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5.25" Drive Bay Fan Mod Guide *56K Warning*

post #1 of 51
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5.25” Drive Bay Fan Mod Guide

If you have room for a 120mm fan where your 5.25” drive bays are, this guide should help you to convert those idle, blank drive bay covers into some worthwhile active cooling.

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I used the following for the mod, although you may be able to use alternatives.

Materials:
  • Three unused drive bay covers.
  • A working 120mm fan.
  • A 120mm fan housing.
  • 100ml (85g) of gloss spay paint (in whatever shade suits your case)
  • Glue: preferably “Super Glue” or some other strong acrylic resin.
  • Rubber edging (also known as “blowhole trim”) [UK Link]
  • Paper (news or otherwise) to stop paint getting on your carpet etc.
  • “Blu Tack” or equivalent. [Wiki Link]
  • Sandpaper: I used 180 grit, but only because I happened to have it.
Tools:
  • Pen for marking out (in whatever shade stands out most)
  • Dremel or Dremel-like tool or clone. (Mine didn’t work so I used a hacksaw)
  • I also used a jigsaw, but a good Dremel with the right attachment might be as good or better.
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The first step is to make sure you have sufficient space where your 5.25” drive bays are to fit a 120mm fan. I just checked this by putting the fan face where the back of the drive bay covers usually sit and checking for sufficient clearance. If you don’t have a HDD in any of your 5.25” drives bays though and/or have three totally unused drive bays, you should be just fine.





The second step after you have the drive bay covers out, is to line them up as perfectly as you can facing you and tape them together. You can use any tape more-or-less, but remember that at this stage the joining of the covers is only temporary for marking out.







The third step, once the covers are joined, is to flip them over so they are face down and mark out where your fan’s housing will eventually sit, making it equidistant from each outside edge of the now amalgamated covers. I used a “Tipp-Ex” pen, because the white contrasts well with the dark covers, making the lines easy to see and follow. I used an old 120mm fan housing and some "Blu Tack" for this, but you could just measure it out with a tape measure etc.















The forth step is to remove the now “inside” raised edges to each individual drive bay cover, so that the fan you intend to use will sit, flush, to the surface of the back of the joined covers. You only need to remove them up to the lines you have previously marked out. I used a hacksaw for this stage, but I have no doubt it would be quicker, easier and generally better to use a Dremel with a rotary sanding or cutting attachment.



The fifth step, once the “internal” raised edges are removed, is to mark out the hole you intend to cut for the fan. I used a CD to mark this hole out and if you do too, it is advisable to cut around the inside of the circle you create when it comes to cutting the hole. This is because, a hole that is too small can easily be made a little bigger, but one that is too big is very hard (in this context) to shrink. A hole that’s too big will also spoil the final look, imo. You could also use a compass or something else to make the hole, if you want to.



Once marked out properly, the sixth step is to cut the hole out. I removed the tape from my drive bay covers and cut sections of the hole out that were marked on each individual drive bay cover. However, I suppose you could also, at this point, glue all of the covers together and cut the hole out in one continuous cut, if you wanted to. I didn’t do it in one go like that, but I see no reason why it couldn’t be done that way, if you’d prefer. If you do, do it that way, you can skip the assembly step.



When your hole is cut, the seventh step is to assemble the parts together. This should be relatively easy to do and can be made a little easier if you mark the back of each section with a unique mark that will allow you to put it together exactly as it was originally marked out and cut. I used “Super Glue” to glue my covers together, but any strong acrylic resin should be OK. Please be careful when using this type of glue as it is fairly toxic and will ruin clothing and do other damage if it’s mishandled. Best to use it sparingly in a well-ventilated area. I didn’t use eye protection, but it’s probably incumbent on me to suggest that you do, so, my suggestion is that you do.





Once all the parts are assembled, step eight is to sand down your new large drive bay cover so that the hole you have cut is as perfect as it can be, without making it too big. The hole I cut wasn’t perfect when I first cut it, so some sanding was needed to make it more circular. After you’ve done that, you now need to sand the face of the new large cover. It’s probably best to use a relative low grit sandpaper and then a higher grit sandpaper to get a really good finish, but as a few coats of gloss spray paint seems to cover up most imperfections very nicely, I wouldn’t put too much effort into sanding the face. As long as it’s nice and flat, the paint should hide all the scratches from sanding.



Once sanded, step nine is to paint the new big cover. Again, a well-ventilated area is good for this, as most spray paint fumes are an irritant and no doubt a few are fairly toxic, so painting in a room with windows open (or maybe even outside) is a good idea. I used four coats on my mod, but I was being impatient. Four coats only used up about 40% of the 100ml can of spray paint that I had, so you could easily go for six, eight or even ten coats if you felt like it. You need to leave each coat to dry for 45 minutes or so before applying the next and when you’ve applied all the coats you want to, about three hours of drying time is best to get all the coats properly finished. I was very impatient and got some fingerprints on mine, which I regret now, as they detract from the final finish of the mod. Make sure, that if you do handle your painted mod before all of the drying time has elapsed, that you do so using area's of it that haven't been painted. Unwanted fingerprints really spoil the final finish.







Step ten is to add the rubber edging (aka “blowhole trim”) to the painted and dried large cover’s hole. I used black as it seemed to look good to me and using it improved the mod overall. The edging hides virtually all imperfections made in the cutting phase of the mod and makes the finished mod look somewhat more professional. I dabbed a little glue on the joining ends of the edging on my mod, but it doesn’t really need any glue at all to stay quite firmly in place. You could also glue the edging onto the edge of the hole, if you want, but I didn’t find this necessary.





Once the edging is in place, step eleven is to affix the fan you intend to use, onto the back of it. I just put a thin line of glue all around the raised parts of the fan that would make contact with the edging and then, using the white lines marked out originally as a guide, aligned the fan as centrally as possible behind the hole. I then pressed down firmly for a few seconds and left the whole mod alone for a couple of minutes to allow the glue to fully dry. Remember, when you put your newly painted, gloss finished mod face down to affix the fan, that it will scratch very easily, so put it on something that won’t scratch it, like printer paper etc.



When the fan is in place, all that remains is to connect it up to a power source within your case and click the mod into place over your 5.25” drive bays and that is, essentially, the mod completed.





Some people have suggested a finger guard for the front of the mod and if you can find one that looks good, this could well be a good idea. Perhaps some "modders mesh", painted and cut to the right dimensions and then sparinging glued into place, with the edges going under or into the edging material might look good, but that will be entirely up to you. Also, adding a dust filter behind the fan might also be a good idea for many people.

Hope this wasn’t too protracted a guide! Any questions; please feel free to ask.

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post #2 of 51
Nice mod there, well laid out and executed. I like it, Now get a filter and a guard so no one loses a finger in that thing.

Lol why aren't you putting a funger guard on it? well I can't really say anything lol I have 2 130 deltas open to the elements.
    
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post #3 of 51
that looks realy cool is it improve temps at all?
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post #4 of 51
Nice job man, I can see alot of work went into that

Edit: P.s what drivers were you using when you got that high an OC on your X800?
 
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post #5 of 51
I think it looks great, did you notice any difference in temps? I think I may do this mod now, I need to use my dremel for something...
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post #6 of 51
thats awesome, until you go to eject your dvd drive when looking the opposite direction
post #7 of 51
im so stealing that idea

rep + for being awesome
BTW scythe sells these with covers
    
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post #8 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by atomicfission92 View Post
Lol why aren't you putting a funger guard on it?
The PC just sits and folds. I don't use it at all and neither does anybody else. Also, I kinda' like it without a guard, although I might consider one if I could find one that looks right .

Quote:
Originally Posted by swayne View Post
that looks realy cool is it improve temps at all?
The HDD temp has gone down 6°C since the mod has been in operation. It's right next to the fan though, so it will benefit most. It's also lowered the PSU temp by 2°C as well, although all other temps seem unchanged, so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CLR4ILS View Post
I think it looks great, did you notice any difference in temps? I think I may do this mod now, I need to use my dremel for something...
As above, yeah. HDD has benefited most . Good luck if you do give this a go. It's pretty simple and should be a heck of a lot easier with a decent Dremel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by noshibby View Post
thats awesome, until you go to eject your dvd drive when looking the opposite direction
LOL, yeah. If I used the PC I would probably do that, but since it sits constantly folding with no human going near the optical drive, or any other part of the front of the PC, I think my (and other's) fingers are safe for now .

Quote:
Originally Posted by born2killU View Post
im so stealing that idea

rep + for being awesome
BTW scythe sells these with covers
Yeah, go for it! I'm most probably not the first person to do this mod, so I've probably unintentionally stolen it from somebody else .

Yeah, I've seen their drive bay cooler, it's pretty nice. I think it's like $20 USD or so though isn't it? Mine cost me the price of the fan (about $1.30) and the cost of the paint (about $3.50), so it's a little cheaper . I guess you could factor in the cost of my time, but I enjoyed doing the mod so much I'd happily consider that free of charge, to myself at least .

Thanks to all for your comments and REPs. It's nice to know you liked the mod. It's my first case mod work log/guide on o/c.net .

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post #9 of 51
That is a nice mode... the hole you cut is almost perfectly round and the rubber hides the imperfections

rep for you !
post #10 of 51
very nice easy quick mod I also have 3 5.5 bay covers that are unsused cept one for hdd like you... i plan on doing this mod to an old case soon!! rep!
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