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Old 20th Mar 2006, 13:01   #1
jokkos
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Project: Der_Meister - custom alu case *Epilogue Nov 8th, 2007*

Okay, where to start? This is the project log for my custom case, which is currently under construction. Since I don’t have too much spare time, I cheated a bit: the case is about 50% done at the time I post this. So the first few posts will be showing work that is actually finished. However, I’ll catch up quite quickly I guess. I just didn’t want to start a log and then post something only every two weeks or so. I can’t post everything at once since I’ve got a bunch of pics and I want to add some text. This also takes time, thanks for your understanding.

I also want to say beforehand that my camera is a Canon Powershot S50. It is by no means a top of the line model. I don’t have a tripod. I did a lot of work in the winter, in the evening. So: there are some pics that are not really sharp, where the Photoshopping added some noise, etc. My apologies for this, I’m not perfect. I include these pics to tell my story. Without them there would be gaps in it. I think even a not-so-perfect pic says more than a lot of words.

Some info about the idea for the case and its prerequisites

During the past years, I’ve grown increasingly averse to the noise my computer makes. I’ve tried different approaches and different cases. My current solution is not too loud but still louder than I would like. Since I also use my computer for watching movies and as music station, the background noise is sometimes really irritating.

Moreover, I like a big case for my computer, but not as high as a big tower. I’ve got enough components to fill a decent size case, and I’ve put my HDD’s in 5,25” silencers, so I need quite a few 5,25” spots. But I face a bit of a space-problem on my desk, so that needs to be taken into account.

Finally, I like modded pc’s, but I also need my computer to be not-too-flashy. It’s not really appropriate for some of my professional contacts. So I need a case that is ‘low-profile’ but can be switched to ‘lights-on’ mode.

These observations led me to wanting a case that fits all my needs. After a thorough market search, where the LianLi’s came to mind, as well as the Stacker, and finally the Mountainmods cube cases, I decided I could just as ‘easily’ build my own custom rig. It was quickly decided that it would be made of aluminium (normal and anodized black), with accents of plexi and some mesh.

I originally designed a case that looked a lot like a big tower, but that was just too high. Then I designed a cube. That one was too wide for the space I’ve got left on my desk. I really regret this because the design was just perfect for me, I expect to build this cube when I have the space to put it…someday somewhen sometime. Finally I settled for a go-between: a case that’s wider than a normal case, with height and depth in between a mid and big tower.

Oh one last thing: the name. I’m a Rammstein fan. For the musically ignorant amongst you: they’re a German band. I wanted to make the case themed around that. There’s not to much influence in shape or anything, just incorporating their logo here and there, and using some of their song titles and so on in certain places. This will become clear during the mod. ‘Der Meister’ (The Master) is the title of my favorite Rammstein song.

Forgive me for all the blabbering, I tend to do that


Enough blabla, on to the sketches

Without further ado, here’s a global view of the case:



The overall dimensions are: 54cm (21”) H x 54cm (21”) D x 31cm (12”) W. Don’t mind the look of the window too much, the sketch is nothing like the real world thing. I'm using M5 bolts to attach everything, but they're not shown in the sketches.

A closer look of the front:



As you can see, there’s an Aquatube there…yes, I’m going to try to solve the noisyness with help of some watercooling! Since Rammstein is a band from Germany and I live in Belgium which is next to Germany, I’m going ‘made in Germany’ all the way: Aqua Computer and some Innovatek stuff… All the panels containing a watercooling component will have a plexi panel between the black alu and the case.

To the left of the Aquatube you see three slots, these are two DVD-drives and one hatch that will cover the floppy. Yes, I’m still using a floppy. I need it sometimes for documents from work, for RAID-drivers, whatever. It’s going in there.

The black thing in the middle left of the front is a PSOne LCD. Underneath it, I will make a slightly recessed panel that incorporates the Aquaero and all the buttons and switches, usb-ports and some LEDs. The lay-out of this isn’t finalised yet.

Finally, the thing on the right is some sort of logo-panel. This is not finalised yet, need a few hours of inspiration for that.

The top of the case looks like this:



At the back, you see a 2x120mm radiator. Why not more? Since I’m not a die-hard gamer and never will be, I’m not looking for extreme performance in cooling or anything. I just want a nice and silent solution. I’m not going to overclock to the limit. Anyway, the cuts are already made so it’s too late to go back

The round thing in the lower right of the pic is a DangerDen fillport. I'll use it to fill the waterloop because the Aquatube is mounted horizontally. This is the only non-German watercooling component. A label will be added, hence the leftover black alu next to the fillport.

Finally, the black panel is an easy access hatch for mounting/unmounting the ‘optical bay’ that holds the drives.

A last sketch to show now is the inside right section:



Here I’ll mount the HDDs. They’re encased in Silentmaxx silencers (which are 5,25”). This is the reason why the case is wider than a normal case. The silencers need some active airflow, but if you put them in the front of a normal case, they tend to be noticable (noise). I’m going to use some silencing material in this section and I’m going to add one 80mm that sucks air in the case. The rad in the top panel will blow the air out.

In this sketch, you also see a little how I’m going to make the frame of the case. The frame are the parts that are beige/blue in the sketch. I’m using FULL aluminium bars, 15x15mm (0.6”x0.6”). Why? Because I don’t have fancy tools I need to improvise on certain things. I thought a lot on how to construct the frame, and finally came up with this solution. You’ll see in the next post.

Okay, of course there’s more to the case, but I’ll keep that for later. I intend to introduce each project of the case with some relevant sketches, so I’m not going to keep you guys waiting any longer.

Last but not least, here’s some pics of the starting material:






I ordered these at a local metal shop, they also cut the bars and panels to the right size (or not, as we’ll see in the next post).
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Old 20th Mar 2006, 13:05   #2
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Frame part one

Step one in the construction of this case was of course to construct its frame. In retrospect, I overdid it a little, I added some alu bars that were unnecessary to keep the frame in shape. At the end of the project, I’ll probably remove (part of) some of them for easy cable management. But anyway, that’s future talk.

Here are two sketches of what I’m aiming for:




The first thing to do was measure, measure, measure all of the alu bars to see if they were the correct size. Unfortunately, the metal shop didn’t do a very good job with this. Only a couple of the bars were okay. Most of them were a bit too long (about 2mm) – luckily- and a few were too short. Fortunately, there were some leftovers that they gave to me so I could make some replacements for the bars that were too short. Actually I would have been better off just sawing all the bars myself, but the metal shop seemed a perfect solution.

Before I started sawing on the bars, I measured the panels as well to find out if the metal shop did those just as badly. But the news was a lot better: most panels were just a tad too wide/high, but since they had a nasty edge from cutting, filing that edge down would bring them to exactly the right size. Only one panel is too small: one of the side panels. This will go on the right side, that isn’t visible because the case will be close to a wall. But the bottom line of all the bars and panels remains: metal shop did bad job!

How to get the bars to the correct size? Well, luckily most of them were 2-3mm too long and not just 1mm or so. Because now I could get some help from my friend mr. mitre saw:



Otherwise I would have had to do everything with my other friend mr. metal file, which would have taken A LOT longer:



So, I taped the end of each bar, measured the right length, clamped it to the mitre saw and started sawing. This only took about 45 seconds for a single bar, the saw cuts surprisingly smoothly through the thick alu. Below an action shot:



The mitre saw also leaves a very nice cut, only a little filing was necessary. A pic of a bar after the mitre saw treatment and before filing:



After a couple of hours, the bars were shortened. Then I had to make replacements for the bars that were too short. Same procedure, and a while later this was the result:



I think this all cost me about 4-5 hours in total. A pity, since this wouldn’t have been necessary if the metal shop did the job it was supposed to do. But anyway, all is good now, so I'll stop nagging about it

So, then the time came to join all these bars to a frame. Enter my replacement for a drill press






Basically, this is my aid to drill straight holes through the bars. I’m not going to elaborate too much about it, I guess the pics are clear enough.

Drilling a hole in a bar becomes easy this way: put a piece of tape at approximate location of hole, measure, remeasure, mark location of where other bar will be located, mark location of hole, put bar in ghetto drill press, drill, clean. Repeat this 35 times, since I have 35 of these mounting holes. A few pics of this process:

Hole marked


Ready to drill


Drilled – 4,3 mm drill in order to tap for M5 bolts


Drilled and cleaned
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Old 20th Mar 2006, 13:08   #3
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Frame part two

My main problem in this project was: how to join the bars without welding or something like that (so that the frame can be disassembled) and without bolts or corner pieces sticking out.
I came up with this:

Enlarge the hole that was made with the 4,3 mm drill, here a 9mm drill is used to have some room for the head of the bolts (theoretically an 8mm drill would suffice)


Nice clippings are good evidence that I’m drilling at a good speed


And here’s the result, looking good and if I might say, pretty professional considering my ghetto setup:


The bigger the drill, the bigger the clippings:


At this point, I was left with 35 holes, all ready for the next step! Woohoo!
The procedure was the same for all the holes:

Clamping the two bars together with a 90° angle. Can you believe that I had to buy 3 of these angles before I got one that was actually 90 degrees? The first one was about 88,5° and the second one slighty better but still not 90° at all. Because of the size of this case, I needed the angle to be as exact as possible.


Making sure that the bars are perfectly aligned, not always very simple, especially for the holes that were not on the edges of the bars. You see a small edge because the bars are a bit rounded off in the corners:


Ready to drill. In the pic you can see a small spacer that I cut from a hollow alu bar. I put this over the drill so I knew when I drilled deep enough. This piece was really battered after 35 uses!


Immediately after drilling the hole was cleaned. I wanted to do this with the bars still clamped together, but this was very hard because the hole in the second bar was no ‘through’-hole. I couldn’t clean a hole that was almost 25mm deep in an adequate way. Anyway, I unclamped the bars and after cleaning them I put them back in the clamp, making sure they were in their original position. Then I threaded the hole with an M5-tap. TapMagic Aluminium tapping oil: PERFECT for the job, best tapping oil I ever used:


Tapping:


A fuzzy pic, showing the end result:


I couldn’t wait untill I was finished with all the holes; this is a pic of the topside of the frame. The fit is not perfect, but comes close…very close. I’m quite satisfied with it! It’s mounted with M5 bolts, socket hex-head.


Fast forward to the end of this process. All went well, and here’s the results from more or less the same angles as the original sketches in the previous post:




Maybe you are wondering about the stability and general thoughness of this way of mounting the frame. Well, I’m happy to say that it’s very stable. When only a few of the bolts are in, there is of course still some movement possible, but when they are all in, you can hardly move anything. For the final mounting, I’m going to put in tooth-lock washers under the head of the bolts. I tried this for one of the holes, and it improves the connection between the bolt and the bar. As for thoughness: I put about 75kgs of weight on top of the frame and it didn’t have any effect. I forgot to take pics of this spectacular sight, sorry

On to the next phase: mounting the panels!!
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Old 20th Mar 2006, 15:00   #4
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Hehe, I know this procedure very well. I used also solid aluminum-bars for the frame of one of my cases. But I did not screw them together, only bolted them.

If you like to see what I've done, here's the page to go -> http://www.robsinter.net/cube33/
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Old 20th Mar 2006, 20:20   #5
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Im curios what is the sheet metal gauge and all that. I was looking into building an aluminum case but cant figure out what gauge aluminum i should use.
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Old 20th Mar 2006, 20:35   #6
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looks like a good solid construction

and excellent to see a Rammstein themed case
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Old 21st Mar 2006, 09:35   #7
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I like your taste in music

If it was me, it'd be arch enemy.
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Old 21st Mar 2006, 11:40   #8
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hehe thanks guys

infered101: I don't quite understand. The bars are full 15x15mm, the panels are 2mm thick. This is overkill, 1mm is enough, unless maybe for the top panel if you're going to hang lots of weight on it.
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Old 22nd Mar 2006, 01:39   #9
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No no sorry couldnt figure out what to say. What i mean is aluminum comes in lots of variety's. Like 1000 2000 3000 stuff like that. Different ones are used for different jobs some are better for welding some are easier to bend and the such. Atleast that is what i learned from mcmaster.com.

I still cant decide which one is best for the purpose that is what i was asking which type you are using. Im looking for one that is easy to machine but not to weak and flimsy.

Oh and im talking about the sheet metal.
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Old 22nd Mar 2006, 06:12   #10
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Hmmm... Mein Teil?
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Old 22nd Mar 2006, 08:42   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by infered101
No no sorry couldnt figure out what to say. What i mean is aluminum comes in lots of variety's. Like 1000 2000 3000 stuff like that. Different ones are used for different jobs some are better for welding some are easier to bend and the such. Atleast that is what i learned from mcmaster.com.

I still cant decide which one is best for the purpose that is what i was asking which type you are using. Im looking for one that is easy to machine but not to weak and flimsy.

Oh and im talking about the sheet metal.
well to be honest I just emailed the metal shop my requirements and they made it for me. I didn't really bother since it remains only a computer case, it's not that it will be used for some high traction or high weight appliance. Anyway, I looked at my invoice and there is some info, making me 99,9% sure it's alloy 6060 (looking at McMaster.com).

There is a difference between the panels and the black anodized alu I have, the latter being of a better quality. But it is small. For example: when I make a cut with my jigsaw, it will be slightly rougher on my normal alu panels that it is on the black anodized alu. But not much rougher. Hope this helps a little more.
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Old 22nd Mar 2006, 08:44   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bbq.of.DooM
Hmmm... Mein Teil?
Would also make a great name for a case, huh?
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Old 22nd Mar 2006, 08:52   #13
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Case panels

In this post, I’m not going to include sketches, as it is pretty obvious: working on the holes to mount the panels on the frame.

I forgot to include this in my first post of this thread: the panels are all 2mm thick. The black aluminium used in the case is also 2mm thick. For some accents and some smaller stuff like the panels that surround the hard discs, I’m using aluminium that is 0,5mm thick. Or at least intend to use that, since I’m not sure it’s strong enough.

Okay, after the frame was constructed I of course wanted to test-fit some of the panels. Some pics about that:




And this is the top front left corner, this is the most visible one when the case will be finished because of its location on my desk. Pretty nice fit huh, considering nothing’s bolted on:


Size comparison with a Stacker: not as high, not as deep, but wider:




Now came the LONG and boring phase of mounting the panels to the frame. I got it in my pretty stubborn head that it would be handy if I didn’t have to use nuts, but instead ‘just’ tap the holes. 81 of them. Just for the outside panels of the case.

First of all: drilling the holes to mount the outside panels, 81 of them. Used 4,3mm drill to tap to M5. This was pretty much the same procedure as for the frame. Put tape on the bars, mark location of the holes, center punch, drill, clean:




The result, about halfway (not very visible, sorry):


After all the holes were drilled in the bars, I had to drill them in the panels as well. I did the logical thing: clamp the relevant bars to each panel, and use the holes in the bars as a guide for drilling in the panel:


And another:


Since I used a 4,3mm drill on the bars, the holes in the panels were also 4,3mm. I enlarged them with a 5mm drill:

Later on, I had to widen some of the holes some more, but that’s something for later, when I will post pics & text about the first real assembly of the case.

There’s a lot of debris and clippings on the freshly drilled holes:


So that’s filed off. Because I had to use my flash to get a decent photo, the scratches seem very nasty in this pic. There are not in real life:


Then came the ‘fun’ task of tapping those 81 holes. Booooooooooring!
Now, once that was finished I was actually ready to assemble the outside hull for the first time. But I didn’t. Since I didn’t tap all the holes one after another I had already done some work on the inside panels. Moreover, I’m afraid that assembling and disassembling the case too many times will not be good for my threaded holes. It’s still ‘soft’ alu… Anyway, I continued by making most of the inside stuff before the assembly. Next posts will be about that!
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Old 22nd Mar 2006, 08:56   #14
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Internal panels part one

So, I decided to make all the internal panels that could be made at that point, before the first assembly of the case. The first thing I did was start on the panel that will hold the motherboard. I didn’t bother making the tray itself, for that I used a LianLi replacement tray for the PC60 series. No sketch here since you’re all familiar with a mobo tray

This panel will be black, the mobo tray is normal alu color but will be invisible with the mobo mounted. Or at least that’s my intention.

Starting point: one square meter of black anodized aluminium, 2mm thick…hell yeah:


I covered the part I needed to cut with tape, a bit naieve of me not to tape it all off. That came soon afterwards and took me a while!

The cut was made with a regular jigsaw. Here’s the result:


I needed to make a notch in it because there’s a bar from the frame in its way:


And here it is finished and fully taped:


I didn’t bother taping the backside…


Meanwhile, continuing to work on tapping the holes…


Okay, the mobo panel is put to rest for a while. This was because my mobo tray hadn’t arrived yet at the time. The work on that will be shown in a later post.

Other internal panels: the mounting plates for the optical drives. Two sketches of my plan showing left and right:




Why the big left panel? Well, first of all it makes the drives invisible from the normal viewing angle of the case. Secondly: I’m planning to do some cool stuff to this section of the case, in a later stadium. The mesh is just an idea at the moment.

After writing down all the measurements and stuff from my shetches, first thing was of course to draw the panels on a piece of black alu:


There are some notches to be cut out. The aluminium bar was meant to be used as a guide for the jigsaw, but I found out I saw better without it, so it was quickly dumped!


After sawing the panels, and partly filing down the edges, I’m left with two nice pieces:


And this is the end result, they line up perfectly:


These panels will be mounted to the top part of the frame, with M4 bolts. As you may recall from the first post in this thread, I’ll make an access hatch in the top panel to have easy access to this. I’m using M4 bolts for mounting the panels. First, I drilled the holes in the bars (like I did for the outside panels), then I clamped the panels to the bars. This pic is the underside, since my pics of the drilling side were all blurry.


I drilled the holes in the bars with a 3,2mm drill, to thread them with an M4-tap. The holes in the panels were enlarged with a 4mm drill and this is the result:


They match up perfectly with the holes in the frame.

Sorry it’s taking a while before I get to the assembly, but there would be so many panels and stuff that you guys would be wondering where it all came from. So that’s why I’m taking you through the production of all that stuff first
I guess there will be three more posts before I get to the assembly, yup I did a lot of work before I got to it! But it really paid off, and I guess that’s what I’m hoping you’ll realize when I post it this way.
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Old 25th Mar 2006, 11:12   #15
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Internal panels part two

Okay, on with the show! Since I wanted to postpone the first assembly of the case until most internal panels were ready and the holes for that were drilled and tapped, the hard disc mounts couldn’t be left out!

Here’s a sketch of the Silentmaxx casings in position.


For some reason I have no pics of when I used the mounts to mark the holes that are needed for them. Oh well, then it’s a surpise later on
The mounts will be attached to two bars, I need 16 holes for that in total. Here they are freshly drilled (I know these holes don’t line up, it’s meant that way):


The final result, after tapping these holes. Another 16, that makes the total holes tapped way over 100 (at the point I’m writing this, I’m at 161 holes and it’s not the end of it):


Next up: the small plate that will hold the pump. I’m using an Aquastream pump, with the Aqua Computer FMJ-housing. I don’t really need the housing for its ability to block out magnetic radiation, but I figure it will do some dampening on the pump noise. Anyway, here’s a sketch of the pump-plate:


Lots of notes everywhere, small drawings. On the back of the prints of my skechtes


Cutting the pump-panel is similar to the other panels I’ve already shown. Here it is after cutting and before filing:


Maybe a pic or two about my cutting and filing method. First I draw the lines that will make up the final panel. About 1mm next to those lines I draw a second line, these are the ones I cut with the jigsaw. That way I never cut too far, I’m always left with a little bit of spare material in case I marked the panel a bit too small,… I remeasure the freshly cut panel. Then I use one of the spare aluminum bars as a guide. I clamp it on the final lines I drew. Then the filing starts! Every side needs filing, but most of the time, not to much. With this method, I haven’t made a single mistake, crooked cut, whatever. It works fine for me…some pics:

Clamping spare alu bar to an edge that needs some filing. You can see a bit of black alu ‘sticking out’:


A few minutes later, it is filed down. Filing the panel makes a distinct other noise then filing the alu bar. So when the noise it’s making shifts, I know it’s time to stop


After this treatment, the edge has some markings from the file. I then use some rough sanding paper (80-120 grit) along the direction of the edge to remove these markings. It also removes any small imperfections:


End result, underside. Very neat, the edges are nice and straight. That’s the way I like it:



A last panel shown in this post is a plate I will put next to the pump plate, that covers the bottom of the frame (a ‘fake’ bottom panel, so I can do wire-hiding and stuff). I’ve got some ideas with it, let’s come back to that later (I could just mirror polish it, or cut part of it out, install frosted plexi and backlight it with super-bright white leds, so I get a nice white light in the case, or…). I made this out of 0,5mm aluminium. No sketches since I didn’t include this panel in my 3d model.

One square metre of 0,5mm aluminium, a lot weaker then the black 2mm:


Fast forward, the panel is cut out. I couldn’t use the jigsaw, it bended the poor alu in all directions. It’s just too powerful. So out came the hand metalsaw. This left a very nasty cut!


Luckily, the panel could withstand the filing. But not perfectly, there were some places where the filing caused some bending. Nothing of few punches with the hammer can’t cure though
And here is one of the finished edges.


I also drilled the necessary holes to mount these panels. Using the clamping method I described earlier:


And here’s the final result, after cleaning and filing the holes. Sweet!
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Old 25th Mar 2006, 11:13   #16
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Internal panels part three

A lot of work on the internal panels is done, except for the panels that surround the hard disc area. I’m going to be quick about this.

First, a sketch of the hard disc area:


As you can see in the sketch, there are three plates, and for the time being I chose to make them out of 0,5mm alu. The reason was that the case will be seriously heavy as it is, so every way I can avoid extra weight is a good way! However, I fear the plates will be a bit too weak. I’m going to route a lot of cables through the area, if they aren’t very long then that could create some tension. But mostly, I’m going to use silencing material to make the hard drive section as noise isolated as possible. And that stuff isn’t exactly light! Tests will tell whether the plates are strong enough, if not I’ll replace (some of) them with 2mm ones. What do you guys think? Any experience on this?

In this phase I made the plates, not the holes in them for wire management or mesh. No silencing material has been added either.

I’m skipping the drawing and cutting process, here they are after cutting & filing:


They needed a few tweaks: some notches, a small piece that needed to be bent to be able to fasten it, stuff like that. After that treatment, they looked like this:


And one from the other side. The bottom left corner of the middle panel is the bent one, but it’s not really clearly visible:


Then I realized something: I made one of the panels too small. It is true: every modder fails to maintain the ‘measure twice, cut once’ rule at least once during a mod

Here you see what I did wrong – bottom one is the bad one, top one is freshly cut, only the notches are not made yet:


Actually I was quite happy it happened with these panels, since they don’t take so much effort to make as 2mm ones!

Finally, all the inside panels were done, except the work on the mobo tray. But still, there was a small task to do. The three hard drive area panels that I just made would never be strong enough to keep eachother in the right position with weight added to them. So I came up with two supports for them. These are also made from 0,5mm alu, and I suspect that I will have to remake those (or one or more of the three panels) at some point in time. How they are mounted etc will be shown later on, but to be complete I just wanted to show you a pic of these supports before I bended them:


That’s it for now. See you soon for the real stuff, starting with some preparation work on the mobo tray!
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Old 26th Mar 2006, 07:28   #17
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I recommend using tin-snips for your .5mm al if you have any (I used some to cut some really thin brass and it worked like a charm, much faster than sawing it by hand and much less deformation of the metal than with a jigsaw)
and if you do use them then don't cut all the way to the front of the blades because it will warp the metal
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Old 26th Mar 2006, 09:57   #18
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Hey hey, nice sketches

Great job on the frame!

KUTGW!
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Old 28th Mar 2006, 21:02   #19
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Motherboard tray and panel – phase one

No sketch, only a few words before I show the pics. The idea is that the panel that holds the mobo tray will be made of black alu. But the tray itself is normal alu. I came up with a solution that will look pretty good and hide the grey color of the tray. It will be completely covered by the motherboard itself. The panel that holds the mobo is pretty big, this is because I want to use the edges next to the mobo for cable management and cable hiding.

The mobo tray is about the only thing in the case I didn’t build from scratch. I was afraid it would be too hard, and it would have taken a lot of time as well of course. I bought a LianLi tray, it’s supposed to be a replacement for the PC60 series. Overall, it looked pretty good the way it came out of the package:


As you can see, it comes with a pre-installed fan and everything. It is made of aluminium, most of which is 1mm thick. Especially the PCI slot covers look very nice, the color and finish will fit in my case like a glove.

The back panel is attached with rivets. After a couple of minutes with a suitable drill, it was removed:


A pic from the other side, where you see a first shortcoming in my use of this tray: for some reason, the small side of the PCI slot area is on the back panel, so it leaves a hole when you remove that panel. You can see it on the back panel:


I made a ‘model’ of my mobo (asus p4p800 deluxe) on paper. I marked the 9 mounting holes of the board and punched through the paper, so I could push some stand-offs through and the model would be exactly where the real mobo will come. The Asus board follows the normal standards, so this will be compatible with all ATX boards. I also taped off the sides:


Here, the right side is already cut off with the jigsaw.


The right and top side are easy, since there’s lots of extra room for the cut. However, if you look at the previous pic, you see that there’s very little room at the bottom. Problem is that the LianLi tray has bended edges (as you can see in the first pics in this post), and I had so little space I couldn’t use my jigsaw. I had to do that edge with a handsaw. I’m left-handed and it was very hard to cut that darn edge off. So be warned, if you’re looking to use this tray in your mod, it has bended edges! You can see the result in this pic, the hand-sawed is the nasty one in the back since my close-up shots weren’t clear at all:


Luckily a good file can do wonders…here’s the end result of that nasty edge. As you can see, there’s just one spot that I couldn’t work away, I sawed too deep there. It won’t be visible so it’s not that bad:


And here’s my revised version of the LianLi mobo tray


Now all that was left was to prepare the panel that will hold the mobo tray. To make things easy with the standoffs and other screws, and to reduce weight, I didn’t just want to put the tray on top of the panel or something like that. Here’s what I did.

First, remember the panel I made? I talked about it a few updates ago. Here it is with the cutting already partially done. The pilot holes show where the cuts will end:


Et voilą, all cut out. I had to create two notches to be able to mount the LianLi tray, you can see one at the left top of the area I cut out, the other one’s at the left bottom but it’s very small (about 1mm). I can see it because I know it’s there, you’ll probably think it’s a bit of dirt on the tape but it’s actually a very small notch:


And here is a mock-up of the end result. Nothing attached or anything. I was amazed because the fit was just perfect from the first time. Except for a bit of filing to remove the marks of the cutting and to get the edges perfectly straight, I didn’t have to do any adjusting. Even the notches were spot on. You can also see in this pic that my plan will work and that none of the alu of the tray will be visible once the motherboard is in position. Great!


Next step was filing the edges to perfection…


The end result. You can see how small the connection is at the underside, because of that notch. It’s only about 1cm. I accidentally dropped the plate and it even bent away a bit at that spot. After a few hits from the hammer, everything was well again. Oh well, it’s more than strong enough to perform what it’s designed for: keeping the mobo in place.


The next step to take here was obviously clamping the tray and panel together in exactly the right way and then drill holes to connect them. But in order to do that, I also needed to make sure it would fit perfectly with the back panel of the case. Of course! I’m building a case and not just doing some random work on all sorts of panels… We’re finally there, time for the first assembly of the case. Starting in the next post
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Old 28th Mar 2006, 21:03   #20
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First assembly – part one

Time to see what all my construction work lead to! First some pics of all the aluminium bars and panels I’ve got up till now:

Bars:


Case panels (interior):


Case panels (exterior):


First step was to put together the frame:


And the other side:


Then I flipped the frame over and I started with the bottom panel. I found out that some of the mounting holes I drilled in the panel (same goes for all external panels) were not exactly right. This is because I just clamped the necessary bars to the panels, but when these bars are fully mounted they are moved a little in comparison to the position I put them in for drilling. Anyway, I enlarged the holes that were wrong with a 6mm drill. That solved almost all the problems. A few of the 81 holes (say, about 3-5) needed to be filed even a bit more.

For the rest, the mounting was effortless. Here the bottom panel, I put a bolt in each bar of the underside of the frame, hence the irregular pattern:


And the top panel, this went a lot faster since most holes were okay:


Fast forward, here it is with all panels attached. I’m doing something special for the side panels. I’ll come back to that in a minute.


And the backside. I guess I didn’t mention this yet, but you can see I’m using two panels for the back (the thick horizontal line at about 1/3th is actually the edge of the panels). Here I’m taken the new BTX lay-out into account. I have a second lower-back panel, I drilled the mounting holes in that as well and it’s exactly the same size and shape as the one you see mounted here. When I upgrade sometime in the future, I ‘only’ need to cut out a hole for the new mobo, as well as the case-fans. Not too much work


An advantage of this set-up is that I can easily remove the PSU by simply unscrewing the whole top-back panel. Here’s a close-up of the edges of the panels. As you can see, there’s a tiny bit of space. I’ll put a small strip of silencing material there, or a strip of 0,5mm alu.

A pic of the top left corner. I posted a similar one a while ago, when the panels were just clamped on. Looks a lot better now, doesn’t it?


I’m going to be honest with you guys, it is the best looking corner of the whole case. There are some places where there’s a bit of spacing between the panels. Luckily they’re all at the backside! I could leave that as it’s not very obvious, but I’ll problably make 4 pieces to put over the edges of the front-top, front-bottom, back-top and back-bottom panels. I’m thinking 0,5mm alu and then finish them differently than the rest of the case. That’s something for later on, when I finish everything up.

Finally, this is a –rather unsharp, sorry- close-up of the edge of the front panel. You can see I’m using acorn nuts to fasten the side panels. I’ll glue some bolts on the inside of the frame, facing outwards. Their threads stick out, I can position the side panel over them and screw on the acorn nuts. Much handier than holding a heavy panel with one hand and aiming with a bolt to find the hole in the frame with the other hand. At least, if you ask me


That’s it, next update: finishing the mobo tray and panel.
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