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[Case Mod Comp 2008] AARDVARCUS's case mod.

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Here are the finished pictures for my Redwood HTPC case. My build log is immediately following the finished pictures in the first post. The concept of the case is to make a case to network into my TV and stereo, so that I can load this PC up with media from my computer in my office and watch it in the living room. The case has a very clean look, because all the cables and ports are on the inside or bottom of the case. Using a USB drive, inserting a DVD, or making adjustments is very easy though, due to the opening window in the side that provides instant access to everything.

The case is solid redwood with a four piece opening window in the side. Trust me, the pictured do not do justice.


The rubber band and pulley you can see inside the window allows all the windows to open and close together. It is very neat to see it open and close.


Here you can see the case with the window closed.


Here is a shot that shows the internal components. I had to use the flash, that is why the wood looks so orange.


Here are a few more shots of the window in various positions. The window is so clear that I have to take angle shots with a glare off of a light or you can't see it at all.



Again, the flash makes it orange.



Here is a view of the back panel.


And a view of the back of the case. Notice there are no wires run out the back. All the wires are run out the bottom of the case.


A pic without the front side panel, notice the wires run out the bottom right.


A view from the back of how the window works.


That is enough for the spoiler. To see more, keep reading for the build log.
Edited by AARDVARCUS - 6/24/08 at 4:24pm
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post #2 of 24
Thread Starter 
Phase 1

To start with, I measured my old computer and dismantled an old case. I had to go with wood, because unable to locate metal for original design. Started playing with another idea I had over 2 years ago for an opening case window. It will me made from 4 different pieces of acrylic that look like fins. I did rough concept sketches, and made a rudimentary model out of graph paper. I later improved the paper model, and printed a very accurate template off of power point(easiest thing to make the circles in). The window will be 10" in diameter give or take a little, so all the circles and arcs on the printouts have a 5" radius. You can see all my templates below.



I went to Lowes and bought cheap Acrylic 8*10 sheets (3*$1.58). I began playing with how the wood case should look, and the internal layout of components by making some concept drawings. I haven't really drawn an accurate model, because things are likely to change as time goes on.

I had some shop time, so I cut out the Plexiglas into correct shapes. After ripping them in half, I taped all the pieces together to cut them all at once. I used the jig saw to cut it. Be sure to use a fine toothed blade to cut it and take your time and let the tool do the work.


Be sure to clamp your work well and take your time. It takes both hands to operate the tool, so clamp it to the point you can push on it and it doesn't move, so that you won't accidentally move it while you are cutting.



When I finished cutting, I had to sand them all to the exact shape, because you can only get so close with the jig saw. I used a sanding block and a drum sander in a drill press, constantly comparing the shape to that of my template. Perfect semi-circles are harder than they look!




Finally I drilled holes in the ends for the axles. I accidentally cracked the end of one of them, so be careful and put something under them when drilling! I should have bought lexan like I used for my flashlight, and this wouldn't have happened, but this stuff was less than half the price and it shouldn't be under any strain anyway. So either careful or buy the strong stuff.
Here are the finished pieces. The circle on the piece of paper under them represents where the case side panel will be cut out, and the part you will actually see of the fins.

Here is them in partially "opened". These will all eventually be joined together by a belt so they will all move in unison.
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post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Phase 2

First of all, I picked up some pulleys to connect all the fins of my window together with, so they will all open simultaneously. I got ones designed to go on sliding doors, and spent $6 on four. I had to rip them out of the metal holder they were in.


Next, I started planing my redwood. We had some work done on our house, and some of the old redwood siding pieces got removed. You can see how much nicer planing them down makes it look.

Next, I began miter sawing them with 45's on the ends. I had to re-cut them a few times, I forgot that I was using the outer edge as the good edge, since the inner edge will get cut out anyway. Thus, you have to use the outer edge against the miter fence and not the inner edge. It wouldn't matter if they were perfectly parallel, but if they aren't, your mitered sides will never fit quite right. (Notice that this picture is actually doing it the wrong way.)

And now they fit together nicely. Man that wood looks good. I had originally wanted 16" sides, but after all the adjustments, they are now 15.5" sides, which isn't too big of a deal.

Now, to jig saw the inside pieces for a circular opening. I cut them in pairs. I messed up here, and used a bit designed for a sawzall in the jig saw, so the bit did not go in straight. As a resuslt, the piece on bottom was cut out slightly larger than the piece on top, and none of the cuts were right. Oh well, nothing that a lot of sanding can't fix.

I had to do a LOT of sanding to get the circle to look right. I had a template I could compare them to to get the right arc. Next, I prepped them to get jointed together. You can see the biscuits are going to go on the edges between the boards. Biscuits are great because unlike screws or nails, they do not leave any holes or heads sticking out and you get a very clean look.

For those of you who have never biscuit jointed before, here is a closeup. The jointer makes a slot in the wood, that you put a biscuit into.

When you use glue on the biscuits, they absorb it and expand, thus tightly bonding the surfaces together. Here you can see how they will fit.

Once glued, you just clamp them while the glue dries, and presto you have a finished piece.

Man, these pictures make it look easy. This actually took me about 3-4 hours.(On all of phase two, not just the biscuits)
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post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
Phase 3

The first thing I did on this work day was to unclamp my side panel and sand it with my hand sander.



I drilled some mounting holes for the window blades, and mounted them to see how they will work.


You can see the pulleys with the rubber band through them, so when you move one, they all move at the same time.


I used a scrap piece of wood and cut slots in it with my miter saw to test how well that would work for ventilation.


It works pretty good, you can't see the slots unless you are looking straight at the wood, and it doesn't block the air movement very much.
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post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Phase 4

I cut out the boards for the back side panel and got them ready to be jointed.

Here I am adding the glue to the edges and putting the boards end to end.


And lastly I clamped the boards and let it set for the glue to dry.
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post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Phase 5
I took the dried back side panel out of the clamps and sanded the boards with 60 grit paper.

I then took a hand block with 100 grit paper on it to finish the edges.

Here is a shot of both sides of the case. I had to sand them a little to get the edges to match up perfectly.

Next I cut the boards down to size for the other 4 sides of the case.

I used the jointer to get all the boards exactly the same width.

I then clamped the boards together in pairs of two, so that the case will be 9" wide.

Oh, and a picture of my lovely helper who likes to come and nag me about when I will be finished.
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post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
PHASE 6
Next step-making the cube.

Here I cut the screws so they won't go through the redwood sides.

Here I predrilled the holes for the brackets.

Depth checking to keep from blowing out the other side.

Attaching the brackets.




Here all the brackets attached.




Here is the side panel in the bracketed front, top, and back.




Here is it once the back and top are installed




Here is a shot of the bottom, The top right is the cable hole, the big hole on the right is for a 120mm fan, and the small holes are for ventilation.


Edited by AARDVARCUS - 6/24/08 at 6:30pm
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post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Phase 7
The next step is applying Minwax Semi-gloss Polyurethane. I applied it with an old towel.

Here is a picture of the case right before application.


And the poly-


Here is the application
in full swing.








Edited by AARDVARCUS - 6/24/08 at 6:30pm
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post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Phase 8
Assembling the parts into the case.






Here shows how the cables are routed out the bottom, beside the exhaust fan.




Here are some pictures of what the inside components look like through the window.
Bottom Left

Bottom Right

Top Right

Top Left

Edited by AARDVARCUS - 6/24/08 at 6:31pm
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post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Well, thats all folks. It doesn't look like that much work from just the pictures, but as anyone who has worked extensively with wood can tell this took A LOT of hours of work. Overall I am pleased with the results, but I wish I had more time to implement more complicated ideas I had. The window and wood proved complex enough considering the time constraints I am under. Thank you all for reading through this, If you have any questions regarding construction, don't hesitate to shoot me a PM.
Edited by AARDVARCUS - 6/24/08 at 6:32pm
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