I get a lot of use out of my Skull Canyon. Yes, Hades Canyon is bigger, better, faster, and more. But Skull Canyon is still an awesome little i7 system, and with a couple of NVMe SSDs in RAID 0 and 32GB of RAM, it’s a screamin’ little box.
When I use my Skull Canyon I almost always have an external 2.5″ drive connected for extra storage. It’s where I store things like video and pictures for the many projects I’m always working on.
This morning I got to thinking about how I could eliminate the need for the external drive, and I had an idea. I’ve had Gorite’s expansion ring installed ever since I reviewed it. I like that it adds four extra USB ports but if you look inside it has a ton of unused space.
With a little fiddling I was able to fit a 2.5″ drive bracket in the open space, along with a SATA cable. I just needed something to connect it to.
I never really used the USB 2.0 ports on the back of the expansion ring, so I decided to sacrifice them for this project. I removed the USB 2.0 cable and ports entirely. Then I relocated the USB 3.0 ports from the back of the ring to the front, as I would need the opening on the back for my new drive connector.
I had an old USB 3.0 drive enclosure that I hadn’t used in years, so I ripped it apart and removed the board. As luck would have it, the connection port and LED on it matched up perfectly with the openings where the USB ports had been. I keep a ready supply of scrap cables and brackets, and I started digging through them. I mounted the board to a small metal bracket that I modified to fit, then drilled a screw hole in on side and mounted it inside the ring.
From there it was just a matter of connecting the SATA cable from the drive to the board and I had a functioning internal 2.5″ drive!
To make things a little prettier I cannibalized an old, broken NUC lid and cut out the LED indicator. I trimmed it down to fit and mounted it inside the ring in front of the board’s LED indicator.
I happened to have a very short USB 3.0 cable, so I used it to connect the board to one of the USB 3.0 ports on the back of the NUC.
I’m pretty happy with how everything came out, and as I mentioned it’s all fully functional. I’m using a 240GB SSD in it for now, but plan to buy a 1TB SSD when funding permits. I especially like the fact that I was able to fit everything into the ring without having to cut into it.
I’d like a better cable option, so I’m going to search for a super short cable with 90 degree connectors…something just long enough to reach.
If I can’t find something pre-made, I may order a cable with the right ends and cut/solder them to fit. That should look a little cleaner. I’m also going to keep my eyes open for a better cover for the LED indicator. What I have now works but I’d like something with a flush fit. I’m finicky like that. Lastly I need to find some black or grey screws, because gold just isn’t cutting it.
So now you know the kind of weird stuff I get up to on the weekends. Well, the weird NUC stuff anyway.