Billet Machining A Special Xbox

The world of console modding has delivered us some amazing projects over the years, usually rendering an original into a completely different form factor. [Modified] has done a special bit of console modding on an Xbox Series X, with the unusual result of keeping exactly the same form factor. What makes it special? His Series X has been given a new case, almost identical to the original, but instead of molded plastic it’s machined entirely from a single billet of aluminium stock.

From one perspective it’s a slightly crazy endeavor — pushing the limits of his mill to remove 90% of the stock. But from another it’s an interesting tale of how to approach such a project, of the challenges in reaching further into a workpiece than the tooling is designed for, and also of the cooling for the Xbox itself. Sure he could have made it from aluminium plate and screwed it together, but in doing so he’d have denied us the chance to follow a machining adventure.

The result is an Xbox that’s nominally the same as when it left the factory, but which looks so much cooler. Oddly the aluminum doesn’t act as a heatsink because the console is air-cooled, but particularly on the bottom there are more holes than were found in the original. On the front is an engraving of Master Chief from Halo 2‘s cover art which really puts the finishing touch on the build — though we wonder whether it might benefit from a little resin to make it stand out a bit.

Hungry for more Series X case mods? They don’t come bigger than this one!

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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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Mini “Gaming PC” Nails The Look, Streams The Games

To have a proper gaming “rig”, you need more than a powerful GPU and heaps of RAM. You’ve also got to install a clear side-panel so lesser mortals can ogle your wiring, and plenty of multicolored LEDs to make sure it’s never actually dark when you’re up playing at 2 AM. Or at least, that’s what the Internet has led us to believe.

The latest project from [Michael Pick] certainly isn’t doing anything to dispel that stereotype. In fact, it’s absolutely reveling in it. The goal was to recreate the look of a high-end custom gaming PC on a much smaller scale, with a Raspberry Pi standing in for the “motherboard”. Assuming you’re OK with streaming them from a more powerful machine on the network, this diminutive system is even capable of playing modern titles.

But really, the case is the star of the show here. Starting with a 3D printed frame, [Michael] really went all in on the details. We especially liked the little touches such as the fiber optics used to bring the Pi’s status and power LEDs out to the top of the case, and the tiny and totally unnecessary power button. There’s even a fake graphics card inside, with its own functional fan.

Even if you’re not interested in constructing custom enclosures for your Raspberry Pi, there are plenty of tips and tricks in the video after the break that are more than worthy of filing away for future use. For example, [Michael] shows how he fixed the fairly significant warping on his 3D printed case with a liberal application of Bondo and a straight-edge to compare it to.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a Raspberry Pi masquerade as a high-end computer, but it’s surely the most effort we’ve ever seen put into the gag.

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NES Gets A Slick Acrylic Casemod

Those alive during the 1990s will remember the clear or “crystal” versions of various home consoles. Made with the usual injection molding processes, they usually came out somewhere closer to a smoky translucency and didn’t reveal much of the insides. [BitHead1000] likes to do things right though, and has busted out an awesome acrylic case mod for his NES.

The build starts with the disassembly of the original console, naturally, and the RF shielding is discarded in order to provide an unobstructed view of the internals. The acrylic case is then built up piece by piece, using the original case as a template. Flame polishing is used to treat the edges, and everything is stuck together using what appears to be acrylic cement. For a nice finishing touch, the cartridge door gets a frosted Nintendo logo, thanks to some careful work in the sandblasting booth.

The final product looks stunning, and the transparent case lends itself excellently to edge-lighting thanks to a few LEDs. We’ve seen [BitHead1000’s] work before, with the stunning flamethrowing N64 build. Video after the break.

PC And Console Gaming United Courtesy Of Origin

When folk at Origin PCs realized that their company was about to celebrate its 10th anniversary of making custom (gaming) PCs, they knew that they had to do something special. Since one thing they did when the company launched in 2009 was to integrate an XBox 360 into a gaming PC, they figured that they might as well refresh and one-up that project. Thus 2019’s Project ‘Big O’ was born.

Naturally still featuring a high-end gaming PC at its core, the show piece of the system is that they also added an XBox One X, Playstation 4 Pro and Nintendo Switch console into the same full-tower GENESIS chassis. For this they had to strip the first two consoles out of their enclosures and insert them into the case each along with their own (appropriately colored) watercooling loop. Unfortunately the optical drives got ditched, presumably because this made things look cleaner.

The Switch was not modded or even cracked open. Instead a Switch dock was installed in the front of the case, allowing one to dock the Switch in the front of the case, and still use it in a mobile fashion after undocking it. Meanwhile an Ethernet and HDMI switch simplify the interfaces to this gaming system a lot, requiring one to only plug in a single HDMI and Ethernet cable to plug in all capable platforms. The result is a pretty sleek-looking system, definitely an eye-catcher.

Since Origin will never, ever, sell the Big O to customers as it’s just a promotional item, it does tickle the imagination. Case-modding and combining multiple computers (often an ATX and mini-ITX) system into a single case is nothing new, but aspects such as having a dockable Switch feature, this clean aesthetic and overall functionality makes one wonder what an enterprising hobbyist could accomplish here.

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Modder Puts Computer Inside A Power Supply

When building a custom computer rig, most people put the SMPS power supply inside the computer case. [James] a.k.a [Aibohphobia] a.k.a [fearofpalindromes] turned it inside out, and built the STX160.0 – a full-fledged gaming computer stuffed inside a ATX power supply enclosure. While Small Form Factor (SFF) computers are nothing new, his build packs a powerful punch in a small enclosure and is a great example of computer modding, hacker ingenuity and engineering. The finished computer uses a Mini-ITX form factor motherboard with Intel i5 6500T quad-core 2.2GHz processor, EVGA GTX 1060 SC graphics card, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 250GB SSD, WiFi card and two USB ports — all powered from a 160 W AC-DC converter. Its external dimensions are the same as an ATX-EPS power supply at 150 L x 86 H x 230 D mm. The STX160.0 is mains utility powered and not from an external brick, which [James] feels would have been cheating.

For those who would like a quick, TL;DR pictorial review, head over to his photo album on Imgur first, to feast on pictures of the completed computer and its innards. But the Devil is in the details, so check out the forum thread for a ton of interesting build information, component sources, tricks and trivia. For example, to connect the graphics card to the motherboard, he used a “M.2 to powered PCIe x4 adapter” coupled with a flexible cable extender from a quaint company called Adex Electronics who still prefer to do business the old-fashioned way and whose website might remind you of the days when Netscape Navigator was the dominant browser.

As a benchmark, [James] posts that “with the cover panel on, at full load (Prime95 Blend @ 2 threads and FurMark 1080p 4x AA) the CPU is around 65°C with the CPU fan going at 1700RPM, and the GPU is at 64°C at 48% fan speed.” Fairly impressive for what could be passed off at first glance as a power supply.

The two really interesting take away’s for us in this project are his meticulous research to find specific parts that met his requirements from among the vast number of available choices. The second is his extremely detailed notes on designing the custom enclosure for this project and make it DFM (design for manufacturing) friendly so it could be mass-produced – just take a look at his “Table of Contents” for a taste of the amount of ground he is covering. If you are interested in custom builds and computer modding, there is a huge amount of useful information embedded in there for you.

Thanks to [Arsenio Dev‏] who posted a link to this hilarious thread on Reddit discussing the STX160.0. Check out a full teardown and review of the STX160.0 by [Not for Concentrate] in the video after the break.

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Doubling The Capacity Of Power Tool Batteries

YouTube User [Vuaeco] has come up with a novel idea, combining power tool battery packs to double the capacity.

Starting off with two slimline 2.0Ah compact battery packs, [Vuaeco] wanted a larger 4.0Ah rebuilt drill battery pack. These battery packs are different in size so it wasn’t just a case of adding in more cells in empty slots, instead he goes on to show us how to connect the batteries in parallel using some thin nickel strips. Once completed he modifies the battery casing so it fits another stack of batteries. He does this by bolting the top and bottom together with long screws, and insulating the otherwise exposed battery terminals with insulating tape. The final product isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as a real battery pack, but it looks good enough.

There are a few things we might have done differently, for instance providing some hard plastic around the insulation so should the battery get knocked in an awkward position it would still have a hard shell protecting it. Also, instead of combining the batteries together fully charged as the video suggests, we might have done the opposite approach and fully drained them, avoiding unnecessary risks. If you try this, how about giving it a 3D printed case?

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