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[Build Log] Quiet, Minimalist Custom Wood Gaming PC

post #1 of 120
Thread Starter 
Introduction

I've built a few computers over the past 10 years for myself and others, and have been doing woodworking for at least 15 years, helping my dad build our house and much of the furniture in it. I decided to combine these interests in a minimalist, quiet, watercooled gaming PC built out of local hardwood that I cut myself from our yard. This is my first watercooling project, and the woodworking aspect has some interesting challenges, including high precision, dimensional instability (wood expands in two dimensions but not the third based on humidity and temperature), accessibility for maintenance, and cooling (wood is an excellent insulator). I've spent the past three months working on this in SolidWorks, generating more than 300 files for a total of 183 MB; it's time to get started and work out the remaining details as I go. This will certainly be a learning experience.

My main goal for this project is low-noise. Silent, if possible. The all-wood design will help with this; wood is a great acoustic insulator, and will not resonate. Overclocking, performance, and low temperatures are all secondary to acoustics.

Before I scare you away with a wall of text, here's a SolidWorks render of the design:

H3JSA.jpg



Updates
May 31 - Frame Part 1
June 1 - Frame Part 2
June 2 - Sides Part 1, and Bottom
June 3 - Back Part 1
June 4 - Back Part 2, Front Part 1
June 5 - Front Part 2, Top, Sides Part 2
June 8 - Sides Part 3
June 11 - Staining



Hardware (mostly already purchased and in-use)

Intel Core i7 950 CPU
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R Motherboard
3x 2 GB Corsair XMS3 RAM
EVGA GTX 570 (to replace my current GTX 275)
Seasonic X750 80+ Gold PSU
2x 500 GB WD Caviar Blue, in raid0 (storage, everything important is on my Dropbox)
2x 60 GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD (1 Windows, 1 Ubuntu for school)
Sony Optiarc slim slot-loading DVD burner

Currently sitting next to my desk, without a case: (Sorry for the poor picture quality, I'll get a real camera soon)

JgCLI.jpg



Cooling

GPU Block: EK FC580 GTX+ Nickel (ordered these before the problems with EK nickel-plated blocks became known, still going to use them and see what happens)
CPU block: EK Supreme LT Nickel
Radiator: Swiftec MCR320-QP
Pump: EK DCP 2.2
Reservoir: EK Combo DCP 2.2
Barbs: EK High Flow 1/2in.
Tubing: Tygon R3603 1/2in. ID 3/4in. OD
Radiator Fans: 3x Gentle Typhoon 1850 rpm
Chipset Fan: Cooler Master 80 x 15 mm

Displayed on my beautiful rug:

ISjWy.jpg



Design

The design I've settled on is a fairly standard size: 9 in. wide, 18 in. tall, and 18 in. deep. Where it differs from most cases is in the motherboard placement; upside down, on the left side of the case. Since I don't need a large CPU cooler, the PSU is directly over the CPU, exhausting out the back of the case. There is a small, low-speed intake fan on the bottom, to cool the chipset. The 3x 120 mm radiator exhausts out the top of the case, and most of the air intake, around 90%, is passive.

Due to the dimensional instability of wood and the difficulty of constructing these parts, I'm reusing a motherboard tray and a hard drive cage from an old case. Everything else will be custom made from wood.

The case consists of a frame built from 16 pieces of 1 x 1/2 in. wood (one is 1.5 x 1/2 in.), with complex joints, glued together. Because each piece is so thin in the directions that wood expands, the frame should be very stable in all dimensions. This frame is then covered by permanently attached panels on the top, front, back, and bottom. The left and right side panels slide into slots in the other pieces from the bottom.

goDBS.jpg


Sides completely removed: (the grey box is a placeholder for the HDD cage)

VMbbr.jpg


All case panels removed:

PjFhw.jpg


Just the frame:

uvPUM.jpg


Exploded view of the frame:

l0PUB.jpg


Each of these pieces was modeled individually, and I created engineering drawings to help me in the shop. Here's an example of one frame element and its drawing:

k32D2.jpg

6mqG8.png



Construction

Two years ago, a huge maple tree fell on our house; we cut it into logs, and let them dry for a year. Last fall, we had a portable sawmill company cut these logs into boards. These have been stacked and drying since then. Guarded by Pumbaa (Swahili for silly/mischievous), who loves having his picture taken.

Oa2f6.jpg

This is the wood I had planned on using for this project. Unfortunately, it won't be dry enough for this sort of work until next year. I therefore bought some pine 1x10's and a 1x12 at Home Depot, and planed them down to 1/2 in. with this magical device:

IVOHF.jpg


The result is very flat, smooth boards, with a thickness tolerance of a few thousandths of an inch.

s9YDL.jpg

4xE4J.jpg


I cut these to approximate length using a chopsaw. You can see the stack of cut panels on the bottom. My dad has some amazing tools, which I couldn't do this project without. The table saw in this image is about as good as they get, and he has a stacked dado blade set with the proper jigs for cutting complex joints like the ones in the frame with very low tolerances.

gNJTR.jpg



That's all for now. Tomorrow I'm planning on starting to make the frame pieces.
Edited by davecasa - 6/11/11 at 7:48pm
post #2 of 120
Nice, looks promising.
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Turbulence
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post #3 of 120
subd!
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post #4 of 120
This guy is definitely pro

I'm watching the f*k out of this
 
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post #5 of 120
Love it, subbed
    
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post #6 of 120
Looks cool!
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post #7 of 120
Awesome build! This is going to be beast as hell! Subbed!!
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post #8 of 120
Thread Starter 
Update - Frame Part 1


I started out today with a small change in the design, specifically with how I'm going to mount the motherboard tray. I wasn't going to have the clearance I needed behind the tray, so I moved it out about 6 mm; this means that the PSU is even closer to the CPU. I can always switch to 90 degree fittings if I need to.

I ripped (cut along the grain) some scraps from yesterday into 1 inch wide pieces for the frame. Each piece was then cut to length using a home-made sled jig, with a very high-tech length adjustment: Clamping a piece of wood to it. Simple, but very effective.

JRsRI.jpg


Here's a few pieces laid out on the drawings I printed yesterday:

afR4B.jpg


And here's most of them, covering every clear surface in the shop...

EvkpE.jpg


The next step was making the various notches and slots in each piece that allow them all to fit together. I used a stacked dado blade set, which is basically two saw blades, where you set the distance between them. If you have them further apart, you add "chippers" to remove material between the two cuts; I configured it for 1/2 inch notches, which was the two end blades and two chippers. This setup allowed me to make very precise cuts; except for two minor mistakes, all cuts were better than 1/32 inch accuracy.

ycWNd.jpg


I set this to the correct height, and got to work.

HUhmS.jpg


Here's my first few pieces, the easy ones:

ORUjd.jpg


And all 16, laid out on their drawings.

eAGlp.jpg


Just because I can't help bragging, here's a comparison between a modeled piece (the vertical edge on the right-front corner) and the piece I made.

ZlXdC.jpg

7BklE.jpg


In other news, my GTX 570 arrived today, and I mounted the waterblock. I had no idea that this takes so long; I spent a solid two hours on it.

5Wt3n.jpg


Tomorrow, I'll start glueing the frame together.
post #9 of 120
Thats some great work. Incredibly well planned out and looks great to me. Not sure why it took you 2 hours to mount a GPU block. I lucked out and got it on the first mound. Took me 15 minutes.
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post #10 of 120
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by VW_TDI_02;13708259 
Not sure why it took you 2 hours to mount a GPU block.

You may have noticed, I do everything very slowly and carefully biggrin.gif I'm also paranoid about screwing anything up. Taking the stock heatsink off the GPU made me so nervous...
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