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[Project] CrazyEights

post #1 of 88
Thread Starter 
Welcome to CrazyEights!

This Log has been shelved for the time being. Please check out The Charm to see my latest exploits (folly?) with aluminum angle.


I'm going to try to keep this log well organized. Chonological updates will always be added at the end of the thread in a regular reply; but I will try to keep certain "anchor" posts up to date as well. Think of these as summaries. These will be perma-linked from the index below.


Fast Forward Linkies:

Here is a progress shot of the frame to give you an idea about how the case will be laid out; pictured with a keyboard to give a sense of scale for the project:
here's another shot with the frame sections mocked up on my desk:
Note: Many of the images in this log are actually clickable thumbnails. The fist picture above is an example.
Clicking the image links to a 1600x1200 blow-up of the picture.

A little explanation of the above:

The case's base is shaped like an "L", and designed to sit in the right rear corner of my desk, with the monitor to the front left. The design was not really inspired by anything in particular, but more an evolution of a quest to accomplish a specific set of goals:
  • Keep a low profile (I wanted to steer away from the classic tower and cube designs)
  • Allow for a nice display of internal components
  • Maximize airflow for key components and manage heat as efficiently as possible within the above constraints (This will be an air cooled rig)
  • Keep a generally modular design, so that future changes (both cosmetic and functional) can be accommodated without a total re-do of the case
  • Along the lines of the above... keep access to all components easy to manage for future upgrades/maintenance

The end product is what you see above. Construction will be an internal aluminum frame, with all panels (except those of adjoining sections) easily removable or even replaceable. The predominant exterior materials will be aluminum, with acrylic accents.

The main section on the left side is the motherboard compartment. For now, the right section will house the 5.25" bays, the hard drives, and the PSU. (there should be plenty of room in there for more in the future) The dimensions of each section are 18"L x 9"W x 15"H. The total footprint of the case encompasses approx. a 30" x 18" square, but a roughly 20" x 9" area of this expanse is open desk space due to the L shape configuration of the base.

Many of the details of construction are as of yet undecided, so I will let them unfold as the log progresses. That said, I will clue y'all into one aspect of this case that I haven't seen yet, but I believe will work well. The motherboard section is designed to have an internal external rear I/O panel.

Yup. I typed that correctly. Internal external rear I/O panel.

With the orientation of that section of the case, I was faced with the dilemma of having the "back" of my case be in plain view on the left side of the mod; almost dead center on my desk, actually. This wouldn't do. After playing around with various ideas, I came to the conclusion that the best solution would be to simply encase the rear outputs entirely, and make allowances in the actual back of the case for a wires to exit. The plan at the moment is to simply open a hole for a pass through, but stay tuned. I may go a step or two farther before this is all said and done.
(I've since discovered that the Thermaltake Sword case has a similar design. I'm sure there are other examples. Oh well!)

Airflow for this section will be from right to left as you are looking at the case. The plan is for 2 120mm Slipstreams as intake, and 3 of the same as exhaust, to the "lee" of the I/O portion of the motherboard. Yes, the I/O panel will cause somewhat of an obstruction to airflow, but with a total maxed potential for a 550cfm wind tunnel in effect, I don't anticipate it will be too much of a problem.

So... That's the plan! Now, on to the build.

(If anyone is curious, I'm tracking my expenditures on googledocs. Seeing what is actually getting spent is painful sometimes, but I thouht some of you might be curious. If you want to see the damage; you can view it here.)
Edited by Warfarin88 - 10/13/08 at 4:15am
post #2 of 88
Thread Starter 
First off, the materials used for the case.


The genesis of this project was probably this tray I ordered from good Mountain Mods . I was mystified by its craftsmanship while ogling it on their websight, and was only more impressed when it arrived:

The detailing on it amazing. I love the stainless steel inserts for the standoffs and PCI screws:

Here's a closeup. I immediately fell for the look of the raw brushed aluminum. Expect to see more of this effect throughout the mod:

That tray will probably be the extent of the pre-fab components for this project. Everything else I intend to construct from scratch. (I'll also be chopping up the mobo tray a bit, but more on that later...)

Here's my initial shipment of raw aluminum from MetalsDepot.com:
  • (3) 2'W x 4'L x .80" thick 3003 aluminum sheet
  • (1) 1'W x 2'L x .125" thick 3003 aluminum plate
  • (1) 8'L x .5" x .5" x .125" thick 6063 aluminum architectural angle
  • (6) 8'L x .75" x .75" x .125" thick 6063 aluminum architectural angle
  • (1) 8'L x 3" x 3" x .125" thick 6063 aluminum architectural angle
Shipping weight, 63 pounds:

Some nifty setscrews arrived today from McMaster-Carr. 6/32 Stainless, 1/4" in length. Perfect for joining two sections of 1/8" aluminum angle frame parts together in a tight spot:

Another McMaster order came in today. An assortment of button head hex socket screws, some cone point set screws I have plans for, a couple sheets of 2' x 3' x 0.177" thick smoked cast acrylic (in the cardboard, not pictured), and some 3/8" OD aluminum tubing:

The plan for the tubing is actually structural. I'll use it to tie the two case sections together. It's inside diameter is sized ready to tap for 10/24 screws:

Here's an order from OnlineMetals.com; some 2" OD 1/8" thick wall aluminum tube, and some rather unusual perforated aluminum sheet that was pretty pricey, but I just had to try out:

This is a closeup, to show scale. The perforated sheet is half inch holes with a 5/8" stagger and an "open" rating of 48%. It's also 1/8" thick, the same as the tube:

to be continued . . .
Edited by Warfarin88 - 5/28/08 at 2:32pm
post #3 of 88
Thread Starter 
I am holding off on most of the internals until nearer to completion of this project, but I have collected a few bits and pieces:


Here's a box shot of the sound card, optical drive, PSU, and a few of the fans (Scythe 1900rpm Slipstreams) that I will be using:

Some miscellaneous bits I ordered to try and bring me out of a modders block funk in June: (A couple of Sunbeamtech Rheobus controllers, A couple of Scythe HD mount kits, and a Silverstone I/O port)
to be continued . . .
Edited by Warfarin88 - 7/12/08 at 1:38pm
post #4 of 88
Thread Starter 
Ahhh. Now the fun stuff.

For the frame, I'll be mainly using the 1/8" thick 3/4" leg aluminum angle I purchased.


A jigsaw was the tool of choice to cut these. After I finished all pieces of a given length, I would stack them up and file them to the same length to help insure everything stayed square later:

For the four uprights of each section, I needed to do a little dremel work to create a flush corner:

I filed the dremel cuts for a clean fit:

Here's the various bits needed for one section of the case (this collection is the main mobo module):

The plan is to use the 3" aluminum angle to join all elements of the joint together, but they need a little more work:

There's still some more to do on these, but this is enough to show you the principal behind the construction:
That's the gist of how I'm holding this thing together.

The rounded off 3" pieces will be used to tie together the three legs of each corner with epoxy and countersunk screws. These pieces will vary in shape, depending on what else may be attached to them no or possibly in the future (upgrades) These double quarter round pieces pictured will also serve as anchor points for the tubular module connections, as well as the case feet.

You can also see my first attempts there at achieving a clean brushed look on the extruded aluminum pieces. The last picture above displays the fruits of some hand labor with 80 and 150 grit emery cloth on the curved 3" corner piece.

Once I refine the process (which will probably include power tooling) I'll share the details of my methods. More on that later.


Once I finished up the basic bits for the frame, I started tacking them together with glue:
(the next several photographs detail a process I ended up not using later in the project, but it was a viable technique, so I'll leave it in here)
This is a time consuming process, but it will insure all my tapped holes will be aligned perfectly later. This glue tacks pretty quickly, but doesn't fully cure for 24 hours. For the first 8 or so, it remains fairly flexible, much like silicon adhesive. That should give me just enough give to make sure every thing is square before I start drilling for screws.


The bonding process is taking all day, and is turning out to be more complicated than I had anticipated. I probably should have just used super glue:

I let it dry overnight, and it came out nicely solid, and more importantly, nicely square:

I got the holes drilled for my screws (all 48 of them!) and got a start on tapping them:
That isn't the hardware I'm going to use, (that's on the way at the moment from McMaster-Carr) I just thought that was kind of a cool picture.


D'oh! 10 holes in, I snapped a tap. I have a feeling this isn't the last time I'm going to be seeing this during this project ( I guess that's one less screw I'll need. ) :
(Cutting oil turned out to be the key here. A tiny drop every hole or two is all you need, and I haven't had a problem since.)

New tap and some cutting oil and I was back in business, and my hardware arrived to boot! Loving this effect. Can't get any lower profile than this:

The flush mount of the set screws will allow for a clean mounting later of the exterior panels. They're actually countersunk just a tad. Here's a closeup playing with the macro function of my camera (which I finally found):

That pretty much sums up how the frames for each section of the case are going to be constructed.

(fast forward a bit)

The setscrews are trick, but the reality of their effectiveness eventually set in. Joining two flush pieces together with two threaded holes is tricky business anyway, and without a "head" on the screw, the bond just wasn't that strong. Strong enough probably, but I figure if I'm going to build it myself, I might as well do it right.

So, I went back to plan A. Countersunk screws:
Much stronger fastening method there. I'll still probably use the set screws, especially in really tight spots. I'll also likely order up some hod rod allen head machine screws instead of these philips head eventually as well; but these standard ones are available locally in bulk, and they work fine for now.
(If you want to see the process behind constructing the case using the countersinks, check out this post, here.)

All of this will be hidden when the case is finished anyway.
Edited by Warfarin88 - 5/28/08 at 2:43pm
post #5 of 88
very nice
*watching*

edit: awesome! +rep
Edited by CattleRustler - 5/25/08 at 9:51am
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Chuckle2Tits
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post #6 of 88
Sweet, I shall have to watch this
post #7 of 88
Thread Starter 
Now its time to get that mother board tray mounted and sort out my fan mounting. I threw caution to the wind here, and just started eyeballing things and making cuts. On the fly planning for the win.

Here's a shot of the tools for the job. That belt sander is a new toy, and boy, whether its assisting me in giving a brushed effect to a surface or helping with finish shaping of the aluminum, its turning out to be a real gem:
A few swipes of the file, and a little buzz with the belt sander followed by some light hand sanding with 80 grit emery cloth, and tada:
Whenever possible while making multiple identical pieces, I clamped them together for shaping so they would be the same. This is actually 4 separate pieces halfway through the file and belt-sand treatment (I need to flip them over and sand the bottom in that shot):
Remember the tray? I put it on a little diet:
Here's the frame again, with a few more modifications to accept mounting the tray:
Some details:
(I've since redone these brackets, but the basic design is still the same)
And here it is with the tray installed:
The tray comes in and out easily, and is held in by six 6/32 screws. I used thumbscrews for those pictures, but I'll probably change out the hardware before this is said and done.

Next up, I need to sort the fan mounting and a little wire management prep.
Edited by Warfarin88 - 5/28/08 at 2:33pm
post #8 of 88
Badazz. Ive never seeb a case from tge ground up before
post #9 of 88
Thread Starter 
For the fan mounts, I used some of the 1/8" thick aluminum plate. First I measured and drilled some pilot holes:

Fashioned a quick jig to assist in sawing some 1.25" holes:

Dug in with the jig saw:

Next up, my trusty file and an initial sanding:

Pictured above is a bracket for the triple fan exhaust. Here's how they work:

Here's the intake:

And the whole she-bang:

Edited by Warfarin88 - 5/28/08 at 2:33pm
post #10 of 88
Mmm aluminum.
Old Skool Redux
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Old Skool Redux
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