How to begin…Okay, this is the work log for my new case project. It's called LockDown which should give you an idea of what I'm shooting for already. Here's my situation: In a few months I will have to leave the place I have called home for some 18 years and venture off to this mythical place that many refer to as "college." This is great thing for sure, but it also means that my now nearly two year old box just isn’t going to cut it anymore. One could just buy some new hardware and call it day, but I’m a bit insecure in my ability to hold the title of alpha geek once I settle into my dorm. After all, I will be attending what could be called the Mecca of geekdom, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I’m going to have to build a box that says: “Don’t even question the geekitude of this dude”. As with any good project, this one starts with some concept drawings. I started working on some designs over a year ago and have accumulated quite a stack of sketches of frame rails, component placement diagrams, and cooling circuit schematics, but it turned out to be all for naught. On a plane trip onboard an Embraer RJ145 from Newark NJ to Huntsville Alabama for an engineering competition at the NASA base it hit me. Vault doors are just about the coolest things in the world. The big combination locks, the awesome mechanical linkages, and the heavy bolts that extend from every side at once; I knew I had to have one. Then I started thinking, what good is a vault door without everything else being hardened too? After all, a vault door is about as big of an invitation as one can make for a bunch of geeks to try their luck at breaking in. From there the main idea became “maximum security,” plugging every conceivable hole while leaving the case easy to use for the authorized user. Make a case worthy of storing the most sensitive of information. Why? No reason in particular, really. So I threw out all of my old sketches and drew up the perfect case in about ten minutes on a seatback tray in a twenty-something seat jet bouncing up and down in severe turbulence. Throw in all the maximum security features, make it look good, and most importantly make it the perfect dorm room case. This means that it has to approach absolute silence, be small, and have plenty of horsepower. No fans, no whirring hard disks, and some heavy duty water cooling. And so here’s the main effect of the concept: Of course, the design has already changed from what’s pictured (for one, the component layout is completely different), but that’s the general idea. The gull wing doors are central to the design and will most likely be made from hardened 1/8” steel. The frame will be made from ¾” stainless steel square tube. The locking linkages are pictured on the bottom. What are not pictured are the three transmission coolers that will reside on the inside of three of the four inside door surfaces which will cool the CPU, GPU, chipset, HDDs, and the PSU. I also want to add a cast aluminum handle custom molded to my hand. This will be my third big mod job, the second from scratch, and if I’ve learned one vitally important thing it’s that Lain-Li makes a killer motherboard tray. I could try to make my own like in my last case, but it’s really an exercise in futility. Buying these couple pieces of stamped aluminum will save many hours of aggravation and let me get onto more interesting details. Before I jump into fabrication, a little more introduction is in order (like this could get any longer). I’m pretty much completely self-taught and I’ve only been doing metal fabrication as a hobby for a few years so I guarantee you will see me do many things wrong, if you know something I don’t about a particular step please speak up. This is very much a learning experience for me and will proceed very slowly. If you ever see me on the street this is what I look like: A quick intro to the shop where all this will be taking place is also needed. My dad is an auto mechanic and hot-rodder so we have a very nice shop at home. It is still a home shop though, so don’t expect to see anything too fancy happening. No CNC machines here folks. That’s not to day I don’t have a few tricks up my sleeve. This is the crown jewel of the shop, a Miller Syncrowave 250DX TIG welder. While I’m no master welder, I am pretty handy with it which opens a lot of doors with a project like this. It’ll handle everything from steel to titanium, from sheet metal to car frames. Here are the more pedestrian tools that I use constantly. 1. A steel rule – absolutely positively must have item 2. Digital calipers – indispensable for layout and dimensioning 3. Wire wheel – for cleaning and rough finishing 4. Air sander with 3M Roloc disks – for cleaning, shaping, and finishing 5. Cutoff wheel – cutting stuff in hard to reach spots 6. Mini die grinder w/ small carbide tip – forming operations 7. Random orbital sander/polisher – final finishing 8. Air drill – drilling holes 9. Aircraft snips – cutting sheet metal 10 & 11. Two full size die grinders with different burrs for rough forming And here are two more absolutely indispensable tools. The giant vise gets used for just about everything, and the handheld bandsaw is used for stock cutting and rough forming since I can’t have a full size saw. Here’s a new addition that arrived a couple days ago. It’s a very cheap Chinese knockoff Beverly Shear. If you work with sheet metal and don’t have one of these you don’t know what you’re missing, I sure didn’t. And here’s my last trick, a 3-in-1 Lathe/Mill/Drill. It’s a cheap Chinese machine and so isn’t of the highest quality, but it sure gets the job done. It’s set up milling in the picture with an extra XY table mounted just to space up the vise so it can reach mill head. I’m working on a real spacer right now. That’s it for the intros, here comes the actual worklog: I’ve been at this for a few weeks already, so this post will backtrack a bit. The first couple things on my list are rounding up the parts I need to get to build around and modifying the power supply for water cooling. Here’s the power supply, warranty voided before I could even get a picture. Here’s the motherboard tray that I’ll be working with. It is a little oversize for what I want, and I don’t need that fan mount anymore, so it got trimmed a little bit. This is the lock that’ll be the centerpiece of the front of the case. It’s a Sargent and Greenleaf combination lock, simplicity in itself but it is UL Group II certified and so gets the job done. As you can see, it’s really huge. (Those are inches, not CM!) This is the whole parts pile complete with mockup hard disks, PSU, CDROM, mobo, and the Eheim pump that’ll power the water cooling circuit. It helps me greatly to get all the parts in a big pile like this just to get a feel for how I can get everything to fit together.