The invisible case

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getting started

With my research completed, I set off in two directions at once. I began to plan my case design using paper and pencil, and simultaneously began building test projects–practicing my skills while evaluating different construction techniques. You’ll get all the technique stuff in the third article, I promise.

test fitting the motherboard in test port cutouts

Now I didn’t follow the outline I provided in my first article. I hadn’t refined my thinking to that degree yet, so I made all those decisions, just without the roadmap. The first thing I decided was the motherboard. My local supplier was unable to get the Shuttle SV-24 board, so I settled for the Asus CUSI-FX, a fairly comparable board both in size and features.

checking the motherboard height against my test cutouts

As in the planning article, the dimensions of my motherboard more or less set the overall minimum size for my case. The other constraint was my own design preference for a perfect cube, and the two taken together led me to settle on a 10 inch dimension. I purchased the motherboard immediately, and went to work with some foam core board to build models of what the case should look like.

I hit a snag with that plan pretty quickly: I couldn’t find any 1/4″ foam core, and I planned to use .250 acrylic, so all my pieces would be slightly off in their dimensions, so I abandoned that approach in favor of simple drawings on paper. The thickness of my material meant that I had 9½” inside my cube.

Since the CUSI-FX (FlexATX form factor) is 7x9″, I knew I had a 2-1/2″ maximum clearance between the board and the case edge. MicroATX (or more correctly SFX) power supplies are typically 3x4x5″, with a 1/2″ fan offset, so my plan was to cut a hole in the side to accommodate the fan.

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