Level of Difficulty: Hard
Duration: Varies depending on complexity but typically about 1 Month
This project idea came up when I was running out of room space to store my junk. I had a lot of discarded computer parts lying around and two relatively intact computer cases at my disposal. Since I have a high affinity for creativity and I hate seeing good stuff go to waste, I thought of a way to make better use of them.
I also had a need to find a better storage medium for all my salvaged electronics as I needed to do away with constantly replacing torn carton boxes. Since the cases were empty shells and were see as disposables, I decided to convert them into a safe featuring as much computer parts as possible to file my salvaged components.
Please note that the steps outlined here are systematically arranged and not necessarily in the order it was done. This is in order to prevent confusion and to increase clarity and your comprehension.
Also, since cases vary in there design and construction, the design and features I will describe here may not apply to your case. Users discretion is advised.
Fig.1 only the hard drive will be excluded from this project
Fig.2 a rear view of the unaltered case
Note: In this article, the words compartments, drawers and trays all refer to the same thing.
For this project, I had two cases to choose from:
- A short heavy steel case, and
- A taller and lighter aluminum case
Fig.3 A rigid steel case ideal for making very strong and rigid trays
Fig.4 I chose this aluminum case to be the main structure
I chose the aluminum case to be the main structure because it had more storage space potential, was much lighter and the material was easier to cut and shape.
The steel case will be a source of sheet metal to make the drawers and to add rigidity to the main structure.
I also had a few other scrap metal from the old computer parts I had, to help build the drawers and shape the main supports.
For my case, I wanted as many compartments as possible and for the design to be as inconspicuous as possible. I also wanted a built-in locking system and a custom bench power supply unit, which had both nominal voltages and variable voltages.
With all of this requirements I wanted, it was rather difficult to design all that into the case before building. So, what I did was to start designing the drawers first based on the best dimensions for maximum storage space while taking into account of the limited space available for other components.
Once the trays were built, the next task was to design the locking system and the electrical system and make the necessary design changes as I went along.
The hardest part of all of this was that I was constantly running into design constraints because of the irregular shapes of the material I was using and the dimensions and shapes of the custom parts I had to make to meet my designs.
In spite of all this, small improvisations were made to find unique solutions to all those problems.
Each system and phase of this project will be discussed in further detail below and the challenges I had to overcome to complete this project.
Fig.5 click this early drawing of the tray layout I did
For the 4 main compartments, I decided to use the metal cases from the extra CD drives I possess. One of them was in perfect working condition while the others were non-functional. Since I was short on material and wanted to recycle the parts to make better use of the electromechanical goodies inside, dismantling the drives was the best option for me.
Fig.6 a CD drive dismantled for it's housing
I chose 4 of my worst drives to be dismantled and saved the remainder of the drive for another project.
Fig.7 a stripped CD drive and it's shell
Fig.8 shown here are the CD drive metal shell and the dummy space holder
Fig.9 shown here is the basic idea of the concept
For one of the drawers, I thought it was a great idea to use the plastic face from one of the drives to as a disguise for one of the compartments. After all, you can't have a computer without a optical drive, right?
Fig.10 shown here is the disguise CD ROM compartment
Fig.11 just a preview of the concept slowly becoming reality
Since my case had an insufficient surface area for the drawer to slide, I decided to convert the covers from the CD drives to become a base plate for the drawers to slide freely on and to provide support for them in the case.
I'll mention more on this as I go along.
As with the the larger compartments, I wanted to use a space holder and the plastic drive face from a defective floppy disk drive to be the front of the drawers. To ensure a perfect fit and to get the right length, I used the exact dimensions of the floppy disk drive to tailor the scrap sheet metal to meet those requirements.
Fig.12 extra floppy disk drives for other projects
Fig. 13 these are the space holders I will be using
Fig.14 another shot of the space holders