37. CABLE MANAGEMENT BUMPOUT CUT AND TEST
I finally got started on this today. I've been very wary of starting this side panel, simply because I am using it as a test of how well I can cut a rectangular window.
So I started out by checking my cookie-pan options. The set I bought had three. It really seemed to be a case of Goldilocks and the Three Cookie Pans...
I looked at the first, and it was toooo big.
I looked at the second, and it was tooooo small.
I looked at the third, and it looked alllllmost perfect....
The one that was "almost perfect" was so close that frankly I wouldn't really be able to tell until I had trimmed off the rolled edges. So I set to work doing that on both of them. So let us take yon trusty bandsaw, and put it to work.
It was sweet. That bandsaw went through the thin sheet steel like butter. I may wish I had used something thicker at some point, but I suppose I can replace it if it comes back to bite me later. Not the cleanest cut job, but good enough for what I have in mind.
So now let's have a look at the smallest, atop the middle, atop the side panel:
As you can see, I did both "just right" and "too small" and guess what... "just right" is "too big". There's no way I have enough room at the top and bottom to create the transition AND make it structurally sound. I need more room between the edge of the pan and the edge of the panel to work with. *sigh* So it's the smallest pan after all.
So now for the window.
Now, I have been told that a man who knows what he is doing, and has a good set of tin snips can cut a straight, clean line in sheet metal by hand with them.
I AM NOT THAT MAN.
But I had to prove it to myself first...
So I cut a hole in the panel with yon trusty hole saw:
And then I practiced cutting on the cut piece, to see how difficult it would be. It turned out to be easier than I expected. I also confirmed that my red-handled ones want to cut to the left. Alright then. Before we start cutting, let's have another look at the planned window here.
As you can see, I'm opting for an external mounting of the pan flange instead of an internal mounting. Two reasons. First, there happens to be a slight indented pattern on the panel, which I can use to help make the pan flush with body filler. Second, I realized that there were internal frameworks (especially the mobo brace) that had practically zero clearance. Third, this meant I didn't have to make the hole exactly the right size. It could even be a bit smaller than the bumpout itself.
As you can see, I drew three sets of lines. The outermost was the edge of the flange. The next in was the actual narrowest part of the cookie pan. And the farthest in was where I decided to cut, to give me room to screw up and recover.
So let's get snippy! I opted to try for a spiral cut (as I have seen online) and failed miserably. I just couldn't get the curve I wanted, and realized pretty fast that there was no way I was going to get where I wanted without warping the panel. The metal was too thick for me, and I was too inexperienced i this method.
But, who cares, the point was to try and see what happened. And I left plenty of room to play with. The only downside is that I might have salvaged the resulting cutout for future body panels. I'll know better next time.
O Sweet Dremel, twas folly that came betwixt us. Take me back, and I'll never stray again.
Got the main shape cut out. And the lines are much better than I expected, frankly. I'm really starting to get the hang of using the reinforced cutoff wheels. Notice that I did an angled cut at the corners rather than try to kill myself with making a curve at this point. I find that it works extremely well and gives you a lot more room to work with afterward. As the next pictures show.
As you can see, I use a "cross cut and nibble away" method of making the corners. I do cuts one direction, then cut off the majority of the metal the other direction, then I just nibble away with the cutoff wheel until I am at my line.
The end result is not bad at all. Not at all.
And a bit of deburring:
And it's time to see how this is going to fit together!
Front and back looking very nice. So I taped it down temporarily for some test fitting on the case:
And a few pics looking at the installed panel from the inside of the case. Pardon the crappy old molex and IDE cables, please. I've got some old components in there for test fitting purposes.
^^ Upper area between drive cages and mobo tray.
^^ Lower area from drive cages to PSU just below mobo tray.
As you can see, it gives me almost an inch of clearance now behind the mobo brace bar, where before I had zero clearance there. And it the space stretches from the PSU (critical) to almost to the far edge of the drive cages (critical) and from the bottom to the top of the side panel. I think this is going to work swimmingly.
So let's have a final look from outside the case:
I find myself well satisfied. And now I'm reassured that I can actually do the side window on the other panel. The one that will really show. What say you?