Adapters to integrate the mainboard into a custom case

Many people, out there, are already “thinking outside the box” (literally!) in order to integrate the Framework mainboard into custom designed cases or even into retro-style PC keyboards.

So, why not going even further? I think that, in the near future, the Marketplace should offer a couple of items that would help to streamline and, possibly, encourage such projects.

First, there might be an ATX/mATX/ITX mounting bracket for the mainboard, with an accompanying I/O shield, so it can be easily integrated in any desktop PC case. One can always design and 3D print such brackets, of course, but if there was a ready-made solution it would simplify things a lot.

The second addition would be a special “break-out” ribbon cable that connects to the mainboard, just like the current one, and has two adapters at the other end:

  • An header for a momentary switch, similar to what we have on desktop PC cases. Or, alternatively, an adapter for the laptop’s power button / fingerprint reader;
  • An USB header (similar to the ones on ATX motherboards) that allows to connect any USB keyboard.

This breakout may have a small PCB with the necessary connectors that can be easily mounted on some kind of bracket. Or, even better, the ATX/mATX/ITX adapter that I mentioned before can have a special extension to host this break-out PCB.

The bracket and the break-out cable could be sold either as a kit or separately, and both would help a lot of people that do not have a 3D printer, or that want to a much better (and streamilined) integration of the Framework maniboard into off-the-shelf PC cases.

I think that such additions would be very welcomed; and, of course, there is always the idea (mentioned in this topic ) to offer an “official” Framework mini-PC case where one can drop-in the laptop’s mainboard.

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Agreed!

Some other thoughts and parts involved with this:

  • cooling. Ducts could be required to bring in fresh air from the front of the case and direct hot exhaust to the rear. Perhaps a custom heatsink fan could be developed which would eliminate the ducting requirement.

  • 24-pin ATX power to battery terminal adapter. This could be tricky, requiring some high-power electronics. It could contain the pushbutton and reset headers.

  • standard I/O panel adapters, using a hub to turn one USB-C port into 2+ USB-A ports, Ethernet, HDMI video and possibly audio.

  • if you don’t require wireless but want a wired connection, you can exchange the wireless M.2 card for a wired card, even a 2.5 GbE wired card. These use extender cables to mount a port in a PCIe slot, although it would be on the wrong side…

  • USB-C extender cable and sockets to bring the USB-C ports on the far side back to the I/O shield

For my pet project involving a NAS with SATA drives, this brilliant thing:

https://www.amazon.ca/Internal-Non-Raid-Adapter-Desktop-Support/dp/B07T3RMFFT

The Framework mainboard is both more powerful and draws far less power than my current NAS hardware. The only thing missing is ECC memory, but I’d be willing to give that up if everything else was in place.

Exciting!

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@Fraoch exactly! I was just suggesting a starting point, but as you mentioned things I was thinking to myself “yes, this make sense too!”, with every one of the items. Let’s see how it goes, maybe the company has already some plans to implement a “desktop” kit.

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