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G-gnome's Orac³ - Part 1

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by G-gnome, 23 Aug 2003.

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  1. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    View any part of the entire project log (Parts 1 & 2) or jump directly to the first post of any update by clicking on the images below:


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    Part-1 of the Orac³ Project (Original Project Log)
    Introduction, PSU, Junction Box, Cables, Reservoir Mounting

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    Part-2 of the Orac³ Project – First Update
    VFD Module, Fan Controller, Front Bezel, Front Switch Panel

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    Second Update
    Wiring Cables, Plugs and Front Switches

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    Third Update
    Fan Controller Rear Cover, DVD and DVD-R/RW Mods, Front Grille, Drive Covers, Radiator and Fan Mods
    Case Feet, Plug-Wire Separators, Light Diffuser Strip

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    Fourth Update
    Hard Drives and Rack, Pump Mods and Housing, Side-Panel Insert,
    Water Blocks and Mobo

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    Final Article
    Motherboard Stealthing, PCI Cards, Junction Cylinder, Side Panel, Finished Case!




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    G-gnome’s Orac³

    The story so far...

    Motivation ...

    I had an unfortunate accident (whilst parachuting of all things! :duh: ) which has since prevented me from pursuing a lot of the things I once enjoyed and this, combined with my existing hobby of computers,years of militarily-stifled creativity plus the discovery of the Bit-Tech website inspired me to take up the challenge of creating a unique case. People seem to mod for lots of reasons; mine's mostly therapy for life’s stresses, part artistic satisfaction, and part desire to have a posterior-kicking system to play Raven Shield now that my real-life door kicking days are over ... crackle ..."TANGO DOWN!"!

    Most people that post on these forums must know the indescribable feeling you get when you have an idea for a mod and watch it slowly develop before your eyes – it’s certainly evident from the enthusiasm with which people like, for instance, ZapWizard bring into their project logs and Mods. Sometimes these projects take on something extra special and end up looking even better than you could have imagined at the start. Having been working on this case for a couple of months now, I am getting to know this feeling well!. Anyway, enough 'Zen & the Art of Modding' and on with the project... :dremel:

    Inspiration

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    Ever since I saw the last episode of the first series of Blakes 7 I have wanted my own Orac. For those that don’t know, Blakes 7 was a 70s/80s British SciFi series and Orac, the box in the picture above, was this intellectually snobbish, difficult and incredibly brilliant computer. I just thought it looked cool :hip: (in a cheap retro-futuristic way).

    Seeing some of the new (well, new to me at least) acrylic cases around and not having the skills to build a clear case from scratch (although, after the last couple of months, I reckon I might have the skills to do it now), I decided to mod one of these cases into my own version of an Orac-type computer - it won't look much like the original though! The original Orac was a messy mish-mash of cheap electronics components and coloured perspex. I plan on creating a tidy mish-mash of expensive electronic components and coloured perspex!

    Also, while on the subject of inspiration, big thanks have to go out to Macroman, Linear, ZapWizard, Eddie-Dane, MrHaz, Cpemma, Nexxo, Scopedog and all the other modders who contribute to Bit-Tech, for your great mods, guides and project threads, without which I wouldn't have been able to even start. Thanks fellas! :clap:

    I have taken a lot of ideas off you guys, but I have tried, where possible, to put my own stamp on them and make them different. At the time of writing this I had spent about 6 weeks ordering and getting all the bits and pieces together for the system and then about two months modding. I had to first learn how to use a soldering iron and research everything I could on working with plastics, both in the bit-tech articles and hanging out at my local plastics supplier asking lots of dumb questions! – I kept them happy though by spending lots of money there.

    I only get a small amount of time to mod so progress is slow but steady with probably the most difficult part of the modding completed so far. This is what I started with …


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    … a C3 Acrylic case. Please forgive the sad stock photo, as I didn’t have a camera until just after I started work on the case.

    This is what I have ended up with so far, remember, I have only just started this mod and I have a lot of cool things I plan on doing! (Basically I have only modded the PSU and a few parts of the case, and fitted the water-cooling reservoirs) …

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    The top of the case so far – bits light up when powered up :eeek:

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    A top view of the case showing PSU mods and top-plate with 2 reservoirs

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    The reservoirs and top-plate plus power running into my power junction box.

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    The main part of the PSU, with support bracket, external fan cables and another power junction box.

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    The two reservoirs

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    Mmmm … glowy.

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    Front switches, Power, Reset and … some other ones …:D (hey, I have to keep some surprises up my sleeve!). Ignore the bolts – they are just there to temporarily hold it up for the camera & will be cut shorter and have stainless steel washers added … more on that later). Making this front switch panel wasn’t a simple matter as you’ll find out.

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    The rear of the front switches – chrome LED holders and Vandal switches. More on these later as well.

    :confused: Want to know what’s inside all that shiny chrome and stainless steel, and what it actually does? I’ll start from the beginning …
     
    Last edited: 14 Jun 2004
  2. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    The Plan

    I had noticed that in a lot of clear acrylic casemods I have seen there is minimal modding of the internals (motherboard, GFX cards, DVD/CDROM, PSU (though PSU seems to get a lot more modding these days)) in so far as their appearance goes. While most of these still look excellent, I decided with this project that I wanted to go a step further and, besides just the case, mod all of the internal components heavily so that, hopefully, the entire system will look as futuristic (70’s futurism?) as possible.

    The plan is to take a clear acrylic case and turn it into something sleek and stylish, but with enough of the retro feel (and internal complexity) of the Blakes 7 Orac (i.e coloured perspex sections, lights, etc). I began planning back in April where I drew up a list of how I would like the system to look (this is not a list of the mods that will be in the case (I want to surprise people), but a general theme I will be following throughout):
    • Clear Acrylic C3 case
    • A top performing system with performance to match it’s looks
    • A quiet, quiet, quiet system! (did I mention quiet?)
    • Panels of neon Green transparent perspex on case and inside case to give a sense of depth and colour accent the components
    • Rounded corners throughout (to soften the lines of all that technology)
    • A slight ‘industrial’ feel
    • Lots of effort put into the details of the case and internals ("Lots" is turning out to be a major understatement!)
    • All internal components chrome or stainless-steel or stealthed
    • Polished stainless steel fasteners throughout
    • Lots of LEDs (and the ability to control them) - not tacky and garish though, mostly white LEDs with a few green and two blue/red bi-colours (only colour I had).
    • Water cooling (NO brass or plastic fittings etc - all chrome incl. radiator), with a two reservoir system and neon green coolant to match the case panels!
    • Edge lighting/embedded LEDs
    • Plus lots, lots more that I won't reveal just yet...
    The cabling is also a feature of this mod, but in a way that you may or may not have seen before ;)

    System Specs

    Parts that I have managed to scrape together for this case include:
    • 3.0 GHz P4C 800Mhz CPU
    • Abit IC7-G Max (875P) Motherboard
    • 1 GHz (2 x matched 512 Mhz sticks) Corsair PC3200 TwinX Memory
    • Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro
    • Audigy 2 Soundcard
    • Danger Den Maze 3 CPU/GPU and NB waterblocks
    • Ehiem 1250 Pump, ½" Tygon Tubing
    • Black Ice Xtreme (chrome) radiator
    • Criticool Water Reservoirs (2) plus Criticool PCI pump relay card
    • Pi-thon chrome hose clamps
    • 4 x Seagate 80GB SATA drives in a RAID 0+1
    • Promise 4xSATA card (Abit mobo only does RAID 0 or RAID 1, not 0+1)
    • Pioneer Slot-loading DVD drive (the modders friend!)
    • Pioneer DVD-R/RW drive
    • Matrix Orbital 20x4 VFD display
    • PWM Fan controller/switchbay
    • Panaflo and Evercool 120mm Aluminium Fans (yet to decide which will go in)
    • Antec Truepower 550W PSU
    • 4 x Computuning PC Rider+ LED chasers
    • Stainless steel switches/chrome LED holders etc.
    I also got together:
    • Lots of sheets, rods and tubes of Acrylic (sheets mostly 3mm (1/8") but some thicker pieces) in several colours
    • Stainless steel sheets and tubes
    • Stainless steel screws and nuts
    • Lots of LEDs (mainly white and green)
    • A number of fairly odd things that I will surprise you with later...mwa ... mahah ... mwahahah ... mwahahahahahaaaaaaa!.(Insane Dr Frankenstein laughter):hehe:
    Show us some pictures! I hear you cry! Yeah, alright then:

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    This is the bare C3 case from www.clearcomputercase.com . I only managed to buy a digital camera just as I began modding so apologies for the stock shot. I ordered the 'deluxe' clear case. This is just the standard clear case with a few extra bits/fan guards etc. Being in Australia and with C3 insisting on only shipping by UPS it cost twice the value of the case just in the shipping!:( Only took 5 days to get here though! It's a beauty of a case that oozes quality, and everything I require.
     
    Last edited: 15 Sep 2003
  3. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    More Planning…

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    I sat down with the case and (as they started to arrive) the components of the system and started to PLAN...

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    …and PLAN…

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    …and PLAN…

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    …and PLAN some more. I was trying to follow the modder’s mantra of 'measure twice, cut once'. I also didn't want to screw up my case. Mostly though, the ideas just kept flooding out. Note the high tech case design software I am using - called SketchBOOK!:D I discovered years ago the importance, when formulating a plan, to stay flexible and work in contingencies in case you need to change it further down the track. As a result I started by sketching broad concepts/ideas and then refined them down to detailed working drawings, with a couple of options, as I went along with the test fitting and as each component arrived.

    Once I had filled this book up with drawings - yes, I actually filled it - and measured and test fitted some things (i.e. 3 weeks of sitting and measuring and pondering and frowning and asking the odd question in the forums - you know how it is) I had a pretty good idea of exactly what the case would look like and exactly which parts I would be modding (erm, basically everything). Most importantly though, I had a PLAN!

    The saying goes "The first casualty of war is your plan" but (another saying) "prior preparation prevents piss-poor performance". So, walking this metaphorical knife-edge, I got down to work…

    Shiny stuff …

    When I finally got my digital camera I had already sent off a number of things to be Chromed. The chroming is the only thing in this mod I wasn’t able to do myself as I simply don't have the skills/equipment to do it (if you know much about electroplating you’ll understand why I went to the professionals).

    In my opinion nothing, I mean NOTHING looks quite as awesome as real chrome. There are some good chrome paints out there. I tried a few. No paint came close to the professional finish I got with the real thing:

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    PSU cover, DVD drive covers and the aluminium HDD rack taken out on my Lian-Li.

    They came out brilliantly well! I just went to a small local place that looked like something out of a Charles Dickens book, Victorian brick building and weather-beaten craftsmen with blackened faces and big leather aprons. They stripped (where necessary) and chromed all the metal Parts – I don’t think they had any idea what the parts were for judging by the weird looks I got. They had to take paint off the DVD and PSU covers before chroming which the guy did with some super-industrial strength paint-stripper or acid or something (he said he “soaked” them in it?).

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    I even had little things done, like the brass hose barbs, brass reservoir plugs and brass water-block hold-downs in my water cooling set-up and the brass nuts that secure the vandal switches. I wanted this sort of attention to detail to flow throughout the case.


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    These used to be...

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    Plastic project boxes from RS components! (There is an RS-components here in Aus that is the same as the UK RS).

    I had them chromed. A place in Sydney (www.bronzingstudio.com.au) did them for me. Not cheap but wow! :eeek: The finish is identical to the hi-brightness chrome finish on my metal parts.

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    It looks like they have painted the plastic with some sort of electrically conductive paint (the gold paint in the picture) and then chromed it like you would a piece of metal. The coating is fairly thick, and I could see how it might dent slightly with the softer plastic behind it - care will be needed. These chrome project boxes will feature in the mod as well – you can see I have already used 3 of them in the PSU mod.

    Also before I got my camera, I had begun to cut and bend quite a number of the panels and covers that I will be using in the case. You will see later where these go.

    The PLAN involves working from the top of the case down as modding this case is like eating a meal where you eat the yucky stuff first and the yummy stuff later - what I planned on doing with the cabling and PSU looked like being the most difficult and time-consuming (all that wiring to do :sigh: ) – I wanted also to finish the PSU work first to assist in testing things as I put them into the case.
     
    Last edited: 15 Sep 2003
  4. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    Power, power, everywhere …

    Someone in the modding forums a few weeks back was asking what people had done to their PSUs. Here’s what I did with mine:

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    The stock Antec 550w all boring and grey – nice gold grills though … pity they are going to go :D (apologies for stock shots off the web as I don’t have any shots before I had started work on it). The one I got was a very tasty silver sleeved one from www.performance-pcs.com but I pretty early on decided I was going to rip all that tasty sleeving off in favour of something more original (sorry performance-pcs!). The fan has also been changed to an 80mm Aluminium/chrome rear fan instead of the stock one.

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    PSU in all it’s Naked Glory!:blush: Luckily I started modding it straight out of the box so with this, and the weeks it had been sitting around before I started on it, the capacitors had well and truly discharged.

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    Taking care to label all the screws, etc. As it turned out when I went to put it back together a few weeks later I was glad I had done this because I had forgotten where some of them went!:duh:

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    Once again, here are the PSU covers chromed. You can see them in the top left of the picture above (along with some other chrome work). They truly look amazing in reality - the camera has a hard time capturing the sheer quality of the finish.

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    I started by covering everything in masking tape for ease of marking holes and also to protect the chrome finish from grubby fingers and scratches/slipping drill bits etc. Also to be used in the PSU mod – 3 (chromed) project boxes from RS components.

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    I marked everything for drilling. There was a lot of measuring. A set square and a calculator became my special friends…:naughty:

    The very basic-level concept was to have the power cables from the PSU run into a junction box and then individual power lines running from there to each device in the system. The execution to achieve the appearance and functions I wanted looked fairly complex to me. There were some parts I wasn’t quite sure of …

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    De-soldered this bit in order to remove the PSU cover (dunno what it is – so long as I put it back just the way it was!):D

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    Suspect wiring :eyebrow: – you can see the insulation under the circuit board leaves 12v wires exposed. This was jammed up against the aluminium fan frame! (I fixed it later with heat shrink and liquid electrical tape).

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    The PSU Cover showing the positioning of the PSU junction box.

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    Junction box holes marked up. Also shown are the PSU top cover holes for the power to the PSU fans. I am taking the fans to a PWM fan controller on the front panel. The old fan connections will still be used (as they are linked to a variable temperature dependent voltage, I believe) to power voltage indicators.
     
    Last edited: 15 Sep 2003
  5. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    [​IMG]

    Holes marked for LEDs.

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    Holes drilled for LEDs and for two 3.5 mono jack sockets – used to run DC power to two of the LEDs.

    Why don’t I just run them from inside the PSU? Well firstly, as I mentioned earlier, I want the cabling to be a feature of this mod and this allows me to run some more sexy cables and sexy jack plugs – yes, I do need to get out more :D - back to the PSU and, secondly, because it allows me the flexibility to later on re-patch the LEDs to other sources (like a PC Rider+) if I should wish it.

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    My PSU junction box had threaded corners (to attach the lid)

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    Into the drill press it goes! I drilled out all the metal in there and drilled the holes right through the other side …

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    The box will be bolted onto the PSU and the bolts will also extend out to hold the lid onto the front.

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    4mm Bolt - actually a set screw but I’ll be putting a nut on it so I’ll call them ‘bolts’.

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    19mm (3/4”) holes drilled in the box lid using a drill press and a Step Drill.

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    Holes drilled in the bottom of the box and each side. The big hole in the left side here was drilled into the corner – this is where all the cables exiting the PSU will pass into the junction box.

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    Covers and Junction box drilled. Some of the smaller holes in the PSU metal cover were a bit rough as the drill bit I was using had a tendency to grab the steel a bit :( , however I was not worried as they will be hidden by grommets or LED holders.

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    3mm LED holes drilled. Also shown are the holes and grommet setup for the fan power cables.
     
    Last edited: 26 Aug 2003
  6. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    [​IMG]

    As part of my theme I wanted black rubber to separate and accent some of the chrome work. So I cut up some grommets …

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    … And made nice little rubber surrounds for my LED holders.

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    Before the LED holders …

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    … After the LED holders.

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    Teeny matching rubber surrounds for the jack sockets (I haven’t yet fitted the nut to the left socket in this picture).

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    Inside of the bottom cover showing LEDs and jack sockets. The socket in the centre-rear will be wired up from my pump earth to the main earth in the PSU as the PCI controller card I will be using has no earth connection built in!:eeek:

    One thing I found was how carefully I had to plan where to place all of these things. Some test fitting was also required for things like avoiding jack plugs hitting capacitors, voltage indicator PCBs fitting in etc. There really wasn’t much spare room inside the PSU once the fans were in.

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    Launching an overt raid on my disgustingly pre-mod Lian-Li (pre-mod window, rheobus and drive covers :D ). I struck a blow for freedom by liberating the nice bi-coloured LEDs from their enslavement inside the sunbeam rheobus! :rock:

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    I started with these voltage indicator kits from Dick Smith Electronics. DS is similar to Tandy/RadioShack/Maplins etc.

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    Assembled voltage indicator. I will be using my high-brightness sunbeam LED and ditching the weak LEDs that came with the kits.

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    One wired up. Note the power connector (formerly attached to the PSU internal fans) that will be reattached to the PSU internal fan power connections.

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    Two wired up. The LED on the right-hand circuit board has been sanded and filed to diffuse the light and make it look interestingly square-ish. With a planned total of over 70 LEDs for the case (including drive mods, etc), I want to cut out as much glare as possible whilst still having lots of blinking, glowy lights.
     
    Last edited: 26 Aug 2003
  7. geek1017

    geek1017 New Member

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    That looks wonderful so far.:thumb:
    I too am a fan of the retro sci-fi look.

    I look forward to updates.



    Wow, I guess I should have waited untill you were done posting pics.:eeek:
     
  8. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    [​IMG]

    Here I wired up the LEDs to their jack sockets and wired up the pump earth connector. The pump earth connects directly to the PSU earth and I have used a heavier-duty wire.

    The PSU rear exhaust fan needed some attention – nice aluminium fan with ugly off-white plastic struts and sticker with writing all over it on the back. I removed the sticker and fan blades, masked and …

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    Vinyl dyed it silver.

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    A vast improvement.

    Something else that will be running throughout the case is the use of lit-up glowing, coloured Perspex panels. I wanted the first one to be on the top of the PSU, to help add to an otherwise featureless expanse of chrome.

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    First I wired up two white 3mm LEDs (resistors for 12v using Linear's LED Calculator ). I filed and sanded them to give a diffuse light (important for even light when lighting up panels) and so they would not go all the way through the coloured Perspex panel as it is only 3mm (1/8”) thick.

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    LEDs were bent at right angles as theyhave to fit in the narrow gap underneath the PSU circuit board.

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    Holes for LEDs, bolts and fan power cables.

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    LED poking through the top cover and being tested – they give a very even, bright and diffuse light all around.

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    The LEDs are held in place with hot-glue. The other rather large patches of hot glue are holding dremeled off 4mm bolts (to stop them falling back through once the PSU is together and before I attach the coloured Perspex – I hadn’t cut the Perspex panel at this point in time).

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    Testing my sockets. The LED is actually white (looks blue thanks to the digi-cam’s white-balance). The jack plug is just wired up and the bare wire ends stuck in my 9v battery LED tester (one of the more useful bits of kit as it turns out).
     
    Last edited: 26 Aug 2003
  9. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    Getting jack of jack plugs …

    While we are on the subject of Jack plugs:

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    These are the jack plugs I will be using throughout. I got them at www.jaycar.com.au and removed the springs. I have rather a lot of them now.

    I wanted matching chrome 3.5 in-line socket plugs as well but they didn’t exist – so I made them:

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    Some (unrelated) 3.5 plastic inline sockets from Dick Smith Electronics, unscrew the ends and …

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    … fit a cover from a 3.5 jack plug. A match made in heaven! How do I intend on wiring these up? …

    First I went to the company that produces the most amazing range of expandable heat resistant braided sleeving – www.techflex.biz/index.html

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    Not only were they courteous and prompt (I got my sleeving the next day!) but they sent me a free sample pack of different sleeving and a colour ‘wheel’ of the type of braid I had ordered. They also make gold and silver coloured sleeving (I have some – it rocks), and other more exotic braids, at a price much less than you might pay at a modding store. It is very much like the mesh sleeving that Performance PCs in the US use (I couldn’t tell the difference) - Techflex manufacture and offer the same colours and call it the same name.

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    You can buy by length (min 22m though), or in 3m (10ft) packs. I got 22m of 3mm white (I didn’t end up using though – I later got 22m of clear 3mm, as I liked it so much, using this throughout the case) and some packs of clear, neon green and black

    I also went to a pet supplies…

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    … and bought about 30m (100ft or so) of clear plastic aquarium air hose. The stuff I got is crystal clear and resistant to UV yellowing - I left a piece sitting outside in a sunny spot (in Australia, during a drought where it has hardly rained for 2 years) for a couple of months and looked like new at the end!. I chose this as it fits perfectly into the ends of the jack plugs I have, is crystal clear and is strong enough to maintain nice curves and coils.

    Here’s the plan:

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    I am using some 2-way silver/white wire, stripped out of a 16-way multicoloured ribbon cable, and run inside the clear 3mm PET Braid - then sliding the whole lot inside the fishtank hose, et Voila! Sexy futuristic looking cables that look nothing like a couple of wires! For those wires that aren’t silver or white I just vinyl dye them silver. I had to use very thin wire (hence from a ribbon cable) as two wires inside the 3mm PET braid only just fits through the aquarium hose! Sometimes I have had to tie fishing line to one end of the PET braid and pull it through the fit was so tight!
     
    Last edited: 15 Sep 2003
  10. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    [​IMG]

    Wired up, heat shrunk jack plugs. You’ll see a lot more of these later on.

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    What the final wires look like when all plugged in.



    Drilled out PSU junction box (it’s chrome hiding under a layer of masking tape).

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    What are those big holes for, you may ask?:confused: It’s all to do with a neat idea I had for cabling.

    :idea: Now, I am hoping this idea is an original one as I haven’t seen anyone else do this before (it may have been done but I have not seen it in 6 months of trawling modding sites). … Anyway …

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    Hand showers! Well, you do get dirty when you mod! Besides ...

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    ... when the stainless steel hose is cut up ...


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    ... with rubber grommets stretched over the ends ...

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    ... heatshrink applied to seal sharp bits ...

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    … shrunk with a heatgun …

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    ... it makes pretty good flexible conduit for wiring!

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    The holes I drilled in my chrome junction boxes have 19mm holes (3/4" on the step-drill) which nicely allow the grommet around the hose to bite and seal the hole. I get a nice black rubber surround.
     
    Last edited: 26 Aug 2003
  11. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    But wait, there's more ...

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    ... take the handles and ...

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    ... cut off the threaded ends.

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    You have something which, when pushed through an appropriately sized panel-hole from behind, will enable the nice chrome fittings on the end of your conduit to screw onto said panel. Tasty!

    The weakest link …

    Since the final overall result will only look as good as the worst thing in it I knew from the outset there was no point having all this great steel cabling and ordinary looking plugs. I would have to do something about my SATA and the Molex connecters (the worst). Here’s what I came up with:

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    I started with the SATA power plugs. In order to partially/fully ‘stealth’ the butt ugly connectors I firstly got a craft knife and trimmed off excess plug (making sure not to cut into/expose any wires).

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    Taking the nice chrome ends of the shower hose …

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    … I screwed the fitting over the trimmed SATA plug – a perfect fit! The thread bit into the plastic so It is very secure and sits nice and straight.

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    Plugged into a SATA HD (stickers removed awaiting polishing), the plug vanishes! Oooo.

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    Same with a Molex – trimmed off the excess plastic and encased the now-bared wire in heatshrink to prevent any short circuits on the metal hose.

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    I Screwed the chrome fitting on over the top. Once the plug has been given a coat of vinyl dye (black or silver – not decided yet) and it is plugged in, It will practically disappear.

    With both the Molex and SATA plugs I ended up soldering extensions to all the wires that will be running back to my junction box.

    [​IMG]

    A quick test fit with only 2 HDD plugged in. Happy so far.
     
    Last edited: 15 Sep 2003
  12. Bruno_me

    Bruno_me Fake-ad‎min

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    wow, looks really good:thumb: :thumb:


    those are definately some of the best mods I've seen in a while, keep up the good work :D :rock:
     
  13. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    Feel the Power …

    Meanwhile, back in PSU City …

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    Here is the PSU all wired up with top cover LEDs wired into the external molex 12v, and the fans wired up (bottom left corner of PSU).

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    I had to fit an ATX plug through the back of the PSU junction box - hence the massive hole ground out while step-drilling. Err ... this was before I found out how to remove the pins from the ATX plug :worried: . I had looked for a guide but nothing was very clear and I experimented to no avail. Only discovered how when I could cut up an old ATX plug and see how the pins worked and got a small enough tool to bend them.

    You can see where the chrome on the plastic has been torn off; however, this won't be visible at all once it is attached to the PSU.


    [​IMG]

    Things are starting to come together – the fan colour works well now and I added little touches to the PSU such as short bolts and dome nuts on the mains power connector, rubber washers and nicer screws on the voltage switch.

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    The result when in the case. I snipped off the top right-hand arm of the fan guard as it would have interfered with attaching the PSU to the case thanks to the curve of the rear opening. I suppose I could have filed the case to make it fit, but the 1 second it took to snip it off was much more attractive.
    [​IMG]

    I also changed the grilles from gold to chrome. I got the chrome grilles at www.pccasegear.com (I tend to buy a lot off them because the service is so good with v.fast shipping). The gold was nice but there is unfortunately no room for that colour in this mod.

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    Fitting the cover again – a tricky job with all the extra wiring and circuit boards inside.

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    Hacked-off the nasty wires! All that nice performance-pcs sleeving wasted :sigh:

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    The PSU junction box is attached with bolts coming through holes in the PSU, through the four holes in the corners of the box and is secured with dome nuts. I put four small, thick rubber washers (made from small cut up grommets) over these bolts, between the PSU and the junction box. These help keep tension on the nuts holding the whole lot together and provide a small air-gap to allow the existing row of air holes (now covered by the junction box) to draw in some air.

    Here I am also beginning to run wires through the shower hoses. The P4 12v will be shortened (hence it was cut off) as will most of the 12v/5v lines. The old AUX connector which I would never have used anyway now has a use - I have separated and am running the 5v and a GND through one of the hoses as a dedicated 5v line for powering my 4 x PC Rider+ LED controllers (I cut the rest off inside the PSU).
     
    Last edited: 15 Sep 2003
  14. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    [​IMG]

    I used some of the larger diameter sample PET sleeving I was sent by Techflex to bridge the short gap between the PSU and junction box. A bit of cut-up grommet from the hand-shower heads, along with a small piece of rubber u-channel moulding covers edges and makes a nice transition between the PET and the chrome.

    [​IMG]

    There is also the P4 12v and the ATX connector. The ATX wires have been split between 2 hoses as there are simply too many to fit into a single hose! As it was, it was a real challenge to twist and force the last couple of wires through each one. I will use the threaded ends of the shower heads to attach these to the … well, you’ll see :D


    [​IMG]

    Removing wires from the ATX plug. Not really worth a pic, but it saved me a LOT of cutting and soldering.

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    I ran a permanent marker around the inside edge of the lid to ensure not a hint of beige would show once it was fitted.

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    All up there are three separate 12v/GND/GND/5v lines and one 5v/GND line running power.

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    The nearly-completed main part of the PSU. The long bolts were later dremelled off and dome nuts added. You can see the cabling effect with the fish tank hose and Techflex sleeving.

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    Close-up of the jack plugs. I have plugged them into an inline socket (yet to be wired up). This is how the PSU fans (and Radiator/case fan) will be connected to the front panel fan controller.

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    Top cover before the neon green panel is added.

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    Neon green Perspex panel (3mm) fixed on. I drilled 4mm diameter holes, in the underside where the LEDs are, that only go about 2 ½ mm into the material. The LEDs sit nicely into the holes.
     
    Last edited: 26 Aug 2003
  15. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    Support bracket …

    I had wanted a PSU support bracket from the beginning to help alleviate a lot of the stress on the Perspex at the rear of the case.

    [​IMG]

    I drilled some 6mm holes on the top of the case (after careful measuring).

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    Using some thick acrylic tube (cut with a hacksaw), I drilled some matching holes and fixed with 6mm x 120mm long socket head cap screws. The tube sits under the front edge of the PSU and supports it very well.

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    A closer look at the bracket. I later used a buffing wheel to polish these up and filed/sanded/polished the ends of the tube. The bolts will have any excess length trimmed off later. With most of the bolt having no thread, they polished up great!

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    Looks awesome when lit!

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    The PSU in place (with temporary wing-nuts on the support bracket).

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    The top panel shines up nicely, even in full daylight.
     
    Last edited: 15 Sep 2003
  16. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    Mounting the Reservoirs …

    My idea for mounting the two reservoirs involved having to cut a large hole in the top of the case. I set to work:

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    Taped up the top and inside bottom of the case to protect them from scratches. Some of the plastic material coming off the cuts was quite sharp so I didn’t want to take any chances.

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    Top hole marked. Notice that I haven’t drawn the rounded corners. A 35mm holesaw will take care of these.

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    To get the rounded corners in my top-hole cutout I used a Holesaw. I wanted nice big curves and I extended the radius to the acrylic top-plate so that the curves follow the curve of the cutout. I started with a complicated clamp/drill press arrangement. Even at a slow speed the holesaw would still bind and the chuck would come off the press so I ditched this method in favour of ...

    [​IMG]

    ... my cheapo cordless drill. I had to drill, remove melted plastic from teeth, drill a bit more, remove more plastic, etc. Slow process as the acrylic would melt and bind the saw quickly even at a very slow speed - once the melted plastic gummed up the teeth they refuse to bite. I clamped a board under the top panel (to stop the back-side of the hole chipping out as I came through the material) and masked underneath as well so the board wouldn't scratch (as you know, you see scratches on acrylic irrespective of which side is scratched). Worked out well though.

    [​IMG]

    I used a Makita Router to cut the straight edges (first time I had used a router (though I practiced on a few scrap pieces of acrylic beforehand) - It scared the living crap out of me when I first switched it on to play with as it's an awesomely powerful bit of kit - I had visions of it wandering off course and tearing enormous molten chunks out my lovely delicate acrylic :eeek: ). I clamped a guide to the case to get the straight lines on the front and back edges but had to use the router's own guide rail to do the sides. I failed to put enough pressure against the guide and got slightly wobbly cuts :duh:

    [​IMG]

    Hmmm … :eyebrow: might help if I had a proper work bench instead of the floor.

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    Used a permanent marker and ruler to rule a straight line and cleaned up the cut-out when I got to the filing/sanding/polishing. It cleaned up very nicely and I ended up with perfectly straight sides!

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    I drilled ¼" / 6mm holes through the top of the case. These are for the socket-head cap screws that secure the top-plate. Another mistake I made early on was to try and drill the holes using a normal drill bit. It would 'grab' the acrylic and tear chunks out of it!:( Luckily I only damaged two holes (the worst is shown in the picture).

    I even shattered the corner off my first top plate and had to make another!:duh: Murphy's Law kicked in and the blade on my (cheap @#$%% !:wallbash: ) bandsaw broke. I ended up cutting out the new cover by hand with a hacksaw! Absolutely dead straight. Rounded the corners by filing/sanding. I was so happy I have cut out everything since with the hacksaw and cleaned up by filing/sanding.:)
     
    Last edited: 15 Sep 2003
  17. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    I had been quite happily drilling some other pieces of acrylic by drilling a small pilot hole, then slowly drilling the bigger hole - maybe the case material was harder/more brittle or something? I always made sure the room was nice and warm before working so the acrylic wouldn’t be too cold and crack? After reading some of the acrylic guides on bit-tech and following some links I discovered these:

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    Plexi-Point drill bits! They have a very pointy end and a 0 degree 'rake' angle on the cutting edge. They drill through acrylic like a hot knife through butter with no grabbing, tearing, or chipping:

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    Mmm nice clean holes! Couldn't find Plexi-Points in Australia (no one I spoke to here had even heard of them) so had to order from the US. Fairly expensive but I found a supplier that has a reasonable price (and great service!) www.thefabricatorssource.com . I also found and ordered some cheaper plexi-drills: Diamond Dust 3 drill set from www.craftics.com . Craftics have lots of neat plastics stuff - they supply US Plastics with a lot of things, I believe. The cheap drills worked just as well as the Plexi-Points (only available in 3 sizes though). Craftics also had the Plexi-Point drills but at about twice the price I got them for from FTM.

    Tips from the plastics fabricators at Specialised Plastics & Wholesale (Newcastle, Australia) - these actually work:

    1) If you want a nice satin-smooth finish to the inside of your holes: coat the drill with Vaseline Petroleum Jelly (or similar product) before you drill.

    2) Can't afford / be arsed with poofy plexi-drills ?(are you insane!?) Take a normal HSS (NON-masonry) drill bit, whack it in your power drill (cordless may be underpowered) and drill it into a concrete slab! This will blunt it and help you drill nice clean holes in acrylic. This is the method the guys at the plastics fabricators (who don't have plexi-point drills) use. I prefer the Plexi-Points but this is still a viable option.

    [​IMG]

    I squared off the top plate to the case and marked the holes from underneath - drilled (mmm ... happy now) and test fitted. Now for the Reservoirs...

    [​IMG]

    Test fitting the reservoirs (these will hang down under the top plate). As you can see I, of course, did this before I started drilling holes and cutting things :D I have just temporarily warped the space-time continuum to keep things easy to follow.

    The reservoirs are Criticool cast acrylic reservoirs and are really nice quality! I got these from www.pccasegear.com . The great thing about these is the flexibility you have to mount them and configure the barbs/plugs how you want. I had originally ordered from www.criticool.com but the package went missing in the post (six weeks and no res) :( . I suspect it was nicked off my doorstep as I have had some posties/couriers just dump stuff there when no one is home. Sean from Criticool was just fantastic about the whole thing and refunded my money straight away. I cannot say enough about how good Criticool were in helping me resolve the situation and replying to my emails – I would happily deal with them again!

    Fortunately, pccasegear here in Australia had started stocking the reservoirs. They only had brass barbs but I had already decided to get them chromed.
     
    Last edited: 27 Aug 2003
  18. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    [​IMG]

    What’s the flour for? Well …

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    I couldn’t fit a pen down the res mounting holes to mark them so a bit of flour …

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    … remove the res and voila! Hole positions marked (after I stuck a pen into the little piles of flour)! The hole positions were tricky as the pre-drilled mounting holes in the res were slightly uneven meaning that, once drilled, the holes would only line up one way. I had to use red electrical tape to mark which way the res's had to face and on which side each one belonged.

    [​IMG]

    Drilling out the holes for the plugs that seal the refilling holes. I drilled 4mm holes for the cap screws that will attach the Res's and used a Step Drill (I didn’t know these existed until I saw one on Bit-Tech) to drill the holes that the refill holes' chrome plugs will protrude through.

    [​IMG]

    Res's fixed with 4mm Socket head cap screws, (dremeled to the right length later), with stainless steel washers and dome nuts to secure and cover the exposed ends.

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    I used a stitched buffing wheel on my bench grinder with some polishing compound (FastCut) to polish all the stainless steel fasteners. The ends shine up like chrome (hard to see in this shot) and I polished all the threads as well. I experimented with polishing one of my stainless steel Vandal switches and it polished up very nicely! I used some cheap leather labourers gloves when buffing, they also protected my hands as the screws, etc, got quite hot during polishing.

    [​IMG]

    The final Reservoir assembly. I was pleased with it as it turned out exactly like the drawings I had done and will look great with the pi-thon hose locks.
     
    Last edited: 26 Aug 2003
  19. G-gnome

    G-gnome Peter Dickison

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    The edges of the top plate (and most of the cut acrylic throughout the case) were filed lightly with a Flat ******* and then a Second Cut file, sanded with 320 grit then 1200 grit wet and dry (call me lazy but I used it dry - it didn't make much difference, for my purposes, wet vs dry for the edges), then polished with...

    [​IMG]

    Yummy smelling polish! Yeah, yeah, I know "deliberately inhaling the contents ... etc". Erm ... why are the walls moving in and out ... Oooo ... prrreeettttyyy colourrrrsss ... :cooldude:

    I am waiting on some Novus polish from the US as I couldn’t find some in Australia but the Plexus seems to work well (wish I had something to compare it with!) and it has a nice lemon scent *sprays under arms and around the room*.

    I ordered the Novus (along with some clear case accessories) from Clear PC. Unfortunately, my experience with them has been far from happy – it took four days for them to acknowledge my order and respond to my asking about shipping costs. I then paid straight away via PayPal. Eight Days after I had paid them, they apparently sent my order. Despite being quoted for (and paying for!) Airmail, the order was apparently sent via regular surface mail – supposedly to arrive in 2-3 weeks. Pretty poor when I get stuff from the US in max 10 days using USPS airmail parcel post. Well over Eight weeks have passed and at the time of posting this, still no parcel. I sent off a polite email and found all this out (the reason apparently being “principally because my volume is rather high and I have a very small staff (i.e., ME)”). After the reservoir incident the postie and couriers now leave a calling card if no one is home, so I am fairly sure it hasn’t been delivered yet or stolen. I do acknowledge that some people are pretty happy with Clear PC, I can only talk from my experience though – not very impressed.:miffed:

    Okay, rant over – on with the modding.

    [​IMG]

    Fitted to the case - 6mm stainless steel cap screws with stainless steel washers and dome nuts. I had to get washers that were big enough to cover the damaged holes from before I got my Plexi-drills. I am happy I got the industrial feel I was after (and that everything actually lined up perfectly!)

    [​IMG]

    The final Reservoir assembly again. It looks great with the pi-thon hose clamps I ordered …

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    The idea to use these came from Nexxo’s ‘Project: Metaversa’ (before that from Scopedog’s ‘Project: P.R.I.M.E’ – awesome work Nexxo and Scopedog!). I got the ½” and 3/8” and they both fit perfectly with the thick walled Tygon tubing I will be using. I notice it is mentioned in one of these threads that the ½” Hose Locks might be a tight fit over a barb with ½” tubing (they are not – a perfect fit more like!) and the question is asked that they might damage the hose (they don’t – are less damaging, in fact, than those ordinary metal ones you tighten with a screwdriver (forget the name of them).

    [​IMG]

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    A hose lock fitted. Nice!

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    I also made some rubber O-rings from cut up grommets.

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    More for looks I guess (to tie in with my case theme) as I ...

    [​IMG]

    ... sealed the actual threads on the barbs with teflon tape (put on anti-clockwise as you look from the non-threaded end, so it doesn't bunch up when the barb is screwed in).

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    You can see the effect of the o-rings here, along with the hole for the plugs in the top. This means I now have internal reservoirs that I can refill without having to open the case.

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    I have found that (as I expected) tolerances are so tight with this case (sometimes down to a few millimetres) that my measuring has to be spot on. It's like a jigsaw where everything is designed to fit around everything else - you'll see how tightly later. It's funny how I can say that when I haven't even got to those parts yet! It's all out of my drawings, measuring, test fitting ... oh yeah ... and the master plan ;)
     
    Last edited: 26 Aug 2003
  20. Melov

    Melov New Member

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    :eeek: :eeek: :eeek: :eeek: Very nice!
     
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