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Case Mod - In Progress Rehab - Fractal R4 casemod [Completed]

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by InsolentGnome, 24 Jul 2016.

  1. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Member

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    Ah, with Gigantea all wrapped up except for putting it back together and adding a awesome little badge that I got from the guys at nVidia while at PDXLAN 28, it's time to move on to the next project.

    Introducing Project: Rehab, my entry for the Gigabyte 30th Anniversary Mod Challenge. The idea for this build has been rolling around in my head for a couple months now and this seems like the perfect time to put it in writing.

    The name and the plan: I've decided on calling this build Rehab because part of my goal is to take a Fractal Define R4 that has served me well over the years and rehabilitate it. Give it fresh, new looks, updated hardware, updated style. It's going in dirty and coming out clean.

    The design and theme: I love the R4. So much that I actually have 2. But it's interior is dated compared to today's cases where they have dropped the drive bays in favor of room for loop setups. So the interior will be gutted and replaced by an interior setup that allows for a custom cooling loop, an inverse board, and mounting the GPU vertically to show it off. The theme will be based on old school hot rods from the 30's. Chrome and billet and automotive themed parts, and the case is definitely getting an old school flame job.

    More info will definitely be coming as I start tearing into the project, but for now, let's meet the patient back in her heyday.

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    This is when I really started messing around and cleaning up the insides of my computers. It rocked an unlocked Ivy Bridge i5 and a GTX770, a nice little combo for gaming. Through the years of upgrading rigs and stealing parts, it was downgraded to my work PC with an i3 and integrated graphics. Oh how the mighty fall, LOL.

    So let's get her on the table and begin the rehab.
     
    Last edited: 11 Nov 2016
  2. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Member

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    First things first, she's got to be gutted and cleaned up.

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    My accumulation of parts.

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    Some things I'll reuse, some are getting trashed. Luckily on the R4, the side panels are interchangeable, so flipping a windowed case is just a matter of swapping the doors around.

    Let's talk upgrades. I'm not 100% on all the hardware yet, but I do have some nice bits to start off. But let's look at what we started with.

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    Yep, not even a GPU. So sad. We're definitely going to be making a nice jump with the new hardware.

    To start off, we've got a Gigabyte Z-170X-UD5. Full ATX and tons of goodies.

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    And for the PSU, I just snagged a Corsair SF 600. 600 watts in a SFX footprint. I won't be able to SLI, but the small footprint allows me to be creative with it's placement.

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    For radiator duties, I'm going to use up the extra Hardware Labs Nemesis GTS360 XFLOW I've had laying around from my Shinai build. It didn't fit the layout in that case, but I think it'll be perfect here.

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    That's all the hardware so far, so it's time to start tearing into the case!
     
  3. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Member

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    Once the drive cages are out, we can see if our XFLOW is going to fit and what sort of engineering will be required for it to work.

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    Definitely fits, definitely needs a panel to hole it in. Put that on the list of things to do.

    And since I'm flipping the case, the MB tray has got to go.

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    I'm collecting a pretty impressive pile of extra parts.

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    Now it's going to get interesting. I'd like a little more room to move things around in the case, plus my idea needs a bit of an angle, so let's split the case front to back.

    Marking out the centerline.

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    A little bit of dremel work and she's split down the middle.

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    I'm planning on something special for the top left panel, so I'm just using the rail for a placeholder to hold it all together for now.

    That's the progress for now, but hopefully soon it'll start taking shape!
     
  4. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Member

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    You ever have one of those weeks where you're just not motivated at all. Jeez. But continuing on...

    Fractal has some nice braces for the corners to keep thing square, but they're a little ugly and bulky so I made replacements out of 2mm Al.

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    Turns out, mine are a little ugly too! But I'm just using these as temps, I'll do up something nice with the CNC.

    Since we've cut a bunch of stuff out, I probably ought to put some parts back in. New floor out of 2mm Al.

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    And a roof panel out of 2mm Al too.

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    I'm using 2mm aluminum for a few reasons. Mainly, I have it, but it's also great for structure and thick enough to tap good threads in. This is some 6061 alloy, great for these pieces, but for some others...well, I'll get to that.

    My first cuts on the back panel were rough and just to let me split the case. I went back and thinned them down a bit. They aren't going to be important for structure, but they do help clean up the corners and the left hand side will still hold a side panel.

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    Next was a new back panel. This is where the 6061 alloy sucked. There's a very slight bend because of how the case splits. The bad thing about 6061 is that it doesn't like to bend, at least not large pieces of 2mm. It took some effort getting just the few degrees of bend I needed.

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    Here's the case as it stands now...

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    A couple of inches at the back makes the R4 seem roomy.

    Last but not least, I did get some more hardware figured out. For pump duties, I'm going with an Alphacool D5 and top. Looks boring, but I needed the side outlets for what I have planned.

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    I did go a little more flashy for the CPU block though and snagged a Heatkiller.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Member

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    More updates. It always seems like the first part of my builds are soooo boring. Blah, blah, blah...look at this random piece of metal. But, hey, more pieces of metal!

    I opened up the front to get rid of some bends and make room for my 360 radiator. Went with my trusty 2mm Al for the fill piece.

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    Since it won't flow much air like this, I guess I'll cut out a spot for the radiator.

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    And set up the radiator with a couple of random fans laying around as temps. Hmmm, just finished hacking 3 CM Elite 130's, looks like I've got 3 CM 120 fans.

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    Rather boring from the front, but I'll be working on a grill so it really won't matter. Functionally, it's perfect.

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    I've still got some cleaning up to do on the outside, but let's move to the interior for a bit.

    My reason for splitting the case in such a weird way was because I want the interior to resemble two areas of hot rods, with the outside resembling, well the outside. The two areas for the interior are the engine bay and the interior. And since they don't really combine well, I need to make a divider to cut the interior in halves.

    First up, I need to make a structural member up front for everything to tie in to. I had been thinking about running the divider to the front panel, but the 360 takes up so much of the panel that I wouldn't have had a lot of area to work with and it would have made it weak. Enter some 3/4 Al square tube.

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    For the end caps, I just cut 3 sides of the tube off and hammered the remaining side over. Sometimes finesse isn't needed. :) These end caps allow me to put a screw in the top and the bottom to hold it.

    Next up was a piece of .05" or 1.25mm 5052 Al. The thinner size makes it easier to work with, but the clincher is the 5052 alloy. Bends super smooth and that was important for this piece. The engine bay side was nothing special.

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    But for mounting the divider, each side got 2 bends.

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    This allows me to mount the divider to the back panel and wrap around the structural member up front, keeping it clean, while also giving me tabs to mount my interior side panel too. As an added bonus, I've got about an inch of room for cabling and most of my screws for hardware will be hidden from sight.

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    And screwing it all together.

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    http://insolentgnome.com/Piwigo/_data/i/galleries/Rehab/Rehab-2016-08-07_13.17.23-me.jpg

    Since most of the structure was done, I took a minute to work on some component layout.

    The engine bay side.

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    I used a roll of vinyl for the res, lol. Still up in the air about it's placement.

    And the interior side.

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    Another possible res location. Though this side works better for the radiator outlet, I'm thinking a set of gauges would look pretty trick on this side.

    Till next time!
     
  6. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Member

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    Back with more!

    The bottom panel of the R4 was a mess. Well, a mess for me. Bumps to support the PSU, filter guides, fan grills, they kept my bottom panel from setting right and were generally eyesores. No one is going to see the bottom, but I still want it to look good, so I trimmed the panel up.

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    It keeps the rails and the original screw holes for the feet give me nice spots to attach my new floor panel.

    Speaking of the floor panel, that's part of the reason for things dragging. That and Overwatch and No Man's Sky. :) I liked the way things were laying out, but the tolerances for everything were trash. That's what I get for designing on the fly with a tape in one hand and a jigsaw in the other. The cutouts around my brackets were horrendous. So I went back and re-made my floor for a better fit.

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    I also re-made my back panel for a better fit too. And then proceeded to drill 5 mounting holes on the wrong side of a line. Uggh. I'd have a pic of it, but I was a bit frustrated. Luckily that panel will be painted so I can fix my boo boo with some filler.

    I also re-vamped the top panel. The random piece of Al floating around the top wasn't cutting it for me so it had to go. But since I still have to mount to that panel, I stiffened it up. First with some epoxy and a piece of .025" Al.

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    Bonus of this is it allows me to easily fill the fan grills in the top panel.

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    A little bit of sanding and the panel will be ready to go.

    Also got some more of the hardware in. There are a few pieces left, but important stuff is here.

    Firstly, the Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX1070. Debated between this and a G1 Gaming GTX980 Ti and it was a tough call. I love the shroud on the G1 980 Ti and since I'm not putting the GPU under water, that's important. But the 1070 has similar performance, is the new gen, and was a $100 less. I can buy a lot of paint for $100.

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    Intel i7 6700K. I7 vs. i5, i7 vs. i5, i7 vs....ah screw it.

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    16GB x4 of Avexir's Raiden DDR4 RAM. I've always like these, though I'm gonna have to tone down the color a bit. That's a lot of white to stick on an all black board.

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    So far for drives, I've got a 240GB OCZ Vector 180. I'm hoping to add one more 500GB Vector and maybe a m.2 drive. Gotta go fast!

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    And every cool whip has to have a nice set of shoes, right? MNPCTECH billet case feet. Only the best feet around. I'm mixing the full size case feet in the back with the mITX version in the front. It's not a huge difference, but it'll give the case some stance.

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    Till next update, thanks for following along!
     
  7. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Member

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    And the metal work continues....

    Changing the top panel gave me a bit of a problem, where to attach the MB tray/divider. Since it originally tied to the aluminum panel floating in the top, I had to figure out another way to keep it solid. Decided to build a brace so that the screws in the back panel and one in the bottom would keep it solid.

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    With that taken care of, I started finalizing the top panel. The goal is for half the top to mimic an old 30's hood without the side panels and include a hinge in the middle so it's functional. Something similar to this.

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    So I started with a piece of pipe.

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    1 1/4" black iron pipe. Normally we use it for gas lines in a house, but I've got different plans. What I want it for is a form. First task is to cut a section to fit in my frame so I can get my radii for my corners. Little dremel and grinder and the corners are shaping up.

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    With them pretty well smoothed out, we can start to see where it's going.

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    The next job for my black pipe is the form for the bend of the hood. It was a bit tricky since the bend is at an angle. Normally I'd cut a piece close, bend it and then trim it down. For this, I laid the angle out on a sheet of .04 aluminum by squaring the case up on one side of the sheet and using a marker to mark out the other side, then I bent the whole 2' piece.

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    It's a start. Stupid me bent the panel the wrong way the first time and it went pretty easy. Re-bending it the other way made it twice as hard to get a good bend. But once I got close to the angle, I started trimming it down here and there to it's final shape.

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    There's a bit of trimming left but I'm going to wait till I get it mounted to do the final shaping. I think it turned out pretty nice.
     
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  8. mnpctech

    mnpctech bit-tech sponsor

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    I'm keeping an watchful eye on this one :D
     
  9. SiberianGhost

    SiberianGhost Member

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    You're making a new case! I love how it looks, waiting for more

    Sent from my Moto G 2014 using Tapatalk
     
  10. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Member

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    Thanks! It's matching up with what's in my head pretty well, LOL!
     
  11. mnpctech

    mnpctech bit-tech sponsor

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    thats a great feeling, and it shows in your photos :thumb:
     
  12. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Member

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    PROGRESS!!! It has computer parts in it now! W00T!

    But first, let's start off with another episode of "That Panel Just Isn't Quite Right".

    Our contestant this week is the front radiator panel. I'm just not digging it. It works, but it feels like a boarded up window to me. Plus, it didn't fit very well on my radius'd corner.

    To the CNC!

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    I measured it out a lot closer this time and fancied it up a bit. So close that I actually had to file it down a hair to fit. Just what I was looking for. And after matching the radius, this is what I got.

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    I haven't slapped the rad in it yet, but I'm liking the look.

    After getting that out of the way and off my mind, I started laying out for components. My chicken scratches.

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    Pro Tip: When laying things out to be cut, cut them the same night so you don't forget what side of the line you're working with.

    After figuring out what I had done the night before, I got my back panel cutouts done and the pump mounted.

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    I managed to get rid of one of my mistake screw holes. Still have to fix the other 4.

    Getting the board standoffs mounted.

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    And the back panel with actual components in it.

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    I'm thinking some stylized grill areas cut into the blank spots to liven it up a bit and also to let the back panel exhaust some air. Might even do acrylic windows on standoffs with a resin design. I've been looking for places to work my resin ideas in and I really like how a window on standoffs breaks up the blandness of a flat panel. Over the PSU and next to the I/O panels are the main spots since I've got ideas for the area over the pump. As far as the pump/pump top goes, the model I got has 3 inlets and 2 outlets. Have to plug the two on the bottom so I can use two of the side ports. And for the top to sit flush on the panel, I had to drill out a couple of holes for the plugs...which I now deem fill ports. :D

    Interior shot of what's going on.

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    MB plays the role of engine, pump plays the role of master cylinder. At least in my head. That's part of why I chose that pump top, it had the closest look with the right ports.

    And next, playing the role of heads and valve cover, our GTX1070.

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    Yeah, I've got one hell of an imagination. LOL!

    With our hood on.

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    I'm still playing with the angle a bit. Originally I was going to mount this on a bracket and hang it out in the air to center it more in the case, but seeing how long it is, I'll probably mount it to the back panel. That should be easier on my riser as well.

    Now, I'm gonna throw off the whole engine compartment theme with...gauges!

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    I have a problem. The gauges totally throw the engine bay theme off for this side, but totally match the interior theme on the other side. So the choice should be easy right? But working gauges on the other side would be totally useless since you'd never see them because it'd be the off side and there's a side panel that will cover them(and I don't want to window it there because of the paint scheme). Add to that semi-removable panels and water lines that have to run through panels, plus the whole res mounting...I'm actually stuck on where to put them at the moment. I've got some ideas, just need to work out the details. But they look effin' cool, right?

    Oh yeah, almost forgot...The Lonely PSU. :(

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    All by itself. Waiting on some aluminum for the panel on that side so it's all alone. And freaking tiny....damn!

    Thanks for following along!
     
  13. storm-83

    storm-83 Member

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    YAY, gauges!
    Nice work on the case by the way, am following this one closely as you have given me some ideas...
     
  14. Vault-Tec

    Vault-Tec Green Plastic Watering Can

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    Did some one say hot rods and flame jobs?

    In.
     
  15. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Member

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    Thanks!

    Yup, hot rods and flames!
     
  16. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Member

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    And the project rolls on...

    I did figure out the gauges, where to put them and how to hook the tach to read a fan. I won't go into it in this update since I need to make a bracket to get them actually mounted and I'm still uploading a vid covering the tach. But YAY!

    What I will go into is the off side of the case. I finally got some more aluminum in, this time .08" 5052 alloy. Almost 2mm thick and bends like butter.

    I started with the bottom plate, this will be my main mount point and will get covered in some sort of interior material. I haven't decided yet. Maybe a suede or a leatherette. Sumpin fancy, hehe! I worked all this out in Sketchup so I could CNC the pieces and everything would fit together. The base after milling.

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    Next up were the SSD plates. Once again milled.

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    And mounted up.

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    They don't really stand out, but with the base panel covered in material and these painted to match the exterior, they ought to set everything off nicely. Still thinking about rounding the outside corners of the plates, but I'll cross that bridge later, right now, I've still got another piece for the puzzle.

    I was planning on figuring out a mounting setup that was invisible for the base panel, but finally decided it would be easier to just make a trim piece that would cover the mounting screws. This also gained me some room for another idea I had. Back to the CNC.

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    .75mm cuts in my .08" Al for a little bit of flash.

    And the trim piece finished and mounted. It doesn't really stand out right now, LOL. But it'll be brushed Al in the end with SS screws holding it in. Nice and clean. Also mounted an SSD. Nice and tight tolerance on the connectors which was another reason I wanted to CNC these pieces. I suck at cutting things out by hand.

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    Closer look.

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    The extra space I saved not making up some complicated mounting allows me to put in a little hot rod touch.

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    A fire extinguisher. Not needed, or is it... I had some space to kill and had thought about different ways to put it to use, but I kept coming back to either gauges or some sort of bottle, be it NOS or an extinguisher. I'm going to use the gauges on the other side of the case since they'll be visible there and NOS has been done and I figured most hot rods have a fire extinguisher in case bad things happen, so why not. It just barely fits but I think it's a interesting touch.

    The bracket does need a little work though.

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    That 1/2 inch of bracket put the extinguisher in the door, so it had to go. Next up, figuring out how to mount this piece of the bracket so the extinguisher doesn't roll around and break things.
     
  17. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Member

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    Quick little update. I spent some time trying to get a tachometer working and reading the fan rpm. Made a little video.



    I did the video working on a 12v power inverter which apparently puts out a little extra. Running off the 12v of a PSU, the tach read 4k rpm which should make the fan 2k rpm which sounds about right. I also tried it on the 5v and the 3.3v outputs. Worked fine on the 5v, wasn't happy with the 3.3v, but it did work. It was a little wonky though, the tach had to be on the PSU 12v for it to read the fan on the PSU. So 12v from the inverter + fan on PSU was a no go. But switch the tach to the PSU 12v and it was fine. I don't know why, but it works now, so I don't care.

    Also mounted the gauges in the case. Had to make a little aluminum bracket for the 2" gauges since the one supplied wouldn't clear the case frame and was also a 3 gauge bracket. I gave them a little more angle than the side of the case so they'd be easier to see when the case is setup on a desktop and also for a bit more clearance for the wiring against the radiator.

    [​IMG]

    That's all for now!
     
  18. Vault-Tec

    Vault-Tec Green Plastic Watering Can

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    I would have gone with the nitrous bottle dude. Many years back American Chopper used them for an oil tank and had them chromed, they looked so boss :)
     
  19. InsolentGnome

    InsolentGnome Member

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    That's my problem, it's been done. NOS bottles and logos on everything hot rod related. Even the mod that sparked me, Ronnie Hara's Skyline, had NOS logos on the res's.
     
  20. Juzzerman

    Juzzerman New Member

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    Personally I really like the gauges and the Fire extinguisher. Really cool combo and it just makes it feel like a car. Can't wait to see the paint job!
     

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