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Build 2 PCs into 1 case? (1x DOS, 1x modern)

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#1
CyberyogiCoWindler

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I use a historical Highscreen Colani bigtower with DFI K6BV3+ Motherboard (AMD K6-3+ @550MHz, 512MB RAM), which is actually optimized for DOS Games (2 real ISA sound cards, 3Dfx Voodoo 1 graphics card etc.) running under Win98SE/KernelEx and DOS.

Meanwhile, the Colani is pretty slow even for the internet (I have analogue modem, ordering DSL soon). Is it possible to install a 2nd modern mini PC *additionally* above the DOS hardware inside the case? I think of such a barebone unit with laptop technology (ITX mainboard?) and upper midrange power (ie no red hot running racing PC) with a modern Windows and Linux. As far as I know, there are already DVD drive sized ones. I would only need a smart solution for switching the optical drives (if possible also diskette) and mouse + keyboard + CRT monitor. Speed should be at least sufficient for video editing. Does that work?

In 2005 I also had started to assemble a silent blue monster with watercooling and soundproof Chieftec bigtower (originally intended as a multimedia / sound studio PC). When I had finished it by 90% I fried a display panel and never really continued the expensive project. Meanwhile, it is now almost as outdated as my Colani, so I would have to replace most of the innards completely to have finishing make sense. But I have the space-eating crap thing so sick anyway that I would prefer to overroll it with a steam roller because nowadays tiny silent PCs are mass-produced since long ago.

- Is the installation of a second medium-fast PC inside the top of the Colani Bigtower reasonable, or should I rather continue finishing the blue monster?

Edited by CyberyogiCoWindler, 08 September 2012 - 12:29 AM.

MAY THE SOFTWARE BE WITH YOU!

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CYBERYOGI Christian Oliver(=CO=) Windler
(teachmaster of LOGOLOGIE - the first cyberage-religion!)
!
*=============================ABANDON=THE=BRUTALITY==========================*
{http://weltenschule.de/e_index.html }



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#2
jaclaz

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- Is the installation of a second medium-fast PC inside the top of the Colani Bigtower reasonable, or should I rather continue finishing the blue monster?

Define "reasonable".

I guess you would need a KVM switch to make some sense in it's use, but it would be more logical IMHO to actually have the machines interconnected (say through ethernet) :unsure:
and have the "main" one access the other through some kind of VNC or similar.

I mean the KVM switch is only a "money" issue, whilst I don't think there is any "consumer grade" floppy or IDE "switcher".
If you go through the "one Motherboard only ON at a given time" I guess that the only way out is "convert" mass storage devices to USB and add an internal USB hub.


jaclaz

#3
CyberyogiCoWindler

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I surely will install ethernet (adapter in USB2 port card,need it anyway for DSL), which is certainly easiest to access diskette drives. The HDD is EIDE (160GB) and the ITX board would have SATA, so I would connect these only through ethernet also. The DVD reader and writer drives are IDE and a main issue. Possibly I would remove the upper reader drive and only keep the DVD writer for the DOS machine, while the modern board gets a SATA based DVD writer (possibly with BluRay support) instead. (But I worry that the drive wears out and eats discs during write access, thus I prefer a separate reader drive.) Currently I still use diskettes to save my own texts (TXT and HTML format), because they are reliable and don't easily get messed up by a virus (it would make a hell noise when it attempts to copy itself to a diskette). USB sticks can get corrupted or destroyed by a power surge or unplugging in the wrong moment, thus if I have to use USB sticks only for the new system (can Windows 8 support diskettes?), I would at least save in turns on 2 specimen to avoid power surge damage.

I think I even have still a kind of KVM switcher (the DOS age version with mechanical rotary switch in a beige metal case) lying around. The keyboard has a DIN5 connector (I even exchanged the entire guts of my original Colani WelcomeKey keyboard with a mechanical keyboard for this) while moderns have PS2, so I can not use USB keyboards. Only USB port switching would be difficult; currently there is only 1 USB port at the front (used for USB media access; mouse is an Okano with RS232) and I would need to install some more (don't want to ruin the design, but the Colani design front grill has plenty of empty vent chutes anyway). I want to be capable to switch the DOS PC off to save energy and noise (althoug I silenced the fans well anyway) when not in use. I guess a high quality sound (recording) card is nowadays best connected to USB2 ports. I am not at all into SPDIF digital audio stuff and much rather may connect a cassette recorder or portable reel2reel machine (and tons of 1980th toy and home keyboards) than a digital mixing console or such things.

- How fast/usable are modern compact PCs?

Are they only like slow netbooks, or are there reasonable fast ones for medium quality gaming (a PS3 isn't huge either), video editing and possibly software synthesizers. I think I would hang the ITX(?) board upside down from the case top with a big slow fan (or better heatpipes?) to get it cool without too much noise. I see that most nowadays home PCs aren't towers anyway (either laptops, tablets or integrated into a monitor or Smart-TV) and even smartphones have likely much more CPU and GPU power than my antique K6-3+, so is it a reasonable idea to install compact PC hardware (flat shoebox size) in the top of my given bigtower instead of rebuilding the blue space eating monster?

MAY THE SOFTWARE BE WITH YOU!

*============================================================================*
CYBERYOGI Christian Oliver(=CO=) Windler
(teachmaster of LOGOLOGIE - the first cyberage-religion!)
!
*=============================ABANDON=THE=BRUTALITY==========================*
{http://weltenschule.de/e_index.html }


#4
jaclaz

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- How fast/usable are modern compact PCs?

Are they only like slow netbooks, or are there reasonable fast ones for medium quality gaming (a PS3 isn't huge either), video editing and possibly software synthesizers. I think I would hang the ITX(?) board upside down from the case top with a big slow fan (or better heatpipes?) to get it cool without too much noise. I see that most nowadays home PCs aren't towers anyway (either laptops, tablets or integrated into a monitor or Smart-TV) and even smartphones have likely much more CPU and GPU power than my antique K6-3+, so is it a reasonable idea to install compact PC hardware (flat shoebox size) in the top of my given bigtower instead of rebuilding the blue space eating monster?

I have seen everything and the opposite of everything, obviously most of the passive cooled (no fan ones) are slowish/low power. <- please read as "slowish netbooks like"
but there are more than a few that have more than decent performance (but usually need a fan or heat pipes or whatever).

A good place to have a quick look for models is this one:
http://www.logicsupply.eu/mainboards/
(mainly jetway motherboards)
besides the historical:
http://www.mini-itx.com/

There is also the not-so trivial issue about $'s :whistle:

jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz, 09 September 2012 - 06:29 AM.


#5
allen2

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My current config (i7 720QM + dfi acp cp 330nrm + nvidia GT240) can run in winter without fans running but with good coolers (as i hate noise and getting low power components is the best way). And an i7 720QM isn't that slow.
A good start point is silent pc review to find what you might want.
When trying to make efficient/low power/low noise config, you'll need some basics:
- good air flow in the room (at more or less 20°C most of the time) if you want passive cooling.
- at least one rheobus to control the fans speed (as for security you'll need to put at least on or two).
- every component should be able work without fan => that imply buying industrial component (like my dfi-acp mainboard) because they can sustain higher temp. Mobile and most modern desktop cpu will also work and resist longer without fan.
- power supply should be very efficient (platinium label would be best). Totally passive cooling PSU exist but might not be the right choice as there are hybrid cooling one (a heatsink for passive cooling and a fan when the heatsink isn't enough).
- forget 3.5" hard drive as a 2.5" will produce a lot less heat. SSD might be an option if you want to build a very fast computer.
- pick good heatsinks (my favorite are thermalright's).
- get low noise fan (my favorite are noctua's).

#6
CyberyogiCoWindler

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My current config (i7 720QM + dfi acp cp 330nrm + nvidia GT240) can run in winter without fans running but with good coolers (as i hate noise and getting low power components is the best way). And an i7 720QM isn't that slow.
A good start point is silent pc review to find what you might want.
When trying to make efficient/low power/low noise config, you'll need some basics:
- good air flow in the room (at more or less 20°C most of the time) if you want passive cooling.
- at least one rheobus to control the fans speed (as for security you'll need to put at least on or two).
- every component should be able work without fan => that imply buying industrial component (like my dfi-acp mainboard) because they can sustain higher temp. Mobile and most modern desktop cpu will also work and resist longer without fan.
- power supply should be very efficient (platinium label would be best). Totally passive cooling PSU exist but might not be the right choice as there are hybrid cooling one (a heatsink for passive cooling and a fan when the heatsink isn't enough).
- forget 3.5" hard drive as a 2.5" will produce a lot less heat. SSD might be an option if you want to build a very fast computer.
- pick good heatsinks (my favorite are thermalright's).
- get low noise fan (my favorite are noctua's).

Room temperature isn't easy to change. I don't have (and never would want) aircondition, i.e. 28°C in summer. Below 23°C I get sick very soon. In winter the PC stands at the right side of the radiator (next to the window), which isn't a that cold place either. (To the right of it runs an audiophile 65W tube amplifier 14h/day.) I think an adjustable slow fan would make sense. It is ok when a fan is somewhat audible during 3D gaming, but it should stay silent when I record sounds with a microphone or use it as a VCR in the background. With silent but hot running components I always worry that they fail after 2 years. I think I will definitely install 2 power supplies (the old and very modded Fortron AT one cools the DOS part with a big hanging fan added by me) to run the modern PC independently. The mini-ITX(?) mainboard may be placed either upside-down at the bigtower ceiling, or on top of the AT power supply (there is some space above, see photo).
Attached File  Colani-PC_installNewHdd.JPG   50.63KB   5 downloads Attached File  Colani-PC_open.JPG   94.82KB   5 downloads

- How much capacity have 2.5'' harddrives?
(1TB is absolute minimum, 3TB is better.) I especially want a quiet and *reliable* harddisk, i.e. means a boiling hot running tiny one that dies after warranty end is an absolute no-go. I don't trust in SSD not least due to limited lifespan. They only make sense for shockproof mobile devices or as boot accelerator with the same size like the PCs ram. I don't want to pay a moon price for that stuff nor buy cutting-edge ultra-highend hardware that anyway tends to cost half after only 1 year. But if possible, the graphics should have roughly PlayStation 3 quality (but I need no higher gaming resolution than VGA or maximum 1024*1024). Important is that the GPU should support also Linux.

Edited by CyberyogiCoWindler, 09 September 2012 - 11:06 AM.

MAY THE SOFTWARE BE WITH YOU!

*============================================================================*
CYBERYOGI Christian Oliver(=CO=) Windler
(teachmaster of LOGOLOGIE - the first cyberage-religion!)
!
*=============================ABANDON=THE=BRUTALITY==========================*
{http://weltenschule.de/e_index.html }


#7
allen2

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2.5" hard drive can store up to 1.5TB but from your post, you should go on a completely different way if you still want a silent computer :
- you should buy (see silentpcreview recommendations) or make a silent case with at least 4 bigs fans and at least one rheobus to control all fans (including cpu).
- for the gpu, i'd buy an nvidia for linux compatibility and passive cooled as most of the time it is the loudest component (right now i think the GT610 should be the fastest passive cooled nvidia chipset but i don't know if it will be fast enough for you).
- You should then pick almost any pseudo silent component without worrying too much. An intel I7 3770t or 3770S should be a good choice with its low TDP and then any passive cooled and compatible mainboard should do.

Edited by allen2, 09 September 2012 - 01:09 PM.


#8
Windashnet

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My current config (i7 720QM + dfi acp cp 330nrm + nvidia GT240) can run in winter without fans running but with good coolers (as i hate noise and getting low power components is the best way). And an i7 720QM isn't that slow.
A good start point is silent pc review to find what you might want.
When trying to make efficient/low power/low noise config, you'll need some basics:
- good air flow in the room (at more or less 20°C most of the time) if you want passive cooling.
- at least one rheobus to control the fans speed (as for security you'll need to put at least on or two).
- every component should be able work without fan => that imply buying industrial component (like my dfi-acp mainboard) because they can sustain higher temp. Mobile and most modern desktop cpu will also work and resist longer without fan.
- power supply should be very efficient (platinium label would be best). Totally passive cooling PSU exist but might not be the right choice as there are hybrid cooling one (a heatsink for passive cooling and a fan when the heatsink isn't enough).
- forget 3.5" hard drive as a 2.5" will produce a lot less heat. SSD might be an option if you want to build a very fast computer.
- pick good heatsinks (my favorite are thermalright's).
- get low noise fan (my favorite are noctua's).

Room temperature isn't easy to change. I don't have (and never would want) aircondition, i.e. 28°C in summer. Below 23°C I get sick very soon. In winter the PC stands at the right side of the radiator (next to the window), which isn't a that cold place either. (To the right of it runs an audiophile 65W tube amplifier 14h/day.) I think an adjustable slow fan would make sense. It is ok when a fan is somewhat audible during 3D gaming, but it should stay silent when I record sounds with a microphone or use it as a VCR in the background. With silent but hot running components I always worry that they fail after 2 years. I think I will definitely install 2 power supplies (the old and very modded Fortron AT one cools the DOS part with a big hanging fan added by me) to run the modern PC independently. The mini-ITX(?) mainboard may be placed either upside-down at the bigtower ceiling, or on top of the AT power supply (there is some space above, see photo).
Attached File  Colani-PC_installNewHdd.JPG   50.63KB   5 downloads Attached File  Colani-PC_open.JPG   94.82KB   5 downloads

- How much capacity have 2.5'' harddrives?
(1TB is absolute minimum, 3TB is better.) I especially want a quiet and *reliable* harddisk, i.e. means a boiling hot running tiny one that dies after warranty end is an absolute no-go. I don't trust in SSD not least due to limited lifespan. They only make sense for shockproof mobile devices or as boot accelerator with the same size like the PCs ram. I don't want to pay a moon price for that stuff nor buy cutting-edge ultra-highend hardware that anyway tends to cost half after only 1 year. But if possible, the graphics should have roughly PlayStation 3 quality (but I need no higher gaming resolution than VGA or maximum 1024*1024). Important is that the GPU should support also Linux.


First off lets look at what it looks like you have in that case now. It looks like you have 4 5 1/4 bays starting at the top with hard drive swap bay, then maybe a cdrom / dvdrom and cdwriter / dvdwriter, hard drive bay with internal 3 1/2 hard drive, 3 1/2 floppy kina floating in air(what happened to the bay?) and then the bottom of the case is 2/3 filled with the old board and above that is the replaced power supply with one big honkin led fan(So I'm guessing ATX20/24 jumpered on and then the motherboard cable either replaced with one for that old AT board or your using a conversion cable.)

First off lets talk of a few things. Do you leave that case open all the time? I would not recommend it as this messes up the normal air circulation in a case, it would seem open is cooler, but that's not the way it works, as with the case open the fans don't draw off the heat and expel it from the case. What normally happens in a case is air comes in at the bottom threw the front of the case and is pulled up over the board and drives and then pulled by the power supply fan and expel it out of the case.

It looks to me there is enough room for an ITX board to be mounted at the front part of the case next to the old motherboard, removing the plastic card guide(if this is used to hold the front case fan you can mount the fan to the metal of the inner case or mount the fans between the plastic front and the metal inner panel, if a regular fan won't fit, there are thinner ones, or you can use several smaller fans(replacement vid card fans come to mind.).I'd put as many fans in as I could if I was you. in at the bottom and out at the top. Plus put in a bay fan(get the good one with three fans.) in front of that internal hard drive in place of the filler panel.

Next is mounting a hard drive for the ITX board, if you have a bracket for that 3 1/2 floppy, more than likely it has an internal drive location or you can use a couple of pieces of tin between the floppy and a 3 1/2 hard drive.

Connections from the ITX boards ports would be cables ran to filler brackets, or mounted in the I/o cutout on that case, also you could cut slots in the plastic front panel for usb. etc. or use a 3 1/2 i/o bay if there is a second external 3 1/2 bay open.

Then to power the ITX board I would mount a power supply for it above the current power supply and cut a hole threw the case, you mite be able to use a single 12 volt power supply(easier to mount.) and an ITX DC-DC plug on regulator that just plugs in to the ITX boards power connector, these are used to run ITX in a car, etc. Your going to have to make a cable for the power use like 12 or 14 gauge(This is so the resistance is low and you will have little voltage loss over the length needed to go down to the ITX board.) stranded copper wire. You can buy short lengths cheep at most hardware stores.

Now for a cdrom, dvd, writer, etc for the ITX board I would just take one of the ones you have off the old motherboard.

I wouldn't worry about a floppy for the ITX as you can move files etc. by usb and most modern boards support usb boot, just slide the usb drive to write protect if using it to fix a virus, etc. Plus floppy's are just too small for modern software.

You can use a cheap KVM switch box to switch your mouse, keyboard and display around(as someone else suggested.) Velcro works good to mount one of the small KVM switches to the top of your case.. Use an adapter on the ITX if it only has display port and it will work fine with your VGA monitor or you could get a LCD display and use it with an adapter on the old board. Watch the really cheap KVM boxes as they sometimes have really short cables. I got one really cheap but cables were only like 2.5' long and barely fit with the switch sitting on my mid towers, I doubt the cables would work for that big tower. Remember if you get a four computer KVM(Not much more than a two switch box as they sell a lot more 4's than twos.) you could use one of the extra cables from the ITX board to the back of the case.

Those are some ideas of how you could rework that computer to a dual computer box, as you should be able to tell I've done a few franken computer upgrades over the years. Anyway have fun.

#9
jds

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I think I even have still a kind of KVM switcher (the DOS age version with mechanical rotary switch in a beige metal case) lying around. The keyboard has a DIN5 connector (I even exchanged the entire guts of my original Colani WelcomeKey keyboard with a mechanical keyboard for this) while moderns have PS2, so I can not use USB keyboards.

Excepting the ancient PC/XT, the DIN 5 and PS/2 "mini-DIN" keyboard interfaces are actually identical electrically and for protocol. You can simply buy an adaptor to convert the connector type or make an adaptor cable yourself. This is simpler than any USB option.

Joe.

#10
CyberyogiCoWindler

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First off lets look at what it looks like you have in that case now. It looks like you have 4 5 1/4 bays starting at the top with hard drive swap bay, then maybe a cdrom / dvdrom and cdwriter / dvdwriter, hard drive bay with internal 3 1/2 hard drive, 3 1/2 floppy kina floating in air(what happened to the bay?) and then the bottom of the case is 2/3 filled with the old board and above that is the replaced power supply with one big honkin led fan(So I'm guessing ATX20/24 jumpered on and then the motherboard cable either replaced with one for that old AT board or your using a conversion cable.)

First off lets talk of a few things. Do you leave that case open all the time? I would not recommend it as this messes up the normal air circulation in a case, it would seem open is cooler, but that's not the way it works, as with the case open the fans don't draw off the heat and expel it from the case. What normally happens in a case is air comes in at the bottom threw the front of the case and is pulled up over the board and drives and then pulled by the power supply fan and expel it out of the case.

It looks to me there is enough room for an ITX board to be mounted at the front part of the case next to the old motherboard, removing the plastic card guide(if this is used to hold the front case fan you can mount the fan to the metal of the inner case or mount the fans between the plastic front and the metal inner panel, if a regular fan won't fit, there are thinner ones, or you can use several smaller fans(replacement vid card fans come to mind.).I'd put as many fans in as I could if I was you. in at the bottom and out at the top. Plus put in a bay fan(get the good one with three fans.) in front of that internal hard drive in place of the filler panel.

Next is mounting a hard drive for the ITX board, if you have a bracket for that 3 1/2 floppy, more than likely it has an internal drive location or you can use a couple of pieces of tin between the floppy and a 3 1/2 hard drive.

Connections from the ITX boards ports would be cables ran to filler brackets, or mounted in the I/o cutout on that case, also you could cut slots in the plastic front panel for usb. etc. or use a 3 1/2 i/o bay if there is a second external 3 1/2 bay open.

Then to power the ITX board I would mount a power supply for it above the current power supply and cut a hole threw the case, you mite be able to use a single 12 volt power supply(easier to mount.) and an ITX DC-DC plug on regulator that just plugs in to the ITX boards power connector, these are used to run ITX in a car, etc. Your going to have to make a cable for the power use like 12 or 14 gauge(This is so the resistance is low and you will have little voltage loss over the length needed to go down to the ITX board.) stranded copper wire. You can buy short lengths cheep at most hardware stores.

Now for a cdrom, dvd, writer, etc for the ITX board I would just take one of the ones you have off the old motherboard.

I wouldn't worry about a floppy for the ITX as you can move files etc. by usb and most modern boards support usb boot, just slide the usb drive to write protect if using it to fix a virus, etc. Plus floppy's are just too small for modern software.

You can use a cheap KVM switch box to switch your mouse, keyboard and display around(as someone else suggested.) Velcro works good to mount one of the small KVM switches to the top of your case.. Use an adapter on the ITX if it only has display port and it will work fine with your VGA monitor or you could get a LCD display and use it with an adapter on the old board. Watch the really cheap KVM boxes as they sometimes have really short cables. I got one really cheap but cables were only like 2.5' long and barely fit with the switch sitting on my mid towers, I doubt the cables would work for that big tower. Remember if you get a four computer KVM(Not much more than a two switch box as they sell a lot more 4's than twos.) you could use one of the extra cables from the ITX board to the back of the case.

Those are some ideas of how you could rework that computer to a dual computer box, as you should be able to tell I've done a few franken computer upgrades over the years. Anyway have fun.

I generally *never* leave the case open (except half a decade ago when I had a hotter K6-3 CPU with no PSU fan yet and a mainboard cap exploded in summer heat). In the opposite I even have sealed it pretty much TEMPEST-style with EMC protection tape and fine metal mesh etc., which makes it unpleasant to remove components.

The PSU is my old 300W Fortron built into the case of a gutted-out cheap Chinese ATX PSU (very floppy metal). The fan is slowed down (potentiometer) and hangs on wires at foam rubber strips to decouple buzz noise. The entire PC (minus monitor) eats about 70W when no DVD drive is running.

In front of my CPU (not shown) hangs a slowed down 8cm fan on rubber strings (mounted on cotton swab sticks) for decoupling. Also the HDD rests on foam rubber strips and is loosely mounted on wire loops to stay in place. I need to use as few fans as any possible to prevent noise, not least because I need to do audio recordings with a microphone in front of it.

The frontless diskette drive is integral part of the Colani Tower plastic front panel and never had a cage or whatever. It ate plenty of dirt, so I sealed its rear end to prevent air getting sucked into.

I already ordered a 4x KVM switch because my homemade 2x VGA switch (Amiga, PC + built-in CVBS-RGB converter for C64 (not supported by modern monitors)) with plastic case makes some TV interferences (too much for a software VCR). I am aware that keyboard adapters exist (I have one).

Edited by CyberyogiCoWindler, 05 November 2012 - 01:13 AM.

MAY THE SOFTWARE BE WITH YOU!

*============================================================================*
CYBERYOGI Christian Oliver(=CO=) Windler
(teachmaster of LOGOLOGIE - the first cyberage-religion!)
!
*=============================ABANDON=THE=BRUTALITY==========================*
{http://weltenschule.de/e_index.html }





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