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Scratch Build – Complete ⭐ Dr. Who TARDIS build

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by artoodeeto, 21 Jan 2019.

  1. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    After finishing my Sandcrawler scratch build a few years ago (the project log isn't on this site anymore but I think the mod of the month page still has a few photos of it https://bit-tech.net/reviews/modding/mod-of-the-month/mod-of-the-month-may-2010/7/ ), I've taken a long break from major case building. That changed earlier this month when I started construction on a TARDIS model, using plans from Wood Working for Mere Mortals, https://woodworkingformeremortals.com/build-your-own-tardis/

    My model, being intended as a computer case, is scaled down to about 1/3 the size of these plans. There are various minor measurement mistakes, mainly from things scaling down from, say, 5.5" to 1.937 inches. Rounding things off to make realistic measurements resulted in having to adjust dimensions of a few parts here and there, but nothing too major. As I type this, the outer shell is mostly done.

    Still on the to-do list? A whole heck of a lot, as I'm sure many of you can relate, it feels like the to-do list is getting longer rather than shorter. Still, I'm happy with it so far and I can't wait to start adding stuff inside!

    In this first batch of photos, we see things progress from literally a bunch of cheap furring strips from the hardware store to the beginnings of the side panels. Just a matter of ripping the strips down with the table saw...repeatedly....oh so many times...generating an INSANE amount of sawdust, then hitting the strips with the chop saw.

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    Last edited: 22 Jan 2019
  2. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    A few more photos, putting the side panels and base together, and getting started on that pyramid roof.

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    Last edited: 22 Jan 2019
  3. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    And some more photos, adding the columns that actually hold the whole thing together, and finishing the base and assembling the pyramid roof. This bit took quite the set of equations (at least for me, I haven't studied geometry in 20 years), but I eventually got there. Turns out my chop saw wasn't precise enough for the miter and bevel angles needed, so I did the best I could. Wood filler and sanding will take care of the rest.

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    Last edited: 22 Jan 2019
  4. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Starting to look like a TARDIS! I used scrap material left over from ripping down the furring strips to make the window frames. It was a tremendous amount of very tedious work, as each frame opening is a slightly different size. I had to measure each frame piece and place it, then move on to the next, to avoid confusion. It was a slow process, but worth it. Most of the middle vertical pieces are actually in there pretty tight, meaning it would take a fair bit of force to break them.

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    Last edited: 22 Jan 2019
  5. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Last but not least, I've added the boxes for the Police Box signs, the little bits on the corners of the middle roof section, and with that the outer shell is just about done! Soon I'll be placing and adding the computer components, and then on to MUCH more fun work!


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  6. random2k4

    random2k4 Active Member

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    Interesting project. I did my own Tardis build back at the 24h live modding challenge at gamescom 2016 in Cologne, Germany.
    Curiouse to see what you will end up with.
     
  7. DesignDoge

    DesignDoge Staff Staff

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    Can't wait to see the finished thing!
     
  8. MLyons

    MLyons Half dev, Half doge. Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Very interesting. As a Dr Who fan I'm looking forward to seeing this completed. Keep up the great work :thumb:
     
  9. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Looking great already. :D
    Your sandcrawler is still here. It's just that the links that are broke from the software migration.

    Any time I get a bad angle on the chop, I can trace it back to the work slipping. Clamping becomes critical if you ever tilt the blade unit because it likes to push the material as it cuts. You end up with a slightly round cut if it slips. Reason 2 would be the height discrepancy of the plastic they put around the cutting area. This can be fixed by putting something stiff under the part you are cutting.

    [Topper from Dilbert mode] I had an aunt that made wooden survey stakes in the 70's. After a session her entire garage would be covered 1/2" deep in sawdust.
     
  10. MLyons

    MLyons Half dev, Half doge. Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Think I fixed those last week.
     
  11. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Thanks all! Believe me, I'm looking forward to seeing it finished too. Partly because I want my parking space in my garage back :D

    Small update this time - I got the textured acrylic I'll use for the windows. I included shots with my hand right against it and moved away from it a bit (as well as no hand behind it at all) to give a sense of how the texturing obscures the view. I also got the Police Public Call Box signage made. Had a local sign shop make it, and it turned out fantastic! It's printed on a white translucent plastic, so the LED lights I plan on putting in behind it will make the letters glow.

    These items will be among the last things to go on, since there's no point in giving myself extra things to mask off before I paint it. In the meantime I'll be using a newly-acquired 120mm hold saw to cut holes into 4 of the 8 window panes to allow the fans to blow air into/out of the case. Two of these panes will go on the left side of the case, above the computer parts, where the radiator and fans will be located in the window openings, and the other two cut panes will go on the opposite side with a couple of intake fans. If the acrylic cracks then I just won't put acrylic at all in those windows. Hopefully it'll be ok though. I've learned from past experience, getting drill bits stuck in melted acrylic, to go slow.

    Next update will likely be starting to place the computer parts, because I'm rapidly approaching the point where I can't progress further without doing that. Stay tuned...

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  12. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    More progress - I've built the scaffolding that'll hold (most of) the computer parts. Namely, the motherboard, PCI-E cards, hard drives, radiator, and two of the fans. Bolted into the base will be the PSU and another intake fan, as well as the Liang DDC 3.25 pump.

    But first, I had a bit of a mishap. As I was dismantling the computer (located atop my wife's desk, and very uncreatively bolted to a piece of plywood the last 6 years or so), I was of course getting things tangled and bumping things. In the process of trying to extricate the PSU from the general tangle, I bumped one of the cooling tubes. And the plastic fitting attached to the lower part of the pump decided to shear off. The hose came loose, the screw threading from the fitting stayed in the hole in the pump, and dark purple Feser-1 coolant started dribbling off the hutchtop, onto the desk, soaking papers, spattering on the carpet, and generally making a big mess. My attempts to deal with it initially made it even worse, resulting in a large purple stain on the carpet and more coolant on the desk. Not how I wanted to spend my evening.

    Thankfully the coolant doesn't actually stain the carpet, so after numerous swipes with the carpet shampooer vacuum, I got the purple dye out. It easily wiped up off the desk, so the only thing damaged were unneeded papers. Because I'd had the computer mounted horizontally, due to an earlier case design idea that fizzled out years ago, the computer itself didn't get coolant on it. Whew!

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    Using a drill bit, and hand-twisting it to the left, I got the piece of green fitting out of the screw hole.

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    This was my initial test fit, just to get a sense of things. I'd intended from the get-go to mount the system vertically in the TARDIS, since there's so much vertical space relative to the horizontal space. And I'd intended to have the plugs facing an opening I was going to cut in the back of the case for access. At this point as I stared at it, I started thinking maybe if I turned things 90 degrees, life would be easier. So, I rotated the whole motherboard tray a quarter turn so the plugs are now facing up (the initial thought had been to have them face down, but then it would have been...challenging...to get to them). I also ditched the idea of mounting everything on plywood, and went to the hardware store and got a couple 8 foot long 2x2 boards. I cut a couple of pieces that were initially 27" tall, although I've now trimmed them down to around 25" as they didn't need the extra height. I mounted the motherboard tray on these, and made a mounting plate at the top which will be sandwiched between the radiator and two 120mm fans.
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    Around this time I also started trying to figure out what to do with that PSU. It's very frustrating, how large they are, when they don't really need to be. Darn ATX form factor. I made an abortive attempt to extract it from the case. I did this on my sandcrawler case, but I was able to snip wires on that PSU such that I could pull the wall outlet plug and the rocker switch out from the outside, then resolder the wires I'd snipped. Not so with *this* PSU. It's power plug is soldered directly onto a little circuit board on the inside, so it's impossible to pull it apart. I could have used my Dremel on the PSU case but I decided there was too much risk of damaging the PSU and I left it intact. I ended up placing it, fan side down (you'll see later there's a hole now so it can pull in air from underneath) under the motherboard. That means it'll be visually out of the way behind the permanent front panel on the left side of the TARDIS, and I think I'll build a little crib, for lack of a better term, sort of an open box, around the space between the PSU and the front of the TARDIS to help contain all the cables coming out the front of the PSU.
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    Now this motherboard tray, I've had this for going on 16 or 17 years now. Back in 2002-ish, when I built my first attempt at a Sandcrawler computer case, I'd gotten this tray and used a hacksaw to cut it down to size. It's had some VERY sharp edges and corners ever since. Sliced-off fingers waiting to happen. So, I took the opportunity I had now to use the Dremel and grind those sharp edges down, blunt them a bit.
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    And here's the partially finished scaffold in the case. You can see the pump which will be positioned off to the right in the corner, along with a second intake fan (in addition to the one in the PSU).
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    And there's even room for the door to open/close!
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    Now to start working on the radiator mounting plate. I carefully positioned the fans over the screw holes on the radiator. But I couldn't screw them in because once I flipped this sandwich over, I wouldn't be able to get the screws out. The goal here was to trace out the circles for the fan openings in the mounting plate so I could cut them out with my newly-acquired 120mm hole saw. After a number of tries, I got the fans positioned correctly over the screw holes, carefully laid the plywood on top, gently and then firmly gripped the whole thing, flipped it over, and removed the radiator. This left the fans in the right spot, and I traced the opening.
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    More of the same with the base - I cut the openings for the PSU fan and the extra intake fan.
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    And here's the almost-finished scaffolding, shown on the base more or less where it'll end up.
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    Once I got the big holes drilled in the radiator mounting plate, I was stuck for a bit. I needed a way to mark the screw holes on the plywood so they'd line up with the radiator. I couldn't just position the fans and mark the screw holes - if they were even a little bit off or spaced incorrectly, the screw holes wouldn't line up. After awhile, I had the brilliant idea of laying a piece of paper atop the radiator, and using a pencil to punch holes in each screw hole. I then taped this paper onto the plywood and drilled the holes. It all lines up perfectly! The photo below shows the scaffolding with the mounting plate bolted on (after I used the jigsaw to shave a bit off the top of the plate, it was a little too big).
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    Last but not least, I'd originally planned on putting the TARDIS on top of my wife's hutchtop on her desk. I specifically sized the base at 16" square to fit up there. But I was nervous. We live in southern California, about an hour outside of Los Angeles (but not in it, thank heavens). If you know anything about SoCal, we're a little prone to earthquakes out here. I wanted a way to secure the TARDIS so the next temblor didn't send it tumbling, and putting it up on a 5.5' high hutch top, weighing 25 or 30 pounds, seemed a colossally bad idea. I didn't really want it sitting right on the carpet either. After thinking a bit, I used the rest of the pair of 8' long 2x2 boards I bought to make legs. I'll use some extra plywood as a "table top" but one that's basically the same size as the base. I'll bolt the legs onto this table top, then use a couple of screws and bolt the TARDIS to the table top. I miter cut the legs at 22.5 degrees and will have them angled out diagonally from the corners to give the TARDIS a much larger footprint, which should make it REALLY difficult to knock over.
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    My garage after a full day's work...seems to be getting messier rather than cleaner...
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  13. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Today's progress - I got the scaffolding support for the computer completely finished, and installed on the base. Only work left to do on the base (I think) is to fill the gaps and smooth out the rough spots with wood filler, sand it, prime it, and paint it.

    I started the day by cutting a notch in this support bar so the various cables could run behind the motherboard, but the support bar would keep them from sticking out far enough to catch the top if I'd removed it and was putting it back on.
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    I then got the PSU fan lined up with the fan hole, and marked and drilled the holes for the screws that now hold it in place.
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    I then placed the scaffolding, marked it, drilled holes, and screwed it in with brackets. After that I flipped the base over and put two 3" wood screws up into each post. That sucker is SOLID. It ain't movin' at all. Which is good as the computer will add several pounds of weight all on one side.
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    When I put the top onto the base, I discovered a few mismeasurements. The main one was that the mounting plate for the radiator was about an inch too low. It wouldn't have been a huge deal, but it was an easy (if irritating) fix. I unscrewed it, moved it up, and screwed it back in. I then placed the PSU on the base, and built a partial wall around it to help contain the power cables that really, really, wanted to go every which way.
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    After that I used a 2.125" hole saw and drilled a hole behind the PSU, through which I'll route the various cables. This way I don't have to cut an opening in the back of the case. My wife's system doesn't have that many cables attached to it, and we have a couple USB hubs (one of which is that TARDIS hub from ThinkGeek).

    It was at this point that I made a discovery that I'd screwed up. That wall I built around the PSU was *just* tall enough that my wife's GTX 1060 would hit it. I didn't leave enough space. I could solve the issue by getting rid of the wall, cutting a notch in it, or moving the motherboard tray up. I decided on option number 3. It wasn't the easiest of my options, but I thought that if I ever put a video card in there that's longer than 10.5", I was going to have to move the tray up anyway. May as well do that now. I figure the longest cards (the GTX 2080 for instance) are around 13.5" so I allowed about that much space and moved the tray up accordingly. I then had to move a number of motherboard mounting screws...the tray uses an ancient design where it has square holes with clips that have screw threading. Rather than just having screwholes in the proper spots for the standoff pegs. Consequently, 4 of the 9 standoff pegs are screwed right into the wood as I only have 5 of those little metal clips that fit in the square holes.
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    This photo shows the proximity of the cable routing hole to the PSU. I really need to get a 90 degree power cable. You get the idea of what I'm doing, obviously eventually that power cable and all the others will be pulled all the way through the hole. I'll cut a corresponding one in the table that will act as a stand for this whole thing. That little wall that the power cable butts up against in this photo, as I discovered later in the evening, will have to be removed. The top currently fits fine, but I'm planning on adding a feature inside the top that won't fit if I leave that little wall there.
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    This next shot shows the approximate placement of the pump and second intake fan. This fan will light up blue, it's one of those Thermaltake Riing fans. [​IMG]

    Inside the upper portion, I used some scrap plywood and added a layer on the inside of the back panel (the part that's parallel to the floor in this photo). This was to bring the surface either flush with, or as it turned out, slightly past that central piece of scrap I used to reinforce the central seam between the two wall sections. I'm planning on adding something in there later and needed an overall flat surface to put it on. That central piece of scrap was thicker than the plywood to either side and would have created problems; in my defense at the time I used it I wasn't planning on doing what I'm doing now.
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    And now on to the hopefully-earthquake-proof table. Started by drilling holes for support brackets and screwing those into the underside of the table, after first marking roughly where the TARDIS' wooden feet will contact the table. I made these marks so I can later drill holes and put screws up through the bottom of the table into the TARDIS' feet to really secure it in place. I may also cut out the central part of the table - it's not exactly a pretty piece of furniture and I don't foresee using it for anything aside from the TARDIS. And with the TARDIS on there, the central part of the table really doesn't need to be there. A square ring of wood a couple inches wide all the way round will do the job just as well, especially as this is 3/4" thick board.
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  14. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Is there some law that keeps the people of California from bolting their furniture to the wall? I think I could make a fortune selling velcro panels.
     
  15. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Ha! Nah, I could bolt it (and other furniture) to any ol’ wall I wanted. I decided against it in this case because the entire top is removeable - didn’t seem a good idea to try and anchor it when one end of the anchor would be attached to a part that wasn’t anchored to the rest.
     
  16. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Been a week, so time for another update. As I type this I'm just about ready to start with the wood filler, then sanding, then painting. So far this weekend I've finished the table insofar as putting more holes in it, I've drilled holes in 4 of the 8 window panes so the fans can blow through the openings, I've temporarily bolted the base/computer structure down to the table to make sure everything fit (but I'll have to take it apart again for painting), and I've cut the opening in the front panel for the telephone and made the little door. Also, for those of you wondering how I planned on making this "bigger on the inside", you'll see a photographic hint in the pics below...

    First, cutting air holes and a cable hole in the table. The base does have little feet that raise it up slightly but not enough for the cables to route out that way. If I ever want to get rid of the table and put the TARDIS on something else I'm going to have to make taller feet for it.
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    Then on to using the hole saw to cut the acrylic window panes so the fans can go in there. My main motivation for doing this today? I REALLY wanted to put away the hole saw. In a hand held drill it's a pain in the rear, and it takes up a decent amount of table space at 120mm diameter.
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    And the back of the TARDIS with uncut window panes, but with the white removable backing still on them. The front panes will also be whole.
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    And the whole kit'n'kaboodle. Minus the roof. And the front panel and door. And the computer.
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    Bigger on the inside....
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    And lastly (for tonight), the door to the telephone box. While I could build the phone myself, a friend of mine offered to sculpt the phone, so I told her to have a go at it. The dimensions are a tad limiting (4" tall at the tallest, 2.5" wide at the widest, and 1.125" deep at the deepest). Thankfully there's not as big a rush on this part since it's only cosmetic and can be attached at any time.
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    Not a perfect cut, but because I wasn't thinking when I glued this plywood panel on, I was forced to use my drill to make a couple holes, then the jigsaw to cut out an opening. It would have been much easier to leave the phone box opening had I been paying attention and planning ahead more when I was putting these plywood panels on. I also had to go to a local crafts store to get 1/8" thick plywood - thin enough so the phone door wouldn't stick out past the 1/4" thick paneling. It works out well - at least some of the TARDISes do appear to have this door slightly recessed, but less recessed than the other recessed panel areas. Visually mine will now match that appearance.
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    That's it for now. Next steps will be drilling holes in the Police Box sign boxes for the lighting wiring, applying wood filler in various places, sanding the heck out of the whole thing, and painting it. The base is pretty much done now except for wood filler, sanding, and painting. Once those three steps are done I can at least get the computer put back together so my wife can use it while I finish up the upper section. After a month of working on it, it's finally starting to get close...
     
  17. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    I feel like that table could use some skirting supports around the legs. I know working out the angles on that after the fact would be a pain, but it would give extra rigidity and hide the metal brackets.
     
  18. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Oh it definitely could - for appearance at least. I'm rather inexperienced building furniture. My initial thought had been to bolt the legs right to the underside of the TARDIS, but realized that would mean I couldn't get it through doorways. Hence the table, using scrap material. I'll see if I can't figure out a skirt to put around it to hide those brackets. After doing the brackets I also put 3" long wood screws into each leg so structurally it's pretty sturdy.

    Yesterday's progress included finishing the box for the phone and cleaning up all the wood glue that seeped out when I was gluing everything. In most cases I couldn't see the seepage until after it dried, due to having to use large heavy brick pavers on the panels to ensure they'd dry as flat as possible. Took about a half hour with a chisel but I got most of it cleaned up. For the phone box, I got the door and hinges put on, and built the box itself. I added a couple USB ports in it - I've had them for a lot...a LOT of years. I used to use them in my sandcrawler but eventually got a powered hub and took them out. They've been in a bag ever since. I'm not anticipating them being used much in the TARDIS since we have a powered hub for it too, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to have them in there.

    Lastly, this morning I had to rearrange the computer room. As you'll see in the "before" photos, there wasn't room between my desk and my wife's for the TARDIS. So I moved her desk to the opposite wall, which necessitated moving our chinchillas (yep, we got 3 of 'em) where the desk used to be, and moving my 4' long Star Destroyer model to the other side of the room since she didn't want it hanging over her desk. I built that in high school about 25 years ago, first thing I ever scratch built. It's survived innumerable moves and several falls off the ceiling since then.

    Photos - here's the phone box with the USB ports. The USB header on the motherboard will be almost right behind this box, so the cable from the USB ports won't have far to go.

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    This next bit is a tad rough. I discovered, when test fitting after the phone box dried, that it bumped up against the motherboard tray. This pushed the panel the box is mounted on too far to the middle of the front opening, which would have meant the front door would not close properly. I'd mismeasured by about 1/32" of an inch. I checked it a bunch of times and it just wouldn't fit. So I used my dremel to take a chunk out of the support post and metal motherboard tray. It's not the prettiest cut (actually it looks terrible, but it won't be visible when the top is on and it'll be getting painted), and in hindsight I should have dismantled the structure and used my table saw to take the chunk out. Oh well. The dremel got the job done, eventually. Everything fits now.
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    It looks a little better after sanding it:
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    It's not as obvious in the photo as it is in real life, but that little box fits a whole lot better now.
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    And on to chiseling out the dried up glue. Very tedious, I won't bore you with more than this one picture. Next step....wood filler to clean up some of these spots, fill in various gaps, etc.
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    Lastly, the computer room rearrangement. Three guesses as to which desk is mine :D
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    And just like that! Everything's switched.
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  19. artoodeeto

    artoodeeto Active Member

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    Last night and today I started the process of wood filling, sanding, and painting. First off, a few shots of some of the gaps that needed filling, and the post-filling, pre-sanding pics:

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    Again, those filling shots are before I sanded it. Didn't take any photos of it once it was sanded, so on to the painting! I painted the base and the computer support structure with white primer/paint. The support structure then got a topcoat of silver. The original idea had been to try and do the interior entirely mirrored. This idea morphed, out of practicality concerns, into using acrylic mirrors on some surfaces and painting most others in a metallic silver that'll be shiny but not mirror-reflective. The base itself of course will have to be blue, at least on the parts visible once the top of the TARDIS is on. I'm still debating whether to do the floor inside blue too, or silver, or leave it white.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Wood filler and sanding made a huge difference in that chunk I took out of the post nearest the camera in the photo above. It's still not perfect, but again it won't really be visible once the top is on, so I didn't put a ton of time into making it look better.

    On to the radiator. I decided, since I was trying to use equipment I already owned which includes green tubing, to take the opportunity to put in silver and copper colors so as to be reminiscent of the sonic screwdriver used by Matt Smith's Doctor. I taped up the ol' Swiftech radiator so the fins would remain powder-coat black (didn't want the paint to affect the heat exchange properties), and painted the outer casing of it copper. I went ahead and mounted it onto the computer structure, along with two of the four Asia Horse UFO II RGB fans that'll go in the build, because why not. It ended up taking far longer to screw the fans in than I expected. I'd actually gotten the holes drilled in exactly the right places and it all fit perfectly, but when I took that chunk out of the post I had to move the screws on that side that held the radiator mounting board in place. It seems that when I screwed it back on, the post ended up just a hair closer to the other post. I didn't notice until *after* all the wood filling and painting. Net impact - the fans don't fit as easily, but I managed to get them in place after about 10 minutes of fighting with them.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Tomorrow and over the weekend it'll be more of the same: wood filling/sanding/priming, but on the top of the model. I also need to build "caps" to go around each sign box at the top. I got 1/16" thick craft wood at the local craft store for this purpose. I want the Police Box sign facings to be removable so if the LEDs ever go out, I can get in there and replace them. Since this didn't occur to me until *after* I built the sign boxes themselves, and since the boxes are pretty shallow and the signs look best with a little distance between the facing and the LED inside, this means the facing needs to sit on the front of the current box, and have a cap built to go around it to hold it in place. That cap itself will be held in place with a couple of screws. I did think about using sheet styrene for this purpose, but decided against it as I didn't want something that could easily warp or bend. Of course, the wood is so thin it'll be fragile too, so who knows. I may end up using styrene anyway.
     
  20. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Fragile lid: No one will see the inside, so you can glue more wood to it where it doesn't seat over the main case. Plywood is just glued thin layers, so why not add more over your joins.. Thin styrene might warp when painted. It might be OK with the newer stuff, but old Krylon could curl 1/16" styrene into a ball.
    You said something about improving your woodwork: We gotta get you away from metal brackets. :lol: I'd suggest finishing nails and pipe or angle clamps. My usual MO is add glue, clamp, drill 1/16" pilot holes, hammer in nails, unclamp. For high impact parts like drawer faces, I resort to drywall screws.
     

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