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Planning SFF Case Enthusists Forum - Design Sharing and Discussions

Discussion in 'Modding' started by andy_mcp1, 3 Sep 2010.

  1. andy_mcp1

    andy_mcp1 I may have an I.D-10T error...

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    Hi everyone, first time poster here, though I've been an avid follower of this site and the general modding community for a number of years now.

    Thought I'd start off a thread for those who have an appreciation for Small Form Factor cases, to allow you show off your concept designs (sketches, sketch-ups or renders), mods, scratch builds or even just to air your thoughts/suggestions (all positive - we know the cases are crammed, goes with the territory).

    If like me you can't fathom the majorities obsession with goliath tower cases that can only be hidden discretely by storing them in the airing cupboard, or believe that like other technologies the good old home computer should be shrunk with progress not made bigger, then please, I urge you to show your support for the under rated art of cramming components into tiny boxes.

    I'll start this thread off with a few of my own concept revisions I've recently been working on, the last of which I will soon be bringing to reality and will be posted here on this sites Project logs (once I’ve bottomed out the last of the material costings).

    This first design was centred around using a flexi riser to allow the GPU to be located behind the MB tray, which would both reduce case dimensions allowing space for a W/C setup and (being the hottest component in the Case) compartmentalise it away from the MB & CPU (since SFF cases biggest design issue is reducing ambient temps and increasing air flow). The design is Acrylic and is based on the up and coming Tron Legacy range of Razer mouse and keyboard.

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    A sneek-peak at my latest design. I moved away from the above component layout due to the reduced performance/bandwidth that comes with using flexi risers. By moving the GPU back to the standard locale/design the W/C loop was out the door (Air cooling was more actual better space saving not to mention cheaper). This design is still based on the Tron legacy concept. I intend to use a new lighting tech in town to achieve the glow - LightTape (worth a look!).

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    Hope this inspires you to get designing if you havent already, and look forward to seeing what's out there!
     
  2. craigbru

    craigbru Cramming big things in small boxes since 2006

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    A man after my own heart! Your concepts look great! There are definitely plenty of SFF fans out there if you know where to look...





    (peeks at sig)
     
  3. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    the 1st one looks a lot like one of my designs...

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    from this thread

    from way back in july
     
  4. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    The original layout is insanely tight.:D Some good points on the concept were brought up during the thread Burnout posted.
     
  5. andy_mcp1

    andy_mcp1 I may have an I.D-10T error...

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    Sorry for the slow reply, been off treating my wife to a long weekend in Edinburgh, just back this eve.

    Yeah, been a follower of this site for a few years now (feeds the cravings between builds, when waiting for the funds to replenish) and have been keeping a keen eye on both of your blogs/logs as well as a few others who have dabbled on scratch SFF cases. Don't get me wrong I still read all the other logs as there are plenty of construction tips and design ideas from full sized builds, but for me all that space makes the design challenge that bit too easy (plus having owned a few towers, including my present one, I find them too large, heavy and cumbersome for taking to LAN parties).

    I came up with the first design a year back (see original concept below in orange) but at the time decided to start building another design I was working on – an aluminium open chassis to fit the components in (see second image). The frame was a work of art, just not the type of art I'd intended it to be - was more one of those mangled train wreck something's fit for the Tate modern, so gave up and got a Sugo.

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    So, a tip to all of those out there who want to build an aluminium frame – DON’T try to weld it! Use pop-rivets, nuts/bolts, glue or anything else, just don’t waste your time (unless you’re a pro) as all you get is a wonky frame with smoking wholes where joints are meant to be, lol, far too easy to melt.

    I think the slatted design is a great concept for allowing air to breathe in and out pretty much the whole way round the circumference of the case. Loved your design Cheapskate, but then I might be a bit biased, lol, would love to see your component layout as I found this pretty challenging. I managed to get the dimensions down to 170mm wide, 290mm tall and 330 long, with a 120 cpu w/c loop, but as you said, very tight and suspect not great air circulation. I found with the Sugo and as per many logs, the biggest prob with SFF is ambient temp due to poor air flow which is of course is down to the cramped conditions. Water cooling doesn’t really help as I’ve found out. The CPU may be cooler but the ambient is still nearly as high, as the radiator (if internally mounted) in crammed case acts as, well, like a radiator, lol.

    It’s a real challenge and hence my first design/component layout attempted to solve this by segregating the PSU and GPU to behind the MB tray. Had it not been for the poor performance of Risers I’d be perusing that design. I think the best way forward, being stuck with a conventional layout, is to keep the case simple and with as few components as possible to avoid causing obstruction to air flow. Makes for a boring cooling solution (my present i7 920 is w/c which both looks ace and was good fun to play with) but from extensive design variations in layouts on Sketch-up Air cooling seems to be the best solution for conserving space and best flow. A good one like the Titan Fenrir will even allow you OC a CPU in a tight rig, just keep in mind airflow.

    I know both of you are seasoned vet’s at scratch builds and modding, so if you have any tips in designing the case itself, or component layouts for SFF, that can help people in their design or steer them away from known issues, please share them here.

    Second tip for first timers to Scratch builds, Sketch-Up. Google sketch –up is essential in mapping out components and will give you a 3D perspective of what it’ll look like highlighting those nasty issues that would have otherwise de-railed your build half way through had you jumped in both feet first. If you lack the artistic skills or are too eager to get going to spend the time making your own models, have a look a Jez’s collection ( http://scc.jezmckean.com/ ) of drop in readymade components. They don’t have to be the specific model of MB or GPU your using as the dimensions are pretty much universal but will instantly show any clashes, or give you starting point to work out and around from!
     
  6. andy_mcp1

    andy_mcp1 I may have an I.D-10T error...

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    Thought I'd share the sketch-up files of both the first and second Tron designs as per my first post. This shows both the case and the component layouts. The file sizes are large which i apologise for, but worth a look for ideas (or critisisms, lol) or if anyone wants to use it as basis to start your own design project since most of the components are typical for a SFF case.

    First scrapped design (with flexi riser) - Water cooled.
    http://www.mediafire.com/?4ongr3gdpkxs7cu

    Second and final design - Air cooled.
    http://www.mediafire.com/?g6fb32t87117c7q
     
  7. andy_mcp1

    andy_mcp1 I may have an I.D-10T error...

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    Sorry Burnout, meant to put your name above in ref to your case design not Cheapskate, not enough coffee obviously, my bad! Have you got a shot of the internal layout?
     
  8. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Tips?
    -Add some space around the motherboard. Massive heatsink backplates, side mounted plugs, and stuff that hangs off the board when mounted will drive you crazy. Personally, I can't stand that I have to use surgical tools to plug wires into the board.
     
  9. andy_mcp1

    andy_mcp1 I may have an I.D-10T error...

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  10. mecblade

    mecblade 14 year old Technophile

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    i really like the use of LightTape in your first concept. It really does rival other sources of illumination such as CCFLs and LEDs, how much does LightTape cost?

    Im doing some early research for when im finally old enough to mod. (GRRRRR curse the 5 years i have to wait :wallbash: )
     
  11. disturbed13

    disturbed13 What's a Dremel?

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    sees something familiar in sig :D
     
  12. andy_mcp1

    andy_mcp1 I may have an I.D-10T error...

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    It's not the cheapest of stuff, for 2m of tape plus the psu (only an inch squre) plus all the other gubbins cost just over £100, but they do quotes on a project basis, send Mike Hardcastle a mail to feel for costs. will post some photos of it in action tomorrow eve.
     
  13. andy_mcp1

    andy_mcp1 I may have an I.D-10T error...

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    Hi all, just thought I'd post the next Project design on here, pushing my design for a smaller case. My previous/current case build - TRON V4 http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=195244 is a m-ATX case measuring 325mm Long x 190mm Wide x 360mm High and a volume of 21474180mm3. This case is great but one of the issues I have with it is access for the GPU. The fan arrangement made things really tight and resulted in a max gfx card length of 10.5". This next design is the challenge to go smaller yet to make more room for the GPU. The new case dimensions are as follows - 210mm Long x 150mm Wide x 375mm High and a volume of 1071000, half that of the previous TRON case yet there is room for 12" 6990/GTX590 card, with room to spare for ease of installation.

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    The case will be split in two using a central plate which the GPU and SDDs will be mounted off. This plate will be screw in place and removable to gain access to the back plate where the ITX MB and full ATX PSU will be fitted. The fans for the case and CPU will draw in air via ducting to conserve space; this will also ensure segregation of cold intake and warm exhaust and avoids just re-circulating the internal air.


    For comparison against my TRON V4 case
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    Some of the bespoke components I made up for the sketch up project. (Deepcool Theta 25 cooler and Gigabyte GA-H67N ITX Motherboard).
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    The majority of the case will be made of 4mm thick Aluminium though I also intend to use some acrylic again for the central light strip. I intend to use Light Tape again for this project to light up this acrylic strip from black gloss to red neon. Finally some quick renders of the final case with the case un-lit and lit.
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