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 Post subject: Building my own external Optical Drive for desk
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:41 pm 
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So back in the "old" days I had an external iomega cd burner on my desk and after I got that I moved my pc to behind my desk and never interfaced with it again. I loved it, never had to see or hear that ugly PC. This was however before usb was so pervasive. Fast forward 5 or 8 years and I'm still very tired of seeing my pc case, no matter how cool the cases are they do not look good in a room and I don't want to see mine again, plus even as quiet as I have gotten my PC it gets even quieter if i move it to behind my desk.

I am very handy and have access to any tool you can imagine (welders, planers and joiners oh my) but have never built a custom pc enclosure so I have a number of considerations I'd love to get some advice on because I would love to get it right the first time. This photo is a very rough and quick google sketchup of my idea but it lets you guys know what i'm thinking. But it shows the ultimate goal of having usb connectors and my optical drive sitting on my desk with a cable running to the pc which is buried away behind the desk. The final product will probably have more curved surfaces because right angles are so blah but a router and some sanding and i can make this sleeker.

The vision:


Image


Considerations:
1) Power. To power it I am hoping to take a regular sata power cable and run it to this device from my case by extending one from my pc. As far as I know it's simple 12 and 5 volt dc which will have no problem running an extra 6 feet. The 5V connector will be spliced into the USB hub i'll bury in the top of the enclosure because all USB hubs run off of 5V there's no reason for me to use the USB hub's included AC adapter and waste electricity while the pc is off keeping the power brick warm.

2)Building materials. I am thinking MDF. I really don't know though. Both items will be grounded to the computer via the sata power cable so I don't think i care if it's a metal or wood enclosure. The inside of the box you see would be as hollow as possible to let air get around the sides of the optical drive and i was thinking little legs in the back to support the drive but not have it totally sandwiched in mdf to help with heat.

I could fiberglass it but that just seems like more work than i care to do. However like i said i'm in over my head on this one so i really don't know.

3) Heat. So if i do this do i need a fan? I've bought some external drive bays recently because at first i thought about buying an enclosure then taking it's guts and burying them in my enclosure. But they all came with their drawbacks because of one reason or another, the worst of which was one had a really loud fan that I would never want to be in the same room with.

4) Connectivity. Esata to sata. That's how i'm hoping to connect the optical drive. Just run an esata cable from the back of my pc to a sata into the back of the drive. I don't see any reason why this won't work, they sell em on newegg so it must work right!.

5) Finish. Piano black to match the monitors is the ultimate look i'm going for. I'm presuming a bunch of black and clear coat spray cans of any quality will take care of it. Even if it's 5 coats of sprayed on clear coat that's not a big deal, wouldn't take but 2 minutes of painting each coat.

So, I bow down before you in humility. Where have I gone wrong and what can I do better... show me the way.


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 Post subject: Re: Building my own external Optical Drive for desk
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:36 am 
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why use a SATA power plug use a molex it will still give you the same power you need and won't waste a SATA power plug that you might need.

I don't think MDF should be a big issue for your building material.

For the heat issue you could put a 40mm exhaust fan in there but remember that you still need a place to draw in fresh cool air not just exhaust it. Circulation of air is the key.

Cable connectivity I'm assuming you are using an adapter from eSATA to SATA, if you are why? eSATA has the power you need for your drive. and there are cards for eSATA if you don't have the port on your computer.

As far as you paint job goes, you can take your time and use a decent paint and get a nice finish or you can rush it and use crappy paint and just make it the color of you choice who cares about that orange peel texture with blotches its your choice. Just remember some things take time for quality to show.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:10 am 
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MDF doesn't orange peel :) It does, however, absorb unless you seal it first with say a varnish or lacquer. Would be kind of hard to do though, since like I said, it absorbs. I agree on the power part, with using a molex connector, instead of an eSATA, because it can be modified a little easier and well, you can get a molex to SATA adapter if you don't already have one, and incorporate the power for the USB hub between the molex and the SATA plugs.

The cool thing, is that for the wires going from the PC to the external drive, you can make them look nice by sleeving them or something, maybe even heat-shrinking the whole bit, idk. Also, I'd move the USB hub either to the side of the enclosure or below the optical drive, it's a pain to deal with when you have cables or drives plugged in and you need to use the disc tray.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:39 am 
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Great advice.

I'm not quite sure i follow about the sata cable. You say to use an esata cable (my computer has an esata out on the back) and plug that into the drive. This is just a regular optical drive, i didn't think regular internal drives accepted esata cables. They do make

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... -_-Product

Which I would use to run data to the drive. Then the molex to it to power the drive. And yeah i will definitely shrink wrap or sleeve the cables. Somehow in the back of the enclosure i'm going to have to devise something that will prevent the cables from getting yanked out or torqued when i move this thing around.

And about the heat thing, I know i can put a small fan in there, but the goal would be to not have to. Any idea if a drive makes so much heat that convection alone isn't enough to cool it? I'd really like to not have a fan spinning right on my desk.

Also great catch on putting the usb ports below the drive, that would have been a big gaffe in terms of function.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:48 am 
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You're welcome for all my suggestions. As far as heat's concerned, unless that thing's spinning the discs fast enough to shatter them, you have nothing to worry about. The drive won't get hot enough to matter regardless. If you haven't noticed, external units are all sealed off anyway, only external HDD's need extra cooling. For the cables, I'd also recommend using a grommet to cover the hole, and that will also help with stabilizing and centralizing the cable(s). As far as clamping or anything of that nature, you do still have a few options, but nothing's as fun as making your own. I'd suggest a screw-down style clamp that grips the cable(s), holding them in place, and the screws are on the sides, NOT protruding through the cables/wires. If you wish, I can provide you a basic drawing of what I'm referring to.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:57 am 
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Yeah i know what you mean, the U shaped thing with 2 tabs and screw holes on each side they use in commercial wiring. I am thinking something like that. As for the back of this enclosure I plan on leaving it open to the air to let as much air get in and out. So there won't be any hole or grommet used, there won't be a backside at all because my desks are always up against a wall, and i'll never see behind the curtain.

I'm glad to hear you don't think there's any need for a fan. If i had to get one that would really bum me out.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:03 pm 
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Also, I'd suggest rounding the edges of the top, and putting foam rubber feet or padding on it also, it'll most definitely provide not only stability, but reduce vibration immensely as well.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:42 pm 
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oine wrote:
I'm not quite sure i follow about the sata cable. You say to use an esata cable (my computer has an esata out on the back) and plug that into the drive. This is just a regular optical drive, i didn't think regular internal drives accepted esata cables. They do make

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... -_-Product


I'm sure this cable will be fine. I'm just trying to simplify you wiring job the less and easier, the better. I think you have it right on the money with the rest! The other thought I had is with distance just make sure that your SATA cable(s) are no longer than 2 meters or 6.5 ft or you can get signal degradation. I have a feeling you'll be good though more informational than anything. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Building my own external Optical Drive for desk
PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:49 am 
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Was thinking that the easiest way to go about this is to purchase an inexpensive exterior HDD
case (SATA or EIDE) and use the internal controller/power board. Just swap into whatever enclosure and extend data
and power cables to whatever you desire.


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