The Pen Display PC

October 25, 2003

Click on photos for larger image 

I'm always looking for glass-lidded boxes with drawers, especially if they are roughly the size of an EPIA board. I came across this piece. My original intention was to gut the entire box and do a computer exposition through the glass top. I changed my mind after learning more about pen collectors. They typically hate computers. No surprise there, but they do appreciate having database software to track their extensive collections. This computer has custom pen collecting software installed. It keeps track of collections and values. Fountain pens AND computers in one unit! The irony.

I had a puzzled gentlemen come up and ask me what the "contraption" was. I sighed and told him it was a digital pen warmer. He seemed pleased.


Before photo. Levenger's eight-pen display case in light cherry. This is exactly what I'm looking for. A glass top box with a drawer and the extra bonus of the inclined face.



Stripped down. Everything possible is removed; the box is measured, measured again, and cut. Three holes are cut into bottom to enhance air flow.



The exhaust fan is installed at a high point in the computer compartment to facilitate airflow. Brass mainboard standoffs are screwed into the wood floor.



Back door shot showing the power plug and switch. The opening for the I/O plate is fine adjusted using a wood rasp and file. The edges are then painted flat black.



A Classic EPIA 800 mainboard is installed into the case and all cables are attached. I sheathed the wiring in black even though they will never be seen. Don't ask.



Tricky part. The hard drive and power supply are Velcroed to the bottom of the pen display panel. When it flips over, the ATX plug seen at the top, will mate with the ATX cable below.



Pen display panel installed. The Velcro came in handy as I fine tuned positions in the tight space. 40mm fan grill is installed. It keeps us from getting our fingers mauled by the high-speed blades.



The fake drawer front and the glass top lid are installed. Testing is done using a Crystalfontz model 632 LCD. The external LCD case is made from the remnants of the drawer.



After photo. The pens are props except for the red one. It is an Esterbrook Transitional in mint condition.



Finished back door shot. Ready to go.


This is a very easy-to-build project and the results are functional and good-looking.



Glamour shot. One for the cover of "Wooden Computers Monthly"



On a cold morning you can come to work and wrap your freezing fingers around one of these specially warmed pens.