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Scratch Build – In Progress Project Rebirth - Watercooled PS3 - finished (sort of) 04.09.2013

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by Journeyer, 2 Sep 2013.

  1. Journeyer

    Journeyer Minimodder

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    It might seem odd for me to present this project now because as some of you know I do have another project in the works - my PC desk desk. However, I had to put my desk on hold as I did a few exams and sorted out a couple of things on and around the house first.

    This project however, was born out of necessity; my PS3 had started developing cooling issues, and in the end it was literally howling as we turned it on to watch a movie. As we use this machine to stream video from my server it is imperative that it is in working order, and thus I decided I would fix it.

    So I designed a case that would accomodate the PS3's innards as well as a few new additions; pump, reservoir, radiator and fans. And with the design done and approved by the boss at home, I started building and ordering parts. This project has been finished, and I will now present this project in its entirety spread over a few posts and possibly over a couple of days.

    However, as stated earlier, one of the reasons I put my desk on hold was that my workshed was not up to scratch, so I finally found the time and opportunity to sort it out. Therefore, I will start this project log by presenting to you my recently finished workshed (well I say "finished", but I'm still missing a good bit of storage - some drawers will be installed for instance - but for all intents and purposes it is finally ready to be used as it should).

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    In that last picture you can see the desk surface for my PC-desk project - this will be my next project to finish. As you can also see I am still in the process of finding a place for my tools and other various bits and pieces which need to be stored somewhere preferably out of the way. Still, I am quite pleased with the workshed now.

    So, without further ado, let's get cracking on that PS3.

    I have an old "fat" model, and stripping it down was a fairly straightforward task once I located all the screws (of which there were quite a few), and eventually I had the console stripped and all the individual parts laid out in front of me.

    Earlier I had prepared the bottom panel out of 1.5mm aluminium, and I positioned the blu-ray drive first. The wooden panel to the left is support for the left side panel as well as the PS3 motherboard.

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    I mounted the BR-drive on some rubber washers to try to combat some of the vibration.
    Next I made a couple more wooden standoffs for mounting the motherboard and to add some rigidity to the case, and then I fitted the motherboard. The wooden standoffs are a bit rough, but that's OK because these will not be visible.

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    As you can see I have already fitted the OCool waterblock to the motherboard. I pressed on and made a radiator bracket out of 1mm aluminium angle bar which I bolted to the bottom panel - the bracket would need a bit more filing though, but I did not know this at the time. Then I fitted the radiator, the fans and those gorgeous Monsoon fittings.

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    Then I put the motherboard back in to test the fit; everything is coming together.

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    And that is enought for this first post.
    As stated this project is finished, and I am now working my way through all the photos taken during the process, and I will present everything here. I just need time to sort through everything, resize pictures and write accompanying text.
     
    Last edited: 5 Sep 2013
  2. Journeyer

    Journeyer Minimodder

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    Next I started working on the feet as the need to have the bottom panel balanced on something became apparent as I fastened more and more components to it. I'm using teak to make the feet, and teak will also be used for some other components as well. More on that later though.

    I cut a small section from a long plank of 12mm teak, and started cutting the individual feet from this using a modeller's hacksaw.

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    When the feet were roughly sized I also marked their eventual shape (little did I know that this would eventually come back to bite me in the hind-quarters).

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    Then I started working on the side panels. These are all made from the same 1.5mm aluminium that the bottom panel was made from, and thus it was merely a matter of 10-20 minutes of cutting followed by 1-2 hours of filing to get them sized properly. So much filing...

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    Preparing the feet also made this possible:...

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    Now I merely had to get the height correct with enough room for a reservoir and all the hose...

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    ...and make the cut.

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    Rinse and repeat for both sides...

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    Cut ventilation holes for the radiator...

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    Then I started making the front and rear panels. The most critical element? The slot for the BR-drive.

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    Oh, those holes in the bottom pic will be filled by the way.
     
    Last edited: 2 Sep 2013
  3. Journeyer

    Journeyer Minimodder

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    As I was making the side panels I also started working on the corner pillars which are also made from teak. I knew these would take time to complete due to the planned finish on the wood, so I started making them as soon as I had finished side panels to fit them to.

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    You can see how I intend for these pillars to hold the various panels together.

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    Four segments done, time to size them properly.

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    Next I made the rear panel. This was also a bit fiddly due to getting the I/O ports aligned, but in the end with a lot of measuring (and a wee bit of winging it) I finally had all the holes sized and the panel itself finished.

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    Then, after filling in the holes left from a previous project, I sanded the whole panel down...

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    Now it's looking more like a proper case.
    Still, lots of work to be done. Let's crack on with those pillars again...
     
    Last edited: 2 Sep 2013
  4. Journeyer

    Journeyer Minimodder

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    Now it was time to finish gluing the pillars together and test the fit.

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    As you can see it is coming along nicely. A bit of spillage with the glue, but that's OK because these pieces will be sanded down and smoothed out substantially.

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    Eventually the glue sets, and the pillars are ready for some test fitting.

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    It's looking quite good at this point, at least as far as I'm concerned, but more work to be done.

    I'll post more tomorrow I think as I doubt I'll find time to do so later tonight.
     
  5. Hukkel

    Hukkel James' minion

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    Starting to look good.

    What part did you put the big heatsink on?

    I take it you will also put heatsinks on the VRMs?

    I always enjoy watercooled PS3s. I don't know why, I just do.
     
  6. Journeyer

    Journeyer Minimodder

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    Thank you. :)
    All the parts that were originally cooled did receive heatsinks.
    That big heatsink you see in the photo (which was not supposed to be there at that time) was not secured at that point. I merely tested the fit, and it's an old chipset heatsink for which I found a new purpose.

    Now that I'm working my way through all the pics I took during this build it is becoming apparent that as I neared the end of this project I started taking fewer photos. I will share what I have though, and I'll make a nice spread with the finished article (I have not taken photos of the completed case yet, but I plan on doing that tonight).

    However, at the point we're at in this re-telling of my epic adventure building this thing I have not yet completed all the panels. After making the front, rear and side panels I had to position the reservoir, and there really was only one suitable place for it to go.

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    And with all the panels and the pillars mounted.

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    Then I prepared mounting holes for the panels to the pillars. The pillars are what will eventually hold the whole thing together, so I secured the panels to the pillars using 10mm M3 countersunk screws. Three screws for each corner makes for 24 screws in total; twentyfour screws which are incredibly fiddly to get in...

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    When this was done for all sides I resumed working on the pillars themselves; rounding off the edges and smoothing everything down. This took a lot of filing and sanding. Teak however, is quite pleasant to work with. Even though it is a hard wood, it feels a little brittle, so it is easier to work with than, for instance, oak. Also, teak smells very good when you're cutting/sanding/filing it - it smells like fresh leather.

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    There, the pillars are slowly taking shape. Now for the feet...
     
  7. Journeyer

    Journeyer Minimodder

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    There were still a few bits and pieces I had yet to position, so I promptly started securing the last of the hardware starting with the pump.

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    The pump is a Laing DDC 1T/plus and I mounted it onto a sheet of neoprene to try to combat a bit of the vibration. I just hope it will not be too loud which would kind of defeat its purpose.

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    Next I sleeved the power cables for the fans, and I made a power distribution board (not the prettiest electronics I've ever soldered, but it will work).

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    Next i had to make new feet. The first set of feet that I made unfortunately turned out not to fit the pillars, so I quickly knocked up a new set, glued them to the pillars and started the lengthy process of applying the desired finish to them - four coats of clear with sanding in between. In my opinion they turned out rather nice.

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    While the pillars were getting their finish applied, I also painted the front, rear and side panels. Now it was time for a test assembly to see how everything would look, and to finally make the lid.

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    At this point I have also cut holes for the USB-connectors, and I have fitted mesh to the ventilation holes.

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    Now the HDD, the power distribution board and the pump have been given their final positions. I am not happy with the placement for the HDD as it will sit quite inaccessible, but it was the only space left that I could easily mount it. Hopefully the HDD will not crash often... ;)

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    The motherboard goes in.
    As you can see I have fitted EnzoTech heatsinks to the RAM-chips and the VRMs. The chip with the large red X will be cooled by the chipset heatsink we spotted earlier.

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    Next the tank goes in, and lengths of hose are fitted.

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    Now that I had everything in, I had to start making the lid - another painstaking process of cutting for 15 minutes and then filing for 2 hours straight. Eventually though, the lid slots into place.

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    Then I drilled holes to hold the PSU, and marked the cutout for a small window (in my opinion no case is finished unless there's a window somewhere).

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    Cutting the window ... followed by more filing.

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    Then I made some caps out of teak to hold the lid. The lid is secured by friction, but the teak caps will hold it in place.

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    Now all the various pieces have been finished, and it was time to strip the whole thing down again and paint the bottom and the lid. Next post will contain the final pictures of the completed case. Watch this space tomorrow. :)
     
  8. TheP

    TheP What's a Dremel?

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    Nice work so far.
    But i would attach some kind of cloth in the slot for the discs. Just to make sure that the discs wont get any bad scratches
     
  9. Journeyer

    Journeyer Minimodder

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    Thank you.
    I have been thinking about sticking some fabric in the slot, and I just might do that (I believe I've got some strips of black velvet somewhere).

    As promised here are the final pics.
    I will need to take it apart again and do some more work on the electronics (lengthen a few wires and such), so I will take some pics of it running after that is done. I'm using a clear UV blue coolant, and there is a UV cold-cathode in there, so when it has been properly finalized I will take some gloryshots of it in action. :)

    For now though, these final pics will have to do.

    Final assembly was a blast, although there were a couple of things I did not predict. I had to cut a slot into the rubber insulation on the panel mount USB connectors I used in order to make it fit. It was a tight squeeze in between the radiator and the front panel, but eventually it slid right in like a well lubricated something or other.

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    Everything did come together quite painlessly however, and eventually I had the loop filled and ready to go. After filling the loop however, I had another thought: "What if I need to drain the loop?" Damnit! I had forgotten about including a drain, so emptying the loop surely will be fun...

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    Next I secured the PSU to the lid and hooked everything up. The cables that run from the motherboard to the PSU are a bit too short however, so I will soon need to take it apart and lengthen those cables a bit. While doing this I will also sleeve the rest. I will also need to order another longer flat ribbon cable for the BR-drive. First I got a 300mm cable which I deemed long enough as anything longer would have to be custom-ordered. But, the 30cm cable, while functional and installable, is a bit too short, so I'll custom order a new one at 450mm soon.

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    And finally everything has come together, and, apart from a few scuffs along some of the edges (which I will touch up when I take it apart again), rather nicely I think:

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    I'll also need to apply another coat of clear to the lidcaps as they do not quite have the shiny finish to match the pillars. So, I guess it's not really quite finished yet, but some things seem only to become apparent after the final assembly. Until next time; ta-ta.
     
  10. Hukkel

    Hukkel James' minion

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    I think it is a cool piece of work.
     
  11. Journeyer

    Journeyer Minimodder

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    Thank you very much; glad you like it. :)
     
  12. Concept73

    Concept73 Wannabe modder.

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    Wow, i really like the use of metal and woon, but the craftmansship that has gone into it is very good!

    Very nice project!
     
  13. Pierre3400

    Pierre3400 What's a Dremel?

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    Looks good, apart from the air in the waterloop.
     
  14. Journeyer

    Journeyer Minimodder

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    Hehe, I know. I had not quite finished running it in at that point. :)
    Thank you though.
     
  15. Pierre3400

    Pierre3400 What's a Dremel?

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    Are you planning any form of plexi or mesh on the top cover?
     
  16. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    "...And that's how you turn a PS3 into an Xbox." :D
    It's very well done, except for one thing. I don't think I saw you add any exhaust holes. (NVM, I just noticed your window didn't have any covering.:lol: -I'm really blind.
    Draining is easy, add a fitting and some tube to the fill port, then tip.
     
  17. Journeyer

    Journeyer Minimodder

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    Yes, I was thinking about adding the same kind of mesh that's over the vents for the radiator. This will ensure airflow, and I think a plexi window would look out of place.

    Oh god! "Cannot unsee..." ARGH! Thanks for that... :eeek:

    Thank you very much.
    Yes, I figured that's what I'd do to drain it ... or just set the whole thing on its head and place a mug underneath. Something like that.


    I've just placed an order for a 450mm length of flat ribbon cable, and I've decided to strip it down again. I did not expect to miss the status lights, but I do so I will need to figure something out. The simplest solution would obviously just be to set a couple of LEDs into the front panel, but I'm not so sure.

    Any of you good people have any suggestions as to where to place the status LEDs?
     
  18. Journeyer

    Journeyer Minimodder

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    I missed your post good sir, but thank you. :)
     
  19. Vetalar

    Vetalar *learning english*

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    I'd place status leds inside to lit up BD drive slot.

    send from Deathstar via HAL9000
     
  20. Journeyer

    Journeyer Minimodder

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    Ooo ... I like it! Thank you.
    And I won't have to drill holes in my nicely painted front panel. :thumb:
     

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