My apologies for not posting anything on this thread the past couple of months. Upon returning home with the case, some of the pieces in the engineering model jarred loose during transportation. Fortunately, this is easy to fix. We learned from experience: during transport, pieces of the engineering model must be removed, including the warp core itself.
However, we encountered a much larger problem with the cathodes. Typically people install a few cathodes into a case with no problems. This Voyager case requires over 60 cathodes. When we designed the case, we thought connecting a cathode was as simple as connecting the cable from the cathode to the inverter. If the inverter was too far away, install an extension. That sounded reasonable, until we lighted all of the cathodes simultaneously. Cathodes with an extension cord illuminate at < 50% of full brightness. Cathodes requiring two extension cords illuminate at < 10% of full brightness. When we removed those cathodes and tested them with no extensions, they lighted to full power and 100% brightness.
Another problem with the cathodes is their fragility. When using your computer at home and the computer never moves, the cathodes are fine. When you have to pack the 400 pound computer into a crate and transport the crate to another location, cathodes start breaking easily. Upon arriving at my home, 8 cathodes no longer functioned. The cathodes inside Alex’s reservoirs all performed perfectly – those cathodes are well protected. But the cathodes in the warp nacelles, which are not adequately protected, cannot handle transportation. Again, we are talking about a 400-pound computer case. Can you imagine trying to lay a crate weighing over 500 pounds onto the bed of a pickup truck? We actually did succeed in this endeavor, but dropped the side of the case by only 1 or 2 inches. That jarring may have been enough to damage the cathodes.
Another problem we encountered was connecting too many cathodes into one inverter. We installed the 10 Lamptron 8-way inverters in the case. I had no idea an inverter can generate so much heat. One inverter becomes hot to the touch. How about 10 inverters? If we keep that many inverters running simultaneously, we will have to install more cooling fans ... and the case has over 40 cooling fans already.
Do we have a solution to the cathode lighting and power issues? Alex and I have been thinking about this carefully. All of the special effects inside the case rely on lighting. We are developing a new LED solution. That is, all cathodes and inverters will be removed from the case and replaced with LEDs. Unfortunately, this solution will be more expensive. After spending so much money on this case, I am not going to short-change this project now. We do need some time to ponder, discuss, and test some ideas before I make a large investment in LED lighting & accessories.
Another challenge we faced were the fan controllers. The touch-screen fan controllers work well under normal PC operation. That is, most people install fan controllers do so for fun and improving the aesthetics of the case. We learned by experience that the fan controllers do not spin the fans at the desired high speeds. For example, the fan controllers state 1800 RPMs, but you could see that the fans were moving more slowly. This case will become too hot if the fans do not operate at full power. Thus, we had to remove all fan controllers and install small devices (I forget the name) that simply pass current to the fans consistently and run the fans at full power. Now, 40+ fans all hum as if working as one unit. The amount of noise generated by the dual water-cooling system with 4 water pumps, 2 radiators with 18 fans each, and an additional 10+ fans inside the case, is < 30 decibels - that's equivalent to the noise you hear inside a quiet library. (By the way, we tested the fan controllers independently outside the case. The fans operated normally. However, after this experience, I decided not to take any chances and removed all fan controllers.) The touchscreen fan controllers have been replaced by 2 additional MIMO touchscreens. The front of the case now has a total of 4 MIMO touchscreens that have will have operating LCARS screens just like you see on Star Trek. (In the short run, I will have LCARS wallpaper running on the screens. Writing the code to make fully functional screens will take me some time.)
All of the LCARS images you see on the case are finished. The LCARS images are actually printed on vinyl, and then laminated onto the acrylic. We had to print them twice. The first set did not have sufficient color saturation; you could see the bright cathode underneath the image more than the image itself. After discussing our options with the printing company, we applied two vinyl layers of the image onto the acrylic instead of one layer. We also printed the images on white vinyl instead of clear vinyl – the white vinyl does a better job of blocking excess backlighting and enables the LCARS to “glow” much better.
The warp core itself looks absolutely spectacular. I hope to make a YouTube video (unless Alex did already?).
Since the case arrived home in mid-July, I have been working on a new project at my job. My work weeks have been 70+ hours a week. Fortunately, my workload is slowly returning to normal. I have not had any time to work on the case, but I hope to resume this weekend. My first task is to overcome an “AE” error I am getting on my Main PC. I know the PC works fine…we successfully tested the computer at Alex’s shop before transport. This error is driving me nuts. This weekend I hope to remove the graphics cards and re-install them. Hopefully, that will correct the error.
I recently received my Voyager keyboard (that’s what I like to call it). The keyboard is custom-built Durandal Backlit Mechanical Keyboard (blue switches). You can see an image of the keybaord here: http://www.maxkeyboard.com/max-keyboard-durandal-full-customize-backlit-mechanical-keyboard.html
. I ordered the exact color configuration you see in that image.
I will post more photos of the case in a couple weeks. I need a little time to get my brain back into this project.