Re: Cases and case design

dbtayl wrote:
mclien wrote:

somehow I can't acess any of your pictures. Links are text only.

Not sure why that keeps happening. Anybody know how to embed images "correctly" directly from Google Drive?

OK at work it's the proxy, I'd guess.
At home -after letting google and load things- I was able to see the pic in post #17 and in the blog, but not the rest.

About the design: welding the edge around the bottom will give you a nice wavy pattern of the bottom plate, but never a flat part after welding (just too much tension from the head of the welding).
I could think about some ways to involve gluing, but that's quite difficult with aluminum (removing patina, cleaning ad veryfast to the gluing..).  Might be better to start with a flat piece of aluminum, bend the 4 sides upright  an just weld the edges, which than can be filed and sanded... (still prone to deforming from welding, but much less than welding the whole corner the "full round".

BTW: are heatpipes available semifinished? So you can bend it in shape yourself?

Re: Cases and case design

The current thought is to machine the lower part from a solid block of aluminum. It'll take some time (and cost more material), but I can rough it out on the manual mill with a large cutter, so it shouldn't be too bad. And it will probably be stronger than anything I would weld... I hear welding aluminum is something of a pain, and I'm far from experienced.

You can get heatpipes "semi-finished". What I got are basically rectangular prisms, and you can bend them to whatever shape you want. I haven't tried bending mine (at least not more than the few degrees you can see in one of the pictures) to know how well it works. I assume I'll want something to bend it around, and I got two so I can mess one up and still have another in hand.

I got mine on eBay- a search for "heat pipe" turns up a bunch of them. I assume you can find them on Alibaba and other places as well.

Re: Cases and case design

From what you have at hand and what you are most experienced with that is the best solution. except the "waste" material you end up with.
Welding aluminum without experience will end up in a mess (yes no option here, it WILL).  I did a some TIG welding with (stainless) Steel and tried some with aluminum, with ended up in some "ok" welding of bigger parts and a lot of "modern art" ;-)

Thanks for the heatpipe hints, will look into it.

Re: Cases and case design

dbtayl wrote:

So what are other people thinking? Any suggestions/improvements to my ideas?

I've been eying up the Pelican 1080 or 1085 Hardback cases as a potential "clamshellier" case to build the system in to. I think the 1080 should have juuuust enough room...

Re: Cases and case design

One tiny bit of progress- a heatsink! Well, the clamp to hold a heatpipe on top of the CPU, at any rate.

I think I'm done trying to embed pictures, so you can see them here: … mpheatsink

I made a couple mistakes with it (the channel is wider than it should be, not quite centered, and isn't cut quite as far as it should be), but it might work just fine. We'll see. It only took ~2.5 minutes of actual cutting time, so it wouldn't be a huge deal to redo it.

I'm slowly getting the gcode for the case written- more of a focus issue than time. The CAD work is mostly done- I mostly just need to handle the bits around the keyboard at this point. I just haven't felt inclined to do a bunch of measuring yet.

Regardless, it's progress!

31 (edited by dbtayl 2016-08-25 09:38:02)

Re: Cases and case design

This project isn't dead yet! I think I'm close to being ready to machine a case (for real this time!). I've got the bricks of aluminum sitting in my basement ready to go.

A whole mess of images here: … mZZTDNxd00

I'm not going to screw around with embedding again.

I suspect the honeycomb fill is overkill, but it (a) supports the keyboard, and (b) rigidity is good. And (c), I'm not a MechE, so I just chuck metal at the problem until it looks "good enough".

Re: Cases and case design

Looking good dbtayl! Just letting you know I'm still here and interested smile

Re: Cases and case design

I've been slowly working my way up to a laptop case myself. I have pictures up on this blog:

I'm going for the crazy, LCD + character LCD + eink display design with access to all FPGA GPIO on the side of the keyboard. I want to be able to interface that with other hardware projects with an IDC ribbon cable.

Re: Cases and case design

dileepvr wrote:

I've been slowly working my way up to a laptop case myself. I have pictures up on this blog:

I'm going for the crazy, LCD + character LCD + eink display design with access to all FPGA GPIO on the side of the keyboard. I want to be able to interface that with other hardware projects with an IDC ribbon cable.

That's awesome! It looks like it will take a beating and be entirely fine. I thought about putting an e-ink display in there, just 'cause. Same with a GPS. The latter got thrown out because I didn't want to work with another antenna.

I also considered using one of the Pixel Qi displayes, but decided they weren't big enough. I love the concept, though, and it's really cool to see somebody else doing it.

I'm still trying to figure out if I could run a UART to the outside of the case somehow. With the embedded work I do, that could be rather handy (appropriately buffered, of course).

Re: Cases and case design

Yes, well, I do expect to take it on the road. Hence Pixel Qi. It looks great outside with the backlight off. I might try to automate the backlight level based on ambient light levels.

As for e-ink, I am experimenting with possible messages that could be printed at shutdown that would persist for a long time. Like the timestamp for the last 5 boot/login attempts, for example. That way I know if someone has been trying to turn it on behind my back.

36 (edited by michael.stahn 2016-11-27 03:54:01)

Re: Cases and case design

Here are the source files for the Case from the Ben Heck's show on youtube: … -hack-book

Youtube videos of assembly:

It's a bit clumpy but way more portable than the original Laptop-Case with attached keyboed on the outer side.

Re: Cases and case design

It's taking forever, but I finally got the lid machined: … S12RW1TTXc … HpOUW5TcGM … 2IxWWNLM3M

Taking pictures of it is REALLY hard- I'm no photographer, and it's shiny.

Anyway, the project isn't dead, just slow... I've had to rebuild the CNC mill to get it to work well enough to machine the laptop parts.

Re: Cases and case design

Still moving along. Slowly. Last night I got the base of the laptop case machined. It still needs finishing work, but already looks pretty good: … lSbG8/view

Clockwise from lower-left: battery compartment (3S2P 18650 cells), honeycomb to support the keyboard/for rigidity, Senoko/Novena position, more honeycomb (also holds the heatpipe for cooling), and the SSD mounting location (over the short honeycomb).

Sorry for the poor image quality- taking pictures of shiny objects at night is no easy task, especially for a tired, unskilled photographer.

I'm hoping to machine the last big piece (the keyboard part) tonight, but if history is any indicator, it will take me another week or more to figure out all of the little details. I'm still an amateur machinist, so it takes me forever to do stuff, even with the help of CNC.

Re: Cases and case design

Still making slow progress!

Partially assembled: … Rjc1U/view

With keyboard: … tUbkU/view

Back side with keyboard: … NMQ0E/view

I think the next steps are cutting holes for the IO ports and countersinking some holes for screws- and I already screwed up the former once (and had to re-cut the base). Then a bunch of other fitting (chamfering edges, tapping holes, re-machining the lid to be lighter, etc.), but one thing at a time.