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Case Mod - In Progress Air Cooled SFF - 30 September Done *for the time being anyway*

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by DarkFear, 31 Aug 2008.

  1. DarkFear

    DarkFear New Member

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    Greetings fellow Bit-Techians.

    Introduction

    Recently I came to the startling discovery that I have been registered with BT for almost 5 years (5 years come 14 October 2008) and in all this time, I've barely made 30 posts. Initially I thought of saying something along the lines of “quality not quantity” but after looking through the stuff I actually posted, I don't think I'm going to.

    With the above mentioned realization nagging at me for almost 5 days now, I decided it was about time I posted something worthwhile.

    Oddly enough, the idea of a bunch of anonymous people from all walks of life (most of whom I will probably never meet in person) having a quick gander at something I created appealed to my “nagging realization” gland.

    This is my attempt at appeasing said gland.

    Inspiration & Goal of this mod

    About 4 months ago, some of my friends finished their studies and as a result had a lot more free time available to them. As you all know, more free time equals more being bored equals “Why don't we have a LAN?”

    At the time my PC wasn't exactly portable even thought it had wheels. Yes, it was big. Yes, it was cumbersome. Yes, it weighted 20kg. No, I it was not fun lugging it around.

    My goal with this mod is to reduce the size (and weight if at all possible) of the PC without sacrificing too much speed/features while making it easier to transport.

    Specifications

    Case: Coolermaster Elite 340 mATX case (Similar to the Silverston TJ08 but cheaper)
    PSU: Corsair HX620
    MB: Asus P5E-VM HDMI >> Replacing Asus P5N32-E SLI
    CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
    RAM: 2x Cheap 1GB DDR800 RAM (To be replaced SOON)
    HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F1 750GB >> Replacing 250GB Seagate HDD
    GFX: XFX 8800GT XXX Alpha Dog

    I have also ordered a Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme and a Thermalright HR-05-SLI Chipset Cooler to replace an ageing Zalman CNPS7900 and the stock chipset cooler on the P5E-VM.

    The fans being used are Zalman ZM-F3 120mm fans. I find that they move a lot of air and are almost inaudible when run at 5V while still managing to move a fair amount of air.

    Case Painting & Cable Sleeving

    I ordered and received this case about 3 weeks ago. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the stock case, the process of painting the case or any cables being sleeved since I didn't originally plan on showing them to anyone.

    But fret not, for Google is our friend and it has located some pretty pictures courtesy of NewEgg.com (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119149). With regards to the painting and cable sleeving, I'm sure that most of you are familiar with it and has seen pictures of these (relatively boring IMO) tasks being performed.

    The case is made of steel, with a removable motherboard tray, HDD cage, front and top panel. The rest of the case is held together by rivets and feels quite sturdy. The front panel is meshed and there is a thin foam/spongy sheet behind it to act as a dust filter. The two external 5.25" and 3.5" bays are also made from this mesh and sponge combination.

    I wanted to paint the interior Satin Black, but seeing how I had a few cans of Gloss Black left over from a previous endeavour, I ended up using those instead of the Satin Black.

    [​IMG]

    Prior to painting, the HDD cage was removed to make room for an additional 120mm fan and a hole was cut to accommodate it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The restrictive rear fan grill was also removed and replaced with a chrome wire grill that has been given the Gloss Black treatment.

    [​IMG]

    The motherboard tray was removed and bits were cut off to facilitate the hiding of cables behind it. You can see some nasty cutting marks around the areas that have been altered. This is due to me not cutting enough “paths” for the cables prior to painting. These will not be seen when the motherboard is fitted.

    [​IMG]

    The cables for the front audio, USB and the power and reset switches, are routed through the motherboard tray and passed underneath the motherboard.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Both the cable for the 4-pin ATX connector and the rear fan runs “inside” the support bar/bracket into which the top of the motherboard tray slots.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    That’s all for now folks. More to come later…
     
    Last edited: 26 Sep 2008
  2. 7755matt

    7755matt New Member

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    That is some seriously nifty cable management. I think I may see if i can do some of teh same
     
  3. DarkFear

    DarkFear New Member

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    Glad you like it. I hope the rest will impress as well.

    Hiding the DVD-RW

    To keep the front of the case uniform, I decided to hide the DVD-RW behind one of the 5.25" bay covers.

    The cover consists of a steel mesh with a foam/sponge sheet behind it that acts as a dust filter.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Hardly an ideal surface to attach something to. To resolve this, I will be using an old plastic bay cover of unknown origin.

    [​IMG]

    A craft/utility knife was used to remove the plastic “walls” and clips from the back of the plastic bay cover.

    The metal tabs used to keep the foam/sponge in place was bent open so that the modified plastic bay cover can fit inside the metal bay cover.

    [​IMG]

    With the modified plastic bay cover installed, the metal tabs were bent closed again. One of the metal tabs in the middle had to be snipped because it prevented the bay cover from sitting flush.

    [​IMG]

    The plastic cover rests on top of the foam/sponge since removing the foam would allow people to see through the mesh, ruining the look of it IMO. A drop of super glue was used on each metal tab to keep the plastic cover from moving about.

    DVD-RW closed

    [​IMG]

    DVD-RW open

    [​IMG]

    The small white anti-skid pads were used to make an eject “button” for the DVD-RW. The black ones will be used later.

    [​IMG]

    Looking from below, you can see the double sided tape and the small antiskid pads that are used as a “button”. You can also see the white marks where the super glue has “set”.

    [​IMG]

    That’s all for now folks. More to come later…
     
    Last edited: 17 Sep 2008
  4. BlackWhizz

    BlackWhizz New Member

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    Nifty cable management! Nice steathing!
     
  5. spoon.uk

    spoon.uk Frag Me Bitch!

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    Looking good!
     
  6. wbdog206

    wbdog206 not me

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    nice work so far.
    definitely A+ on the cable and drive stealthing.
     
  7. DarkFear

    DarkFear New Member

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    Thank you for the kind words.
     
    Last edited: 5 Sep 2008
  8. DarkFear

    DarkFear New Member

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    Not really a very big or noteworthy update, but an update nonetheless. I apologise for the relatively bad quality of first few images. I could not for the life of me remember where I put the camera :miffed:

    Heatsink Hoopla

    The motherboard I’m using (Asus P5E-VM HDMI) ships with copper heatsinks to keep the NB and the ICH9R chips cool. While copper does look good in some cases, this was not going to be one of them.

    I will be adding some small heatsink to the MOSFTES of the mainboard to help with the cooling. And because I think it should look cool.

    [​IMG]

    The MOSFETS near the IO ports of the motherboard.

    [​IMG]

    The MOSFETS near the top of the motherboard.

    [​IMG]

    All together now!

    After rummaging around in my “Left-over-PC-crap” box, I found several black heatsinks gathering dust. The big heatsink at the bottom comes from an old AGP graphics card, while the 2 smaller ones at the top of the photo was cut from a heatsink similar to the one with the mounting “tabs” on the left-hand side of the picture.

    [​IMG]

    I found 4 of the smaller heatsinks with the mounting tabs and they were promptly hacked apart to make some smaller sinks for the MOSFETS on the motherboard. Only the area near the mounting tabs will be used.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the finished sink that will be attached to the MOSFETS.

    [​IMG]

    Here you can see the heatsinks after they were installed on the MOSFETS. You’ll also be happy to know that I located my camera.

    [​IMG]

    Overhead view

    [​IMG]

    The copper heatsink on the ICH9R was also replaced with a black version.

    [​IMG]

    Overview

    [​IMG]

    Adding the HDD

    For this particular build I bought myself a nice little 750GB Samsung Spinpoint F1 HDD to replace a 250GB Seagate HDD from my previous build. I added the HDD to the case after installing it in a Zalman ZM-2HC2 HDD Cooler that was also left over from a previous build.

    The HDD is located directly below the DVD-RW and as such, only a short length of cable is needed to power both drives. The PSU that I’m currently using doesn’t have anything like this, so I made my own cable for the drives.

    I saw something similar in one of the threads on Bit-Tech but I cannot remember which one. The person made a power cable for 6 HDD’s sitting directly below one another and I thought that it was rather clever. If someone knows of the thread I’m referring to please feel free to provide a link so that I can give credit where it’s due…

    Anyway, this is my version.

    [​IMG]

    Basically it’s a piece of wire with a Molex connector on one end, and 2 SATA power connectors on the other. The excess cable will be hidden behind the 5.25” cage.

    [​IMG]

    When installed, it will provide power to the DVD-RW and HDD without an unnecessary cables showing. This will keep the cables inside the case to an absolute minimum and should provide a cleaner look.

    That’s all for now folks. More to come later…
     
    Last edited: 1 Sep 2008
  9. DarkFear

    DarkFear New Member

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    Special Delivery

    Yesterday I was rudely awoken by the doorbell. When I opened the door I was greeted by a very short, smelly, rude, unshaven delivery monkey. I think he was a bit hung-over. But he did bring me some nice things. Bless him.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    NO! Bad sticker sticking monkey! BAD! :wallbash:

    [​IMG]

    Luckily the sticker was relatively easy to remove with some medical alcohol.

    Below are a few pictures to compare the size difference between the new and the old heatsinks.

    Zalman CNPS7900 vs TRUE – Front

    [​IMG]

    Zalman CNPS7900 vs TRUE – Side

    [​IMG]

    The TRUE is about 2cm wider than the Zalman with 2 120mm fans mounted

    Thermaltake Extreme Spirit II vs HR-05-SLI – Front view

    [​IMG]

    Thermaltake Extreme Spirit II vs HR-05-SLI – Side view

    [​IMG]

    Initially the HR-05-SLI fins sat directly above the PCI-E 16x slot, but thanks to some creative bondage bEndage there is now a small gap between the back of the GFX card and the fins of the HR-05-SLI.

    [​IMG]

    Even though the gap between the fins and the GFX card was wide enough to not cause problems, I did not want to risk anything happening while the system was assembled outside the case, so I used some anti-skid pads.

    I previously used the small white pads to make a button for the stealthed DVD-RW. This time I used the bigger black pads.

    [​IMG]

    To make the “spacers” for the fins, I stuck two black anti-skid pads together and then stuck that to the fins of the HR-05-SLI.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    System assembled outside of case, to check if everything still works.

    [​IMG]

    You can see the medical alcohol used to clean the base of the TRUE in the background. According to the label in expired in 1996. :worried:

    [​IMG]

    A fan controller was connected to the 2 120mm fans on the TRUE since I wanted to figure out the best cooling/noise ratio. In this case, it seemed that anything between 800-900 RPM was almost inaudible (your mileage may vary though) while still cooling the CPU sufficiently.

    According to my cheap multi-meter, the voltage required to achieve 900RPM is just a tad over 5.5V. I will thus be wiring all the fans to run directly from the 5V rail of the PSU.

    5 Volt Fans

    The easiest way to get fans running off 5V was to simply make a 5V splitter.

    I snipped the ends off some fan cable extension that came with the fan controller. The RPM sensing cable was removed since it won’t be used. The Molex connector was donated by a Molex-to-SATA power connector.

    [​IMG]

    Simple and effective

    [​IMG]

    Attaching the TRUE Fans

    Because of the way that the TRUE would be oriented inside the case, it would be impractical use the supplied wire clips to attach the fans to the heatsink. Zip ties proved to be the answer.

    Sadly all the zip ties of appropriate length was too wide to fit through the screw holes and those narrow enough to fit wasn’t long enough. But that was easily remedied.

    Donors zip ties.

    [​IMG]

    The “zip” end was cut from one zip tie, while the other was cut in half.

    [​IMG]

    2 parts glued together.

    [​IMG]

    Heatshrinked.

    [​IMG]

    All done!

    [​IMG]

    Fans mounted and ready to go.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    That’s all for now folks. More to come later…
     
  10. ry@n

    ry@n Well-Known Member

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    Even the cable ties are custom! That 5v fan power splitter is just ideal, your attention to detail is impressive :clap:
     
  11. DarkFear

    DarkFear New Member

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    Thank you. I stumbled across your “LAN Cubular” thread a while ago and I was very impressed with it. Awesome colour scheme you decided on. :thumb:
     
    Last edited: 5 Sep 2008
  12. pistol_pete

    pistol_pete Air Cooled Fool

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    I don't know if the cable tie extensions are clever, or just daft.

    The 5V splitter is certainly clever though, I might need to do something like that for the fans in my masterplan.

    Enjoy the TRUE120, it's fantastic.
     
  13. modgodtanvir

    modgodtanvir Prepare - for Mortal Bumbat!

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    Ahh, old school, light modding for a system which is just asking for a good thrashing at a LAN party.

    Modding at its very best ;)

    Your work so far is very well executed... and I notice your healthy game collection :thumb:

    Keep up the good work,
    MGT
     
  14. DarkFear

    DarkFear New Member

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    I hope the cable ties turn out to be clever. But no, I don’t think it will be a problem. I tried to pull one apart since I was concerned abut this as well but the glue/heatshrink seems to work pretty well.

    I agree with you on the TRUE. It is truly a great cooler…

    I hope I will be the trasher rather than the trashee… :D

    You sir, have touched upon a very tender subject regarding my game collection…

    I had a even healthier collection of games, but we had a break-in at the house about a year ago and my entire collection of games, DVD’s and music CD’s was ferried away.

    The DVD's and music is a minor thing, but what saddens me the most is that many of those games I will never be able to get again. :waah:

    I had an original copy of “Duke Nukem 1” (my first game EVER!) on a 5.25” floppy disk framed and mounted on my bedroom wall, a gift from my Grandmother no less, which is now probably lying in some !#$!#%!#$!@$ house somewhere. I want to kill something small and furry just thinking about it…:miffed::wallbash::grr::duh::waah:
     
    Last edited: 5 Sep 2008
  15. modgodtanvir

    modgodtanvir Prepare - for Mortal Bumbat!

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    NOOOO!!!!! Not an original Duke Nukem! That is crazy...

    I feel your pain man...
     
  16. Jack_Pepsi

    Jack_Pepsi Clan BeeR Founder

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    Excellent thread so far dude, really good stuff!

    One thing, that I've probably missed, will you be spraying the front fascia black or will you be keeping silver?
     
  17. Xtrafresh

    Xtrafresh It never hurts to help

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    nice one on the cable ties :D
    You do know they can be daisy chained, right?

    One more thing... aren't you worried about the NB heatsink? As it is now, the air has virtually nowhere to go with the graphics that close. How will you provide enough air?
     
  18. DarkFear

    DarkFear New Member

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    Thanks guys. Regarding the questions...

    Depending on my level of boredom, it may or may not be painted. However, I don’t think I’ll paint the fascia just yet, as it kind of matches the silver stripe on my Samsung 226BW.

    Yeah, but my way was more fun. :lol: Also when daisy chained the zip tie create a “ridge” where the two is joined. I wanted/needed it to be flat.

    There are 2 120mm intake fans in the front of the case, so the NB should get plenty of airflow. If not, I have been toying with an idea regarding a PCI fan.
     
    Last edited: 6 Sep 2008
  19. DarkFear

    DarkFear New Member

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    Today I installed the system into the case. I didn’t really take a lot of pictures during the motherboards’ installation because, frankly, I struggled to get the cables running underneath the motherboard to behave. A family member (who will remain unnamed for fear of retribution:worried:) seems to think this is because my “hands are too big and stupid”. They may be on to something…

    However, I did take some pictures right after installing the motherboard into the case.

    [​IMG]

    This is my first SFF build/mod and I knew from the start that there wouldn’t be a lot of space to work inside, but it only became apparent exactly HOW little when I had to remove the rear exhaust fan to plug the 4-pin ATX connector into the motherboard.

    [​IMG]

    The first thing I realised shortly after starting to try and tidy and hide cables behind the 5.25” cage, was that there was simply to much to hide!

    The cable causing my predicament was the power cable running from the HX620W to the DVD-RW, HDD and fans. My only hope for inner peace was to shorten it.

    Picture of cable before I performed surgery on it (top) and an identical one after it was shortened (bottom).

    [​IMG]

    A close-up of the joint on the modified power cable.

    [​IMG]

    The jumble of wires hiding behind the motherboard tray and 5.25” cage. Whoa.

    [​IMG]

    A closer look at the wires hidden behind the 5.25” cage. You can see the joint in shortened power cable poking out just above the 3-pin fan connectors.

    [​IMG]

    The cables for the front USB ports, audio, LED’s and switches. The white cable at the bottom is for audio, the other 2 white cables go to the USB ports and the cables sticking straight up with the aid of a small rubber band are for the LED’s and switches. The flat cable is for the GFX card.

    [​IMG]

    The 24-pin ATX connector and the cable for the GFX card are zip tied to the support bar to stop them interfering with the opening and closing of the side panel.

    [​IMG]

    The unused 8-pin ATX connector is secured behind the PSU with a zip tie and a piece of double sided tape.

    [​IMG]

    A view from the motherboard side showing the USB, audio, LED’s and switches plugged in.

    [​IMG]

    Closer look at the cables for the USB ports, LED’s and switches. I did NOT have fun trying to get them connected!

    [​IMG]

    Front audio cable plugged in. The front audio ports use the AC97 pin layouts. The motherboard has an option in the BIOS to switch between HD and AC97 pin layouts.

    [​IMG]

    Here you can see the distance between the HR-05-SLI fins and the back of the 8800GT. It seems to be getting enough air-flow via the 2 120mm intake fans because after about an hour the fins are barely warm to the touch.

    [​IMG]

    The space between the PSU and drives are a little less cluttered than they would have been in the event of me not making a custom power cable.

    [​IMG]

    A picture taken of the right hand side of the case. The left side panel will be painted Gloss Black on the inside as the grey metal spoils the overall look of the inside IMO. I might also paint the DVD-RW covers if I have any paint left over.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I’ll see if I can get my hands on some Perspex over the weekend so that I can maybe add a case window.

    That’s all for now folks. More to come later…
     
  20. Mizugetsu

    Mizugetsu New Member

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    don't use perspex be different use

    HEXX Mesh will help with temps abit too it's what i'll be using on my TJ08B/S
     
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