Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by craigbru, 2 Jun 2010.
Haha, I certainly understand that! I've been pretty lucky for the most part.
I hit a milestone over the weekend. As of now, the interior design is 100% complete. That actually includes the front panel assembly as well. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you actually have a little free time. As before, part of the finalization process involves low resolution test prints in PLA. This ensures that all components fit together exactly as they should. While they may be quick prints, they are always dimensionally accurate. There are aspects of this design that have single mm clearances, so I had to be sure things were spot on.
Here we’ve got the inner mount assembly printed and components inserted. The case front is printed without the hex mesh to save time.
This is the LCD mount on the front of the case. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of parts interlocking perfectly on the first try. The inner mount, the case front, and the LCD mount are attached via nesting tabs. If you haven’t noticed, the overall case was designed with minimal fasteners in mind, even less that will be visible in any form.
As far as what’s next, I’ll be committing the finished interior components to SLS print. Once they arrive, I’ll have quite the task ahead of me as I tackle the card connector wiring. I can fully envision the completed core sitting on my desk in functional form while I work on the exterior. Regarding the exterior, it’s really mostly complete from a cosmetic standpoint. That said, I have one new idea I’d like to explore on the lighting side… Other than that, it’s mostly trying to work out panel fastening. Well, that and trying to come up with a functional mold for the new carbon fiber shell.
Uh, so this just got even more real. While I wish I were capable of printing SLS on my own equipment, I just can't get the build volume I require even at the SFF level. Believe me, I've looked at the options and the cost vs. print volume just isn't quite there as of yet. That said, we'll see how well my design and test prints pay off... since I just placed a rather large order for 13 different components... No turning back now!
The squirt gun printers are really limiting. The fit on your test prints look fantastic, though.
Did someone say, "more carbon"?
Thanks man. Yes, they certainly can be, at least depending on your usage scenario. At one point I did plan on using my FDM printer for all components needed. Then as complexity ramped up, I kind of backed myself into a corner. I could keep FDM and simplify the design, albeit still with a fair amount of finish work, or I could just dive in and get rid of most design limitations altogether. Not having to worry about support material really opens up your options. Obviously that’s the route I took. The hard part for me was knowing I’d have to use a 3rd party for some aspects of the finished case since I’ve been a very DIY guy for years. I only came to terms with the idea once I realized that the design work was really part of the ‘build’ all along.
Haha, yes, more carbon. I’m determined to follow through on at least that part of the original case concept. Looking back through this log, I do question whether or not I should have just started a new posting outright. I ultimately decided not to do so, since I felt the evolution over time is a really important part of this build. At 10 years in so far, this deserves a conclusion. The carbon fiber shell will actually be more complex this time around, but I’ll definitely prefer using 3D printed molds as opposed to the original bent aluminum version.
While waiting for my parts to be printed, I decided to get the newest revision of the HDPLEX 400W HiFi DC-ATX converter, which arrived 2 days after ordering. I also just ordered the 400W AC-DC Ver 2.0 power supply. I received tracking info about 10 minutes later. Talk about impressive! The power supply will replace my current Dell sourced brick. I've not had any issues with my current solution, but the extra headroom will be nice going forward.
I received an excellent bit of news today. All of my printed components were packed and shipped, well ahead of the estimate. I can't wait!
I've also been working on prepping the cage design for a mold. I've basically had to break out the 'arms' as individual parts. Then I have to figure out exactly how to create an inner core and outer clamshell that's both easy and quick to use. Once that resin is mixed, time starts ticking...
For fun, I did cost out having the cage CNC milled out of aluminum and anodized. It was right around $1200. As cool as that would be, CF is still cooler. Especially considering that once I went down the anodized aluminum route, costs would really snowball on me.
$1200 for the whole thing isn't bad. I really want to see you do the CF, though.
No, that's not terrible. However, it's everything else that I'd need to match... The side panels and fins would need to be anodized to match. There's no doubt it would look oustanding, but I'm estimating another $1000 for those parts. Now, that said, the orange fins and side panel components would still look great anodized. It would be a bit of a hybrid at that point, using multiple materials and fabrication techniques.
My parts arrived! Sorry, no pics yet, but I'll get them added as soon as I can. I'm very happy with the quality and the look of the various components. I will say this however, after seeing final finished parts first hand, there are a few small changes I would have made to my designs. The most significant would be to have added some sort of interlocking internal tab on the front of the 'core', both above and below the card connector. I don't think it's a structural issue, but it may become a cosmetic one. The channels on top and bottom of the connector will be packed full of wiring. I can foresee those wires causing a seam gap due to outward pressure as time passes. As of yet, I'm not sure whether or not to modify and reprint. Practically, it's fine really, but the OCD side of me may not be able to let it go...
Whether or not I reprint, I do have other things to work on. I've ordered some MDPC-X sleeving, as well as some low profile PCIE connectors. I'll be trying something pretty cool with GPU connection due to the way the HDPLEX wiring is configured. I'll also start working on the card connector wiring. That in itself will take a fair bit of time.
Another update coming soon..
Copious amounts of PVA wax will be your friend. Made the mistake of just using a mold release wax on one side of my shell and I almost couldn't get it apart. PVA on the other side and it popped right off. I'm curious about using a 2 part mold. I've seen 2 part molds used with machine cut pre-preg but you're looking at hand laying, right? Are you looking at stabilized CF?
PVA, huh. I'll give that a shot. The molds will be complex enough that I won't want to reprint if I can't get them apart. Yes, I'll be hand laying using stabilized CF. I've been using some from Composite Envisions for covering trim panels and pieces in my Grand Cherokee. I love the stuff, and can't imagine using anything else at this point. Regarding the molds, they are just one step further than the mold I used on the original version of this mod 10 years ago. The first time around I vacuum bagged after laying the fiber down. After removing the 'core' mold, the interior was smooth as glass with defined corners and edges. This time around the outer clamshell will replace the outer vacuum bag, and I'm hoping for the smooth finish with sharply defined edges I didn't get all those years ago.
As promised, here are a few pics of the interior core components. First up is the GPU side of the core. Initial test fits indicate that the design time was worth it. Shown below, the hot swap bays fit snugly in place. Not shown in place, are the card connector and PCIE extender, both of which align and fit perfectly as well. I did try and think about ease of assembly, so if you look closely you’ll see recessed pockets for M3 nuts. The long pockets on the top and bottom edge are also for alignment ‘tabs’.
Moving on, we’ve got the motherboard side of the core. This side is a little less complex. It was designed with future compatibility in mind. The notched recesses on the front edge and bottom are for the various wires and cables to be routed. Of course those positions could change with different motherboards, so I wanted to leave different routing choices. At the very front of this side, is the mount for the HDPLEX. With my old ITX board in place, you can see there’s just enough room for wires to be routed as needed, including the shortest 24 pin run I’ve ever had. Overall, I’ve tried to hide as much wiring as possible. Heck, even the PCIE extension will be completely hidden. I wanted a very clean look, which isn’t always easy in SFF builds.
Next, let’s take a look at the front of the case assembly. There are 3 major components here that interlock together. While certain aspects will be virtually hidden once installed, I still had my mind on attention to detail. This portion of the case holds the LCD screen, the LCD controller, the front USB and audio ports, and the male half of the card connector. The 56 pin card connector will be responsible for passing along the LCD power, RGB lighting connections, HDMI signal, 2 USB ports, and the mic and audio signals.
Lastly, here is the rear of the case. Nothing too crazy here. The power button is at the top center. I didn’t feel the need for a button on the front of the case, as I rarely shut my computer down anyway. The rear interlocks with a slot on the motherboard side of the core, as well as a locking tab on the GPU side. No other fasteners are needed to hold it in place.
Now it’s a matter of pulling all the electrical together. There is plenty of soldering to do, and almost every one of those 56 pins on the card connector will be filled. I’ll also need to shorten and sleeve all appropriate cables and wires. I do have a few more parts arriving shortly, and for some reason I felt compelled to add a new GPU to the mix. I ordered a Zotac 2070 Super ITX card that should be here tomorrow. All this should keep me plenty busy for the near future!
Lovely prints. I wish you luck on your soldering.
-In before you find out the new card cooler takes up 3 bays and doesn't fit.
Thanks man! Most of the soldering should go fine. It's just going to be a matter of making sure the wiring is routed correctly and cleanly.
Ugh, well, the new card has roughly the same dimensions as my old card, so I'm hoping for no surprises. I'll find out this weekend!
As I'd hoped, the new GPU is pretty much the same size as the old, and there will be no issues installing it!
Did you already painted these parts ?
The quality is impressive if they are rough parts
These parts are all Nylon 12, which is white in it's default state. The nylon parts are colored with a standard Rit dye, and not painted. These were printed for me by a 3rd party, since large build volume SLS printers are still pretty costly. That said, I am actively looking to get a large SLS printer of my own. I hate outsourcing any parts at all.
Build one...and post the project log here. Make a fat gantry slsp with none of the useless packaging/branding.
I've seen a few home brew SLS, and it would definitely be an epic worklog. I'm not sure the print quality is quite there yet compared to the commercial versions. Maybe I'll just have to move to SLA as a stop gap. They are definitely more reasonable in cost (at least vs. SLS).
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