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Scratch Build – Complete MPD-01 - The lost worklog

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by craigbru, 6 Jan 2020.

  1. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    Let's take a trip back to early 2012. With Project OSIDIAS stalled, I was finding myself in need of a creative outlet. All the hardware I'd originally bought for OSIDIAS was being used in a Phantom case I'd received from NZXT, but was starting to show it's age a bit. New hardware was in order, but I wasn't willing to just stuff it in another *gasp* ATX size case. Although they had also given me a Vulcan due a continuing partnership at the time, I still had to go a little smaller. You see, the SFF landscape was a little different back then. There are quite a few awesome SFF case options from independent manufacturers available now and smaller than ever, however, cases from Lian LI and Silverstone represented the bulk of what was available at the time. This really only left me with one choice. I had to do a scratch build. It had to be small enough that I could cut every component needed on my little Romaxx CNC. I also wanted a relatively quick build. I figured I'd spend most of my time up front in the design work, and after parts were cut, it should be a quick assembly. So, how did that turn out?


    Well, anyone that has followed my design work from the beginning, should see that I lean towards a symmetrical, but slightly industrial feel. I'm fine with angles and layers to create depth, but try to avoid ancillary bits that appear weak or completely without purpose. While I didn't have any real idea what the finished mod would look like, I did have some idea of what I wanted to do with the internals. In fact, most of my scratch designs start from the inside out. I determine hardware placement, and then figure out how or what I want to 'wrap' around them. Hardware placement determines things like airflow, and ultimately the end design. I am also a fan of the 'core' concept. All of my internal hardware must be mounted to a core that can be removed in full from the 'case'. After Project: Rogue and it's very tightly packed internals, I wanted something easy to work on should troubleshooting be necessary. All the preceding actually led me to publish a couple of articles on my old website, which then were reposted here at smallformfactor.net. Those 2 articles cover the design evolution and thought process in more detail, and the below was intended to basically pick up at part 3. Well, 7 years late is better than never right?
     
  2. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    And here we go! Since this is a recap worklog, you’ll not be getting as much running commentary from me as you would with one published in real time. I do think however that a lot of the pics are self explanatory. It’s one thing to design, but fully another to have that design be buildable in the real world. This mod was to be almost entirely aluminum.

    Ah, the first cuts… I figured I’d start with the largest piece on the core.

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    Here’s the second largest core component. It’s the PSU shroud. After being cut, it spent a little time in my metal brake being bent to the correct shape.

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    Since we’re talking about the PSU shroud, a small comment about PSU itself. In 2012 SFX PSU’s were still relatively new to the market, and my design dictated a different direction. I sourced a 500w PSU from a Shuttle system. It had enough power for my needs, as well as a form factor that best fit the design.

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  3. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    The next part of the core, is actually one of 2 pieces that will reside in the rear. This is more of a structural part to tie the core spine and PSU shroud together.

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    This is the second part, and is more cosmetic.

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    Finally, here is the last structural part of the core. The front I/O ports also attach to this piece. When the core is slid out of the case, there is nothing to disconnect.

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  4. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    With the largest parts of the core covered, let’s move on to a few of the smaller details. It was some time in 2010 that I first saw the Zalman ZM-VPM1 Power Consumption Meter. I always thought it was pretty cool, although actual usefulness was debatable. Either way, it would fit nicely into my overall design aesthetic. I created what was essentially a 2 part aluminum sandwich to secure it in the lower front portion of the mod.

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    Now it’s time for a storage solution. This is a 2.5” drive caddy. It sits in front of the Shuttle PSU and will be held in place with a thumbscrew.

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    Moving on, I wanted an easy and quick solution for mounting and unmounting hard drives. I used a piece of PVC plastic with slots for anti-vibration screws and grommets.

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  5. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    With the core essentially complete, it was time to work on hardware positioning and layout.

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    Earlier I mentioned having a relationship with NZXT. Well, that afforded me the opportunity to get their Kraken X40 AIO cooler before any were available commercially. I knew the cooler was coming and received it’s dimensions early on. The case was designed from the beginning with the X40 in mind. After receiving it, I realized it needed a spacer on the core for proper fitment. I cut a spacer from acetal.

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    I decided to make a simple shroud to cover the exposed fan on the back side of the core.

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  6. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    Everything before was leading up to this, the most complex part of the build. This is where symmetry comes in handy. The left and right side of the case are identical, as well as the top and bottom, and the corners/handles. This makes the design process easier, but only part of the construction. Due to the multiple angles involved, each part had to be bent with precision. If any single bend was off, it would throw other parts of the case askew. I’ll admit there were several parts that had to be recut and bent due to being a mm or two off.

    Let’s start with cutting and bending the top and bottom.

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    Now the side pieces.

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    Then the corners.

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  7. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    Let’s see how this all fits together! It’s looking pretty good at this point.

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    It’s time to move on to the corner handles.

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    Now on to the front. Before committing to a full front cut and bend, I did make a test piece out of copper colored aluminum. Once I was satisfied with fitment, I moved on and cut the actual finished part.

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  8. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    It’s finally time to flesh out the side panels. I cut a few pieces of acetal for spacers, and then cut and bent the aluminum panels. Any time you have multiple bends on a piece like this, it’s critical that their placement is correct. Luckily lots of advanced planning led to usable parts the first time around.

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    Here we have the last piece of the side panel. It’s basically an insert that will illuminate via LED’s. It’s clear acrylic that will be fully painted and then the logo will be CNC cut in after the fact.

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  9. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    With everything now cut and test fit, it’s time for paint and final assembly.

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    Moving on to installing components on the core.

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  10. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    One of the best parts of the core and shell design, is that I can actually paint the exterior while using the fully functional core.

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  11. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    Let’s finally mate the core and shell together.

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    Now where does this leave us? Due to great planning on my part, this was a fairly quick build. From first cut to final assembly, it was only about 30 days. Then in early February 2013 I took the finished case to Netwar here in Omaha. It was a stop on the Intel Lanfest circuit, and I was lucky enough to place first in the CPU magazine hosted mod competition at the event. What I didn’t realize at the time, is that MPD was in contention for the overall mod winner for all Intel Lanfest events that year. Imagine my surprise when not only was I a contender, I won! It was an unexpected honor for sure.

    CPU magazine had asked me to take some higher quality photos for the magazine, and it was at this point I realized I’d better wrap up a few details. The case was always intended to have an Android tablet mounted to the front for system monitoring. I also needed to finish sleeving all the wiring. I made quick work of both, and moved on to taking the pics. Although installed earlier, it’s with these photos that you can clearly see the touch contacts between the core and shell. This allowed the core to be easily removed without having to manually disconnect the LED lighting.

    While this may have been a long overdue worklog recap, I’m not sure I would have made it as far without the help and support of the LOSIAS crew on the old forum. Their feedback was invaluable during the design process, and I can’t help but call out @confusis in particular for the project name. MPD-01 (Mobile Pwnage Device) is still one of my favorite builds.
     
  12. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    With CPU magazine and it’s online presence now gone, here are all the final build pics of the project in no particular order..

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  13. HERMAN59000

    HERMAN59000 New Member

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    Nice !
     
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  14. arduum

    arduum Member

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    :eeek::jawdrop::eeek:
     
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  15. kim

    kim hardware addict

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    Fantastic :jawdrop:, in terms of designing and engineering, likewise the highest level of metal working...:wallbash:
     
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  16. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    Thanks guys! It's appreciated!
     
  17. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Thanks for archiving this on Bit. I still love it. :D The flood of free thermaltake cases has nearly killed the scratch build game around here. It was nice to see that again.
     
  18. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    Thanks! It was obviously long overdue. I've been feeling the modding spirit lately, so I figured I'd take the time to write it up.

    Yeah, I just can't get into anything that's not scratch, or at least a very serious deviation from a normal case mod. Before getting serious with some iteration of OSIDIAS again, I did contemplate a MPD-02. It was the same internal layout as the new OSIDIAS, so it was basically a MPD-Mini. I would have carried over all the MPD styling cues, but in the end, it just didn't seem as 'new'.
     
  19. Dot_Kappa

    Dot_Kappa 100% Puppet

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    The design is still amazing despite it's age!! :thumb:

    Thanks a lot for sharing the worklog :winking:
     
  20. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    Thank you! I also think it's aged fairly well, but there's no doubt it's a bit of a departure from most of the mods you see here.
     

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