Beadbin computer project

My friend just ordered a 3d printer and that means I will have access to it. One project I’ve had in mind is a breadbin computer rig harkening back to the c64 era. I need to decide on which brand pla and color to use for the project.

Initially I considered doing this with the latest rpi but the same friend got one and discovered that it wasn’t capable of outputting fluid 4K video in full screenv,. Since this project should provide me a system to last at least five years before upgrading, I’d want it to output smooth 4K video. The rpi went out the door right away. The project will necessitate the procurement of either a new laptop, laptop motherboard or a NUC, a wired mechanical backlit keyboard and wireless (un-bluetooth) mouse.

OS-wise, I’m a linux guy. Most my time is spent on the command line and reserve a virtual terminal for kde if I need to do anything with a full browser.

Headache 0: my friend’s 3D printer won’t create the entire shell due to print size limitations 12x12. I’ll have to design an interlocking or snap-tite style lower shell to construct during assembly.
Headache 1: I’ll likely make a number of mistakes in design. My friend lives 45 minutes away. I may just buy my own 3D printer after a few test runs.
Headache 2: I currently use a KVM for switching between work and home computer. I work for the government and we are on a permanent work-from-home situation. This project wouldn’t work well with my existing setup since my project wont use the same keyboard or mouse for both systems. I’ll have to consider a workaround. I switch between work and home computer dozens of times during the workday.


  1. Lifespan of the build should be 5-7 years sans hard drive failures.
  2. Lower shell designed to be easy to recreate when the time comes to upgrade.
  3. Light yet durable.
  4. Capable of full screen 4k video output.
  5. Six to eight USB3 ports.
  6. Dual HDMI ports.
  7. Design efficient cable management.


  • Keyboard lower shell easy to disassemble/reverse engineer.
  • Design/print a new lower shell with a deeper cavity to make way for gut transplant.
  • Design ports for HDMI, USB, power, audio/headphone, mmc, USB C (if possible).
  • Design a snap-in gap for the battery or a gap for the battery, if applicable.
  • Integrate a USB hub to expand available ports and internalize the mouse dongle.
  • Create battery access port for keyboard or integrate laptop power with keyboard power demands.
  • Design fan exhaust port and intake vents if applicable

Minimum wires: video | power
Maximum Wires: video | audio | microphone | power

Potential keyboard models:

Rosewill RK-9000V2 Wired
Redragon K551-RGB VARA Wired

Potential NUC model:

Intel NUC NUC7i3DNKE Mini PC/HTPC, Intel Dual-Core i3-7100U 2.4GHz, 8GB DDR4, 128GB SSD, 4k Support, Dual Monitor Capable, Wifi, Bluetooth, Windows 10 Professional 64Bit

Potential Laptop model:

Refurbished HP 14" EliteBook 8440P Laptop PC with Intel Core i5 Processor, 4GB Memory, 750GB Hard Drive and Windows 10 Pro
Lenovo ThinkPad 14" Ultrabook, Intel Core i5 i5-4300U, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Windows 8 Pro, Graphite Black, 20AR0012US

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Are you thinking of taking the NUC parts out of its case and putting them in the case you design? I think that the NUC thermal design assumes that it is in free air.

Assuming I use a NUC, yeah that’s the general idea. Thanks for the heads up. I’m assuming, then, that the case itself is the heat sync.

I’m edging toward a laptop since they’re cheaper but I haven’t settled yet.

Yeah, I don’t have a NUC and am not sure how much the case contributes and how much is airflow. With a laptop the cooling is probably pretty obvious since there will be a fan in almost all laptops…

The laptops I’m considering are at least $100 less than the NUC, so it’s going to come down to price. My existing computer is a surveyed government fleet system that I bought at a mom&pop shop for $80. It has a core i5 and I had them take the hard drive out and max the ram for the same


At my office, pre covid, the asset management team setup a bunch of tv screens mounted to the walls and they velcro mounted nuc’s on the back of the tv’s. Not sure how hot those things were running. They were imaged like regular computers. The ones in conference rooms were used as laptops with wireless mouse/keyboard combos. the ones in hallways were used to show our intranet front page and show news alerts and weather. All run from those NUC’s