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ATX portable cases?
rabnud Nov-30-01 06:18 PM
A buddy wants a new portable case for his consultant work. He can't risk blowing out a laptops ethernet since this is what he'll be connecting to his clients with and it takes too much time and money to repair laptops. He doesn't want the upgrade limitations associated with laptops, either. So I offer to help. I can find luggable / lunchbox cases for >2 grand, but I could simply buy a decent desktop mid tower and screw a 75 cent hardware store handle on top for much much less than a hundred dollars. Then, with the remaining 1900 bucks I could probably have a titanium box built around that!!

Who makes portable ATX class PC cases these days???

3. RE: ATX portable cases?
lbyard Nov-30-01 10:07 PM
In response to message 0
I certainly agree with your comments about notebooks. I would add getting parts for them can be difficult. I don't see how you “risk blowing out a laptops Ethernet…” Or do you mean breaking a PCMCIA Ethernet adapter by tipping a notebook on its side? I built such a machine with the smallest, slimline desktop case I could find. It had everything imaginable on it for fieldwork. But that was a long time ago and before a lot of what I had on it could be gotten from the Internet. The problem now, if you are using newer processors, is cooling with such a case. For example, AMD doesn't even recommend desktop cases. I guess you could get a mobile processor and that would help… AOpen has some slim desktop cases: http://www.aopenusa.com/products/housing/. Look at this for some innovative solutions: http://duxcw.com/dcforum/DCForumID8/55.html. A notebook, even with its shortcomings and extra cost, is probably the best solution. Insure it, get one with a supported maintenance contract, or lease it. A real nice one impresses customers. Larry

4. RE: ATX portable cases?
rabnud Dec-01-01 11:03 PM
In response to message 3
He mentioned these as reasons:
1] the need to replace NICs without needing to send the laptop to a repair house.
I'm assuming that the down time (time to ship a laptop in for repairs) would be too much. Maybe the chance of damaging the NIC is too high, not certain. I think we'd both agree that replacing a PCI NIC on a standard ATX system is a lot easier and less expensive than replacing one in a laptop.

2] His work involves databases, as in corporate stuff; maybe his portable needs larger storage than laptops can be equipped with?

3] He definitely mentioned ruggedness as a factor.

Anyway, I know that he already has a laptop, and he doesn't want to use it for this portion of his work.

9. Rambo Notebooks & Industrial Server Cases
lbyard Dec-02-01 08:06 AM
In response to message 4
Search google.com with “rugged laptop” and “lunchbox computer” for more.
“Industrial computer case” produced some interesting results. And one option I had not thought of: cases for small servers. Here’s one of them: http://www.aristaipc.com/image/ipc-201AT.html. It’s in the wee hours here and I haven’t any more time to look at these further if I am to work tomorrow afternoon.

10. RE: Rambo Notebooks & Industrial Server Cases
rabnud Dec-03-01 01:18 PM
In response to message 9
Wow, I appreciate the work you have done for this posting! You have an interesting thread going here! I never knew about ruggedized laptops.

I apologize to you for one glaring omission on my part: my buddy isn't willing to depart from ATX motherboards and compatible cases; that is yet another way that Laptops lock you in - to a non upgradable processor, to non standard memory, to physically smaller hard disk drives, unique CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drives, one video subsystem...

So maybe a fresh summary is in order.

He wants:

1] ATX motherboard for processor upgradability and ability to use common expansion cards and common memory, as well as motherboard upgradability;

2] A case compatible with same ATX motherboards to allow standard disk drives, standard NICs, standard video cards.

I was aware that his ruggedness term was based relative to laptop, not relative to desktop PC; I didn't make that clear to this forum. He only needs to be a little more rugged than a common high end pc; the old original IBM AT case was about right as far as ruggedness is concerned.

I think he will eventually migrate toward the 2U rackmount style system you posted (Arista), with a drawer style keyboard/LCD display such as can be found at http://www.gorilla.net. That idea would branch into rackmount server hardware, for which there are a lot of hardware choices. Your pointing me towards that area is appreciated.

However - let this thread continue!!

How about the Macintosh Titanium G4 - is that fairly rugged? You gotta love the display on that thing!

I wonder if there might be any benefit to the market from generating a relatively crude "ruggedness" ranking of various PC enclosure methods?
We can all pretty much assume to put most plastic encased laptops at the bottom (but certainly not all are bottom)...
A few desktop cases are certainly *less* rugged than some laptops: my recent $20 desktop ATX case is merely "stamped aluminum foil", as far as I'm concerned - don't drop that fully loaded from more than a couple millimeters!
Compare that case as weaker than a Titanium G4...
Compare those as weaker than ruggedized laptops from say Niche Technologies...
and so forth.

Have fun!

11. RE: Rambo Notebooks & Industrial Server Cases
lbyard Dec-03-01 05:11 PM
In response to message 10
Obviously, your friend has not lugged even the smallest desktops around in the field. They (monitors, keyboards, etc.) take a lot of car space and it’s a real chore to make several trips to lug them up stairs (or to go back to the shop/office and retrieve something that was forgotten—worse, ship it overnight). And they break easier than he might realize. I know this from setting-up booths at computer shows. I would not do it with and Apple. They are just not compatible with most of the PCs out there and it’s quite a problem to bring an Apple on site to work on PCs. Other readers may have more to say/ideas… Larry

12. RE: Rambo Notebooks & Industrial Server Cases
rabnud Dec-04-01 08:42 PM
In response to message 11
Visited him last night, we surfed a bit. He likes the rackmount stuff - a lot. He was really interested in www.gorilla.net. He mentioned that he is lugging his Dell desktop, a keyboard, IR Mouse and a 17" CRT to each job... the concept of rackmount keyboard and LCD in a 1U "Drawer", and an ATX 2U size "server" chassis in the other would be a good idea. I know he is using a small luggage type foldup dolly, so the weight of the rackmount stuff should still be withing its' capabilities.

Well, Larry, thanks for the help, the Arista PC link really triggered the solution.

13. RE: ATX portable cases?
rabnud Feb-22-02 08:35 AM
In response to message 0

Shuttle, the mainboard company, also makes a barebones "all-in-one" called the SV-24.


My buddy bought one and added a 30 cent metal drawer pull handle to the top, done deal. He also called it the "Spacewalker" - who knows what he is up to

He hasn't fired it up as of the last we spoke, so I don't know how satisfied he is about its performance, but he was quite pleased with everything except for the fact that it only allowed one expansion card.... I think he had hoped to allow for at least 2 expansion cards.

I guess he decided the onboard NIC was acceptable after all :-/


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