Retro-Styled Rasti Laptop Packs Framework Mobo

Today, every laptop pretty much looks like every other laptop. Sure you might run into a few different colors and screen sizes out there, but on the whole, all the manufacturers have pretty much agreed on the basic shape and nobody is looking to rock the boat with something different.

Ah, but it wasn’t always so. Before the form factor we all recognize today took over, there were all sorts of interesting variations on the basic portable computer concept. For the Rasti, creator [Penk Chen] definitely took some inspiration from the iconic (and largely unobtanium) GRiD Compass of NASA and Aliens fame. But while its 3D printed case might look like a product of the early 1980s, on the inside, it features a Framework Laptop 13 mainboard using an 11th gen Intel CPU.

In addition to the widescreen 10.4 inch (1600 x 720) QLED display from Waveshare, the Rasti also includes a custom mechanical keyboard that’s actually been spun off into its own project. So even if you can’t swing building the whole Rasti, you could still find yourself tapping away on its vintage-styled input device.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen somebody 3D print a computer inspired by the GRiD Compass. The GRIZ Sextant we covered back in 2021 was another triumph that would be the envy of any hacker meetup.

LEGO Computer Case

With over 40,000 pieces in his possession, [Mike] is definitely a huge fan of LEGO. Given that he’s also very much a fan of technology, it’s no surprise that he has built more than one type of LEGO computer case. He wrote in to tell us that he’s finished work on a well-rounded system designed for everyone.

[Mike] is no stranger to interesting case builds. In the last couple of years, he’s also made a functioning wind tunnel case and a bio computer that uses generated heat to warm soil for wheat grass plants. In the course of planning the LEGO computer, he thought a lot about heat and airflow, ultimately deciding on a top-down cooling path.

He’s quoting custom LEGO computer builds, providing the choice between an i3, i5, or i7 with either 8 or 16 gigs of RAM. They will run Linux or Windows 7/8 and are 10-compatible. There are a few choices for the top of the case: classic LEGO brick, the industrial look with diagonal slats, and a colored, tiled top. These systems are completely upgradeable and are held firmly together with great engineering and the occasional support rod.

dash board pc case

Dashboard PC Case Build Utilizes Honda Civic Gauge Cluster

The last thing you’d expect to see adorned on a computer case is an Indiglo gauge cluster straight out of a Honda Civic…. but that is exactly what [Envador] has created. He was driving around town one evening when a car past him. The blue glow of the passing car’s dash board was extremely noticeable and caught his attention in a positive way. Any computer nerd would, of course, immediately think “hey, that would make a cool computer case“. [Envador] then set out on a mission to make it happen.

Clearly, the focus of the case is the gauge cluster. It was taken out of a Honda Civic found in a junkyard. And it just wouldn’t be cool enough to just have the gauges light up, they definitely had to display some sort of info from the computer. CPU, RAM and hard drive usage seemed like pretty good parameters to display. [Envador] expected that each of the 3 gauges would accept a pulsed signal to move the needle. After tearing down the gauge panel he found only the tachometer worked that way. The other two gauges worked by some unknown means. Instead of messing around with figuring those two out, the mechanical components of the rogue gauges were replaced with those of two aftermarket tachometers. The stock needles and indiglo backlighting were kept.

To move the now-3 tachometer needles, [Envador] used a product called PCTach that connects to the PC via serial cable. It works with accompanying software to monitor PC information and output the necessary signals to make the tachometers move according to the PC’s performance. The computer case, itself, was fabricated from smoked acrylic behind which sits the gauge cluster. A matching backlit keyboard finishes off the look nicely.

Box Fan Computer Case

Fan-tastic Box Fan Computer Fan

Sure, it’s a great idea to keep your computer components cool…. but why? PC components consume energy and in doing so they generate heat. That heat can reduce overall system performance or even damage specific parts. You’ve certainly noticed those huge aluminum finned heatsinks covering critical components in your PC. They are there for a reason, to keep things cool. Most PC’s have at least one fan, if not several, usually only a few inches in diameter. If a small fan does an okay job at cooling a PC, how would a large fan do….. we’re talking a really large fan? [Envador] wanted to find out and made a PC case with the largest fan possible.

Looking at the photo it is pretty obvious that PC case frame is fabricated from standard PVC piping. The side of the case is hinged to allow access to the internal components. That huge set of blades started out as an off-the-shelf box fan. It was taken apart and mounted directly to the PVC case door. It wouldn’t make too much sense to have side panels on this case since the fan is so large. So, instead of solid sides [Envador] used chrome-plated plastic grills that are usually reserved for fluorescent ceiling lights. Perforated metal strapping holds all the drives, power supply and mother board in place.

Unfortunately, [Envador] doesn’t give any before/after temperature data but states that the PC tops out at 95°F and he hasn’t had any problems with computer performance.

Genetic Engineering Produces Desk/Computer Hybrid

Desk Holds Computer Internally

Computers and Desks go together like peanut butter and jelly. After many years of modding computer cases with windows, lights and the like, [Cameron] decided it was time to try something new and combine his next custom case with a desk.

The main desk is from Ikea. The computer case portion is made from wood. No one wants to lose leg room, this case was made to be shallow and wide so it would be out of the way when bolted underneath the desk’s work surface. If any serious maintenance has to be done the case can be easily unbolted and lowered for easy access. Speaker grill cloth is used on the front of the case for 2 reasons; hide the case and keep out the dust.

Continue reading “Genetic Engineering Produces Desk/Computer Hybrid”

Custom Workbench Computer


[Michael Solar] recently bought a house with his wife, and now with his first garage he’s started building his workshop man-cave. First order of business was a workbench — second, a computer built into it.

He started with an old Dell tower, but found it took too much space underneath the work bench — so he set to downsizing it. Using pine boards he created a stepped wooden enclosure that utilizes the space under the front lip of the work bench. He’s mounted the motherboard using standoff pins and created cutouts in the back for the power supply and outputs. It features three intake and two exhaust fans — currently without filters, although he plans on adding them soon, otherwise he’ll end up with a sawdust filled computer!

It’s a rather simple project, but it gives a great introduction into making your own custom computer case, and provides some handy lessons learned near the end. It might not be a flashy case mod like this heavy metal computer desk, but it is certainly functional and robust!