Candy Tin PC

Shove a x86 compatible 3.5 inch SBC with hard drive and external ports into a old candy tin left over from the holidays

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In the far reaches of my apartment, I have what is called "The Retro Bench". This old computer cart I bought in the 90's is loaded down with two 68k Mac's, an Apple IIc, DEC386 laptop, and my DOS gamer, a very nice Pentium MMX laptop.

Most of these computers rely on RS232 connections to get software in and out of them easily, without yanking the hard disks or finding somewhat obscure network cards, and getting those working in DOS or whatever.

So what I have been doing is spending time, unhooking dragging a machine out I want to mess with, walking it across the place, hooking it all up, and just shotgunning it with as much software as I think I want, dragging it back, hooking it all back together on that bench, which is a maze of switch boxes and wires (in order to keep the keyboard, mouse and monitor count down to a minimum)

Well of course by the time I do that, most of the evening is gone. What I need a small PC ready to go at all times on the retro bench.

Computer: Vortex x86DX 3.5 inch form factor SBC, 800mhz Pentium class CPU, 256 MB ram, 2x IDE + CF (master IDE), SVGA + LVDS LCD io, 3x USB, PS/2, PCI, ISA, MINI PCI, 24 bit GPIO, FDD, LAN, LPT, and 8 (yes 8) RS232 PORTS

CASE: "Bartons Old Fashioned Peppermint Bark" tin  

HDD: 6GB Hitachi laptop IDE drive (largest IDE laptop drive I had available, maybe upgrade later, but its just got to boot, browse & download and run minicom and a couple java programs)

Planned OS: Puppy Linux Debian Edition

  • 1 × SBC Single board x86 comptatible computer
  • 1 × Laptop HDD 2.5 inch form factor IDE hard disk
  • 1 × Candy Tin 9x6.5x1.5 inch candy tin
  • 1 × Hand Drill and Standard bits not tapping holes here in sheet tin, a standard household set will do
  • 1 × 4-40 screws washers and nuts 28 washers 8 nuts 4 screws give or take whatever screw mounts your system came with

View all 10 components

  • Measure Once ...

    osgeld03/17/2014 at 00:35 0 comments

    The fist cut I need to make is for the connector plate on the back. I could have spent a lot of time scribing around each component and making it tight as a drum.... but its on the back and frankly I am not that insane considering I am using hand tools. 

    The mainboard was already set on some radio shack plastic stand offs, as I had used the computer before with no box. so I just kind of dropped it in to where it would fit on one side.

    I used my calipers and measured from the rim of the box to the top of the Ethernet jack (the tallest connector on the rear set). I then used my calipers to scribe a line on the outside of the box based on that depth measurement. 

    I can hear the gasps and mumbles now, keep in mind these things are not some really nice multitoyo set of calipers, they are like some free with coupon crappy ones I dont mind messing up the tips a little using them as a scribe.

    Then I found the bottom of the mainboard from the top of the can using the same methods and scribe another line. Rinse and repeat for 4 DE9 connectors, 2 usb connectors, and toggle switch for power 

  • Start of a Project

    osgeld03/17/2014 at 00:04 0 comments

    I have had this vortex86 sitting around for over a year now, It was given to me by my work  after it had been removed from a XY glue machine due to it being flaky. Its still flaky and will produce a goblin fart error now and then, but for the most part its stable enough for it to run ADT pro, a serial terminal, and google chrome. 

    As I touched on before, this thing is a 586 compatible 800Mhz SOC, and features PS/2 KB-mouse support, 10-100 lan, dual IDE ports, SVGA (upto 1080 resolution, but no acceleration to speak of), FDD,  3x USB2, GPIO, printer port, LVDS LCD io, 8 com ports, ISA header, pci header, mini PCI socket (slap a wifi card on that later) and 256MB of DDR ram. Also on the bottom is a slot for a compact flash card which is tied into the master IDE port.

    Its a 3.5 inch form factor computer, and is about the same size as a desktop hard disk, if you ignore the connectors sticking out of it, and is compatible with linux and windows.

    The enclosure is from a tin of pepermint bark, measuring roughly 9x6.5x2, which is plenty of space for the computer, a laptop hard disk, 4 extra serial ports, usb ports, and all the wiring without it getting too stuffy.

View all 2 project logs

  • 1
    Step 1

    Find a candy tin large enough to hold all the parts

  • 2
    Step 2

    Cut and drill all the holes needed to get plugs and screws situated

  • 3
    Step 3

    Add paint, OS, and enjoy

View all 3 instructions

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