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Luggable PC

A nominally portable ("luggable") computer chassis for commodity desktop PC components.

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For laptops to be as portable as they are, they have to make trade off in power, or upgrade ability, or affordability. When one needs a full power computer that can be upgraded with commodity components, it won't be thin or light. But it does not have to be a huge bulky box!

The goal of this project is to make a low-cost, 3D-printed chassis that can take the same kind of inexpensive commodity components as the big tower cases do, but more compact and portable than the standard PC tower.

The PC market is largely dominated by two main categories: (1) Large desktop towers offering wide spectrum of options and upgrade capability, and (2) laptops offering portability in exchange for limited options and upgrade capability.


The laptop market has seen a great deal of innovation in form factors. From super thin-and-light convertible tablets to heavyweight expensive "Gamer Laptops." The latter pushes the limits of laptop form factor towards the desktop segment.


In contrast, the PC desktop market has not seen a similar level of innovation. The only significant deviation from the standard tower are the all-in-one PCs ("iMac clones") sharing many of the same limitation as laptops. In general there's been far less pushing the limits of desktop machines towards portability.


The "Luggable PC" project ventures into this under-explored space, to design a portable chassis which accepts commodity desktop PC components.

The key features over commercially available all-in-one desktop PCs are:

  • Accepts standard ATX motherboard: Enough space for a full ATX motherboard ensures the widest choice of options. Note that while it is a goal for the full sized motherboard to fit, it is not a goal to ensure all expansion slots are usable. (See trade-offs section below.)
  • Accepts full-sized PCI-E GPU: This is expected to be the most challenging part of designing the packaging layout, but ability to upgrade the GPU (which is evolving much faster - thus become outdated faster - than the other areas of PC technology) is the primary motivation for this project.
  • Accepts full-sized ATX power supply: While smaller power supply units are available, they are typically more expensive and/or deliver less peak power than full sized units.

To deliver portability, trade-offs were chosen based on features that are underutilized (or not used at all) on most modern desktop PCs.

  • Some ATX expansion slots will not be usable: While the primary slot closest to the CPU will be accessible to install a GPU, the remaining expansion slots may not be usable. This should be OK as those slots typically go unused due to modern motherboards integrating many functions (audio, Ethernet, USB, etc.) formerly performed by expansion cards.
  • No 5.25" bays: Floppy and optical drives have fallen out of use.
  • No 3.5" bays: Floppy drives have long fallen out of use, and spinning platter hard disk drives (HDD) are fading out in favor of solid state drives (SSD).
  • Few, if any, 2.5" bay: SSD capacity has grown enough that a single SSD can meet the storage needs of most users. Though with the growing popularity of the M.2 form factor, the 2.5" bay may sit empty. Alternatively it may be employed for a laptop sized HDD as secondary storage capacity.
  • No auxiliary cooling devices (fans/radiator/etc.): Power efficiency of desktop PC components have made great strides in the past few years, producing far less waste heat. The cooling fans built into individual components are sufficient as long as there are enough vents for air circulation.

Also:

  • No PCI-e riser/extender: There are several methods to decouple the PCI-E GPU from the motherboard, which will allow far more flexibility in positioning those two components relative to each other. It is, however, an extra variable (Buy the known good $85 ribbon cable from Digikey, or roll the dice on $7 from Amazon marketplace?) and an extra cost I wanted to avoid.

Pages describing specific design considerations in building this project:

  1. PSU Layout: The heavy power supply unit anchors the chassis.
  2. Motherboard Layout: Trying to pack components tightly around a (very) not compact full-size ATX motherboard.
  3. Screen Layout Challenges: The wishlist for my perfect screen layout and why it is hard to satisfy all the requirements.
  4. Screen Hinge: The final design that satisfied (almost) all of the wishlist.
  5. A Tale of Three Corners: Learning how to build better 3D printed structures with threaded rods. (Made irrelevant by the switch to...
Read more »

  • 1 × 1kg spool of 1.75mm 3D printer filament Exact amount will depend on slicer settings.
  • 1 × 425mm Aluminum Extrusion Misumi HFS5-2020
  • 1 × 405mm Aluminum Extrusion Misumi HFS5-2020
  • 1 × 285mm Aluminum Extrusion Misumi HFS5-2020
  • 2 × 245mm Aluminum Extrusion Misumi HFS5-2020
  • 2 × 245mm Aluminum Extrusion with M5 tapped ends Misumi HFS5-2020
  • 2 × 155mm Aluminum Extrusion with M5 tapped ends Misumi HFS5-2020
  • 1 × 116.25mm Aluminum Extrusion with M5 tapped ends Misumi HFS5-2020
  • 2 × 106.25mm Aluminum Extrusion with M5 tapped ends Misumi HFS5-2020
  • 40 × Extrusion rail assembly nut Misumi HNTT5-5, with discount for buying a pack of 100 PACK-HNTT5-5

View all 35 components

  • 1+ Week Report

    Roger04/11/2017 at 23:08 0 comments

    I've been using the Luggable PC as my portable computing solution for a little over a week and I'm happy with it. By recycling the parts I retired from my main desktop PC, it cost me a small fraction of the cost of a new laptop with similar specs. It's certainly no lightweight! (17.5 pounds, to be exact.) But it's portable enough if I'm driving somewhere. I'll still use my Macbook Air when I'm flying for a trip, or otherwise need something small and light that easily fits in a backpack.

    Given its satisfactory performance to date I don't plan any more ground-up redesigns of the chassis. There will obviously be additional minor tweaks since I'm the tinkerer type. But if anything major comes up, I'm more likely to document it as a separate/spin-off/sequel project. (See below.)

    I've updated the project status page to "Completed Project."

    As stated earlier, I've documented the whole thing. The Fusion 360 CAD file is shared, the parts list filled out in detail, and step-by-step instructions posted. You are welcome (and encouraged!) to take what I've done and customize it to suit your needs.

    And when you are done... let me know! Show it off! I'd love to see other takes on this concept.

    Some possibilities for future development, by myself or by others:

    • Laser-cut: My individual components were constrained by the 200mm x 200mm bed of my 3D printer. Most laser cutters have significantly larger working area which opens up the possibility of a redesign to take advantage of laser cutter strengths.
    • Sheet metal: Similar to the above, industrial sheet metal tooling would allow tremendous reduction in part count and cost. If some enterprising entrepreneur wants to turn this basic idea into a product, it will definitely need to be redesigned for sheet metal mass production.
    • AIO: If portability is not a goal, and the desire is simply for a compact chassis for full-sized components, the screen assembly and associated hinge can be deleted. In its place, an aluminum extrusion to bolt on a monitor that doesn't move (no hinge).
    • Screen hinge for VESA compatible screens: A more ambitious version of the above that preserves portability. In this version, the screen and hinge mechanism is redesigned so it works with any VESA compatible screen instead of customized to a specific screen like I did. It'd be very impressive if this can be done!

  • Newegg Case Mod Event

    Roger04/07/2017 at 18:18 1 comment

    I think I'll take the Luggable PC out to the Newegg case mod event. See how that audience would react to a 3D printed PC chassis. Maybe it will be appreciated, or maybe it will only sit in the shadows of LED light show from the bling-tastic modded boxes present, who knows?

  • Components & Instructions for Extrusion Box V1

    Roger04/04/2017 at 00:12 0 comments

    All the information has been uploaded for anybody to build their own Extrusion Box Luggable PC.

    • The Autodesk Fusion 360 CAD file is shared via link to the Autodesk 360 sharing hub.
    • The component list on this project page has been updated with all parts required.
    • The instruction list on this project page has been updated with step-by-step detail.

    If the 90-step instruction list is too long for you, here's a handy TL;DR animated GIF version courtesy of http://gifcreator.me

  • Extrusion Box V1.0

    Roger04/02/2017 at 19:26 0 comments

      The Extrusion Box 1.0 is complete! I've taken all the lessons learned from previous prototypes and rebuilt the structure using aluminum extrusions. Relative to the threaded rods I had used earlier, aluminum extrusions provide a stronger framework with far more consistency in dimension for building.

      With the completion of this prototype I now have something I can lug around when I need more computing power than available from an Apple MacBook Air.

      Over the next several days I'll flesh out this project page, update the components list and provide a full list of instructions for building your own Luggable PC.

      In the meantime, here is a list to posts explaining specific design elements that went into the project.

      1. PSU Layout: The heavy power supply unit anchors the chassis.
      2. Motherboard Layout: Trying to pack components tightly around a (very) not compact full-size ATX motherboard.
      3. Screen Layout Challenges: The wishlist for my perfect screen layout and why it is hard to satisfy all the requirements.
      4. Screen Hinge: The final design that satisfied (almost) all of the wishlist.
      5. A Tale of Three Corners: Learning how to build better 3D printed structures with threaded rods. (Made irrelevant by the switch to aluminum extrusions.)
      6. Angled Feet: A minor design element with major ergonomics impact.
      7. Drive Bay: Finding the best way to package 2 x 2.5" storage drives.

  • Threaded Rod Box v2

    Roger02/27/2017 at 23:58 0 comments

    Presenting the second version of the threaded-rod box design!

    It advanced on the previous version in several significant ways. The most obvious new feature is the screen hinge mechanism. I've already posted an animated GIF showing it in action at the Feb. Hackaday LA meet, here are higher-resolution stills in the open and closed positions:

    The screen hinge design offers the following benefits:

    1. When closed for traveling:
      1. Screen glass is facing inward and protected.
      2. Screen edge is not sticking out so less vulnerable to damage.
      3. Vertical orientation minimizes width and depth to increase portability.
    2. When open for use:
      1. Screen is at a high ergonomic position. This addresses a peeve of mine against laptops, whose screen (at table height) are too low.
      2. Horizontal orientation as is typical for computers. (Versus phone/tablet)
      3. Exposes an area for things like a Big Red Button power switch, which is something I've always wanted in a PC case.

    It has the following issues I want to resolve in future iterations:

    1. The screen wiring is awkward and exposed. Right now it is easy for them to get tangled up and pinched by the metal hinge hardware.
    2. The hinge needs to move through two axis of movement ("flip" and "rotate") to switch between configurations. This is poor design: It's not obvious to an user if the flip should happen before the rotate, or the opposite, or some combination in between. I want to evolve this design so it has one continuous unambiguous movement between the open and closed positions.

    Inside the box, the component layout is identical to Threaded Rod Box V1 but for one significant difference: the motherboard has been flipped around so the backside of the board faces the screen. The space that was previously enclosed and wasted in the box v1 volume is now opened up to a sloped back.

    I focused mostly on the front of the box this time around, leaving the back pretty bare and open. I think much of the volume can be reclaimed for productive purposes. Ideas for future iterations include:

    • A few hooks that will be useful to coil power and network cables.
    • A home for a mouse, probably in the form of a small cubby.
    • A way to attach a keyboard, probably in the form of a clip or a tray.

    Lastly, I also made a significant change in construction technique. In the previous versions, plastic printed pieces are asked to hold together metal pieces several centimeters apart. Given that distance and plastic's flexible nature, the earlier editions would noticeably bend and flex as I moved them around.

    The latest design keeps the metal pieces much closer together. This means less plastic to flex in the corners. The resulting box is far more rigid and confidence inspiring to carry around.

  • Luggable PC at Hackaday LA February Meetup

    Roger02/25/2017 at 02:28 0 comments

    There's nothing like a deadline to drive progress! I wanted to show the latest progress at this month's meet, but I had dismantled threaded rod box V1 and V2 was far from completion. A few frantic nights of work resulted in something I could bring to the meet. It was missing several pieces I didn't have time to print, but good enough for a show-and-tell.

    There will be a more detailed write-up after I catch up on sleep, but the most significant new feature was the screen mount. I had been focused more on the other parts of the project, and had been recycling the same screen frame used in Easel Frame v1. It was sorely needing an update to match the latest evolution in the design.

    Behold, the folding, rotating, transforming screen of the latest luggable PC! (Thanks to Shulie for the animated GIF.)

  • Threaded Rod Box V1

    Roger02/07/2017 at 23:59 0 comments

    Here's exploration of a more traditional layout, putting everything in at right angles in a box. The hope was that the lack of odd angles means an easier time fitting things together. In CAD, it looked like it could be a win.

    Putting things together in the real world showed otherwise. Yes, we gained some volume with some components fitting nice and snug, specifically the PSU hovering over the unused expansion slots of the motherboard. But putting the motherboard and the screen parallel to each other opened up a huge wasted volume in between them. Volume that wasn't wasted with the earlier triangular layout, which had them leaning towards each other.

    The culprit is, unsurprisingly, the GPU sticking up inconveniently in the middle of everything. This is why several people suggested that I look into PCIe brackets/extension cables. I agree things would be much easier if the GPU can be relocated!

    I looked into the boxy layout because I had been evaluating a move to Misumi custom configurable aluminum extrusions and connectors. From what I can see, it would be trivial to bolt together a box with dimensions of my choosing, and stuff it with my parts. Such a switch would be easiest if I can make a simple box work for me, sadly this particular box is not a net win. But hey, it's only the first draft.

    I'll do a few more variants of the box idea to see how far I can take it. But if I can't manage to think inside the box, it's not a total loss. Misumi does offer free-angle brackets allowing arbitrary angle on a single axis, which is well worth exploring.

  • Got on Hackaday.com!

    Roger01/28/2017 at 20:03 0 comments

    Wow, I did not expect to get a write up by a member of hackaday.com talking about this project. Pretty cool!

    I appreciate the attention and the thoughts about building a PC in this style, and I just want to raise a gentle reminder that this is a work in progress and still in the very early stages. Stay tuned...

  • Luggable PC at Hackaday LA January Meetup

    Roger01/26/2017 at 00:05 0 comments

      The Luggable PC project had its first public outing yesterday: I brought Easel Frame V3 to Hackaday LA January Meetup. It was pretty much as documented earlier except it had the Mini-ITX board installed instead of the full ATX motherboard. (Their GPU slot were at different locations and I wanted to test both would work in the V3 design.)

      I was pleasantly surprised by the level of interest the project attracted. I had anticipated that "just a PC" wouldn't be interesting to the crowd in comparison to the more typical maker projects present but I was wrong. I had a lot of fun explaining the motivation of the project and seeing quite a few faces light up in "hey that's a good idea" kind of interest. I got some good questions about the design trade-offs I'm prepared to make, and some suggestions.

      One suggestion was from a local 3D printing pioneer (whose name I'm drawing a blank on right now) who recognized the threaded-rods-and-nuts building technique I copied from the old RepRap 3D printers. He suggested that I look into the aluminum extrusion building blocks popular with current innovators in the 3D printing space, which I will definitely do.

      I was also encouraged to document the project here on Hackaday.io, which resulted in the page you are reading now. I hope it will find a more like-minded audience here than the random babbles on my personal blog where I had been documenting my projects.

      Sadly, I had so much fun talking to people I forgot to take some pictures of it sitting in the Supplyframe DesignLab. Maybe some other photos from the event will surface.


      The parking availability at the meetup location is not great, so I took public transit in the form of LA Metro Gold Line. This turned out to be a great test run of the design's portability. The trip taught me three major items:

      1. It is far too conspicuous: I wanted attention at the meetup but didn't need any attention on the train. Last night I solved this problem with a big black trash bag but a more elegant solution will be needed.
      2. Restore the handle: The screen sub-assembly had been adjusted as high as it will go, which partially blocked the top threaded rod and I could no longer use that rod as a convenient handle. If the screen will stay at that location, I need to devise a separate handle.
      3. Add physical isolation: I had to set the frame down on the ground at various points (dig up my TAP card for the turnstile, etc.) and no matter how gentle I try to be, every time I set it down I could hear and feel many pieces rattle against each other. At the very minimum I need to install rubber feet on the bottom, and start thinking about other mitigation against physical shock.

  • Easel Frame 3.0

    Roger01/25/2017 at 23:09 0 comments

    The size of the V2 frame were conservative, mostly dictated by the ATX PSU sitting in the base. Seeing V2 in reality made me realize I'm going to need more room, I just wasn't sure how much more. To explore the upper bound of what I can build with materials already on hand (the 18-inch long threaded rods) I pushed the corners out to the maximum for Easel Frame V3.

    The screen support assembly was recycled from V2, which meant it was not optimal but serviceable for the purpose of iterating on this idea. The ATX PSU is still sitting in the base, but no longer the focus of the base as it once were. Now it's just sitting on a little tray across the bottom of the frame.

    The focus for V3 is the full-ATX motherboard and the GPU sitting in it, which are the final major components to be integrated into the design. Frame V3 placed each of them on an independent sub-assembly that I could move around and adjust to explore the positioning and layout of the major components.

    Happily there is more than enough room this time around, which means we've bracketed the range of solutions. V2 proved "too small", V3 proved "too big", so following iterations will narrow down the range until we find "just right".

    (Also: I'm getting better at managing the wires.)

View all 14 project logs

  • 1

    Create a power cable for the LCD panel driver board

    To supply the 12V DC power required by the driver board, a cable with the appropriate barrel plug (A) is wired up to the 12V portions of a standard PC power connector (B). The 5V portion of the PC connector is sealed off with heat shrink tubing.

    The length of wire required is approximately 60 cm. (~24 inches)

  • 2

    Create basic front panel controls

    The standard ATX power button (momentary-on) and the two basic status LEDs (power and disk activity) are connected via a 2x5 pin 0.1" pitch plug. (A) The pin layout is specific to the motherboard used, consult the manual.

    The blue power and red activity LEDs (B) are soldered directly each in series with appropriate current-limiting resistor. The power button has blade connectors so the matching female connectors are crimped on to the harness (C)

  • 3

    Cut slot in extrusion frame for backlight wire

    The screen frame fits tightly around the perimeter of the screen. A protrusion of concern is the backlight power wire. (A) Cut a slot (B) in one of the 106.25mm extrusion pieces so the frame will not pinch the wire.

View all 90 instructions

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Discussions

Galane wrote 04/15/2017 at 04:37 point

Have a look at how the Fujitsu LifeBook laptops' screens worked. They hinged open then rotated 180 degrees in either direction to be folded with back to the keyboard to become a tablet PC. The lid latch was also pretty neat. It used an L shape part with a hole at the end of each leg. It could be flipped back and forth so the latching hole only protruded from one side at a time. I have a functional but needing a couple of parts LifeBook T4210 I've been trying to give away. Needs a cooling fan, battery, up arrow key, stylus is missing, no hard drive (takes SATA) and the side of the latch that holds the screen closed normally is broken off. Still latches in tablet mode. For me it's not worth fixing up - but the screen hinge would be useful for a prototype, and the rest of the parts can be sold on eBay to people who want to fix their old laptops.

Mount the hinge at the middle of one side, unlatch display, swing open then rotate up 90 degrees and latch.

Similar hinges have been used by other companies on convertible tablet laptops. If you're in the USA (so shipping wouldn't cost you a ton) and want the LifeBook, send me an e-mail g_alan_e yahoo

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Roger wrote 04/16/2017 at 01:01 point

The Fujitsu LifeBook hinge is indeed a marvel of engineering and design. Thank you for the pointer and the generous offer! However I'll pass on the offer. The current design works well as-is, taking advantage of the strengths and sidestepping the weaknesses of a simplistic design. It is also very accessible so other people can customize and build their own. Integrating the LifeBook hinge into the design would make it less accessible, as people who want to build one of their own would have to find their own LifeBook hinge somewhere. Much more challenging than ordering a few pieces of commodity hardware from McMaster-Carr.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Galane wrote 04/16/2017 at 02:20 point

Duplicate the function of the hinge, not use it directly in a production version.

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The48thRonin wrote 01/30/2017 at 22:24 point

Looks good! If you are worried about cable management and have the cash to spare, you might look at a modular or semi modular power supply as it'll leave less wires hanging off to the side going unused. From what I remember, Corsair makes a good one at a fairly affordable price. Once the positions of the important bits become more final, you could also make some clips that attatch to the threaded rods to help hold the wires.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Roger wrote 04/16/2017 at 00:52 point

For people buying components for a build, I agree a modular power supply would be very helpful. If the budget stretches to a SFX form factor power supply (instead of full ATX) that'd be even more compact. In my case I was on a tight budget. Recycling components I had retired from my main desktop which meant the full ATX non-modular power supply I had on hand.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Derrick wrote 01/28/2017 at 21:01 point

I'm interested in the parts you're using to mount the motherboard to the frame - I'm looking at building my own kind of similar case, and am trying to decide how I'm going to mount the motherboard and GPU.  

I pulled up the v3 files, but they're just the frame itself and not (at least as far as I can see) the motherboard mounts?  I may just be reading it wrong, as I have no experience in Onshape (too many CAD programs, too little time!) but they just don't seem to be there.

My goal is a little different: I have two full sized ATX desktops, one my gaming rig and the other my home server.  I'm not looking for portability, but I do want needlessly exposed components because it looks cool and I make poor life choices.   I've been working at mounts for the hard drives (there's 10 between the two systems) and think I've got a good plan there, but... yeah, the motherboard.

I can't print a tray, as my printer is a Monoprice Select Mini with just a 120mm cubic build volume, but it appears you're using small parts to screw the motherboard into that slide onto the threaded rods?  That'd be a great way to go.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Roger wrote 01/28/2017 at 21:54 point

Putting small brackets on threaded rods is a great way to mount components to see layout ideas work (or not) in the real world before committing to a design, which is how I'm using it. But I'm confident it'll also prove to be an excellent approach for needlessly exposing components. :)

I totally hear you about "too many CAD programs". And of course no two are alike. No worries! A quick explanation: An Onshape document can organize sub-assemblies in "Part Studio", which are accessible as tabs across the bottom. I have two tabs for the ATX motherboard supports depending on how I wanted to arrange the threaded rods. One going length-wise and the other width-wise. ("ATX support") and ("ATX support 90")

However, neither of those are small enough to fit in the build volume you listed, so what you need is the Super Ultra Minimalist Edition bracket that connects a single motherboard screw location to a single threaded rod.

It only took a few minutes to whip one up, so if you open up the document again, look on the list of tabs across the bottom for the part studio labelled "Minimalist Derrick"

Alternatively, this URL should take you straight there.

https://cad.onshape.com/documents/ec643193e22b0eda8592dc7e/w/06dab905d25c42a59e05d741/e/6e05b57a36f8ce5a500d5276

In the lower-left part of the window is the list of parts, with the single item named "Bracket". Right-click on it and select "Export..." to download in STL format for your 3D printing slicer software.

Have fun!

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Neon22 wrote 01/28/2017 at 19:44 point

Might I suggest a handle threaded onto the top rod. This would rotate freely and therefore lie vertically below the rod when not in use but be easy to grab and lift with when needed...

  Are you sure? yes | no

Roger wrote 01/28/2017 at 21:20 point

That's a great idea! I might do that in a future iteration. The current iterations are focused on figuring out the best layout for the core components. Once I settle on a core layout I'll have a better idea on the space available for auxiliary components (like a handle) and incorporate them into the design.

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Neon22 wrote 01/28/2017 at 22:11 point

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blinkydoublea wrote 01/26/2017 at 02:35 point

i don't think sticking to full size ATX will help you much on making a full featured luggable PC.

but if you really want the extra slots and have it still keep it low profile, i suggest you look for some kind of pci express riser card to keep the giant graphics card parallel to the motherboard and keep the casing thin.. someone on the chinese internet has got to have one of those for sale.

or maybe use a low profile video card.

I'd recommend gutting apart a thin 1080p monitor and slapping the insides into the casing of your luggable PC, but you already have that laptop screen over it, so... yeah.

and put a lid over the screen, it's giving me the creeps to see a portable unit with the screen unprotected. and while you're on it, put flaps over the I/O ports as well, well worth to keep your 3-digit project from exploding over a drop of rain water.

But you will probably be carrying it around in an external box, that's why you are not worrying about hazards, right?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Roger wrote 01/26/2017 at 06:17 point

Thanks for looking over the project! I agree the current iterations leave the components woefully unprotected. This is because I'm still experimenting with the physical arrangement of the core components, playing 3D jigsaw puzzle to determine the best layout. I decided not to put effort into designing the auxiliary pieces (screen protection, rain protection, etc.) while the core pieces are still moving around. That can wait until later.

The full ATX requirement came from personal experience building a PC where the manufacturer only had the feature set I wanted in their full ATX offering, not in their mATX version. I don't particularly care about the extra slots, I wanted to preserve component choice.

I'm skeptical of the PCI riser card/extension ribbon cable I've found online so far. Half of them have user review of "this destroyed my motherboard" and most (all?) of them impose a performance penalty in PCI bandwidth and/or latency. I understand it is an acceptable trade-off for building, say, a Bitcoin miner. But that's not my goal and I want to try making my idea work without using one.

Thank you for your ideas and feel free to share if you have more.

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Zerum wrote 01/29/2017 at 01:15 point

Hi Roger,

just in case you decide to use a PCI extnsion, you might want to check this test out.
http://www.overclock.net/t/1427731/pci-express-extender-cables-benchmarked
I was looking into extensions a while ago and found this one ( http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/8KC3-0726-0500/3M12026-ND/3641403 ) get mentioned a lot in PC modding communities.

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