After finishing my Merom Mini Cube I had temporarily installed the beta of Windows Home Server. I liked it, but that system was supposed to go to my job, and now that I finally got all the bugs out I plan on taking it there.

Since I wanted something to mess with WHS, and I have a lot of parts, and I really liked the way my cube turned out, I had the idea to build myself a nice sister to the cube. It won't have quite the power of the cube, but unlike the cube will support multiple hard drives.

If I was to clone the Merom Cube, I'd need another breadbox. So off to ebay I went and luckily found another just like my original. Got here on April 27th, and is not quite as nice as the first one I had, but will do just fine.


That big dent on top is not a concern. I'm shooting for a 9" cube, and that dent is located just past the 9" point. I will also flip the material, the current badly scarred top will become the bottom of the case.

And then the hardware, here are the starting specs:
ECM/Avalue/Evalue ECM-5716 5.25" EBX board
Celeron-M 380, 1.6GHz, 1MB Cache, Dothan Core
MicroCool NorthPole heatsink
512MB Corsair ValueSelect DDR400
Onboard video, audio, dual 10/100 ethernet, compact flash, and even a Cardbus Slot
Promise FastTrak S150 TX2Plus
80GB Seagate SATA
80GB Hitachi SATA
180 watt MicroATX Inwin PSU
drive cooling will be handled by my last 120mm Yate Loon

Once I get everything running(and more cash), I'll probably switch to a 4 port SATA card and 4 larger drives. The FasTrak and 80GB drives are things I already have, so they'll work for now. I'll be building the case with room for 4 drives, and I could squeeze in a few more if I really needed.

Some parts pics, starting with the miscellaneous:

And the 5.25" EBX motherboard:

I've started laying out my cuts on the case. Kind of hoping I can save the part I won't need for another case. I have one of these in my stash of parts, but I'll have to wait until the WHS system is finished.


Got my aluminum for the backplate today. I now have four ~12"x16.5" pieces to play with. Thicker stuff, going to have to see how it bends. It'll be used for the backplate, hard drive rack, and as braces on the side.

Even though I still plan on using the EBX board above, I'm wondering if I couldn't just as easily wedge in a Mini-ITX board instead. I'm tempted to put this off and see if I can get an Intel D201GLY, but I have no idea if or when those might show up in the US. I do have an older , which is Intel's earlier attempt at the low-end developing country market. That one uses a cacheless 1GHz Banias-core Celeron, codename Shelton. Too bad the board is just a hair larger than what I want.


Cut and bent the backpanel today, then started layout for PSU, fan, and I/O ports. Also cut and bent my hard drive brackets, will do the layout and drilling on those tomorrow.

The fan hole will be done on Monday, I'll be using a dead 120mm as a template for a router. Did the Merom Cube fan bracket this way as well as a pair of 80mm fan holes in some hard drive cases. Works great.

Got the holes drilled for the PSU, will probably whip out the Dremel tomorrow to cut away the rest of the opening.

And lastly, have the VGA port opening drilled and filed out on the backplate. Started work on the serial port, but it's too late to keep making noise.

If things go well I should have the backplate done by next weekend. Then it'll be a matter of cutting the breadbox down to size, getting the backplate installed, installing the drive rack, wiring, etc.


And a few pics:

First, test fitting for the ports, can also see the general layout. I need to do a bit more filing, still not quite right.

And a few that show my bad planning. You can see how tight the fit is on the PCI.

And the fan carcass I use as a template. You can also see a slight wear mark from the cutting bit.

Didn't get a chance to cut the fan hole, someone knocked the bearing off the bit and I didn't feel like digging another one up.


And some new pics. Got the fan hole routed out, cut the PSU opening, and finished tweaking the port openings. I still need to adjust the PSU mounting holes, and if you look you can see where I messed up when cutting. Accidentally cut out the mounting hole, but the other three are good and the oops is still useable.

View of the back, getting a bit cramped in there.

View of the PSU side, just enough space to stash some cables.

Going to start on the hard drive cage now, it will be mounted right in front of the fan. The fan in the PSU is actually going to blow towards the other fan, right against the side of the hard drive cage, but there'll be a gap that the rear exhaust should be able to pull that air out. We'll see, I can always change the fan in the PSU to the other direction.

I should also start my braces. Two ideas on those. One is to make my sidepanels from the same material I used for the backplate. Plenty stiff, but I'd have to drill or cut them for air intake. The other idea is to do something simple, like a straight 2" piece running front to back. In that case I'd use mesh for the sides. I'm leaning towards the first method.


Hard drive cage has been laid out, just need to drill the screw holes and test fit drives. Stuck waiting for the PCI riser card right now, don't want to move ahead much farther until I know I have space for everything.

Once I have the drive cage together and know where the PCI card will end up, then I can start planning on cutting the breadbox. I may go a bit more shallow than the 9" I had originally planned. Looks like I could drop to 8.5", which doesn't seem like it's much worth it but would get me further away from that dent in the first picture.

I've also been contemplating having this one powercoated, at least the curved part of the breadbox. I'll have to see what it looks like when it's cut and mostly together.


Started laying out the cuts on the breadbox and sidepanels. Decided to stick with a 9" cube with the backplate and sidepanels set in about 1/8". I've also realised that the breadbox has some waviness to what should be flat panels. As a result, I'm going to have to create some stiffeners to keep them straight. These will also end up being mounting points for the side panels. This leads to a problem, though. I'd use two screws per stiffener, which means I'll have 4 on the front, four on top for the stiffeners, another three on top for the backplate, and another 4 for the hard drive rack. Lot of exposed screw heads, don't like that much. I may try to JB Weld the stiffeners instead, have to bend them up and see how it works on some scraps.


Got the PCI riser and a 4 port SATA RAID card. Did a quick mock-up and there is JUST enough room to get the card in without interfering with the drive cage. We're talking 3-4mm from the bottom of the cage, although the cage sides hang lower than the drives will. I'll probably make a bracket to hold the card in place, removed the slot bracket and it's a bit wobbly.

Still haven't gotten around to cutting anything else, been under the weather for the last few days.

I did get a chance to dig through my screw bin and sort out a bunch of beveled screws. I can countersink my screw holes for the drive cage and backpanel, should make things a bit cleaner looking.

Slowly getting back to this. Ditched the EBX board and reworked the back panel for a mini-ITX board. I'll be using an Intel Little Valley board and the previous SATA card. As of now, I'm only going to use two hard drives unless I can figure out how to squeeze all four inside. The ITX board is narrower, so the SATA card would interfere with the original hard drive rack I made. If I use the PCI riser card, it interferes with the ATX power cable. The SATA card has two ports for external drives, so I may just go with two drives and build an external enclosure for the other two. Nice thing is I was able to modify the original backplate to hold an ATX I/O plate and a low-profile PCI slot opening without any trace of the old EBX board.


And a few pics of the reworked pack panel. Just a mock up to see how everything fits. There's tape residue on the back that needs to be removed as well as a few rub marks to take out. Also a few burrs to take off the edges, couldn't see them with the tape on. Decided to build this to fit two drives with the ability to add 2 more through the external connectors on the SATA card.


Back panel and base plate are temporarily joined with screws and nuts, also got the stand-offs mostly in place. I need to tweak the mounting hole for one of them, ended up 1/16" or so off. Also made my PCI card holder piece. It's actually the bent part of a blank PCI cover plate that was cut, drilled, and filed to fit.

Mocked everything up again, so far so good. Power cable is a bit short, but should work fine since I'm only using two drives now.


A few new pics, started getting things ready for the main body of the case. Going to be using some Compaq Torx head screws to hold most things together, have a boatload from when I worked in IT.

Anyway, I'm going to get all the parts drilled and set, THEN I'll cut the breadbox down to it's final height. Looks silly now, but should give you a good idea of what's going on. You can also see the the amount of work I have ahead of me to clean the aluiminum.

Despite the odd layout for the feet, it's not wobbly. The extra weight of the components should help, too.


Changing the motherboard again, but at least this time it doesn't create more work. I had a Pentium-M Mini-ITX system I was trying to sell, but wasn't having much luck. Started playing with the Little Valley more, and found it wasn't playing nice with the RAID card I will be using. Didn't want to boot off of it, and had a tendency to try to boot off the network instead of installed drives. There's also a lack of a floppy port, which makes installing WHS a pain because I need to install a RAID driver.

The new board also has a much more friendly layout, moves the power connector to a spot that doesn't result in the power cable being stretched tight.


Found some mesh left over from another project that was big enough to cover the top of the cube. Ended up bending it like the bottom to give it a bit more strength. Have the mounting holes drilled, need to get the holes in the brackets drilled and tapped next. After that's done I'll layout and drill for mounting the drives.

Also got the power button installed, using a blue ring Bulgin like I used on the Merom Cube. Probably not going to have a drive activity indicator on this one, the RAID card doesn't have a connector. Anybody know how to get activity from an SATA drive or RAID card without activity LED header?


Cut the main body of the case today as well as drilled and tapped for the top mesh. I'm actually near the finish on this. Other than the software install, I just have to sand out the main body of the case. Bad thing is this breadbox has so many deep scratches that it's going to take a lot longer than I have the patience for. I really need a stand-mounted belt sander.


Completed pics here.