The start of this project was finding this old "portable" potentiometer which the chemistry department in Aberdeen threw out (at least I hope they meant to – otherwise I stole it). The portable'ness of the thing meant you could lift it, and it had room for 4 single A batteries, however it weighed a ton. Among the other interesting features this box was "open-source", i.e. the wiring diagram and printing instructions was printed on the inside of the cover.
With a mix of brute-force, power-tools, manual sawing and a lot of un-screwing I got most of the original components out, with only a few months waiting while I ordered imperial alan-keys on ebay and had them shipped to a friend in the uk who then forgot to send them to me for a long time. Getting all the old junk out made room inside for my VIA EPIA ML6000 fanless Mini-itx motherboard, and the tiny AC-DC converter.
The goal of this whole operation was to create a silent PC that could always be on, and could keep all my mp3s and movies, it was therefore necessary to put two 250gb harddisks in as well. Luckily the harddisks just about fit in, although there isn't much room for the IDE cables, I think I shall try to cut off the second connector on an ide cable now to see if it still works. I also hope the harddisks wont get too hot, I was really hoping to keep the whole setup fanless, if it fails I can always have a half-speed fan at the back though, the old battery compartment leaves a hole for ventilation.
The other problems was that the power-supply had only 1 harddisk/cdrom power connector (i.e. the 12v 4-pin things), which I found odd since it said that the 80W ac-dc adaptor said it could power a HD and a full-size CDROM. Since I wanted this to work today there was no time to order a splitter, so I cut off a bit of an old normal size power-supply, and compensated for the lack of a female plug (well, the plastic bit is female, the pins male) with creative soldering and four nails. Finishing it it looked slightly like a torture instruments… alas 12V is gonna make anyone scream though.
Finally, I installed debian, i thought i may have some problems with the strange hardware, but everything worked straight out of the box and the whole process took less than 30 minutes. Then I apt-got samba and was listening to my mp3s from my laptop in less than 1 hour! (if it wasn't for MacOSX than http://www.macworld.com/forums/ubbthrea … )
Now all I need is a sensible backup solution. Burning DVDs is really not an option. Anyone?