Milk crate computer project: Adding the components and testing

in STEMGeeks20 days ago

Once the case is prepped I start adding hardware to the crate. Taking an old ATX motherboard, power supply, video card and other parts I put them into the crate.

Plug everything in but not permanently, since I need to boot up the computer and make sure all is well before zip tying everything in the case. Sometimes things do not go to plan, so I make sure its all working before affixing everything. Sometimes the GPU does not work with old motherboards. Or a board I thought was good ends up to be bad. Though I tend to power up machines before keeping boards that are good, so I would be able to tell if the board is non functional.

I start by plugging in the 24pin main power supply cable and the aux power cable at the upper left corner of the motherboard. Since there is not alot of room in this milk crate it takes some extra time to get everything plugged in. But after a few tries I am able to hook up that 4pin aux power cable. I need to be careful not to cut my hand on the heatsink fins. They are real sharp and ive bled many times working on computers from the sharp parts on the heat sink of the CPU and mosfets.

An old IDE hard drive was left over from another old computer build so I used it in this machine to install the operating system. Using it on a project like this is perfect. It probably wont live that much longer, so being in these weird systems for the rest of its life it will fulfill its purpose.

I go into the BIOS to make sure the machine is detecting all the RAM and the hard drive attached to the machine. I also update the BIOS around this time as it has been out of days for many years. This is done off camera, took me some time to find the bios .bin file to update the board with.

Once everything is plugged in and plug in the power, video and USB for keyboard and mouse. And get to booting into Ubuntu. By using a USB stick I put the OS on the drive and then use that to install the operating system onto the machine.

LBRY Video Link

Previous parts to this project:

Addresses below to help me buy better camera equipment and support me to travel to locations to do photo and video and overall great blogs in new places.



Epic build, I have to admit the milk crate is a perfect case, plenty of ventilation and easily stackable! But have you ever fitted a full size PSU into a compact pc case - including cutting all 24 motherboard connector cables and splicing them to a compact connector?

Screenshot 2020-09-05 at 17.43.32.png

Compact connector left, standard right. Confusingly different pin out but it eventually worked!


Oh wow that must be some PC manufacturer connector like from Dell or whatever. Not a generic PSU.

That's one of the reasons I stopped buying brand name computers. All of the components are built only to work on their machines.

Glad you got it working though.. haha

Always fun building a PC. Most of the times things will work, but sometimes there's a dodgy connector or a driver issue. I've not built one in a while, but then the old one does okay. I do need to trace a fault on an old one that has no video output.

If you put a computer in a milk crate, might that expose the motherboard a bit more to the risk of excessive amounts of electric shock? I'm hoping that enough fan action would blow away the dust. I probably should buy a computer vacuum or something.

It could get dusty. My PC case has filters on the fans and other vents, but I do not clean it out very often anyway.

The biggest risk may be the possibility of frying the motherboard via electric shock, secondly might be messing it up with liquids. In third place, I'm thinking dust. I've never cleaned my 5 year old laptop here. But in the future, I'm thinking of being more cautious. I did use a regular vacuum on a desktop.

Yeah being an open case it's something I need to be more careful around. Though by using old parts I dont really care if it fries or gets dusty. If it was not for this project I would have scrapped them.

I agree.

Hah yeah used parts is always a hit or miss thing. And sometimes these machines are so old trying to find drivers is almost impossible.

Luckily ubuntu has them in their repos. With Windows you gotta goto the manufactures site and hope they still have the files.

I find most things 'just work' on Ubuntu. Linux can be easier to set up than Windows despite what many people think.

I use Ubuntu Mate 16.04. Yeah, Linux tends to have a repository of older drivers of all sorts of things. The one tricky thing that I recently figured out was how to unblacklist my ethernet driver on my laptop. I don't even know how my Ethernet port stopped working for like the past year or longer. But I got it working again finally some hours ago. It turned out that the Ethernet driver was on a blacklist file. So, I went into the file and removed it and then added the driver name to another file to make sure the driver would load during startup. I don't know how many hours it took me to solve that problem. But am glad I solved the puzzle.

Hah yeah I've gone through some strange troubleshooting as well on Linux. Can take hours to figure out what's wrong.. glad you got your issue resolved. Never heard of that problem.

I generally Google my problems and find forums where people discuss having similar issues if not the same exact problems.

Should it be enclosed but with some exhaust fans so that the heat will go in and then out @solominer?

In the next part of this series I stress test the machine and it does not get too hot. So only using a few fans is working well for it.

Don't forget when your done to return that milk crate...😉

OK ...😊


Haha I bought these fair and square.

Pretty cool build. Putting components in places that aren't built for the purpose can be tricky, I know because I built a computer in a cardboard box last year.

Will you be showing us the webcam and OBS setup in future posts?

A box? Oh, impressive. As long as the box is strong enough and big enough.

So true. Alot of extra cutting needed to make it all fit.

Hah that's right! So you know what I mean.

Yup. That's coming up.


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Ah glad to share my posts, thanks for having me on.

This is the kind of thing I may do. I started learning how to assemble computers back in 2007 in Portland, Oregon, at Free Geek Computers. A milk crate is a good idea which I never thought about before.

Oh cool. I've been building computers for many years now.

I learned about this case idea from looking at peoples DIY mining rigs.

Mining rigs are impressive. It must be a long term model or module.