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Old 1st Feb 2013, 20:07   #1
Azariel
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Project Arc - Hardware installed, cable management started! 04-09-2013



Good evening everybody! After lurking here for quite some years and having done several smaller mods on my old Stacker (the original CM Stacker), PSU for testing purposes and standalone water cooling configuration it is finally time to take on a slightly "bigger" project which has been in my head now for quite some time. So, without further ado I am presenting to you Project Arc!

As you might have guessed this will be a Fractal Arc Mini casemod in which I will attempt to cram quite a lot of components in this relatively small case and still keep it clean. Even though its not a very original goal, it will be an ambitious one Next to this the main body of this log will be about a whole range of cosmetic changes I have in mind.

Before I start with the images etc, a short apology for this relative long first post

Lets start of with a short overview of the components which will be used in this case (mind you, these are not sponsors, just an overview of owned and planned components).



Anyway, as part of preparation I did some fiddling around in sketchup which resulted in the following image.



As you can see (I hope) the plan is to close up the drive bays (not going to use them anyway) and use the space to create an activity indicator (shape not exactly sure yet). The area behind the mesh will also be closed up and one of 2 240rads will be placed behind it with a push-pull fan configuration.

First real modding progress was stripping the case and removing the lower HDD rack which I also would not use.





Byebye drive cage


Followed by removing the plastic parts behind the mesh which had to make place for the radiator.







Small photoshoot in lightbox with the now empty front and original Mesh.



Next step was making a template to cover up the hole and cutting a nice sheet of 1mm aluminium into shape.





The all important visual inspection....Passed!



End result of the panel behind the original mesh.



Finally a fill plate for the drivebays has been made which will be glued in and made flush using filler. Also means I will have to paint the entire thing in the end, however, that also means the paint of the alu and case will match up nicely (atleast I hope)



That's it for now! Next update I will most likely fit the radiator into the front of the case and make the necessary modifications to the case and support brackets.

Any comments, feedback, questions etc are more than welcome so feel free to share your thoughts!

Last edited by Azariel; 4th Sep 2013 at 20:01.
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Old 1st Feb 2013, 21:17   #2
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Of course, no problem!

Height of the opening is ~26.0 cm (top to bottom, not taking the small mid-bar in account)
Height behind the opening till underside 5.25" bay is ~27.6 cm

Underside of the drivebay has a slight bulge under it (right at the front the height will be 1-2mm more)

The 240 Rads I've got fit exactly...need a slight bit of shimmying to make the 'turn' sorta say, but it fits.

Hope this helps!
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Old 3rd Feb 2013, 14:39   #3
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Update 3-Feb

Ok, and on to the next step, fitting the radiator, but first of all, some goodies which came in earlier this week

Corsair Air series SP120 Quiet edition 3x a twinpack. I had some doubts if I should go for the performance versions and just dial them back. But in the end decided that having to integrate a fancontroler somewhere would just mean more clutter and also would not make that much sense unless hooking it up to a PWM header on the MOBO (which would result in other issues).



With the red ring, as they will be used



Second part was 2x a XSPC EX240 radiator (one for the top, one for the front)



So, on to a bit more modding. As space inside is limited, I wanted to move all components as far out as possible to keep the feel of a somewhat spacious interior. This means that the push fans from the push-pull config will be slightly outside the main chassis as the plastic cover leaves plenty of space for this. However, this did mean the small metal bar had to go.



And byebye bar (will touch it up with paint later, but its atleast flush atm.



First fit with the radiator in (self supported)



As the radiator sits quite snug between top and bottom I considered to not fix it to the case. However, I noticed it started leaning forward. So I started working on some brackets.



I initially designed some extensions at the lower flap, but in the end they went out as it didnt work well with the case.



Removed tape and they fit quite well (considering the bending was done in a very amateur way...) In the end they will of course be painted matt black to match the Rad.



And finally drilled the holes and did a test with the fans mounted on it. I will have to go look for some shorter black screws to mount the fans as I dont want to do it like the way done here and the radiator only came with 4 screws (and I need 8 for the push-pull)



Thats it for today. Thanks for watching and as always, comments, questions etc are more than welcome!

Last edited by Azariel; 3rd Feb 2013 at 14:50.
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Old 6th Feb 2013, 21:23   #4
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Update 6-Feb

Thanks Hukkel!

So the next step is cutting out the shape for the fans from the Alu frontplate. I actually started with testing several different designs but they just didn't quite work out. In the end I settled for something a bit more standard.

Sadly, due to the fact that the fans are mounted on the radiator, the fans aren't completely in the middle (top to bottom middle that is), However, considering the plate will be painted black and the mesh will be in front of it, I think its very acceptable.

On to the modding As I have no fancy CnC or lasers available (I envy you guys) it was down to the scroll saw, some fine files and me. Using some spray glue I glued the template to the alu panel using a double line to stay well clear of the edge to avoid mistakes.



Just a cool image of the plate on the scroll saw (made it somewhat by accident, but liked the composition so thought I'd share )



Next step: taking my files and getting down to the lines.



An hour or so later (with a bit of a sore neck from hunching over) I did a short test fit (still with the template on it). It seems to fit OK, but I still need to fix the radiator in place, so there is still some freedom in lining up the fans with the front plate.



And the final results! Quite happy with it to be honest as I wasn't sure how good it would look with my limited experience of working with Alu and some good and bad examples spread across the internet which made me doubt if I would be able to pull it off. In the end I think it just takes a bit of patience and willingness....but I might be biased towards my own work







Anyway, as always, if you have any comments, suggestions or other words of wisdom, feel free to share!

Next step (I think) will be deciding on the shape of the LED indicator in the panel covering the 5.25"bays (see render in the first post), cutting it out and start the process of gluing it into place, filling the edges for a smooth and flush transition and start prepping the entire thing for paint!
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Old 12th Feb 2013, 20:46   #5
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Update 12-Feb

And another bit of progress! Hope you guys aren't too bored yet

Over the past few days I continued work on the front panel, this time the top part which will cover the 2x5.25" bays.

Anyway, as shown in the first post I wanted to create a small & subtle cut out with some (semi) transparent plexi and some LEDs behind it to serve as a power indicator. The big question however was, what should it look like? I wasn't completely happy with my first design (the one in the sketchup rendering) so thought about it a bit more and I decided I would go for a flexible setup with exchangeable cover plates.

After some fiddling around the basic shape became a slightly curved pentagon with in the end an alu cover plate with a logo/symbol of choice.

These are my first 2 designs for the logo. The first is an aperture inspired one and the second the Fractal design "snowflake" logo (as I am covering the "Fractal design" part at the top of the front panel).



Next a bit of testing to find the right size and position



After deciding the size and place it was back to the scroll saw, followed by extensive filing.



Test fitting



Gluing the panel in place using two component glue. No way back now...



This left of course some open edges so first layer of filler was applied



After sanding down the first layer



Final result after the second layer! Next step will be using spray filler as a final layer and then spray paint the entire thing in either a satin black or matte black, not sure yet. Matte black tends to be very prone to scratching, whereas satin might not match the rest of the case completely. Will just have to do some test pieces I guess.



And already made a small test logo based on the aperture symbol. Already noticed that if I want to get this right I will need to get these laser cut as they are a tad bit too small to get nice and clean corners and lines.

If anybody knows a decent laser cutter in the Netherlands who could do these for a decent price, just let me know!



As always, thanks for watching and you are more than welcome to share your comments, ideas and suggestions!
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Old 13th Feb 2013, 19:43   #6
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Thanks Bulldogjeff and Knighthammer!

Not a real update, but just a small bit of activity Just applied the first coat of spray filler in my makeshift painting booth (I'll show pictures later)
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Old 14th Feb 2013, 21:08   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosquito View Post
Or just paint the whole thing


Looking good.
Well, can't say I didn't consider it However, I'm not that confident in my paint skills yet....and even if I was confident, I'm afraid would never be able to match the level of paint job Fractal did on the case...

Just for modding progress: Just applied 4th coat of Spray filler. Applying it in very thin coats, so need more than 1 or 2
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Old 24th Feb 2013, 13:19   #8
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Frustration update:

For reasons unknown the final coat of paint got messed up! Meaning all my prep work went down the drain as I had to sand it all down again.

After filling the gaps (previous update) I applied several coats of spray filler to make it all nice and smooth. Sanding it down after each coat in total I applied about 4 coats I think. After that I was quite happy with the finish so I went for the black end coat.

On a few test pieces (prepped similar to the end product) I selected the satin black (was very little difference between the matte and satin black spray cans for some reason). First coat went fine, second coat got completely messed up. Some areas became all flaky and ugly which meant I had to sand the entire thing down again.

Have no clue what was the problem though....maybe it was the room temperature which was a bit on the low side (would say between 15 and 20 deg Celsius) but that was no problem with the filler and/or first coat. Also the first coat looked fine....

Ah well, will go search for a better quality spray paint as the previous one was from a local DIY which didnt carry A-brands...

Anyway, I'll leave you with an image of my inhouse spray booth (had to convince the ms that it was OK) and the final image before the paint coat which messed it up...



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Old 24th Feb 2013, 14:31   #9
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Well, the can states it can paint metal, wood and some kinds of platic..."some kinds" is of course rather vague hence my first tests on scrap pieces of plastic...

Maybe I should use a plastic primer first...Store I plan to go to should have some knowledge on this topic, so maybe they can help
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Old 24th Feb 2013, 16:07   #10
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I should have made a picture of the effect It just became a very rough texture compared to the smooth rest, but not all over though (strangly enough). So I was almost thinking it was something coming from the can itself...

Anyway, the spray filler stated that it would double as a primer, so I didn't add additional primer to it. However, the filler and spray can were of a different brand...so I'll redo most, trying to get everything to match.

And yeah, the 600grit sanding in between was of course also done Did sand the entire thing back down with 180 though, but used 600 in between layers.

But thanks for the tips! Good to see a process that should work...now just to replicate it
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Old 25th Feb 2013, 12:48   #11
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Thanks for the advice HCP and Swag! Never really thought about putting it into the oven though (this piece wouldn't fit btw) but I can imagine it would speed up the drying process. Wouldn't it generate the 'cracking' effect btw if it dries too fast?

Anyway, in this specific case, the filler had time enough to set I believe. Between each layer there was at least 1 or 2 days to dry and before I started the final prep coat there was probably something like a week in between (time constraints).

At the moment for cleaning I used something called st Marc which is intended as a cleaner but also aimed at cleaning surfaces before painting.
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Old 25th Feb 2013, 22:17   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marquee View Post
I would not recommend baking the plastic piece. I have a paint baking guide for modders some where if you really want it. But it can be dangerous and two the reason for baking paint is to make the paint more durable and thin out over the piece you are painting for high gloss effect.
Will probably stay away from 'oven drying' as my oven isnt of the highest quality and I would probably ruin the piece instead of improving it...so I'll stick to the old natural drying method and hope to get it right next time (should be able to find some motip filler, primer, black and matte clear coat in a store nearby).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meelobee View Post
Not sure if still needed, but you could try Graveco.nl.
I had the atx passthrough pannels in my build done by them (Lemonade on HF forum works there, send a mail to info_at_graveco_dot_nl for price inquiries.)
Thanks! Was still needed indeed. I'll send them a mail to get a quote from them soon!

And once again, thanks all for the tips & tricks and compliments!
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Old 5th Apr 2013, 14:35   #13
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Thanks Ziza! And yeah, hardware, wire and tubing management will be very interesting.

Work has been pauzed for a bit though to work on my Pi cube for the competition!
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Old 29th Apr 2013, 14:59   #14
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PiQu is done! So its time to go back to work on the Arc!

As I'm rather proud of the PiQu project, I'll also harass you here with a small summary picture



Anyway, as said, time to start again with the Arc, so I present to you, Project Arc, Phase 2!



Last time I showed you guys anything it was about my frustration with the crappy paint job of the front panel. Over the past few weeks I have stripped most of it off, bought the right materials and redid most of the filler etc. As a result, this weekend I could finally do the final coat of matte black!

As the 'inlay panel' also is going to be the same color, I did it all in one go. Behold the end result!



Personally, I'm very happy with it! The coat looks great and none of the lines where I filled the panel are visible anymore!

Next step will be working on the inside of the case, but also testing out a few ideas I have for the logo to fill that gaping hole on the front panel

For the inside I will definately need a bit more hardware though, so I will also need to start ordering those.

I think the original hardware overview I made is still mostly accurate (see below). However, with the recent news of the introduction of the new Intel CPU lineup I have starting doubting again if I should wait for it....decisions, decisions...



Thanks for watching, and as always, comments are more than welcome!!
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Old 5th May 2013, 13:21   #15
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Thanks Mosquito! And the paint actually matches the rest quite well! The Fractal paint has more structure to it, but the overall color and gloss match quite well!

Anyway, over the last week I spend some time putting together a new tool to help with the next parts on the list A bending brake!

So here is a short log of how it was made, and finally looks!

For the record, this build is based on the following "instructable"! http://www.instructables.com/id/Home...i-Press-Brake/

To start me and my trusty hacksaw started cutting into the iron bars (don't have an angle grinder, and didnt think the dremel would like it...)



End result: Three bars of equal length (well...almost)



Next was claming it all together to determine where the hinges should come. The best would of course be to have hinges on the side, parallel to the bending axis, but that would require a lot more components and risk of errors. Also the fact that I have no clue how to weld (and as such do not have a welder thingy) made me decide to go the 'easy route'



After this I forgot to take pictures, but I'll shortly explain
- Drill all holes to mount the hinges with some bolts & nuts
- Prepare the wooden base plate by making space for the protruding bolts (as it has to sit flush with the wood)
- Drill holes and attach large M10 bolts to mount the entire thing to the wooden plate
- Attach arm to make the bending easier.

And there we have it, one small, portable and very cheap bending brake!





So, with this tool, bending the aluminium etc should become a whole lot easier

On to the next parts of project Arc!
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Old 19th May 2013, 13:07   #16
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Log 6 - Radiator brackets

You guys remember this?



Well, they were OK, but hardly allowed for any adjustment to get the radiator dead in the middle of the front hole. Meaning that I would have a hard time lining up the radiator with the front panel not even the mention that I might not even have succeeded....

So, into the bin they went, and something new had to be found!

While looking at the front of the case I noticed some non-used screw holes. Still not sure what they are intended for, but they were in an (almost) perfect location. As these are already threaded, I would not have to use nuts to fasten the screws, meaning another layer 'clutter' out

A small bit of designwork:



Followed by some cutting, sanding and bending (using my new bending brake) resulted in this:



Which will be mounted like this (different screws when the actual fans will be on of course):





Painting the parts (and some spacers for the 4 middle mounting holes on the radiator to keep the fan flush)



Resulting in this:



As I want it to look as clean as possible I decided that I did not want any screws on the outside of the fan (also saves me some precious millimeters) so I decided that I needed screws which I could put into opening between the outer and inner 'plate' of the fan. These however cannot be too big, not too small, not too short (which was mostly the case) and not too long (to prevent puncturing the rad).

However, going through my assortment of screws etc I couldn't find anything. Then I remembered that the Arc itself also came with a set of screws in which I found these puppies!



They are actually HDD mounting screws, but were absolutely perfect! Not too long, not too short, and fit in there like a glove! So, if anybody from Fractal is reading this: Thanks! (and please send some more if you can spare them :P)



So with this setup, I've got a nice push-pull configuration, with very limited space lost on the inside of the case!



And just to round up, a picture of the front fully assembled (logo still missing)



And finally a picture with Both rads mounted!



I'm now wondering if I should make a shroud to cover the rads with openings for the airflow similar to the one in the front panel as those grey 'grummets' are a bit disturbing the overall look and feel I think...

Anyway, too many picitures for a very small update, but I'm rather pleased with the end result!

What do you guys think?
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Old 20th May 2013, 13:30   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Overminde View Post
Looking very good. great job mate
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KrunchR View Post
Very clean build. I loved your piQu case.
PiQu was quite a different scale than this one, but both have its own merrits! And indeed going for clean! But the difficulty is to keep it all coherent and not close of the entire inside (as that will only make it feel cramped and small!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocelot View Post
Great job on those radiator holders.

To be honest I thought the hinges on your DIY brake looked too flimsy but the result looks great so i guess I was wrong.
I really like the look of the front. Very clean and almost minimalistic.

Good luck with the rest of your build!
Well, to be honest, the hinges are on the 'flimsy' side, but as long as I stick to aluminium and not try to bend stainless steel I think I will be fine as the brake indeed works just fine! I had to make the trade off between heavy strong hinges (but a lot larger) or these smaller ones which would allow for a better fit between the parts and a bit tighter bends (I hope).

But so far so good!
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Old 5th Jun 2013, 21:41   #18
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Update 7 - Backplates

Taking a bit longer than initially anticipated, but I'm still making some progress!

Decided to start working on the interior of the case, which in this case meant closing the 'gap' next to the motherboard tray, and covering up all the holes in the motherboard tray itself.

The initial idea was to make one big plate to do both of the above mentioned things. However, after making the plate I quickly discovered it was too big to get it in in one piece....should have thought about that before wouldnt you say? Anyway, being stubborn and all, I tried to force it in there, and it broke....

The parts however were still usable, so I decided to take a different approach. Close the gap next to the mobo-plate with an element which will be mounted slightly deeper in the case (so the back of the mobo plate) and a second element to cover all the cable holes etc.

The process!

First plate (or better said, the remnant of the first plate). The material I'm using is some left over plexi which is matte black on one side and shiny on the other side...will be painted in the end.



Shot without the plate:



Shot with the plate:



There is still a small gap on the right side, but it will be hidden from sight by the radiator.

Second plate was a bit more work as it had a bit more holes etc to create in the exact right spot to allow some of the metal elements of the mobo-tray to protrude.



And again a before shot (rather dirty case atm)



And an after shot without a 'motherboard' (I can assure you all edges are nice and straight although the photo seems to suggest the opposite)



And one with a printed Gene V for good measure!



I'm actually quite happy with the end result to be honest, but the final test will of course be with the panels painted, and the hardware in the case

As always, comments are more than welcome!

And for the record, I decided to go for a Haswell CPU in the end most likely a 4670K with an Asus Gene VI 1150 mobo!
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Old 6th Jun 2013, 18:23   #19
Azariel
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Originally Posted by Mosquito View Post
I like what you did there. Looks really nice and clean
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Looking good so far keep up the good work.
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Looks very nice Keep it that way
Thanks guys!

Really have to start getting in some hardware for the next phase...
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Old 13th Jun 2013, 12:18   #20
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First of all, thanks everybody for all the positive replies!

And one question was still open

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Originally Posted by WaRn00b View Post
Looks very, very stylish indeed!!

Just a question: Where will the PSU cables be going through? As I don't see any hole for the cables to feed through to the back of the mobo plate.
And its a good question at that I will indeed have to create holes to pass the wires through. However, for that I will need the hardware to determine the exact position they need to be in. I've also got some nice ideas on how to actually get the wires through the plate

What also was not yet in the pictures was how they will be mounted!

Over the past days I drilled a few holes in the plate which covers the motherboard section so I can connect it to the motherboard tray itself. The plate on the right will ask for a bit more engineering as there isnt really anything to connect it to. Hopefully will show that in the next update!

And just for info: I ordered and received my new PSU (Corsair AX860) and a nice amount of sleeving etc from Nils which hopefully will come in soon!

Coming weeks are a bit busy, but maybe I'll do some intermediate posts to keep you informed on progress
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