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Monday, May 04, 2009

Briefcase PC

1. Now this is likely going to be the longest one till date in terms of what I write since a lot of work and effort has gone into it. The idea had been obsessing me for months now about fitting a PC into a brief case. I got the mite of this possibility from one of my senior colleagues Baiju last year. Some how I thought with a year down the lane, with a much better form factor available now a days I would be able to squeeze “More in Less”. So when I got the official permission from my honcho in the office, I was quick in exercising the same.

2. Where to start from ? So the first question came to my mind about where to start from. Whether I start from selecting the mother board or first I select the most lilliputian brief case available in the market or the smallest monitor or what? So I googled a good deal on if any one can give me lead on this ,but what I generally got from the web was assembled lot of pc essentials with a cobweb of wires. So I came back round round to where I was primitively of the search.

3. By now I had started having a feeling of thriftlessness as I had invested or should I appositely say wasted about 5-6 days on the issue of where to start from? So eventually cogitated to start from the smallest mother board. So the recent Digit magazine and Amod Sir(big boss of IT related issues in my circle) suggested that go for the recently launched atom processor based essential series mother board.

So when I finally got one on my table it looked like in set. A real treat to start with. Ideate a mother board with processor that encroaches only 7 inch by 7 inch area. So I was happy to start with this and finally made it final for selection.

4. Some thing about the mother board. Now this one is designed to support Internet-centric computing for the new flexible Mini-ITX form factor. Following features are inbuilt :

(a) Integrated 45nm Intel® Atom™ processor

(b) Energy-efficient solution for home users as well as for unique vertical market needs.

(c) Designed with Intel's leading edge 45nm Hi-k metal gate processor,

(d) Provides incredible opportunities to communicate, listen, watch, play via Internet connectivity.

(e) 4 USB Drives

(f) Lan port

(g) COM1/LPT1

(h) Regular interfaces for Mouse and Keyboard ie PS/2 etc

5. Bootable pendrive or Hard Disk ? Next in row was the hard disk.I was quiet aye that I would be able to make a bootable pendrive or a bootable lap top harddisk. So I tangled with various web pages that claimed to make a bootable pen drive.But…but….but……….I could never bring home the bacon. I mean could not make that. I tried all stunts incl formatting with FAT32,assayed many 3rd party software’s but could not. Eventually I turned discomfited and decided to go with an internal SATA drive. But I am still working on this. I will make it in days to come if any one has been able to make it after googling. That’s slightly ahead anyway. So for the time being I selected a SATA 160 GB. No hue and cry about the simple connections with the mother board.

6. Choice of the SMPS : The SMPS was a choice to be made from a sea full of resources. Right from Chotu and Tambi of Zebronics make who do not have fans but are able to make it thru fins only to the MICRO ATX cabinet of i-ball ,I called all of them one by one in my office and then finally settled with the iball one with the fan on lower side.I was some how keen on keeping the fan facing down in the briefcase. So went ahead with it.Although Tambi and Chotu were quiet keen on making it inside my briefcase owing to the beautiful and very bewitching form factor.

7. Key board : Now was the choice of the keyboard. I had no time wasting in this. I was sure about the flexible keyboard of Icom worth Rs 350/- only .Now this one is a thing to watch out for those who have not seen and heard of .I first saw it in the hands of Patil Sir.So first impression of it carried for about a year or so. Although I had another option of trying the laser keyboard,but some how the cost kept me on the back foot.The grey market cost of the same ex secunderabad is Rs 4500/-.So to be economical for the first time,I played safe with the cheap and trust worthy flexible icom Keyboard.

8. DVD Drive : Now what is left? The DVD drive, mouse and the briefcase. So when I embarked on surveying about the DVD drive.I had a choice between the small 3.5” dvd drive of LG/Samsung and the normal DVD drive. So instead of trammeling and constricting to use of the smaller DVDs I went ahead with the normal drive size. To be precise I plowed ahead with LG Combo drive DVD-R/RW.

9. Briefcase : So for now I had the masala in form of all the actors and actresses to star in the movie, I mean the hardware. So now I had to choose a brief case which can take it all. First I surveyed the local make briefcases available in jalandhar.I got many choices, but some how people around me actuated me to go for the trademarked ones to obviate any breakage and ensure a strong casing for protection. So the cheapest I could home on was of make Safari 21”.Why Safari and why not a VIP? Simply because Safari is a trusted cheaper brand. Although I could have attempted to fit all in a 17” one,but for sake of safety I thought…..21” is better.I was correct in deciding this as I agnized later.

10. So all at the table now. How to earmark the land to the hardware in the available land space inside the briefcase ? Tried few combinations and then more combinations and then was finally able to home on the layout as shown in the pic inset.

11. Sealing : After the regular slots were made for the motherboard interface, SMPS power supply plug, SMPS fan, DVD drive, another problem that was standing upright was the case of sealing. How do I seal the brief case from outside detritus?Should I use the cheap looking tape or should I use the cut pieces of the briefcase or wax it? I fortunately got in contact with one civil carpenter who prefaced me to a type of sealing which is actually a gel and when you fill it in the empty space to be sealed, it gradually takes into the form of rubber overnight. Jet black in color. How does it look like? Shown in set. So I decided to try this. And I got what I wanted but some how I was dysphoric with the final finish.

12. Monitor : Oh!How can I forget the monitor. No fights and confusions on that. Actually wanted to go for a 14” TFT since it would encroach lesser area,but some how I found that 14” TFT is not available easily and at the place it is available, it is even costlier then the 15” one. Seems like manufacturers have kiboshed making this size. Since I had ample of space for this one too,I went ahead with a 15” TFT LG make.

13. Fitment : How to make the DVD drive, Hard disk, SMPS and the mother board stick to the base of the briefcase? The first thought that came to my mind was to stick all with good quality thick Velcro. But some how was hesitant in going ahead with this.The second option was screw and nut, a stronger alternative!!So I opened up the bottom screws from DVD Drive and screwed them again from bottom with the briefcase base in between, it came out nicely intact and neat. Similarly for the SMPS and the motherboard. For the mother board one small forethought was to place cut to size small rubber pads to maintain a distinct air gap between the motherboard bottom and the briefcase. For the hard disk I went for a thick Velcro since it would be the most prone for changing at times and I have to experiment it replacing with a pendrive!!!!!!!Monitor was difficult to decide upon w.r.t fitment. Velcro would not have been able to take on the load, bolting is not possible, fiddling with back cover is not advisable……now what? So came a solution from the house hold queen of my life, my wife. She recommended trying it with a sliding drawer rail fitted on both sides of the monitor. And……….it worked like the rails were made for the monitor to fit in. Problem solved. See the fitment in set.

14. Extra’s : Just to take care of the additional risk of placing motherboard in open I covered the inside briefcase with a cut to size transparent acrylic fiber sheet screwed on aluminum channels if u can notice in the pic below with keyboard on top.

15. Ratiocination : All items fitted, fitment done, repair tool kit inside, sealing done, connections made, the thing of assembling the pc inside a briefcase is over. But that felicitousness from within has not come since I am still failing at making a bootable pen drive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Hi Anupam, Its great.


  2. Hi Anupam

    It is really a great effort. Congrats !!! You must send this to the EME Journal and a write up to the Comp Sc dept. How have u taken care of heating issues?

    Your blog is always interesting and I have visited it in the past also. I am in Delhi now and look fwd to meeting you all when u r here.

    Wishing you many more such achievements in future.
    Pankaj Verma

  3. Anupam,

    Good Job done... I think this should go to some records (like Guiness/ Limca Book).

    This is really a fantastic acheivement.


  4. Anupam:

    Bravo! This is fantastic vision and execution.

    What are some of the use cases you envision for this?


  5. nikhil...the utility is to be exploited as a test jig in forwards areas or attend to in situ defective computers which generally are left un attended to during operations and exercises,to save on time etc etc.Besides I have catered it to allow for general software installations required mostly...thanks for the compli.....aur kuch value addition ho to bataa!!!!

  6. sirji........gr8 time i'm coming straight to take a look!!!!!!!cheers......amazing!!!

  7. Its great!!Well done.Keep it up

  8. its great at least we have three inventor in our group.Baiju , Patil and U.Good job keep fabricating.Recently Baiju has lot of innovations something like broadcasting vedio across the net by using remote wireless VOIP gateway.


  9. bhabhi ko time diya itna kabhi

  10. sir
    excellent work done .
    i must say it is fandu idea n get a patent
    on it fast.
    a v

  11. Dear Anupam

    There was no limit to excitement when i saw your chottu pc .
    Really excellent work done . that wasTHE way i wanted to make it .
    Well documented effort.Its so nice to hear that someone is doing a professional job.
    Keep it up. all the very best.

  12. Thats gr8 work!!u have done the same with good details mentioned here....i m also working on a similar one...will show u soon..regards...david

  13. Excellent weblog. All posts have one thing to learn. Your work is extremely excellent and i appreciate you and hoping for some much more informative posts. thank you……..