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Old 1st Mar 2009, 17:12   #1
pistol_pete
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Project Perspiration - all done! (March 29th)

Project Perspiration : Log Entries


1. The First Cuts (March 1st 2009)
2. The Lian-Li PC-10.5 (March 11th 2009)
3. The First Front Filtered Fan Mount (March 15th 2009)
4. Second fan mount (March 22nd 2009)
5. I get all the grills... (April 4th 2009)
6. Seven Scythe Slip Streams... (April 4th 2009)
7. A photo sesh... (April 4th 2009)
8. Cable Routing and some testing (April 10th)
9. Top panel and case feety weeties. (May 10th)
10. Load my slot. (June 7th)
11. Stop: window time! (July 21st)
12. Testing my brass inserts. (August 4th)
13. A few designs(August 29th)
13. Still alive (Oct 28th)
14. Front panel supports(Dec 14h)
15. Testing - cutting persepx(Jan 7th)
16. The acrylic arrives! (April 8th)
17. Cutting the side window. (April 22nd)
18. Two steps forward... (May 3rd)
19. Some odd jobs... (May 29th)
20. Rebuild... (May 30th)
21. SSD funtime!(Aug 29th)
22. GPU Woes (Jan 1st)
23. 2 Years Old! (Feb 19th 2011!)
24. At the end of a long road... (March 29th 2011)


The Plan


The Result




Hello folks.

Picking a name for this project took me a while, much time was spent in the office staring into space thinking along lines of "white", "perspex" or some automotive theme. I think the name popped into my head whilst in the toilet, strange fact, but that's the creative process! So, Perspiration? At least it's different, I think all the cool words have already be used by other people for their project titles. After a little thought I found some logic in it - it's a combo of three things.


Inspiration
I've this mod in the planning stage since August last year but have been slow to start after estimating the budget! Now I've graduated and got a proper job I've got some spare cash to burn each month, and maybe it's time to do my bit to help our computer hardware shops through the recession - that said, rising prices because of exchange rates is really a killer and I'm putting off buying any watercooling stuff for now.

I spent a lot of time modelling my plans for the case in Rhino 3D, and have been tweaking the design for both styling and practicality as I think about it more. The styling is roughly inspired by the Golf GTI, an example of which parked itself across the street from my flat whilst I was at the concept stage. The red trim round the grill really grabs me - maybe I'm just a big chav at heart.

I don't want the mod to get too automotive, there are quite a few car themed mods (and a few motorbike ones too) but I don't want this to be a tribute to anything as I'd get obsessed with the details - where can I get the mesh they use for the front grill? - and feel creatively constrained.


Perspex
I'd used perspex sheeting to put a window into my PC back in the dizzy days of 2003, but at the time the best I could find was a 6x4ft sheet of clear, probably extruded acrylic in in B+Q. When I wanted to fit a side fan to my Nine Hundred this time last year, I had to make a new window panel because my TRUE120 got in the way of the original mounting hole. This time, I found it much easier to get hold of acrylic on-line, and the array of colours and opacities has been the building blocks for my modding aspiration since. A certain guide on acrylic was also very helpful.

With my new Q6600 based system running nicely, I wanted to do something with my old 1.3Ghz Duron system. The result was the A3 Media PC, which was far from a master piece, but it taught me a lot about working with perspex. If you haven't worked with it before, it's truly lovely stuff.

However, in doing the A3 PC, I realised why most people just seem to buy a big Lian-Li, stick some wheels on the bottom and a rad in the roof and call it a day. Building a case where the walls are the structure, along with the only thing to mount stuff to, is hell. For this project I've had the sense to start with a pre-built case... or two. Perspex plating on the outside gives the finish and styling I'm looking for, with none of the hassle.



Perspiration
Much sweat has/will go into this. Whether it's from hacksawing a case in half by hand (the manly way), or sweating anxiously as I cut into my lovely and expensive perspex for the cooling holes.

The title also allows for some alliteration, which amuses me often, particularly with P's.
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Pistol Pete's Project Perspiration Project Log

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Old 1st Mar 2009, 17:13   #2
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Pistol Pete's Project Perspiration... Plan





So, the much fabled plan. "Perspiration" will eventually be a watercooled system, with enough room for a triple rad in the roof and a dual rad in the front. I'm building it from two Lian Li PC-7s, which caught my eye through their simple internals and externals - falt panels make it easy for me to mount the perspex - and for their reasonable price tag. The second case is going to be cut in half, and the top section mounted to the bottom of the main case - this will mean I can put the PSU and hard drives in the bottom, leaving room for the radiators, pump, and a res if I'm lucky in the top section. It'll be much like a P182 or P190 in that respect.






It will run as a single loop, though there is space for a dual loop. It'll also work well as an air cooled case, so I don't have to spend any money on watercooling untill I'm ready.

The power button, fill port, and a few USBs will be mounted on the top. It'll sit under my desk so this is prefered. I'm also planning to use a red vandal switch - press it, and the fans switch from a silent 5v to the full 12v... handy for bench marking, but mostly just so I can press it and laugh like a maniac at the power! Bwaa haahahahah!

That aside, I'm still working on where to put the DVD drive. I've got ideas about fitting a slot loading, but cutting a neat slot in the perspex will be a tricky. I've also got options to put it round the back, ontop of the PSU, I don't usually need regular access to it.
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Pistol Pete's Project Perspiration Project Log

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Old 1st Mar 2009, 17:13   #3
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Into The Void - The First Cuts


You might be pleased to know you've now reached the part where the's some actual modding going on!

I won the first of my PC-7s on ebay for £33, and picked it up from the Parcel Force depot yestarday. Unfortuantely in the process I think I ran a red light with one of those stupid cameras so this case might actually cost a good bit more.

Well what can I say? I'd looked at Lian-Li's as being overpriced elitist aluminium monstrosities - brush your teeth, not alumium - but this little PC-7 melts my heart. I've been disassembling it into the greatest number of parts possible, and it's fascinating how much they've thought about the design. The brushed aluminium is delicious too, and amazingly light - when I first collected the box I thought there was nothing in it and had to open to check!

The main thing that was in the box was a lot of polystyrene.



Apart from that was my case. It may have been wrapped in a bin bag but it was certainly very exciting.



Ta-da!



She's obviously had a bit of use but is in good condition. I understand that this is one of the older PC-7 models. The PC-7 Plus version that I'll be buying new the main case has a 120mm intake and is slightly less old school.

I propmtly set about amasing a pile of drive caddys, blanking plates, thumbscrews and plastic cable tidies ripping the thing to bits.



Fake carbon trim - classy. I'm considering applying carbon fibre stickering to the top panel with the USBs and start button as a tribute to the PC-60 and PC-7 heritage. Either way it'll be 5mm black perspex.



I've used plenty of black perspex before, but wanted some colour samples before deciding on my final choices. In the past I've used RED Ltd for my perspex and I've had a fantastic service from them - they sent samples of their whole colour range for me to umm and ahh over. Most interesting is the difference between white (bottom left) and opal (top left). If I hadn't got samples I think I'd have gone ahead and ordered white, but the opal is really fascinating, it's much closer to the colour I've been used to when do my renders in planning, and it looks a lot classier than the "tip-ex" white. That said, it also lets through a lot of light - you can tell if it's sitting on a dark background or light background, and could show through some of the structure underneath, which might not be pretty. My flatmate suggested putting sheets of white paper on the inside of the perspex - very clever!



I took a bit of time to sketch out a radiator just to check a few sizes. With the front panel removed, the case is actually a bit shorted than I had planed for - I had been working with the external dimensions. This is part of the concept verification process I'd envisaged when buying this used case though, before launching into it with a £65 new case. I can build out the front with perspex to give me more room to fit the top panel. The internal dimensions are all fairly spacious.



I had a major panic during the plan when I realised that the bottom section - which would be upside down - would have the motherboard tray on the wrong side, obstructing the view! With a bit of through I considered getting a PC-60, as they have a removable mobo tray, but reasoned that a bit of dremmeling should be able to fix the problem in a PC-7, which is non-removable for cost reasons I assume.



In truth it was a whole lot easier:



With 4 rivets left to drill my £9.99 drill ran out of puff, but a few hours later I got things finished.





By the way, if anyone wants a spare motherboard tray for their scratch build or a few hard drive caddies (used, but functional) then get in touch, I could send you this very cheaply.
Otherwise, most of the bits I've removed will provide me with plenty of aluminium for building structure where I need.



With what's left of the front cover, next to my Nine Hundred - I really need to fix that stealth drive...



I'm still not sure what height to make the bottom section. It needs to be atleast 3 5inch bays high to fit in the 120mm fan that will cool the bottom section. If I extend it to 4 bays, it starts getting quite tall and there's only so much room under my desk. What's for certain is I won't be using the 80mm fan round the back, so I cut this and will pop in some black hexx mesh.



My flopy, blunt hacksaw ate the aluminium like it was cake! Much easier than when I cut my cable routing holes into my steel Nine Hundred. Mr Dremmel helped for the small details and getting the cuts started around the curved fan holes.



Do you think my warranty is void?



No the neatest, but a bit of work with a file tidied things up nicely.



Conveniently, the hole I cut is just big enough for a DVD drive, which should make a nice temporary home until I settle on the final location.



Observe my workbench/knee combo.



So, from here I need to get the second case, decide how high to cut the first, hacksaw like mad, then bolt the two bad-boys together to make the badest bad-boy on bit-tech. A bit like a cut-and-shut car.

Untill then, keep on truckin!
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Pistol Pete's Project Perspiration Project Log

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Old 1st Mar 2009, 17:25   #4
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this project looks really intresting i also love the Golf Gti
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Old 1st Mar 2009, 17:55   #5
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Nice project!
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 20:28   #6
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Quote:
Do you think my warranty is void?

Funniest thing I've seen all day. Keep voiding those warranties!
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Old 2nd Mar 2009, 22:28   #7
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Actually i think that your warranty is ok since the sticker is still there
Nice project so far, good luck with it!
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Old 3rd Mar 2009, 00:59   #8
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D*mn. Hasles beat me to it...
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Old 11th Mar 2009, 21:46   #9
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As my economics lecturer used to say, "Rrrrright folks!". It's update-o-clock.

Once my hangover cleared on Saturday morning I drove over to the OCUK office in Shtoke and bought me my second case for a tidy £65. This time I got my sweaty hands on a PC-7 Plus, which is different from the older PC-7 in a few ways. First, it's got 120mm fans front and back instead of the 80's, which fits nicely with my plans. The roof panel also unscrews (as apposed to de-rivets on the older version), which should come in nicely when cutting the hole for the triple radiator. The front panel's a bit nicer looking, but it's scrap now. Lian-Li have fitted the PC-7 with traditional screw-in standoffs, the older version had the Lian-Li style 'square brackets', can't really decribe them, but I'd have liked to have used them as I've had no end of trouble with screw-in standoffs getting stuck. The motherboard panel is also a few mm further back, reducing the amount of room you have for cable routing - I presume this is to fit in the increased size exhaust fan, though a 120mm can be squeezed into the older PC-7 ok. The room behind the mobo tray seems comparible to my Antec Nine Hundred, which is nicely routed with some home-made holes, so I'll see what I can do.

Now for the aluminium porn:



Everyone loves posting photos of their boxed hardware, I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon. I was going to take a photo of the box in the back of my Fabia, but the lift to my flat is full of brushed aluminium and thought the box might look more at home there. Infact most of the fittings in my building are brushed aluminium. Meh.



Unboxed. Notice the new vents in the side and re-designed front.



The back is a bit more civilized as well. I'm going to turn that into an intake, along with 2 front intakes for the main compartment. Should go some way to keeping my VRMs and NB cool, but I'll fit out my mobo with the little asus Q-fans that came with my P5K premium when I get round to water cooling.



Inside things are much the same as the old PC-7, but the drive cage has been rotated... don't need that anyway. About 5 minutes after I stopped taking these first few photos, the whole case had been emptied of anything that could be removed.



Front panel - somehow I need to mount a dual-120 rad here. Having the 10mm hole already cut helps, but I'll need to devise some sort of mounting bracket for the rest.



Just like that...






The fake carbon trim of the older PC-7 is also gone. Shame really, it look pretty tacky but it added a touch of retro. Odd to think of c.f. as retro.



Just like twins... non identical ones. The other kind/

So where now? I didn't feel I'd exhausted my DIY thirst by just demolishing the front panel, so took the plunge beyond the point of no return (both in the structural and the re-sale value sense).



A short time later...





A wee test. It's a bit big to fit under my desk. I ummed-and-ahhed about this for a while, the gap between the case and the table is only going to narrow when I add the perspex layers and some case feeties, it'd be nice if it was lower for airflow reasons, and for the use of the top panel. Unfortunately then I can't use the bottom of the four 5.25inch bays as structure...



For a while I went back and forth between dremmel and hacksaw, depending on which one I was bored of using. The choice of how low to cut came down to wanting to retain 3 5.25 inch bays, and having a bit of a gap for the structure to bolt to the bottom of the upper case, whilst keeping things as low as possible.




To build some structure to support the upper case, I cut sections off one of the front panels - rather handy really, a nice source of solid aluminium.



A bit of cutting to length...



At the back I chose to attach to the 2 corners of the case structure that remain. I used holes already drilled for the clip that holds on the left side panel... though there's not one for the other side, so I wonder what it's point is.

Just a quick tip - if you need to drill an accurate hole, but your drill wanders a bit before it bites in, start the hole with a dremmel - much more accurate. You can use a hole-punch on metal, if you have one, but not for perspex.





The supports at the front went straight onto the old driver bay walls.



I beasted some holes in the bottom of the upper case with my drill, and secured the whole lot with M4 bolts and wing-nuts I had sitting about, handy for quick assembly.







And there she is - satisfyingly solid. It's nice to work with a metal frame, instead of bloody perspex... (see - A3 PC)




A bit (actually, lots) of hacksawing cut the bottom panels to size. I suppose at this point it's ready to use. No chance of that though.

Next thing is to get some fans on the front. I've ordered some 5mm perspex to build frames for the front fans - the 5mm thickness allows me to slide in dust filters in-behind. All will be revealed, sometime this weekend hopefully, depending how much drinking I do during the rugby / comic relief / generic Saturday night work piss-up.
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Pistol Pete's Project Perspiration Project Log

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Old 12th Mar 2009, 00:47   #10
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wow it looks really good just like that haha! Keep up the good work!
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Old 12th Mar 2009, 01:26   #11
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I like it, the design looks nice and sleek.
And I think the carbon fiber would look great on the power button and USB panels.
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Old 12th Mar 2009, 09:08   #12
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sweet!
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Old 12th Mar 2009, 13:45   #13
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i like lian li towers!! good start!
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Old 12th Mar 2009, 14:25   #14
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Nice idea there. Makes me want to go out and grab two LiLis...
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Old 15th Mar 2009, 18:10   #15
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The First Front Filtered Fan Mount.

I've been putting about £100 aside each month for this project, having bought the second case I'd about £30 to play with, so I bought some black perspex and dust filters to start making the mountings for the front fans.




The bottom section has no where to mount a fan to, with the absence of the 5.25" bays. I measured up the existing holes and planned out the cuts in Rhino3D.





I am keen to fit dust filters to this case. I'm glad I did on my Nine Hundred and this thing will be wolfing in a similar amount of air. I ordered 4 Nexus 120mm fan filters from specialtech, who were cheapest.





The filter breaks into 3 parts. The only bit I really need is the foam, the rest of the parts are going in the bin. Shame really, I should have put my brain into gear and worked out an alternative fabric to use.

So, plans drawn up, I got stuck into the 5mm perspex:





My poor hacksaw is getting quite blunt and no longer seems so enthused by the prospect of getting to gnaw some perspex, so I dremmed it mostly.



As well as providing support for the fans, I want to integrate dust filters into the mounts. The best idea I had was to have an opening at one side where the filter would slide out. 5mm perspex game me enough room to slide in the filters. This does though mean that the filters can't be bigger than the 105mm spacing between the holes in the fan. In Rhino, I used some nifty tools and worked out this reduces the flow area by 7%. Which, all things considered, should equate to about a 7% flow loss - I won't explain my reasons for that, but they are complex.

To help things a bit, I filed the edges down in the region where the mount overlaps the fan flow, which might recover a little performance. You can't see it very well in the photo.



I used one of the mesh grills that game off the PC-7+ to hold the filter in at the back, as there's no supporting metal structure in the case. I plan to replace this with some AC Ryan Hexx mesh, the small spacings on the Lian-Li grill restrict airflow quite a lot, and add the same noise again as the fan running at 1500rpm just in vortex noise. Poor show Lian-Li.



The filter, trimmed to size. Not very high tech. The tab allows you to pull the filter back out the side for easy cleaning.





That's about it for this weekend's work. Next weekend I might get round to making the mounting for the 2 upper front fans - these will be spaced to allow a dual rad to fit, if I ever get round to needing that. When I do water-cool it, I'll just use the triple in the roof and see how things go.

I've had a look about and will probably using something with the normal 15mm fan screw spacing. In trying to find some dimensions for dual rads, I came across a plan drawing of a BlackIce GTX 360. I'd done rough dimensions in my 3D model plan for the case, but wanted to sure those up now I had dimensions for the case too.

In the end I got a bit carried away, and modelled a whole 3D rad and fans. A pleasure on a sunday morning.

Here you go:



Fullsize

Based on how good that looks, I'm a bit happier that yes, it is worth spending £100 on a rad and 3 fans. I didn't pay much attention to the radiator fins, but put them in at roughly 12 FPI. Rhino tells me this gives the fins a total surface area of 1.4m^2. Amazing! I wonder how that compares against my TRUE120?


A couple of other novelties from the weekend:



Does this make the Nine Hundred tasteful?

And, using a spare sample of pespex, I made myself a little darwinian:



He's so cute.
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Pistol Pete's Project Perspiration Project Log

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Old 22nd Mar 2009, 13:39   #16
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Another small update for this weekend's work. I made the second fan mount, this time sized for a double radiator. Pretty much the same process as last time, measured up and sketched a plan in Rhino, perpex, cut, drill, etc. This might become a very word-efficient update.



Yip.



I marked out the cuts with Mr Drem, then hacksawed most of it. Managed to get a new blade for my hacksaw, so it wasn't as arduous as last week's work.


I opened up the front panel to improve airflow.


And that's that! Still need's polished up a bit, but it is functional.


I also cobbled together a blanking plate for the redundant PSU mount in the upper case. It's not brilliant, I might find a different function for that area later on - maybe some nice switches?

So where now?

I think next month's purchases will be the grill for the roof, and some fans. Not sure how many yet, I need 7 in total but I've got my eyes set on Scythe S-Flexs, which are at least £10 each, so I might buy them in two groups. I want to get the 1900RPM version, which in some people's eyes would beat the point of getting quiet fans, but I'll mostly run them at 5V. I've then got the option to go for higher airflow when I need it. I'd thought about Noctua P12s, the extra static pressure would be handy for keeping things moving through my rads, grills and filters, but they only go up to 1200rpm, which doesn't leave me many options.

DIY wise, I need to cut hole for the triple radiator in the roof. Only the metal for now, and I can put the grill over the top. I'm looking forward to that, always looks good on other people's mods.



Recently I've also realised the immense complexity that will be involved in cutting the pespex above... and I'm very tempted to get it professionally done by the supplier. I'll look into pricing, but it's probably worth paying to avoid wrecking my mod with my rubbish cutting. Just look how squint my Darwinian was!
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Old 22nd Mar 2009, 19:13   #17
Spoooon
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Looking nice up to now, i really like the image in your last post, will look amazing if it turns out like that
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Old 4th Apr 2009, 21:59   #18
pistol_pete
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I get all the grills...

Sing with me:

I like them black grills, I like them rad grills
I like them steel grills, I like them aluminum grills,
I like them hexx grills, I like them AC ryan grills,

I get all the grills, I get all the grills!



Things have progress nicely this week. Last weekend I picked up some AC Ryan hexx mesh and the grill for the triple rad in the roof. There seems to be a bit of a shortage of black hexx mesh at the moment, thecoolingshop.com was the only place I could find it.

Another weekend, another online retailer, another delivery company, another drive to a depot conveniently located somewhere obscure. It was a nice evening though.



The goods, in my Fabia. The mesh comes in lovely packaging.



Yip.



What?! I ordered black aluminium - I get stainless steel. Not impressed. Easy mistake I suppose. I've sent it back to thecoolingshop.com, who had since sold out of the black kind and won't be able to send me the right one. They didn't even say sorry anywhere in their communications. I'll happily take my business elsewhere.



Moving on, I put the mesh to work. The fan mounts had no back to them, so I added mesh to hold the filters in place.






Having the grill allowed me to measure it up and cut the hole for the triple rad to go in the roof of the case.



Measure.



Drill.



Cut. I started the cuts with a Dremel, then hacksawed to finish because it's much faster. And with a clunk:





Obviously, I had to check everything fits. Just pretend this is black:

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Old 4th Apr 2009, 22:31   #19
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Seven Scythe Slip Streams

Things are now a bit closer to a functioning case. Today I picked up the fans (from my local Citylink depot, for you courier enthusiasts.)



I got them for £10.99 each from quietpc.com. These are the -G versions I'd been looking for. They do 1900 rpm on 12v, which some would say defeats the point of quiet fans. However, on 5V, they do about 800 rpm and are as quiet as they come. Reliable starting too. So now I've got two options, 5v for quiet, everyday running, or 12 howling volts for benchmarking. Awesome.



I had to hook them up for a test...



525 cubic feet a minute of airflow. That's 14600 litres, over 17kg of air.

I'd say my e-peen is about... 30ft long now?

Back to the serious business:


I still need a filter mount for the rear fan, which will, perhaps unconventionally, be an intake. Three fans in, three out.



After taking this photo I realised it'll be a bit tricky to slide the filter in from the side. I rotated it so it fits in the top.



Job done.

With the fans in, I wired it all up and plugged into my Antec nine hundread.



Pretty breezy!
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Old 4th Apr 2009, 22:51   #20
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A photo sesh.

Finally for this week...

I took the PSU and motherboard out of my main system to test a few things. Mainly, cable routing. With the case being taller than usual, I'm not sure the 8pin 12V cable will reach all the way to the top of my motherboard.



That'll be a no, then.

Whilst things were in place, I decided to take a few photos of progress so far. Sorry they're not very good quality, all I've gots a camera phone.











At first I'll just run the beast aircooled. It'll take me a while to save for the watercooling stuff. It'll look awesome when I get it though. More copper.






Next; cable routing holes. Stay tuned!
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