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Scratch Build – In Progress Project "Intake" (update 15 April 2008: Car radiator case fan)

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by carbon451, 15 Mar 2008.

  1. carbon451

    carbon451 What's a Dremel?

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    What to do during my week off for spring break...hmm...party? Travel to exotic places? Nahh, I started a case mod.

    Concept:
    I recently overhauled my 5-year-old computer with all new hardware, except for the case. I figured the old case would be adequate, but once I started installing the components, plenty of things didn't fit. I couldn't even install a second hard drive because it interfered with the motherboard power connector!

    Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes, so I've decided to build my first custom case. In addition, I'm going to use this project as a way to familiarize myself with machine shop equipment as well as learn how to work with metals and composites.

    This design is mash-up of a cube and a previous cylindrical design I had (link) - hence the rounded square face. Let's get to the sexy SolidWorks renders:

    [​IMG]

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    It's more or less a carbon fiber shell with a big fan pulling air across an aluminum frame. No optical drives in this case; I can't remember the last time I used them anyways. I want to keep the outside lines as clean and elegant as possible all the while keeping the case a bit understated. Simplicity is key in this project, as school work keeps me very busy during the week.

    Comments are definitely appreciated!
     
    Last edited: 16 Apr 2008
  2. carbon451

    carbon451 What's a Dremel?

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    Building the frame:

    Metal order came in a few days ago, so I've been busy in the machine shop. Cut the pieces and did a quick test fit:

    [​IMG]

    What a tedious process cutting 16 of these things, drilling two holes in each, and filing away the burrs! If anything, I now have greater appreciation when I see other worklogs.

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    Attached the L-brackets and another quick test fit. Looks like things will fit =)

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    As I'm trying to get a mirror finish on the aluminum frame, I experimented using a buffing wheel to polish some aluminum. The buffing compound left some black residue on the pieces, so I soaked them in soap water overnight to see if they would come off.

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    Mmm...shiny, but still not as good I had envisioned. Does anyone know how to give aluminum a really nice mirror finish?

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 3 Apr 2008
  3. jhanlon303

    jhanlon303 The Keeper of History

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    This should be a fun project and one I will watch:thumb:
    John
     
  4. Squadexodus

    Squadexodus I got my cookie. What about you?

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    Watches!
     
  5. 500mph

    500mph The Right man in the Wrong place

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    This looks pretty well thought out.
    /Subscribed
     
  6. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    You have to sand the faces down to get a perfect mirror. Start with 220 grit and work your way down to 600 grit. After you hit it with the buffer, rubbing alcohol will remove the nasty polish wax for you.

    I would also do away with the L brackets and find a way to mount through the ends of the posts. like JB Welding some bolts in the ends of the posts.
    I like the design, otherwise.:D
     
  7. Oreon_237

    Oreon_237 CHEA BRO!

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    WOW nice design. looks minimalist. keeping an eye on this, i am
     
  8. carbon451

    carbon451 What's a Dremel?

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    Finishing the frame:

    Hit the shop again today and finished bolting the basic frame together. I cry little inside thinking that I'll have to take out all of those bolts later to polish the aluminum.

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    Test fit with some older hardware:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 3 Apr 2008
  9. carbon451

    carbon451 What's a Dremel?

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    Thanks all!

    And the more I think it through, the more I realize I overlooked. Some aspects will be seat-of-the-pants design decisions =P


    My friends told me that the aluminum will oxidize and lose its luster after a week...is that true? I was also going to head to an auto store to see if they have any polish for aluminum.

    Your second suggestion probably would have been simpler and kept with the minimalist theme...too bad I saw your post after I came back from the shop today :wallbash: Thanks though!
     
  10. rls669

    rls669 i can has dremel?

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    I'm sanding aluminum right now :D

    AFAIK, aluminum forms an oxidation layer pretty much immediately on exposure to air. After that it will lose its shine slowly if not protected. You could clearcoat it, or use an aluminum wheel polish. I polished a steel case panel to a mirror finish about 5 years ago and a coat of high quality car wax has kept it looking good.
     
  11. carbon451

    carbon451 What's a Dremel?

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    Yeah, that's what I thought as well (the oxidation layer thing). Is it possible to buy clearcoat at a home depot or lowe's? Otherwise, there is sure to be some car detailing kit for aluminum I could pick up.

    Spring break is over now...I've begun to lose a lot of sleep already since I spent all of last week building the case and not on homework =/

    I'm also looking for new ideas for names...maybe Sleek? Karbon?
     
    Last edited: 18 Mar 2008
  12. MiLwOrkZ

    MiLwOrkZ What's a Dremel?

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    I'll take some pics later this evening to show you some Aluminum rods that I had polished for my bloodwood computer. I have yet to re polish them and they are still shining quite nicely. I polished the bars with 'Mothers Wax' (Its a car wax, but it also helps to protect if from the timely oxidation) and a secondary 'Soap' for a lubricant and wheel cleaner.

    Assuming you are using a buffing wheel on a bench grinder:
    While the buffer wheel is spinning take your BAR of soap and run it across GENTLY, "Dont lose a finger". Next dab some mothers wax on your working piece and begin polishing. Go slower than normal due to that Aluminum gets quite hot and becomes quite the interesting projectile in the shop.

    When do we get to see some pics of the CF (Carbon Fiber) cowl, duct, shroud, and or cover thing.
     
  13. carbon451

    carbon451 What's a Dremel?

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    Hmm, did you get those waxes from an auto store? Also, the buffing wheel belongs to a club on campus, so it's got plenty of other gunk rubbed into it already...would that affect the performance? If it does, maybe I could just do it by hand.

    Sorry to disappoint, but the CF won't be coming for at least a few weeks =P I'm not experienced at working with CF (this project is meant as a learning experience for me too). I'm currently doing some final design work then buying some carbon fiber and epoxy to first practice with. I've got a few friends who could mentor me, but I figured theres no better way to learn than to get my hands messy. My biggest question about that is: What epoxy should I get if I want a nice shiny & smooth finish? I realize that that depends more on the surface finish of the mold, but is there a particular type of epoxy that cures clearer/smoother than others? I've been looking at some West Systems mixes from US Composites.

    I'm just trying to finish the frame by this weekend. Got an update coming up later tonight =)

    Oh yes, one more question: What kind of thread does the male end of a motherboard standoff have? I read Wikipedia, but it was a bit ambiguous whether its a 6-32 or M3 thread.

    Thanks for all the advice so far!

    Btw: Nice case Milworkz...that's the kind of shiny-ness I was going for
     
  14. Rocket733

    Rocket733 Austerity - It's the only way

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    I've had both in various cases over the years, depends on the manufacturer and where they're located.
     
  15. carbon451

    carbon451 What's a Dremel?

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    Making the motherboard back plate:

    Printed out the sketch and readied the aluminum for some milling.

    [​IMG]

    Arghh, the mill wasn't big enough to cut an entire card slot in one pass. So I had to mill half of the slot then flip the plate around to mill the rest of it.

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    A few nicks, but nothing a bit of filing couldn't fix up.

    [​IMG]

    Just waiting to hear back from a machinist on campus to help me put a bend at the top of the plate.
     
    Last edited: 3 Apr 2008
  16. carbon451

    carbon451 What's a Dremel?

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    The reason I ask is because I'm considering tapping the motherboard tray so the standoffs can screw into it. Alternatively, I could drill a hole and put a nut on the standoff on the other side of the tray.

    I'll head to the shop tomorrow and try to find a nut for the latter plan, but I'd also like to try tapping holes
     
  17. Fozzy

    Fozzy What's a Dremel?

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    Why don't you rivet some of the case? I mean the bracets don't have to come all the way off. I'd rivet what's going to be under the motherboard.
     
  18. carbon451

    carbon451 What's a Dremel?

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    Lessons learned (aka. mistakes =P)

    I haven't had much lately to work on the case (last week was insanely busy :eeek:)

    But I squeezed in some time this week and have only been breaking things...arggg. I guess this is where modding gets a bit frustrating. See, I didn't plan out the back panel well enough so the pieces I currently have would have to be mounted in a messy way. I've also managed to break the power supply back plate which I've already redone twice, and the HDD bracket (while bending it). Then I ran out of metal :rolleyes:

    I managed to find another sheet of aluminum which I'm going to remake the backplate on. Now I need to find a mill that's big enough to handle the sheet.

    Anyhoo, sorry for the minimal progress, but here are some pictures from my "learning experience" =P :

    I realized that it's better to draw lines directly onto the aluminum. The paper traps lots and lots of aluminum chips underneath and screws up precision.
    [​IMG]

    The last picture of my PSU backplate before it dies
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    Tapping the motherboard back panel...which I'll be remaking soon. My first time tapping holes
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    One of the pieces that actually turned out good, the bottom half of the HDD brackets. The HDDs will be mounted vertically in the slots.
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    It was late, and I needed to cut off a small section of the upper-right tab. Stuck it in the bandsaw with nothing underneath and the teeth caught the piece and broke the tab :duh:
    [​IMG]

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    Put a straight piece of 3/16" aluminum into a vise and hammered away to get a bend. I guess I got too aggressive and the metal snapped :rolleyes: Hurray for learning from mistakes. Now, if I had heated the area with a propane torch or something prior to bending it, would it have worked better?
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    On another note, I think I'm going to change the project name to "Intake", as it resembles an intake more than a test tube (that name will be reserved for future projects).

    I hope my next update will be better :dremel:
     
    Last edited: 4 Apr 2008
  19. MrWizard

    MrWizard What's a Dremel?

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    Nice metal work!
     
  20. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Yes, you need to heat that 'luminum up before you bend it. The other side shows signs of stress too.
     

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