Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC

Preface: my wife needed a new desktop PC, and I had a powerful Mini-ITX ASUS fanless motherboard lying around, bought some time ago for research purposes (I'm a software and embedded systems specialist).

So... i could have just put the motherboard in a standard micro PC case, but, where is the fun?

Just the time to go in my basement, and voila! An old small VCR I kept for component salvage, that has the right size for the new contents ;)

Needed materials:

  • an old VCR case;
  • a Mini-ITX form factor motherboard;
  • a Flex-ATX power supply (it's smaller than standard ATX power supplies);
  • a 2,5" hard drive;
  • LEDs and USB/Audio connectors from other old PC case;
  • rotary tool (such as Dremel, or a cheap tool);
  • hot glue gun;
  • glue, zip ties, some pieces of scrap plastic or wood;

    Step 1: Find the right "case"

    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC
    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC

    I've found this old small Toshiba VCR in my basement, that perfectly fits my needed dimensions.

    The firts step consists in removing all unneeded parts from the inside.

    Step 2: Motherboard installation

    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC
    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC
    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC

    The motherboard installation is very simple: I've just glued four small pieces of forex plastic (that rigid plastic made of PVC, usually used for signs) I had in my "scrap box", and screwed the motherboard on them.

    You can even use some small pieces of wood, also.

    The "rear window" for the motherboard was made simply cutting a rectangular area of plastic with a cheap rotary tool.

    Step 3: Power supply installation

    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC
    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC

    The VCR box had an aperture that almost fitted the size of the Flex-ATX power supply. I just needed to enlarge it a bit with the rotary tool. The power supply is fixed in place with just a bit of hot glue.

    Step 4: Hard drive installation

    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC

    Once placed the motherboard and the power supply, there was a free corner where to place a 2.5" hard drive. I've glued a small piece of plastic foam on the bottom of the case to reduce vibrations, and sticked the hard drive on it with two small pieces of adhesive velcro.

    Step 5: Motherboard fan installation

    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC

    Although the motherboard is designed for fanless operation, I've noticed a bit of overheating during the first tests. So I've placed a "case fan" on top of it, salvaged from an old PC.

    Note: i've done some vent holes in the side of the metal cover, near the hard drive, to ensure air circulation in the entire box and on the hard drive. Sorry, no photo... it's only a grid of holes.

    Step 6: Front panel connectors and LEDs

    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC
    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC
    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC
    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC

    The original VCR had audio and video RCA connectors on the front panel. Just the right place for extra USB and audio connectors!

    I've salvaged a connector board from an old pc case, trimmed it a bit, and hot glued on the front panel of the VCR (with just a little bit of trimming to give space to the usb connectors, since the original receptacle was recessed).

    I've also glued two LEDs for power and hard drive access status in the back of the transparent window where was the VCR display. Note: in the photo you can see a bicolor LED (the type of LED with 3 pins). You cannot use this type of LED, because it has common ground. The motherboard needs to have a separate grounds for LEDs, because it switches power on the cathodes of connected LEDs (+5V lines are always connected).

    After tested the issue, I've replaced it with two normal LEDs.

    Note: I forgot to take a photo for the power button modification. I've used the original power button, and simply soldered two wires on the original switch.

    Step 7: Finishing step

    Turn an old VCR in a desktop PC

    Almost done!

    Connect all the needed wires inside (motherboard power, hard drive power, sata cable, fan cable...), install a SERIOUS operating system on it ( http://manjaro.org/ ), and enjoy!


    Thank you for watching!

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