In the year 2000, Ben Heckendorn built his first mod.
“Ben: We can rebuild it smaller, better, portable.”
Since then, he has continued his work helping those in need creating new projects. If you’ve got an idea you’d like t see built, why not send it to The Ben Heck Show.
“Ben: Hello and welcome back to The Ben Heck Show. We are changing things up a bit with our full season. Now, on each episode we will focus on a single project or viewer suggestion. This will give us more time per episode to go into more detail of the project. We will still be making our Big Builds, but now those will have their own dedicated episodes every few months instead of being spread out over several months. Don’t worry, we will keep you posted on what we are working on. Let’s take a look at today’s Viewer Challenge. It comes from Erica Kokkeby who writes: Hi Ben, I’ve followed your game console mods for a while.
My husband and I are currently deployed in Afghanistan and have been working on several different models of “ruggedized” game systems. I’d like to enlist you help in designing and building a mini version of our cases, specifically using a Storm iM2600 case. I know you do amazing work and I’d really like your expertise in moving forward. Thanks in advance for your help. Erica Kokkeby. So what Erica is suggesting is that instead of making a game system inside a custom case that we build ourselves, we build a game system inside an existing pelican case, like this one. Let’s call them up via Skype and talk with them about what exactly they need.”
“Ben: Alright, well we’ve got them on the video phone using Skype from Afghanistan. Say hello to our special guests. Could you introduce yourselves?”
“Erica: I am Erica Kokkeby.”
“Kris: And I am Kris Kokkeby. I travel a lot working with the military and I’m always playing video games with my buddies. And, when we’re out here things can get slow, so we play video games to pass the time. I always thought it’d be nice to have something more portable to carry my system in.”
“Ben: So you have a monitor picked out that you know will fit in this case you sent me?” “Kris: It’s taken us a while to build it and they keep discontinuing monitors on us.” “Ben: I was doing some calculations yesterday, and by calculations I mean I was drawing lines on the screen and it seemed to me that 20 inch was about the limit for this case, but you are saying that if we think about a 22, it would fit. Are you guys using an external audio amplifier?”
“Kris: No, we were just using the speakers that came with the monitor.” “Ben: Alright, so what else do you want in this thing? Do you want a network switch?” “Kris: So the network switch we thought, basically we want to be able – when we are out with a couple guys and they all have one, I don’t have to bring a hub to plug everybody into. I can just plug them into the case.” “Ben: element14 is actually going to spring for this for you, so it will be a gift from them, and thanks for your service over there.” “Kris: Oh awesome, thank you.”
“Erica: Thank you very much.” “Ben: Well, why don’t we talk more via email and get me a better detailed list of better what you want and we will get this thing together for you as soon as we can.” “Kris: Okay, sounds great.”
“Ben: This is the screen we want to put in the pelican case. It’s a Samsung – it has built in speakers, which is handy. But, I definitely think we are going to have to improve the casing a bit for it to have a chance to fit. Remember on most modern monitors, there might be one or two screws to start and the rest of it just basically snaps apart. It is always important to mark things when you take it apart, so you can put it back in the same ways. This is the power for the bulbs - we will mark the inside ones with some green so we hook it up right when we put it back together. Almost any LCD you take apart – at least an older one that doesn’t have LED is going to be the same way, driver board – power board.
How do LCD monitor prices keep plummeting you might ask, well look at this. Four hole screws, that is the only thing keeping this together plus the board with the buttons for the front controls. It is not even screwed in place, it is sonically welded. We are going to have to actually snap it out of there. See that – again cheaper than screws. Something to watch out for – this rubbery material here is actually transferring heat from this heat sync into the RF shielding. We have to make sure that this package is cooled sufficiently in the new unit. This is kind of the moment of truth, we need to find out if all this stuff fits in here. This one might be dubious – let’s see, we will put that there. We’ve got our driver board, and of course the LCD. Well, the LCD and everything fits, some of the portions on this board might be a bit tall but I think we can make it work. The next thing to do is to draw this thing into the computer.”
“Ben: The most important thing to do with a design is to replicate the case accurately on the screen. The most important thing about the case is the perimeter of the inside of it. I can take a base measurement from the edges – here, here, here and here. You get 20 by 14 inches. However, the base gets narrower in the corners here. The case does this, it curves in a little bit, curves out, curves in, and curves out again. So if we tried to do a straight 20 by 14 piece, it wouldn’t fit. The ends would overlap, so we have to very carefully draw a curved case for it to work. I have already drawn on the screen, however I did not put a good case on it. So this represents the screen inside the case, as you can see we have right at the edges so it should work.
We still have about ¼ inch gap here, and here. Down here at the bottom, we have the coax sticking out so you can still use as a TV tuner if you want. The two speaker and the touch controls, which are these things right here. But, there will be a big hole and then there will be a piece of acrylic and then the touch buttons will be behind it as well as the IR sensor. Then it is important not to forget this, this is a big notch at the bottom of the unit so the cords can make it to the base of the unit. Specifically you have HDMI and power for the screen.”
“Ben: With the top half design because it is fairly simple, we can work on the bottom half of the unit. Now, according to the client – this is what they wanted. We need a big power supply – power strip thing. We need a little switch so they can hook up multiple things to it, and this one would go to the PlayStation. This will be down here in the unit, and it also has its power supply, so we will put that down on the end. The PlayStation-3, obviously, and that can go right here. There is quite a bit of depth in here, you could almost fit a PlayStation and an X-Box in here, but don’t give anyone any ideas. So, that is the basic components – it is not terribly complicated, there should be enough room. So I guess the thing is – get everything mounted in here and make it look pretty.”
“Ben: Let’s take a break from this build to thank our sponsors – element14. The online community is great for electronic engineers, hobbyists, and students alike. If you like electronics, you should check it out. You can go in, log on, ask questions, find answers, it’s awesome. For more information on my projects, and a full list of the parts we used today, visit element14.com/tbhs. One thing that comes up a lot in electronics, and certainly in this build – is thermal management. Ever notice they are called semi-conductors, and not super-conductors. That is because they don’t conduct all the electricity efficiently and the waste becomes heat. So there are basically two parts to the thermal management solution, you’ve got your heat sync, which is typically made out of aluminum or sometimes copper, sometimes steel – every so often.
That is going to be on your package that it is getting too hot. Then typically your heat sync will have fins, the reason for that is it creates more surface area for the heat to escape. That heat is transferred into the air, and you have a fan which takes all that hot air and blows it out of the system. There are many online resources to help you out at element14.com.”
“Ben: Now it is time to go and get the CNC routing done for the project. My CNC machine hasn’t arrived yet. The CNC designs go from my laptop to the router computer and then out to the router itself. All the aluminum parts for this project are cut from .080 thickness stock. We bring the case along so we can test the fit immediately. After confirming it is good, we route the bottom frames that will hold the PlayStation-3 and other components. Some of the parts are then bent using a machine called an auto-brake. Finally, we paint them in our state-of-the-art production facility.”
“Ben: These are the basic parts to the bottom of the unit. There is a base frame, which was bent on the auto-brake and it bolts into the case using these four holes. On that goes the mount for the PlayStation-3, this mounts to the earlier plate using shock-mounts. Then finally, we have the main plate itself, which has grooves in the back so the doors and filters can slide in and out. As I mentioned innumerable times on the show, you have to build things you can take apart – which means, we have to put this together in a certain order. So we put down this base-plate, then we will install things like the network switch. Then we take apart the PlayStation and bolt it onto this, then we install this on that, then we bolt in the four corners to the case, uh.”
“Ben: I love taking apart the PS-3 Slim, because look you open it up – it looks like a car inside, it has plastic molding here with text on it – Sony Computer Entertainment. They expect you to open it – the PlayStation logo is like this medullized power supply. It is so cool. I think the PS-3 is well-built. There is no doubt about that. Okay, now it should pull out. I think my phone just went off. Anyway, here is AC power in the power supply – isn’t that cool, look at that. It looks like an ink cartridge or something. Anyway, the power supply outputs 12-volts into the PlayStation and this comes into the PlayStation to power it or to trigger it to come on. Then we have a Blue-Ray drive, and over here we have the micro-simulator and there it is.
So now we have to put it back together. Hey, check it out it’s tap, the tool that didn’t make it into episode 5 because I didn’t have it in my toolbox, we use this to tap some nice holes into this frame so the size 4 screws will fit great. Just a few months ago, the Blue-Ray player on the PS didn’t have near this many connections – this is really ridiculous looking. So if they changed that, then they changed the circuit board a little. But one thing that they very rarely change is the case, so if you draw the screw holes right once, all the hardware revisions continue to fit perfectly. The reason for that is because changing injection molds is very, very expensive – so they will change everything else first before they actually change the physical mold of the case. As you can see, all the screw holes that I drew in from the PS laptop – I had that file laying around so I just applied it here, saves time. The screws are all driven, now we can put the PlayStation onto it. It should line up pretty well. Here we have put the Wi-Fi modules at the bottom of the frame, we used double-sided tape to insulate this metal from this metal.
The next step is to attach the PlayStation-3 frame to the base-frame. We are using these little rubber things I found at the hardware store – I didn’t make the holes for them quite big enough, so I have to use the cheapy drill method. If you don’t have big enough bits, just wheel it around in there. This frame will go on this, then bolts go through the rubber things, which have threads in them by the way. And then, out here, so the whole thing just kind of rides on those rubber things. This is insulated from vibration through a layer of rubber, basically. We are doing this with something called a lock-nut, it is like a regular nut but there is nylon there. It is firmer and holds the bolt in place. You can put a lock-nut on anything you can see a thread. It is a lot easier to drive the bolt in the lock-nut, than to twist the lock-nut onto the bolt. You wouldn’t think so, but it is true. There is the frame all installed, so it can kind of move on its own a little bit. We have the mainframe here which connects to the case and the power supply, and back in the back we can see the network switch. The PlayStation-3 is in there now and you can kind of see the shock coming out. See how it kind of moves independently of the case, that is kind of the idea – is to help protect it a little bit.
We need to port out the power and eject button. The little ribbon cable with this hooks up to the motherboard, so all we really need it the circuit board. This header has far more pins than we need. We only need three, eject – power, and ground. By having more pins, it allows us to remove some of the pins to make a key so the header can only be inserted the right way. We have wired the header to the existing button, and there we go. Now we can bring the power and eject buttons out elsewhere, to the front of the case. We have this plastic here for the buttons, we put that in the slots. Then we put these tack switches over it so you can turn on the power.”
“Ben: With the buttons done, we need to work on the top half. We have the LCD here and we are going to use these frames – these things need to fit back here on the left and right sides of these ridges. The trick is to position them onto the LCD in a way to where they will miss the ridges. This one might be a little tricky. We clamp the spacers in place, and then drill through to them. Next up is the LCD itself. So we lay that down, then we put our frame over it. The screen frame really doesn’t hold very much, the speakers and this. Really it is the LCD that attaches to the back of the case, so we will attach the screen frame to the LCD and the LCD attaches to the case. Does that make sense? All right, the screen is installed. Now it is time for the moment of truth. Will it close? Keep your fingers crossed. I wasn’t worried for a minute. And now to take it apart, we undo the screws in the back and it should just reveal it. Ta Da! Now we can heat sync on the circuit.”
“Ben: With the unit working, it is time to put this plate on. It has a few features, it has some filters I taped in place – power switch – Ethernet port, and the USB. And of course, a sliding door. I hope I can get this to close. Brute force method – yeah!” “Ben: That’s all the time we have for today. In our next episode we will start building a pinball machine. We would also like to extend a big congratulations to Andrew, he is the winner of the X-Box 360 laptop. Zelp, as he is known, is pretty excited to win – and I quote: Holy crap, are you serious. Yes, we are serious. All my friends will be so jealous, this is awesome. Yes, it is quite awesome and they probably will be jealous. Congratulations again, Andrew. We will see you all next time.”
The Ben Heck Show is brought to you by element14, the electronic community and online store built for engineers and hobbyists alike. We will see you next time.