Part 1: Building a Mining Rig – Preparing Your Mining Rig Case

This part is probably the hardest part of putting together the mining rig, but it can also be fun.  Just take your time and think about different options before you go forward, no need to rush.  Its also a chance to get creative and have fun thinking about different ways to do things.  I am using almost all of the parts from the guide found here.

Basically, the idea is that we need to assemble our components in a cheap, yet effective case that maximizes airflow.  Here is the end result of what mine looks like:

Edit: After thinking about this, I’m not sure if a box is the best thing to sit my stuff on, in the second crate.  I suggest you use something less flammable, just to be safe.  If sparks fly for whatever reason (and it happens sometimes), it could be kindle for a fire.


Some Ground Rules

There isn’t really an exact science to this, but rather some general rules we should follow.  So before we get started, let me explain some of them.

Maximize for Airflow

We want to maximize our airflow and heat disbursement for the rig.  So we want to space our cards out well and try to keep them level.  Heat rises, so we shouldn’t have the outtake of our cards pointing towards the ground.  Don’t block any of the vents.  The  reason I had to go with the white bar is because the black rim was blocking too much airflow.

Card is laying horizontally, so allows for good airflow, it would be bad if it was pointing towards the ground.

Plan for Security

We want our cards to be secure so they don’t fall and get damaged or damage your components.  This means using proper ways to secure your cards and components.  If your miner was bumped and it would cause damage to your rig, you need to think about setting it up differently.

Examples of How to  Secure Cards:

Lip of card is in front of the black plastic bar, giving extra reinforcement to hold it in place.

When completed, will be screwed or other wise attached to the top bar.  Don’t leave it like this! One bump and you could do some serious damage. My cards are secured by placing them into a slot on the white bar.

Supporting bar should be fastened so it won’t move. Don’t fasten it permanently until you are near finishing your rig though.

Be Careful not to Harm Your Parts

We want to make sure we don’t use any components that are conductive or prone to static discharge.  Don’t use conductive metals or high static discharge materials like polyester for placing your motherboard or graphics cards on.  Make sure screws that you use aren’t in  contact with any circuitry.  After you make cuts into the crates, make sure you get rid of any excess plastic bits that come off.  We don’t want these making their way into our computer parts and melting.  I’d recommend having your case 100% ready to go before putting any parts in it, it can be a really big pain to make changes after you have assembled everything.

Be careful that you don’t statically shock your components.  If you are noticing that you seem to be giving off static electricity, try to find ways to stop it first.  Avoid wearing high percentage polyester shirts or clothes that seem to be generating static.  I have never shocked any of my components, but there is always a chance and you should try to avoid it.  Since we aren’t using a metal case for this rig, using a static wristband isn’t really going to help, but if you are really paranoid you can go with some Anti-static Working Gloves
.  If you set your components down, it is good to put them back into the antistatic bags, or cut the bags in half (so you can set the part on the inside of the bag).  The outsides of these bags don’t do anything.

Be Careful not to Hurt Yourself

We want to be safe and not hurt ourselves in the process = ).  Here are a few recommendations here.  Don’t cut towards you, this is really dangerous.  Always cut away from you so there is no chance of slipping and accidently cutting yourself.  If you have protective eyewear, I’d recommend it as well, it may seem ridiculous, but there may be bits of plastic flying about.  If you are using a blade that closes, don’t use it in such a way that it would fold back towards you, like poking holes, etc.  Find a different tool.

Preparing the Case

Tools used

1. Swiss Army Knife -- I used the saw component to cut off the majority of the plastic I wanted gone.  Be sure to read safety tips.

2. Drill - I used a drill to drill in the top support bar that I ended up going with, may not be necessary.

3. Screwdriver -- To poke holes in plastic for cable ties to go through.

But you can get by with less…  my other rig I just used a steak knife to cut and some clip ties to hold things together.. so you can get as fancy or lazy as you want.  You also may want to use some gloves, my hands were pretty sore after this.

Crafting the Masterpiece…ish

This can vary a lot in how much effort you decide to put into it.  It can go from ghetto rigged to pretty awesome.  My first rig I went closer to ghetto rigged, and with this one, I spent more effort into it, and got a much nicer setup going.  So don’t stick to this guide exactly because it might not exactly work with your stuff, but perhaps it can give you ideas on how to proceed.

So, we decided to put our mining rig in milk crate case, using 2 milk crates we grabbed from Amazon or elsewhere.  I grabbed mine at Office Max in a 3 pack for around 15 bucks.  Just make sure they are the ones with square holes and not circular ones, as these are much easier to modify.

Step 1, Cut the Lining

The first thing I did was cut the plastic canvas to fit the crate.  We will make some more cuts later so that some of our cables can go through.

Step 2, Video Card Placement

The next thing I wanted to do is find out where I was going to put my video cards, because to accommodate this, it will require the most drastic changes to your milk crate.  I simply start out like so:

1. I placed the bar to hold my video cards towards the top.  Making sure to use a slot that wouldn’t block the PCIE connector’s from connecting to the video cards and making sure the bar wouldn’t slip backwards and allow the video cards to fall.

2. Once I did this, I started get a feel for how my cards will be placed above your motherboard and how much cutting I would need to do.

Take awhile to think about this, because it is probably the hardest part of making the case, but once you do this, the rest is pretty easy.

So looking at it, it was clear that the inner lip was going to give me some problems:

and the top bar would block the airflow for the card, since it is at the top. Highlighted is where the bar would have been:


So I could have tried to cut more precisely and taken out everything below the black bar, but its easier said than done.  So instead I thought it would be better to merely take out the whole front of the case.

I started looking around my house for anything I could use to replace this, and ended up finding some old blinds that had a nice heavy plastic bar at the bottom and decided to use that.

So, using my minisaw from my swiss army knife, I cut it out like so:

Then I drilled the plastic bar to the crate, like so:

And lucky me, I could use the other half of the bar to hold my cards in place, instead of using the wooden bar:

So I secured the lower bar by using a screwdriver to stab through it, and cable ties to hold it in place.  Don’t fully secure your lower bar until you have added in all your components later.

I could have went with a few different options here, but a few factors that made me go with what I did was:

1) Didn’t want to point my cards downwards.

2) Didn’t want to block any of the front of the cards’ ventilation.

3) Wanted to set my cards higher so they had more room to cool off.

For 4-5 cards I probably would haven taken off the top whole front area.  Just be sure to leave the corners so you can fasten the top bar down.

The only problem left I had was that the cards had 1 vent being blocked by the white bar, so I opted to cut a line through the bar and put the cards through it, like so:

I had to unscrew the top bar to fit the cards into the slot.

Fitted in, it looks like this:

This also gave it added security and made sure none of the ventilation was blocked.

With the front bottom lip of the card in front of the crate, and the top lip being held in place by the bar, these cards aren’t going anywhere.

Step 3, Cut Area for USB

If you make the same mistake that I did, you won’t be able to access any of your USB ports, and you really don’t want to do this after everything else is put together, so I’d advise that you do it now.

Make sure that your USB ports are facing the same side that your graphics cards will be facing (The side you cut for your graphics cards):


And cut out the area in red (smaller if you just want USB), being careful not to cut too much, because we need to leave as much support for our cards as possible.

You might need to take your motherboard out and place it in the crate to get a feel for where to cut, but it will look like this:

For the top milk crate, that should be it for now, but we also want to make it easier to access stuff in the bottom crate, where the power supply and hard drive will sit.  I cut out my bottom like so:

So the case is ready, now we want to put it all together.  Part 2 of the guide can be found here.

12 thoughts on “Part 1: Building a Mining Rig – Preparing Your Mining Rig Case

  1. Elise

    Nice presentation – thank you for the detailed explanation and pictures! The question I have is regarding securing the cards – it looks like they are secured to your plastic rail in ‘front’…but the other end, they are just sitting on that bar? If you screw the fronts down, it’s OK if the other end isn’t being held?

    Also, the plastic rail looks to be around 1/4″ thick?

    Looking forward to part 2!


    1. poor shibe Post author

      The back part of the cards aren’t screwed down, they are just resting on the bars. The bar they are resting on is fastened down. The way I have it set up, the cards won’t budge because the bottom front part of the cards is outside of the milk crate plastic, and the inside top front is pressed into the inside of the white bar, which is somewhat clamping down. You could also instead screw these down and it would be fine too. But I would still have a bar to hold them. I was going to do this at first, but I noticed there was some slight ventilation blockage going on. These cards don’t have as many ventilation slots as I’ve seen with other cards, so even 1 slot blocked may be too much.

      The plastic rail is little thicker than a yardstick. It is also very stable. If you use anything that bends even a little under the weight of the cards I would not use it. I know this is kind of vague and doesn’t give you an exact shopping list to go for, sorry. I do mention a few possibilities in the other guide though. But it was the best way I could get it to work with the crates I got.

      Thanks for the questions again, I appreciate it. You help me make my guides better = )

      1. Elise

        You are welcome – I am just so thankful that you are so willing to give clear explanations and also pictures. For the bar where the cards are just resting, when I build mine, perhaps I will cut out a notch just wide enough for them to rest in, just to keep them from sliding…it may not be necessary though. Will focus on maintaining proper ventilation and keeping everything level. I am no stranger to working with drills, etc…have a background as an automated equipment mechanic and also carpentry, but I’ve never worked with computer hardware. It just fascinates me, how to design these rigs and gain a deeper understanding of this field. I know, there will be learning curves and frustration points, but that is all part of the process.

        1. poor shibe Post author

          Ha, you will probably do much better at this part than me then = ). You should share a pic when you are finished.

  2. Elise

    Forgot to mention – for cutting out the crate for ventilation purposes, an oscillating tool would probably work well, fast and clean cutting. There are also attachments for dremel tools that you could use.

  3. Tom

    Great article. For a ready made very open air case that is attractive and sturdy, go to eBay and search for hashcase The unit is ready for you to mount your motherboard, gpu cards, power supply, drive without tools. Seems to be the most open air easy to use case available.

  4. Cryptic Hermit

    You could forego all the struggle of building a case and just buy one of Mountain Mods new open air cases that can hold 7 GPU easily. -

  5. rice cookers

    It’s hard to come by educated people about this subject, but you seem like you know what you’re talking
    about! Thanks

    1. g00nie

      Quite an encouragement for the “Doc Frankenstein” (not a smear towards your efforts… rather an observation of my own productions) that resides somewhere within most of us.
      I am in the initial stages of building a server for my home/work from spare parts. Blessedly I have a mate who lives quite nearby, and is quite proficient in adaptive/creationary/recycled parts, basically all types of hardware.
      He and I both love a unique approach, so commencing discussions, the topic of rack setup and temperature mainenance, I spied the small, 20-bottle wine fridge I posted for sale on Craigslist, not a day prior.

      I dove off couch, grabbed my phone and yanked that ad.

      As it is basically a “like new” piece, that I acquired for doing some odds and ends, if it fails, meh…
      Both of us could list a number of reasons that it could be a suitable method of temp control for a server and/or a mining setup (insert cold storage joke here…). An added benefit is the solidity of construction, its locking glass door (ooohh!! Colored LED strips anyone…?) and that the top is readily capable of supporting upwards of 25kg. Slap an extra monitor or a stack a 2nd unit, I doubt that the issue would ever come into play.
      There is one other perk that I see from a closed-system setup, a lack of dust or exposure to dust. I could easily swap the glass for plexi and if need be, drill holes for easier USB access, etc…The racks are all removable and simply metal dipped with a rubberizing for protection and barrier against rust. I can hacksaw if need be, various sections to accept larger or manipulate them into whatever was desired.

      Or, thoughts on a like, non-standard (wee smaller) plain old fridge serving as a rack/cooling unit? Whilst my mate does know quite a lot, he also was heavily into his cups that eve…

      Thanks to poor shibe, the original poster for sharing his efforts and tips. I own a couple of those exact crates and comparing their sizes, the internal dimensions are quite alike.
      Myself being a poor scrivener of sorts, I find it more satisfying to “harvest” and “create” from what would be generally considered detritus.

      cheers!! (reaching into server/miner rack…I grab a cold beverage and my sandwich…HEY!! HAHA! Yet another added perk!!! LOLOL’ing)

      Oh, and as for cost… typically these are sold on Craigslist or what-not and I see a range of $100-300 (USED) for one depending upon brand, extras, etc…this one new, retailed a few years ago between $400-600.
      ==>> So to Cryptic Hermit, whilst I would opine $229 to the uninitiated like myself, that figure seems quite reasonable…ESP for a turn-key type item. Besides, modding is fun and an educational way to familiarize oneself with various aspects of hardware, etc…and I wager one of these could be haggled down under $100. if it shows excessive (outer) usage and effects like dents and dings, mars and scrapes. Slap some contact paper or a wood veneer and now its a stylishly functional item as well.

      Well, that’s my piece…

      Do any of you all see any glaring faults that I could have overlooked?
      Has anyone seen this before, is this something that is a fairly commonplace occurrence?



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