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Old 22nd Feb 2009, 18:08   #1
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Project - Silent fibreglass PC

Update: 17th sept, please see page 12 page for improvements to the heatsink and visual design of the inside of the case.



I'm hoping to create a silent computer (or close to silent) by using a very large heat sink with a very slow moving fan. I also plan to make the computer case look as aethetically pleasing as possible. I'm already half way into this project so I no its not really a complete log as I go along, but ive listed all the steps anyway.

In the end after many designs I decided this one was the best:



I started off by making the case full scale in 3DS Max:



Once I had made the shape of the case in 3DS I then made a toolpath over it:


Once the toolpath had been created I then copied it accoss to a CNC Machine. I used a foam called REP in the CNC machine to create a mould for the fibreglass to form over:



As my CNC machine was too small to fit the entire case mould on I had to make it in sections then glue them together with high strength spray glue. Now that the mould was finished I began the very messy job of fibreglassing over the mould:




Once the fibreglass had been left over night to set I used a cutting disc to level the large uneven areas of fibreglass then a disc sander to smooth it all:



I then used various fillers in order to create a perfect smooth finish as the fibreglass itself is very rough. I started off using a car body filler to fill the more seriously rough areas then I used a different fine car surface filler to fill the less rough areas. However I eventually found to my suprise that plaster board filler actually worked better for creating a very smooth finish:



Once the fillers had set I used a spray putty to fill the fine scratches from all the sanding of the fillers. Now that the outside was perfect I started working on the inside. To gain access to the inside of the case I used the tools shown below to remove the side panel and scoop out all that foam:




A long time later I finally ended up with foam free fibreglass:

Last edited by riekmaharg2; 17th Sep 2009 at 00:55.
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Old 23rd Feb 2009, 11:51   #2
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Hi thanks for all the interest ill try and answer all your questions as best as I can:

1. the recumberant bike is actually not mine its just been stored in the workshop for someone else.
2. I thought I would go for a unique approach to the motherboard arrangement. Im planning on having the layout like this:


However the motherboard back panel isnt going to be used in the normal way. Instead ive bought sockets for all the connectors that I require (DVI, LAN, Audio e.t.c) which are on the back of the motherboard which im then going to attach to the back of the case on the flat part just before the curved section where the heatsink is going. I will be using the milling tool on my dremel to mill out each whole for each socket. Once I've glued the sockets into place ill solder wires and plug onto the sockets so that the sockets which ive just glued onto the case can be plugged into the motherboard back panels.

3. The hardware im using is a Gigabyte motherboard, AMD 939 4.6ghz dual core, 2GB 400DDR RAM, almost 1TB of SATA harddrive space using two harddrives, a radeon X1900GT graphics card, and a DVD burner.

4. A water cooling system is going to be used.

5. I am going to make the heatsink by using a long peice of aluminum and bending it back and forward all the way along. Then I will solder copper pipe onto the back of the heatsink.

6. If there is enough space once ive put all the components in I was thinking of adding an LCD to the large square panel I removed which would display temperatures and fan speeds.

7. I didn't think it would have been wise to burn the foam out. I smells quite toxic even when its being cut on the CNC lol.

If you dont understand any of the above please post a message and ill try and explain it better. Thanks again for all the interest. Im heading down to the workshop I use now to begin cutting out some HDD,CD drive, and ventillation holes, ill keep you all posted on my progress with some pics.
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Old 23rd Feb 2009, 11:54   #3
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I was trying to get the PS3 look, however with a few extras added on.
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Old 23rd Feb 2009, 11:56   #4
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I have made another post answering all your questions but it hasnt appeared yet and it wont let me add it again. Hopefully it will appear later.
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Old 23rd Feb 2009, 18:19   #5
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Now that the foam is removed I sanded down the inside of the case and coated it in filler to make it smoother:


Once I had decided where the middle of the sides was I then drilled holes in each corner of a pencil drawn box the exact size of a CD drive on one side and a box the size of Harddrive on the other:



I then used a Jigsaw to cut out the panels. It was very difficult to cut in straight line with jigsaw as I couldn't get the case to stay still, so I had to use a file to get the holes straight:






I used the same method to cut out the harddrive slots:



Now that the HDD and CD drive slots have been made I went onto the large vent on the top. To get the shape I created the design on MS Publisher then printed it out full size and used it as a template. Once I had the template I then cut out the vent using the same method as with the CD/HDD slots:





I then filed the edges of the fins accross the vent to make them look more blade like:



Because the fibreglass that runs along the top of the large panel I remove was now quite thin I decided to paste the filler all the way along it on the inside to strenghten it. Once the filler had set I milled out a channel using the dremel for the mesh im using to slot into:



Ive got more pics coming soon.
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Old 23rd Feb 2009, 19:24   #6
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I then slotted the mesh into the channel that I milled out on one side, and I glued the other side to the case:


The glue I used was a very strong 2 part glue:


I then pressed car body filler into the gaps in the mesh around the edges to further secure the mesh to the case:



Heres a few pics of the almost complete vent:




To complete the vent im going to glue a small strip of plastic on the inside edge of the vent to hide the filler. I will come back to this later when I have ordered some thin plastic (most probably styrene).

As I couldnt proceed with the vent I moved onto the power button and its 2 USB ports. To make the power button im going to use a metal disc connected to the gate pin on a mosfet with a very high resistance pull down resister. This will mean that I can power up the computer with just a touch of the metal disc. I decided to use a piece of clear acrylic to attach the power button and the 2 USB ports:




I attached the USB by using the 2 part glue and small peices of acrylic to reinforce it:




I then cut an appropriately sized hole into the case and glued the acrylic into the case:



More Pics coming tomorrow.
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Old 23rd Feb 2009, 19:28   #7
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Beleive it or not its actually the first time ive ever used fibreglass. The CNC machine I used is a 3 axis machine which uses Mach 3. Is that what you wanted to know unicorn?
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Old 23rd Feb 2009, 20:19   #8
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The next pics are awaiting the adminstrators approval.
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Old 23rd Feb 2009, 21:12   #9
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Thanks. For some reason when you put pics in a post it says the admin must approve the pics before they can be posted.
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Old 24th Feb 2009, 17:42   #10
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The pictures are held on googles picasa website. What does "Can haz worklog" mean?
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Old 24th Feb 2009, 18:18   #11
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Heres a shot of the inside view of the 2 USB ports:



I then used plaster filler to fill in the gap around the acrylic and sprayed primer over the acrylic so that I could see whether it was smooth or not:



It still needs a little more filling and smoothing but I will do that when I get round to painting the whole thing.

Once I get some aluminium I will cut out a circle to fit into the round hole, this will then become my power switch as explained earlier. The main reason I am using acrylic here is so when I finally get round to spray painting the whole thing I will mask a small line around each USB so that the acrylic is still visible after painting. I will then shine blue LEDs through the line. I also current making a circuit which will make LED's through out the case fade in and out slowly.

The next acrylic panel for the rest of the sockets was cut out using a dremel as usual:



The acrylic tends to melt onto the drill so I had constantly stop milling and pull it off the drill bit:



Once the panel had been cutt out I sanded the acrylic to make it a cloudy colour so it will pick up the light from the LED's better:



I've drawn lines onto the acrylic so that I can cut out the holes for each computer socket (DVI, audio, LAN e.t.c) tomorrow using a scroll saw:


Last edited by riekmaharg2; 24th Feb 2009 at 18:20. Reason: One pic wasnt loading properly
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Old 24th Feb 2009, 18:21   #12
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Thanks Dreaming. Ill keep uploading pics as soon as I complete each task.
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Old 25th Feb 2009, 15:19   #13
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A higher RPM actually improves it. If I slow it down the drill bit just gets stuck in the acrylic
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Old 26th Feb 2009, 18:09   #14
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Thanks ModMinded and Unicorn. Ill try and draw you a circuit diagram on saturday as I'm abit busy on fridays.
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Old 26th Feb 2009, 18:31   #15
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I used a Scroll Saw to cut some of the holes for the sockets but I then decided that it wasnt worth taking the blade off the machine each time I went onto the next hole so I went back to using my dremel:




Once the holes where made I then began gluing the sockets into position:




Heres a pic of the acrylic panel carefully balanced in the case:

Im planning on having this panel backlit with LED's as described with the other previous panel.

If your wondering why theres a large gap at the top between the case and the acrylic its because I had to heat and bend the acrylic slightly to get it to match the curve on the case, however in doing so I think its shrunk the acrylic. The next stage of the panel is to solder on the many many wires so it can be connected to the motherboard back panel, however in order to do that I need to know the distance from the panel to the motherboard so I'm going to start on the motherboard fittings now. I've ordered lots of aluminium bar and sheet so I'm hoping it will arrive by the weekend and I'll be able to get on with the internal frame thats going to hold all the components.
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Old 27th Feb 2009, 23:59   #16
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Yes they are going to be two seperate DVI's and all the USBs are also separate. Im going to solder a USB cable on to each USB socket and the same for the DVI however with a DVI cable. Basically its sort of a really small extension which extends the sockets from the back of the motherboard to the back of the case.
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Old 28th Feb 2009, 15:50   #17
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Here are the circuit diagrams you requested ModMinded:



In the real case there will be a large quantity of LED's not just one, all powered by the Mosfet transister.

Heres the power switch diagram:

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Old 1st Mar 2009, 21:48   #18
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I found forming the fibreglass around the mould fairly easy, however very messy. I also had to work quite fast because the resin starts to get more solid quite fast. The big works comes after you've formed the fibreglass, because the fibreglass is very rough and uneven. Thats why I had to use a cutting disc to smooth the uneven areas, however you can only use the disc for the larger uneven areas because it cuts through the fibreglass so fast. Then after that I had to spend a week filling the gaps inbetween the fibres then sanding it smooth. This process had to be repeated many times as one layer of filler doesn't fill in all the gaps. So really using fibreglass isn't that hard however it requires alot of time and lots of patients.
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 18:37   #19
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To create the motherboard tray I'm using a sheet of mild steel:



In order to cut the steel into the size I require I used a jigsaw with the same metal cutting blade that I used for the fibreglass. To my suprise it made short work of the steel and cut through the whole sheet in about 30 sec! Heres a picture of my cutting almost complete:





The next stage is to drill and tap holes into the steel in the correct places in order to fix the motherboard onto the sheet. Once that has been completed the heatsink must be placed in the space behind where the sheet is going before I can fix it permanently into position. The sheet is going to be placed in the position shown below:



Space behind the sheet:



As I didnt have my motherboard near me at the time to mark exactly where the holes need to be on the steel sheet I decided to start making some of the fixtures for the drive bays. Because the design of this case I cant use screws to fasten the drives into position as you would'nt be able to get a screw driver in, so I have decided to use ball catches instead:



To get this to work I only need the individual ball bearing like so:



In order to get to that stage I clamped the ball catches to a table and used a cutting disc on a grinder to cut the catches into the individual pieces shown above:





A couple of hours later I ended up with these:



The peices shown above will be then be attached to a frame in a way that means that the ball bearings will be pushed in when the drive is slotted into the case putting pressure on both sides of the drive in order to prevent it from falling out. I have put the ball bearing catches away for now and I will use them in a later stage when I'm creating the internal drive bay frame.

As I now need to put the heatsink into position before the motherboard tray, I am going to start making it from tomorrow. Stay tuned for more pics tomorrow (presuming the copper for the heatsink arrives).
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 23:18   #20
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Thanks for the stars Murtoz. I think it might actually reduce noise, because the ball bearings have a spring behind them which may absorb the vibrations.
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