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Case Mod - In Progress Project Dolphin ... The Wife's Computer

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by Osgeld, 28 Jul 2019.

  1. Osgeld

    Osgeld Member

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    Project overview:
    My wife has started started a business on etsy which requires manipulation of vector graphics, and then bitmap graphics in quite high detail (like 4800 x 2400 DPI prints) then needs to be cut out with a cnc knife plotter.

    Her current machine is from 2012 and could use a refresh, but before plopping down a good chunk of money we have hit some road blocks. 3 weeks ago I dropped 400$ on a new starter for my car, then 2 weeks later my car's AC went out (in the southern USA so its hot and humid as balls). Then our water heater started peeing all over my garage workshop floor, AND I had about 350$ worth of dental work already scheduled (its been a crap month in terms of money) .

    so her spanking new ryzen 3000X system just got put on the back burner, but I had already started a little bit. So after a discussion we are going to meet in the middle, pushing her machine to what it can do and preparing for an upgrade later this year.

    Her current machine is as follows

    Intel i7 3770K stock box cooler running out of the box clocks
    24GB DDR 3 running 1666Mhz though its good for at least 1866 (matched pairs patriot viper 2x4GB 2x 8 GB)
    EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Superclocked (this was to go in the new machine anyway, as we are only driving a 1920x1200 dell ultrasharp anyway and to just match the performance is a good chunk of money)

    not too bad right? but
    1. the case this machine is in was designed to run at best a 2006 era dual core, so its entire ventilation system is 2x 80 mm fans, and under full load it will physically sting you with heat if you touch the back IO section
    2. intel stock cooler and it will thermal throttle before hitting single core boost
    3. 3770K stock clocks, 1866Mhz ram running 1666mhz
    4. mechanical hard drive
    Project Goals:
    1. Take a fairly inexpensive case with decent airflow and transfer system to it
    2. Pack said case with 120mm fans and create a positive pressure system
    3. Replace stock cooler with a tower cooler (do not want liquid in wife's computer) also compatible with AM4 for the short term future
    4. Explore and exploit overclocking potential of computer
    5. Try to transfer system to M2 Drive with an PCI express adapter and use said drive on future system
    6. Make it look OG Pimp Baller, cause that's what we do
    20190727_224030.jpg
    That's what I am starting with

    20190724_202043_HDR.jpg
    That is what I am moving to, but trust me its not that simple ... I never make things simple
     
  2. Jeff Hine

    Jeff Hine Nothing special

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    :D @ 'The Wife' - if I said that, here, my life would end faster than a Thanos snap.
     
  3. Osgeld

    Osgeld Member

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    Fair enough, not like I can change it now

    Moving on

    This series of case is world renowned for its ability to shove its 3.5 inch drive bay's about 1cm up the power supplies butt, sad thing is, whatever original case this was actually has mounting holes in the base to move the brackets a good 50% forward, which would give you the best of both worlds. Unfortunately in this day and age where every case has to support dual 360 fat rads with push pull configuration, the holes on top of the PSU basement are now in the middle of a U shaped cutout.

    I only need to support 1x 3.5 inch drive so screw it I will push it as far forward as I can, drill the mounting holes and support the thing off the bottom with some short 6-32 hex stand off's

    20190727_212955.jpg
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    Next up is the 3x 120mm fan support. I have no problem with a 3x 120mm fan setup on the front, what I do hate is this case chops off the top and bottom fans a bit. If I were going to use fans where the blades light up its not a big issue, but I am not, I am using LED ring fans... And I would be dedicating a fan to basically blow onto power supply cables (which is a waste of money power and fan) while having a big notch in the front, while chopping off the ring on top and bottom, and ugh

    soooo I took a couple random fans out of the "what am I suposta do with that" drawer and did a little mockup using sticky tape and poster board. This presents a dual 120 mm fan input, behind mesh (which is going to change don't worry) that is even with the PSU basement and actually balances out the top vs bottom within 2.5 mm

    20190724_213555_HDR.jpg

    of course this totally borks the 120mm fan mounts in the case, but thanks to being a cheap case A quick pair of tin snips removes the offending 120mm fan mounts. I will clean this up later with a dremel, and get some thin aluminum bar that will allow me to screw into the 140 mm mounts and drill 120 mm mounts in the places I want them

    20190727_212640.jpg
    20190727_211853_HDR.jpg

    Next step is to break out the CAD and start designing the acrylic that will hide all the pointless holes and gaps in this case and start to bring it to life (like really do I need 4x 2.5 inch sata SSD bracket mounts, FFS where's my firewire port and 3.5 inch floppy bay ... 2009 called when ssd's were 32GB and cost 200$)
     
    Last edited: 29 Jul 2019
  4. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    You say that, but wait until your wife's software makes a 2tb cache file.
     
  5. Osgeld

    Osgeld Member

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    Actually had something create a 400 gig log file on my work laptop on a 500 gig drive
     
  6. Osgeld

    Osgeld Member

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    Last update I said I was breaking out the cad

    by that I meant Cardboard Aided Design, though in reality I used some compressed fiber board which I get from work. This is a really simplified posting of what goes on.

    In a nutshell I have 3mm thick material which is free to me, and cuts easily with a razor knife. The entire exercise is to mock up all the acrylic panels that will be present in the case to complete a "tubbed" look, hiding all the holes and bumps and whatnot from the stock PC case. I could do this in the computer ... I am an engineer after all with lots of experience in solidworks and autocad and blah blah blah, but over the decades of doing custom PC's as a hobby its much easier for me to grab some cardstock, cardboard or whatever fairly stiff material on hand and just make mock up material.

    Doing things this way saves me from modeling my specific case or trusting that someone else did a stellar job while capturing every nuance of the product. I can physically hold objects in my hands and try to put them into place and account for hidden clearance issues. It also gives me rough cutting templates that I can start mocking up graphics on and get a feel for what the end product is going to look like.

    Acrylic can start to get expensive, especially if you have it cut to design, where as this way I can know everything fits, and I can install / remove it without taking apart the case, have physical templates to use with my bandsaw, while start working on graphics while material is in the mail ... just with a ruler pencil and knife

    20190728_211914_HDR.jpg 20190729_212835_HDR.jpg 20190730_213348.jpg 20190801_210955.jpg

    I also went ahead and drilled a couple holes for the new 3.5 inch hdd mount, I need to add spacers but that free's up a ton of wasted space in the basement for the single 4 TB drive that is going down there.

    20190801_214206.jpg 20190801_214220.jpg
     
  7. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    :worried: Yeah... 'specially if you start collecting it just because it's pretty.
     
  8. Osgeld

    Osgeld Member

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    no idea what your talking about (and where the heck did I get all this transparent neon green 5mm stuff)

    Meanwhile .... I got the sheet man, the sheet metal that is

    Since the first overview of this case arriving in my hands was to ditch the 3rd and mostly useless fan, and replace the front metal mesh with a magnetic mesh. Why? cause when moving the fan layout the stock front mesh was too large, it makes it harder to clean if I cant just remove it, and its depressed from the front of the case which I frankly hate.

    On top of that, if I remove the diffusion filter for the not included RGB strip on this model (AKA printed cardstock) it looks like arse. I needed to make some feature the size I wanted, magnetic, and be flush with the front of the case. Another advantage of Cardboard Aided Design (CAD) is I have known to fit physical models, and with one in hand I hit the local big box home center for some sheet steel.

    This fairly thin, but thick in comparison with the case metal, was almost perfect size, and less than 6 US dollars after taxes. This gives me enough material to not only make the front panel magnetic, but also all the fan mount's I need to relocate. Since my daughter was already in bed, breaking out a cutting wheel or bandsaw was not in the works. I cut the width with some sheet metal shears, and the length with a (el-cheap-o) worn out acrylic V score knife and a little bending. Things will be aheared with some 3M VHB automotive trim tape

    This is one of those things where small numbers matter, the face of the case to the deep part of the vent is 5mm,so taking into account ...

    the thickness of the VHB tape
    +
    metal thickness
    +
    magnetic strip thickness that came with the case's top dust filter
    +
    another layer of VHB on the magnet strips (since whatever they used just peeled off and was ruined)
    +
    thickness of the plastic mesh dust filter
    =
    0.3 mm below flush with the front of the case, not tea-bag if I do say so myself considering I am using off the shelf and "came with the case" items

    20190803_203146_HDR.jpg 20190803_210115.jpg 20190803_211422.jpg 20190803_214657.jpg 20190803_220214.jpg 20190803_220224_HDR.jpg 20190803_220258.jpg
     
  9. Osgeld

    Osgeld Member

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    Scratch that I hate it. I am chucking that last post in the "save its material for a few months, and 4 years from now toss it in the trash" pile. (isn't it how that always goes?)
    The overall look of this giant white box is to be delicate, almost Victorian in nature with a little Greek revival type stuff going on (spoiler alert), nothing says that than giant white box with giant rectangle in the front.

    My wife asked if I could stop by the local chain hobby store to pick up some supplies on sale for her etsy shop, sure why not ... I only drive right past it twice a day. I had already been eyeballing punched metal sheets online and found one I really liked from amazon, seller wanted like 20 bucks for a 12x12 inch sheet and for a "we are kind of broke this month in the extra spending money department thanks life" project, I felt that it was a little out of budget for a accent. Sure enough they had the exact same thing in stock for 6.99$ and I had a 40% off coupon ... well ok twist my arm why don't ya

    20190805_203037.jpg

    Then I got home and showed off my new score, and said, we can do as squares in circles, but if I tilt it at a 45 its stars in circles, which was greeted oooooh I like the stars! The perfect way to maximize both waste and cost is take a square pattern and put it on a 45, that's fine but the sheet of material, which in a square pattern could yeild 2 now almost didnt fit one. Lucily after measuring and tracing and measuring some more it did fit and it does look even better IMO.

    Cut on a 45, the thickness of material, and still needing a finer mesh for fan protection from a 4 year old and some dust filtering, threw off my layer stackup. Using the original front steel mesh cutting off the indent and placing it on the back of the front of the case still gives me a 0.4mm recess from the front of the case plastic, and is more decorative, though not removable, which is fine I have an air compressor that works well for PC dusting

    20190805_212853_HDR.jpg

    so per the picture above the current plan is
    OEM steel mesh with indent cut off on back side of front panel (painted white)
    White acrylic as first layer on outside with only holes cut for fans (represented by red 3mm plexi here)
    0.5mm thick decorative mesh on top
    0.5mm thick 5-10mm wide trim to cover cut edges, (then it and decorative mesh painted in accent color)

    which puts me at the tallest point ~4mm (tolerances) from the original fan indent on the front panel of 4.36mm deep

    it will make more since when you see the final install
     
  10. Osgeld

    Osgeld Member

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    metalwork on front done

    going to take the above grill but I need to trim it, no one sells thin strips of metal, except for the hobby store, and its not where I would ever look. Over in the bead section (for making jewelry type things) they have some 5mm wide 1mm thick soft aluminum in a roll for 2.99 (- 40% daily coupon) that's like a meter long.

    Grabbing that like I am stealing it! I can now unroll it and cut it long to "frame" the cut edges of the grill.
    20190806_203625.jpg

    but I do not exactly know where they go, see the decorative gill was cut with sheet metal shears by hand, from a template that was cut by hand. I 100% know that if I line up the cut edges with the trim it will be wrong. The entire grill was covered in tape, set into the case plastic and scribed to fit with a compass, now I know that no matter how squirly my cuts are, once trimmed out, they will fit inside the plastic front which was (at least at one time) came from a precision machined mould.

    20190806_210835.jpg

    I then cut the tape along the scribed line, and proceed to use contact cement to glue down the trim to the grill, if you have never used contact cement, its a messy, smelly, pain in the butt liquid equivalent of 3M VHB tape, often used in construction to make laminate countertops among other things. Once bonded you will destroy anything attached to it trying to remove it

    20190806_211326.jpg

    excess material trimmed after bonding, and some sanding to make everything planar using the case as a test fit, it was time to remove the tape ... and the glue boogers and start prepping for paint

    20190807_203101.jpg

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    The original front grill was sanded down and painted gloss white, and the new front grill was painted with "purplelicious" high gloss metallic lacquer model paint

    20190810_201650_HDR.jpg

    and since the fan's arrived today a sanity check was done

    20190810_214901.jpg

    if you notice the bottom fan has a big black circle in the middle, this is from the sticker on the fan hub
    20190810_215201.jpg

    so lets ditch that and finally a realistic mockup

    20190810_215640.jpg
     
  11. Osgeld

    Osgeld Member

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    CPU cooler arrived over the weekend as well, here in the states's they are giving this thing away for 45 bucks, Its an Enermax ETS-T40 variant that was a bit of a little bang back in 2015. Boasting from 180 to 200 watts TDP depending on who's marketing you believe, its a 160ish mm tall 4 heat pipe tower in a few different configurations and colors . Dual 120 mm fans in this sku, with a thermally dissipative white paint. Bonus points go to integrated fan limit switch (instead of dongles) and by design removable propellers.

    could have used a 2 to 1 fan splitter

    fan.jpg


    Upon arrival, I instantly noticed the fan is constructed of a plastic backplate, a metal ring and a plastic front plate, add in the "by design removable fan propeller" and this thing is asking for a little accent color

    20190811_204055.jpg

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    amazon listing say's AM4 compatible bracket available though support site, but as of July 2019 I received an AM4 bracket in box ... its mostly 4 extra holes drilled in the standard backplate which supports from Pentium 4 to modern Intel and AMD

    Rear panel of the case originally started out as a black 7 slot AT / ATX (yes AT's from 30 some thing years ago share the same back slot spacing, and most of the screw holes) had its rivots drilled out of the case, and the slot separators cut out with a dremel and a cutting wheel. Once smoothed out a little with a file the entire rear panel was painted in white epoxy paint

    any day now awaiting a cooler master vertical GPU mount (which of course needs to be tested, sanded, painted, installed and tested again

    20190811_213038_HDR.jpg

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    Last edited: 13 Aug 2019 at 04:49
  12. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    What a cute bottle of contact cement. :lol:
    Deep cool screwed up not using glow in the dark material for those fans. -Yeah, my tastes are screwy...
     

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