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[Build Log] The unnamed project

post #1 of 10
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Thursday the FedEx van passed at my place but unfortunately no one opened the door, so the friendly courier dropped a note in my mailbox. I called them to arrange a pick up at the nearest FedEx location, and Friday afternoon I could snap this picture of a big brown box that had sneaked into the trunk of my car:

Rather poor picture quality, but that's about the best I could get out of the camera on my phone. The Nikon camera at home should do a better job at taking pictures, especially after I mount it on the tripod to eliminate me shaking the camera from the equation.

I did not have time to start building on Friday (children tend to complain if you do not feed them regularly, and if I wanted to get a chance at some quiet time to build my case this week-end some household chores would have to be finished too), but I did get a quick peek into the box. I was greeted by lots of paper holding some plastic wrapped parts in place. I did not mess with it and put the box somewhere safe. Cats, three year olds, and nine year olds are far to curious for the good of brown boxes marked "Made in USA".

This afternoon I finally got the time to start assembling the case. I order a two tone Merlin SM8 with a white interior and black exterior. I did expect to loose some time taking pictures, but as it turned out, the following shot should have warned me... It would not be taking pictures that would take time, it would be the unwrapping. Just about every little part is wrapped, bagged and labeled individually.


Most of the inventory spread on the kitchen table. The case fortunately comes with a good manual.


All parts required for steps one and two in the manual: bolting the motherboard tray rails and a cover plate to the mid chassis section. In the foreground my trusted Swiss army knife. Very useful for cutting through meters of tape holding plastic wrapping in place.


And the result:


Now I've got to find a bag of countersink screws somewhere in this pile of stuff...

... ah, got them.


Bummer... a bent angle on the mid plate.

From the way this was packed, I doubt this is shipping damage. Not too big a deal, though. I went to the garden shack to get a pair of pliers and recycled some of the packaging paper to protect the metal while bending the lip back out. Success:


Here's the mid plate with the top and bottom sections bolted to it:


Next up: the front section. The cover plate came of very easily. I thought this was because of the green transparent stickers on the clips (see the picture below). As it would turn out, though, I was wrong on that count. Unfortunately I found another flaw at this point, and one that is not so easily fixed. I'll have to send a mail to Case Labs for this one: a bent flex bay cover does tend to spoil the looks of the case:


And here you see I can be a complete moron from time to time... Look at picture in manual. Look at parts being assembled in front of you. Double check. Then boldly attach the front panel assembly to the rear of the case.

Not very smart. It did explain, though, why I had some trouble lining up the screw holes. Once I undid the screws and attached the assembly to the correct side of the case, things lined up quite nicely.

The hinge set came in its own bag. In this bag, each of the receiving hinges was packed in its own little bag, one bag of countersink screws, and then two more bags for the left and right door hinges. Each of the latter two bags filled with some more smaller bags.

You can start to see why among tacking pictures, unwrapping parts and assembling this case I took over three and a half hours. Although having to attach the front assembly twice because I first tried to fit it to the back of the case also explains some things, of course.

For three of the four receiving hinges I had trouble lining up the screw hole farthest from the actual hinge, as you can see here...


I did order the caster kit. Here's a picture of what's in it: three caster wheels (the fourth one is already being attached to the case at this point) and a bag of screws.

Those casters will come in handy once I start to transplant my rig into the case. Casters are one of the things I miss most in my current case (a Fractal Design Define R4; the other two things being absence of a window, and lack of space for water cooling down the road).

Wheels attached...

... and case flipped to top side up again ...


Now I have to get the motherboard tray and expansion slot back plate assembled. Here are most of the parts. Of to the side, barely visible, is a plastic bag with the motherboard tray handle and a final insert for the expansion slot card cage.

My wife stopped by to see whether I had made some progress. Me not being the brightest with tools and such, I suspect her fully expecting me to have barely unwrapped the first panel smile.gif. She was kind enough to snap a picture while I was busy fastening the back plate to the expansion slot cage.


And here's the motherboard tray in the case.

If you look closely you'll notice a smudge near the fan grill. It seems I got my fingers dirty on the thumb screws that will hold the tray in place against the back of the case. For those of you who intend to assemble a white case: a pair of gloves could be a good idea. I certainly wish I had thought of it.

And then I installed the PSU mounting bracket in the bottom and a cover plate in the top.


Next stop: front I/O and switches.

I did have some help from my wife to mount the I/O bracket in the case. I really needed that help since the stiff USB3 cables kept pushing the module out of place.

The manual now says to install the hard drive and SSD cages. As you can see, I also ordered a nut driver. I'm sure it would be possible to install the cages with a small wrench, but I'm really happy I did order the nut driver. Came with its own bag of nuts, too.


After installing the cages, I did a first attempt at a bit of cable clean up. Once I start building in this case, I'll have to clean that up. You can also see here that the center divider has cable management loops. Nice surprise, but now the sticky zip tie hooks I ordered at modDIY.com seem to be superfluous. Ah well, I guess you never have enough cable management loops. I'm sure they'll come in handy at some point.

While attaching the door hinges to the cable side door, I triple checked to make sure I didn't mount the hinges up side down. Guess what I ended up doing... Fortunately they're secured with only two screws each so it was easy to flip them around. And here's the (ventilated) cable side door mounted onto the chassis.


Then I flipped the case around and quadruple checked while attaching the door hinges to the (windowed) motherboard side door.


Tried to fit the door, and dang... Wrong again tongue.gif So out with the screws, flip the hinges around, and then conclude that the hinges were installed correctly to begin with but that I had forgotten that I had flipped the case around and that I was looking at the wrong side of the case rolleyes.gif. After my third attempt I could finally install the windowed side door.


Here she is in all glory.


I still have two more problems I'll have to solve before I can transplant my computer into the Merlin case:
  • If you look closely at the picture above, you'll see that the front cover is rather loose around the flex bay covers. Unfortunately the cover does not snap into the clips on the front panel assembly. I'll try to remove the clips and re-install them tomorrow. If that does not solve the issue, I'll check with Case Labs support. I've read on this forum about people that had a similar issue while trying to install the front cover before the doors were attached to the case, but as you can see from my log above, I did install the doors first. Either the clips are bend in, or the studs are not long enough. Hoping for the former.
  • The motherboard tray assembly does not fit snugly at the back of the case. It has four thumbscrews to fix the motherboard tray in place once it is pushed in. The ones at the bottom of the tray do screw into their screw holes, but the top ones do not as you can see from this picture:

    It seems that either the back plate is bent somehow, or that the screws are not long enough. I have some other pictures that seem to suggest the former, but even after pushing the plate against the back of the case the screws still do not 'grip' into the threaded inserts in the back panel frown.gif.
  • And then, of course, there's still that bent flex bay cover plate.

Whow, this has been one long post. Thanks for reading it. I'm looking forward to (re)building my computer in this case once I got my little problems sorted out. More pictures to come...
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post #2 of 10
Nice job on the assembly pics!

You can tighten slightly the clips by pushing the prongs together with a screwdriver or pliers. As for your motherboard, looks like an alignment issue. Try to slightly loosen the screws holding the MB tray rails (with the tray in place); tighten the thumbscrews to the back of the case, then retighten the rails. Should fix it right up! thumb.gif
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xclsyr View Post

Nice job on the assembly pics!

You can tighten slightly the clips by pushing the prongs together with a screwdriver or pliers. As for your motherboard, looks like an alignment issue. Try to slightly loosen the screws holding the MB tray rails (with the tray in place); tighten the thumbscrews to the back of the case, then retighten the rails. Should fix it right up! thumb.gif

Thanks for the tip on the clips. That did the trick. I'd still like for them to be somewhat tighter, but my needle nose pliers are MIA so I have a little trouble tightening the clip wings without bending the entire clip.

As for the M/B tray issue, classic PEBKAC... rolleyes.gif. If you look closely at the picture, you'll see there are still four nuts behind the spring loaded thumb screws. Once I removed them, all was fine. Loosening the tray rails and then fastening them again with the tray in them did improve the ergonomics of the tray, though. It slides in more easily now.

Now I'm waiting for my modDIY package to start building in the case. In about a week I should get my hands on:
  • A hundred or so short black cable ties to complement the ones Case Labs was so kind to include with the case.
  • A bunch of stick on cable tie fixing points. I placed my order at modDIY.com before I got my hands on my case so I did not realize the mid plate does already include cable management hooks. But I'm sure I'll find some use for them.
  • A 3/16" nut driver. Should help me mount the motherboard stand offs.
  • A USB3 to USB2 internal header convertor cable. My motherboard only has a single USB3 internal header and it would be a shame not to use all four front ports on the case.

Next order will probably be protective jack covers for the front audio ports (which I will not be using) and for some of the back panel I/O. I'll probably have to pay more in shipping and handling charges than for the products themselves biggrin.gif.
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post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turtle75 View Post

Thanks for the tip on the clips. That did the trick. I'd still like for them to be somewhat tighter, but my needle nose pliers are MIA so I have a little trouble tightening the clip wings without bending the entire clip.

As for the M/B tray issue, classic PEBKAC... rolleyes.gif. If you look closely at the picture, you'll see there are still four nuts behind the spring loaded thumb screws. Once I removed them, all was fine. Loosening the tray rails and then fastening them again with the tray in them did improve the ergonomics of the tray, though. It slides in more easily now.

Now I'm waiting for my modDIY package to start building in the case. In about a week I should get my hands on:
  • A hundred or so short black cable ties to complement the ones Case Labs was so kind to include with the case.
  • A bunch of stick on cable tie fixing points. I placed my order at modDIY.com before I got my hands on my case so I did not realize the mid plate does already include cable management hooks. But I'm sure I'll find some use for them.
  • A 3/16" nut driver. Should help me mount the motherboard stand offs.
  • A USB3 to USB2 internal header convertor cable. My motherboard only has a single USB3 internal header and it would be a shame not to use all four front ports on the case.

Next order will probably be protective jack covers for the front audio ports (which I will not be using) and for some of the back panel I/O. I'll probably have to pay more in shipping and handling charges than for the products themselves biggrin.gif.

Case Labs support (of course) lives up to its reputation. A replacement front cover is on its way through FedEx! Thank you Case Labs.

And my modDIY.com order has left Hong Kong for Belgium somewhere yesterday, so I should get everything I need to start building in the case by early next week at the latest. Looking forward to transplanting my system and posting some pictures.
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post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Got a package in the mail from modDIY.com yesterday:
From left to right: self adhesive cable tie mounts, a four way PWM fan splitter with a peripheral connector to provide power to the fans, a USB3 to USB2 internal connector convertor cable, a motherboard stand off nut driver, and a bunch of small black zip ties.

Sleeving on the fan splitter cable is rather good, actually, with high density black sleeving.
I just wish that the quality of the connectors (and especially the peripheral connector) were up to the same standard. The connector itself feels very cheap and the pins are awfully loose.
It seems I'll have to buy a crimping tool sooner than I thought...

Sleeving on the USB connector cable is fairly good as well. If only they has used less heatshrink on the USB3 side and had continued the sleeving a bit farther down to the connector on the USB2 side:

Here are a few shots of the be quiet! Silent Wings 2 120mm fans I'll be mounting in the case for ventilation. First a fan in the box:
And here are all the goodies that come with the fan:
one fan with sleeved cable and 4pin PWM connector, two sets of mounting blocks (one set of hard plastic blocks for rigid mounting with the included fan screws, and one set of soft ones that are meant to be mounted using push pins, I'll be using the latter ones). And on the back of the fan you can see that they've used black wiring. A nice touch.

I got out the quadruple 120mm drop in mount
attached the mounting blocks to the fans (you just have to push them on, paying attention to the orientation)
and then attached the fan to the drop in mount using the rubber washers and push pins...
This fan is mounted as an intake fan and will be blowing fresh air over the ram slot area of my motherboard:

I also mounted one (exhaust) fan on the motherboard tray assembly
and two as bottom intakes

In the following fotograph you can see where I mounted the fans. Fan orientation was dictated by the fan leads to minimize the amount of visible cables on the motherboard side:
I might have to get me some vinyl decals for the intake fans. But I will not decide on that before I have had a look with the protective film from the side panel window removed (and I will not remove that before I have transplanted my rig into the case).

I'll finish this post with a picture of a first half harted attempt at prototyping cable management and routing at the cable side of the case.
I obviously still need to work on my cable routing skills biggrin.gif.
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post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Just ordered a DEMCIflex filter for the bottom mounted fan. I went for this one. This slightly smaller one would have covered the fan mounting holes and part of the fan cut outs. And as a bonus, the larger model is slightly cheaper.

I went for shipping through the South Africa Post Office since shipping with FedEx would cost over twice the value of the product (at about US$20 for the filter and stick on magnetic pads, and over US$44 for S&H; S&H through SAPO came in at US$13). Let's hope SAPO does not get into another months long strike.

With some luck, I might get my PC built into the case this week-end, but between my sons swimming class and ice hockey practice, a shopping spree, and preparing for a birthday party I'm afraid there won't be much time left frown.gif.
Edited by Turtle75 - 2/26/15 at 10:05am
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post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Word on the street (the SAPO and BPost parcel trackers, actually) is that my DEMCIflex filter has arrived in Belgium. Its status is now "Item accepted in network" on the Belgian post office tracking site. They are usually rather quick to deliver but for shipments from outside the EU I did notice delays from time to time. Probably has something to do with customs clearing or some such thing.

I hope to get my hands on the filter soon so I can finally start building in the case. I'm getting impatient frown.gif.
Edited by Turtle75 - 3/10/15 at 6:09am
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post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
I got my DEMCIflex filter yesterday. It took a week to clear through customs, then only a couple of hours to my door.

What looks like an envelope with on of the more impressive arrays of stamps I've seen to date, is actually brow paper wrapped around the filter package and then securely (very securely) taped into place.


Inside the brow paper wrap, the filter is protected by plastic sheets that look a bit like corrugated cardboard.

The filter is sandwiched between two sheets that have been taped together. Within this protective cover is a sealed plastic bag with the actual filter stuck to an adhesive magnetic frame that I'll have to stick to my case.

I removed the top cover from my case and put it upside down on a shopping crate to avoid having the quick release clips bearing the weight of the case. I slightly modified the method DEMCIflex recommends at their website to stick the magnetic frame to the case. I first put the frame and filter on underside of the case, centering it over the fan mouning openings, then stuck some masking tape around the sides as a guide to stick the frame to the case.


I pealed away the backing from the magnetic frame (leaving the filter in place for now) and stuck the whole thing to my case. Then I removed the filter itself

and the masking tape.


After sticking the filter to the frame, I noticed some trouble in paradise frown.gif

The mounting pins of my beQuiet! fans are too thick for the magnetic frame and the filter does not fully stick to it. Time to remove the push pins and mount the bottom fans with screws. So much for trying to decouple them from the case...

Getting the push pins out was a bit of a PITA...

... but after mounting the hard mounting blocks to the fans, getting them lined up and getting the mounting screws in proved to be even more of a chore. With a little help from my wife I managed to get the job done

and my filter mounted correctly to the bottom of the chassis


With a bit of luck I may even get a chance to test my fans this weekend. Between birthday parties and ice hockey practice, I'm afraid I won't have time to transplant the whole system to the Merlin just yet.
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The Main Turtle
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post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Finally got to transplant my rig over to my shiny new Caselabs case last week-end. Let's start with a "before" shot


I started by removing an extra cover from the bottom fan slots.

This should give my PSU nice cool air to breath. The black frame on the bottom panel is the magnetic frame of my DemciFlex fan filter that I reported on in my previous post.

After unplugging all PSU connectors, then removing the M/B from the trusty old Fractal Design case, I installed my PSU in the Merlin and plugged it in a wall socket for grounding.

I measured CPU cooler clearance on the back panel and theoretically I would have quite a bit of room to spare. Fingers crossed...

After installing the M/B on the tray...

... it does seem like that would fit nicely through the back panel opening. And indeed,

it does.

Bummer... My 8pin EPS cable is too short to route behind the motherboard tray frown.gif

The only alternative was to route it ghetto style over the motherboard. Gives me an excuse to get into creating my own custome cables smile.gif

To install my hard drive in one of the hard drive cages

I stole a page from the book of Ronsanut (well, a few frames of one of his youtube videos, actually) and then slightly modified it. I first slid the vibration dampner grommets in the frame

and then wiggled the drive in. The rubber grommets kept it in place quite snugly while I screwed it in with the shoulder screws

And finally I mounted the drive cage back behind the motherboard tray:

The Caselabs nut driver kit has been more than worth the price I paid for it. It makes life really easy. Still have to get a SATA data cable with a straight connector on both ends since the angled one does not fit in the drive with this drive cage while plugging it in on the motherboard side is none too pretty either.

Installing the optical drive was also very easy, once I figured out there are "left" and "right" flex bay mounting brackets.

My SATA cables are a tad on the short side for decent cable management here.

The nut driver also came in handy to remove the protective cover from the XXL window.

I still need to clean up cabeling on the front side

and I'll have to custom sleeve my cables

and create some custom ones as well

We can't have that spare SATA power connector dangle behind the cable management grommet over there, can we? And I'll really need to create a custom extension for the ATX 24pin connector. Sleeving it is not really an option because it is hard wired to the PSU and I'm not comfortable at all to sleeve a hard wired cable.

Behind the motherboard tray it's a rats nest of cables right now

but I hope to be able to clean things up a bit once I start creating my custom cables. I already bought me a nice ratchet crimping tool (not the Lutro0 one that quite a few people seem to be very enthousiastic about since it seems to be chronically out of stock everywhere, nor the MDCP one that is rather unavailable at the moment, but I did find one that seemed to suit my needs for a fairly decent price at conrad.be) and a Knipex automatic wire stripper. Now waiting for a few meters of 18AWG wire, some connectors, and ATX female pins from e22.biz to start my very first cable so I can reroute that ghetto 8pin cable.
Edited by Turtle75 - 3/26/15 at 12:43pm
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The Main Turtle
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post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
It's been quite a while since the last update but I've had to wait for sleeving supplies.

For starters, the crimping tool I bought at conrad is no good for crimping ATX pins (contrary to one of the reviews). Lucky for me they have a 30 days "not satisfied, money back" policy so I got a full refund. I bit the bullet and bought the Lutro0 crimper (and a Molex round pin extractor) from Mainframe Customs. I also bought some heatshrink, black 4 mm Teilos sleeve, and a sample pack of other Teilos sleeve colors from e22.biz.

Having watched the Lutro0 tutorial videos on YouTube probably more than was good for me, the Lutro0 crimping tool is very easy to use. While 9 out of 10 crimps with the el cheapo crimper I originally bought failed (I could easily pull the wire from the pin by hand on most of them), I have a very high success rate with the Lutro0 crimper (near 100% if I do not take bodged pre crimps into account).

I was planning on going heatshrink style for the sleeving, but I found out by accident that I'm better at heatshrinkless. I cut my heatshrink slightly long at 17 mm or about 2/3 inch and after I had sleeved my first cable and I tried to put the pins in the connectors, I totally screwed up on the PSU side, warping the heatshrink. I removed the pin from the connector and tore up the heatshrink to remove it. Then I noticed the sleeving had melted and gripped firmely to the pin and cable. A heatshrinkless sleeving by accident biggrin.gif. The other side turned out to not have a melted sleeve, so I had to redo it but this time heatshrinkless. I decided to do the other seven cables heatshrinkless from the start. My fingertips hate me for that since those pins get very hot in the process, and you have to more or less 'form' the molten sleeve under the heatshrink by hand before you remove the heatshrink (see the Lutro0 videos on YouTube if you're not familiar with sleeving techniques).

Here are some images of the 8pin side of the cable:


Looks almost perfect. However...

I think I'll have to watch Lutro0's video on heatshrinkless again since I seem to have a little trouble limiting the extent of melting to fall within the connector. One of my wires looks like it is very well done using heatshrink style. I had even more visible melting on the PSU side of the cable:


It looks very bad on the photos since it's zoomed in quite a bit, but actually in the case it is almost invisible.

My 8pin cable is about 90 cm or 3 feet long

Since on the PSU side it has a 10 pin connector, and the wiring is rather odd (the +12V and ground wires are each grouped in two clusters of four pins (each cluster forming a 2x2 pattern), separated by an empty column (2x1 pins) in the connector), it's a bit difficult to get a tidy cable run. Fortunately I could hide most of the mess behind the motherboard tray. It's rather good looking on the motherboard, and more or less tidy on the PSU side. A cable tie would probably do wonders there but since I plan on sewing the cable at some point in the (hopefully near smile.gif ) future, I'm not going to bother.

No pictures of the cable in the case, since the DSLR battery decided to run out after I photographed the cable in full length frown.gif
The Main Turtle
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The Main Turtle
(16 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Intel Core i5-3570K P8Z77-M PRO Intel(R) HD Graphics 4000 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 
RAMHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Corsair 8GB DDR3-1600 CML8GX3M2A1600C9 Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB LiteOn IHAS124-19C be quiet! Dark Rock 2 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 10 Pro 64 bit Samsung SyncMaster S24A450BW Cherry G81-3000LPNBE Corsair AX750 
CaseMouseAudioAudio
Caselabs Merlin SM8 two tone (black exterior, w... Logitech M500 Steelseries USB soundcard Steelseries Siberia v2 headphones 
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