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Mk.6 EMP -Experimental Modular Project-

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by Captain Slug, 20 Jun 2005.

  1. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    - If you don't want to read much just skip to the goal list -
    Picture Set On Flickr (if you don't want to read through entire thread)

    If you don't want to read much just skip to the goal list
    [​IMG]
    What you are about to witness here is not just a case modification project, but hopefully the complete development of a viable product that I hope one day will be available to all of you. Since joining this forum and a select few others I have found that the contacts I have made were far more useful than any previous ones. So, in order to refine my ideas I will be opening them up to scrutiny and commentary to all of you even as they are just starting to take root. Since no single individual can hope to anticipate the needs or expectations of every person to ever come along, I will need alot of help in evaluating what it is I'm working on. Of which I will now try to explain.

    During the long, drawn-out process of working on my previous large project (mk.V) I came up with so many ideas that it would not have been humanly (or monetarily) possible to implement all of them in the time I had alotted myself. So instead I set them all aside for a later date so that I could revisit and refine them. A few of the ideas I had were small and a few proved ultimately impractical but the solutions I came up with for a few otherwise insignificant problems I discovered while customizing mk.V. Most notably is the consistent irritation of having to disconnect and reconnect cables any time that hard ware is significantly changed or replaced at any given point in time.

    The emphasis of this project will be the modularization of the modern computer to the fullest possible extent. My primary goal for this whole endeavor will be the ability for me to finally be able to remove the motherboard and everything attached to it by either removing a single thumbscrew or pushing a single button to unlock it from the case. The implication is that I plan to incorporate all of the required cables that you need to interface the motherboard with the rest of the machine through a plug-bus attached to the motherboard tray. This tray "plug-bus" interface would essentially mean that you could install the motherboard on the tray and only have to plug in any given cable ONCE and ONLY ONCE making the motherboard, heatsink, expansion slots, cables, and tray a single removable unit.

    And it doesn't stop there. The second half of the plug-bus will be attached to the case as a dock for the motherboard tray and will act as a central junction box for all of the cables that need to travel throughout the rest of the case. this will significantly reduce cable clutter and make installation and maintainence the easiest it has ever been. With all of that yammering out of the way here are what the other goals for this project will be.

    Project Goals
    1. Cable-free Removable Motherboard Tray
    2. Motherboard docking mechanism in case that double as a junction box
    3. Modular Case design allowing for easy removal of individual case panels making customization a simple process
    4. Potential for all plastic or all aluminum case construction through extremely simple or home-friendly construction methods (parts individually replacable)
    5. Potential for complete disassembly of case and packaging in a flat (1 or 2 inch thickness) box
    6. Invertable case design allowing power supply to be on top or bottom and drive cages to be removed and reinstalled in opposite orientation
    7. More than adequete clearances and space for addition of even the larger available water-cooling equipment including a 120x3 sized radiator
    8. Tool-free and Screwless removal of faceplate for access to drive cages
    9. Tool-free case maintenence with screw driver only needed for motherboard installation, heatsink installation, and completely case disassembly
    10. Case panels (Top, Bottom, and sides) made from flat sheets of material that are removable from case without undermining structural intergrity which will allow end-user customization without the need for complete disassembly of case.

    I have established these goals for myself but there are some limitations I have run into.
    1. I may not be able to pull off push-button entry mechanisms without the help of a manufacturer since mechanisms of that type may be only effectively done with the use injection-moulding. Something I do not have access to but I may be able to figure out a mechanism I can make with the tools I have.
    2. Optical drives and Hard drives do NOT come in standard sizes or pin interfaces. This means that I cannot effectively design modular mechanisms for these. I have however developed a tool-free drive mounting mechanisms that alleviates most of this problem and existing modular hard drive caddies are available and compatible with the case design.
    3. I do not have the electrical engineering expertise to manufacture the plug-bus circuitry so I will need to outsource it to someone more capable than I (or teach myself how).

    With all of that out of the way let me display how I arrived at where I am now in the process of this project which will probably take a few months or possibly even a year to complete in its entirety.

    October '04
    While trying to dream up different ways I could eliminate as many cables as possible from inside of my then current project I had an epiphany that I could simply buy cable extensions for everything I could possibly need to plug into the motherboard and then just add them to the motherboard itself. This idea came to an abrupt hault when I realized that my case didn't have a motherboard tray, and extending certain cables would kill their performance. I also have limited time and money to complete said project so idea was put aside.

    Early May '05
    Out of boredom and inspiration I started thinking about how to practically apply my weird concept and proceded to flesh out how I would need to build a case to implement it effectively. About the same time I realized I would need to make a PCB for the plug-bus to make disconnection/reconnection alignment possible and durable. Case construction design started soon after.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Late May '05
    I decided to stop thinking about what I was going to do and just start doing it. Fleshing out the concept a little more on paper. Remembered previous motherboard tray modifications I had made that allowed bolt-retention heatsinks to be removed easily and added the required cutouts to the tray design.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Continued next post
     
    Last edited: 21 Dec 2006
  2. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    First week of June '05
    Design work accelerates rapidly as I figure out that this is becoming more and more feasible for me to machine myself with my own tools. Or perhaps I'm just way too enthused about my new TableSaw. Either way I've made alot of progress in the past week in the development of this project.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Second week of June '05
    Running into some issues with how to mount drives. Decided a thumbscrew rail system wouldn't work. Contemplated a Chieftec drive-rail type system, but wasn't satisfied with that approach.
    [​IMG]
    Set that issue aside for a bit and refined the case design some more to allow for lots of cooling options. Also added integrated handle-feet.
    http://www.captainslug.com/modding/mk6_3d_92.jpg
    http://www.captainslug.com/modding/mk6_3d_93.jpg
    http://www.captainslug.com/modding/mk6_3d_94.jpg
    Refined design allows for tool-free removal of drive cages which have enough space for 9 5.25" drives. 3.5" drives will use mounting brackets or hard drive coolers.
    Third week of June '05
    Had a realization the next day that I could simply integrate the drive rails into the drive cages themselves and this would allow drives to be removed or installed entirely without screws. Made a crappy conceptual sketch of spring-loaded drive retention clips to communicate the concept to myself. Then I made it much more complete in 3D as you can see below. The mounting pins that go through the spring-loaded plastic bracket can be moved back in the tray half an inch to allow certain drives to be non-accessible from the front.
    [​IMG]

    The design is pretty much done now. The side panels are affixed to a sliding rail with optional hinges. This mechnism allows you to choose whether you want the side panels to hinge open, or slide forward to open. Either is done with the removal of a single thumbscrew and you can choose between the two by simply moving a thumbscrew between two brackets.
    http://www.captainslug.com/modding/mk6_3d_96.jpg
    http://www.captainslug.com/modding/mk6_3d_97.jpg

    And that's how far I am now. I've already informally copyrighted the specifics and I'll be working on patent applications for a few days. I hope to start machining soon but this is going to be a slow project. I don't think any of you will mind the pace, but I'm getting quite impatient. :D
     
    Last edited: 20 Jun 2005
  3. Tech-Daddy

    Tech-Daddy New Member

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    Go get 'em bro!

    I look forward to your updates and progress... this is a very exciting project!
    :thumb: :dremel:
     
  4. omicron

    omicron Baud.

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    There are some fantastic ideas in this project, and I can't wait to see work begin. Subscribed; good luck!
     
  5. bootupbuddha

    bootupbuddha grunge modder

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    Looking forward to seeing this one. Get to work bro!
     
  6. arkadur

    arkadur New Member

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    wanna real pics!
    good luck!
    look very intersting..
     
  7. dubya01

    dubya01 New Member

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    Wow very interesting, this should be very unique :D
     
  8. xel

    xel New Member

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    Yeah the ideas are fantastic and new!!!

    i look forward for this one

    start working at it

    sry for my english
     
  9. venomz

    venomz New Member

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    good ideas

    thats awsome looking :) cant wait to see what you do to that pc .
     
  10. Stuntman

    Stuntman New Member

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    Looks awesome dude! Cant wait to see it in real life! :)
     
  11. Jipa

    Jipa Avoiding the "I guess.." since 2004

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    atleast u have fine sketches, waiting for real product.
     
  12. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    I'm currently working on converting the 3D design work into material shopping lists and costs and hopefully I will be making a trip to the plastics shop this week so I can start purchasing sheets, hollow square rod, L-channels, U-channels, and a few tins of JPS weld-on #3.

    So far I will need...

    0.5" square tubing
    20.5" (x4) =82"
    22" (x6) =132"
    7.9" (x6) =47.4"
    19.5" (x6) =117"
    7.33" (x4) =30"
    +12" excess

    total = 35 feet

    1" L-channel
    22" (x6)
    total = 11 feet

    .235" x .3" U-channel
    23" (x8) =184
    5" (x4) =20
    3" (x4) =12
    +12" excess
    total = 19 feet

    Sheets
    .188" 24x24" polycarbonate sheet (preferably grey/black tint)
    .125" 24x48" polycarbonate sheet (preferably grey/black tint)
    .125" 24x48" polycarbonate sheet (preferably grey/black tint)
    .125" 12x12 polycarbonate sheet (clear x2)

    and I'll have to find some really thick nylon, acetal, or delrin blocks to make the handles or hopefully the shop will have some small 0.5" thick sheets of polycarbonate.
     
  13. bahgger

    bahgger New Member

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    Sweet project Slug :) I wish you the best of luck and my 100% support through the whole thing! You can do it man! :D
     
  14. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    If anyone reading this thread has experience with making custom PCB circuits and is interested in helping me make this project possible please visit the thread I have started in the Electronics forum.
    http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=92715
     
  15. frodo

    frodo New Member

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    Looks good, cant wait to see it being made! i like that motherboard tray, very... minimilist!
     
  16. Snowshadow

    Snowshadow New Member

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    Great concept! Can't wait to see how you do with fabricating this project. Keep us posted.
     
  17. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    I've worked out the spacing and arraingement of the plug-bus design. I may ditch two the the SATA pass-throughs in favor of more molexes.
    [​IMG]
    All of the connections that need to be sent to the front panel module will be consolidated to use a single connector on the plug-bus making installation much easier. The two plug-bus halves will most likely connecto to eachother through two 100-pin d-sub connectors.
     
  18. rool

    rool New Member

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    Man, thats a lot of work right there. Don't let it scare you. From the look of the designs, I'd say its damn worth it.
     
  19. Captain Slug

    Captain Slug Infinite Patience

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    I'm getting some help from a friend on that particular part now and I'm hoping to find more people capable/willing to help with it.
     
  20. angelorus2000

    angelorus2000 New Member

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    you are always surprising me with new and exciting projects

    :rock: :rock:
     

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