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View Full Version : Need help... I want to make a mini-ITX system


CaptNKILL
08-03-06, 11:18 PM
Ok, my brother and I are looking to build a sort of project PC. Its going to be small (though not TINY), and it has to be able to run game emulators (MAME, ZSNES, etc.) and watch various kinds of video formats without choaking. It looks like all of the VIA EPIA systems are horribly underpowered and cant even watch most encoded video.

We're on a budget, so we want to get the board, CPU and RAM for a reasonable price.

The main problem I'm having is FINDING these things. I had no idea itd be this hard to find mini-itx motherboards, especially ones that arent outrageously priced. The best I've seen for a reasonable price is a CN700 board with a 1.5Ghz VIA C7 for $170 HERE (http://www.mini-box.com/s.nl/it.A/id.458/.f?sc=8&category=99). But the performance on that CPU is pretty horrible. Any performance numbers I've seen for that CPU show it being far outperformed by a 1Ghz Pentium Mobile. Plus, it uses DDR2, so I would have to buy RAM. If I had a system that just took DDR1, I have a 512Mb stick of PC-3200 left over from an upgrade, so any DDR1 boards would save me a bundle.

I've seen reviews and articles for a few mini-itx boards that take standard CPUs (Pentium 4, Celeron M, etc.) but its impossible to find them for sale in the United States.

Can anyone please point me in the right direction here? We really want to do this project, but if all we can find is one $400 motherboard on ebay, we arent going to be able to do it...

EDIT: Almost forgot... some sort of TV-Out is another big thing we are looking for. Whether its S-Video or a simple RCA-Video... either will work.

I might as well explain the idea too...

We're going to try to get it into some sort of metal briefcase or gun case. If theres enough extra room, we are going to make compartments to hold a power adapter, keyboard and mouse inside the case... just open it up and take out the external stuff, plug it into a TV and instantly you've got a gigantic archive of thousands of emulated console and arcade games. With a bunch of USB controllers you'd be all set for a big game party like no one would expect (any classic game they'd ever played would be right there on their TV). With good video playback support it could even be a portable multimedia system...

The whole thing just seems so damn cool, and building it could be a lot of fun... its just that getting the right parts is proving to be much much more difficult than I had anticipated.

I guess another option would be a micro-atx board with a very cool running CPU... I've been looking at the nforce 6100 s754 boards, but Im not sure if anything I could get on one of those systems would be cool enough for such an enclosed space.

What do you guys think? Whats the coolest, smallest setup I can get for not much money? :p

CaptNKILL
08-04-06, 01:17 AM
How cool do Palermo Sempron 64s run?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16819104245

I wish it wasnt so hard to find old Thoroughbred B core Athlon XPs... those ran soooo cool.

Infinity666
08-04-06, 07:32 AM
Moded xbox ftw!!! mod chip + evo x +emulators

= kick ass retro game machine with media center capabilitys and you can play those new fangled xbox games :)

All For <$200



Edit: those lil' via's might suprise you I had a mini atx via c3 800mhz i could watch vids and play emu's no prob in fact I tried putting it into my old nes but it was slighty too big with all of the required componets.


Mini itx: Great source for ideas many crazy projects on there, and they also have links to places that sell mini itx stuff

http://www.mini-itx.com/

MUYA
08-04-06, 10:28 AM
http://www.sudhian.com/index.php?/articles/show/shuttle_xpc_x100_review/

Only problem is they are expensive starting at $699 for Celeron system

there is one by iwill too

ynnek
08-04-06, 10:41 AM
take apart a used laptop.

CaptNKILL
08-06-06, 02:50 AM
Thanks for the feedback guys :)

I went with a very low priced P4 socket 478 mini-ITX board I found on eBay. It came with a low profile copper heatsink and fan combo too. I plan on getting a cheap Northwood 2.4 and possibly underclocking\undervolting it if I can (a 1.8 with very low temps would be plenty).

Now the one thing that has me a bit stumped is the whole AC power adapter deal... I want to get one of these:
http://www.logicsupply.com/product_info.php/cPath/40_65/products_id/181

Its a 200W power supply, and you just connect a 12v AC adapter to it (externally). Problem is, I dont know what kind of 12v AC adapter I should get... there are a lot of different kinds.

What will I need to get it to feed enough power to the 200W PSU to make a the system happy?

Its only going to have a CPU, motherboard (integrated video, lan, sound), 2.5" hard drive, 1 512Mb stick of PC-3200 (running at 333Mhz) and either a slim DVD reader or burner. Itl also need to support some USB devices.

EDIT: According to the eXtreme PSU calculator (http://www.extreme.outervision.com/psucalculator.jsp) I'll need 175W of power for this system (probably less, because it doesnt account for the system being mini ITX or the drives being laptop drives) with the CPU at stock speed and under 150W with it underclocked. So that shouldnt be a problem... but is there an AC adapter that will actually give me that full 200W that the power supply can handle? I dont really understand how all of that works...

EDIT2: Ok I found this too...
http://resources.mini-box.com/online/powersimulator/powersimulator.html
It looks like I'm going to need a AC adapter with 9.5A just to be safe... thats a lot :o

EDIT3: Ok enough edits... :p

But if it ends up being impossible to find an AC adapter that will work, do you guys think that one of these would be compatible with a mini-itx board? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817157005
I think they take standard ATX power supplies, but I dont know if the Shuttle PSUs are compatible...

CaptNKILL
08-06-06, 03:39 AM
Ok, if anyone can find me one of these kits in stock, I will be your personal slave forever :o

http://www.logicsupply.com/product_info.php/cPath/40_65/products_id/255

ynnek
08-06-06, 03:14 PM
just throwing out options.. maybe consider mini psu's, like from an old shuttle.. for example, a ss51g's.. They are standard pin out.

http://img370.imageshack.us/img370/6430/psu1gn2.th.jpg (http://img370.imageshack.us/my.php?image=psu1gn2.jpg)
http://img444.imageshack.us/img444/310/psu2za1.th.jpg (http://img444.imageshack.us/my.php?image=psu2za1.jpg)

Or the newer ones from shuttle which is simply an external brick.

CaptNKILL
08-07-06, 02:27 AM
Thanks for the suggestion, I was almost going to get something like that, but I managed to find that Morex 150W PSU kit somewhere :)

We have ALL of our main parts on order now, and I found a guy that can provide me with an Atari 2600 shell as well as some paddles. I plan on sticking the insides of a trackball mouse inside a paddle, so even the mousing device will be "familiar yet modified". :D

I have a big question for the electrical gurus here though. I wont be getting switches with the 2600 shell, so I'm going to put my own in. I've done a bit of minor electrical\soldering work before (I've thrown together a few PC power switches before), but I dont know much about different amperages\voltages and how they work together. Basically, I need to know if buttons and switches meant for car interiors will work as power\reset buttons for a PC. I dont know if the electricity in a PC is the same "kind" that will respond to a switch (or a switch with an LED in it) from a car.

I plan on going to advance auto tomorrow to check out what they have in stock locally, but here are a few things Im looking at:
http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?categorycode=3063A&mfrcode=DOR&mfrpartnumber=85984

http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?categorycode=3063A&mfrcode=DOR&mfrpartnumber=85980

http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?categorycode=3063D&mfrcode=DOR&mfrpartnumber=85909

http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?categorycode=3063D&mfrcode=DOR&mfrpartnumber=85910

http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?categorycode=3063D&mfrcode=APC&mfrpartnumber=5012102

http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?categorycode=3063D&mfrcode=DOR&mfrpartnumber=85982

http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?categorycode=3063D&mfrcode=RNB&mfrpartnumber=85905

Thanks ahead of time for any advice.

Infinity666
08-07-06, 04:05 AM
you can use switches from your car

Edit im using a toggle I bought at walmart as my power button right now

momentary switches are best for computer projects put it depends on what its connected to

Edit: and yes the one for the shuttle will work in fact if you have enough space I say get it

CaptNKILL
08-07-06, 04:22 AM
I understand why momentary is best. I used a toggle for one a while back and you had to flip it on and then off again otherwise itd act as if the power button was still pressed (ie, shut down after 3 seconds).

Do you think theres any way around this? I'd love to use a fancy LED switch or even a standard toggle. The momentary buttons just arent all the interesting looking.

Maybe if the "light" part of an LED switch is connected to the power LED pin on the motherboard it will stay on after you flick it on and off...

Id prefer to have a sort of "toggle" thats actually a momentary switch but I somehow doubt I'm going to find anything like that...

Any ideas? I'm trying to get this pretty close to an Atari externally (ie, with the stick toggle switches), but a little extra "bling" would be sweet :lol:

Infinity666
08-07-06, 04:29 AM
I understand why momentary is best. I used a toggle for one a while back and you had to flip it on and then off again otherwise itd act as if the power button was still pressed (ie, shut down after 3 seconds).

Do you think theres any way around this? I'd love to use a fancy LED switch or even a standard toggle. The momentary buttons just arent all the interesting looking.

Maybe if the "light" part of an LED switch is connected to the power LED pin on the motherboard it will stay on after you flick it on and off...

Id prefer to have a sort of "toggle" thats actually a momentary switch but I somehow doubt I'm going to find anything like that...

Any ideas? I'm trying to get this pretty close to an Atari externally (ie, with the stick toggle switches), but a little extra "bling" would be sweet :lol:

Gimme a sec ill find you some pimp switches, and you can always wire up your own leds all it takes is some resistors and solder

Infinity666
08-07-06, 04:48 AM
Like this ??

Rocker Switch/Momentary/Lighted
http://www.shopatron.com/img/product_images/302/80400.jpg
http://www.shopatron.com/product/product_id=PPF80400/302.0

Or just a momentary switchy + wire your own leds
http://rsk.imageg.net/graphics/product_images/pRS1C-2160410w345.jpg
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062501&cp=&pg=2&origkw=switches&kw=switches&parentPage=search

Or a keyed switch + momentary switch
http://www.goldmine-elec-products.com/images/G12998B.jpg
http://www.goldmine-elec-products.com/prodinfo.asp?number=G12998

If you could get me a pic of the case its going in I could sketch up a diagram of how the switches would work and ideas of where to put lights and what not

CaptNKILL
08-07-06, 12:27 PM
I was looking at something more like these (they are pics of the ones I linked earlier):

http://www.partsamerica.com/product_images/img/dor/85910.jpg

http://www.partsamerica.com/product_images/img/dor/85909.jpg

http://www.partsamerica.com/product_images/img/amc/5012102.jpg

http://www.partsamerica.com/product_images/img/dor/5585901.jpg

Something like that that would work as a PC power switch would be great. Some of them have lights in them too, and if I could get those working thatd be perfect.

EDIT: Actually I found a few momentary on toggle switches but they are pretty bland looking and\or really expensive ($20-$60 for a switch is a little much IMO :p).

This is what the 2600 looks like that it will be going in:
http://www.farclip.com/hardware/images/Atari_VideoComputerSystem-CX-2600.jpg

I'd like some switches that look sort of like the originals when its off, but when you flick it on, BOOM, a bright LED light (maybe some glow from inside the thing) and then it boots to Windows XP :lol:

We also plan on making some sort of small laminated sticker that has the Atari logo combined with the "Intel Inside" logo. :D

CaptNKILL
08-07-06, 12:53 PM
Holy crap!

http://www.simpits.org/engineering/Toggle_Moment_Conv/TogToMoment1.html

Instructions on converting toggle switches to momentary switches for use with a computer! :D

I think I could put that to some use :)

Infinity666
08-07-06, 06:58 PM
Does the atari still have all of the switches you could use those. On my nes pc project I was able to use the nes's power and reset button

CaptNKILL
08-08-06, 12:06 AM
Does the atari still have all of the switches you could use those. On my nes pc project I was able to use the nes's power and reset button
Well, as I said earlier, it wont have the switches, its just a bare shell. I went and picked it up today, and its in really nice overall shape :)

We're going to go take a look at the selection of switches at some auto parts stores tomorrow.

I think we might be able to mix and match the internals from a couple different kinds of switches. I really want an LED switch, so we're going to figure out some way to do that.

When we get this thing all set up, its going to be amazing :thumbsup:

I'll be sure to post pics.