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Case Mod - In Progress Wood Base 500

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by radziecki, 2 Jan 2021.

  1. radziecki

    radziecki What's a Dremel?

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    Hi all,
    Long time lurker, first time project log writer.

    As I'm switching platforms from oldie but goldie i4790k to something more modern (Ryzen), I was looking for a new case for it. And mod it obviously.

    The premise: I want to incorporate wood into the build. I always liked the aesthetics of wood when it comes to electronic equipment. I totally adore how the 60s and 70s hifi equipment looks like. Couple of years back I made a crude, but pleasantly looking (not only my opinion! ;) ) Raspberry Pi case shown below.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    My initial idea was to do a scratch build, but I decided it’s a bit too much for my first big project, so I decided to mod an existing case instead.

    I always liked Bequiet’s products, so when I got a chance to put my hands on a cheaper Pure Base 500 with a window (purchase return), I didn’t hesitate. I thought for a sec to buy the DX version, but as I’m a cheapskate (not THE @Cheapskate obviously ;) ) decided to stay with base version as I will be modding it anyway, and the changes are not worth extra money IMHO.

    Hardware
    MSI B550 Tomahawk
    Ryzen 5 3600X
    16GB HyperX Predator
    Bequiet Dark Rock 4
    * MSI 1660Ti GamingX
    * Samsung 840 Evo 256 GB
    * Samsung 840 Evo 750 GB
    * Samsung 970 Evo 1TB
    * Bequiet Pure Power 750W
    Items marked with asterisk are being transferred from my existing system

    Plans
    Below is a crude mockup I did in Photoshop to highlight the planned changes to the case:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    1. Top vent cover. With Base (non DX) version of the case come 2 covers: mesh and hardtop with triangle cutouts. I plan to recreate it with MDF covered in veneer either with metal mesh (with dust filtering below it) or (if I find someone with laser cutter) with cutouts matching the pattern below, just covering the whole area, not only the back of it.
    2. Front IO. Depending on the construction (I don’t have the case yet) it will be either covered in veneer, or recreated from scratch in solid wood or 3d-printed and then covered in veneer. I’m missing USB-C module, so I plan to add it there too.
    3. PSU Shroud. The plan is to make a custom PSU shroud covered with veneer. I’m not a fan of the fact that the shroud is a tad short and doesn’t reach to the front (minus the thickness of fans obviously).
    4. Custom cabling. Custom extensions with paracord sleeving matching the woodgrain for 24PIN, EPS & VGA cables. I might give a try with fan cables too, but don't have a decent sleeves yet.
    5. Internal cable cover and disk mounting. The plan is to recreate if from acrylic or MDF to improve cable management. No firm decision on this one yet.
    6. ARGB lighting. The DX version of the case has very subtle ARGB LED strip at the top, and 2 slim strips at the front. The inside of the case will likely be lighted similarly to the DX version. Not sure about the front though (see below). No illuminated fansthough. Not a fan or RGB puke.
    7. Front of the case. That’s the unknown zone for now. I kinda like the DX version’s approach, and I definitely want to the case breathe more. I was also thinking of putting some subtle ARGB lights there too. I don’t want to mess with the existing front cover, so I’ll very likely build one from scratch from MDF and the cover it with veneer to match the rest of the elements.
    8. Bottom. I will be wither replacing the legs with wither solid wood, or MDF covered in veneer. Another option is to add additional woodpiece(s) at the bottom, and put everything on hifi feet (like the RPi case above).
    Let me know what you think, suggestions more than welcome :)
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2021
    lowfat likes this.
  2. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    I'm not THE Cheapskate either. I met him here years ago. :lol:
    Matching the top pattern will be a royal pain. Stuff with curves isn't fun either. Once you get something drawn up, print it out on paper, ( I have to say 'paper' with this lot, :lol: ) and have a test fit.
    I did a Corsair 380t side panel like that. It took about 3 test prints to get it right.
     
  3. radziecki

    radziecki What's a Dremel?

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    Yeah that's the plan. I had the initial idea to use a piece of paper put on the case and mark the edges of the triangles using a pencil (like you would do with a coin to get the embossed image on paper), scan it, and trace it into a vector file, and follow up from there.

    But considering the amount of work and possibilities of potential failures I might go the lazy way and just use the metal mesh :grin:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 3 Jan 2021
  4. radziecki

    radziecki What's a Dremel?

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    OK so finally got my hands on the case! The good news is that the elements I want to modify are quite easy to disassemble. So I might end up recreating the front I/O from scratch.

    Believe it or not, I managed to make it fine with the first attempt :) The curves turned out to be super simple (10mm radius). The insets can be made as I wish, I just have to keep in mind to not make them deeper than 10mm from the edge.
    [​IMG]

    Started to think about some other patterns at the top, as the triangles below will hardly be visible, because I plan to add dust filter underneath it anyway
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG]

    EDIT: I just realised that the top panel will fit onto my 3D printer (I had to divide it in length, but the width is OK). So long story short I'm just printing the first prototype. It will take a while - the first part of the last design shown above will take around 8 hrs to print. I have some crappy filament to get rid of so it's perfect occasion.
     
    Last edited: 5 Jan 2021
  5. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Play with more complex geometric patterns. That mesh pattern filter has been used way too much.
     
  6. radziecki

    radziecki What's a Dremel?

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    OK It's been ages since I posted anything here... Long story short the pandemic hit my family (not me directly, but still), but we're back on our feet.
    Where to start...

    Top cover

    Decided to strictly trace the shape on a piece of 3 mm HDF board i had laying around.
    [​IMG]

    Enter the jigsaw!
    [​IMG]

    Some sanding to match the edges of the original piece et voila.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Now onto veneering.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    What do you do, when you don't have a decent press? Leftover plaster and cement plus an old car battery will do.
    [​IMG]

    Now a bit of trimming and sanding.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Looking pretty good...
    [​IMG]

    Welllll... Not really. After 2 days the panel got really crooked. It was caused by the tension of the veneer on the HDF board. It's slightly visible on the photo below. I tried to wetting it and putting under pressure again but no luck. Turns out I put the veneer the wrong side up. It I switched that, it would supposedly befine. Decided to put this on the back burner for a while, haven't decided on the top pattern anyway (Thanks @Cheapskate for messing with my mind!)

    [​IMG]

    So I decided to use it as a test piece for various finishes
    [​IMG]

    Interior panel
    I decided to take a slightly different route with the interior. Instead of a small plate I went full cover. Again with (akhem) trusty HDF. The drawing :
    [​IMG]
    Cutting:
    [​IMG]
    The most stressful part - 24 holes in veneer that was only 0,6mm think
    [​IMG]

    Now the disk cables hole
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    (tbc)
     
    Cheapskate, Karrek and Jean R built like this.
  7. Karrek

    Karrek Minimodder

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    Great progress, and I like your Swiss Army Tank shirt.
     
  8. kim

    kim hardware addict

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    Neat :thumb: ... lining up 24 holes by hand with that accuracy is already a challenge :rock::happy:
     
  9. radziecki

    radziecki What's a Dremel?

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    Some of the pics below will be crappy quality, as I forgot to take the pics and instead was making videos...

    Let's trim this.
    [​IMG]


    Somehow I forgot to take the picture how it turned out in raw form :/

    Let's put some linseed oil on it.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Again, completely forgot to take a decent picture afterwards, argh... But you get the idea how it turned out. Afterwards I added some magnets to the back of the panel to be able to attach it to the existing case structure.

    First, let's roughen up the surface a bit for the resin to get a solid grip...
    [​IMG]

    And couple of magnets already in place, there were 6 of them in total:
    [​IMG]

    Now let it sit for a day for the oil to soak in and harden. In the meantime...

    PSU shroud (cover)
    I didn't want to modify the existing cover as it would mean deriveting... unriveting? REMOVING RIVETS. Also, I wanted to get rid of the mesh so decided to go with the cover instead. I had old el cheapo chinese case lying around so I decided to turn one of it's sides to the shroud cover. The problem: no metal bending brake. But as a one wise man said:
    [​IMG]

    Let's go (the amount of noise the jigsaw made cutting the panel was astonishing):
    [​IMG]

    Here's the improvised brake: some plywood, particle board and some clamps. I used another piece of plywood, roughly the length of the metal panel to bend it evenly.
    [​IMG]

    Turned out pretty good!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The fit isn't perfect (plus I placed it under a slight angle inside the case here) and the edges aren't super straight, but it's good enough. The imperfections will be covered by the veneer later on.

    (tbc)
     
    Karrek, Cheapskate and Jean R built like this.
  10. radziecki

    radziecki What's a Dremel?

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    PSU cable extensions
    Those 24 holes were for something right? Right. Custom cable extensions. The PSU I'm using is only semi-modular - the 24 pin cable is soldered in, hence the extenstions. For the VGA and EPS cables I might go with custom cables instead of extensions, but that's down the road (need to order the plugs first).
    For the sleeving I used paracord in 3 colours ordered on AliExpress. The job was super tedious: measure, cut, remove insulation, repeat. Then the same thing for crimping.


    Let's start threading the cables through the panel
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    PSU Shroud cover part 2

    As you may have noticed on the last shot, there was a gap between the edge of the cover and the edge of the case. So lets extend it a bit... I've seen couple of videos about car restorations... resin should do the trick.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Ugly AF but does the job. Now let's put some veneer on it
    [​IMG]

    Well... I screwed up. After I removed it from the clamps the disaster appeared. The veneer got all wavy, somehow the color of the paint soaked through it (despite using standard wood glue). It looked like crap (again, no photos, sorry!).

    Decided to sand it down, use some wood filler and put another layer. Here's how it looked after some cleanup and filling the gaps.
    [​IMG]

    this time I decided to use contact cement, and it was WAY better to work with. Or was it... I kinda panicked and screwed up the gluing - the bend looked horible, it cracked in a few places. With some extra gluing, cutting and sanding it down it looked way better.

    [​IMG]

    But you can still see the cracks here and there. I thought about using DIY wood filler (sawdust + wood glue) but... No. Back to square one. I removed all of it to bare metal, and I'll be making another attempt, again, with contact cement, but with more precautions. To be continued! :)
     
    Cheapskate and Jean R built like this.
  11. radziecki

    radziecki What's a Dremel?

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    Thanks! It's actually a hoodie, from Threadless. Unfortunately out of stock :( https://www.threadless.com/product/878/swiss_army

    The printout helped tremendously. The wood drill bits have a spiked top, so once it was well aligned in the center it was fairly easy to drill. Still, managed to drill one hole slightly off (probably around 0.5 mm, but still was visible)
    What I was afraid of, was the veneer chipping off between the holes due to small distances between them (2 mm I think?). But luckily I only had one tiny chip off, in the middle that's not really visible behind the cables.
     
  12. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    I think your best options for veneering would be to make the edge square, and fit 2 bits of veneer, or add a trim piece on the edge to cover defects.
    We recently had a project that had veneer issues. One option that came up was using laminate flooring instead.
     
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  13. radziecki

    radziecki What's a Dremel?

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    Well, it wasn't really a problem with veneering per se. In the first attempt it was just wrong glue that I used combined with somewhat unprepared surface. In the second one I was just clumsy, that's all.

    That's a solid "no" from me... I still have plenty of veneer left, and I love the natural wood look and feel, so the laminate option is no go from me.
     
  14. alain-s

    alain-s Minimodder

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    Looking good, you can also glue the veneer to plexi instead of MDF wont warp after you glued it. to prefent it from breaking when you go around tight corners. You can glue it to some thin fabric and then glue it on the panel.
     
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  15. jamsand

    jamsand Minimodder

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    Would steam bending the veneer with an mdf template before gluing help maybe?
     
  16. radziecki

    radziecki What's a Dremel?

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    One of the options I planned was to 3D print the top panel with the desired pattern and then just to cut the redundant veneer out. So yeah, that's an option.
    As for the fabric: that won't be necessary - the curve is not so tight, I just need to make it wet to bend smoothly (no puns intended!). That said, you can actually buy veneer with a thin layer of fabric I used it in the RPi case I mentioned at the very start of the thread..

    As I mentioned above - the bend is not so sharp, I was able to bend the veneer by just wetting it with some water. The second time I just panicked a bit and didn't do the bend properly. You can see that at the bottom right part of the last photo, that the bend went OK. Third time's a charm I assume :)
     
  17. radziecki

    radziecki What's a Dremel?

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    The legs
    Pure Base 500 legs are fairly straightforward: inverted trapezoidal prism with a little cutout for the dust filter that sits at the bottom of the case.
    [​IMG]
    I decided to go with solid wood here.
    A bit of cutting, and drilling (sorry, frames from video again...)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Each piece was covered in linseed oil and voila!
    [​IMG]

    On a side note: keep your fingers crossed, I'll be redoing the PSU shroud today :)
     
    Last edited: 19 Mar 2021
    Cheapskate and Jean R built like this.
  18. Ianovski

    Ianovski Rawr!

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    Hmmyeesss, wood! <3 Really good results so far, will definitely follow this.
     
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  19. radziecki

    radziecki What's a Dremel?

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    Shroud Part III

    Soooo...
    [​IMG]

    The third veneering attempt went way better than the other two. Not perfect (there are tiny bumps that I cannot get rid of) but it's a night and day nevertheless.
    I decided to split the process into two phases: the larger, horizontal area went first, the smaller, vertical followed.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Before bending and gluing the smaller piece I marked the edge of the bend and moisturized it thoroughly with water. That made the veneer softer and more flexible.
    [​IMG]

    All dried out, so let's trim the excess and poke some holes
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    It turned out awesome. No cracks or anything, the bend smooth as butter. It's even barely visible on this photo:
    [​IMG]

    OK but this is still raw wood. Time for some finishing. First, let's wet the wood slightly, to raise the grain:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    After it dried, I sanded it down with 180 grit.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Time for finishing. I used homemade mixture of natural beeswax and linseed oil. Just rubbing it in with a cloth in circular motion to make sure it gets into the pores evenly.
    [​IMG]

    After buffing it gives ma this satin finish I absolutely love

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Time for the test fit:
    [​IMG]

    Love it! It still has some tiny flaws, not necessarily visible on the photo (BUT I SEE THEM!) but it's still way better that the other 2 attempts.
     
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