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[Build Log] Freilite Brevis S - GTX 1070 and FlexATX in a <5L package - Page 7

post #61 of 86
Thread Starter 
Hey guys, just a quick notice: I am still alive and working on this, but a mayor redesign for the interior is required. A lot of the Z170 boards that have been coming out feature a M.2 slot on the bottom, and I feel like I have to incorporate this fact into the design. Right now the board is directly screwed to the side panel which doesn't allow any access to the back of the board at all, and this has to be changed. Sorry for the lack of updates, I will do my best to work on it as often as I can.
post #62 of 86
Thread Starter 
Good news everyone! I've managed to shrink the case a little bit again, it is now 59mm slim, so we're back below 5L at a whopping 4,88L!
At this point, it is pretty much impossible to go slimmer, the I/O shield of the board has a little more than 1mm left to the beginning of the top mounting flange and the hard drives, PSU and ribbon cable make for a tight package with practically no room to spare, excluding the foam padding that should reduce vibrations of the HDDs a bit. The only way I could now shrink the case is by ditching support for 9.5mm drives, but that's simply not worth it in my opinion.

Rebuilding the whole case is a tedious process, but it starts to show its benefits. I'm now experimenting with different Hard Drive mounting solutions, and having all of them on a single mounting point really eases the process of replacing them in the assembly.

Anyway, things are still progressing, just not as fast as one would like them to. One day I'll present a prototype, I promise!

In other news, it seems like I've finally found a good solution for the HDD MOUNT!
For comparisons sake, this was the old design:

It is nice and simple, a 1.5mm thick piece of aluminium, four holes for each drive. You can either mount two across the longest edge or a single one along it. The mount can be moved by about 20mm to allow the user to either use available space above the motherboard or next the GPU, depending on GPU height and socket position.

I've disliked a lot about this solution, and experimented with a multitude of designs until I finally had this idea:

So as you can see, each HDD is screwed to a small bracket with two screws, which is then screwed into a slot on the right side of the mount. Again, this is mounted to the case through slots, so it can move to accommodate the components inside the case.
While it seems like a simple concept, the advantages of it are plentiful:
  1. Because no countersunk screws are needed, thinner material can be used (currently 0.5mm).
  2. As only the screw holes on the side are used (where space is less of an issue), the overall package becomes thinner.
  3. The drives can now be decoupled more effectively with foam strips on the mount and on the side panel.
  4. Theoretically, 5mm thick drives are now supported as well, those only have mounting holes on the side. Not that anyone would want to use those, though.
  5. Drives can now be mounted upside down, which allows the connectors on the back drive to just barely fit behind the Motherboard I/Os Audio stack and gives a bit more clearance for CPU coolers on boards with their socket close to the PCIe slots. Both of these issues only appear with the widest of GPUs and can be resolved by using angled connectors, but if it eases the life of a just single guy, it's absolutely worth it.

The only slight disadvantages I've found so far is this:
  1. The front HDD now extends over the PSU slightly by about 5mm. Not really an issue, but it of course blocks a little bit of the airflow for the PSU.
  2. Drives are connected to the chassis less sturdily, which could pose a problem during transportation. This is probably not going to be a real issue, as the drives are sandwiched between the drive mount and the side panel.
  3. The screws on the side ever-so-slightly increase the width of the whole package by about 4mm. I'll have to check whether that would actually be a problem or not.

This is how a single drive would work:

Now there are a few questions arising:
  1. Should I migrate (at least for this piece) from aluminium to steel? It would allow me to make the material this thin or even thinner without sacrificing stability, and I could get strong threads without using threaded inserts, which are hard to use so close to the edge anyway.
  2. How do I best fully decouple the drives? It seems like I could use rubber grommets where the drives attach to the brackets, but maybe there is a better solution that I can't think of?
  3. Any other suggestions on how to improve this piece?
post #63 of 86
Aliminium would be really nice, I think it being an SFF build it should not only be small but also as light as possible. This is looking very promosing thumb.gif
post #64 of 86
Well this is obviously way over my head, but I am glad that this project is still going on. Sub 5 liters really blows my mind, I can't wait to see the final product.

Do you have an ETA as to when this might go into production?
post #65 of 86
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by willemdoom View Post

Aliminium would be really nice, I think it being an SFF build it should not only be small but also as light as possible. This is looking very promosing thumb.gif

We are on the same page there, and I will use Aluminium for most parts of the case, but as it is very strong, it seems like a viable option for the HDD mount which has to be rather thin.
Originally Posted by Six-Strings View Post

Well this is obviously way over my head, but I am glad that this project is still going on. Sub 5 liters really blows my mind, I can't wait to see the final product.

Do you have an ETA as to when this might go into production?

You and me both! biggrin.gif

Unfortunately no, I have very little time to work on it, but as it is New Years Eve, maybe I should make it my new years resolution to make it happen in 2016. It is certainly doable.
post #66 of 86
I'm assuming you're working on the 3D renders using your Alpha? Don't you think that's a bit like treason? wink.gif
post #67 of 86
Thread Starter 
As Freilite Alpha is my main rig, yes. All the modelling work is done there.

I can see where you're coming from, but most of us humans strive to produce offspring that surpass ourselves and that carry us to our grave one day, and most machines in the modern world don't share that property with us anymore. You can't design a new iPhone on an iPhone. But you can easily design a new rig on an old one. Kind of beautiful in a weird way, isn't it? wink.gif
post #68 of 86
Thread Starter 
An idea sprung to mind. You guys remember the Sharp X68000? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

Well, I've made a little brother for the Brevis S:

Inside that 24mm thin box, a slim slot-in ODD and four 2.5" HDDs of a maximum height of 15mm can be crammed, the latter of which are mounted on the same HDD mounting bracket the case itself utilises. Each of those brackets is mounted to the back panel with a PCI expansion bracket and they can be replaced to allow the use of various PCI expansion bracket extensions, mainly for extended I/O capabilities. In theory, you could run a PCIe x4 riser from your M.2 M-Key slot down there to install real PCIe add-ons.
Alternatively, you could ditch the ODD and go for a total of six HDDs or twelve 7mm SSDs if you were to use stacking brackets, not counting the two drives in the main case.

As a PCie bracket itself is already close to 22mm wide, this is how they are currently mounted to the case:

I think that this is worth it for shaving off 4mm of thickness to get the extension as slim as possible. As it is right now, normal full-height cards would not fit this enclosure, though this is a rather quick draft (only took me 5 hours or so) of what I would imagine this extension to be and it should be fixable rather easily by using a thick spacer between the panel and the bracket there.

In the current state, the extension blocks the rear screw holes of the main case, so in order to get to the components in there, you'd have to open the extensions, remove the ODD, unscrew the extension from the spacer and then remove the top panel. Hardly user friendly.

Personally, I really, really like this new idea. It makes the case something absolutely unique and allows me to play with lighting effects through the acrylic spacer and different ideas for front I/O. It also lets loads of ideas for potential builds and mods pop up, the extension could house a single-slot R9 Nano that is watercooled by a radiator in the regular GPU compartment, stuff like that.
It literally gives room for loads of ideas where previously only a few combinations of components where possible.

If this isn't the standard version of the case, at the very least it should be a prominent add-on.

Unfortunately, though, this comes at a hefty price of an additional 3.64L of envelope volume (2.97L if you count the spacer and extension as separate boxes), so it absolutely has to be optional. It might be possible to tone that down, depending on the actual width the spacer needs, but it still pushes the case from the smallest case for ITX GPUs and internal PSUs close to a 9L beast that is larger than the Osmi.

Now is to be decided how to make this as smooth as possible.
  1. Should cables from the main case to the extensions be routed out the back or through the acrylic spacer?
  2. Should the extension be made a bit deeper and taller to fit the footprint of the main case?
  3. How can I make the extension detachable in an easier way?
  4. Should the extension be made a bit thicker to avoid the small cuts in the sidepanels and/or center the ODD slot?
  5. Is there a better way of attaching the brackets to the case?
  6. How can I ensure reasonable thermal performance for U.2 SSDs inside the extension?

I'll work on getting a partial prototype made after exams are over, don't want to indulge into anything time-critical right now, but I've found four manufacturers already that all have the exact capabilities I'm looking for, all of them close enough for me to drive there.
post #69 of 86
Thread Starter 
Getting more work done, and we're ever so closer to the first prototype! I actually started to get quotes from manufacturers and while prices are looking to be reasonable at 100 units or so, a single unit is quite expensive. We're talking about roughly 110€ for just the GPU mount! eek.gif

Anyway, I've finally found a spot for two small details, the Kensington Lock Slot and the nameplate:

You can see a few other changes here if you look closely, but they aren't terribly important wink.gif

Other things to look forward to are a small discrete door for the front I/O - which will be interchangeable, maximum connectivity is supposed to be 2x USB2, 2xUSB3.0 and 2x Audio - mostly-tool-less mounting for the HDDs, and a dedicated cable management solution.

Width of the case has now been finalised at 59mm. There's no way to go below that without going out of ATX/ITX spec, getting custom length standoffs made (expensive) or changing the outer panel material to steel. I was also able to increase the depth of the case to 201mm, effectively giving a bit more tolerance for longer GPUs and more space for cabling, balancing on the edge of 5L at 4.957L.

Anyway, the thing I'm really excited about is the HDPLEX PCIe x16 riser that I'll hopefully be receiving next week for testing. It looks to be ultra-thin and if it can perform well, it would solve all remaining big problems I have. It does have a somewhat strange concept where both sides of the cable have a female connection and they use a male-to-male adapter board of sorts to make the actual connection, but in theory that would allow to change the angle of the cable on the GPU side by just plugging it into the mainboard side. We'll see how it goes.

post #70 of 86
Thread Starter 
Current state of affairs:

Yeah that looks a bit dodgy, but I'll be working on that. The most important thing for now is that things fit.

First off, I took all components, including the PSU, from Freilite Alpha. As some of you might now, I've cut a pretty big hole into that one (I discharged the cap, no humans were harmed in the making of this post):

Aaaaand fixed:

I also had to add the 40mm fan back in and boy I can't wait to replace this PSU with the SSP-300SUG because that fan is probably broken. Even at lowest voltage it sounds like a bumblebee on steroids, something I've never had to endure with other FlexATX PSUs.
The noise under load would be tolerable if it was only whooshing, but the buzz makes it sound more like a miniature F1-Car.
We'll see how that all turns out, cable harness will be done tomorrow or the day after that, I already received the package from Icemodz.

This frame itself is NOT what I would consider final in any way, it's a functional prototype only! It does look ugly, be warned.
So for fitting of components:

Perfect fit, maybe a small gap for the screw next to the audio block would help with installation if the PSU is already in.

CPU Cooler:
The NH-L9 is close to the absolute maximum, maybe additional Millimeter would be possible. I love it.

The reversible mount works just as intended, you can use all four screws in both orientations and the PSU sits flush with the bottom of the frame.


Easy-peasy, the tabs on the other side aren't fitting perfect, though. Maybe I should allow more tolerance there. The screw between the tabs makes the fit extremely strong, I love the feel of that.

But wait:

No idea how that could happen. I am 100% sure that the cutout is way larger than the PCIe CEM requires it to be, but maybe the size of it was changed after Rev1.1? Only two screens for now, bummer.

Also, it really annoys me how much space I left for oversized GPUs, but it does increase choice and hopefuly benefits GPU exhaust.

PCIe riser:
As you might've seen in the first picture, the LiHeat riser I've got here is just a wee bit short, so the GPU frame is not screwed into the main one right now. I'll probably order a second HDPLEX riser and just chain two of those for now.

It's just sandwiched between the PSU and riser right now. It was a real pain to get it out of my old case because it was just taped in there with double sided mounting tape, which is made to hold picture frames to walls, but other than that, there's not a lot to test here yet.
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