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Case Mod - In Progress Benzaiten : a NAS in a Phanteks Evolv Shift

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by Mizuwari, 29 Nov 2019.

  1. Mizuwari

    Mizuwari In vino veritas

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    Hi Bit-Tech fellows ! :clap:

    So, because I don't want Cheapskate thinks I'm only here to make "really bad puns", and also because I'm thinking about it for a long time (the project, not the bad puns), here comes what I'm working on (and still thinking about) those days : Benzaiten. It will be a NAS in a Phanteks Evolv Shift (but you've already guessed it because it's in the title).



    INTRODUCTION : WHY A NAS ?


    A few years ago, someone I met in a bar asked me if I wanted to become a high-tech journalist and review cameras. I was drunk. It was 5 PM. I said yes. I became a high-tech journalist the week after and, almost 7 years later, still am. Reviewing cameras is quite easy : you borrow a camera and/or a lens from a camera/lens manufacturer, you go outside, take pictures, go in a lab, take pictures, then write a review about it. The tricky question is : what should you do then with all these pictures ? Easy : you store it somewhere. Because maybe one day, you never know, you will need them to compare the newer-super-duper last gen camera with the previous (but not always obsolete) one. When you work for a newspaper, it's easy task : you just have to use the company's NAS, and fill it up until the dev team comes and tell you to slow down. But...

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    Two years ago, I became a freelance journalist. And in parallel of my job, I still took pictures for myself. Storage was a double issue : my own work was dispatched over the years between many external hard drives (and I don't really remember which stores which pictures), and while I keep reviewing cameras, I don't have access to the commodity of my previous company's NAS anymore. Worst : as new cameras tend to have higher and higher resolutions, well, they produce bigger and bigger files. Plus, I often use cameras from the "45+ Mpx Generation" (Nikon D850 & Z 7, Panasonic Lumix S1R, Leica SL2/Q2, etc), and all of them produce RAW files over 80 Mo... So, for each camera or lens review, it's tens, sometimes hundreds of Go I have to store somewhere. Then came the idea of building a NAS.



    WHY BENZAITEN ?

    Benzaiten () is, according to Wikipedia, "Benzaiten is a Japanese Buddhist goddess who originated from the Hindu goddess Sarawasti. [She] is the goddess of everything that flows : water, time, words, speech, eloquence, music and by extension, knowledge." I guess that, for something intended to store images, videos and other medias, it makes sense. Also, even if it's a little bit ostentatious as a NAS' name (and maybe disrespectful), it's still better than my first ideas : BanaNAS or AnaNAS...

    (But, well, I cannot make bad puns anymore.)



    WHY THE EVOLV SHIFT FROM PHANTEKS ?

    Because pre-built NAS look really, really bad. And because the Evolv Shift looks really, really good. It was love at the first sight when Luke from LTT made a video about it at Computex 2017, while it was still "Project 217". And it's the most beautiful case I've seen since the InWin 901 I had (but my ex-girlfriend kept it when she left me). Also, these last weeks, I really enjoyed what Luke@90 made with it in his "Project : PLK-218XE".

    There is one big issue with this case : it is not supposed to be able to accept more than two SSDs. As I won't watercool it (because, well, it's a NAS... even if the idea of a watercooled NAS is appealing), I wondered if, maybe, the bottom chamber would be big enough for five or six 3.5'' HDD, the only way to get 30 To (or more) of storage without having to sell my kidneys, lungs or anything else.

    The Phanteks Evolv Shift is well known for it's exotic internal architecture. But how tight is it inside ? On Phanteks' website, you can only find the external dimensions, which are 470 x 274 x 170 mm. I looked through the web for the internal dimensions but found nothing. I didn't want to but the best solution would be to buy one. So I bought one and filled it with spare parts laying around : :idea:

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    (I'll never get tired of this sexy grill.)



    HOW MANY 3.5'' HDDs CAN YOU PUT IN THIS CASE ?

    Well, the easiest way to get an answer is to try. I only have four spare drives, but they should be enough.

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    An hard drive is 147 mm long (exactly 146,99 mm according to Seagate Ironwolf's specs sheet). And the case's depth is only 155 mm once you've removed the glass panels. This is really tight, but it fits. Let's try with more HDDs and different configurations/orientations :

    Side by side :
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    Vertically stacked :
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    I've always loved the idea of "floatting" disks. But this solution would only work for one disk for a simple reason : the attachment holes on the side of the disks don't match with the grooves on the front panel : :wallbash:

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    Horizontally stacked :
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    In this configuration, the disks could touch the GPU but, well, it's a NAS, so I don't need a GPU. Here, the real problem is that the grooves in the bottom of the case are exactly the same as the one in front, so there would be an issue on how to attach the HDDs :

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    Question : "How many 3.5'' can you put in a Phanteks Evolv Shift ?"
    Answer : Only one or two... No really helpfull for a NAS. :waah:



    STRIPPING DOWN THE CASE AND RE-THINKING THE INTERNAL ARCHITECTURE

    As I REALLY want and love this Evolv Shift case, I NEED to mod it. I think that's what we're all here for on the Modding forum. And every modding process starts with a strip tease and some sketches. It would be a nice opportunity to confirm how cleverly designed this case is. Sexy AND smart :lol:

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    And, for the sketches... well, I have to shamefully admit I don't know how to use Sketch Up, neither Blender, Maya, Autocad, or any fancy 3D CAD program. So, we'll go the simplest way, "old school" way : a pen, some paper, and rules. The drawings are at 1:2.5 scale (because it's the biggest I can do to match A4 sized paper).

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    As you can see, I will use 5 HDDs in a staggered arrangement to get this "levitating" look. And also because 6 HDD's would not fit and maintenance would be complicate. Now that I have a better idea of what I should do, it's time to find how I should do it.



    TOOLS AND MATERIALS : FROM SEXY TO SCRAPPY

    Of course, someone unable to use Sketch Up doesn't know how to use a CNC or a laser cutter. And the only printers I know a little bit about are Fine Art photo printers, not 3D printers. So, the tools will also be old school : saws (japanese saws, metal saws, gooseneck saws, etc.), chisels, planes (japanese planes and regular planes), files, my trusty-rusty workbench, clamps. And pens. And rules. And masking tape. Nothing really high tech. Sorry :( There is another reason to do so : I live in an apartment, and the walls are as thin as a paper sheet. So, the only electric tool I will use can be "low noise" ones. I have a power drill, and also a jigsaw (but I don't like the sound it makes). Maybe I'll buy a router if I really need one, but that's all.

    About the materials : because how ecological considerations, and for the fun of upcycling, I will try to use, as much as possible, only scrap materials laying around my apartment. There are also economical reasons : why should I spend money (I don't have) in materials (I already have) ?

    So, there will be aluminium : 2mm thick corners, 1/2/5 sheets, 10/20 mm blocks, and other scrap aluminium stuffs hidden somewhere but I can't remember exactly where.

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    There will be acrylic (mostly 20 mm cast acrylic) :

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    And wood. A LOT of wood. Mostly pine wood, for a simple reason : not long ago, I had to redo my decor. So I went the "low budget way" : buying wine crates. Lot of wine crates. I use them for almost everything :

    As toolboxes
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    As bookshelves for books and cameras
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    I even have wine crates to store smaller wine crates :
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    And leftover mismatched random wood planks :
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    IN THE NEXT EPISODE : ABOUT THE FRAME

    First : sorry for this very, very long intro. :blah: But don't worry : work has already start ! I just don't want you to already make an overdose of me... Thanks for reading till here :clap:, and see you for the next episode, with some teaser :

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  2. Jeff Hine

    Jeff Hine Nothing special

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    M- AND R-series Leicas...? Taste in cameras detected - probably empty wallet, too. :p
     
  3. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    *sigh* OK. You can use puns, but be careful with them. :lol:
    Looking forward to seeing what you build. Also the wine crates thing is so French it hurts. :D
     
  4. Mizuwari

    Mizuwari In vino veritas

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    Wow ! You, for sure, have eagle eyes ! The Leica M was "obvious" but the Leica Rs are almost invisible on the picture. To be honest, the R4, R5 and R8 are only here for spare parts (I don't use them), and I forget I have them most of the time. (And about my wallet, I think I'm gonna eat pastas or rice today...) :hehe:

    Oh ! I did not know that "wine crates" were that French. Maybe I should buy myself a berret, some fromage and une baguette. :hip:


    Anyway, I think it's time for a first update and dive into effective building.


    UPDATE 1 : (RE)MAKING A FRAME


    So, I really love this case's design, but I have to modify it a little bit in order to fit a NAS with 5 drives inside. As I'd also love to put some wood accents inside, this means : drilling holes, filling holes with epoxy, cutting bigger holes for fans, grinding, sanding, painting... Wait. Stop. I cannont do this to such a sexy enclosure ! :eyebrow: (And I don't have the tools to do so.) After some thought, I've decided to go the lazy way : I won't touch the case, keep it as a reference and organ donor, and instead of modifying it, I will buy a new frame out of aluminium and wood. :dremel:


    Step 1 : Wooden front panel

    This step is quick and easy. As I just need a front panel as a reference, I caught a plank from my ex-girlfriend's bookshelf I dismantled (the bookshelf, not the girlfriend), and roughly cut at the size I want : 425 x 230 mm. This piece of wood is 17 mm thick and, as it was already processed, each side is perfectly flat (contrary to the planks from the wine crates, which are a little bit twisted so not usable at this stage).

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    Step 2 : Cutting and filing aluminium for the frame

    Now that I have a reference to work with, I can focus on aluminium. The frame has a very simple structure : four vertical bars (425 mm long), four horizontal bars (234 mm long). They are respectively cut out of 1000 x 52 x 30 mm and 1000 x 44 x 24 mm corner, both 2 mm thick.

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    While cutting the vertical bars which will go in front of the frame, I realized that my saw was too short and would not be, maybe, able to reach the center of the piece. Luckily, it appeared that both cuts met exactly halfway. :lol: That was tight, but some changes in the design will be needed.

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    The edges are really rough, so a lot of filing is required to remove the sawing marks and make them straight :

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    The process for the other vertical bars (at the back) and horizontal bars (on top and bottom) is mostly the same, so I won't bother you with it and skip it. I just want to make a focus on the design of the back vertical bars. Because of this "too short saw" issue, I've decided to make shorter cuts and keep a "positive notch" with more material in the middle of the bar. I don't know yet how I will integrate this asymmetry on the final project, but I have to move on :

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    I haven't anticipated how tricky these back bars would be, and also didn't really understand why there was a "negative notch" on the top back of the Phanteks Evolv Shift. It's only when I did a test fit that I realized why :

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    This notch is here so the top grill can fully open. Stupid me :duh: Some adjustments are needed. Which means : more filing... :worried:

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    Now I can open it ! A view from the inside :

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    After hours, and hours (and hours) of filing, I ended up with my four vertical bars. The horizontal one went much faster, because they are shorter and they don't have to be cut/filed on both sides for the simple reason I haven't finalized their design yet :

    [​IMG]


    Step 3 : Rough test fit (now it looks like a case... almost)


    I cut a second piece of wood, from the same bookshelf's plank, for the back of the case. As I don't want to use rivets nor screws (to be honest, the least screws I use, the happier I am), I sawed some (ugly) grooves in the wood to slide the horizontal bars in. Everything else is held in place with folded paper wedges and masking tape. (I told you it would be a "low tech" build.)

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    Now that I have kind of a "clone" of the original Phantek's case, I can compare them :

    Front :
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    Back :
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    Side :
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    I know, it's not squared. At all. But it's on purpose : final adjustments will come later, and it's easier to remove material in excess than remake a new part from scratch because it's a little bit too short. While I was test fitting it, I threw some HDD's and a MB inside :

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    For the fun, the MB is held by chopsticks (because why not, and because I have a lot of bamboo chopsticks) :

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    And... voilà ! Hope you enjoyed it. Now, I have to think about the next step. Will it be the motherboard tray, the HDDs tray, or something else ? We'll see together :blush:
     
    Last edited: 4 Dec 2019
  5. Jeff Hine

    Jeff Hine Nothing special

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    I used to work in camera shops... I'd recognise them red dots anywhere.
     
  6. Arboreal

    Arboreal Well-Known Member

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    You & me both! I worked in pro photo retail for 17 years selling all the good stuff including Leica, Hasselblad, Mamiya, Linhof, Sinar and Macs at one point

    Moi Aussi... I have an R8 'paperweight' that was damaged beyond repair!

    Back on topic...I'm looking forward to seeing how you sorted the HDD positioning and support
     
  7. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    The saw looks like it has a blade mounting pin on the bottom of the head. That means you could rotate the blade 90 degrees and continue the long cuts. :thumb:
    As for your warped boards; A little moisture, a lot of weight, a flat surface, and some time. :D (Cheapskate industries does not guarantee the material will not re-warp.)
    Looking good... and suspiciously bordering on a scratch build.
     
  8. Mizuwari

    Mizuwari In vino veritas

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    Ah ah ! :hehe: I sometimes wonder if the world would be a bette place if there were more people shooting with large format cameras instead of taking selfies... And the best paperweight I own is a Praktina FX model M with "Made in USSR occupied Germany" written on it. Sadly, it would need to be CLAd in depth, but I don't have time to do so (which is a shame because its Carl Zeiss Planar is pristine).

    There will be a lot of work on the core structure of the frame before working on the HDDs, but I already have a good idea about how they will be positioned and supported ;)


    Indeed ! The saw blade can be turned at 45°, but this wouldn't not change the fact that the saw is (almost) too short to reach the center of the pieces. Luckily, I won't have to cut such long pieces now (or I hope so, you'll never know, design can change), so I'm ok with it right now.
    Thanks for your tips to unwarp the boards ! And if your technique does not work, don't worry, I won't ask for a refund :grin:
    About the "scrat buildness" of this project, well, I don't really know when a case mod finishes and when a scrat build begins. It seams like, these days, it's more and more common to do heavy modifications on industrial cases, with replacement of the panels by distroplates and other home made stuffs. If I look at greensabbath's Morphosis, it's, for sure, a "case mod". But what about, for exemple, twister7800gtx's work, especially projects like "Radioactive" ? Except the bottom panel, everything is brand new so, in some way, it is more a scratch build than a case mod. :oldconfused::dremel: For Benzaiten, I think the category will depend on how close to the initial case it will look and how many "organs" I will transplant from it. Today, I don't have the answer yet (and, honestly, I don't really care about it, I just want to have fun... and hopefully a working NAS before 2020's spring :grin:).

    (I should write less and mod more. There's a huge piece of 20 mm aluminium waiting for being cuted and filed... by hand, of course, or it wouldn't be as fun. :rock:)
     
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