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Scratch Build – In Progress Project: "Nomad" - A Liquid Cooled, i7/SLI SFF system (CANCELLED)

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by shomann, 27 Sep 2009.

  1. shomann

    shomann New Member

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    Intro and explanation:

    This project has been a long time coming. I have been wanting to do a custom case or scratch build for sometime now, in no small part due to the insane amount of craftsmanship and skill I see here on bit-tech everyday. This case is the culmination of 6 months of planning, re-planning, saving and scheming. It has, as I am sure is the case of many others here, been on my mind ever since I decided to try it.

    Now, I am not a metal worker or tradesman in any since of the word. I have no formal knowledge of metalworking or fabrication. This is my first attempt at any sort of serious case mod (let alone scratch build) and also my first go-around with liquid cooling. To that end, I have studied several different projects here and elsewhere, but there are a few that have really shaped this project:

    • craigbru - for his excellent Rogue casemod. I would actually call it a hybrid between casemod and scratch build as there is so much excellent fabrication here. More than anyone else, this project steered me into a SFF mindset as he showed just how much you can cram into a small space. He was also one of the ones that helped in the initial design and planning.
    • oldnewby - for Cygnus X1. His idea of an internal framework for a case was a HEAVY influence in my final design. He was also gracious enough to let a noob like me use that design for a starting point. I will say it again, but thanks oldnewby! I am sure I won't be the last one to borrow a few of your ideas ;)
    • tremeloes (external influence) - for his ever-evolving Lian-Li V350b case mod. This was in the information thread back when I had convinced myself I couldn't build my own case ;).
    • charles_h - Daniel's Murderbox. I prefer clean design over everything else. This case is the best example of "clean" that I have ever seen. Not sure if I can get to that level, but the "murdered" out look with sleeving and blacked out everything will be a design goal.
    • Everyone else, I grab influences from everything I can ;)

    Original Fact-finding thread
    The planning thread

    Names:

    Right now, I don't have one. I need some input here. A few ideas on the table:
    EDIT: I do have one - no thanks to you guys! ;)
    • October One or "O1" - At least one personal reference here, but the abbr "O1" (not zero 1) is also my last initial, my first case, etc, etc... Too bad it won't be the completion date ;)
    • Uranium - The densest of all naturally occurring elements (or so I think). Obvious radioactive theme though, which I want to avoid.
    • Rookie - My first build. It has a certain ring to it.
    • Any good suggestion someone throws out there ;)


    Initial Design:

    I wanted it small. As small as possible. If you peeked at the planning thread you can see I might have wanted it a little too small. Comparisons to the game of Tetris were apt:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Yeah...even big 38mm thick fans weren't going to be as efficient stacking the rads like that. However, two rads side-by-side:

    [​IMG]

    Hmm... let me sit on that idea and try something else:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    OK, so, technically this would work. The design is such that the entire case lid can slide off, the airflow is top to bottom, and the case is still relatively small - 11.6"x11.6"x14.7 inches if memory serves. Only trouble is that any system maintenance would be difficult with the rads directly over the board like that. Maybe if we orient the board the way normal cases are made and combine the 2 ideas. No, that wouldn't work, the computer wouldn't be strong enough without getting all kinds of complicated...

    Or, would it?

    [​IMG]

    It should be painfully obvious that I am pretty new to Sketchup ;). That said, I have intentionally left out any further detail to the final case look. This way I can reveal it as I go (and modify the design in case I screw up ;) ).

    Parts list

    Here is a list of parts the intended system is expected to hold. The emphasis is on gaming and video encoding hence the "need" for an i7 :)
    • Intel i7 920 (overclocked to 3.8-4.4Ghz on daily basis)
    • (3) x 2GB DDR 3 RAM for 6GB total
    • 1TB or larger SATA drive or storage
    • (2) x Solid State Disk in RAID 0 (when affordable)
    • 5870 GPU
    • Silverstone Strider 1KW Modular PSU
    • Heatkiller 3.0 LT CPU WB
    • EK NB5 Northbridge WB
    • UNKNOWN Mosfet WB
    • EK 5870 Full coverage WB
    • MCP 655 Variable speed pump with Bitspower delin top
    • (2) Black Ice SR-1 240 Radiators
    • (4) Scythe SFF21G S-Flex 120mm fans
    • Unknown res.

    I do intend to sleeve everything with nylon and create custom cables for the PSU.

    So, thanks for stopping in and having a read. I hope you enjoy. Please be sure to let the comments fly, good, bad, or indifferent.

    (This is surreal - I have a project log on bit-tech...)
     
    Last edited: 31 Mar 2011
  2. shomann

    shomann New Member

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    -Reserved for final images-
     
  3. shomann

    shomann New Member

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    The Start...

    So, I finally took all my little plans to our local metal company. Fortunately, they didn't laugh too hard, which I took as a good sign ;). It felt quite odd to walk out the next day with 8 precision cut pieces of aluminum and one square tube. Odd, but good.

    So after an evening in the workspace I have borrowed from friends, I came to the conclusion that I has messed up :( It was a bad feeling, but even so, I think I have a few pics, somewhere. Basically, I got distracted, didn't draw the cut lines on my aluminum for the back tabs and sliced them right off the motherboard tray. So, it was back to the metal company. I also wasn't too happy with the performance of the bending brake I had purchased (Harbor Freight Tools can be like that). After my first 2 bends, I realized that the brake, which makes you use clamps, was "walking" off the material as I applied force. So, seeking to improve my situation I modified the tool with my favorite tool purchase of this build - the 10" Craftsman Drill Press:

    [​IMG]

    Drilled those pilot holes out (I love the drill press) and inserted bolts instead of using c-clamps:

    [​IMG]

    So, after another round of measuring, marking, and drilling, I was ready to bend again:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    After filing, the result wasn't even too bad ;)

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    So, it was time to make the frame, and attach it to the motherboard tray. This went fairly slowly as I had to refile all the cuts made by the miter saw. However, it wasn't too long before it was done and I had the backplate attached to the frame:

    [​IMG]
    (Obligatory foot shot, this was intentional :) )

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I am sure the bit-tech readers have already seen the problem, well, the biggest one:

    [​IMG]

    Now, after the hours of work it took to get to this point, it was a bit frustrating to see this. However, I have seen this whole project as a learning example from the start. With that in mind, and against the advice of friends (that really want to see me with a working 2009-spec gaming rig ;) ) it was time to rebuy materials...
     
    Last edited: 31 Mar 2011
  4. shomann

    shomann New Member

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    ...and the restart ;)

    So, armed with the knowledge that I needed to be more precise than my primitive bending skills would allow, I switched up a bit of the design and swapped all the tabs for heavy L-brackets:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    No need in photographing the reassembly, it was straightforward. Cut, mark, clamp, drill, tap and repeat:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    To be honest, it's STILL not perfect, but I am moving forward. There may be a v.2 in the future with knowledge I won't gain by going 1 step forward, 2 steps back...

    Here's an idea of the scale:

    [​IMG]

    With around an hour left in my available time yesterday, I decided to start on what I consider the most daunting part of the build, the backpanel. Originally, I had thought I might try cutting my own, but as I thought about it, I realized that I should probably utilize the motherboard tray I had purchased in the spring...from a Lian-li v350 ;)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    3mm (.125" here in the USA) is awfully thick stuff LOL.

    Speaking of thicknesses, most of the pieces of the case are 2mm (.08") thick. The square tube framework is 3/4"x3/4" with a .125" wall - allowing for good tapping ;). The front and back panel are the .125" thick variety, simply for max strength.

    Comments?
     
    Last edited: 31 Mar 2011
  5. sentek

    sentek New Member

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    looks good so far, i like your planning. :thumb:
    a nice mod to your bending brake too, i might have to copy that. xD
    should be rock solid now you have those L-brackets.
    im definetly going to be watching this one, subscribed! :D

    ps. i see youve already good the most important ingredient for anything awesome: diet coke!
     
  6. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    Oh hell yes! And so it begins! Thanks for the kind words above! I'll be watching this ever so intently...
     
  7. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    great start!
     
  8. Attila

    Attila still thinking....

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    Thanks for the acknowledgment shomann. It's looking good already. :thumb:
     
  9. shomann

    shomann New Member

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    sentek-
    Thanks :) - I like the thicker material of the L-brackets as it allows me to tap into it and avoid nuts. That said, the machine screws you see here are way too long and are placeholders. If I have to use nuts it will be sparingly.

    No coffee, no tea, I get my caffeine from only one source - Diet Coke ;). Its fantastic stuff, but I know I drink WAY too much of it :)

    craigbru
    Thanks man! Oh crap - now I am going to get performance anxiety ;)

    Burnout21
    Thanks, but don't you mean, re-restart? :thumb:

    oldnewby
    Thanks! Now, if I could just steal your 1337 filing skills... maybe borrow them? For like, 2 days?
     
    Last edited: 31 Mar 2011
  10. shomann

    shomann New Member

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    The Backplane

    So last night I had a few hours to finish up the cut for the I/O panel. Sorry I don't have pics of the disassembly of the Lian-Li microATX tray - a rare part ;)

    Cut and filed, but not quite finished:
    [​IMG]

    How close is too close? This is a threaded hole that attaches the bottom of the I/O panel to the motherboard tray case piece.

    [​IMG]

    A look from the back of the case. You can tell where I am going to need to countersink bolts below the I/O panel a bit more:

    [​IMG]



    Inside. I had to notch that lower small L-bracket. This part will be replaced/modded a bit more as I need to resolve a small issue with the I/O panel mount:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Another shot for scale. Note that this orientation would be the case on it's side:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 31 Mar 2011
  11. Pikey

    Pikey New Member

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    Why not use a slim line dvd drive?
     
  12. shomann

    shomann New Member

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    You read my mind ;)

    There is quite a bit that isn't obvious from the planning pics, but the storage for the machine will be a slim-slot load DVD burner, (1) TB or larger SATA hard drive and in the future (2) solid state disks.

    This computer's primary focus is gaming and I have moved all my personal storage needs to a small server, so I don't need more than that. The drives live on a tray above the motherboard...stay tuned :)
     
  13. charles_h

    charles_h I can has RotoZip?

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    Fantastic shomann! :thumb:

    Looks like a great start. You've certainly not made it easy on yourself - choosing to create a SFF... everything needing to be well planned out since space is so minimal. I give you full marks for ambition Sir! I'm looking forward to following your progress; keep up the great work! :rock:
     
  14. Jelle46

    Jelle46 Belgian freedom

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    This has to be a tought project, I'm hooked!
     
  15. shomann

    shomann New Member

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    Thanks! Now...why do I suddenly feel uneasy? :D

    Actually all my initial measurements seem to be working out as planned. The only 2 areas that I am really worried about are the angles of the tubing, both on the radiator and the processor side. Its kind of tough for me to use Sketchup to account for that stuff, but I think I will be OK. I cleared a big hurdle with that I/O panel last night (at least in my mind). The next step is alignment of the motherboard itself - cross your fingers for me!

    It only gets tough when I screw something up that I shouldn't have ;). Thanks for the stopping by!


    To everyone, what exactly is the definition of SFF? I mean, the dimenions of the case are certainly not a Lian-Li V2000 series, but as I designed I saw my numbers grow until I fit in what I needed to. I did construct a bit of a comparison picture:

    [​IMG]

    I am almost 2 inches wider and taller, though less deep than the Lian-Li v350 - which was the first system I thought of using. Much closer to the Qmicra though. I guess having Craig sign-off that I am in the SFF range that should be good enough ;)

    Also, it occurred to me that I didn't show a list of expected parts. Check the first post for that, sorry!
     
    Last edited: 31 Mar 2011
  16. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    Haha, yes, this definitely counts as SFF. If anyone has issue with that, send them my way... :D
     
  17. shomann

    shomann New Member

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    Decided on a name.

    Thanks for the validation Craig ;)

    No hardware update yet, but I should get more work done tonight. However, I have decided on a name - Nomad. Somehow it fits. Now if I can just get a working cloak mode...
     
  18. shomann

    shomann New Member

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    Revision! The story of the bottom of the case.

    The story is that I have spent some time revising my case. The original design called for the motherboard tray and what I will call the radiator tray to sit back to back like 2 letter "L"s. (This was back when I thought I could bend the 2mm thick aluminum with precision ;) ) Since I switched to L-brackets to join everything together in lieu of the bent tabs, I also realized I could simplify my design by using a single thick piece of aluminum rather than joining the floors of the 2 L's with a thin sheet. With this in mind, I tried to modify the existing motherboard tray by cutting off the bottom.

    [​IMG]

    Pretty much fail, but since I knew I was going to have yet another trip to my friendly metal supply store, I felt I could try. I may be able to resurrect this piece for the radiator side anyway ;)

    I had to backpedal and re-do some work. You will notice that bolts that were countersunk before, are no longer. They will be again - I am waiting for the arrival of a new HSS countersinking bit.

    [​IMG]

    Another revision was to change the L-bracket at the front of the case for a piece of the 3/4" square tube.

    [​IMG]

    The reason is two-fold. One, this area of the case will be pretty visible when open and the tube hides the screws very effectively. The more important reason has to do with some internal parts arrangement that will be highlighted later.

    Next, I spent a good deal of time tinkering with the back motherboard side bracket. The issue is that this is the area the PSU lives in. It will be flush with the back of the case, so I didn't want the thickness of the L to interfere with that.

    [​IMG]

    This little bracket (which I had other pics of that weren't in focus :wallbash:) is another double duty part. It holds the edge of the case together, but also serves as additional support for the PSU.

    (This is the case flipped over, bottoms up)

    [​IMG]

    This is an old PSU of course, but check out the room I am going to squeeze the motherboard and cooling into :eeek: :

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This little part took quite a lot of time. ;)

    Next, I moved to the radiator side to finish fixing the bottom to the case.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here is how the case sits today:

    [​IMG]

    And a little bit of an ad for the place where I get my metal. They aren't sponsoring me or anything (I did get a free hat ;) ), but I figured I would give them a bit of press ;). I will say everything they have given me so far has been exactly what I have asked for and turned around very rapidly.

    [​IMG]

    Hopefully I will soon be getting into stuff that looks a little more like a computer and less like someone is building an aluminum box ;). That's all for now, thanks for looking :rock:
     
    Last edited: 31 Mar 2011
  19. ednismod

    ednismod Member

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    Man! That is awesome! Where did you get that I/O panel? Is it from a Lian-Li V350? I've been looking for that piece of hardware. Or did you make that yourself?
     
  20. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    you sir require a Swiftech Apogee 1U Low Profile CPU Water Block

    [​IMG]
     

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