June 6th, 2003

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What do you do on a rainy day? Faced with one recently I decided to have fun with a computer project. What ensued was a journey where I walked that fine line between genius and insanity. Enjoy the trip.

This is the finished product undergoing final testing. What do you do with an ugly beige case? Give it an extraordinary send-off. I used it to test my latest computer design and to give it a little dignity in the deal. Notice the lack of CD or floppy drives. These things are not needed.



The secret revealed. A disco ball powered computer. Using technology first dabbled with in the late seventies I was able to harness the unbelievable power of the disco ball. Instead of using its energy to make people do stupid things in ugly clothes I was able to redirect its incredible power for the better good of mankind.



The only peripheral required is a specially designed power supply, which not only provides the electricity but also gathers the disco ball's powerful, encrypted signals.



Close up of power supply. This computer is operating in these pictures. No, I'm not kidding.



OK, OK. Back to mother Earth. The inspiration for this project, besides the powerful drugs I have to take, was this picture from my Humidor Mini-Me project. It shows the Mini-Me next to a 300W ATX power supply. Someone asked me if I could put a computer inside a power supply. All I needed was a boring rainy day.



I gutted the brand new 300W power supply except for cooling fan, power switch and power plug. The 3 1/2" form factor board fit perfectly. The gold anodized aluminum heat sinks are one piece, which actually covers the three main chips.



Power supply cases really do make the perfect mini-computer case. The Advantech 5820 babyboard sports a "passively" cooled Geode 233MHz processor. It's hardly passive with that monster fan running. I liked the idea of recycling the power plug and switch too.



Pictured is the faux wiring harness, an integral part of the deception. This completes the lower section of the piece.


The hardest part of the project was finding this. I researched and priced out tiny industrial power supplies without any reasonable conclusion. Then it hit me. I ripped apart my external CD burner enclosure and found this little jewel. Perfect. It has two fan connectors and the 4-pin Molex connector required by the board.



Power supply and USB header installed into the top section.



6GB Fujitsu HDD mounted to the top with Industrial grade Velcro. I hate using stuff like Velcro. I use the industrial grade stuff to make it sound more appealing. The 44-pin IDE cable is shown. It's so cool because it also supplies power to the hard drive thus eliminating a cable.



"Mounting" the two halves together. Some form of industrial copulation I guess. There are many wires between the two that need to be connected and arranged.



They're finally together again. Picture shows modification to vent slats in order to attach various cables. Wood showing through the slats is used as a spacer and attachment point for board. I couldn't make something without a little wood.



Keyboard, mouse, video and Ethernet cables attached. Faux ATX cabling attached and ready to fool.


Testing, Yes, it is running. Single USB plug in top is shown with a 32MB Flash Drive installed. There was a slot in the top that was almost exactly the size of a USB plug. I had to only lengthen it about 1mm with a metal file. Perfect fit. The flash drive is used to transfer files.



Final glamour shot. This also doubles as my "before" photo. WALSTIB