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Scratch Build – In Progress The Black Box

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by Saw, 22 Feb 2016.

  1. Saw

    Saw New Member

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    Warning: Long intro ahead. Hello! I have been a lurker in bit-tech for some time now. Once in a while, I take some time off studies to do a week-long stretch of modding. I haven't posted any of my modding efforts online before - except for my most recent one, which if you are interested, I have included in some pictures below:

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    I wanted to squeeze a 480mm and two 360mm radiators into a HAF-X, together with a tall Tube reservoir, and use copper pipes for tubing. The HAF-X case is almost 4 years old now and my opinion of a desirable-looking rig has changed over the years. 4 years ago I built my first rig, and ventured into watercooling. I loved the industrial look of the HAF-X and I started off with one radiator and flexible tubing. Over time, I accumulated and upgraded more hardware, and my preference shifted to a more contemporary, sleek, clean, straight metal pipe, all-aluminium look. The pictures above show this transition, where I began to use straight metal pipes for a clean(er) look but was stuck with a case which I no longer liked the look off. So I tried to make the best of the situation and combined the two.

    Now, I want an even cleaner build. I don't want to hand-bend pipes any more. I want straight chromed pipes, with sharp consistent angles. I want the pipes to run only up-down, left-right and not take any oblique angles. I want the pipes to travel very short distances. Notice how the CPU pipe in the pictures above is too long and contains too many bends - I grew out of this look. Initially, my interest also included trying to squeeze a fully watercooled ATX system (with three 360mm radiators) into as small a space as possible (300x300x400). I created the following CAD model to illustrate this:

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    This project never really took off because I would have to change a lot of my parts (all my radiators, fittings, etc) to fit the space and I would have to do A LOT of cutting, which considering I live in an apartment and only have a dremel, will be very difficult to control tight tolerances and keep the noise down.

    Now, I have come up with an open-concept build. I realised I didn't like to keep my components in a 'box' (ie. a closed computer case) and only look at them from behind a window. Everything felt very two dimensional. I wanted to be able to see them, right in front of me, so I am able to admire and appreciate the unique shapes they all have (like the extremely clean look of an AX360 radiator, the rings of a SP120 fan, the pump blocks holding the D5 pumps, the textured pain on the EVGA PSU, etc). This build also enables me to keep most of my components. It doesn't mean it will be cheap though, as I will have to procure a lot of material to make this work.

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    I call this the Black Box. From Wikipedia:In science, computing, and engineering, a black box is a device, system or object which can be viewed in terms of its inputs and outputs (or transfer characteristics), without any knowledge of its internal workings.

    There is the mobo side, which runs the tubes into the 'Black Box'. The same goes for the watercooling side. Inside this 'Black Box' (which is only about 36mm in width) the tubes are all rerouted to pass coolant through to the right components. The final effect this gives, is components plugging directly into the central 'Black Box' with no obvious twists and turns to get to wherever they have to. I think this will give a very clean look to the rig. Another motivation for separating the mobo from everything else is so that no fans end up directly blowing onto the mobo. I grew tired of having fans flanking the mobo (see the HAF-X build) and constantly dropping dust all over it.

    I haven't included trivial things like pcie-bracket, reservoir bracket, holes, pipes, etc in the CAD model because many of these things are going to be measured on the fly. Even the mobo in the CAD is completely different to what I have so CAD-ing these things now wouldn't make a lot of sense.

    I have to say beforehand, that many of my components do not look very desirable. I have a Z87X-UD4H motherboard by Gigabyte. In the CAD file you'll notice an X99 board. Aesthetically speaking, the mobo that I have doesn't look as good and makes pipe routing look less clean. This is something I cannot change unfortunately, as it would mean buying a new motherboard and processor. I also have a Hardware Labs GT-Stealth, which does not have the 'premium' look of the AX360. The SR-1 480mm I have is very thick, and also doesn't have the premium look. All three of my radiators look different and this will detract from the overall 'consistency' of the build. Furthermore, I bought EK HDCs for my fittings in my most recent mod. Now, I intend to use C47s because they are slimmer hence giving the tube runs a much cleaner look. Of course, I cannot just waste my HDCs, and so I will be using this for the watercooling side of my build.

    This build is going to be a little different from my previous mods. I typically take a whole week off and dedicate 20 hours a day to a build. I can't do that right now, and rather than wait till Easter, I hope to be able to dedicate 2-3 hours of work on this build every day or so. This is my first time posting here, so if there's anything I'm not doing right please let me know! :thumb:

    More importantly though, I would love to hear your feedback. Who knows, someone may suggest something even better to what I have planned and I hope to incorporate it if it's not too much work. I hope you will enjoy what's to come so do stay tuned for more.

    Current stage is: Parts and Materials Procurement. (Lots of it).

    TL;DR: Dude making open-air all aluminium concept, watercooled PC with chrome tubes and old-ish parts.
     
  2. Cown

    Cown Member

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    Nice build you've got there :) Love the work on the copper :thumb:

    Looking forward to seeing more from your next project ;-)
     

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