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Scratch Build - In Progress ⭐ LANpak - Scratch Build(Oct 7, 2019)

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by InsolentGnome, 27 Nov 2018.

  1. kim

    kim hardware addict

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    that's a lot of work and patience, but great technique :thumb:, can't wait to see the result
     
  2. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Active Member

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    Thanks! That's why it's dragging out, patience isn't my thing!
     
  3. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Active Member

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    And now the fun stuff, making the mold. I'm starting off with a few layers of gelcoat.

    Gelcoat is a polyester resin, like the resins for fiberglass, used for the outer coat. It's durable, finishes up nice, and works great with fiberglass resins since it has a lot of the same properties, like not curing in air, allowing follow up applications of gelcoat or fiberglass to bond chemically with the previous layer. If you've got a fiberglass reinforced tub in your house, gelcoat is most likely what your seeing, backed by layers of fiberglass. In fact, a lot of tubs are made very similarly to how I'm going to make this mold, by applying a thin layer of gelcoat on a mold and then backing that up with fiberglass.

    And here's what I'm using, plain white gelcoat but I'm gonna dye it blue. Normally you'd use a tooling gelcoat for a mold, which is harder and more resistant to damage, but I'm not planning on making 100 shells a day so regular gelcoat should work and that's what I have on hand. The dyeing it blue is to help with casting the shell. If I'm casting with gelcoat, I can see thin spots in my coat, but more than likely I'll be using CF or a similar composite and the blue will let me see spots where I might have a gap.

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    I'm going for two layers of gelcoat, about half a pint for each should give me coverage.

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    After brushing it on. You could spray it, but it's not necessary since the finished side depends on the plug and not what the exposed surface looks like.

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    I gave each coat about a half hour to an hour to set up before the next coat. After the gelcoat was down, it was time for the fiberglass backing. This is the resin I'm using, polyester layering resin. It doesn't include a wax so that the outer skin of a coat doesn't set up and the next layer can bond with it.

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    For the first layer, I'm using chopped strand fiberglass. It doesn't have the woven look because this is just strands of fiberglass laid in a sheet and held together with a binder that the polyester resin dissolves.

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    And laying up the first layer.

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    Next layer I did woven fiberglass because I had a roll laying around that wasn't being used up.

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    And a last layer with more chopped strand. There's no real reason to have mixed the layers or what order they are in. Chopped strand takes up a lot of resin and adds bulk and strength quickly whereas woven cloth is thinner and uses less resin. Since I'm looking for bulk and strength, the chopped strand is more what I want. Woven cloth for the whole mold would work fine as well, it would just take a lot more cloth.

    [​IMG]

    And with everything all cured up, things got a little meh...

    I pulled my divider off and realized that I had a lot of void spots and just an all around bad finish. I blame this on not getting all the wax off the divider and the gelcoat being able to pull off while curing. Also, my registration glue dots, not the best.

    [​IMG]

    But it's what I've got so lets start by cleaning up the edge.

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    It just so happens that my new job and company is fiberglass and gelcoat repair so this shouldn't be a problem. I started the fix by grinding out all the rough spots.

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    Then after some sanding to make sure the patches had something to bite onto, I layered in some gelcoat, leaving some dips for my registration.

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    And then sanded it out.

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    It's not perfect but I figure any imperfections are just extra registration. And it could be a problem that my patches are only mechanically bonded to the mold instead of chemically bonded, but that should only be a problem while making the second half of the mold, and I've got an idea about that.

    And last time I said something about a sponsor...check out this beast.

    [​IMG]

    I want to thank GeForce Garage for sponsoring a RTX 2080Ti for the build and for being great to work with all around. They're always helping me out if they can and getting me in on cool projects. This will definitely go a long ways towards making this the fastest thing at a LAN.

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for following along, more to come soon! :)
     
    censored_Prometheus_ likes this.
  4. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Fun with toothpaste. :D I figured the delay was more about winter.
     
  5. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Active Member

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    The cold weather has slowed down a lot of my fiberglass work. Hard to get this stuff to cure in a 30 degree warehouse. My basement isn't as bad but still requires a space heater to get the cure into the 30 minute to 1 hour range.
     
  6. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Active Member

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    Continuing with the mold making, after getting my edge sorted out, it was more wax in case I rubbed through a spot somewhere and since the flange had never been waxed.

    [​IMG]

    To be honest, I tried to pull the first side off so it would be easier to fix and that was a non-starter, so I wanted to make sure this side was at least easier to pull off. Not only did I use the mold release wax, but I put on a coat of PVA wax as well. This will dry to a thin film and washes up with water. Should make everything come apart easy.

    [​IMG]

    And then it was the same as last time, couple layers of gelcoat followed by fiberglass.

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    Once I had that all laid up, before popping anything apart, I drilled my holes for the bolts to hold the mold together.

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    I'm kinda guessing on the bolts so I went overkill. Just a few 5/16" bolts.

    Then it was time to see how all this came out. The second side, the one with the PVA came off pretty easy with a little wedge application between the flanges. It's almost perfect, though it does have a few imperfections I'll have to fix.

    [​IMG]

    The first side...well...

    [​IMG]

    It didn't seem to want to let go. Obviously the PVA was a very good idea on the other side. The gelcoat managed to grab on and pop some of the filler and epoxy off with it. It took 3/4 of a box of paint stir sticks to wedge in to get it to finally let go.

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    So lesson learned, just waxing isn't enough especially if the plug isn't polished to a mirror finish. Luckily a lot of the filler comes off with a razor blade. It's stuck, but it's not STUCK.

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    So after a lot of razor blade on mold action and some sanding, I got the side cleaned up.

    [​IMG]

    It's got a 120 grit sanding on it, which will have to get a lot finer, but first I need to fix any imperfections. So bring on the dremel to grind out any voids and then I'll patch it back with some gelcoat and sand it nice and slick.

    Once again, thanks to GeForce Garage for sponsoring this madness!

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for following along and I'll see you next time!
     
    censored_Prometheus_ likes this.
  7. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    I'm a learnin' stuff. I like that.
     
    InsolentGnome likes this.
  8. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Active Member

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    And I'm back! I mean, I didn't go anywhere, but I'm back working on this mod. It's nice enough weather now that things will actually cure in my basement so, let's make up for lost time.

    When I left off last time, I was cleaning up the mold from my de-molding the mold process. Totally doing that differently if I do that again. But, I got the sides cleaned up and filled any holes with some gelcoat and sanded it all nice and smooth.

    [​IMG]

    Then I was ready to try my layup. First things first, wax and plenty of PVA to make sure this thing comes out easier than last time.

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    And what am I laying up you ask. I'm starting with a layer of 3K carbon twill, then two layers of Kevlar twill and then a layer of carbon fiber veil.

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    Why this mix? Why Kevlar? What the heck is veil??? Well this is a deep rabbit hole with a lot of interesting stuff, but lets just go for the overview. Ok, lets start at the CF twill. We all know CF is light and stiff which makes it good for this shell, unfortunately it doesn't do so well with impacts. Hit it with a hammer, run it into a car at 40mph, it breaks. That's kind of a problem, and that's where the Kevlar comes in. Bullet proof vest right? Yep, and that's sort of the reason I'm using it. It is super tough and resists impacts. Not that it won't break, the epoxy in the matrix will break apart but the Kevlar is stupid tough and will hold it all together. Think safety glass, it shatters and breaks, but it doesn't go flying everywhere. So if something bad were to happen with the shell, it would break, but you wouldn't wind up with chunks of carbon fiber flying around being all stabby. Kind of important. And then there is the veil, it's a super thin weave that doesn't really add to the structure, but holds epoxy. This makes it a good sanding layer over my Kevlar since Kevlar is a PIA to cut and sand and just frays anytime you get into it.

    I would have prefered to do the layup with another layer of CF instead of the veil, but I shorted myself on materials. Being able to sand the veil, I can go back and add a layer later.

    Starting off with the CF.

    [​IMG]

    Then the Kevlar.

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    I didn't get a shot of the veil because at this point I was in a hurry. I decided to try vacuum bagging the layup, which is exactly like it sounds. Put it in a bag and suck the air out. This helps to compress the layers, pull out any bubbles, and pull out any extra epoxy, so you wind up with the lightest and strongest part possible. And since it was my first time trying this, well let's just say next time will be a lot smoother.

    So in the bag you go with a layer of material that is permeable and doesn't stick to the epoxy, and a layer of fill that lets the air flow out and sucks up the extra epoxy.

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    Then, in my case, spend 30 minutes reworking your vacuum pump to work with this set up and another 45 finding all the leaks in the seals, and suck all the air out.

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    I never did get that thing totally sealed, but it turned out pretty good for a first try.

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    The inside was a bit rough with the veil giving me some folds and pockets, but I'll take care of that next update. Thanks for following along and thanks to my sponsor:

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. hayate89

    hayate89 Member

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    Is insane XD
     
  10. hayate89

    hayate89 Member

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    Cant wait ti finish
     
  11. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    It seems like a well positioned garbage bag would have sufficed.
     
  12. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Active Member

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    Me too!

    Kinda hard to see through a garbage bag. Next time I'm sealing it to my table. Plastic to plastic is just a pain.
     
  13. hayate89

    hayate89 Member

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    hard skills in this
     
  14. Pretizx

    Pretizx Member

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    oh.. great start for this mod :D
     
  15. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Active Member

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    Keeping going on the shell, I got my order of CF so I could add the final layers. I sanded it all down, inside and out.

    [​IMG]

    And then made a slurry mix of epoxy and Cab-O-Sil to fill in any air pockets and smooth the corners out to make the next layer of CF lay a bit better.

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    I got the piece for the inside cut out and figured out how I was going to weave it all together.

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    Then epoxied it all up.

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    Same with the outside but a little different method. I cut pieces that fit a little better and leave nice seams but still overlapped and stuck them in place with a little Super 77 adhesive to keep them from moving around.

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    It's such a complex shape that you'd never get one piece to lay nice over it and seams are necessary. Still trying to figure out the best way to pull them off, but it turned out alright for the first time.

    Then epoxy.

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    After the fact I kinda figured that the best way to seam it would have been to cut that center piece wider, epoxy it and just not work the sides down. That way I could just sand it back giving myself a cleaner seam. As it was, I cut it close and wound up with strands hanging over instead of weaved material.

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    All in all, it worked but it wasn't the cleanest seam.

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    The whole thing was sanded to get most of the bleed through of the weave out.

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    It could be better, but it's still pretty cool. I'm gonna hit it with a medium scuff pad and then put another thin coat of epoxy on it to even the surface and then with some sanding it'll be ready for paint. Yeah, I'm covering up all this CF. It looks cool, but it's not perfect and I'm looking for perfect. Plus, that's a lot of CF in one spot, I'd rather have some carbon accent pieces than everything carbon.

    Thanks for following along and thanks to my sponsor on this build:

    [​IMG]
     
    Cheapskate likes this.
  16. bolous

    bolous Member

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    Congratulations! you're working so much! I love these craft works handmade (without cnc laser, specialized tools etc...)
     
  17. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Active Member

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    Thanks!
     
  18. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Active Member

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    Warning: Long update or at least it seemed long to me.

    With the shell made and sort of under control, it is time to work on the inside. I planned for everything to fit but I know how my plans usually turn out, so I did some test fitting.

    Stand ins for the 240mm radiators and fans.

    [​IMG]

    Getting them situated so they don't interfere with the tray.

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    Speaking of trays, I need to figure out what I'm doing with mine. First thought, sheet of aluminum cut to shape. And the cardboard template.

    [​IMG]

    And then figuring how the hardware would sit on the tray.

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    Before we continue on with the building, I should probably revisit how my plans never quite go...as planned. From the beginning I've been racking my brain on how to work out a monitor. It's a pain because even though there's plenty of room for even a widescreen 24" like I normally use, it would have to transport in a portrait orientation and then somehow rotate into a landscape orientation. So that adds complexity, weight, and thickness. And thickness is becoming a concern. This thing is not small so anything I can do to shave it down is a bonus for when I actually have it on.

    So I can ditch the widescreen and go with a small portable monitor. But then it's a tiny crappy monitor and you still have some extra thickness.

    Just make it so I can transport the monitor and assemble it separately on site. But I still have at least an inch of thickness plus then the whole back has to open so you can get it out.

    Plenty of options to get a monitor in the pack, just all of them make the pack even more unwieldy. So executive decision...leave the monitor out. This also makes figuring the straps out soooooo much easier.

    Is it less cool? Perhaps. But it's more "me" friendly and if I really need to take some sort of monitor in the pack, I'll look at a VR setup. I definitely have the horsepower for it.

    So with the executive decision made to go for a more wearer friendly design(thinner and lighter), I started thinking about that sheet of aluminum I was about to stick in the case. Did I really need 'all' that aluminum or could I cut a lattice out that would be strong enough to hold the parts and attach the straps to?

    And why am I thinking about this in terms of aluminum anyways? I can make a lighter and stiffer lattice out of carbon fiber and I happen to have everything to do it. Well, almost I had to order some expanding foam.

    [​IMG]

    This is a polyurethane foam that's used for floatation in watercraft. Think of it as the spray can of expanding foam on steroids...and meth...and maybe some PCP. These two bottles will give me 2 cubic feet of foam that I can use as my mold for my frame.

    Getting my shell ready to be molded. I didn't have enough foam for the whole thing and I didn't need a full mold anyways so I blocked off part of it. The garbage bag is a liner to make it easy to get back out of the shell.

    [​IMG]

    Mixed part A and part B and dumped it in. This stuff gets a little warm.

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    Kinda looked like bread rising, so I guess now I have a loaf of foam in the shape of my shell.

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    Next I cut it down to where I wanted my frame to be and filled some air pockets with some regular foam from a can.

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    I laid out my component locations so I knew where my frame needed to run.

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    Even had room to slot in a couple of 92mm fans in the bottom for more air flow.

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    Laying out my lattice with tape. Some spots I wanted wider to carry more load while others were more for bracing and were thinner.

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    Made a couple of sanding blocks to cut channels in the foam.

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    Now some wax(which was useless) and 216 strips of carbon fiber.

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    And then epoxy it up, layer by layer. 8 layers in all.

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    After getting most of the foam pulled off, I wound up with, amazingly, what I was hoping for. I about did victory laps around the house.

    [​IMG]

    It still needs to be cleaned up and the shape refined. And I'm seriously considering adding a solid layer of CF front and back to pretty up the look. Other than that though, I'm super happy how this is going.

    Thanks for wading through this long update and thanks again to my sponsor:

    [​IMG]
     
  19. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Active Member

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    Continuing with the frame, there was a lot of cleanup to do on it before I could continue. The side that was in the foam was especially bad since the resin had seeped into all the little air pockets I had opened up when I sanded it. But after a while I got this.

    [​IMG]

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    Nice and flat and about an 1/8" thick.

    Next up, I re-laid my tape lines on the frame to give me the pattern I started with. Now I can clean up the edges.

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    Much better. I did get one line a bit off, but I'll fix that in a bit. As it stands, it's pretty tough, but not as stiff as it needs to be to hold a computer and all the water cooling and all the peripherals and the shell. Plus, it looks a little like a wreck, so lets put another pretty layer of CF on it to give it some more strength and make it look nice.

    [​IMG]

    Little bit of Super 77 to help hold the CF in place before it gets epoxied. And once that side is cured, flip it over and do the other.

    [​IMG]

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    To fix my crooked line, I just added in some CF scraps to build up where I needed to move my edge to and when I clean up the edges again, I'll shift it over. With the finishing pieces covering my crime, no one will ever see it.

    Thanks for checking out my log and thanks to my sponsor:

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    I'm curious to see what you do about mounting connections between those two parts.
     

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