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 Post subject: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:33 pm 
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Location: Taipei, Taiwan
I had a great experience building a Silverstone SG05 recently. It occurs to me that it is about the same dimensions as my Shuttle SD11G5. Obviously the Silverstone case has much better airflow and is designed for standard-sized components, but I think with some effort, the Shuttle G5 chassis should be able to fit a mostly quiet, modern system.

I was able to purchase a dead SD32G5 and gutted the parts. Next steps (once I get some tools) are to cut off the existing motherboard standoffs, add standard ITX standoffs, and widen the rear I/O panel to fit a standard ITX.

Components I will be using are:
MINIX 6150SE-UC3 motherboard (AM3)
95W Athlon II or Phenom II CPU
Nvidia GT240 single slot video card

The original Shuttle airflow design is intake through the side vents, exhaust through the rear 92mm fan. PSU also has an intake fan near the side vent, and exhaust through the rear. I think I can experiment with this design, or try reversing the fans and having the rear vent be an intake.

Has anybody had experience doing a similar build? I think the critical questions are:

1) Which PSU to use? The stock Shuttle PC40 PSU (a 1U server sized PSU) still seems to work, but I have heard that the Seasonic SS-250SU is a quieter alternative for the same size. Alternative, will a SFX-sized PSU fit? I would also consider PicoPSU + external brick, but I think I need around 250W to be safe.

2) Where to put the PSU? Original location or somewhere else? Location needs to fit with the overall airflow of the case. Its positioning also affects the options for the CPU cooler.

3) Which CPU cooler to use? My first thought was the Ninja Mini. If it were positioned close to the rear fan, it might be used passively like the original ICE cooler. After getting the motherboard, however, it seems the CPU socket is too far to the side, and the side rail will block a tower cooler (the Asus AM3 ITX motherboard might have worked better). Maybe the Big Shuriken or Geminii S instead?

I have quite a few other questions, like how to get the front I/O connectors to work, so I would appreciate hearing from anybody who has tried something like this. Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:42 am 
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Location: Taipei, Taiwan
An update with my progress. I've been busy with work so I don't expect to have time to finish this for another month or so. I am thinking about different layouts, and here is one example:
Image
Here I have already attached the motherboard to the case by lining up the motherboard with the outer PCI slot, drilling new holes for the motherboard standoffs and cutting out the back panel to fit.

At the bottom of the picture, you can see the outline of the stock PSU. This is a 1U "FlexATX" server PSU that is 40mm wide. With this motherboard, the CPU socket is farther from the PCIe slot, so the PSU comes up right against the side of the AM3 retention bracket. This will limit the options for CPU coolers.

The PSU also covers up the RAM slots. This particular motherboard uses full-sized DIMMs; most AM3 motherboards use laptop SODIMMs. Right now it seems like there is barely enough clearance for a standard-sized DIMM, but I do not have DDR3 memory on hand to make sure.

I have a spare stock cooler for a 95W Athlon II. It's quite small and seems to fit (barely) with the PSU. I have never used this stock cooler so I don't know what the noise and cooling is like. Btw I'll be using a Phenom II X3 740, which does not come with a stock cooler.

On the right is a 120mm fan (standard 25mm width) from a Silverstone SG05. The original Shuttle ICE fan for this case was a 92mm fan. I might try the 92mm fan to begin with, but here you can see that with the ICE radiator and one PCI slot out of the way, there is just enough room inside the case for a 120mm fan.

The main question now is the choice of CPU cooler. Assuming I use a regular 5.25" optical drive, there is limited height (about 120 mm). And the PSU next to the CPU retention bracket rules out "wide" low-profile coolers like the Big Shuriken. The only ones that seem to qualify are short, small tower heatsinks (maybe a Cooler Master Hyper 101) or asymmetrical heatsinks like the Scythe Samurai ZZ or Cooler Master Vortex Plus.

Another question is airflow direction. It would be great if the CPU fan blows in the same direction as the case fan, effectively a push/pull on the CPU heatsink. But the Samurai ZZ and Vortex Plus blow either top or down, and the small tower heatsinks would probably have to blow perpendicular to the case fan.

The last question is the PSU. It looks like with this case design, there simply isn't room for a SFX PSU. There *might* be room to move the 1U PSU near the top of the case and turn it sideways. This would open up a lot of space in the body of the case and allow a wider range of CPU cooler options. But it would also mean drilling holes on the side panels of the case for airflow, plus your power would plug in on the side or something, which is just odd.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:57 am 
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hey matey how did you remove the mobo stand offs and get the i/o shield to fit?


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:16 am 
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Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Removing motherboard standoffs: The two options are to unscrew them or chop them off. Unscrewing them requires finding a wrench that is small enough. I couldn't find one, so I decided to just cut them. I don't have a dremel, so I just used some tin snips to chip away at the sides, then used a metal file to smooth them down. You don't have to cut them all the way. They just need to be low enough so that they won't touch the motherboard when you install the new standoffs. Btw, new standoffs should be 5mm tall (measured above the case).

Rear I/O shield: Currently I don't have the shield installed, but it is just a simple matter of cutting a bigger opening in the back of the case. The only problematic area is that there is a small tab on the right side that supports the PSU. Rather than cut off the tab, I think I will just trim the rear I/O shield to go around the PSU.

A couple other updates:

I confirmed that the cable for the power switch, reset switch, HDD led and power LED is compatible with a standard motherboard header. The Shuttle manual has a diagram. You will need extensions, though. You can make your own, or FrozenCPU has a selection of extension cables (like this one), or you can buy them cheaper in a sleeved cable set made by NZXT.

The front panel audio/USB port uses a completely non-standard ribbon cable, and I'm still not sure how to get around that. Trying to reuse the front panel might be a lost cause.

I decided to go with a rear 120mm fan instead of the stock 92mm ICE fan. The only reason the stock fan is 92mm is to make room for the second PCI slot. Since mini-ITX boards only have one PCI slot anyway, I think a 120mm fan is a better use of the space. The alternative would be to try to position your ITX board so that the video card fits somewhere between the case's original two PCI slots. That still doesn't let you use a double-slot video card, but could conceivably give you more room for an aftermarket cooler.

I drilled holes for a 120mm fan in the back of the case. Use a 5mm drill bit for each hole, and space the holes 105mm apart. One of the holes will fall on one of the PCI slots. You can skip that hole and attach the fan with three mounts, or attach a PCI slot cover and drill a hole in it. You will also need to remove the PCI slot hinge on the inside of the case to clear room for the fan. Not sure how I will replace the empty space above the PCI slot. Might try to reuse the metal hinge somehow or just cover it with duct tape.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:23 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2004 6:53 pm
Posts: 89
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Here is an updated test fitting. This is going to be my final configuration (or very close to it):
MINIX 6150SE-UC3 motherboard (AM3)
Scythe Samurai ZZ CPU cooler
120mm Globe Golf Fan as case fan (from Silverstone SG05)
Mushkin Silverline DDR3 RAM (has a very low heatsink)
Shuttle PC40 PSU (came with the system)
Nvidia GT240 single slot video card

Picture of these components (nothing is connected but it's all in position):
Image

In the next pic, you can see how closely all the components fit together. The PSU barely clears the Mushkin Silverline RAM. The Samurai ZZ barely clears the PCIe card on the left and the PSU on the right. Note that there is still plenty of room for the 5.25" optical drive above the cooler -- it just needs to be lower than the top of the PSU.
Image

Another nice benefit is that it seems I don't even need to mod the original Shuttle drive cage. It's a tight fit and I have to pull and push on the case a little to get it in there, but it will fit:
Image

I'll be using only 2.5" drives so getting the drives to fit should not be difficult.

Lastly I also have a Seasonic SS-250SU PSU. It is an almost perfect drop-in replacement for the Shuttle PSU, and it has the advantage of being much shorter (will help with the RAM clearance) and only having a single fan. But I still haven't plugged in and powered on the system so I can't comment on the noise right now.

Images uploaded with ImageShack.us.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:57 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2004 6:53 pm
Posts: 89
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Here is a pic of the fitted rear I/O shield.
Image

The width is actually more or less perfectly lined up with the inside PCI slot (the one that is not usable) -- you just need to cut the divider. The height needs to be increased. I'm sure this is where a dremel would come in handy, but since I don't have one, I just used a combination of various hand tools to get roughly the correct size, then used a file to get it close enough to fit.

Also, on the top left, I have cut off the corner of the I/O shield so that it fits around the PSU bracket. My motherboard doesn't have any ports in that corner, so trimming the shield seemed to make the most sense.

Image uploaded with ImageShack.us


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:22 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2004 6:53 pm
Posts: 89
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Here is a pic showing the 120mm fan attached:
Image

I've cut out the back grill, which was originally designed for a 92mm fan. I also cut a PCI bracket in half and drilled a hole to mount the bottom right fan mount. This is not really necessary but it does ensure that the fan doesn't get into contact with the case (which is somewhat loose and warped from the cutting).

Note that there are still some random pieces of the case blocking the airflow. I think the airflow is sufficient and removing more parts would be more trouble than its worth. I did a quick test and the fan was running very quietly; no extra noise resulting from the case in the way.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:04 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2004 6:53 pm
Posts: 89
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
The system is up and running. Here are some pictures without the drive bay and video card:
Image

Image

I flipped the Samurai ZZ fan to blow upwards instead of downwards. The Shuttle intake vents are along the bottom sides of the case, so this seemed to make more sense. It is very tempting to switch the rear fan to an intake fan so that it blows directly onto the CPU cooler. I might test this later just to compare.

I opted to use the Seasonic PSU instead of the Shuttle stock PC40. As mentioned, it is an almost perfect drop-in replacement. It lines up perfectly with the rear screwholes, the existing fan and power connector cutouts, and the small rear bracket. The only thing it doesn't match is the small hook along the side rail. I thought about modding another hook, but I decided that it'd be easier to secure with ropes or long twist-ties. But when I screwed the PSU in place in the back, I decided that the PSU was sufficiently secure without any additional mounting in the front. Part of the reason is that the Seasonic PSU is much shorter than the Shuttle.

The shorter length of the Seasonic PSU is also helpful because the PSU does not cover the outer RAM slot, which makes handling that part significantly easier.

It also turns out that one of the AMD mounting clips of the Samurai ZZ interferes directly with the inner RAM slot. Luckily I bought a single 4GB stick instead of going for dual-channel 2x2GB. Otherwise it looks like I would have to cut off the clip.

I haven't had any experience with J&W/MINIX motherboards. I am generally pleased with this one, but do note that this is a budget model and you get what you pay for. In particular, there is no speed control for the case fan, unlike the full-featured Asus M4A88T-I. I am going to get one of these NoiseMagic fan controllers that adjust automatically with temperature to lower the fan speed at idle.

I've been running Prime95 for about an hour and CPU temps are stable around 40 C. Noise on full load is acceptable, especially considering it sits on the desk within a couple feet of me. Noise from the Seasonic PSU is much better than I expected. Don't know how low quiet I can get it on idle until I get the fan controller for the rear fan.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:53 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2004 6:53 pm
Posts: 89
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
I switched to positive cooling. Case fan is now an intake. I reversed the PSU fan so that it is also an intake. And I put the Samurai ZZ back to its original down-blowing direction. This decreased my CPU temperature about 3-4 degrees, so I'm going to leave it this way.

I got the NoiseMagic fan controller so the case fan no longer runs at full speed all the time. The fan controller is designed to be placed on the fan, but now that my fan is an intake, the little temperature probe would only be measuring the outside air as it comes into the case. I've read other threads about desoldering the temperature probe and extending it, but it's also easy to just position the controller in the path of the hot air. In this case, I put the controller near the front of the Shuttle under the drive cage, right by the exhaust vents. (There are some unused motherboard standoffs conveniently positioned there.)

Most interestingly, I may have found a way to use the front panel ports. (Update: Doesn't work, see next post.) On the G5 systems, the front panel is connected to the motherboard by a small silver flat flexible cable with 50 pins. After a lot of searching, I found this 50-pin ZIF to IDE adapter:
Image

I can't be sure, but the ZIF slot looks a lot like the slot for the G5 front panel connector. And it looks like the circuit board simply takes the 50 pins of the flat flexible cable and expands it into regular-sized pins, which can be easily connected to the proper motherboard headers. A possible pin layout is in this manual for the Shuttle FB86 (search for "JP7"). I'll give this a try in a few weeks.

Right now the system is quiet but not silent. The main source of noise is the PSU fan. Given that some noise is probably unavoidable with a 40 mm fan, I think the results are fairly good.


Last edited by Hazelrah on Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:47 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:41 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2004 6:53 pm
Posts: 89
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
The 50-pin ZIF to IDE adapter linked in my last post does not work. The pin pitch seems a little off, and I don't think the ZIF side actually has all 50 pins (seems more like 40). In any case, the connector is not compatible with the Shuttle G5 front panel connector.

Upon further research and measuring, the Shuttle front panel connector appears to be a flat flexible cable (FFC) with 50 pins and 0.5 mm pitch. I will look for another way to separate the pins with those specs. So far I've found this adapter which looks promising.

(Update: I just ordered this Flat Flexible Cable Breakout Board which seems to fit the bill nicely. It takes a 0.5mm pitch FFC (up to 60 pins) and separates them into 0.1" spaced male headers, which I'm pretty sure is the same spacing as a standard motherboard header. Assuming it works, I can get some motherboard connector cables and try hooking them up. I'm currently in Taiwan so I will not get it for several weeks.)

Also, I've switched the PSU back to the Shuttle PC40 (instead of the Seasonic SS-250SU). And I swapped the two fans in the Shuttle PC40 with two Scythe Mini Kaze Ultra (40x40x20mm) fans.

The advantage of the Shuttle PC40 is that it uses two fans in push/pull, rather than the single fan in the Seasonic SS-250SU. Both use 40x40x20mm fans, but the specs are very different. The Shuttle PC40 uses two Delta EFB0412MD fans, rated at 0.06 amps, max airflow of 7.17 CFM (specs here (PDF)). The fan in my Seasonic SS-250SU is made by "SuperRed" (never heard of them, some kind of Communist China reference?) that is labeled 0.18 amps, or 3x the power of the Shuttle PC40 fan!

To be clear, the Seasonic PSU fan doesn't run full speed all the time (or any of the time, as far I've seen), and unmodified, my Seasonic PSU is quieter than my Shuttle PSU. But if you're going to do a fan swap, it's much easier to find a quiet replacement for two 0.06 amp fans than a single 0.18 amp fan. (Note that the Scythe 40mm fan is rated at less than 5 CFM, compared with the 7+ CFM of the stock Shuttle fans.

That said, it's quite possible that the Seasonic PSU does not actually need such a super-powered fan. It's an 80+ PSU and the fan might be over-engineered for server/industrial applications. I might get another 40x40x20mm fan and test this later. I am very interested in the Sunon MagLev Vapo fan (HA40201V4-0000-C99) which claims 5.5 CFM and 12.8 dBA. (By comparison, the Scythe claims 4.86 CFM and 19.56 dBA).

After the Scythe fan swap, I heard some odd sounds that I originally thought was motor whine, but now I think it is vibrations between the fans and the PSU components. It's a very tight fit in there, so I tried simply wrapping the Scythe fans in some thin foam to reduce vibrations. It's quieter now although I can still hear the odd noise from time to time.

Note that these are just minor complaints based on the fact that 1) I was on vacation in a very quiet area of California, 2) I was out of desk space so the computer was sitting literally right below my ear, and 3) I had a lot of time on my hands. In fact the system as a whole is very quiet and I'm quite pleased with the results.

I've also overclocked the Phenom to 3.6 GHz. This required increasing the voltage, but that only kicks in when the CPU is under load. At idle, voltage and temps are the same. I was also able to unlock the fourth core, but the only way to get it stable was to disable Cool N Quiet, which is not worth it for my typical usage.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:27 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2004 6:53 pm
Posts: 89
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
A quick update about the Sunon MagLev Vapo fan (HA40201V4-0000-C99) vs the Scythe Mini Kaze Ultra (SY124020L). I do *not* recommend the Sunons.

The Sunons cost $17 on FrozenCPU, but they are readily available in Taiwan for about $4. I was able to test a few in the store (plenty of "ambient" noise there) and decided to buy one to take home to try out.

First I should note that all of these "quiet" 40mm fans sound perfectly silent when spinning in free air. You have to hold your ear fairly closely to the fan to detect any noise from either the Sunon or the Scythe. With the Sunon in free air, I heard a very light high pitch whine, which was probably motor whine. (I tested a couple units and heard the same sound in all of them.) The Scythe has a very light whine also, but quite lower in tone.

As noted earlier, the Sunon claims 5.5 CFM and 12.8 dBA. By comparison, the Scythe claims 4.86 CFM and 19.56 dBA. But there is no way the Sunon is 6 dBA quieter than the Scythe. As noted before, in free air, both fans are essentially silent.

The big difference comes when you actually place the fans into the PSU. Then the sound of the fans is amplified tremendously. The whine of the Sunon, which can barely be heard in free air, becomes *very* noticeable. The Scythe noise level is similar, but its tone is a little lower and much more tolerable.

Cutting the fan grills on the front and back of the PSU (which I've done) helps, but only somewhat. I'm not sure what else I can do to minimize the amplification effect. In any case, the Sunon is *not* a good replacement for the Scythe.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:40 pm 
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Location: Taipei, Taiwan
With the Flat Flexible Cable Breakout Board, I was able to get the Shuttle's front panel ports working, with a few limitations.

1) The audio ports on my particular Shuttle appear to be AC'97 only. I was able to get microphone input and headphone output to work, but I can't get jack detection to work properly. I don't think this is a problem if your ITX motherboard supports AC'97 mode for its integrated audio, but mine is unfortunately HD Audio only. That means that the microphone and headphone jacks will work, but you need to convince the computer that the microphone jack is plugged in (you can connect the jack detection pin to something that is always "on") and plugging in headphones will not automatically mute the speakers.

2) USB has some issues. I can read and write to a simple flash drive using Windows Explorer, but I have trouble transferring files to my iPod via iTunes. The problem could also be with my motherboard headers, the flat flexible cable may not be aligned correctly, who knows. But having my flash drives work is "good enough" so I'm not troubleshooting further for now.

3) The Flat Flexible Cable Breakout Board is really fragile. These things are apparently shipped from India, and they are either messed up at the factory or maybe when they go through customs along the way. My board was grimy (I wiped it down with some rubbing alcohol) and the FFC connector was very loosely glued to the board. After a few uses, the FFC connector completely broke off. I went to a local electronics repair store where they dutifully resoldered all 60 of the tiny pins.

4) As noted before, you have to really like your Shuttle case to want to do this, because it's very cost inefficient. The FFC breakout board costs about $15 with shipping, and then you also need to buy (or make your own) motherboard connector cables, which may not be cheap depending on your source. For that money, you can easily buy a new front panel that fits in the 3.5" bay, with HD Audio, USB 3.0, eSATA and other modern goodies. Silverstone, Lian Li and others make interesting alternatives.

For those going the Shuttle front panel route, here are the pin connections I used.

USB: I think these connections are the same for all Shuttle G5 front panels. I looked at a number of manuals and they all have more or less this layout.
Code:
FFC   Mobo   Function
Pin   Pin
7   1      VCC
8   2      VCC
9   5      Data 0+
10   3      Data 0-
11   7      Ground
12   8      Ground
13   6      Data 1+
14   4      Data 1-
15   10      NC


Audio: There are many pin layouts in the Shuttle manuals. If your model's manual has a pin layout, then you're all set, but if not, you need to do it by trial and error. Here's the one that worked for my front panel. Appears to be AC97 only on my front panel, although some of the Shuttle manuals suggest that certain models have HD Audio compatible front panels.
Code:
FFC   Mobo   Function
Pin   Pin
25   1      MIC
26   3      MIC PWR
30   2      Audio Ground
36   9      FP_OUT_L
40   5      FP_OUT_R


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:22 pm 
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Location: los angeles
Hey how did you flip the fan on the samurai ZZ? I think right now my fan blows up (away from the CPU) but I heard that blowing down onto the CPU provides better cooling. Right now my cpu which is i3 540 runs at around 80 Fahrenheit at idle so I want to try other ways.


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 7:17 pm 
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Location: Taipei, Taiwan
I just remembered that I had some more pics but never updated this thread. My last post about the front USB ports was basically the last part that finished the project. I use it as my daily PC now. I am reasonably satisfied with it, but the PSU is not silent. As I mentioned above, something about the cramped size of the PSU just amplifies any sound that goes in it, even if it is a very quiet fan to begin with.

Here is a picture showing the Flat Flexible Cable Breakout Board hooked up to the front USB / audio I/O panel:

Image

Here is the power supply with the two Scythe Mini Kaze Ultra fans installed, along with some thin foam padding (turns out it doesn't do anything for the noise).

Image

Here's the final system (without the graphics card) so you can see how close the drive cage comes to the heatsink -- basically have to squeeze it in there:

Image

squelchy451 wrote:
Hey how did you flip the fan on the samurai ZZ?


I answered this by PM several months ago, but for everybody else's benefit, all you need is to pull very hard on the retainer clips, preferably with the help of pliers. This is actually mentioned in SPCR's review of the Samurai ZZ so that's how I got the idea.

Images uploaded with ImageShack.us


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 Post subject: Re: Mini-ITX in Shuttle G5 chassis
PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:11 am 
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Posts: 1
Hi, I'm doing a similar project currently with an FN68 motherboard. My main issue is with the JP7 connector - I need it to join to a standard motherboard header. However, as it will be running in a server I don't need the front ports - I just need the power switch to be broken out. How were you turning your set up on before you got your ZIF adapter sorted? Is there another header in the mobo somewhere solely for power?

Thanks.


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