Mini Tower of Power

The N100 Obelisk is a tower of powerful, yet compact, Intel N100 mini PCs with a built-in 13-inch AMOLED display.

Nick Bild
15 days ago3D Printing
The N100 Obelisk is a tower of mini PCs (📷: Jay Doscher)

There is something about miniaturized versions of the things that we experience in everyday life that captures the interest of young and old alike. Whether it is a scaled-down model of an iconic landmark, a miniature recreation of a busy city street, or a compact version of a favorite gadget, the appeal is undeniable. Miniature versions serve as reminders of the creativity and craftsmanship that can transform the ordinary into something extraordinary.

Sometimes these scaled-down objects are much more than just a model, and instead perform a real function. One of the best illustrations of functional miniature items is perhaps in the world of computing, where technological advancements have shrunk the size of computing components to the point that the power of a desktop PC can now be squeezed into some very tiny cases. Surely many Hackster News readers will be familiar with Raspberry Pis, Intel N100-based mini PCs, and a dozen other tiny computers like them.

Serial creator Jay Doscher has gone all in on mini PCs and has them performing all sorts of functions around his home. But while these mini PCs look nice and do not take up much space, he found that there are also some downsides to having a bunch of little boxes all over the place. It is easy to accidentally snag one of the power or Ethernet cables and send a tiny PC flying across the room, for example, which would never happen with a big, bulky, traditional PC case.

To add some order to the chaos that was being created, Doscher decided to build a tower of mini PCs called the N100 Obelisk. As the name implies, the build consists of Intel N100-based mini PCs — in particular, Beelink QC12 Mini PCs with Intel Alder Lake N100 CPUs running at 3.4 GHz, 16 GB of RAM, and 500 GB SSDs.

Four of these mini PCs were slotted into a custom 3D-printed case. Plenty of extra room was built in to allow for sufficient airflow to keep things cool, and to allow for cable routing. Removable panels line the case to allow for expansion and access to the internal components. These panels were attached with more than 100 M4 screws, not just to fasten the panels down, but also to give the look that Doscher was going for.

To top off the build, a Waveshare 13-inch AMOLED display was attached to one side of the case such that the N100 Obelisk can be used as a fully standalone system. To match the shape of the tower the monitor was configured to be in portrait mode, which required a little bit of hacking in Ubuntu, but worked just fine when all was said and done.

The N100 Obelisk could be adapted to use other hardware platforms as well. If N100 mini PCs are not your thing, it could just as easily be a tower of Raspberry Pis. If you are a paid subscriber of Doscher’s, all of the 3D modeling files you need to recreate the project can be downloaded. If not, be sure to check out the project write-up anyway, as it might inspire you to build something interesting on your own.

Nick Bild
R&D, creativity, and building the next big thing you never knew you wanted are my specialties.
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