Soooo, take three on the motherboard lighting tray; the second one wasn’t standing up to holding the cables in place and kept coming apart at the corners so I rage trashed it. I apparently have to do a full tray and cut holes through it for the cabling to allow me to hold the cables exactly where I want them. I might have to disconnect everything from the bottom case just to take out the MB, but I figure how often am I going to need to do that once I’ve got it built? On the plus side, this has given me the opportunity to play with some new tools heh.
I cut to size a piece of 6mm clear acrylic sheet and whipped out my new Dremel router table with the Dremel round over bit, wish the bit wasn’t piloted, but the profile turned out alright:
Second new toy is a Dremel glass hole-saw; works beautifully on acrylic, but it does clog up with melted acrylic while you’re drilling. I try to pull the melted plug off the acrylic sheet every 3rd of the way through (so about 2mm) but if the plug comes loose in the bit it’ll solidify inside. (When that happened I just stuck the bit in my 2x4 work surface, heated it up with a heat gun, and pulled out the acrylic plug.)
The bit makes perfect sized holes for stand-offs to fit through so it’s worth the hassle in my opinion. I just sanded the holes with a diamond coated round file (jewelry making tool) – my stand-offs are black so it doesn’t matter in my case, but if you wanted your holes to be clear you could sand them further by wrapping paper around a screwdriver shaft or w/e.
Here’s the new mb tray with the stand-off holes and edge rounding done:
Next was wiring up the LED strip. First I tape down the two led strips how I’ll want them to be oriented once they’re soldered, as you can see I’ve got the 12v pads right next to each other – even if you have more of a gap in your corner than I am doing, make sure you arrange the strips so you solder 12v to 12v, blue to blue, etc. It’s a bit of a pain to de-solder corners like these if you accidently get one of the strips backwards heh
I cut, bend, and strip the wire for the first two or three connections before I start soldering because the pieces of wire are so short. If you try to strip the wire while one side is soldered on it’s real easy to pull the copper pad off the strip (which destroys the strip,) and on these shorter connections I find the insulation likes to come off the whole piece of wire if you’re not careful. (I pre-cut the insulation with my wire stripper, then hold the wire firm with a pair of plyers and carefully work off the cut section to expose the wires.)
On the 12v connection that I’ve got over-lapped I use solid electronics solder so I don’t need a wire in there, just a connecting blob of the conductive solder. Then I get a dab of [regular] solder on each of the remaining LED strip pads, use plyers to hold the stripped wire’s on the pad [because heat transfers down the wire,] then get a dot of solder on the tip of the iron and solder the two together – I’ve tried using a touch of flux on the wire as is oft recommended for stranded wire, but it seems like all that does is suck the solder into contact with the insulation, which melts and makes a big mess, so I prefer not using flux for this. Here’s my two corners (I twitched and melted off the insulation on the green wire on one of them oops)
After I got done with all my soldering I put a good (but flat) coating of silicone over /all/ the corner wiring; holds the corner wires in a nice 90 degree angle, as well as securing the solder points, which helps prevent the pads from ripping off. It also helps keep the solder points separate even if I bend the LED strip a bit in the tray or w/e I’m using them for. (TIP – silicone doesn’t stick to Windex. I silicone one side of the corner then set it down on a misting of Windex while I do the other side of the corner, that way the silicone doesn’t stick to w/e surface and pull on the wires and such while I’m working, plus it’s easier to clean up heh) Here’s a close up of one of the corners secured with silicone, as well as the finished LED strip:
After the silicone had a couple hours to dry I laid the LED strip out on the acrylic mb tray and marked the tray for cutting in the groove:
I used the Dremel cove bit as before, but this time with a new tool, the Dremel circle and straight guide (worked great for the straight cuts, haven’t needed to cut a circle yet):
I recommend using a hobby knife to cut out the protective paper on the acrylic, I didn’t the first pass and it gummed up my cove bit pretty bad heh. I needed to do two passes with the cove bit to get the groove wide enough, but with the straight guide it was just a matter of resetting the guide
Next was sanding the groove; I started out with the large Dremel sanding drum to even out the worst of the peak between the two passes with the cove bit, then wrapped 60 grit around a pen sized screwdriver handle which is just a bit smaller than the width of the groove. (Tip: if you’re wrapping sand paper around something like this screwdriver, you can just unroll the paper a bit and cut it off when it fills up with acrylic dust so you’ve got fresh paper without having to constantly re-roll the sand paper around the pen/handle.)
Once I had the groove decently smoothed out with the 60 grit I switched to sanding sponges. (I love these sanding sponges for acrylic work because you can just rinse off all the acrylic dust and they work great wet, also they’re spongy so they mold to the groove quite well. The black one has like 150 grit on 2 of the sides and 220 grit on the other two sides, and the yellow one is 320 grit.) Then I followed up with 600 grit sanding and did the Novus 3 step polish w/Dremel buffing that I had done with the second tray.
After the groove was all sanded smooth and polished, I set the led strip in place and tested it out. I did the edges to the 320 grit so you can see a bit more on the “spot-light” effect I was talking about with the lighting information in my previous post - the led strips are about 2 ½ inches from the edge and not angled toward the edges in these pictures. I actually want the lighting to be more of a solid line so I’ll hit all the edges and the LED strip groove with 60grit and leave them super rough to diffuse the light.
Next step was making my custom 16 gauge wire ribbon cables. For the 24pin MB cable I did the same “stepped” wire positioning as with the GPU cable I made earlier, then using a piece of heavy duty sheet metal I got a decent 90 degree bend in the wires to go under the motherboard. I’ll heat shrink the wires together on the underside of the light tray to keep them in line when I install the MB for the last time.
For this temporary 8pin CPU power cable I used the corsair-style 18 gauge ribbon because I ran out of 16 gauge wire and I didn’t want to wait to cut the cable holes in the MB. I’ll replace this cable when my spool of wire ships (the 16g will be a bit wider than this one is, but this is the look I’m going for). To set this waterfall(?) design up, I "dry-fit" the wires in the connector and arranged them (on the board so I got the bends right to go under the mb) and sniped individual wires as needed until it looked just right. Then when I pulled it out of the connector, looking at it from the side it was easy to even up the wires for pinning. Was kind of a pain to pin because I had to be /very/ careful to face the pins exactly right, also a pill to get it in the connector once it's pinned without pulling apart the ribbon cable; I did the "inside" shorter two wires then worked to the "outside" longest ones. With the 16 gauge wire this will be a lot easier to do since I'll be working with individual wires heh
I also made a 5pin USB cable for the Aquaero and a 2pin extension for the power switch using 22 gauge ribbon cable:
With the MB on the tray I marked out where all the cables hit the tray, then I drew out all the cable slots I'll need, making sure they cleared the LED groove:
I went back and forth a number of times on if I wanted to make the holes wide enough for the connectors or just the cable and ultimately I decided to make them just big enough for the ribbon wires because I think that will hold the wire in place better. I figure I can always go back and widen the holes if it irritates me enough, but for the most part I’ve got all the stock cables if I need to work on the case or something. For the power switch cable I just used the glass hole bit, also used the hole bit on each side of the slot openings, then used a plastic cutting wheel to connect the holes and a square file to square the corners off a bit. I beveled all the edges on the cable slots so it doesn’t wear on the wire insulation. Also cut in a hole beneath the CPU just in case it gets too hot. In the last picture you can see how the cables will go through the tray.
With the holes cut in it was time for a test fit with the MB installed. I've also got one of my perfect SilverStone right angle super thin wire sata cables on the board, they press right up against each other with just enough room for the two wires; really hard to see any other way because the GPU covers them up for the most part:
I'm waiting to cut in the GPU cable slots until last (because I wanted to listen to music while I worked on most of it but I needed to set everything up exactly right to line up the GPU slots.) However, it turns out I'm going to have to replace the ribbon cable for the Claro Halo PCI extension so its long enough to reach the second shelf and lays right up top. I just ordered the stuff for that and it's supposed to be here in like a week so I'll finish the tray up then, hopefully next weekend.
I got started on the sheet metal holder for the Claro Halo. One of the few things I actually learned in high school was to fold out my sheet metal projects with paper first; kind of along the lines of measure twice, cut once. With paper you can trash it if you decide you need a connector tab somewhere else for stability or w/e, plus it's a lot easier to fold heh Here's my paper plan:
I need the top and back to be open in order to install it since I'll be screwing this tray/holder to the stereo rack itself, so I've reinforced the corners with bends and connections. I'll bolt the PCI slot board in place with stand-offs that are tall enough for the PCI slot tab to clear the side/floor so the card sits flat and I won't have to disconnect the PCI slot board itself unless I'm removing the top case. I'm also going to line the aluminum sheet with EMI blocker in the hopes that it clears up the last of my interference.
I laid out my plan on the sheet metal and cut it to size, but I can't find my seam pliers anywhere, and my attempts to bend without it simply are not going to work. This project's going to have to be put on hold until I decide if I want to get a break or not, but here's where I'm at with it heh:
I also apparently forgot to post pictures of my latest purchase here; Monsoon MMRS parts for my dual res:
I may change my mind and equal out this res design down the road, but I'm still waiting for Monsoon to put out a longer pump cover for the integrated Aquaero D5 pump, as well as the splitter ring kit. However, I /might/ break down and put these together to see how they look in my case after I get the tray installed heh