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Planning Possible scratch build: Name TBA (Pre-planning)

Discussion in 'Modding' started by jazzman831, 29 Jan 2010.

  1. jazzman831

    jazzman831 New Member

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    Introduction

    I'm thinking about possibly building a case. About once every couple of months I find my way back to B-T and it just gives me the fever. Cowbell didn't work, so maybe it's time to actually try a mod myself.

    This is what I'm thinking:
    [​IMG]

    The entire thing will be built out of acrylic (colors discussed below). The case is designed with an eye for:

    Absolute silence! I'm using an air cooled PC right now, and even with the fans undervolted it just gets on my nerves. As you can see, the only vents are on the bottom (where sound is prevented through shrouds, slow fan speeds and dust filters) and the top (where sound is funneled through the back and therefore away from my ears).

    I don't have the specifics of the mounting worked out yet, but everything will be mounted with anti-vibration washers and whatnot.

    Dust free! I just cleaned out my computer and it is a PAIN. Dust gets stuck in all the little nooks and crannies and you either have to completely disassemble everything (including the PITA-almost-break-the-mobo heatsink) or not get it completely clean. Dust filters will help some, but 2 of my 3 inlet fans are mounted in a plexi side with decorative fanguards.

    I haven't figured out exactly how yet, but I want to mount filtration material beneath the radiator to keep any dust from being pulled through the fans, and since there are three inlet fans with no outlet fans (well, there's the PSU fan) the case will have positive pressure, and thus not collect dust on every porous surface.

    Look awesome! Ok, I'm no artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I've got some ideas to make this case stand out from off-the-shelf plexi cases. (At least it'll be the coolest one anyone in my family has seen ;))

    Case Features

    Air flow: The basic idea is to have three 140mm fans (each controlled by an external on/off switch) pulling air through a radiator at the bottom. The case will be more-or-less airtight, with the exception of the top, where nice big holes will be left so the air can go out the exhaust tube and out the back. I might potentially have 120mm fans mounted in the holes or 40/50mm fans (the biggest that will fit) mounted in the exhaust fan as an emergency/high use backup, but that will mostly depend on the 140mm's, and I'm not nearly that far into the planning stage.

    Water Cooling: First of all, yes I know that the 140x3 radiator is way more than I'll ever need (especially when you find out what equipment I'm running :worried:). Since my case can fit it, my idea was to have the biggest radiator I could so that I could run the slowest fans I could. (I'm tentatively thinking of the HW Labs Black Ice GT Stealth 420. It has a huge FPI, but it's also half as tall as most radiators and the fins are supposed to be thinner.)

    Now that that's out of the way, I also want to integrate the reservoir into the front of the case. I will have to think carefully about weight distribution (it's total volume is about 1/2 L), but it will give me an easy "wow" factor, especially with creative LED lighting.

    Hard Drives: I swear I've seen vertical hard drives somewhere, but I can't seem to find them anymore. The idea was to use one of the fans to blow air over the hard drives, since there's no front intake. (This shouldn't affect their performance, should it?) The actual mounting needs some work (right now with all four HDDs filled there's no room for air flow), but I was having a really hard time messing with it in SketchUp.

    Top Panels: Instead of getting a standard USB/Audio header, I want to install a cardreader with audio. I want a card reader anyway, and this way it will take up less space. I also currently use a switch bay to switch my fans; I want to re-use this to power the fans/lighting. I have a couple of cool ideas related to this, but I'll keep it a secret for now :)

    Speaking of the top bay, after I modeled the top exhaust pipe, I realized that that angled surface is the perfect size to mount the switches and card reader at an angle. I'm not sure which I like better yet, but here's what that looks like:

    [​IMG]

    The advantage of that is it *might* (depending on the exact measurements of the components) give me room for a second DVD player if I ever upgrade. Look at how close the top DVD is to my random guesses of 1" and 2" for the top device depths:
    [​IMG]

    Cable Management: I don't think I've ever seen this in another case, but I want to have a "fake" back wall on which the motherboard, pump base, and HDD cage will be mounted. Then inbetween this wall and the side door will be a 3/4' gap used for cable routing. The idea is I will shoot the PSU wires into there, then have the other end come out right next to where it's needed. (For an idea of what I'm talking about, look very closely at the graphics card; that's not a watercooling tube, it's a power cable). I want to do the same thing for fan, LED, headers, etc, and have the HDD connect from the back.

    Here's another view I made:
    [​IMG]

    Colors: I couldn't make the SketchUp drawing look anything like what's in my head, but I tried...
    [​IMG]

    It's pretty much what it says on the tin: the main color will be some sort of translucent black/gray with blood red highlights. The wall that isn't drawn on the case will be clear, as will the front of the res. I've got some ideas about where I want lighting (white LED spotlights with cold cathode UV highlighting red UV accents), but the specific details will depend on so many other things at this point, I might as well keep them a surprise so nobody's let down :)

    Name: There's a big theme of "see through, but not quite" and for some reason the name "Ghost" seemed about right. But then there's also sort of a "living machine" element with the blood red wiring and tubing, so ghost doesn't quite fit either. I dunno, TBD for now.

    Conclusion

    What do you all think? Lame/awesome/pointless? Potential timeline: erm... I'm starting a new job (eventually... long story) which will get me the cash I need to work on this, but it will take up a wee bit of my time. I'll spend my last few days (weeks?) unemployed to shore up the final details, and hopefully some of my first paycheck will go towards some plexi :)

    Thanks for looking!
     
    Last edited: 4 Feb 2010
  2. bigsharn

    bigsharn Officially demotivated

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    Almost every mod is pointless... but you should do it anyway :D Black and red is a very popular colour combination, so it might be worth swapping the red out for another colour, something that matches your motherboard might be worth doing. Also (while we're on the subject of parts) might be worth looking at an SSD boot drive if total silence is your goal... Oh, and the Sharkoon M 1200rpm is VERY quiet (not quite silent, but undervolt it and you may have a winner)

    Bit of advice as well... go to the local signwriters, they'll have plastic offcuts (some up to 500mm squared) so it has to be worth asking for them on the cheap :p

    Just wondering, what exactly are you cooling?
     
  3. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    You want the pump below the reservoir. It will bleed much easier.
    Look into passive cooling HD enclosures. The one I'm using for an external unit is good enough I have to rest my hand on it to tell when the drive spins up.
    Unbalanced air pressure/choked fans will add to the noise problem IMO. You want the case to have a lot of airflow, but nowhere that you would hear it. Routing all the air out the back is a good start. Something to block the sound of the underside from your ears will also help.

    Also- Will this be on a desk or on the floor? Carpet is awesome for killing vibration and reverberation.:D
     
  4. jazzman831

    jazzman831 New Member

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    Hrm, my mobo is dark blue, but blue and black is probably overdone as well. Maybe dark blue with white/crystal highlights? I'll play around with it. [edit] I just remembered the reason I decided to go with red in the first place! My mobo has a two super bright red LEDs on it. I figured why mess with it? Maybe dark blue with dark red accents could work...[/edit]

    The HDD's I'm currently using are actually pretty quiet; I can hardly hear them at all in my echo-y aluminum case I have now. I'm also just too much of a cheapskate [hey look at that, I wrote that before the man himself commented] to pay so much for so little storage.

    Good call on the fan, I haven't even started looking and that one looks great. Although, I'm not sure they sell them in the states...

    My current rig is as follows:
    *CPU: AMD Athlon x2 5000+ BE (2.6Ghz upped to 3.0Ghz by upping the multiplier)
    *GPU: Powercolor Radeon 3850 512MB
    *Mobo: Biostar TA770A2+
    *RAM: OCZ 2x2GB DDR2 800
    *HDD: Excelstor 80GB 7200RPM/WD 400GB 7200RPM

    The only thing I plan on watercooling is the CPU for now. It's not the greatest setup, but I haven't had it long enough and don't require enough from it to justify upgrading. I might, depending on budget, upgrade the video card (the 4850's look nice) followed by the CPU (Phenom BE 3.0Ghz perhaps) but that's another $120 minimum, up to $275+ for both.

    @Cheapskate: First of all, :bow: Reading through your logs has definitely given me tons of inspiration. And I might have (sub)consciously stolen some ideas from you as well.

    I figured as long as the pump intake was below the water level I'd be ok, though admittedly I'm not sure how much pull these things have. Draining will definitely be a pain, though, without an easy way to access the radiator. Perhaps I could switch the position of the HDD cage and the pump to get it lower in the loop? I sort of figured it out as I went along and didn't expect certain things to be quite as big as they were.

    As for keeping the sound from the bottom, I really haven't decided yet. I'm thinking perhaps of a U-shaped channel of thick soundproofing foam, forcing the air to come in through the back only. The air coming out of the case will have a pretty high speed* but hopefully with few obstructions it will be pretty quiet.

    I currently have my computer on carpet, which helps a lot... but the way our floors are it also transfers vibration to my feet. Free foot massage!

    *The air going across one of those Sharkoon fans at their rated CFM is about 10 linear ft/sec, assuming that 50% of the surface area accounts for air flow. It will be going at about 46 ft/sec out the back blowhole!
     
    Last edited: 29 Jan 2010
  5. jazzman831

    jazzman831 New Member

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    I've been working on a better version of the drawing (the one above didn't always take into account silly things like mounting hardware or plexi thickness) and rearranged some stuff. After looking into fans, it looks like the 140mm fan market just isn't quite there yet, plus that res I was looking at is a lot less quiet than HW Labs marketing would have be believe. I've decided to go with a 360mm slim radiator (I'm liking the Swiftech MCR320 Quiet Power) instead, which also allows me to put the pump on the floor of the computer, underneath the res and out of the HDDs in case it decides to spring a leak :)

    While working on those drawing I kind of hit a stall so I browsed around various forums/part stores and suddenly was inspired by this little jobber: http://www.xoxide.com/logisys-pc-extension-system.html

    That in particular wouldn't be any use to me (who needs 4 power plugs on their desk?), but it combined with another idea I had to make a modular Matrix Orbital display. I've always liked the idea of an LCD display, but the way I sit at my computer there's no place I could put it where it would be useful. So after playing around with the idea all day (and figuring out that you can't get IDE or SATA cables longer than 36"!) I came up with an idea to integrate the CD/DVD, an LCD display (Matrix Orbital GX Typhoon ), the card reader, and power switches into a box that would sit on my desk top, within easy reach. Here's what I came up with:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, I'd either have to buy an external CD/DVD ($50+ for something I almost already own) or one of those $15-20 IDE-to-USB adapters. It will also be a mess with wiring (especially the front panel switches/LEDs) if I'm not careful. I've got some ideas about wire routing though...)

    [​IMG]

    I think I'm liking the dark blue/white/crystal color scheme as well:
    [​IMG]

    The only thing I haven't figured out yet is how I will assemble it so that it can be taken apart for easy access. Maybe I'll have the top and bottom panels removable, as they are the only ones that don't have anything attached to them. If only I could explode things in real life:

    [​IMG]

    Lastly, I will also have some sort of rubber feat so that when the drive is spinning at full speed it doesn't resonate the table and tip something over. This thing is FAST...

    Oh, and now I need to come up with a new name for the thing. Or at least something to call it on the boards to distinguish it from every other "this is my case" case :)
     
  6. jazzman831

    jazzman831 New Member

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    Ok, I've got everything 90% finalized, now all I have to do is start my job and get some money coming in so I can actually afford to build this thing. First, unless anyone has any better ideas, I keep returning to the black and red color scheme. I know it's not original, but if so many other people do it, it can't be bad, right? I plan on having all the acrylic black and clear with red and white LEDs and red fluid.

    [​IMG]

    You will notice some differences from my first design. It turns out that when you have to factor in things like thickness of the plexi, it makes a bit of a difference! Obviously I moved some stuff out of the case entirely, which gave me more room to work with. I also modeled the hard drives and realized that I didn't give them nearly enough space before. I decided to have two smaller reservoirs instead of just one, and I'll have something fun going between the two. I'll leave that one a surprise for now, as I won't actually know what I'll be doing until I can get the acrylic and play around with it a little bit.

    I got rid of the idea of a wire-hide compartment, because when I started playing around with my extra PSU cables I realized that they can't easily make a 1/2 inch right-angle turn. Add to that all the complications of subtracting an inch from the inside width while keeping the outside width the same, I just couldn't get it to look right. Instead I added an acrylic backplate for the motherboard which will have room and access for cable management. I also plan to integrate cable management into the case.

    Here's a better view of the internals:
    [​IMG]

    As you can see, I switched out the 3x140 for a 3x120. I save quite a bit of money that way, gain space for my pump to be below my reservoir, and I can probably actually get it to be a lot quieter. From what I was reading the Danger Den stealth radiators are pretty loud because they have such a high FPI; what I'd gain by having a larger fan I lose by having to have a faster fan.

    Since this case is acrylic and I want don't want to tap it for screws, I've come up with a slotted system to hold everything in place. It relies on gravity so I can't turn my case upside-down, but then again, I wasn't ever planning on doing that anyway.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    That second image also gives you a better idea of the size of the blow hole. It's not much; I expect much of the air will be forced out over the PSU, which should keep the RPMs of that fan down as well. Not that it's a very loud fan to start with. Oh, and I realized when moving the bracket around that I won't be able to get it in when I have a real PSU in there, because the 24-pin cable is permanent, and it's right where I need to be able to slide in the bracket. That may have to be adjusted.

    Finally, one last picture of the joys of geometry. I'm going to have to do something about this :duh:
    [​IMG]

    Good thing I realized this now and not when I had all the parts cut. (I went back and looked at my designs for the external unit; the top plate is thicker than 1/4". Whoops)

    Hardware

    This is, afterall, just a case to hold my stuff, right? This is what I have now:

    *CPU: AMD Athlon x2 5000+ BE (2.6Ghz upped to 3.0Ghz by upping the multiplier)
    *GPU: Powercolor Radeon 3850 512MB
    *Mobo: Biostar TA770A2+
    *RAM: OCZ 2x2GB DDR2 800
    *HDD: Excelstor 80GB 7200RPM/WD 400GB 7200RPM
    *OD: HP IDE DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe
    *PSU: Antec Basiq BP550 Plus 550W, modular

    I *might* (depending on my paycheck to living expenses ratio) upgrade the CPU to an AMD Phenom II x4 3Ghz BE and the graphics to a 4850. But that won't be until after the case is built.

    Hardware I'll need to buy:

    *Swiftech MCR320-QP 3x120 slim radiator
    *Danger Den CPX-Pro pump
    *Danger Den MC-TDX waterblock (acrylic top)
    *I will be using 3/8" ID x 1/2" OD tubing with compression fittings (they are more expensive, but I've worked with compression and barbs in lab settings and know which one I love and which one I hate :))
    *4x Cooler Master R4 series LED fans (69CFM, 19dB)
    *nMEDIAPC ZE-C98 All-in-one card reader
    *Matrix Orbital GX Tri-Color Graphical LCD screen -- though I'm finding out that it's not as well supported as the bit-tech article makes it out to be, and it doesn't do all the things I hoped it would (like work with the Zune player or VLC). I really like the idea of an LCD screen but I might keep my eye out for something that's more along the lines of what I want to do.

    All told I'm already at $500 and that doesn't include tools (though I do have a friend who owes me a lot of favors who's both good with his hands and owns a machine shop), shipping, or acrylic. The watercooling loop stayed within about what I was hoping (I thought $200-250, and it's $225 without shipping) but all those other little bits add up QUICKLY.

    Nobody told me modding was so expensive :hehe:

    So that's where I'm at. Hopefully I can start this darn job soon so I can get money to actually pay for all this stuff.
     

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