Completed Project: Hackintosh, Jr.

Before I start, I didn't take any pics of this during the build process. I was "in the zone" and decided to just keep going. From start to finish there is about two weeks of evening and weekend work. I'll also say this is possibly my personal favorite case I've built.

Backstory, I had loaned this to my parents several months back. Click the pic for more info.

Built on a $400 embedded Core 2 Duo board, running a T7200, 2GB RAM, and at the time an 80GB hard drive. One day I got a call from my folks that it wouldn't start up. Power came on, fan spun, but that was it. Crap. Got it back, started testing, and it was dead as a doornail. Crap, crap, CRAP. Disassembled and started trying to sell other parts to replace the board since everything seemed to test out okay.

Forward a month or two, and I bought an Aaeon Gene 9310 on Ebay for a ridiculous price. My initial thought was to modify the above box to hold this new board. Then when I went to test the board, it was apparently dead. Sonofa, what the... Started grabbing other hardware to test(yes, I have a lot of spares), and managed to get the board to boot using all the same hardware from the above system, except for the 2GB SODIMM. Hmmm, went back, got the "dead" board, and threw in the hardware I had on the Aaeon. It booted!!! So I swapped some SODIMMs around and got the above system back running. The Aaeon was put back in the box, and the dead 2GB SODIMM was stashed away where it will do no harm again.

Because I had already set my folks up with another PC, and the hardware on the first system looked promising, I tried setting it up as a Hackintosh. Worked pretty nice, although I couldn't get the wireless or sound working reliably. Played with that for a while,and liked it, but wanted to put it back on Windows to use as a Media Center instead.

That was about two weeks ago. At that time I also decided to throw together a dedicated Hackintosh and startd digging through my parts when I found the Aaeon boards. Had to pick up another CPU and SODIMM, then steal a compatible wireless card from another box, but I had the rest. After a quick test install it was at least as good as the previous box, so I set about designing the case.

Once again, off to the parts piles. Found an 8" wide piece of aluminum mesh, a momentary toggle, a few chrome bezeled LEDs, and some flat aluminum sheet. Stole a USB and audio board from another embedded board, swiped an 80GB laptop drive from another setup(which was replaced with a 40GB), and found some board standoffs and a power jack I had bought and never used.

Specs, than pics.

Aaeon Gene-9310 3.5" Embedded board, 4" x 5.75"
Intel Core Duo T2500, board will support up to a Core 2 Duo T7600 2.33GHz
2GB OCS DDR2-667
Intel Pro 2200BG wireless with external antenna
Seagate Momentus 5400.3 ATA drive

System takes a single 12 volt power input.

Cooling is one 60mm fan on the oversized heatsink. Not as quiet as it could be, but somewhere around here I have a Panaflo 60mm I plan on swapping in.

I'm running the ATA drive because 1.) I had it, and 2.) the board has a 44 pin IDE header on board. This means I could power the drive right from the board, no extra cables. It does have two SATA connectors, BUT the board has no power output on board. I'd have to find a power source on the board to tap and make a cable to go to the drive. Right now I have one 44 pin cable from board to drive that carries data and power. Less cable clutter than running seperate SATA data and power cables. Honestly, the only way I'd consider going to an SATA drive is if I found a deal on an SSD.

Only has a VGA output. There is an adapter board to add DVI, but it would also add $125 to my cost. Not worth it to me.

No optical drive. Some sacrifices need to be made to keep the size down, and that was the one this time. I have a couple USB CD/DVDs so it's not much concern. I load most software off the network, anyway.

And finally, pics.

I'm going to go back and do some more brushwork on the top, doesn't quite match the texture of the bottom.

The main mesh body is bent of one piece that was JUST long enough. My first intention was to bend that as a curve as well, but I chickened out and did the square bend with the angled top edge.

The top and bottom were first cut from flat sheet, then the center was cut and filed, then it was bent by hand over the leg of a video camera tripod. Tack on about a half hour of careful tweaking on each to get them the same width and shape. The bottom pic makes them look a bit lopsided to me, but when looking at it on my desk they look near identical. Bottom piece is pop-rivted in place, top is held with 4 screws. Need to check the parts box for something a bit more fitting.

Overall size is ~5.5" tall, 7" wide, and 5" deep. The Main mesh part is around 3.25" tall, 4.75" deep. Haven't checked power usage yet, suspect it would be around 45-50 watts under load, less than half that at idle.

I'm extremely happy with how this one turned out. Tempted to take a shot at a mini-ITX version now that I have a better idea of how to bend the curves. I have more mesh and sheet aluminum....


Cable Mess.

Heatsink side.

A few more pics to show the relative size next to a classic Chieftec Dragon.