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Scratch Build – In Progress Ash stealth mediacenter. Small PC hardwareupdate 13/6-10

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by M.Ø.J, 20 Dec 2009.

?

Should i keep posting logs the way i do. Blurring what the build will end up looking?

  1. Yes, thats gonna be more exciting than knowing what to expect.

    29 vote(s)
    55.8%
  2. No, id rather have the whole design shown, so i know where every part is gonna be located.

    14 vote(s)
    26.9%
  3. Really dont care. Im just looking at pics, so i wouldnt know anyway.

    9 vote(s)
    17.3%
  1. Bullitdodger

    Bullitdodger If it ain't broke....Tweak it.

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    Der var da sørme lige en til.....:D
     
  2. M.Ø.J

    M.Ø.J Getting there!

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    Thanks a lot guys, you made my day. :rock:
    Youre both right. Having thought about it for a LOT of hours ive finally made my mind up.
    Not much need to be done to the headphones to complete them. Im gonna make the two buttons at the buttom out of ash wood. Make the Sennheiser logo out of ashwood and paint all black parts with some black\ metallic paint ( if i can get my hands on some ). I think that will make the headphones look awesome.
    What do you think about this ?



    Read your profile. Youre into Hifi and surround. Can you tell me something ive been thinking bout a lot ?
    Im going to buy some High end Hifi equipment at some point for this whole build.
    I do know what equipment im gonna buy. My question is what soundcard i should buy to get the best sound possible. No store have been able to tell me for sure. Some said that internal was best other external. And at the same time everyone i talked to mentioned diffrent producers and types of soundcards.
    Hope someone can help me out ( Kan du ? )

    Nice, vi er sguda ogsa over det hele os Danskere :D.
     
  3. Azayles

    Azayles Member

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    I have the same question, so I'll await anyone response :)
     
  4. Sheiken

    Sheiken Wat?

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    Endnu en!

    Looking forward to seeing the finished product.
    And judging by your previous work and the facilities at hand, I have high expectations ;)
     
  5. Bullitdodger

    Bullitdodger If it ain't broke....Tweak it.

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    Sorry mate. I'm more of a Specialist Surround/Custom Installer kind-of-guy.:geek:
    Don't know much about PC Soundcards.
     
  6. M.Ø.J

    M.Ø.J Getting there!

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    No worries, seems that not that many does. :)
    Maybe Azayles and me are gonna get some respond lateron. So, anyone out there having any knowledge of PC soundcards for high end hifi ?

    Hehe, so do i.

    The next update of the log is gonna be a boring one. Im not even sure if im gonna be able to post before new year since im preparing some 200 pieces of wood & mdf just for assemblement. However i might just as well get over with the boring stuff, getting to the parts that are going to be fun.

    Eat your toast and drink your beers as usual!
    I shall return. :D
     
  7. Shadowsoul

    Shadowsoul New Member

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    Based on the testing I've made (which is somewhat extensive) the best option I've found is to use an external DAC to connect the computer to amplifier.
    I've listened to Pro-Ject DAC and Musical Fidelity V-Dac, using the integrated soundcard on the mainboard. No matter if i fed the DAC through USB, TOSLINK or Digital Coax it sounded years ahead of any of the soundcards I tested.
    If you are going for anything that resembles serious music capability I strongly recommend you to try out the Musical Fidelity V-Dac (in the price range of us non-sheiks :p ). If price is an issue I would suggest trying out the Pro-Ject DAC. It costs pretty much the same as a decent soundcard, but sounds alot better.

    Soundcard wise the only consumer-level card I liked was the X-Fi based cards (Xonar, Creative X-Fi etc).


    And for clarity: "sounds better" of course is "in my opinion sounds better", always listen to audio equipment.



    Looking forward to seeing this mod finished!
     
  8. M.Ø.J

    M.Ø.J Getting there!

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    Yeah, sounds like its somthing like that i would use to connect between my mediacenter and the amplifier.
    Having read up a little on DAC's, i found this to have recieved good reviews.

    http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/specifications.php?PID=320&Title=Specifications

    One youre familiar with? And the rest of you for that matter. :D
    Thx in advance :thumb:


    Also sorry to say that its gonna be another week before im gonna be able to do a logupdate. Ive had a very busy week, and it seems like i have one just as busy awaiting me :sigh:
     
  9. Shadowsoul

    Shadowsoul New Member

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    I haven't really tested the DacMagic, although i had a short in store-demo. In my opinion it's on about the same level as the Musical Fidelity V-DAC, and I've heard lots of positive things about it as well. The only negative thing I've actually heard is that it affects the signal somewhat (this should be due to the filters I saw it has), so it's only a matter of how much of a purist one is :)

    Honestly I doubt that there is a major difference between the different DACs in the same pricerange, every larger maker knows what they're doing. I'd talk to a local (or at least in country) HIFI-store and see what they have.
     
  10. vils

    vils New Member

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    Nice to see this project, I'm a big fan of danish furniture making.
    Og så er jeg halvdansk :)
    Looking forward for updates.
     
  11. M.Ø.J

    M.Ø.J Getting there!

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    Nice to hear others appreciate danish furnitures like i do.
    Der er da rimeligt mange Danskere herinde :rock: :D

    Yeah, im gonna go to the Hifi store to hear what they have to say about DACs. Im just worried they are gonna leave me as cunfused as last time i went there.
    Thing is, im not much of a hifi genious. A friend of mine is, he helped me put together a superior sound system for surround sound that i can build on over time. But he doesnt have a clue about best way to get signal from PC to amplifier.
    And its not gonna be long till i buy the first "half" of the system, costing me around 5000$ for amplifier and two front speakers. So im just making sure im getting it right the first time.

    Lateron im gonna add subwoofer ( and a sunfire ), center and two new front speakers making the "old" fronts rear speakers for a complete surround setup.
    I just cant afford to spend 15000$ at once for some reason :brrr:
    Its always been my dream to have a supreme sound setup ever since i heard my friends system. So im going all the way.
    Not gonna post the parts just yet thou. Thats gonna be a surprise :D

    Thanks for all the feedback so far !!
     
    Last edited: 3 Jan 2010
  12. DragonONE

    DragonONE New Member

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    Vi er en del ;)

    Looks indeed interesting :) I will keep an eye on your project :)
     
  13. Shadowsoul

    Shadowsoul New Member

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    DACs are pretty easy to explain. A computer of course uses digital signals internally while sound is analog.
    If you plug in an amplifier using the soundcard's analog outputs you use the soundcard's DACs to convert the 1s and 0s to an analog representation.
    If you plug in an amplifier using the soundcard's digital outputs you use the amplifier's DACs to convert it (i have yet to see a hifi-amplifier that actually accepts digital signals tho, which is the problem).

    The separate DACs I've talked about uses circtuitry of much higher quality to do what option 1 above does (there is also some magic involved to "recreate" stuff that's been destroyed by the digital compression). In effect this means that pretty much any soundcard will do as all it will ever send out is a sequence of "On" and "Off". The higher quality DAC then converts this into an analog signal (analog signals are highly dependent on signal quality) instead of the lower quality DACs on the soundcard.
    This results in a much cleaner signal sent to the amplifier, thus reducing pops, crackes, hum, missounds, increasing the sound quality etc.


    And as a recommendation: If you plunk down $5000 for an amplifier and a pair of speakers spend most of it on the amplifer. if you move them to surround later on you will have a serious overkill on the back channels :)

    Side note 2: Make sure you do NOT get a Class D amplifer (digital power), I purchased the Pioneer SC LX71 (Elite 05 in the US iirc) with ICEPower....excellent for movies, utterly useless for music.
    If you decide to get a Class D amplifier despite this make sure to listen thoroughly to it with the end of the line front speakers and make sure you compare it to a Class A or Class AB amplifier. Trust me, it sucks spending ~$3000 on an amplifier for music and mvoies, only to have to buy another receiver for music only.
     
  14. M.Ø.J

    M.Ø.J Getting there!

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    Hey, endnu en :D
    So many Danes in here afterall. Glad to se that casemodding is still thriving in DK as well.

    The amplifier im buying cost some 3000-3500$. My friend already pointed that out for me. Glad to say hear you are of same oppinion. But i have the feeling that both of you know what youre talking about.

    Dont worry, im definately gonna show up with my friend, PC and DAC plus my favorite music CDs and blueray movies to listen and make sure its really what i want to spend my money on.
    Nevertheless all your help is much appreciated Shadowsoul. So once again thanks for the indepht and quick replies. :thumb:

    Headphones Mod - teaser3:
    [​IMG]
    Finally got my hands on some metallic paint to continue the mod. Im gettin there :)
    Sennheiser headphones mod Part1: http://forums.bit-tech.net/showpost.php?p=2181034&postcount=16

    Ash stealth mediacenter - teaser1:
    [​IMG]
    And some progress also on the mediacenter itself.:dremel:
     
    Last edited: 18 Jan 2010
  15. M.Ø.J

    M.Ø.J Getting there!

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    WARNING!!

    Updates coming within the next 24hours.

    Drop your toast! Grab a six pack for each hand.
    It begins !
     
    Last edited: 17 Jan 2010
  16. Azayles

    Azayles Member

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    Ooh epic! -grabs popcorn and soda-
     
  17. M.Ø.J

    M.Ø.J Getting there!

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    Ash stealth mediacenter The cabinets for the electronics. PART 1:

    [​IMG]
    Having had a few VERY busy weeks the log havent been updated as promised.

    Thing is, i like to make the project log in a way that takes you through the processes kind of like a guide.
    However this project is so huge that it would take me forever if i had to do one thing at a time rather than doing all the same stuff at once. So a lot of thing that have been done for the whole build already wont be posted till i can fit it in a post that will make sense to you as reader. Im trying to not end a post in the middle of a process.

    Another thing that i have mentioned before is that this update ( the next also ) is kind of boring since its all about preparing all the pieces of wood needed for the cabinets.
    Hope you will enjoy nevertheless. :D

    Anyway, lets begin.

    Materials used:
    Ash raw wood
    Ash veneer
    MDF boards
    Carpenters white wood glue
    Veneer tape
    Grinding paper - 80, 100, 120, 180, 240


    Tools used:
    Japanese razor saws
    Chissels
    Planer
    Blocks for preasure
    Fish tool
    Clamps
    brush for glue
    Glue roller

    Preparations:
    Cutting the wood for (almost ) final dimensions:

    The panel saw:
    [​IMG]
    This saw is for cutting up big boards into smaller pieces. You can fit boards thats 3meters high and 6 meters wide into it.
    Its not cutting as precise as i need for the cabinets, so im only using it to cut up the MDF i need within 1mm of the final measurements.
    It can cut vertical and horizontal.

    [​IMG]
    Having prepared all the pieces for the top boards and shelfes for the cabinets, its time to start gluing it all together before adding the veneer.
    All these smaller pieces of ashwood is at no time going to be visible while the cabinets is on the wall hanging. So some might think that its a waste of time. To me its all about knowing how its done. Doesnt really matter if its visible or not.

    [​IMG]
    Im gonna need a lot of clamps. Luckily i have them at hand.

    [​IMG]
    Using a small brush i add the white glue to both of the surfaces thats going to be put together. Dont put to much on the surfaces. It can begin to slide while adding presure when pressing it all together with clamps.
    The ash lenghts is some 1-2mm higher and wider than the MDF boards to give me some buffer for the planning after the glue has dried.

    [​IMG]
    The mdf blocks at the ends is only there to prevent the clamps from making marks into the ash lenghts.

    [​IMG]
    Some of these boards are going to have lenghts on two-three sides. To do this properly i need 45degree joints.

    [​IMG]
    starting by measuring and drawing the lines onto the lenght.
    Next using a razor saw to cut it. This needs to be precise as well. 45degrees is 45degrees. Not 46 or 45.1. Skills youll only get by try and error.

    [​IMG]
    Im only gluing one piece at a time onto the MDF while making these joints. Trying to glue 3 at a time will at worst make it all slide and youll end up with a crappy result.
    Also doing it this way you wont have to stress trying to put clamps on all sides while the lenghts fall of, youre preasure blocks bends, and youll end up with a crappy result.

    [​IMG]
    First lenght applied.

    [​IMG]
    Having left the boards to dry for some 2hours they are ready for the next step.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    Having dried, its time to add the ash lenghts to the sides of the boards. This can be tricky since you want the joints to fit 100%. Once again its a matter of try and error to get the skills to be in control of the materials rather than the materials controlling you.

    [​IMG]
    Having some pieces dried its time to plan all the ashlenghts to get a smooth surface to add the veneer onto.
    Im using a stanley hand planer for this. Once again i could have used a wide belt sander and saved myself some hours of work.

    [​IMG]
    Wide belt sander.

    Im doing it the way i was teached. The hard way.

    [​IMG]
    The way ive put my planer here is a no no. I would get my ass kicked if the carpenter that teached me back in the days saw this. :D

    [​IMG]
    Planing the surface, this is what i ended up with. Just as it needs to be, flat and true.
    And this is the right way to put your planer.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    The ends of the ash lenghts need to be fitted as well. Im so used to using this saw, so cutting it to match the MDF 100% is easy for me. Normally you would use a planer for this process also.

    [​IMG]
    The finished result.

    Preparing the vener for all the MDF boards.

    [​IMG]
    I could have choosen to just make one whole surface instead of three. However i like the idea that i can add more cabinets lateron if i feel like it.

    [​IMG]
    Also doing it this way i can choose how the surfaces should fit together.

    [​IMG]
    Knowing the sizes of the surfaces needing vener i cut it some 3-4cm wider than needed just to make sure that it wont slide when glue is applied and it goes into the vener press.

    [​IMG]
    Vener presser.

    [​IMG]
    Some of the boards are wider than the vener i have at hand. This means i will hav to join the vener.

    [​IMG]
    You will have to cut the vener VERY precisely or it will show as soon as it have been glued. This is hard to do. I havent gone through this process for many years, but somehow i managed to pull it of without making any errors.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    This tape is what i use to join the vener. Its more like a thin paper with glue applied on one side ( its like the glue on stamps ).
    Just add water onto it. Press the two parts of vener together and apply the tape pressing it onto the vener. Now it sticks for real.
    Fun thing is when you need to get it off again. Add water to it, and it will slip in a matter of minutes.

    [​IMG]
    One piece done.

    [​IMG]
    And now all the vener is ready to be applied to the MDF.

    [​IMG]

    So this is the end of this log. Part 2 of the cabinet log is going to be about gluing the vener onto the MDF, adding wide lenghts to all visible surfaces. Grinding and applying varnish.

    Cabinets for the electronics-Part2

    Eat your toast and drink your beers as usual.
    I shall return! :)
     
    Last edited: 29 Jan 2010
  18. Haynes

    Haynes Like the manual, just less useful

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    Nice work there, I'll be folowong this closely hoping to pick up a few new ideas :thumb:
     
  19. Azayles

    Azayles Member

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    Oooh this is some good progress :D Loving the plethora of clamps that even JHanlon would be proud of! :p
     
  20. M.Ø.J

    M.Ø.J Getting there!

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    Sennheiser headphones mod Part2- Final:

    Continued from Sennheiser headphones mod Part1: http://forums.bit-tech.net/showpost.php?p=2181034&postcount=16
    [​IMG]

    So having had all these ideas on how it should look when finished, i mut say that ive changed my mind so many times.

    First i wanted to veneer the top also. This i went away from due to some contrast issues.

    Then i just wanted to do a Sennheiser logo and font:
    [​IMG]
    This i also dropped due to the fact that it first of all would be very hard to do, but mostly because the rest of all the mods for my Mediacenter and livingroom would be very anonymos.
    I finally decided to go with some advises i got from Cheapskate and stonedsurd.

    [​IMG]
    So needing to only veneer one more part for the mod, it was all back to grinding and using the method with contact glue as describeb in part1.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Next was to cut the holes for the two buttons which turned out to be tricky since they were so damn small and squared. I did manage to pull it off thou i was sweating like a pig and skhaking on my hands like hell.

    Oh, i did drill the holes for the leds before Adding the veneer to the buttom panel.
    [​IMG]
    First two holes went well. Then disaster happened. A piece of the veneer broke of. Even thou its a piece smaller than 1x1mm it still sucks a lot. I do have some furniture wax to correct things like this. But im gonna put new veneer on it when i have some time to do it.
    For now im in the middle of so many other processes and mods for the mediacenter that this wont have top priority.

    Time to paint all the parts that havent gotten veneer added.

    [​IMG]
    It took me a while to get my hands on this metallic black. But it was all worth the wait. I like the final result a lot and think its gonna fit well ont some shelfes thats gonna be made of dark glass above the mediacenter itself.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    So started out grinding all parts with 320 to remove fat and make a surface that would have the paint stick better. Also covered everything that i didnt want to get paint onto ( electronics, etc. )

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    So time for painting. All three pictures above shows the diffrent parts having recieved first coating. I was then waiting some 3-5minutes between each coating ending up with 3-4 layers on each part. Next i waited some 24hours then grinding it all with corn 500 before giving it the final 2 layers of coating.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    So these pictures show the parts having recieved the final coatings.

    Time to do some magic with the varnish on the veneer:
    [​IMG]
    Im grinding the surfaces with corn320 to get a perfectly smooth varnish and removing any knots and "hills". Then again "grinding" with steelwool type 0000 same directions as the veins on the ashwood veneer.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    As you see it looks like im totally ruining the finish, but its all about smoothing it out. Make sure you dont go through the varnish, that will make you have to start all over, removing all varnish just to add new varnish.

    Next up its steelwool:
    [​IMG]
    Starting with the edges i avoid getting to many scratches on the front which will be the focus point.

    [​IMG]
    Thenb the front. This process is once again a matter of try and error. Push to hard youll get annoying scratches. Push to little you will end up with "dead spots".
    Unfortunately its very hgard to catch good images that shows how much a diffrence their is between just applying varnish and going through all these processes.
    But believe its all worth it.

    Almost feels like a babys ass. Soooo smooth :D

    [​IMG]
    Final step is to polish it with twist that has somthing on it called parafinoil in Danish. Dont know the English term, but i will find out somehow. Maybe some of the Danes out there can help me.:idea:

    [​IMG]
    Having done all this its finally time to just reassemble everything.

    [​IMG]
    You know the bad gut feeling one gets when having reassemblet a piece of electronics you yourself disassemblet, and youre left with two screws you dont have a clue about where belongs? :eyebrow: :duh: :brrr:

    Final Pictures:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Pictures arent as good as i want em to be. Maybe its just to dark here at the moment. I will try to get some better pictures tomorrow if im home while i still have daylight around me. :(

    Edit: I "repaired" the headphones with cabinetmakers wax. I just couldnt look at them knowing that that piece of vener had broken of. This is temporary. Im still gonna put all new vener on it when i feel like it.
    You can still see the part where the vener broke of on some of these pictures, its just not as noticable as before, and its mostly due to lightning from the camera. I cant se it when i look at it irl, from the right angle that is. :sigh:
    So anyway, this is how it turned out.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In case you missed out on it:
    Sennheiser headphones mod Part1: http://forums.bit-tech.net/showpost.php?p=2181034&postcount=16

    So with this "quick mod" done its time to embrace another one.
    This is it:
    [​IMG]
    LiteOn external DVD drive.

    Eat your toast and drink your beer as usual.
    I shall return!! :thumb:
     
    Last edited: 26 Jan 2010

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