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[Professional] HTPC scratch build

post #1 of 117
Thread Starter 
Hi All,

Welcome to my log biggrin.gif

The idea for this case came after I recently built a home theatre computer for my father. We were looking around the cases available and nothing was really suitable for what we needed. We settled for a NSK1380 but it got me thinking about HTPC cases.

I have always had an interest in high end HiFi equipment and wanted my case to have the same feel about it. I had minimalistic styling in mind, splashes of wood grain and tonnes of brushed aluminium seemed perfect. I even had the idea of mounting a USB DAC inside the case to really push the HiFi theme along but ran into a couple of issues so this will have to be added later.

I was thinking about sleeving the PSU and water cooling but decided against water cooling in favour of extra room, the case can easily accommodate 6970's length wise.

All and all the case has come out better that I had expected but I am left with plenty to improve upon for my next build, namely sourcing materials.

I hope you enjoy my log.

Jake
Edited by jacobthellamer - 7/1/11 at 2:47am
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post #2 of 117
Thread Starter 
Lets get started smile.gif

The first thing I wanted to get was some wood with a fair amount of character to really make the side panels look spectacular. My best source for wood is my Dad as he has heaps of small logs, stumps and random pieces lying around. I gave him a call and he told me to come around for a weekend and we could find something suitable.

I thought that this weekend would be as good as any so made the 200km dive over to the eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula.

We had a little look at some chunks of Macrocarpa lying around in the garage but I thought I would be a little too red in colour for the the case I had in mind. We then looked under the deck of his guest accommodation and found a big chunk of Kauri that we had once found floated up on the beach - perfect.

Kauri is a prized native wood that is now protected, the only way to get it now days is from recovering it from swamps, recycling from old houses or finding washed up logs left over from the forestry days. The wood has a nice colour and excellent grain so should be perfect for this build.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agathis_australis

Chainsaw and chunk of Kauri ready:
IMGP6002-1.jpg

IMGP6005.jpg

It was a nice day for to be outside if not a little hot. Here is me attacking the wood with a chainsaw.
IMGP6011.jpg

Here is the first slab off the main piece:

IMGP6012.jpg

Here are both pieces ready for milling:

IMGP6017.jpg
Edited by jacobthellamer - 9/19/11 at 3:02am
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post #3 of 117
Thread Starter 
Once I had the slabs Dad and I assembled the table saw and I trimmed the sides off:
IMGP6021.jpg

Once the sides were off I used an electric planer and belt sander to level one side off so I could neatly trim the edges with the table saw:
IMGP6025.jpg

Ready for trimming:
IMGP6026.jpg

I apologise for for the lack of shirt but I was a bit hot to be bothered with it after sanding. Me trimming back the sides and squinting like crazy for some reason:
IMGP6028.jpg

IMGP6029.jpg

Once trimmed, I turned the newly made plank on its side and cut two slices with the table saw as to get an accurate width.
IMGP6032.jpg

Once cut I finished with a hand saw then tidied up the rough side with the belt sander and tidied up the plank:
IMGP6035.jpg

IMGP6034.jpg

Here is a pic I just took showing the grain and a test piece that I treated with some Danish oil to get an idea of the final finish.
IMGP6076.jpg
Edited by jacobthellamer - 6/25/11 at 8:27pm
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post #4 of 117
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I had a busy weekend this just past working on this mod smile.gif

I am hoping to get the sheet metal work out of the way quickly so I can concentrate on the details and wood work for this mod. This should also give me plenty of time to get any powder coating or the like done.

Last week I purchased A new seasonic x-series 560W PSU for the case. I have used this to help me get my sizing right. I have also placed and order for 20m of back sleeving.

I managed to get a large amount of the sheet metal work done. I have made both sides, the motherboard tray, IO panel and the PSU mount.

Here is the sheet of aluminium I started with, a 1200mm square sheet at 1.2mm thick. You can see where I have marked out the motherboard tray.
IMGP6085.jpg

This next shot is of the motherboard tray just before I folded the sides into shape. I am leaving 20mm under the tray to give plenty of room for cable management. All cuts were made by jigsaw, you may be able to see that I had a little trouble on one of the radius's of the cable holes. Hopefully the u-channel I use to finish the edge will mask this.
IMGP6093.jpg

Here shows a mock up of the basic layout for the case. You can see the standoffs that I used for this build here, my last builds have all used the standard standoffs that come with new computer cases. This time around I decided to use 10mm M3 standoffs with 6mm M3 machine screws. These worked out easier because I could drill a 3mm hole clean through the sheet and not have to worry about the standoffs threading properly or not coming in square.
IMGP6171.jpg

These two shots are from me testing the screw alignment on the motherboard tray and working out where everything will go. I have to say that everything has lined perfectly, my last motherboard tray was no where near as precise as this one.
IMGP6180.jpg
IMGP6187.jpg

This here is my bending brake, I use this to fold all my panels. I this picture I have the IO plate waiting to be folded.

Here are a few pictures through the creation of the IO plate.
IMGP6193.jpg
IMGP6192.jpg
IMGP6195.jpg

Here is the motherboard tray/IO plate all together.
IMGP6196.jpg
IMGP6197.jpg
Edited by jacobthellamer - 6/25/11 at 8:30pm
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post #5 of 117
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The next thing to do after the mobo tray/IO was to create the sides and the centre divider. I started by cutting 3 pieces of equal size and measured out what holes would be needed to route cables through.

Here are the pieces ready for folding/cutting.
IMGP6198.jpg

Here is the divider all cut and folded.
IMGP6199.jpg
IMGP6201.jpg

Side panels now folded, there will likely be an air gap between these and the finished wooden panels.
IMGP6202.jpg

Here is me getting ready to cut out the fan hole for PSU support.
IMGP6204.jpg

This is where I am up to now, I want to make the drive mounting mechanism and work out exactly where the DVD/Blueray drive will end up be fore I mount the closer side panel, the far one just needs a bracket to be made up. I will be using a rubber foam material to rest the PSU on to help deaden any noise. I will use the same material top and bottom on the centre divider and side panels, this will help keep the top and bottom panels from rattling.
IMGP6205.jpg
Edited by jacobthellamer - 7/1/11 at 2:50am
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post #6 of 117
Thread Starter 
I love packages arriving in the mail!! biggrin.gif

I will be using a GRUBDAC mounted internally wired straight to a free motherboard USB header.

I have been using one of these on my main rig and am impressed by how crisp and clear it sounds compared to the modded x-fi card I had previously.

Here are a few shots during construction:
IMGP6216.jpg
IMGP6222.jpg
IMGP6230.jpg
IMGP6235.jpg

This is the cable I made for the USB header:
IMGP6237.jpg

Unfortunately I had problem with with the board, I think it may either be the oscillator or the PCM2707. I have changed all the caps, the WM8524, TPS79333 and triple checked the inductors and resistors. I can connect within windows but have no sound output.

I would love to have an oscilloscope to test further but I am limited by the equipment I have available to me.

I ordered another DAC kit but have not had time to put it together as yet so this will have to go in post competition. I can always use my existing grub externally until I put the new unit together.
Edited by jacobthellamer - 7/1/11 at 2:52am
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post #7 of 117
Thread Starter 
A day of metal work, things seem to be coming together nicely.

HDD brackets cut:
IMGP6257.jpg
Case so far:
IMGP6259.jpg
Front cut out and bent, HDD brackets bent:
IMGP6266.jpg
Checking everything fits:
IMGP6268.jpg
Fan holes cut out and a quick test to check how the drive all fit.
IMGP6270.jpg
Screw driver holes made:
IMGP6273.jpg
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post #8 of 117
Thread Starter 
Preparing to put on the side panels:

Measured out holes for spacers:
IMGP6282.jpg
Test cut spacer:
IMGP6278.jpg
Spacers in place:
IMGP6284.jpg
Side panels:
IMGP6286.jpg
All seems to fit nicely:
IMGP6285.jpg
Sides clamped in place:
IMGP6287.jpg
Back panel cut to size:
IMGP6291.jpg
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post #9 of 117
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Sleeving Has Arrived!! biggrin.gif

IMGP6310.jpg
IMGP6303.jpg

Picked up some white wire to go under the sleeve:
IMGP6306.jpg
After a nights work the CPU 8-pin is complete(not the motherboard I am using for this build):
IMGP6322.jpg
Edited by jacobthellamer - 6/30/11 at 1:21am
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post #10 of 117
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Wood all sanded and coated with Danish oil, unfortunately I seem to have misplaced the photos I took at the time :/

I started sanding with 120 grit and then worked my way up to 180. I did a final sand with 320 grit wet and dry paper. I also used the 320 grit to apply the Danish oil used to finish the wood.

Only this one:
IMGP6374.jpg

Laser cutting arrived, aluminium went over my budget so I decided to go with black acrylic for the front and fan guard. I have also made the top panel.
IMGP6526.jpg
IMGP6527.jpg

Exhaust 140mm fan hole drawn up
IMGP6531.jpg

Guard in place:
IMGP6532.jpg
Edited by jacobthellamer - 6/28/11 at 4:57am
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