were fitted into this retro case including the original, working floppy disk drive. After that some additional case modding was installed such as RGB lighting, wheels with spinning rims, a spoiler, and an exhaust pipe.

The main issue with this build was temperatures, and both the CPU and GPU were topping out at dangerously high temperatures until [Shank] installed a terrifying 11,000 RPM case fan. With a series of original CRT monitors to go along with this sleeper PC he can have up to 9 displays with surprisingly high video quality thanks to the fundamental properties of CRTs. The video is definitely worth a watch and falls right in line with some of [Shank]’s other console mods that he is famous for such as this handheld Virtual Boy.

Thanks to [Fast Rock Productions] for the tip!

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Enter The Matrix With This Custom PC Side Panel

With a new Matrix movie out now, it’s hardly a surprise that we’re starting to see more and more projects centered around the franchise’s iconic “Digital Rain” effect. A few particularly unique examples have floated to the top of this virtual tsunami of green-tinted sushi recipes, such as this very slick RGB LED PC side panel built by [Will Donaldson].

In place of the normal clear window in his PC case, [Will] has mounted a black acrylic sheet that has had all of the “code” characters laser-cut from it. Behind that is an array of WS2812B LED strips, nestled into vertically aligned channels that keep the light from bleeding out horizontally. A sheet of frosted plastic is sandwiched between the two, which helps diffuse the light so the individual LEDs aren’t as visible.

All of the LEDs are connected to a NodeMCU ESP8266 by way of a 74AHCT125 level-shifter, though [Will] notes you could certainly use a different microcontroller with some tweaks to the code. As it stands, the user selects from various lighting patterns using two potentiometers and a button that have been mounted next to the panel. But if you were so inclined, it certainly wouldn’t take much to adapt the firmware so that the lighting effects could be triggered from the PC.

The sticklers will note that this means the characters can’t actually change or move, but as you can see in the video below, it still looks quite impressive when the LEDs get going behind them. If you’re looking to recreate the look on a considerably smaller scale, check out this Arduino library that can make it rain on a TFT display with just a few lines of code.

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Cramming A DS Inside A Gameboy

Many holiday recipes and console hacks share a common theme: cramming a thing inside another thing. Whether it’s turducken or a Nintendo DS inside a Gameboy, the result is always unexpected. The chassis for this mod is a humble Gameboy color with a Gameboy SP screen tackled on the top to serve as the secondary display. Unfortunately, this mod lost touch screen functionality, limiting some of the games you can play.

[TheRetroFuture] received the custom handheld from [GameboyCustom], which was somewhat damaged in shipping. The original screw mounts had to be removed and the case glued back together to fit the DS motherboard. So for [TheRetroFuture] to get inside to start troubleshooting involved a razor blade and patience. Testing various points and swapping components got [TheRetroFuture] closer to the root problems. The fix ended up being a few wires that came loose during shipping. Finally, after reseating a display connection and some careful soldering, it booted and started playing games.

Overall, it’s pretty impressive to see Mario Kart DS running on both screens on the tiny handheld. But you might be asking, why? Why shove one handheld inside another handheld? Sometimes it’s to gain new functionality like this Raspberry Pi inside a PSP body. Sometimes, it’s just because we can. Video after the break.

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PS2 Gets The Ginger Portable Treatment

The first thing we notice about this portable PS2 is that the plastic looks like a consumer-grade shell, not a 3D printed case. It comes from [GingerOfOz], who has lots of portable conversions under his belt, so we are not surprised this looks like a genuine Sony device. When you are as experienced as he, details like plastic texture, and button selection, are solved problems, but shouldn’t be taken for granted by us mortals.

Of course, this isn’t just pretty, and if it weren’t functional, we wouldn’t be talking about it. The system plays nearly all PS2 titles from USB memory. The notable exceptions are the ones that refuse to load without a Dualshock controller. Rude. If you’re wondering if it plays games at full speed, yes. It achieves authentic speed because it uses a PS2 slim motherboard which gets cut down by a Dremel. Custom PCBs provide the rest of the hardware, like volume buttons and battery charging. There is no optical drive since they are power hogs, so your cinematic cut scenes may lag, and load times are a little longer.

Modern mobile phones are one of the most powerful gaming systems ever built, but there is something about purpose-built portable gaming hardware that just feels right. You know?

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Leggo My Nintoaster!

If you’re one of today’s lucky 10,000* who have never seen a Nintoaster case mod before, boy are we glad you get to see this one first. [Dizzle813] found a shiny old Sunbeam toaster that looks just like the one we grew up with. Although the original creator made a build video, there is room for improvement in the explanation, and some people prefer reading, anyway. This handy guide references and builds upon [VomitSaw]’s original Nintoaster video.

[Dizzle813] really makes the hard parts look easy, and a build like this seems to be mostly hard parts. Unless you find this exact vintage of Sunbeam, you would have to orchestrate the innards as needed to fit your toaster. The hardest part of all is probably wiring up the 72-pin connector to the NES motherboard, but [Dizzle813] managed to pull it off using 22 AWG solid-core wire and still get everything to flex and fit together. Even still, they broke off a pin trying to ease it into the perfboard, but cutting a hole in the connector and inserting a bodge wire replacement worked just fine.

We absolutely love the way this looks and operates, especially with the lever-activated power button and the six orange LEDs inside that are brightness-controlled through the toastiness knob. Be sure to check out the demo after the break.

Isn’t it great when things are built into other things? Case in point: there’s a laptop hiding inside this printer.

*relevant xkcd

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