After seeing us build one of the Internet’s most epic Battlestations, Intel reached out with sponsorship and a challenge. Build a new DIY desk project, even better than before, highlighting the 8th generation Core i7-8700K in a B.A. gaming rog.
So, we set out this time with a small form factor Origin Chronos. The plan? A gaming setup that lets you have it any way you like, switching between PC gaming and console gaming with ease at this website, and with a throwback to that analog feel with physical buttons. Oh, and RGB naturally.
Thinking it would be easier to “augment” an existing desk rather than build one from scratch, we used IKEA’S Build Your Own Desk tool as a starting point and chose a mixture of wood finish and pure white for a modern look that would also effectively bounce our RGB lighting around. Before we dive into the DIY action, let’s meet the gaming PC that Intel provided for this project Origin PC’s Chronos, complete with a custom paint job. It rocks the up to 4.7 GHz Intel Core i7-8700K and all six cores of it are tamed by Origin’s own Frostbite 120 liquid cooler,. which allows it to really stretch its legs despite the system’s small size.
So, we modified the cabinet portion of the desk so that it could hold not only our Chronos, but also an Xbox One X and a PS4 Pro. Oh yeah, and all of the circuitry needed to switch between them. So we picked up these LED toggle buttons on Amazon, this HDMI switch for changing our inputs, and an Arduino Uno to act as the brain for the whole thing.
To make room for all these goodies, we decided to remove the cabinet’s top three drawers, and then to shift the rails down on one of the two large bottom drawers so we could swap it out for a small one. Then, using some white wood paneling that we got from Home Depot, we made three custom shelves that we fastened to the cabinet walls by simply drilling new holes and inserting those small wooden dowels that are often included with IKEA furniture. Protip by the way, you can take as many of those as you need from the bins at IKEA customer service. Ultimately, we didn’t end up with a ton of extra space around each system, which isn’t great for thermals. So, if you’re following along at home, then you might choose to keep just one drawer at the bottom instead of two.
Or, you can do what we did and integrate some cooling fans at the back. This allowed us to keep the storage space at the bottom, and the more finished look of the tight compartments. But hold on a second… if there’s so little space above the Chronos Where are all the switches and wiring gonna go?
Huh, oh yee have little faith. There are a spare three and a half centimeters up there. Now, this is not quite enough for a fourth shelf given that the shelves themselves are almost two centimeters thick, but… What if we salvaged some of our discarded cabinet pieces to make a custom super low-profile drawer? We remounted our spare rails and gorilla glue on a new façade that would hold our switches. All the desk’s hardware in a compartment no taller than the trim piece that we were going to use anyway. So it’s going great so far but, let’s be honest, This wouldn’t be an LTT project without at least a dash of…
So let me assure you, This is an LTT project. To seamlessly switch from PC to Xbox to PlayStation, we needed each of our physical buttons to correspond to an input on our HDMI switch, one each for HDMI1, HDMI 2, and HDMI 3. Problem is, we COULD NOT FIND(!)
an HDMI switch that had individual physical buttons for each input. Instead, they all have one button that cycles through the inputs. However, they do come with remotes, and the remotes have individual buttons. So our plan then was to connect our Arduino to the remote and then just point the remote point blank and our HDMI switch inside the cabinet. Problem solved…. or at least it would have been if we hadn’t accidentally connected a 5 volt power supply to a 3 volt remote and completely… *EXPLOSION* …destroyed it. *facepalm* In the end, we soldered the HDMI switch directly to the Arduino and relied on software to send the appropriate number of… button presses, depending on which input you’re starting on.
Anyway, after all that, it was just a matter of using a hole saw to bore cable management holes so we could, you know, plug stuff in because that’s important, and so we could wire up our RGB strips, which we opted to stick to the top side of each compartment way at the back for a sexy gentle glow Then we added wood trim with a bit of overhang to hide the RGB strips, wrote this Arduino script to control the switches and the lights, and put the whole thing including an ultra-wide monitor together ending the console wars and ushering in a new era of gaming. A peaceful era of gaming. Once and for all. Not bad for a total of $420.