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Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype
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Author:  jamese [ Sat Apr 20, 2013 7:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

SEP 2014: A few L1 (single expansion slot) cases are still available.

JUNE 2014: L2 cases shipped to customers.

APRIL 2014: Taking pre-orders for a limited run of L2 cases. Think L1 with dual expansion slots, or room for dual slot width GPU.

MAR 2014: Better late then never. L1 2014 is in stock.

DEC 2013: Currently out of stock (except for a couple blemished cases). Hoping to have new revised cases by Feb 2014.

AUG 2013: Finished cases are currently available for order in limited quantities at loneindustries.com.

Like some of you, for a long time I've had this idea (probably silly to many) of building my ideal mini-itx case. I finally went ahead and had a prototype built. I realize it's probably not everyones style. I added more vents to the prototype than probably needed, so I could test various configurations out. Despite the 1mm aluminum used in the prototype, my setup is very quiet (thanks to Noctua). I think the screw-on side panels help make the case very rigid when assembled. However, something thicker than 1mm might be nicer. There's a long list of minor changes I am going to make to the design. I've also since painted it black, and should have pics next week.

I'd be interested in any thoughts from silentpcreview readers! The case is a little taller than absolutely necessary so that I can clear the PicoPSU wires (on motherboards with side 24pin connector). With a second 80mm fan in place the PicoPSU wires come very close to the fan blades (see post below). Using 80x15mm fans would really help with clearance.

If there is some others with weird taste like me, I can make this available for purchase. Since these are made on CNC equipment, I can't really do one-offs. If I had 10 or more people interested, I could probably have a run of them made, and finished in powder coat of anodized.

Anyway, I never thought making a box could be so involved! :shock:

TEST SETUP
Intel Core i3 3225
Gigabyte H77N-WIFI
Corsair SSD
Noctua NH-9Li
Cooler Master 80mm PWM fan (with Noctua low noise adapter, running at about 1000 RPM - down from 1500 RPM)
PicoPSU 80 (60W power brick)

GOALS
Simple as possible, PicoPSU powered, small as possible without being too small, and probably other stuff.

DETAILS
Mini-ITX tower (220 x 94 x 220 mm)
1.6 mm aluminum (powder coat or anodized finish)
Supports up to two 80x25 mm case fans
2x 2.5" HDD/SSD bracket (SSD recommeded)
Low profile expansion slot (single slot width)
Supports 2.5mm DC input and Mini-DIN power inputs
Aluminum power switch
Stainless steel threads (no rivets)
Black fasteners
Black stick-on case feet
CPU cooler clearance: 60 mm recommended (71 mm to side panel)
Motherboard compatibility: Mini-ITX
PSU compatibility: PicoPSU, motherboards with built-in DC-DC converters
Made in Canada

Availability: July 2013
Approx price: $95 CAD

loneindustries.com

Current L1 model as of March 2014:
Image

Image

Author:  edh [ Sun Apr 21, 2013 12:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

Very nice!

Have you considered a blanking plate for the fan hole that is not in use?

I would be tempted in such a small space to try for positive pressure. Use a 140mm fan side mounted blowing directly at the motherboard and it will exhaust from all of the vent holes. It might be worth trying just to see how it works.

Author:  jamese [ Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

@edh, Thank you!

I have been wondering about a blanking plate, or whether air is being pulled through the unused vent by the 80mm fan beside it. I need a good way to test this (smoke maker perhaps?).

I could design an optional side panel that has a 120 or 140mm vent on it. Then you can optionally use 80mm exhaust fan(s), or just leave the vents open for positive pressure.

Author:  Mankey [ Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

As someone who has been looking for nearly exactly the same thing, I would LOVE to purchase one. Let me know the details of a possible preorder, etc. I know that everyone is going to ask you for little changes here and there - don't let them discourage you! This thing looks amazing the way it is.

Author:  johannes [ Mon Apr 22, 2013 3:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

This is a really nice case! I wish something like that was available when I was looking for a really small case with a low-profile slot. (And I also dream of making my own one day. As small as possible, but just high enough for 2.5" hdds and 70mm fans. ;-) )

I'll follow your progress with interest, but I won't get a new case before Broadwell or Kaveri.

Author:  Ralf Hutter [ Mon Apr 22, 2013 5:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

FWIW, different mobos will have the PSU header in different locations than the board in your prototype. This would allow the second 80x25mm fan to clear without interference.

Author:  xan_user [ Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

nice job!

id be interested in buying one.

Author:  fuzzymath10 [ Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

I have a few comments that I need time to articulate, but either way I'd be quite interested in buying one, or maybe two, from you. And luck has it that you're in Canada too!

Author:  jamese [ Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

Thank you all for the positive feedback, and the interest expressed!

@Mankey, Not sure I can accept preorders, but I will keep you posted. Appreciate your interest, and advice! :)

@fuzzymath10, I have the same problem ;)

@Ralf Hutter, That's true, I was just hoping to accommodate all types. There's quite a few with the connector at the top (not sure which are most popular though). Today I did manage to successfully fit a second fan above the PicoPSU of my prototype. Requires some cable management and bending the wires out of the path of the fan blades though. Will try to post pictures.

Author:  jamese [ Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

Anyone have any thoughts on finish? Powder coat vs. anodized vs other? As for color, is it safe to assume black is the safest, or do people actually want other colors? The white I mainly did for fun, and for my own interest, but it actually turned out pretty good.

If you ordered one of these, would you expect a power switch included, or would you rather pay less, and pick your own?

Author:  Mankey [ Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

jamese wrote:
Anyone have any thoughts on finish? Powder coat vs. anodized vs other? As for color, is it safe to assume black is the safest, or do people actually want other colors? The white I mainly did for fun, and for my own interest, but it actually turned out pretty good.


I do have some experience with finishing aluminum as I've worked in the paintball industry and we use a ton of it! For durability I would recommend either powdercoating or anodizing bead blasted prepped aluminum (not polished).

Powdercoating will be probably the most durable for this type of use as many people will place the case on a desktop in proximity to other metal objects - so scratch resistance is pretty important. However, powdercoating will add the most material - I'm not sure how close the tolerances are on this case and if they'd be thrown off. I do notice a design trend in interior decorating right now is colored gloss surfaces - just like your prototype. This would be pretty easy to store and ship out to people without risking damage during manufacture.

Anodizing is very hard, yet very thin and can scratch fairly easily showing raw aluminum, especially when done in gloss. This becomes very obvious on dark colors such as black. Anodizing beadblasted surfaces hides scratches a bit better and is more durable in the long run - that's what Apple is doing on their Macbooks. Anodizing will only add a tiny bit of material (.001") for most common types of decorative anodizing, so tolerances won't suffer much.

Anodizing will also allow for some crazy finishes though. Here's a picture of the gun I had completed a little while ago. Let me know if you need any contacts for fancy anodizing like this (maybe for a one off for your own personal reasons) - it's a bit of an art, so you need to go to places that really specialize in this. I know of a few really good ones (one in Canada also). I personally would love to get a raw aluminum case and send it off for something wild like this. Would definitely be an attention grabber sitting on my desk :)

BTW - is this 6000 series aluminum you're using?

Image

Author:  fuzzymath10 [ Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

OK, as promised, my comments:

1) probably too challenging to add power/hdd LEDs? I could live without them but sometimes nice to know if the machine is thinking
2) agree that the side panel may need vents and/or fan mounts, especially since most HSFs will be top down blowers. I found that for my NSK1480, having the exhaust come out the side panel actually worked better for a passive video card, with the top vents sucking air in (may not apply here!)
3) consider allowing some empty space for a dual slot video card? at the very least, give some breathing room for even a single slot card?
4) somehow allow rubber grommet fans to be mounted at the top? in the current design, it may be tricky to pull them through (I have this problem with my NSK1480). My PC-A04 allows the top shell to be removed so the fan can be mounted, and then the shell re-screwed onto the case; might be hard to do in a case this small.

some of these may be wishful thinking for now :)

Author:  xan_user [ Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

how difficult would a full size slot over the backpane be (and maybe one on the front too)?
lights and swithces, i could do without.
id be happy with just vents to and bottom.

Author:  jamese [ Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

@Mankey, Thank you for the information! It'll be very helpful. I could sell you an unfinished one. The only problem is that I'm using stainless steel pem nuts. The aluminum is 5052.

That's a very cool looking paintball gun! Is the process quite a bit more involved for something like that? I would be interested getting contacts of any places in Canada.

Author:  jamese [ Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

fuzzymath10 wrote:
OK, as promised, my comments:
1) probably too challenging to add power/hdd LEDs? I could live without them but sometimes nice to know if the machine is thinking

The case is designed to use 16mm anti-vandal switches, which can be purchased with/without LED. The current location of the power switch is at the back though. But the light may reflect nicely off the wall?!

fuzzymath10 wrote:
2) agree that the side panel may need vents and/or fan mounts, especially since most HSFs will be top down blowers. I found that for my NSK1480, having the exhaust come out the side panel actually worked better for a passive video card, with the top vents sucking air in (may not apply here!)

Hopefully doesn't apply here, due to the bottom vents. I could offer an optional vented side panel though, if necessary.

fuzzymath10 wrote:
3) consider allowing some empty space for a dual slot video card? at the very least, give some breathing room for even a single slot card?

There's a couple individuals that have requested this on hardforum.com. Not sure if it'll happen, but I'm giving it some thought. I'm hoping with a single slot card the bottom vent (not shown in the concept image) should be sufficient (?). To be honest, I didn't design the case for gaming, but people have pointed out that this card would work:
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814202002

fuzzymath10 wrote:
4) somehow allow rubber grommet fans to be mounted at the top? in the current design, it may be tricky to pull them through (I have this problem with my NSK1480). My PC-A04 allows the top shell to be removed so the fan can be mounted, and then the shell re-screwed onto the case; might be hard to do in a case this small.

Good point! I noticed this issue the other day. (UPDATE: This should be possible now with the production cases)

fuzzymath10 wrote:
some of these may be wishful thinking for now :)

Doesn't hurt to wish!

Author:  jamese [ Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

xan_user wrote:
how difficult would a full size slot over the backpane be (and maybe one on the front too)?

Probably not very hard, but not something I want to tackle with this particular design. I designed this one to have no obstructions over the motherboard.

xan_user wrote:
lights and swithces, i could do without.
id be happy with just vents top and bottom.

I'm glad hear! :)

Author:  Mankey [ Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

jamese wrote:
@Mankey, Thank you for the information! It'll be very helpful. I could sell you an unfinished one. The only problem is that I'm using stainless steel pem nuts. The aluminum is 5052.

That's a very cool looking paintball gun! Is the process quite a bit more involved for something like that? I would be interested getting contacts of any places in Canada.


Ah! Anodizing would have to be done before the SS nuts get affixed. They'll corrode and melt in the acid bath otherwise. It's very important for ONLY aluminum to go through the process, other materials can ruin the parts, as well as contaminate the anodizer's equipment. FYI - 6000 series aluminum tends to anodize the best and is pretty common (not sure if you have a choice in materials).

As far as multicolor/splash anodizing, yes the process is very customized and more involved, as each color is a separate process with "masking" involved. You could expect to pay ~ 150 for a one-off complex job for 2 pieces (I'm guessing that is how many make up your case). It may be high to some, but it would be totally worth it to me to have a one-off crazy case :)

"Tonsixer's" is located up in BC - they've recently burst onto the scene and have been doing some amazing stuff - Here's their photo album - http://www.flickr.com//photos/[email protected]/show/ It's really jaw dropping.

They're a small operation (which is probably why they can afford to take the time to do more artistic anodizing), and the main way of contacting them is via a forum like this. Here's a link to one of their discussion threads, you can find more by googling their name. http://www.pbnation.com/showthread.php?t=3806708

If you're considering doing large run anodizing, you'd probably want to look somewhere that specializes in larger volume - you wouldn't get the option for as much artistic finishes though, but it would be much cheaper per piece. Let me know if you want some quotes for plain beadblasting and basic anodizing (this is all assuming it can be done pre steel nuts).

Author:  xan_user [ Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

P.S.
id be interested in a raw, unpainted one.

Author:  jamese [ Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

Mankey wrote:
Ah! Anodizing would have to be done before the SS nuts get affixed. They'll corrode and melt in the acid bath otherwise. It's very important for ONLY aluminum to go through the process, other materials can ruin the parts, as well as contaminate the anodizer's equipment. FYI - 6000 series aluminum tends to anodize the best and is pretty common (not sure if you have a choice in materials).

I was originally going to use aluminum fasteners, but switched to stainless when I found out the fasteners can be installed after anodizing. I'll have to revisit this. The aluminum fasteners are a little bigger, and not strong as stainless steel threads, but having them installed prior to anodizing would be better for guys like you who want a custom finish (I want one too now!). Another option is that I just use an anodizing company that can do what you want.

Mankey wrote:
As far as multicolor/splash anodizing, yes the process is very customized and more involved, as each color is a separate process with "masking" involved. You could expect to pay ~ 150 for a one-off complex job for 2 pieces (I'm guessing that is how many make up your case). It may be high to some, but it would be totally worth it to me to have a one-off crazy case :)

The case is actually 4 pieces if you include the SSD/HDD bracket: 1 chassis, 2 side panels, and 1 bracket.

Mankey wrote:
"Tonsixer's" is located up in BC - they've recently burst onto the scene and have been doing some amazing stuff - Here's their photo album - http://www.flickr.com//photos/[email protected]/show/ It's really jaw dropping.

They're a small operation (which is probably why they can afford to take the time to do more artistic anodizing), and the main way of contacting them is via a forum like this. Here's a link to one of their discussion threads, you can find more by googling their name. http://www.pbnation.com/showthread.php?t=3806708

If you're considering doing large run anodizing, you'd probably want to look somewhere that specializes in larger volume - you wouldn't get the option for as much artistic finishes though, but it would be much cheaper per piece. Let me know if you want some quotes for plain beadblasting and basic anodizing (this is all assuming it can be done pre steel nuts).

That's some amazing work. I recall seeing paintball gums like that before, but never realized it was anodized! Thanks for the links.

Author:  jamese [ Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

xan_user wrote:
P.S.
id be interested in a raw, unpainted one.

Noted! Are you thinking of a custom anodized finish also?

Author:  xan_user [ Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

jamese wrote:
xan_user wrote:
P.S.
id be interested in a raw, unpainted one.

Noted! Are you thinking of a custom anodized finish also?

nope, just gonna keep it raw and industrial looking. (any weld or tool marks would be fine)

Author:  jamese [ Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

After giving the PicoPSU wires some love, the second fan is actually usable with a top mounted PicoPSU. 8)

Image

Author:  Mankey [ Sat Apr 27, 2013 8:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

jamese wrote:
After giving the PicoPSU wires some love, the second fan is actually usable with a top mounted PicoPSU. 8)


Not sure of the exact layout of the PicoPSU board, but it looks like with some basic soldering skills, you could move the plugs to the other side of the board. They look like simple surface mount through pin plugs.

Author:  jamese [ Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

Mankey wrote:
Not sure of the exact layout of the PicoPSU board, but it looks like with some basic soldering skills, you could move the plugs to the other side of the board. They look like simple surface mount through pin plugs.

Ya, not a bad idea :)

Author:  jamese [ Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

I've been stressing myself out trying to decide whether to increase the size of the top vents, or just leave them alone. Any comments on this?

Also, I'm thinking about swapping the location of the power switch and power input holes. Can anyone see anything bad about having the power input near the PCI-X slot? It's a better position for ASUS and MSI motherboards (front 24pin location), but a little worse position for Gigabyte and ASRock (top/side 24pin location), where the wires would run across the motherboard by the IO ports. The only way to accommodate both is to have two power input holes, which is another possibility. What would people prefer?

Author:  Mankey [ Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

Vents - leave em be :) Unless you're planning another prototype to compare. Don't need to take a risk on the final run.

Power supply input - If I'm right, the power supply input holes are simply holes - not threaded, countersunk, etc - So if you're doing this on a CNC, that would be a very simple operation that could greatly benefit users across different motherboard types. 2 holes would not add cost or machine time. My vote is - add both holes!

Author:  jamese [ Tue Apr 30, 2013 3:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

@Mankey, thanks for your comments! I sometimes have a hard time leaving well enough alone ;)

You're right, the power supply input holes are just simple holes. I'll plan on adding another set of holes. I'm hoping to use a Mini-DIN style hole (one large, two small holes), with a spacer for 2.5mm DC jacks.

What's your thoughts on metal thickness? The prototype was 1mm, but I've revised my drawings for 1.6mm. I'm more worried about how changes affect the appearance, than fit issues. Another prototype is always an option.

I did also check on 6000 series aluminum, and it was highly recommended that I stick with 5052 aluminum. I was told that 5000 is better for bending, and that 6000 series may leave tooling marks.

I've been playing with changes to accommodate aluminum nuts. They're a little larger, and require a little more clearance as a result. Would you prefer to buy one with all aluminum fasteners, so you can have it finished yourself locally (do you do anodizing)?

Author:  Mankey [ Tue Apr 30, 2013 3:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

jamese wrote:
You're right, the power supply input holes are just simple holes. I'll plan on adding another set of holes. I'm hoping to use a Mini-DIN style hole (one large, two small holes), with a spacer for 2.5mm DC jacks.

Whats a Mini-DIN style hole? Mostly I just see the single hole for the panel mount 2.5mm DC jacks that the pico psu takes.

jamese wrote:
What's your thoughts on metal thickness? The prototype was 1mm, but I've revised my drawings for 1.6mm. I'm more worried about how changes affect the appearance, than fit issues. Another prototype is always an option.

Hard to say, I can't feel the if the prototype is flimsy or not. I think that when the case is screwed together, there should be very little flex. If 1mm doesn't achieve that, then 1.6mm would be better. Are costs vastly different between the thicknesses?

jamese wrote:
I did also check on 6000 series aluminum, and it was highly recommended that I stick with 5052 aluminum. I was told that 5000 is better for bending, and that 6000 series may leave tooling marks.

That sounds about right. I think that 6000 has a bit more tensile strength, which will machine easier, but bend crappily. I'll check to see how 5052 takes anodizing and get back to you.

jamese wrote:
I've been playing with changes to accommodate aluminum nuts. They're a little larger, and require a little more clearance as a result. Would you prefer to buy one with all aluminum fasteners, so you can have it finished yourself locally (do you do anodizing)?

How are the fasteners attached to the case? Are they spot welded in? Press fit? Unless there is a very good electrical/mechanical connection between the fasteners and the main pieces, they may take anodizing funkily. No, I don't do anodizing myself, but I have a few connections for normal (non graphic) anodizing. If you're thinking of something wild like me, we could probably simply ship it to the same custom anodizer and see if we could get a discount. (Assuming 5052 will work).

Author:  jamese [ Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

Mankey wrote:
Whats a Mini-DIN style hole? Mostly I just see the single hole for the panel mount 2.5mm DC jacks that the pico psu takes.

Some higher powered AC-DC power supplies use 4pin Mini-DIN. I wish they'd all use the same kind :)
http://www.mini-box.com/12v-16A-AC-DC-Power-Adapter

Mankey wrote:
Hard to say, I can't feel the if the prototype is flimsy or not. I think that when the case is screwed together, there should be very little flex. If 1mm doesn't achieve that, then 1.6mm would be better. Are costs vastly different between the thicknesses?

Price difference is minimal. I guess I couldn't really call the case flimsy. The side panels look thin, and have some flex to them, but won't bend permanently without concerted effort. IO shield cutout was flimsy, and I'd almost say I bent it a bit installing the IO shield (which was a little tight). Besides being more rigid, there's also more options available when using at least 1.6mm thick material. In particular, I'm interested in fasteners that would allow the side panels to be fastened without screws (or without many).

Mankey wrote:
That sounds about right. I think that 6000 has a bit more tensile strength, which will machine easier, but bend crappily. I'll check to see how 5052 takes anodizing and get back to you.

Thanks, I appreciate that. This site has a very brief overview:
http://www.altechanodizing.com/resources/aluminum-alloys-for-anodizing/

Mankey wrote:
How are the fasteners attached to the case? Are they spot welded in? Press fit? Unless there is a very good electrical/mechanical connection between the fasteners and the main pieces, they may take anodizing funkily. No, I don't do anodizing myself, but I have a few connections for normal (non graphic) anodizing. If you're thinking of something wild like me, we could probably simply ship it to the same custom anodizer and see if we could get a discount. (Assuming 5052 will work).

Sounds good. I'd rather not use them unless I have to. :) They are pressed, but there's not a great selection of them.

Author:  Mankey [ Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lone Industries Mini-ITX prototype

Ah - thanks for clearing up the 4pin.

My research has also shown that 5000 series aluminum is good for anodizing! Getting excited now.

As far as the pressed fasteners - you could always install them after anodizing - then SS or aluminum doesn't matter.

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