We’ve covered rack rigs for rack-mounting PCs, Power Macs, and even Mac minis for the stage for a while. Now, I’m going to go an extra step, and actually build a machine step-by-step here on CDM. But instead of making a rack-mountable machine, I wanted something even more portable. I want a desktop-class PC I can carry around on a subway. And, no, a laptop ain’t gonna cut it, because I want the whole system to be upgradeable (particularly the video card, for running high-quality 3D visuals simultaneously with sound).

The basis for this machine is already on its way, Shuttle’s SN26P barebone. It’s friendly to my 3D requirements down the road, with two PCI Express x16 slots and SLI. (For those who have no idea what I just said, suffice to say this is an unusually high-end graphics configuration to see in a small form factor PC.) Integrated RAID, FireWire, USB 2.0, and digital audio all keep up with the audio side. But the whole package fits in a backpack (which Shuttle also makes). The one thing you lose with a laptop, of course, is an integrated display. Carrying around cheap LCDs is a no-no, because they aren’t generally built to move, but fortunately Shuttle has that base covered, too. If I do this successfully, the result should be a dual-boot Linux/Windows audio/visual “performance fragbox.” After calling Shuttle, I learned plenty have gone this route already, including a recent Native Instruments tour for Traktor. (They used the SN25, minus the beefed-up graphics capabilities, which makes sense for an audio software developer.)

I’m spec’ing out what goes inside, so if you have any requests of gear you’d like to see in the CDM Mobile Dream Machine, hit comments.

Oh, and don’t worry — my Macs aren’t going anywhere. (Actually, that was the initial problem. Yes, I’m looking at you, Power Mac G5.)

As always, stay tuned . . . and watch for special YouTube videos of me struggling like an idiot with a screwdriver. Okay, maybe not.