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Case Mod - In Progress The ten-dollar Lian-Li

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by brightshininlights, 12 Feb 2008.

  1. brightshininlights

    brightshininlights Lover of Aluminum

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    I started this thread last summer on a different website. I'll catch you guys up. Here's a cut-and-paste of the background of the project.


    July 4th, 2007

    I have within walking distance of my house a small computer recycling center where people go to pay to have their working electronics taken away and later resold. I frequent the place and sort through the ten dollar computers stacked like wood in their back lot. Now this tuesday, july the 3rd, a thought suddenly occured to me: There is a Lian-Li behind AA (the name of the shop). I had no evidence to back this up and I had not visited the place in about a month. I went and looked, and Lo! There was a silver Lian-Li PC-6x (I don't know the exact model) whimpering in the grass. The computer it contained was decent, a 1.3Ghz Athlon Xp with 512ddr. Not bad. But the case! The glory! Of course, there was a catch. There was no front panel! 8O
    [​IMG]

    Lots of nasty brown spots everywhere...
    [​IMG]

    dust....
    [​IMG]

    Good lord! Who did this to you, Lian, WHO!!?? :evil:
    [​IMG]

    That's right, someone DUCT TAPED the motherboard tray in place and filled it with cotton balls. :( It stays in place fine with screws, but apparently duct tape and cotton balls were needed. Idiots.
    With a little love and soap and water she should be looking top shape, but without a front panel she's most certainly not sea-worthy! I checked Ebay and google products to no avail. You know what this means, gentlemen! A modification is afoot! :eek:


    ---------------
    July 10th, 2007
    ---------------

    I did a HUGE amount of work today, like as far as I can go with my current assortment of tools. I started by cutting the front 120mm fan hole
    [​IMG]
    It's far from perfect, I may have to redo it. The error was in the planning, not the execution. I figured that I could just put the fan in place and trace around the inside. The problem was that the inside was tapered, thicker around the center than the edges. Also, these silent fans have 11 fins which makes it hard for me to stick my pencil in there. This gave me uneven edges. It's okay, I didn't cut outside the real circle so I can redo it if it's too much of a problem.
    [​IMG]

    I also did planning on the back fan but didn't actually cut it in fear of messing up like I did in the front. I already determined that I can fit another 80mm in there. I learned from my mistake in the front and cut an 80mm circle out of paperboard with a compass (sorry you can't really see it).
    [​IMG]
    I then lined it up on the back and drew around it. You can also see where I cut out the back grill. I could have left it and made another one to match, but I hadn't ever used the scroll saw before and I didn't know that it would be feasable.
    [​IMG]
    So I'll use grills.
    Also, this front grill will have to be replaced for the simple reason that I don't have two of them and it would look bad to have just one.
    [​IMG]
    As I continue to be rather uncomfortable with freehanding it, I'll wait until I have a circle cutter and drill press, at which point I'll unrivet the case and put in the top and bottom fans, provided that I keep them in my design (depends what kind of radiator I go with, and if I go with one at all).

    I filed and die'd (died?) the feet. I will be using dome nuts with washers on the inside to secure them.
    A really, really bad pic of the three stages from left: ridged, filed, and died.
    [​IMG]
    Here they are in their completed state.
    [​IMG]
    I need to get to lowes and pick up some nuts, as 7/16 NF 20 is not a common thread and we don't have any nuts of that caliber lying around.

    I cut out the hole for the window.
    [​IMG]

    ---------------
    July 29th, 2007
    ---------------

    I stopped by Shuck's today and picked up some sandable primer and spot filler. I looked at the paint that they had, but I didn't see anything that caught my eye in particular. Does anyone have any suggestions as to who has a large selection of spray paint? eBay doesn't have any at all, home depot just has buckets and boring wood paint, and shucks is okay but not great. And NOBODY carries 7/16-20 hex nuts, let alone dome nuts! I checked Home Depot, Ace, and Lowes! I'll have to pick some up online. Grrrr.... :evil:. Anyway, I worked on spot filling and sanding today. I probably could have started priming today, but I didn't. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.
    The sides with spot filler applied.
    [​IMG]
    A big dent on the side with spot filler sanded.
    [​IMG]


    -------------------
    At this point I shelved the project for ~6 months while I worked on other projects. During this time I radically changed my plans for the project, so disregard any previous plans.
    Jan 1 2008
    -------------------


    I've been really busy lately due to a term paper, but I have managed to get some work done on this mod. I've been mostly making sketchups to aid the actual construction, but I did officially break major ground by taking out the internal structure. It's a fine structure, but it doesn't fit my intentions well and it would be harder to work around it than to make a new one. On to pics.

    Without the structure.
    [​IMG]
    Looks kind of like a really skinny quadraped, like a horse or a camel or something. Maybe I'm just nuts.

    Back view.
    [​IMG]
    I had to take out like 6 rivets just on that back power supply section, and about 8 more in the front.

    There's a problem. There is a rail that attaches to the internal structure that holds the mobo tray in place.
    [​IMG]

    I have a solution. I'll just put it on the end of the mobo tray, as there will be structure there.
    [​IMG]

    And that's what I did. Next week I will start in to this more, provided that the weather is nice and that I'm not working on other mods.

    ----------------
    February 3, 2008
    ----------------

    I was away, and then I was buried, and then I was away again, and now I'm buried again. I brought my laptop with me on my trip and was able to get my sketchups done for the most part.
    These panels are for the inside of the lian-li. The box on the upper left is the psu, and I'm not making the back panel like that. It's just there for reference.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    All of those holes will be cut out using a chassis punch, and a plexiglass panel will be spaced 1/4" above it with congruent holes. The holes in the plexi will be slightly larger than the holes in the metal (9/8" vs 7/16"). The front of the psu is sort of how it will look, except that the plexi will be raised. Remember the Berserker? Same concept and materials, except that the cables will actually hold wires or possibly water. They'll screw into the metal using chase nipples and connect the sections together. In case you were wondering, the sides of the drive bay and psu are about 1/2" away from the edge of the case, so they won't have cables. They will be left open for ventilation, but every hole that can hold a cable will have one running out of it. I'll pre-run wires for any additions, so it should be relatively easy to upgrade. The panels will be held together using aluminum angle, standoffs, threaded rod, and cap nuts.

    I say that these sketchups are completed "for the most part" because I need to decide whether or not I'm going to make a plate for the mobo, and how it will affect the other panels if I do. I'm not sure if I put the psu and drive bay in exact alignment, and if I move them now it screws everything up because I can't move my guides with the workpiece. I'm leaning towards making it, but it would only be able to cover half of the motherboard because of the pci cards. Oh, and I'm making a hole-covered plate that will stand off of the video card(s) as well. My other big decision is whether I'll use frosted or tinted plexi. I have a host of 3/64" tinted acrylic, but no frosted. I've heard about spray-on frosting treatment for glass, but plexi isn't glass. I guess that I could just pony up, but I don't know.

    If you're silently wondering how my only accomplishment over the weekend was a few rectangles and a boatload of holes, observe it with the guides turned on:
    [​IMG]
    I measured and calculated to the 1/1000 of an inch, though I'm slightly less accurate than that with a ballpoint pen :p. I didn't render the plexiglass or standoffs or even the case because I don't need to: I use sketchup as 3d graph paper and thus frills are unnecessary. Let me know if this doesn't make sense and I can explain more or make diagrams.

    ------------------
    February 9th, 2008
    ------------------

    I started cutting my panels yesterday. I upgraded my parent's comp and it has been going, how you say, not smoothly. In my spare moments I managed to cut a panel:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    It doesn't go in the front like that, though I will have to cut a new front panel of some sort. I just set it there for reference. It's the backplate for the drive bays. Today I was working and it was raining, but hopefully I will have progressed more by tomorrow.

    ------------------
    February 11, 2008
    ------------------

    Today I got almost all of the necessary panels cut.

    The 3 long pieces are the drive bay sides and back, and the 4 smaller pieces are panels for the power supply.
    [​IMG]
    When I went back to cut the other side panels for the power supply, one of the top pieces chattered, got caught by the blade, and left. I was fine, but the piece was nowhere to be found! I searched all over my yard, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I'm glad that I wasn't standing in the way, but I have a new respect for the savage destructive force contained in my radial arm saw. Needless to say, I had to remake the piece.

    Here's all the panels for the psu.
    [​IMG]
    As you can see, the leftmost panel is all out of square. I'll probably remake it today.


    Here's a standard atx psu in place.
    [​IMG]

    Covered by the panels.
    [​IMG]
    I left room for expansion.

    With a 120mm fan.
    [​IMG]

    My tentative plan is to use a 140mm fan pushing air out the top of the case (It may blow it in, I'm not sure. Input?). Intakes will be in the back and the sides. I won't be just sticking a regular psu inside the shell; I'll be taking out the pcb and rewiring the whole thing using bus bars. I've got a method to suspend the pcb, I just need 6-32 nuts.

    My plan right now is to put my radiator like this:
    [​IMG]

    It's a dual 120mm rad, but it's a little odd.
    [​IMG]
    It has a built-in shroud, and you're not supposed to fasten the fans to it. You attach the fans to one side of a piece of metal, and the rad to the other.
    [​IMG]

    Because the existing front panel is full of holes, I can't just stick them both onto it. There's nothing to attach them to!

    So I have a new front panel:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I need to cut it down to allow for the third optical drive.

    The inlet and outlet of the rad will be pointed inward, will take a 90 degree turn into the drive bays, and then will take another 90 degree turn inside of the bays to come out into the main space. I plan on making a side window on the right side of the case to expose the right side of the drive bays, so the 90's may have to be plated. So my question is this: What to plate with? Is nickel reactive? That's a rather tentative plan, and I may scrap it as 90's restrict flow. My other option is to cut long slots in the right side of the drive bay and feed the lines into the drive bay at a gradual angle and then have them exit the back. Let me know what you think.
     
  2. E.E.L. Ambiense

    E.E.L. Ambiense Acrylic Heretic

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    Nice catch! Good work too. :thumb:
     
  3. 500mph

    500mph The Right man in the Wrong place

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    I wish i was that lucky.
    I cant wait to see more of this, and what hardware goes into it.
     
  4. InferiorPlanets

    InferiorPlanets Worshiping the SilverStonehengeā„¢

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    :eeek: Finding a 6-Series Li in that state... Visions of the robot dump and flesh fair in A.I. spring to mind! Good God, do they have Ministry playing as employees hack up cases in medieval ways?!
     
  5. AlexB

    AlexB Web Nerd and WC Addict

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    Cool project!
     
  6. teamtd11

    teamtd11 *Custom User Title*

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    Wow, i can not believe someone could do that to a Lian Li. Good luck with bringing the beast back to life :thumb:
     
  7. zwiks

    zwiks My avatar: :D

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    I want one tooo!!! gimme gimme ... you lucky man !!! :D:p
     
  8. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    I like the holes with matching plexi covers. That will work well. It's exactly like what I want do do to a G5.
    -By the way if you see one out there for $10...:D
     
  9. brightshininlights

    brightshininlights Lover of Aluminum

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    Today I cut out the front panel to allow for the new one.

    Taped and marked:
    [​IMG]

    Cut out:
    [​IMG]

    Tape removed:
    [​IMG]

    With the new panel in place:
    [​IMG]

    I still need to cut down the front panel to allow for the drives.

    I also cut notches in the side panels to let them slide pass a ridge.
    [​IMG]

    My mother just had mouth surgery, so I've been taking care of her without much chance to mod. I'll try to get in more modding when she's asleep.
     
  10. identikit

    identikit Minimodder

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    Nice, using powertools when she's asleep :thumb:

    Haha j/k, keep up the nice work.
     
  11. brightshininlights

    brightshininlights Lover of Aluminum

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    Yesterday and today I worked on the front panel.

    Here it is taped up and marked for cutting.
    [​IMG]

    Here it is after I cut it with the scroll saw and drilled holes for the radiator mounts and for attachment to the frame. I also tapped the smaller holes and screwed in some screws.
    [​IMG]

    Attached to the frame:
    [​IMG]
    I attached it with 6-32 screws and cap nuts. I used existing holes in the case frame.

    Now for the mounting of the radiator.

    A 3' length of 6-32 threaded rod.
    [​IMG]

    I use tin snips to cut it, but if I don't cut it in a bag then the cut pieces tend to evaporate.
    [​IMG]

    The threaded studs.
    [​IMG]

    I put 6-32 cap nuts on both sides, and the radiator and front panel go in between.
    [​IMG]

    The front panel and the radiator bolted together.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The inlets of the rad will be facing in, not out as the picture depicts. To make them face in I have to make a hole.

    Here are the centers of the holes marked out.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I have to mark it by eye, as I don't have much of a choice. I'll cut these later with a paddle bit. I've never cut metal with a paddle bit before, so I'll be sure to sharpen the bit and practice first.

    The next step was to mount the fans.

    With the mounting holes measured and marked:
    [​IMG]

    Drilled out:
    [​IMG]

    Problem!
    [​IMG]
    When the fan is in place, it partially covers the hole for radiator mounting.

    Even when the studs are pushed to the outer rim of the holes, the fan can't get through:
    [​IMG]

    But when I use a standoff as my inside nut (and push it to the outer edge), it fits!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There are a couple problems. Firstly, I'm off by about 1/32" on the fan mounting holes. I can circumvent this error with the use of rubber screws. The second issue is that when a fan isn't installed, the mounting hole is bigger than the standoff and the radiator can fall out. I suppose that this quirk may actually expedite the radiator removal/insertion process. Pop and lock!

    The 120mm hole saw is out and about right now, so I'll just have to wait for its return to cut the actual fan holes. I'm still working on the sketchups for the locations of the holes on the panel, and some of my plans hinge on the exact locations of things in the front panel. Overall I think that things are coming along quite nicely.
     
  12. brightshininlights

    brightshininlights Lover of Aluminum

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    Yesterday I cut the fan holes. I used an old/dull hole saw, and it took a long freaking time! Like an hour just to cut 2 holes, not including measuring. Maybe I'm just new at hole saws, but that seems like a long time.
    [​IMG]
    I also enlarged the screw holes to accommodate the rubber screws.

    The foam seal around the radiator squishes down on the 4 end screws, and the 4 screws in the middle clear just fine.
    [​IMG]
    You can also see how the standoffs work as nuts.

    More pics
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I picked up some Sunon fans at Re-Pc the other day, and I'll be using them on the radiator. They max out at 3.7W! For reference, the fans that came with my cooler master mystique case are 1.92W. I don't have the equipment to do dB or CFM tests, so I can't comment there. I'll definitely need a fan controller for these babies.
     
  13. AlexB

    AlexB Web Nerd and WC Addict

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    Good progress. Keeping an eye on this thread :D
     
  14. brightshininlights

    brightshininlights Lover of Aluminum

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    Thanks man. I know that it's been a while since the last update, but I have been exceedingly busy, and have had barely time to check the site, let alone post an update, let alone mod. Saturday I had some extra time, so I spent 8 hours knocking holes out of the panels of the power supply with a chassis/knockout punch
    [​IMG]

    Pilot holes drilled:
    [​IMG]

    At first I tried to wrench it around in my lap, until I incurred this injury:
    [​IMG]

    So I moved out to the garage where the vice is (I wrapped my workpiece in a rag before tightening). Twice I slipped off the wrench and cut into my arm:
    [​IMG]

    Finished:
    [​IMG]

    They're kind of bent out of shape :\.
    [​IMG]
    I'll bend them back into shape with my hands (they're just aluminum, so it's possible). If that doesn't work I'll roll them out with a stone rolling pin, and if that doesn't work then I'll use my friend's hydraulic press.

    I took a bunch of photos of the actual process, but my camera farted and they were lost. The camera can read/display the images, but something gets lost in translation with the pc and they don't work. So I reformatted the card and took more pictures, though it's still a shame that the original pics were lost. Oh well.
     
  15. Supra55

    Supra55 What's a Dremel?

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    Good job on the Lian-Li find (Damn, I'm so jealous -.-) I wanna see how this turns out, so keep it up =)
     
  16. brightshininlights

    brightshininlights Lover of Aluminum

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    Update! This is what I've done over the last week.

    I started by marking up the back panel of the drive bays as per my drawings.

    [​IMG]

    Next was to drill the holes for the shaft of the chassis punch.

    [​IMG]

    I taped the multi-bit at the correct diameter so I would know where to stop.

    I then took the tape off and set it by my desk.

    [​IMG]

    Frankly I'm a bit intimidated by the 48 holes that I'll have to punch out.

    I then moved to the top of the power supply unit. I didn't clamp it down before using the hole saw, and it left marks on the bottom from the spinning.

    [​IMG]

    they won't be showing, and even if it does I kind of like them.

    Halfway sawed:
    [​IMG]

    And done.
    [​IMG]

    And some advice for cutting aluminum with a hole saw (particularly a dull one): I recommend taking the tape off before you cut it, because if you leave it on the heat of friction bonds it to the aluminum and it can leave residue. Also, I found that if you freeze the panel before sawing it makes it easier because the metal is more brittle and comes off in bigger chunks. The coldness wears off pretty quickly, but anything helps with something as time consuming and seemingly never-ending as this.

    Before I progress with the PSU I need to pick up some 1/4" aluminum angle. Also, I'm thinking about not putting holes in the side panels. Here are my reasons:
    A. Time/Effort
    Each hole takes 1-3 minutes to punch out, and if I do the side panels I'll have 120 more holes to punch out. That's like 4 hours. Also, after around 30 holes my palm starts to bruise from working the wrench, so yeah. Pain.
    B. Cabling
    Because all of the cables will always be attached to the bays, they will have to hang down unrestrained. Leaving the panel in one piece hides them.
    C. Mitigation of venting
    My plans have changed to incorporate a 120mm fan blowing into the drive bays from the bottom, and about half of the holes in the back panel will be open as well, there is no longer a need for side vents.




    I then worked on the reservoir. It's a 2u 5.25" bay res made from lexan.

    Materials:
    [​IMG]

    I ended up not using the plexi. I cut the panels using a jigsaw and a sheetrock square as a guide. In hindsight, It would have been faster to find/attach a blade for the table saw than to cut them with a jigsaw and then sand them to death. Oh well, it's not like it hurt anything.

    Side panels:
    [​IMG]


    There's 4 side panels because the sides are double wide. The outside edge is to hold the screws so it can be attached to the drive bay.

    Top/bottom panels:
    [​IMG]

    All done:
    [​IMG]
    I'll assemble it once I learn how to flame polish and get the edges all polished.


    So that's where I am now. My focus has been temporarily shifted to a mouse modding contest over at Modders-inc.com, but my entry will eventually be paired with this mod, so I guess that I'll still technically be working on the ten dollar lian-li. This Saturday I'm leaving for Mexico to build a house, so my spring break will be occupied with not-modding :(. I really wish that I could bring my mouse down there to paint (perfect weather), but spray paint is sort of a no-fly item.
     
  17. jiorgan

    jiorgan What's a Dremel?

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    I love the concept ! :rock:
    Go go go !
    :clap::clap::clap:
     
  18. Slatter

    Slatter Mesh Addict

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    brightshininlights I'm so jelous right now dude... I cudn't get a Lian Li even if I paid premium over retail... and you found one at a junk yard.... *Sigh* Best of Luck with the mod dude... I will be anxiously waiting to see how it turns out...
     
  19. brightshininlights

    brightshininlights Lover of Aluminum

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    Okay, I lied about no more updates for a week. I was going to make a separate work log for the mouse mod section of this project, but then I decided to pile it in with this one. The basic premise of the mouse mod is the same as that of the berserker and other mods: Cover it with cables and see what happens. The goals are better grip, cushier feel, increased sweat dissipation, and overall awesomeness. I take inspiration from Orac (really, who doesn't?), my own work, and Razer121's Pipeline.

    Here's a stock image of the original mouse (forgot to take one).
    [​IMG]

    Some disassembly shots:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Since this hasn't been done before, I needed a test subject to try things out on. My lab rat:

    [​IMG]

    A crappy gateway ball mouse.

    Disassembled:

    [​IMG]

    I tried out what I was going to do, had success, and moved on to the actual mouse.

    Holes drilled and cables installed:

    [​IMG]

    I know that some holes are empty, they'll be filled in. The cable is a Gamecube controller extension cable that I picked up for a dollar at a thrift store.

    Disassembed:

    [​IMG]

    It looks like it's been shot full of holes. I would bet against it in a boat race.

    It left a bunch of annoying shavings:

    [​IMG]

    Even though weather has been poop, I did my sanding prep. I touched it with a scuff pad, and it got a bunch of scratches:

    [​IMG]

    If they're still visible after I put on primer, I'll sand it down and repaint.

    The paints that I plan to use:

    [​IMG]

    The plastic primer is more of a surface preparant than a paint, as you only use one light coat. My problem is that I want to use the wheel coating type of clear coat, but since it's a different brand I'm worried that it'll have negative effects. So I have Rust-Oleum clear as back-up. So I used the test mouse as my lab rat.

    After primer and silver:

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    I used some old masking tape because it was only going to be on there for an hour or so, but it left residue. The moral is that new masking tape isn't good for much, and old masking tape isn't good for anything.

    It wasn't shiny enough for me, so I tried to polish it. Instead of getting shinier, it got grayer.

    [​IMG]

    I tried to get the residue off with denatured alcohol, but instead it took off the paint.

    [​IMG]

    I may sand it all down and repaint, or I may just remove the residue with paint thinner and paint over my mistakes. The black "hammered" paint is the paint-over-rust variety, so I'm guessing that it will hold without a full coating of plastic primer. These painting errors and mis-steps make me glad that I did a test run, and I'm also glad that I can learn these things on practice pieces. I'm leaving for Mexico tomorrow morning, so I promise that this is my last update for at least a week. They have internet cafe's there, so I may check in once or twice.
     
  20. Fozzy

    Fozzy What's a Dremel?

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    looks like you used duct tape. That's a no-no. Always use the green tape for lines and blue tape for covering painted areas that you want to protect. If you use the blue tape for lines you'll get that crappy, half-asses line you have now.
     
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