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[Professional] Selective Pressure

post #1 of 84
Thread Starter 
The Concept

When I designed this case, I started out collecting various ideas. Something would come to me and I would make a model or just think about it for a while. Eventually I ended up with quite a few ideas, some more feasible than others. After I culled all the ideas that I just didn't have the skill, tools or money for I still ended up with a few designs to choose from. I've become interested in some aspects of modern design and I've fallen in love with the idea of the cantilever. With that in mind and with a few incremental changes and evolutions later, I settled on this. As always, I am terrible with names but I guess it does describe the process it took to get this far.

001.jpg002.jpg

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The materials will be acrylic, polished aluminum (the bars) and a couple layers of hardwood ply for the main support. Everything involved with the computer itself will be mounted directly to the side panel and with just four screws the whole computer will detach from the rest of the case. Hopefully, that will make everything accessible if I need to switch out hardware. This will also be my first foray in to watercooling. I managed to get a good deal on the Swiftech MCR320 Drive so res, pump and rad will be all one piece which goes well with my 'simple is better' way of thinking. All I have to do is attach and CPU block and it's ready to go.

I could bore you some more but let's get started.

Skip ahead to the final pics if you must...
Edited by shinji2k - 7/1/11 at 5:26pm
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post #2 of 84
Thread Starter 
I picked up some birch ply for the backbone. Real birch ply turned out to be difficult to find without a long drive, but Menards had what they claimed to be Baltic Birch. Good hardwood ply is the same wood for all the plys (not just birch veneer with poplar core) and the outside ply isn't paper thin and prone to delaminating. They claimed it was bb/c grade so I went ahead and picked up a sheet of 1/4". I bought it a while back and even though it was nice and flat when I bought, it's warped since then. Sorry for the pic quality, it was pretty cloudy today.

006.jpg

Since I can't buy 1" ply I decided to make my own with four 1/4" layers. A few minutes with the circular saw and we are left with this.

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It's a bit oversized, but that'll be trimmed down later with the router. Even clamped down it's still quite warped.

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That's better, it only took 250lbs of sand. But for now, I'll let that sit there for a while before I glue it together. Hopefully they will flatten out some. On to cutting the aluminum bars for the cross bits.

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The two bars that are to be the feet are 1.5" diameter and the four up top are 1.375". I wanted the ones up top to be slightly smaller (weighs less and cheaper) and a 1/8" difference in diameter won't be noticeable. I bought a new saw blade to cut these.

013.jpg

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The negative rake is pretty important for cutting aluminum in a chop saw since it won't grab and it's easier on the motor. You can see the difference compared to the general purpose blade that I normally use on the compound miter. Time to get it set up and do some test cuts.

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Not bad. Time to get busy.

018.jpg

I need to stop tomorrow and pick up some sanding belts and sand paper and I can then get these cleaned up and ready for buffing and polishing.
Edited by shinji2k - 10/2/11 at 6:44pm
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post #3 of 84
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It's been a couple days and the plywood has flattened out a bit. It's time to try gluing it. Since ambient temps need to be over 55F for the glue to bond properly I had to find a space inside the house. I set up shop in an out of the way corner and got started.

019.jpg

I apologize for the lack of pictures for this particular step, but I wanted to get the glue spread and the plys pressed together as quickly as possible. The pics I do have are pretty self explanatory.

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I'll check up on that tomorrow, if this doesn't work and the finished panel isn't fairly flat I'm not sure what I'll do.

While that dries I moved on to cleaning up the ends of the aluminum bars. I put a 120 grit belt on the sander and tried to keep everything lined up.

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The hole I drilled with the drill press worked well to keep everything perpendicular while I operated the sander with one hand and controlled the pressure and position of the bar with the other.

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Eventually I need to use the DA sander with 400 grit for buffing prep, but for now I sanded it to 220 to get the belt sander marks out of it. The same jig worked well to keep the end as flat as possible.

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Tomorrow is crucial, hopefully it all goes well.
Edited by shinji2k - 10/2/11 at 6:46pm
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post #4 of 84
Thread Starter 
Time to drill and tap the feet. Ideally I should get the hole in the exact center of the rod but I don't have a lathe. As an alternative I bought some washers that were the same diameter as the rod with a hole roughly the size I need to tap the 1/4"-20 hole. I used a piece of PVC pipe and a worm drive clamp to hold the washer in place.

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It worked well enough for the first attempt. I'll probably try something slightly different for the other four but now it's time to finish cutting up the wood.

I've you've read any of my other worklogs, you would know I prefer to use templates and flush trim router bits to do the final cuts of pieces that need precision. I play with the template until it's the way I like it and then trim up the good piece. It prevents me from ruining expensive materials and the router leaves a nice surface to make doing the finishing touches easier. So here's the template.

038.jpg

Using my double sided tape I secured the template and went at it.

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Here's a quick mock-up with the feet roughly where they will be mounted.

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I purchased some edge banding just in case it didn't work out, but personally I've always liked the exposed edge on birch ply. There doesn't seem to be any major voids so I think it will look just fine without the edge banding. I'm not exactly sure of the finish, that I still need to experiment with, but I was planning on adding a tad bit yellow to the color and hopefully bringing out the grain a little. I'll also be doing some sort of clear coat, but I don't want anything too glossy. But that will come later.
Edited by shinji2k - 10/2/11 at 6:48pm
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post #5 of 84
Thread Starter 
Time to drill and tap the four supports. This time I used a vise and square to get things as lined up as they are going to get.

047.jpg

048.jpg

Drilled the holes and mounted them with temporary fasteners.

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I was going to call it a day but I decided to start cutting acrylic. Here's the stuff I need for the project, a bunch of 3/8" black and 1/8" white.

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I set up my guide to rip a piece with the circular saw, the rest will be done with the table saw.

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The template was made by trimming down the one for the wood to make sure the holes are in the same spot.

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I bought a new trim bit for this project, a monster triple blade 2" long bit.

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I already stripped out the threads on one of the rods so I'm going to need to drill and tap another 1/2" down and get a longer screw. redface.gif

The other side will also get the flush, flat head screws but I need extra long ones I can only get from McMaster so I'll pick some up when I need something else. The half inch pieces of alu rod are just spacers and the screws will pass through everything and thread into the long rods on the other side of the wood. That side wasn't really meant to be taken off a lot since you won't be able to get to much with the fans in the way. The acrylic piece on the left side was designed to be a support since I cut away a lot of the wood. It'll hopefully keep the wood from bending as well.
Edited by shinji2k - 10/2/11 at 6:50pm
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post #6 of 84
Thread Starter 
It turns out I didn't strip the threads in one of the bars, I just sheared a screw. Much easier to fix.

Anyway, on with the modding. Today started with making the rear panel.

064.jpg

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Up next is working on the radiator exhaust cut-out. First I need to get the rad all set up to figure out spacing.
069.jpg
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I'm hoping the MCP355 and AP-15 fans work well together.

Here I am using a hole saw to cut the radii for the template.

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With the completed template it's time to cut out the exhaust hole.

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To be able to mount everything like I want there needs to be some trimming done.

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Those tabs on the pump have to go and I need to open up the screw holes on the fans. Eventually the fans and pump will be painted a gloss black to better blend in with everything.

075.jpg

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Here's how the fans will now attach to the radiator.

077.jpg

And then to mount the whole thing I'll use four thumb screws to secure it to the side panel. I need to use thumb screws since with the angle I can't get anything in there to tighten a regular screw down.

078.jpg

For this project I decided to try something new. Here's a test piece to demonstrate. First you drill a 13/64" hole about a 1/4" deep.
079.jpg

Instead of tapping into the acrylic, these inserts will be used to mount the mobo standoffs, the rad and the hdd caddy. They are called molded inserts for thermoplastics.

080.jpg

To install you only need a soldering iron.

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It makes a little hump around the insert but you wont see any of them anyway.

I went ahead and installed all the ones for the mobo and rad. These things are quite strong once everything has cooled down and they won't easily strip out like tapped acrylic.

083.jpg

I seem to have lost my mobo standoffs so until replacements arrive I'll have to move on to something else.
Edited by shinji2k - 10/2/11 at 6:53pm
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post #7 of 84
Thread Starter 
Time to work on the rad exhaust grill. I still have a bunch of the mesh I bought for PitR so I cut a piece and started working it into the template I used to cut out the hole.

084.jpg

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I didn't want to just sandwich a piece of mesh between the rad and side panel since that would be pretty restrictive. I'm hoping that having that ~3/8" gap will reduce restriction quite a bit since it will increase the amount of mesh the air will travel through by about 50%. That will eventually be painted gloss black.

In the meantime, my mobo standoffs came in.

088.jpg

The only place I have for cable management is under the mobo so I went with 3/4" standoffs to leave plenty of space to route cables.

I also figured out a good way to mount the rad. I took the grinder to a spare allen wrench so that it will fit.

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On to the hard drive caddy.

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The plastic 2.5" adapter is only temporary, I'll probably buy a nice aluminum one to mount my SSD.

It will mount with screws through those tabs, I need buy some longer screws though.

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After I do the side fan mounts I'll put in the threaded inserts to mount the HDD caddy.

Next up is some misc work on the rear panel. I made up a couple braces for the top and bottom.

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Here's some left over 1/8" alu to make the PCI card screw down thingy.

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After I polish it I will drill the holes and put the captive inserts in. I still need to drill and tap a couple holes for it to screw down to the rear panel.

On to the side fans. These things are beasts and will provide fresh air to the video card(s) and mobo. Instead of going for clever airflow I figure brute force will do well enough.

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Those three 3/8" alu rods will be used to mount the fans to the side panel. I was going to go ahead and tap the threads on each end but my tap seems to have worn out. I'll have to make a trip to the store before I can continue. I'll leave that for another day.
Edited by shinji2k - 10/2/11 at 6:56pm
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post #8 of 84
Thread Starter 
I got to be honest, I almost gave up on this. While drilling the holes for the fan mount inserts I blew right through to the other side. So I had to start over using the piece from the left side and order more acrylic to remake the other side. I also wasn't satisfied with the hdd caddy and fan mounts. It just didn't look right. So after redoing all the mobo standoffs, etc, I started with a new hdd caddy.

109.jpg

These are just some threaded rod I cut down to mount these...

110.jpg

Those were from the previous fan mount that I trimmed down.

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There's still room for two 3.5" drives and two 2.5" drives. The drives only mount on one side, but it's still pretty stable. I bet you are also wondering where the optical drive is going. Well, since I was having trouble finding a spot for one and I rarely use them, I bought an external one to share between like three computers. I am also not quite set on what to do with the side fans, but I will probably mount them to the wood.

Next up is the white acrylic shell. Here's a couple 1/8" thick pieces I ripped down, ready to start bending.

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After a little work with the heat gun I started to get the hang of it.

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That was actually a practice bend and for some reason I forgot to take pictures of the good pieces. I'm sure you'll get a good look later. I purposely cut the pieces too large because bending acrylic distorts the edges. After trimming a little off the left and right and cut them to length I was left with this.

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To join them together I've got some 1/16" steel wire.

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It needs a little tweaking and I might take a step down in wire size. It's finally starting to take shape. With only a month left I should make it just in time.
Edited by shinji2k - 10/2/11 at 6:59pm
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post #9 of 84
Thread Starter 
With 8 days left it's now crunch time. Work isn't letting up either so I may not get any sleep until this is done. On to the project.

My replacement acrylic came in and I redid the left panel as well as having another go at making the white shell since I wasn't completely satisfied with the first try. I also ditched the steel wire and just went with some pieces of aluminum. For some reason I haven't taken a picture of that yet. Time to mount the two side fans.

125.jpg

Using some pieces of aluminum and these threaded inserts I can now mount them to the wood.

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I also cut out the back of the white shell.

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Next up is sanding and polishing.

First is sanding with 220 grit and 400 grit.

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For places I have to use a dremel to buff and polish I sand down to 800 grit.

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Here are my tools of choice.

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And here's a sample of what the final results look like.

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With the polishing done I need to move on to painting. I hate painting. First is to sand and clear coat the birch.

Sanded and ready to go.

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Here's the finish of choice. I needed something unobtrusive so I chose that since it will only slightly change the color and the satin finish won't make it too shiny.

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I am pleasantly surprised. I've never used that particular product, but I think it came out well. I think I ended up with four light coats on each side.

Next up is painting some aluminum pieces.

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And that's where it sits at the moment. I've also started on polishing the bars, but that will be pretty much the last thing I do so they don't get scuffed up. In eight days I have to finish painting those aluminum pieces as well as the three fan housings and pump I sanded on, finish polishing the aluminum, glue a couple of acrylic pieces together, fab up the power switch mount, make the PCI screw down thing, do the wiring and sleeving, assemble the WCing and put everything together. It sounds like a lot but I've already started on most of those things (even though they haven't been pictured yet) so I hope to get everything but the wiring/sleeving and polishing done by the end of the weekend. That should give me plenty of time to finish everything up by next Friday.
Edited by shinji2k - 10/2/11 at 7:01pm
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post #10 of 84
Thread Starter 
I apologize if the pictures start getting a bit haphazard from here on out. I'll do my best but sometimes taking pictures falls to the wayside when I'm rushing to get things done.

Here's the painting I started on the other day. It's the best I can do.

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I also took apart my fans and painted those to cover up the sanding I had to do.

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Next I tweaked the HDD caddy so I could use socket cap screws yet still mount them flush.

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And I then finished up my power switch. It'll tuck under the pump and hide behind the front, bottom alu rod, easily accessible from the bottom but still hidden from plain sight. I'll get into that more when I start bonding the acrylic.

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Finally I polished the alu flat bar for the PCI thingy.

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It attaches by screwing into the holes I tapped into the edge of the acrylic.

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Now I just need to make the holes and press the steel captive nuts in and voila!

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I now have six days left and realistically I'll need at least one of them to take the final pics. Tomorrow I hope to tie up the lose ends, bond the acrylic and start some of the assembly. I can't fully assemble it until I polish the last pieces of acrylic (which I will do at work Monday) and I need to get some more screws from McMaster (which should be here Tuesday) to mount the rad and fans. I'll also try to start on the wiring tomorrow.
Edited by shinji2k - 10/2/11 at 7:03pm
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