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Speed Mod: Killer Nic Case for CES booth

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by zittware, 30 Dec 2006.

  1. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    Back at the Intel LanParty; I was chatting with the Bigfoot Networks and we stumbled across the topic of doing case mod for them after seeing the AustinModder's cases on Display. Things were quiet for a while; then suddenly Bigfoot contacted me on Dec 12 - needed a Case Mode for their CES booth which starts on Jan 7th.
    They need the case completed by Jan 5th. :eeek: so much for my Holiday. :waah:

    So; out came the thinking cap - We don't have time to do a elaborate mod; so this will be somewhat of a "bolt-on" mod with extra flair to draw attention to their Killer Nic product which recently recieved a Editor's Choice award from HardOCP.

    Step one: Select a case to base this mod on -
    Victim is a MountainMods.com Twice7 Case pre-powdercoated black.

    Step two: Select the innards (electronics) for the computer. Bigfoot took the lead on this one. At my recommendation; they ordered all black components - Motherboard, video card, sound card, memory, etc. You'll see these components as this worklog progresses.

    Steps 3-??: Aquire other parts. I aquired all kinds of mod supplies - leds, sleeving, fans, powdercoat powder, etc.
     
  2. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    While I was waiting for the case and other parts to arrive; I began by converting Killer's Logo into vector format so it could be used on My CNC machine. The idea was to cut the logo out of smoke plexi and back light it with some red LEDs.

    After 6 hrs of handholding the machine to make sure I didn't break the 3/32 endmill bit - The results looked very good;
    [​IMG]
    sadly - in the past I has trouble with my double sticky tape comming loose during the cnc process. This time I had the oppostite problem. That darn tape wouldn't come loose for nothing. The result is the acrylic piece shattered. :waah: :wallbash:

    I'll post pictures of the cncing and broken piece later.
    After the peice broke; I decided that it might be a better choice to have the logo laser cut into some red plexi instead as my cnc has a limit of 6 inches in both the Y and Z axis. :(
     
  3. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    Tuesday night I received the MountainMods' case by Fedex. Wed Night I received the Powder coat supplies from Caswell's half price deal.

    Once I received the case; I could start work on designing the Acrylic sheets which will be laser cut for the mod.
    Out came QCAD, and I started measuring and designing.

    After a couple of nights of design; I'm pleased to present you with the fruits of my labor. I can't take credit for all of these design choices - Both Red and PoMan (from AustinModders.com) have provided valuable ideas and suggestions throught the process.

    Logo's remain copy protected by Bigfoot Networks 2006.
    Used with permission for their mod. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED!


    Front Plexi PDF (<--- Click to View)
    Light Grey and Black lines are etches and the blue lines are cuts. The design will be mirrored prior to cutting so the etches will be on the secondary side of the acrylic. Color for this plexi will be smoke grey transparent.
    Killer heatsinks will bolt to the front of the 120mm fan holes to draw attention to the mod. Power and reset switches are the blugin vandal type in red color. Hope you like the labels under the switches. :bigdumbgrin:

    Motherboard Side Plexi PDF (<--- Click to View)
    Blue is the cut outline. Black is an modified etch of KillerNic's Heroes Rising desktop wallpaper. It's deliberatly plain here - so as not to detract from the view inside the case. Color = Clear plexi.

    Powersupply Side Plexi PDF (<--- Click to View)
    As you can see; Since some of the AustinModders are helping out the team will be represented. Austin Modders logo and Heroes Rising wallpaper will be combined on this sheet in etch format.
     
  4. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    Last Night; I modded the Killer Case's DVDRW drive.

    Here it is stock without the black face plates:
    [​IMG]

    PoMan determined that the stock LED was a thru-hole 5mm Green LED; so we begin by disassembling the DVD drive to extract the LED PCB:
    [​IMG]

    Yeap; the green's gotta go; swapped with RED to match the killer nic's LEDs.
    [​IMG]

    While we have this beasty disassembled; Can't have that beige plastic clashing with the black of the killer case...
    [​IMG]

    If the beige offends; so will the grey case of the cdrom...
    [​IMG]

    There they are... hanging getting ready for a fresh coat of magic black powdercoat:
    [​IMG]

    PoMan supplied the powdercoating gun and the Toaster Oven... Bake at 400F for 20minutes:
    [​IMG]

    Reassemble & snap a picture:
    [​IMG]
    Note that the beige and grey are now history. :)

    Test and make sure the eject and RED LED work:
    [​IMG]
     
  5. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    The Day before Christmas Eve was spent laser cutting some Acrylic for the mod.

    First up was a test fit of the front panel cover...
    [​IMG]
    We won't be using one of the 120mm fan holes... And K from the killer heatsink was duplicated and integrated into the fan grill of the remaining holes. We only need a single 5.25 drive bay for the DVDRW drive featured before.

    A closeup shot:
    [​IMG]

    A test fit of the front panel... complete with some Killer Heatsinks to give the front a third dimension.
    [​IMG]
    Can you spot the mistakes - which seems to come with all mods? This peice is now a test peice. :(

    The final test install I did was a quick check of the top plexi... for the handles.
    Since this case will be moving in and out of boxes for shipping; It seemed appropriate that the case have easy access handles for transportation. The top plexi needed a cutout for those handles when they are installed.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    Killer Case: A "Black" Christmas

    Christmas Day (night) turned out to be a "black" Christmas. ;)

    First; we'll start with the stock Casters on the mod:
    [​IMG]
    Note the Brassy metal... simply won't do!

    Po's PowderGun to the rescue:
    [​IMG]

    Three of the Casters; reassembled...
    [​IMG]
    4th left alone incase I figure out how to make it a locking caster. :( Sadly; Lowes doesn't carry locking casters of this type.
     
  7. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    Now we turn our attention to the rear of the case... which as some unwanted silver metal showing.

    First up; the stock PCI Brackets.
    [​IMG]
    Simply won't do!

    More Powder:
    [​IMG]

    The IO shield is the same color...
    [​IMG]
    Care had to be taken here... I needed to keep the RF shielding intact; so I covered the contact fingers with fiberglass tape... and covered the inner edge of the shield so it could make good electrical contact with the case and motherboard connectors.

    The results: Outside of case -
    [​IMG]
    Inside/motherboard side. Note the contact fingers are still metal.
    [​IMG]

    Finally; we turn our mod powers to one of the Aluminum 120mm fans which will be put in the mod...
    Stock:
    [​IMG]

    Bear metal was attacked with the same black powdercoat...
    And the inner hub's evil beige had to go. So i dissembled the fan... and removed the blades. Making sure to keep the bearings, springs, and spindle snap together so it didn't spring somewhere I couldn't find it.
    Applied some Black Vynil dye (same as used on the dvdrom)... and reassembed it.

    The Result:
    [​IMG]
    The center blades were left in their chrome plastic configuration - Won't matter when the fan is running... and we may employ a lighting effect to the fans (if there is time); and will need to use it's reflective properties.
     
  8. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    One of the goals of this project is to show case the Killer Nic itself... During a meal discussion; Red, Poman, Tech-Daddy, and Myself (all AustinModders ) discussed ways to get this done... I think it was Poman that suggested that we somehow get the card in the view of the public... but we need to keep the card functional.
    I liked that idea; and consulted with the (not so) awesome www site at Adex Electronics, Inc. These great people sell to the general public... since I had past experience with them on PCI-E 8x to 16x converters; I decided they would be the quickest way to get the card into view.

    So; I ordered 1 of each of the following:
    PCIOX4-3.3V Click >here< to see MFGR's image @ their site)
    PCIFLEX32-FM @ 3inches Click >here< to see MFGR's image @ their site)

    After a freindly call to their phone number; they were on the way to me by fedex.

    So; why would I get these beasties?
    Well the idea is to rotate the Killer Nic 90degrees so that it is parallel to the motherboard and where it will clear the PCIe VideoCard. With it being parallel to the Motherboard; it's now in direct view of the side window of the MountainMod's Twice7. ;)

    After several days of design work; I came up with the following design:
    [​IMG]

    I had to hand craft the clear acrylic standoffs since no-one seem to have the size I needed in town. They have #4-40 holes in the top for the Killer Nic screws and #2-56 screws in teh bottom to hold it to the top peice.
    The left hand side shows that I used standard motherboard standoffs to offset the red acrylic peice from the PCI brackets. A detail shot shown here:
    [​IMG]
    And yes... Bigfoot didn't skimp on the GPU either... :p

    MrRed came by on Wed and helped me get some parts powder coated and vynil dyed... one of the victims was the PCI extender and offset connectors linked above. Using some old useless PCI cards to protect the connector wipes... and some blue painters tape yielded black parts:
    [​IMG]

    So; I bet your wondering... What does it all mean when the rubber hits the road? What's under Protective paper?
    Why a Killer Logo ofcourse. ;)
    [​IMG]
    Looks AWESOME IMHO...

    Now; how are we going to get those darn Ethernet and USB ports from the Killer Nic to the user of the Case Mod?
    Research on the good 'ole 'net turn up RedCo.com who resells panel mount and USB connectors from Neutrik. These guys make panel mounted Ethernet and USB ports in a Pass through configuration. I ordered up one of each NAUSB & NE8FDP. They come stock in a grey metal looking color:
    [​IMG]
    The waranty of these guys were promptly voided... as I powdercoated them black to match the rest of the components. :eyebrow:

    Now where to put those darn connectors... :scratches head: ... :idea:
    I'm not using those blasted 80mm fan holes in the case... a perfect place for those connectors. Outcame QCAD... resulting in the following drawing:
    Killer 80 x 80 mm Fan cover

    A little laser cutting and some vynil dye later; and we have a nice looking back panel:
    [​IMG]
     
  9. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    With the product display portion of the design out of the way; we move to the transportation of the mod.

    While MrRed was here chipping in; we powdercoated the Acorn nut and thread holding the Killer Display panel in check. He also powder coated the Stainless Steel handles and the rest of the fans.
    [​IMG]

    You'll see the handles in various pictures in the worklog; not need to point them out.

    Moving attention to the casters. The plan was to accent the (now) black Casters in some way... :idea:
    Use the MountainMod's Acrylic Feet in combination with the Casters. But add some Red LED accent lighting to it. :hip:

    Out came QCAD again; this time to help me create a CNC program which would cut out a 3mm hole for the LED in dead center - and create a trough for the Wiring of the LED to one of the holes of the feet. Here's an action shot of the CNC in action - cutting the Acrylic feet:
    [​IMG]

    And with a test LED:
    [​IMG]

    Wired all four LEDs in series with a 150ohm Resistor:
    [​IMG]

    Protect the wiring; minimize the white:
    [​IMG]

    And clean it up out of the way with a tie down:
    [​IMG]

    Now we return to my concern of the lack of locking casters on the mod. Since this will be on a table at various trade shows; having a case roll around could be a problem. If you recall; earlier I was unsuccessful in finding a locking caster which matched at Lowes. :(
    So one must engineer a solution - which I concluded was to drill two #6-32 holes into one of the wheel hubs. Tap the holes. And Drive a Black Oxide 5/8 Button Head allen screw into those holes. When these screws are as shown below; the hub will not move. :D
    [​IMG]

    Ofcourse; I have to test the things to make sure the work as designed :D :
    [​IMG]
     
  10. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    While we are on the subject of lighting; let's move to how the viewers are gonna see the card.
    First stop; the red cold cathode tubes... Here they are in all their glory:
    [​IMG]

    I absoluetly HATE double sticky tape... it never works! And for this mod; robustness is a must. Last thing we need is to have the CCFL's tape loosing sticky and the tube falls down while it's being viewed by 100's of people. :rolleyes:

    Only option IMHO is to hard mount the tubes to their locations.
    Drill a #2 hole... and tap it for #2-56 screws:
    [​IMG]

    Insert Black Oxide #2-56 countersunk screws:
    [​IMG]

    Ofcourse no mod is a mod without black sleeving work; so... one must sleeve those fugly ash white wires comming out of the CCFLs:
    [​IMG]

    The result:
    [​IMG]
     
  11. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    Attention moves again... on to the power and reset buttons.

    If you recall; I selected blugin vandal type switches in red color for the Power and reset functions. I happened to have a spare green PCB from ATTN2Detail's LED circuit in my MOD parts bin... No point in letting it go to waste!
    [​IMG]

    Ofcourse - hell-s-no... that Green's gotta go.
    So; into the RIT Black dye bath the PCB and all the white connectors for the mod went. Also into that bath; went the white nylon tyedown anchors.
    [​IMG]
    The process to dye nylon is fairly simple... drop the parts into the black dye at nearly full strength.
    Heat to rolling boil while covered. Turn off heat; let set for approx five minutes. Rinse and *Whala* insta-black parts.
    Works fine for green (bare) PCBs too.

    Me, the PCB, and the soldering iron spent some quality time with each other which resulted in:
    [​IMG]
     
  12. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    Now the final assembly begins.

    No pictures here <I'm sure noone here needs details on how to assemble a PC>; as I had a self-imposed deadline of this friday (today!) to get the mod completed and back to Bigfoot. The reason for that deadline is that I had to postpone my Xmas vacation to visit with family as I was concerned about my wife's recovery from spinal surgery (had a c6-c7 vertabra fused) and because I was very concerned about the mod's heath early on.
    I postponed the trip to new years weekend; and wanted to deliver the mod to Bigfoot today.

    So the mad rush for assembly began. Since no pictures are really available; I just want to point out that every visible bolt, screw, and nut were either black or were going to be black. Our local Bolt company only carried Black Oxide screws - but none bigger than 1. So I had to do a 30minute (one way) drive to rual Dripping Springs, TX to visit with a ACE Hardware. They so graciously had 1.5 Black Oxide screws socket cap screws which I needed to mount the fans and hard drive cage. Niether place carried Black Oxide nuts or washers... :barf: I settled for Black Nylon finishing washers; but had to powder coat each and every nut used in the mod. Trust me; it was teadious and time consuming - but well worth it to keep the theme of the mod alive.

    Every peice of nylon I could semi-easily remove from the mod was dyed black. All heatshrink was black. Even the very expensive 8800GTX video card was disassembled and it's PCI bracket was powdercoated black.
    I guess you can say - this puppy is one killer ash black mod. :D

    Anyway, enough talking... time for some final assembly pictures without top plexi peices.

    Killer Case: Killer View (no plexi):
    [​IMG]

    Killer Case: Killer Top Detail (no plexi):
    [​IMG]
     
  13. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    semi-Closing Thoughts / Final pics

    I'm happy to report that Bigfoot accepted delivery of the case today at 4:30pm. I got the distinct impression from him that he was shocked and very pleased with the mod. He said several times it was more than expected with the short time and close deadline given to execute the mod. :rock:

    I still have a few final touches to apply to the mod; which I'll do when I get back from my postponed vacation.
    At that time; I hope to take some additional pictures and some night shots to really show the final product.

    Until then; here's a list of acknowledgements:

    • First; my wife - Melissa. Bless her for putting up with the crunch mode mod at the same time she's recovering from major spinal surgery. It wasn't easy on either of us; but I'm very proud of the finished product.
    • Second; Bigfoot Networks. Thanks for giving me artistic freedom to execute the mod. Granted the deadline was horrible; but given the final results - I think we are both happy.
    • PoMan - Thanks for your help getting the MOD off the ground. Thanks for the use of your PowderCoating Gun and Toaster Oven. It was critical to the final look of the mod.
    • MrRed - Dude; Your help on Wed was the only reason I was able to complete the mod BEFORE my vacation. Kudo's to you!
    • My Friend at FastSigns @ 9518 Anderson Mill Rd
      in Austin. Thanks for comming in the day before Xmas eve and cutting / etching all the acrylic used in the mod. Without these critical peices; it woulda looked like dung. Well maybe not... but still thanks for the awesome job.

    This was TRUELY an AustinModders' team effort.

    Now that you've read through all the acknowledgements; here's the final pictures I took just before Bigfoot took it away ;) Enjoy!

    (Please click the pictures for higher rez shots)

    Killer Case: Killer Front
    [​IMG]

    Killer Case: Killer View
    [​IMG]

    Killer Case: Killer Back
    [​IMG]
     
  14. sKuLLs

    sKuLLs What's a Dremel?

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    That case looks excellent and you've done a great job in a tight time frame. Will you be doing more of your own mods in the future? Or have you found you prefer mods showing off hardware for a comapny better?
     
  15. greensabbath

    greensabbath Got Wood?

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    Well, i doubt i'll be buying that product but the case looks very sweet and the way you showed of the card is perfect. Once again the Austin Modders kick some a$$, good job guys.
     
  16. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    I've done plenty of mods for myself... published still incomplete mods on other forums; Namely:
    ATTN2Detail
    G35 MacMini
    I pride my self on "detailed" worklogging.
    My problem is I take on new projects without finishing the old. :blush: But at least with this mod; there was a hard deadline and a true need for it. In that regard; I found this mod refreshing.

    Other mods have been unpublished in the past.
    Since I moved to Austin and starting hanging out with AustinModders' they've been "encouraging" me to spread my skillz. :lol:

    Understood; that price is "up there". The card should match ATTN2Detail nicely tho. :naughty:
    Thanks for the kind comments.
     
  17. Darkened

    Darkened What's a Dremel?

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    Do I see a pattern here, maybe the future of modding also? First Snakes and Ediejo and now you guys, seems that modding is becoming a team sport :hehe:

    I'll have to say that the team effort is coming together here really well, great job with the case! Maybe a sweet water cooling setup would have been cool, but heck, I'll settle for this eye candy :thumb:

    I'll have to take a look at your other mods when I get the time...

    Janne
     
  18. Duste

    Duste Sierra my delta, bravo!

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    I reckon having a watercooling system in it would've brought the attention away from the Killer Nic, but that's just my opinion.
     
  19. malccy72

    malccy72 Minimodder

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    Wow what a beautiful finish. REally like what you've done.

    I'm a WC fan also so would have liked it watercooled but it's great none the less.
     
  20. zittware

    zittware What's a Dremel?

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    Team Sport :lol:
    It certainly makes doing a mod more effiecent.

    I would love to have done WCing; it's my personal favorite.
    But WCing is complicated and made it that much more risky for being completed on time.

    There is talk of a phase 2... but I'm not sure where we'd take it from here. There are a few more things I could do to make it better - but not enough to really amplify the results.

    Did get an update from Bigfoot which simply stated:
    Which means that the Killer Nic is fully functional. The Electrical people in our group (me, red, poman) were a little concerned the extra 3" stub on the pci buss would make the card flaky. I'm glad that fear was unfounded. :knock on wood:

    If anyone's going to CES this year; please stop by the Bigfoot booth and take a gander in person; then post your impressions here. I'd love to hear them.
     

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