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Scratch Build – In Progress The Ultimate Computer Desk - 2 Integrated Desktops (September 1)

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by ultimatedesk, 29 Nov 2010.

  1. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk What's a Dremel?

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    Hello all,

    I've been a long time browser, but never a commenter until I decided to start a new "case-mod" project for myself.

    I put "case-mod" in brackets because even though it's a case that I'll be building, it's not exactly... a traditional case-mod.

    I'm not looking to take an existing case and add some bling and cable management, but instead, I'll be building a desk from scratch that will be able to accommodate 2 desktop computers built-in.

    Here are the criteria for the build:

    1. Noise isolation
    2. Fan Control
    3. Good air flow
    4. Dust Control
    5. Two computers - one high-powered gaming, one 24/7 file server / movie player
    6. Multiple Monitors
    7. Cable management, ie, almost no cables visible internal and external

    I'm already a couple weeks into the build, so the first few posts are going to come in nice and quick - I get to the shop about once or twice a week to do work, so you can also expect regular updates after this one!

    Stay tuned, hope you enjoy the ride, please send all comments and constructive criticism! It'll require some custom electronics towards the end of the project, and I will NEED YOUR HELP! ;)

    Thank you to Crucial, Kingston and Danger Den for sponsoring this project and helping to make it a reality:

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    Last edited: 1 Sep 2011
    Jake123456 likes this.
  2. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk What's a Dremel?

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    1st Draft

    Here's the 1st draft of the project I went through with Google Sketchup. I decided that 3/4" plywood would be the material of choice.

    It needs to be quiet, have dust control, have manual fan control, and it also needs to look great in an office - sorry ahead of time to all you bling lovers!

    I started first by sketching on paper how I would like the components to be laid out, and then started working on the left-hand module.

    After determining the minimum width, I started to build up the left-hand module, taking into consideration that I would be using 3/4" plywood for the construction.

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    I then decided that the air intake will be on the same board that the motherboard will lie, air will come from the bottom. It will be covered with a furnace air filter material that should eliminate most of the dust, and also provide good air circulation.

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    Next up was to add some to-scale components. A big thanks to B@gy, who created the model for the Noctua NH-U12P CPU Heatsink, as well as the Noctua fans, Alexander who created the model for the Asus Ares video card, Nightsoul who created the model of the Western Digital Hard-Drives, and Fubar East for the very nice power supply model. Your talent saved me a lot of time when it came to placing the items to scale.

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    Another view, from the back

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    I then took the same requirements and applied them to the right-hand module. This will be the "server-type" system. I also wanted to add drawers to this particular module, so this is what I came up with. It has the same air-intake system, which will be covered by a furnace air filter.

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    And, finally, putting it all together, I figured 2 monitors is a reasonable thing these days. In the upper left, there will be the DVD drive, plus power and fan controls for the gaming rig. There is a glass cover over the gaming rig that can be removed to perform upgrades and maintenance.

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    And a picture of the back - the boxes aren't exactly what they'll turn out as - they are for cable management, ideally I will setup little boxes so you will see almost NO cables in the back. They will have some foam stuffed in the top to keep dust out of the boxes as well.

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    And that's it for this post! The 1st draft! I'll have to ponder on it for a little while to make sure everything is A-OK for building, and determine how much lumber I'll need.

    As always, comments, feedback and ideas are ALWAYS WELCOME! This is going to be a long build, I figure it'll take me a couple months at least, and that's not including some of the custom electronic trickery I'm going to have to learn.
     
  3. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk What's a Dremel?

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    2nd Draft

    After spending some time reviewing my 1st draft I realized a few things very quickly:

    1. All my joints are butt joints! This is going to result in a lot of screw holes on the visible surfaces that I will have to cover up, and it will not be as strong as it could be.

    2. The edges of plywood are nasty - I did not account for using 1/4" solid wood trim on all of the visible edges of the plywood. This will seriously throw off all my measurements.

    3. The right-hand module, with the so called drawers, don't actually have drawers sketched in - just drawer faces!

    So, it was time start from scratch (Sorta). Here's the end result, and ultimately, the final plan. The dark coloured wood is the solid trim, and the light coloured wood are 1x1's so that I can screw the panels together from the inside, avoiding any screw holes on the outside. I also added a few dado joints that I believe will be ultra strong with just a generous application of wood glue.

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    So, while I was redoing all of this, I figured: this desk is going to be a beast. A big, heavy, super-duty truck kind of beast. This means I will likely be able to keep it for quite some time, and with technology going the way it is....

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    Yup, planning for 3 monitors, external fan / dvd / power controls for both of the systems, and going the full 8 foot length for the desk. The dvd / controls will be in the cubby holes you see in the upper left and right-hand sides of the desk.

    It'll be able to be disassembled into 4 pieces - the desk surface, the desk shelf, and the left and right modules.

    Much better. I think from here I can make my cut sheets and actually get to work!
     
  4. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk What's a Dremel?

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    Cut Sheets

    es, I love Google Sketchup, I am not ashamed of it either, it is so incredibly useful and it's so incredibly free.

    I've used it for a few years now, mostly for planning aquarium setups and building aquarium stands. Here is the most awesome part of Sketchup - pulling dimensions, and creating your cut sheets (Someone needs to automate this).

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    And that's it! 4 Sheets!

    Now I have to figure out where I'm going to build this darn thing. I've got a low-ceiling basement with a circular saw, router, and a drill...

    I think I might need some new tools... :D:D:D

    Stay tuned! I'll be cutting up some wood next!
     
  5. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk What's a Dremel?

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    Initial Cuts

    Purely coincidentally, while talking over the idea with a few pints at the local pub, a good girlfriend of mine piped up stating:

    "Oh, didn't you know? My dad has a full wood shop in his backyard, he'd love to help I'm sure!"

    By golly.

    A meeting was arranged, and poof, we got along great and he's looking forward to a nice big project being started in his shop.

    It's a free standing building in his backyard with an attic for wood storage, lots of tools - stationary and portable, and yeah, lots of tools - did I mention that? Table saw, band saw, drill press, planar, horizontal planar, belt sander, jointer, grinders, air compressor, just about everything a guy could ask for.

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    So we set about to pick up the initial bits of lumber. 4 Sheets of 3/4" Plywood, 2-sided Maple Veneer - was a steal too, such a good deal that Mike, the owner of the wood shop, picked up a pair of sheets for himself for a future project as well!

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    Time to hit up the table saw to do the initial lengthwise cuts

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    Thankfully I had a helper - she was eventually covered in sawdust and abandoned me in the shop after the big cuts were done. It still left me with several 8' long sheets to manage on my own, as you can see in the left hand side of the shop in the back.

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    So I set about my merry way, and thankfully, did not lose any of my fingers (This time).

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    All of the initial cuts were done, except for one particular strip of 8' that needed to be cut into 3 28" lengths - beyond what the table saw was capable of doing. I decided that it was enough for the day.

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    Made quite a nice little mess!!

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    All in all a good start to a long project

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    Stay tuned! Lots of work still to go!
     
  6. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk What's a Dremel?

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    Hole Time!

    Had time to cut that last 8' sheet into the 28" sections, and cut a hole in the surface portion of the desk. The surface portion, fyi, will be composed of two 8' pieces of 3/4" plywood, so its total thickness will be 1.5" thick.

    The upper plywood will have a hole that is .5" wider all around than the board beneath it.

    Only had time to do one hole tonight - the lower portion, thankfully, because I made a few small mistakes!

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    I started off with a carpenters angle, measured off my lines with a pencil and then made a rough cut with a jigsaw. I then clamped a straight-edge lined up with the edges (measured) and ran a router across it to create the smooth finish.

    I messed up a bit, going a bit too far with the router on one end, and then not far enough on the other end - I'll have to sand and file to square it off.

    Sorry I didn't take too many pictures - the next hole will have more!

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    Thankfully the shop is heated, here's one of the heaters - it went down to -8*C that evening!

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    Here's the mess for the night!

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    And, the hero of the night! Mastercraft Plunge Router!!

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  7. DeadP1xels

    DeadP1xels Social distancing since 92

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    Cool!!

    One thing i would say is resize the pictures when you get a page full of pictures you'll be waiting 5 minutes to see them all
     
  8. sixfootsideburns

    sixfootsideburns modeteer

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    another suggestion to never use sandpaper when your intention is to get something square. Its very difficult to keep it parallel even with a sanding block. A better choice would be to use a hand planer or use the jig saw and a clamped straight edge.

    Personally I think I would have clamped a straight edge and used a skillsaw to make my initial cuts and stop short of the corners, then finish it with either a jigsaw or a coping saw.

    just 1 mans 2cents though, so far its looking great man! :thumb: And nice table saw by the way :D One of mine looks to be the same model
     
  9. mars-bar-man

    mars-bar-man Side bewb.

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    I shall be watching this! Hopefully build my own desk eventually!

    This already looks totally awesome!
     
  10. masterchief9615

    masterchief9615 PC builder / Modder

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    Looks Amazing. Wish I had enough room for something like this. Maybe someday when I get my own "Man cave" lol.

    Sub'd
     
  11. ringo

    ringo What's a Dremel?

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    Thats a lot of wood. I like the idea to make his own computer desk. I will following your project.
     
  12. Jampotp

    Jampotp What's a Dremel?

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    Great idea! Sub'd
     
  13. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk What's a Dremel?

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    Yeeeaaaahhh... sorry about that - I love going through project logs myself, and I know there can never be enough pictures, but it does up the load time quite a bit, especially when there are so many updates on just 1 page. I'm going to be resizing my pics to 800x600 for the rest of the updates so they'll all come in under 200KB

    Thanks for the advice sixfootsideburns, I'll keep that in mind when I go to cut the hole in the second layer of the desk. One thing about using a skillsaw for the initial cut is that there is no "plunge" skillsaw in the shop, and I would be worried about the initial bite / feedback when setting down the saw for the first time into the wood.

    Thanks mars-bar-man ;)

    Thanks masterchief9615 - I don't quite have my own "man cave" yet - this shop is the fathers of a friend of mine, but the place where I'm putting my desk, my roomie is giving me full reign, woohoo!

    Thanks ringo and Jampotp! Stay tuned for another quick update ;)
     
  14. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk What's a Dremel?

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    Drawers

    I was able to spend some time in the shop this weekend, and didn't get as much done as I would have liked to.

    One of the main things holding me back right now is the fact that I have not selected the motherboard tray, and template for the motherboard input and outputs, as well as PCI slots. This prevents me from cutting the holes accurately in the back of both of the modules, which prevents me from assembling the actual modules.

    I have some "spare" desktop chassis lying around, and will be working to find a solution to that soon.

    In the meantime, I started working on the drawers for the right-hand module.

    I first took them through the table saw again, trimming off the last 16th or two from some of the boards.

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    Then went to work sanding all of the pieces down with 150 grit. I will likely go up to a 180 grit before the final stain goes on. I clamped a straight-edge on to the table saw so that it was easier to sand with the grain (Thanks Mike)

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    Slowly, but surely, I went through all the pieces for the drawers, except for the faces. Yes, bad things happen when I don't have my sketchup drawings. I start drawing with markers.

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    Mike was doing some work in the shop at the same time as me that day, so there was quite the mess.

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    I put together my tools of the trade

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    And here are the gluing steps I went through

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    A few somewhat artistic clamp shots ;)

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    Everything looks pretty straight

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    Glued and clamped together the largest of the drawers, will likely put some hanging folders in there.

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    Then I screwed everything together with #8 1.5" screws, all holes pre-drilled and countersunk. Most of the holes will be covered by the actual drawer sliding mechanisms, but the exposed ones will get some wood putty.

    It's funny being in someone else's wood shop - I couldn't find the countersink bit anywhere - I tried looking through all the drill bit boxes (There were several) and nothing, so I had been using a small bit, then switching to the big bit to countersink, and then switching to the screw bit to screw in the holes.

    Mike walks in half-way through the holes and you could tell he was rather amused - he goes to the back of the shop, pulls out a box, pulls out a box from the box, and then a small medicine container out from the box in a box - "Geez, didn't I tell ya to just look around? Oh. Wait. I guess this one was sorta hard to find eh?".

    At that point, he also points out that there are several drills in the shop - silly me. So one drill with the countersink bit, one drill with the screw bit. It's been very interesting working in a shop dedicated to this type of work - very, very different from working in the basement with just basic hand tools.

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    I haven't attached the faces of the drawers yet as I haven't determined how I would like to attach them. I would also like to attach the trim to the outer edges of the faces before attaching them to the drawers, since it'll be much easier to clamp all the faces together at once.

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    And that's it for todays update - a bit short, yes, a lot of pictures of clamps, sorry, I got carried away ;)

    I'm spending some time in the shop tonight, so hopefully I'll have another update for all of you tomorrow or the day after!

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  15. voigts

    voigts What's a Dremel?

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    Very ambitious project. Your female friend's dad has a nice shop there. Fortunately for me, it is rarely so cold that I can't open my shed doors when using the table saw to help minimize the dust issue.

    I personally would have tried to use 3/8" for the drawers instead of 3/4" just to save on some weight. One suggestion I would make in mounting your hard drives and fans is to mount them in such a way that they are isolated from the case via foam or the like. This will help a lot when it comes to quiet. That many hard drives can really transmit quite a bit of noise if hard mounted directly to the wood.

    I'll keep my eye on this one. I think this can really turn out killer.
     
  16. k.3nny

    k.3nny Minimodder

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    Subb'd
    Wood + whole desk

    +5723852 :D
     
  17. ghost25

    ghost25 What's a Dremel?

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    Very nice idea! Subbed!

    Idea though for the vibration issue, that my own roommate mentioned to me for something similar... Instead of using the same thickness for everything, if there's gonna be a loud part between two pieces, use the second piece as slightly thicker or narrower, to avoid "sympathetic resonance". Sounds weird, but in theory it should work.

    Very nice work, hope to see lotsa hardward pr0n here! Lol!
     
  18. Darkefire

    Darkefire What's a Dremel?

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    Cool, I'd never try this on my own (my limited shop skills have all been earned with metal rather than wood) but it'll be interesting to see how this turns out. Maybe one day I can contract someone to build something like this when I've got enough money and space ;)
     
  19. Yaka

    Yaka Modder

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    heh subbed on these forums as well :)
     
  20. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk What's a Dremel?

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    Thanks Bit-Tech!

    Thanks for the encouragement and ideas voigts! I had considered using a different material for some of the portions (Back of cabinets, top shelf, drawers, etc...) but really, there was SUCH a good deal at the local hardware store that the thinner, and even the 1-sided veneered stuff was more expensive, so I decided to go 3/4" all the way!

    The vibration / noise issue will have lots of foam involved. I still haven't figured out ~exactly~ how I will be mounting most of the hardware, but rest assured that I will be doing my best to not mount anything directly to the wood.

    Thanks k.3nny!

    Thanks ghost25! I think I actually know what you're talking about - it's like that marble contraption where there are 5 or 6 marbles hanging by strings, all equal sizes, and when you pick one up and let it hit the row of marbles, the last one bounces off, and then back, and it repeats a rather long time. However, if you stick one big or small marble in the bunch, the balance is all thrown off, and the transfer is not as efficient. I'm not sure if I'll have to go that far, but if I do run into issues after I've implemented what I think will be good isolation techniques, I will certainly keep that in mind.

    Thanks Darkefire - I've done a lot of building with wood, but almost all of it was "non furniture quality" ie. shelves for garages, basic storage units for basements, and aquarium stands that are hidden by actual furniture. This is a huge learning experience for me, and all of the mistakes I've made have been learning experiences. It may take a bit longer than a pro, but it is totally worthwhile so far ;)

    Heh, thanks Yaka :) I too am enjoying all the varied responses, questions, and suggestions from the various communities!
     

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