Operation XPC is Underway

Inspired by one of Eric’s posts the other day I was inspired to build myself a new HTPC.  I didn’t really want to do an NES PC.  Not only has it been done, but I don’t have an NES, nor the physical acumen to manipulate hardware in such a small case.   But what I do have is an old Xbox that’s been sitting in the closet next to R. Kelly and two of the O-Town boys.

So I called my buddy Fro and he’s going to be my build partner.  The Silent Bob to my Snootchie Bootches.  We talked about some plans, and here’s the general idea.  I want to keep the Xbox as stock looking as possible (besides a giant X-shaped window on top).  After the conversation I started specing out.

Mini-ATX mobo with good onboard sound and video (to be upgraded if necessary).  2.5Ghz Intel Dual Core, 1GB of memory, notebook DVD & HDD drives and a stable Unbuntu build.  I had the parts list almost done save wireless devices and was still under $450.

This PC’s going to be used primarily for watching videos on the TV rather than on my monitor.  I’m not getting sound or video cards yet for two reasons.  First, I may fuck it up to all hell and have to scrap the whole project.  In which case I want to minimize my financial damages.  Second, I’m not 100% sure I can fit cards vertically into the Xbox.  Fro and I have discussed this, and our only real option is to mount the mobo as low as possible and hope for the best.

I’m very concerned about system cooling.  There isn’t a whole lot of room in the Xbox to begin with.  We’re saving some space by going with notebook drives, rather than the desktop sized hardware Microsoft used.  But I’m concerned about finding a heatsink/CPU fan that’s short enough to fit inside the box.  For cooling I’m going to use at least 3 (if not 5) 80mm fans.  We’re going to set-up an air-flow path that blows directly across the CPU.  And thinking about it, I may cut some vents in the window above the CPU.

We’re going to open up the Xbox this weekend and see exactly what we’re working with, dimensions wise.  Once I pay my insurance and truck payment, I’ll start buying the hardware.  We will be doing some of the scene-standard Xbox mods, by the way.  Since I want to leave the front relatively stock, we’ll be doing the dongle light mod.  We want to up the difficulty on that one with HDD & network activity lights.  I also want to put a Crystalfontz LCD screen on that dead space above controller ports 3 & 4.  The top side ‘X’ is going to be cut out to make room for a window.  I’m also looking for green LED fans and some LED’s for internal lighting.

The only part I really haven’t figured out is stealthing the notebook DVD drive.  I may use some of that scrap plastic from the window cut to make a fall-down door.  Problem is the eject button on those notebooks.  I’m open to suggestions.

Future probable upgrades:
Beefy audio & video cards
TV card w/ remote
2nd HDD

Wishful thinking:


One Response to “Operation XPC is Underway”

  1. […] hold on a second. Phil, you might want to cancel your plans to build that Nintendo PC. Cause this here NES Cartridge is […]

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