Installing internal media readers in old Compaqs

I had a Compaq Presario S5140WM case that I wanted to reuse for a new system build. There’s nothing really wrong with the case, but in the 8 years since the S5140WM was a mainstream PC, we’ve started putting things like card readers and audio jacks on the front of the PC. This machine only had USB in front.

Rather than replace the case, I installed an internal card reader that includes audio jacks, an eSATA port, a Firewire port, and three more USB ports, bringing it right up to 2011 standards. It fit in a 5.25″ bay, which is fine. The system has two bays, and it’s unlikely I’ll ever want to put another 5.25″ device in the second one.

But installation wasn’t as straightforward as it could be. Wouldn’t you know it?

In this particular vintage of HP/Compaq machines, you insert screws in all drives, and they act as guides on rails in the bays. A clip grabs onto the rear screw and holds the drive in place. It makes it really easy to install and remove drives, but it presents a problem when you’re installing a card reader that’s only a couple of inches deep and only has that front position.

What I did was drive one of the included screws into the right-hand side of the device, but left most of it protruding so the device fit snugly into the bay. Then I moved the device into place, and on the exposed left side, I positioned two #6 washers over visible holes in the device. I then secured it with two more screws, tightening them as much as they would go.

It works. The device springs back a little bit when plugging devices into some of the ports on the far right, but since the panel on that side of the case isn’t removable, there isn’t much I can do to secure that side better. Since the ports I’ll use most frequently are in the center and to the left, I’m not worried about it.

And I improved the case. For $20, it was cheaper than buying a new case, and I ended up with something at least as good, if not better.

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