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[Project] Pearl in the Rough

post #1 of 326
Thread Starter 
The Story
Ever since I upgraded my rig last summer, I found that I rarely needed the power of a 4870 and a OCed quad. So instead of scrapping my old 4400 X2 rig, I still use that for my file server/web surfing rig and just fire up my main one when I want to game. That's when I got my ideas for this case. Why not cram both rigs into one case? For that I needed something bigger than my current Stacker STC-T01. I never though something that can accommodate up to 12HDDs, 2 PSUs and an E-ATX board wouldn't be big enough. Then I saw a good deal on a new case.

The Plan
My victim will be a Tagan Black Pearl. It is basically a PC-V2000. The goal of this project is to be simple and sleek, with tasteful lighting accents. No ricer here. The front and top (maybe back and bottom as well) will have one piece of acrylic with a polished piece of aluminum sandwiching the acrylic between it and the case. The acrylic will be lit from underneath with LEDs creating a nice glow from the edge of the acrylic.

The inside will feature a custom HDD rack made from acrylic if I can get enough airflow through it, if not I will modify the existing HDD racks. The bottom will house the secondary mATX rig and both PSUs. I will use cable extensions attached to a custom I/O panel for the the mATX board for VGA, PS/2, USB, etc. The bottom motherboard tray will be moved away from the left side of the case a few inches to act as an area to the hide the extra cables from both PSUs (and there are a lot of them). There will also be a polished aluminum panel with acrylic behind it (with similar LEDs accents as the outside) in the upper chamber to help with cable management.

Both side panels will have mesh intakes for the HDD bay and the PSUs since the front will be closed off and I don't want to the PSUs to be the sole exhaust from the bottom (I have 4 40mm fans I will put above the PSUs to help with airflow in the bottom chamber).


Current State:







Edited by shinji2k - 10/31/09 at 8:36pm
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post #2 of 326
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The Setup

Here's some shots of my temporary shop. I'm set up in a gutted room of my house on some tables I originally slapped together for a yard sale. The more observant of you will notice that they are doors. I'll probably get some 3/8 ply or something to make a more level surface, but for now it'll do.





My baby. There's a little run out and I may try to remount the chuck but for what I payed for it, I'm more than pleased with it.


Some of my tools, most are in the basement though.


Some aluminum I acquired from my job when I was laid off. It's got some holes in it where it was supposed to be bent up to make into steps for semis but I can work around those and will be used for many things. It's fairly hefty at ~2.5mm or 3/32". I need to make a new door since the upper chamber mesh window is in the way and this stuff will do nicely.


A quick shot of the case "in the flesh". I won't bore you with a bunch of angles since you will be seeing a lot of this case soon.

Edited by shinji2k - 1/4/09 at 6:56pm
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post #3 of 326
Thread Starter 
Day 1

First up is a new door panel. The mesh window is not in my vision for this case so instead of paying $50 for a new panel, I made one. Here is after I did a rough cut out with a jig saw.


Next is my trusty router to trim up the edges and get an exact match to the original door.


[

All clamped and ready to go.


Look at that edge, yummy.


After a couple minutes of sanding and filing the door is ready. Time to sit that aside until I get the inside design exactly the way I want it.


Next up is the PSU bracket.


They make twin PSU brackets for these cases but they are oriented horizontal, my design needs them to be vertical. After some jigsaw and router action (used a router table this time because of the size of the piece), this is what I am left with.






To be honest I am not completely satisfied with it. The edge didn't come out perfect this time in one small spot. I decided to play around with it and tried to match up the existing mounting holes. Since I don't have a mill they aren't perfect, and I will most likely start over on this piece after I have made sure my template for the PSU opening is going to work. It's not like it is horrible, it looks pretty good from a couple feet away. But I know I can do better on this piece.
Edited by shinji2k - 1/4/09 at 7:00pm
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post #4 of 326
Thread Starter 
Day 2

Time to start on PSU bracket v2.0. I was hoping to get ahold of a scroll saw to do this piece, but my one friend that I though had one has a band saw, not a scroll saw. That wasn't going to help so I broke out the trusty jigsaw. For this iteration of the bracket, since I had to use a jigsaw I decided to cut out the openings first since it's much easier to cut a large piece than a small piece with a jigsaw. I started the holes with a dremel and did a rough cut out with the jigsaw and then went back and filed the crap out of them.


After a solid 4 hours work, this is what I am left with.


A test fit with some junk PSUs


I tried to get a shot of the edge after going over with the router but my camera sucks.


The bracket still isn't done, I've got to buy a 1.5" hole saw and make room for 4 40mm fans. Then it needs a good sanding and then it will get polished. And before I can install the PSUs into the case I will need to file ~1/16" off each side of the opening to fit the PSUs in.
Edited by shinji2k - 1/4/09 at 7:02pm
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post #5 of 326
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Day 2.5

I've pretty much completed the PSU bracket. There will be some little bits much later in the project to do but for now it is done.

Got my template ready for the fans.


After an hour of work and much praying, I didn't mess up and ruin this piece that already has 4+ hours into it. The fans are in and everything lines up.


After some filing the PSUs now fit in the opening and I can mount the bracket.




A shot of the inside.


There looks to be just enough room for me to mount a fan controller or maybe the custom I/O panel for the bottom motherboard. I will also be using some of the anodized mesh I pulled off the door panel for the fans to pretty them up a bit. Those fans don't look like much but they are Deltas that I pulled from some 1U PSUs. They can do 24 CFM each at 12V, but they are very loud. I can turn them down to 5V and they are fairly quiet or at 4V they are almost silent and still push a decent amount of air.

Finally I gutted the case of everything I don't need.


Next up is engineering and constructing the new HDD rack. Some acrylic will be needed for this. I have to get this and the 5.25" bays ready before I can do anything else.
Edited by shinji2k - 1/4/09 at 7:05pm
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post #6 of 326
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Day 3

Time for some work on the HDD rack. The idea for my mounting system isn't exactly original, but I'm hoping it will be exactly how I want it this way. A template and some blanks ready to be routed:


Some double sided tape:


Router table shot:


Five done


The hardware for mounting the drives:


I found some vacuum tubing at a local auto parts store that fit perfectly.


Some mounting action:







After trying to polish those rails, I've found that it is near impossible to get in the mounting holes with a wheel or flame polishing. I'm also not liking using acrylic structurally. Time for plan B.
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post #7 of 326
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Day 4

I decided to take a break on the HDD rack to figure out plan B. So I took the PSU bracket to work to polish. We've got large floor standing units we call lathes. It's basically a large electric motor with a shaft to which we mount 16" buffing wheels. I was nervous about using that for the fragile bracket, but I had plenty of experience with them and was confident I could do it. Well, the wheel that was on there was too soft. It flexed and caught one of the many edges, yanking the piece of out my hands, throwing it into the shroud, mangling it and then shooting it back at me. You can probably guess, but it was ruined.

Luckily I was able to bend it back enough to use it as a router template for the new one. That made for easy work and after about an hour I had another version 3 ready. But I got smart this time, I polished the blank piece before I cut out the fan and PSU openings. Here's what I am left with:


I've got it screwed down doing some touch-up work with my straight grinder.



Saving that for later, I moved on to trimming up the 5.25" bays. Since I only needed two (one for optical and one for fan controller), the mounts went on a diet.


I will be cannibalizing this 3.5" -> 5.25" adapter to use a bottom plate to act as support and to have something to attach the HDD rack to.


After some brainstorming, I've finalized my HDD system and have it all ready to work on.


I've cannabilized the existing HDD mounting hardware and will be reusing bits of it. I will outline that later when I've finished this part. After drilling and countersinking holes to mount the old mounting system, here's what I am left with.




I will be using counter sink rivets to attach the rails. I have 3 14cm Yate Loons to attach to this as well and I will have to cut out openings for air to pass through. That'll be fun.

Here's my setup for drilling holes. Luckily my press came with a guide, it helps keep all the holes the proper distance from the edge.


Cutting out the fan mounting holes:


Made a router template to cut out the fan openings. I broke out the trusty coping saw and file set.




After routing. It will need a good filing and sanding but I am pleased.


More double sided tape (this stuff comes in handy).




I've got a lot of work left yet. After I finish the fan openings, I will need to make the cuts for bending. Since it is nearly 3mm aluminum, I'm using the table saw at a 45° to make 2mm deep groves so I can actually bend it.
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post #8 of 326
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Day 5

The fan openings have been cut out, filed and sanded. That was tedious.


Now it is time to make the bends. I had initially planned on using a table saw to cut grooves. It worked well enough on the small pieces I was practicing with, but the unbent HDD rack is ~40" long. It was too awkward and I figured I would ruin this piece trying it on the table saw. After some brainstorming and a trip to Menards, I picked up one of these.



The 90° v-groove bit will be perfect for this. Time to get routing. I clamped a guide down and went at it.









After I repeated the process three more times I was left with this.







Now to attach the drive rails with some countersink rivets.







It may need some cross-bracing, but I won't know until I get it installed. But before that I need to order some 0.05" aluminum for a few things.
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post #9 of 326
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Day 5.5

My fans and fasteners came in today, still waiting on the aluminum.

Four YL 14cm Medium speed:


Some press in steel nuts:




Fans are now mated to the HDD rack. It's looking exactly like I planned.





These three fans are the main intake, they will draw in fresh air from vents in both side panels.
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post #10 of 326
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Day 6

Since I will be lighting the external acrylic, all of the holes need to be patched or else the light will bleed into the interior. I started with the bottom.









I later decided that curved bit wasn't needed. Time to cover the former fan control/power switch panel.





Next up are the extra 5.25" bays.





Some two part epoxy to fasten them. I wasn't liking it so I eventually used some rivets to securely fasten the panels.









Time to patch the top usb/headphone ports.





Now I can finally attach the HDD and optical drive bays. Here's a bracket to hold the two together.







I wasn't happy with the bend, so I just cut it off. Next up is a bracket to mount the HDD rack to the front of the case.







All riveted up. I hadn't planned on using rivets for everything, but since I need the exterior of the case to be completely flush for the acrylic these countersink rivets were exactly what I needed. Hopefully they blend in after I get it powder coated (a lightly textured flat black).







Now that I've finished that step, I can move on to the divider. First I will use the original one as a template and test bed. I've got a lop a few inches off before I can do anything. Obviously the current one isn't going to work with the new HDD rack and all of the holes and openings aren't in my vision.



Then my camera batteries died. While they charged I steamed ahead and finished this piece.









Like a glove. Now I can mess with the secondary motherboard placement. I had figured this would happen, but there are some clearance issues. I've got a cardboard mock-up of a normal size mATX mobo (9.6" x 9.6"). As you can see, it won't fit.



It looks like I will need to install it on the tilt. It's not perfect, but it'll have do.




Edited by shinji2k - 3/10/09 at 6:57pm
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