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Old 4th Jun 2012, 17:42   #1
Fordy
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Placatus - my first mod, a scratch-built minimalist HTPC

UPDATE 04/09/12: Build album here.
UPDATE 16/12/12: In order to refer to it more easily, I've given my build the name 'Placatus', approximately Latin for 'understate', 'calm', or 'quiet'.


Hi, this has been an idea I've had for some time, then a few months ago I ordered materials and began work.

I cut two pieces back then, and then I stopped to focus on exams.

Now I'm back to working on it, and thought I'd keep a log here of my progress.


I don't really have a plan to show you, it's in my head. I'm not so good at Sketchup.

But to summarise, it's a minimalist, clean and simple design, made from black brushed-effect aluminium.


So far, what I've done is to start cutting pieces to build the chassis - which I'm making from alu angle.

The following shots show how it'll start to fit together.





Note, also, that that isn't the pieces in the correct places, the short one that's horizontal is actually one of the vertical pieces - but I haven't cut the four width-ways (front and back) pieces yet - that's where I'm off to now!


And here they are lined up in my AV rack, where it'll be when I'm done.





As this goes on I'll appreciate any thoughts comments or suggestions - but I realise at the moment there isn't much to go on, you're probably having difficulty visualising it. When more's cut, it'll be more obvious. That's the down-side of not having any plans drawn out.
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 17:53   #2
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How are you planning to fasten the corner joints? Glue, weld, rivets? Just curious, as I like them.

Looks like solid progress so far, keep it up
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 18:15   #3
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How are you planning to fasten the corner joints? Glue, weld, rivets? Just curious, as I like them.

Looks like solid progress so far, keep it up

Thanks

My original plan was to rivet them. However when the angle arrived, I was concerned about how much width there actually is available to rivet. And as long as I don't make a mistake - I shouldn't ever need to move them, so I thought I might use glue.

I've had good experiences with something called Chemical Metal before if you've heard of it, made by Loctite I believe. So I thought I might use that.


I'll see how it goes though, when everything's cut I might use some spare to see if I can drill holes that close to the edge without it breaking away. It's strong, and pretty thick aluminium, but I'm also concerned that the rivets might be so close they wouldn't actually be clear of each other. We'll see what happens.
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 18:18   #4
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I'll sub! I'm a bit slow-going on my own project, so I like to read others.

Everyone's got a first time ... have fun with it.

-J
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 18:24   #5
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I'll sub! I'm a bit slow-going on my own project, so I like to read others.

Everyone's got a first time ... have fun with it.

-J
Thanks Jon.

There are some great project logs here, it's an awesome way to learn techniques and for ideas etc.

Indeed, I strayed away from Bit-Tech to Google "how to brush aluminium" when planning this build - I know, how dis-loyal - but Google saw me straight, brought me back to Bit-tech and an excellent thread at that, very helpful, mainly in just confirming that it could be done - I won't be able to do it the same way, but at least I know it's possible.

I'll link it to credit it's author later, when I can find the thread from my desktop.
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 20:36   #6
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Done for the day now, but I've now finished cutting all the base strips, and all the vertical strips.

So this should make it much easier for you to see where I'm going - though they're still not attached, I've balanced them together to give an impression of the plan:






In the second photo you can also see all the panels which I'll fit to the chassis. On the left is the top and base, and behind the frame is the sides, front and back.

I have 2 fronts and 2 backs, because I anticipate problems with brushing them, and/or cutting holes for motherboard I/O and power button etc. I'll be using a laser cutter, but there's still room for mistakes.


I've had another thought about the joints in corners though, Mosquito mentioned welding which I've never done - and don't have the tools to do it with - so I didn't really consider it.

What I am no considering is semi-welding with a Dremel VersaFlame. I don't have one, but it's an affordable possibility. I've checked the aluminium spec (6063-T6) and the temperatures match up, so that could work quite well.

My only reservation is that I wouldn't want to screw it up, as I haven't really done something like that before. But then I also have reservations about gluing - I was once told "glue is what bad engineers use to fix their mistakes". More thinking required.
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Old 24th Jun 2012, 23:40   #7
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I went with the Araldite in the end.

Stuck the first side today, I'll do the other side in the week hopefully then I can work on the panels and internals before joining it all together, with braces across forming the front and rear sides.




And here's one with one side of the frame shown over it's panel. It'll be riveted on once I've made a cut-out for the fan, and fixings for HDDs etc.


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Old 25th Jun 2012, 12:16   #8
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I was once told "glue is what bad engineers use to fix their mistakes". More thinking required.
Whoever told you that, hasnt been on an airplane any time recently
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Old 29th Jun 2012, 16:06   #9
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First round of Araldite didn't hold. :/

I'm trying again as we speak, with more rigourous filing. If it fails again, I'll try welding or brazing with my Dremel VersaTip.
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Old 29th Jun 2012, 17:35   #10
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have you tried technoweld? works like a charm with a butane torch, just follow the instructions properly and you get a great bond. Im using it for some custom monitor frames/bezels im making up

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Old 29th Jun 2012, 17:52   #11
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Thanks for that, looks interesting.

Would a Dremel VersaTip cut it as a butane torch? Max temp is 1200C.
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Old 29th Jun 2012, 17:58   #12
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hmmm i have a similar soldering iron as the dremel and found it couldn't cut it (but the dremel may be better), so went an got a al'cheapo butane torch from a hardware that works like a charm

maybe I was just a little to impatient with the soldering torch and ended up putting the rod into the flame to try melt.. and as the vid says "DONT".. you have to let the rod melt from the heat in the aluminium and then it sticks like stink!
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Old 29th Jun 2012, 19:08   #13
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I hear JB weld is very good easy to purchase adhesive & seen it used a good bit in modding.

Also seen good use of liquid metal by Gtek which comes in a tube similar to silicone.

Seen some interesting tests on gorilla glue also which make it look pretty damn strong but still a very breakable bond, I think most adhesives are.

Comment about aeroplanes is a fair comment I think though but what adhesive do they use? I don't think it's something available to regular people in a DIY store.

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Old 2nd Jul 2012, 09:43   #14
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I hear JB weld is very good easy to purchase adhesive & seen it used a good bit in modding.

Also seen good use of liquid metal by Gtek which comes in a tube similar to silicone.

Seen some interesting tests on gorilla glue also which make it look pretty damn strong but still a very breakable bond, I think most adhesives are.

Comment about aeroplanes is a fair comment I think though but what adhesive do they use? I don't think it's something available to regular people in a DIY store.

Cheers, I do have Liquid Metal and Gorilla Glue, but decided to try this Araldite model because it was specifically for metals, and listed "steel, aluminium, .." on materials it works with, so I figured it might do a better job.


Had another crack on it with deeper filing and a good clean with some white spirit, done one side now (the side that previously broke..) and all seems to be good - so I'll be doing the other side when I get home tonight.
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Old 2nd Jul 2012, 09:50   #15
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Have you thought about what the front panel will look like? Is it meant to look like an AV receiver or is it going to be a plain brushed front? Either way looking good
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Old 2nd Jul 2012, 09:55   #16
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Have you thought about what the front panel will look like? Is it meant to look like an AV receiver or is it going to be a plain brushed front? Either way looking good
Yeah AVR look is exactly what I'm going for, it'll be on my rack above AVR so I want a consistent look.

Planning to brush the front and spray black - may or may not brush the rest, as it won't be visible. Likely I will, just fr completeness, but also to practice so that I get the best brush on the front panel.

Cheers.
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Old 8th Jul 2012, 11:32   #17
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Taken a bit longer than I'd have liked to get these sides finished, but as of last night, it's done.

Unfortunately now I'm away for a week, but when I get back I'll be mocking up the internal layout (let's hope it all fits ), and cutting holes in the sides for the (only) two fans.

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Old 8th Jul 2012, 11:49   #18
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Looking good matey. I've just done me own case but not from scratch like you have. Only used a cheapo case so I didn't waste money. Did you get inspiration from internet for a case or think it up yourself?

Subbed by the way!
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Old 8th Jul 2012, 12:04   #19
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Looking good matey. I've just done me own case but not from scratch like you have. Only used a cheapo case so I didn't waste money. Did you get inspiration from internet for a case or think it up yourself?

Subbed by the way!

Thanks - really my inspiration came from the lack of an existing case that fitted what I was after, and didn't cost half a million.

I needed a case as big as possible (mainly to fit hard drives), but it also had to fit in my AV rack.

Most of the existing cases were too tall, many of the ones that weren't were tiny, and the few remaining were just outright ugly.
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Old 4th Aug 2012, 16:53   #20
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Hiatus = over.

Back with another update, at last.


I was lucky to realise early on that the height I'd chosen was pretty awkward in that it wasn't tall enough to mount the fans directly on the side panel, and it wasn't short enough that the holes aligned with the chassis, either. Pictures speak louder than words:



So, today I've made these vertical rails to support the fans, and provide some structure for the holes to line up with:




The markings you can see is where the fan overlaps the metal - so I'll be cutting that away to ease the airflow, and just make it look a bit more professional.




So that's the sides shaping up. I'm off now to drill the holes to mount the front and top panels on, might do some rivet holes for the panels too. I'm just anxious to get these in before I forget about them, and put the whole chassis together - disabling myself from being able to use the pillar drill. Not unlike me.
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