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Laser cut custom case =D [Updated 1/10/12 (final design)]

post #1 of 23
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THIS POST WILL CONTAIN LINKS TO SMALL UPDATES AND MOST OF THE MAJOR UPDATES
so if you want to follow this build it may behoove you to check this post first for the cool stuff wink.gif


My goal is to have a small custom atx case I could upgrade in the future as my system expands.

As a bit of a disclaimer for myself, This isn't a build that will have everything bought in one huge expenditure of cash. And it may go through many revisions and modifications.

To start I will simply be transferring the components on my current rig to this box with the addition of some nice fans and a cool power switch tongue.gif

From there as my needs increase (and as I get bored and want to tinker) I will fill the case with cool stuff thumb.gif


I went through many designs that just didnt seem practical and consumed allot of material, to what I believe is a more reasonable and responsible size 17"x17.5"x6.5" as seen here.
523

The case will be made of 1/8" 3003 aluminum sheet, yeah i know most will say its a bit much. But its something I want to do, That and I can just tap holes and mount directly to the case just about anywhere.

The case frame (top, bottom, front, back) will all be welded together. The sides will be removable, and secured with 3 countersunk screws on the tabs in 3 of the corners.

Its a bit hard to see but the case does have quite a bit of cable management space (3/8") allong with plenty of additional space for my current gpu (an msi gtx480 reference) and presumably any BIG gpu in the future. The dummy cards used in the model are over 12" long.

I will be making custom back plates for my gpu and one more dual slot gpu in the future (maybe some other stuff) that will be flat mounted to the case itself. Why? because I want to boxing3.gif

Another thing that might be hard to see are the drivebays, that's because there are none thumb.gif, I plan to use an external optical drive. not only to save space but that gives me the option of having a portable blueray drive I can hook up to nearly any computer. As for a hdd I will be mounting it with Velcro in the bottom of the case or on the mobotray.

As for cooling I am going to use my current h60 in push pull for now until I decide it is no longer enough to suit my needs. When this time comes (way off) I left enough room and some clearance space to run many different 360 rads with the ports mounted on the bottom and in push pull biggrin.gif

And if I decide not to go that route I left enough room to run 1-3 antec 920 rads sideways, I could cool the cpu and two gpu's with them (tho I dont have a second gpu atm). Or even a 360/240 rad on the front with either push or pull fans and one antec 920 for a single gpu. Whatever... I went through a bunch of cooling solutions to make sure they would all fit so its flexible tongue.gif


I suppose I could say that Im happy with the above design and it will be the one I am going to get laser cut.
Resources and files related to the build :
Progress pics below:

First design, not that well thought out but I had to start somewhere rolleyes.gif
338

Revision 2
638

Final, though may become bigger or smaller depending on material availability and cutting costs.
523

More to come when material and parts come in.
Edited by Blue Basher - 1/10/12 at 2:34pm
    
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post #2 of 23
Out of curiosity, why are you going with such heavy gauge steel? Are you planning on dropping this thing into a warzone? 14ga with some bends would be plenty strong, even 16ga would even be sufficient.

If you are looking to build a "bombproof" case using heavy gauge steel, look at using 11gauge, it's more common than 10gauge.
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post #3 of 23
Sounds like a cool project, but you need to reconsider your material you want to use. A 10 gauge steel sheet which has a thickness of 0.1345 inches will weigh 5.625 pounds per square foot. You have ~6.9 sq/ft of metal just for your case for a total weight of 38.8 lbs just for the case material alone.

Id recommend 14 gauge aluminum. Its ~1/16" thick and holds very rigid. Or if your set on steel then go 16 or 18 gauge.
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post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by motorsportcfd View Post

Out of curiosity, why are you going with such heavy gauge steel? Are you planning on dropping this thing into a warzone? 14ga with some bends would be plenty strong, even 16ga would even be sufficient.
If you are looking to build a "bombproof" case using heavy gauge steel, look at using 11gauge, it's more common than 10gauge.

Because I like heavy things, and a thicket steel is easier to weld together without blowing a hole through it. I don't plan on dropping it in a war zone its just the novelty of having something nobody else has. AND if I choose to attach something to the case later one I can just drill a hole and thread it directly in the case.
Quote:
Originally Posted by no_safe_HAVEN View Post

Sounds like a cool project, but you need to reconsider your material you want to use. A 10 gauge steel sheet which has a thickness of 0.1345 inches will weigh 5.625 pounds per square foot. You have ~6.9 sq/ft of metal just for your case for a total weight of 38.8 lbs just for the case material alone.
Id recommend 14 gauge aluminum. Its ~1/16" thick and holds very rigid. Or if your set on steel then go 16 or 18 gauge.

I was thinking about using 1/8" aluminum but its 3 or 4$ more per sq ft, tho now looking at where the laser cutter I have chosen to use is located shipping may nullify any saving I make using the steel.
On top of that 1/8" is a bit easier to take measurements for than .135" but you lose the cool factor. I think I would like to have a 45lb computer I could workout with while watching youtube haha.

But back onto the topic of shipping, if I can get it locally cut (most likely) I can get the 10ga shipped for like 18$ bringing me to a grand total of 81$, the aluminum the same size sheet shipper gives me a total of 73$ (like 2$ shipping haha). Il have to see if I can get my materials from in town too as there are a couple of large industrial suppliers within 10mi of my house aswell.
    
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post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well here is the basic design, not pieced together yet but il do that later tonight, along with standardizing the measurements to whole fractions. And place a few internal parts in the empty spot on the top left. I got lucky and was able to keep it within a 2x4' footprint so that should keep the costs down.

The overall case dimensions are roughly 13.5"L x 6.75"W x 16.75"H at the moment but will change a little getting HOPEFULLY smaller but not by much. Mainly the psu is the limiting factor but I have no plans to change it out for a marginally smaller psu, since all 12VATX psu's are generally the same size.

OH and fyi the PSU is top mounted I just have the back panel placed bass ackward, and I have yet to place the IO hole because im not sure how much space i will leave behind the mobo tray. And the mobo tray is designed to take both ATX and mATX boards (most of them) I just cant get the measurements for the weird hole that dosnt sit where the standard atx holes are.

338
Edited by Blue Basher - 12/27/11 at 11:20am
    
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post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Basher View Post

Because I like heavy things, and a thicket steel is easier to weld together without blowing a hole through it. I don't plan on dropping it in a war zone its just the novelty of having something nobody else has. AND if I choose to attach something to the case later one I can just drill a hole and thread it directly in the case.

Speaking from experience, if you cant weld 1/16" steel without blowing a hole in it, you need to practice a LOT more...
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post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Obviously lol, I used to work in a sheet metal shop and I'm pretty handy with mig tig and arc welders. It's jut me being sarcastic and silly trying to justify an obscene material choice for a computer case.

But in all seriousness I do want a beefy case. Now that I think about it I may go thicker. I happen to have a pretty large collection of scrap metal at my workshop I may take a look in there. I know I have really thick stuff ranging from 1/4" - 3" plates but even I can't justify that. My desk won't handle the weight and water jet cutting is just too costly for such a small project.

It's not like a don't have a budget, I do. It's > 200$ for material shipping and cutting of the case. I will assemble it.

UPDATE:
Since my last web binge Iv found a local(ish) cutter that has 1/8 5086 aluminum on hand so I will not have to provide materials thumb.gif.
Im sorry to say that I wont be using 10ga steel but 1/8 marine grade aluminum sounds fun! I wont even paint it lol.
I should have started looking at the bigger shops in my area first as they all seem to carry a large assortment of materials as opposed to the small shops that were asking me to ship them stuff. But this does come at a bit of a premium because they are running a much larger laser and are charging more for the time my stuff takes to cut. rolleyes.gif
Edited by Blue Basher - 12/27/11 at 11:30pm
    
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post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Basher View Post

Obviously lol, I used to work in a sheet metal shop and I'm pretty handy with mig tig and arc welders. It's jut me being sarcastic and silly trying to justify an obscene material choice for a computer case.

Ah, gotcha smile.gif
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post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
A bit of an update:
New years stuff has slowed me down quite a bit... And I scrapped the old design in favor of this (not complete 90%ish) 1/8 thick aluminum design.
338

And before I go further I want to pose a question to you guys.

Should I dedicate space to an optical drive, standard or slimline?

The way it sits I have plenty of room to stick a laptop type (slot load) optical drive between the psu and mobo, but I just dont see a point...
I hardly EVER use an optical drive. If I really need one couldn't I just use an external optical drive? The only foreseeable use I would have for an optical drive at the moment is to install an OS and the external one could be used for that as well correct?

The next thing is how much more can I reduce the size of this thing haha. What you see above is currently 20"H x 15"L x 6"D but it will get shorter. Il leave just enough room for a small fan controller and maybe a few usb slots up front. It could conceivably get down to 17" tall but im comfortable with 18" to make routing the water lines easier.

The case is designed to have enough room for an SLI/crossfire setup and a sound card but its unlikely I will have either for quite some time.

Also the "cards" on the board at the moment are full length and much longer than any current GPU I know of, Im not sure where I want to go with that... Having the extra space would allow me to go with a push pull fan setup or allow me to add a 120mm rad to the loop in the bottom of the case in the future.

I could go thinner than 6" easily, BUT my current GTX 480 is a bit chubby due to the heat pipes coming out of the side making is slightly wider than a reference card.

There isn't enough room to add a full block on the gpu, but there should be enough room for a universal block and some tricky tubing. Tho I cant say that I will WC my gpu any time soon...

Once this is done il have to call some local laser cutters thumb.gif
    
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post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sigass View Post

g.gif It could conceivably get down to 17" tall but im comfortable with 18" to make routing the water lines easier.

Not quite sure what your getting at? wth.gif

here is an update of where im at in the design process.

638

I would load the sketchup file but its pretty big. Maybe later.

Im going to add a small 3.5" bay next to the power switch on the front but that's all that will go there. Tho im not sure what il put in the bay? thinking.gif any ideas?

There will be no dedicated optical drives so don't ask where it is...
    
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