re-building john's toy.... sorta

Forum: Hardware Talk
Topic: re-building john's toy.... sorta
started by: t4thfavor

Posted by t4thfavor on Mar. 22 2006,02:15
I am going to see if I can build an almost clone of the plexi-glass pc that john made.
I also wan't the flexibility to maybe run windows ( I know it sucks. but my wife...) so I need to make it large enough to hold a 3.5" drive.

The hardware I want to look into:
MII 12000 with the pcmcia reader.
1GB ram (somekind)
80GB hard disk (also some kind)

can someone give me some insight on how this will (if at all) run windows XP and possibly some case dimensions. (rough)  because plexi glass is expensive and I would rather learn from someone else's mistakes. Measure 64 times and cut 63?

also any suggestions/tips/warnings you all may have would be great.

thanks in advance.

Posted by fuzzybud on Mar. 22 2006,05:37
I too want to put together a computer like John's toy. I want mine to be silent and cool running like John's so have ordered the same motherboard. In your case it would make sense to use a faster motherboard and more memory to run Windows or a full Linux running KDE or Gnome.

If you plan to run Windows you will want a CD-ROM too. Your computer is growing, maybe more than your initial vision. The cost of Plexiglass is the least of your concerns. The number one concern is heat generated and how to get rid of it. Running at more than 1 gig will generate enough heat that you will need at least cooling fans which will make noise. How much noise are you willing to tolerate? Then too if you make a small case as John did the computer will get too hot. You will have to make a larger case just to allow for better cooling. He used a motherboard that runs at 500 MHz to keep the heat down. He used a CF card of 512 MB. He could easily have used one of only 256 MB. A one gig card would be the most he would need to do everything he wanted with dsl. When you talk about a 80 GB hard drive you are probably asking too much performance from a very small computer. A mini-ITX motherboard is 17 cm square, about seven inches square. A micro-ATX motherboard is 9.6 inches square and you already know that it has features that will fully support Windows. Everything you want is available micro-ATX at cheap prices.

If you want to build a small computer like John's, and I do, you will have to come around to his way of thinking about computing. When I first thought of a small computer I, like you, wanted to cram as much as I could in it. That was almost a year ago. Slowly I have come around to seeing the wisdom of small computers, small operating systems, low power, little or no noise. I am not down to John's level yet as I want to dual boot my small computer. I like dsl very much but I also like FreeBSD and NetBSD. My plan is to run a 6 GB Microdrive that is the same size and only slightly thicker as a CF card, giving 5 GB to FreeBSD and 1 GB to dsl. Either OS would be fine by itself but I like to play, not looking to be productive. I am retired so this is my way to play.

I hope my rambling letter gives you something to think about. I wish you well.

Posted by AwPhuch on Mar. 22 2006,05:51
I have a solution for older hardware and XP
Lets say 266Mhz laptop with 170Megs ram and 4gig hd small enuff (think of it as the DSL version of XP)

However it must be discussed elsewhere

PM for details


Posted by doobit on Mar. 22 2006,13:57
The microdrive is a good idea, or even a 2.5 inch laptop drive. There are IDE adapters for either one. The mini-ITX boards are really very nice and VIA has a 1.3 Gigahertz board now that will run WinXP nicely with a GB or 2 of RAM. You can do most anything if you have the cash to spend. I really like the low-noise, low power consumption idea too. That's why I built the lunchbox computer that I now have on my coffee table. DSL runs fast on it and has been very stable and reliable so far. My wife has gotten used to DSL on this box, because all she needs it for is the internet anyway, so click on Firefox! For other stuff we have a more powerful, full size computer, with Mepis Linux, that rarely gets used lately.
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Posted by t4thfavor on Mar. 22 2006,14:36
I know it won't be as small as johns but that is not what I am looking for. I said sorta because i know it wont be as quiet and I know it wont be as small. But I want it to be as small and light as a PC can be. Which means choosing the hardware that will give me the performance I need while being the smallest available. Since I wont be playing any games on this besides solitare, I don't need a full time cdrom. I have a usb CD-RW that will work just fine. For the development side of things this will probably only be used one day a week for anything besides internet use (I have one day offsite a week).
possibly I will use a CF drive or a usb drive for the linux OS and halve the HDD to 40GB which will still make heat. The sides will be nearly open and I have a basement apartment so the heat factor is a minimum (My desktop runs at 37-38C almost all the time, and it has 4 HDD's a Radeon 9600XT, and an AMD 3000+ with 1.5GB ram as well as it sounds like a turbo jet engine).

So all of this is being taken into concideration while researching the construction. That is why I am here, to see if anyone can tell me things that I May have overlooked. Trust me when I say that the noise that this will be capable of will not even come close to eaqualing the computer that I use now.

Thanks to everyone who replied I do appreciate all of your feedback.

Posted by dvdljns on Mar. 24 2006,18:23
where is the link to john's toy so I can catch up.
Posted by faroutscience on Mar. 25 2006,17:04
You can find John's Toy in DSL's online store. I have found that they provide good prices and fine service.

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Posted by desnotes on Mar. 25 2006,18:32
If you are going to build a plexiglass case, I recommend you include the new Western Digital Raptor SATA disk drive that has a glass side so you can see the disk and the disk heads moving. Definitely a ***** geek thing.  :laugh:


Posted by dvdljns on Mar. 25 2006,20:27
It does have possabiltys.
Posted by faroutscience on Mar. 26 2006,23:08
Gotta have one! I'm off to Directron!
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