Modding the Doors with Tempered Glass Windows and Sound Insulation
Back when I was getting the case powder coated I was doing some research on swapping out the acrylic windows with tempered glass windows. This was when the “tempered glass window” craze was getting into full swing.
I thought I would probably be the only person, or at least one of the only people with a CaseLabs case that had tempered glass windows, and how awesome that would be!
Then when CaseLabs came out with the SMA8-A revision case it was going to have an optional tempered glass windowed door, and they were talking about making the tempered glass windows available for current case owners to upgrade their windows to tempered glass.
At that point I still had a long ways to go, so I decided why bother getting something made custom when I could just buy the tempered glass windows directly from CaseLabs.
Well as time wore on there still was no tempered glass windows available yet, so I sent Jim from CaseLabs a PM June 20, 2018 asking him about the availability of the tempered glass windows. I actually figured he would not even respond to me, but to my surprise he PM’d me back and said they should be available, and up on the web site the following week.
I was thinking great, but that probably won’t happen, and it didn’t. It was only a few weeks after I sent that PM that the announcement came of CaseLabs closing down. Anyway, I think there was much more to the story of why they closed than we all know because clearly Jim would not have sent me that PM otherwise.
One of my friends here locally purchased one of the SMA8-A cases with a tempered glass window, so I stopped by his house to see exactly how the tempered glass window was secured to the door.
Here’s a picture showing the little brackets that hold the glass in place on my friend’s case. The big difference was that the threaded studs in his door were further away from the edge of the glass than my case. The studs are about 10mm to the edge of the window, so even if I made some custom brackets, there was not enough room for them on my doors due to the location of the threaded studs.
The stock acrylic windows have holes through them, and are just held on with nuts. In fact since I had to remove the windows to have the powder coating done, I never put them back on for two reasons. One so that I could get better pictures when the doors were on without any reflections, and also I didn’t want to remove the paper from the acrylic windows so they didn’t get scratched up in case I had to use them.
Here is the stock window during the initial assembly of the case
I was able to find a glass shop that did custom work, so I brought one of the doors down to show the guy what I had. He could even have holes drilled into the glass before the glass gets the tempering treatment.
Putting holes in the glass was going to make it way more expensive, but as it turned out, the holes had to be an inch or so away from the edges, and there was not going to be enough room to have holes on the edge closest to the handle.
I also considered using double back tape like @emsj86
used on his window, but there wouldn’t be a wide enough area to use tape without cutting the factory threaded studs off the doors. I certainly could cut the studs off, but there is no way I’m going to do that since there are no replacement parts available anymore, and I want to be able to put the stock windows back on… just in case I had to resort back to that.
I decided to have the glass cut so that it fits just inside of the threaded studs. It only takes a few days for the glass to be made. I picked the glass up from the shop, and I have a bunch of towels ready so I can prop the glass up vertically in the back seat of my car.
Here’s the two glass panels wrapped with plastic as I picked them up.
As I unwrap the plastic, I’m immediately disappointed! I just have a few nuts on here to hold it in place to see if I can live with this… take a close look at the left lower corner.
Yes the glass has an etched logo engraved on it! Now I’m really not happy about this
The next day I call the glass guy, and tell him I can’t have etching on my glass. Then get this, he gets mad, cops an attitude with me, and says that I should have told him I didn’t want etching. I said “I would have told you no etching if I knew it came etched, and I’m no glass expert, how was I supposed to know that it comes with etching unless you request no etching?”
Anyway I said just make me two more panels without the etching, and I’ll pay for it I don’t care. Two days later he calls me tells me the two pieces are ready. He only charged me half price this time at least.
Now that I have two clean pieces of glass it’s time to mount them up. You can see the glass fits inside the studs with a little wiggle room. After all there’s no filing to make it fit here. Also I don’t want to use the factory nuts because they have a serrated bottom. This is with the stock nuts on loosely.
You can see how much wiggle room there is here, and how there really isn't enough width for double back tape.
Now for my custom mounting solution, I start with a piece of 7/32” automotive vacuum hose.
With a Xacto knife I carefully cut 24 pieces that are 1/8” or slightly wider as the glass is.
I put one on each stud on the doors.
I also bought some thin locking nuts. Here the nut is behind the stud.
The glass fits snugly against the rubber on the threaded studs.
Next I put some super thin plastic washers on. These were extras from the screws for the video card water blocks.
You can see here is where the threaded studs just makes contact with the plastic inserts inside the lock nuts. They should tighten enough to lock in place without worry of them coming loose.
Now for the scary part… tightening the nuts down
Obviously there is no clamping force needed or desired here. I very carefully snugged the nuts down. The rubber pieces actually expanded slightly and ended up holding the glass in place nicely.
Time for some sound insulation. This is the same material I used on the solid front bay covers, AcoustiPack 12mm Soundproofing Insulation
I cut half the thickness of the material off where the nuts for the reinforcement panel for the handle are.
Here’s the first door done, it is necessary to leave the gap around the outer edges or the sound insulation will hit the frame edges of the case. I notched out around the nuts holding the glass in place.
What I did not realize at first was that the edge of the sound insulation material can be seen through the window.
I was able to peel the bottom piece off and cut it down, then flipped it over so the factory edge is up, and sits below the window retaining nuts now.
Left side door finished.
Now to be able to see the edge of the sound insulation, you have to be less than an arm’s length away from the case.
Here’s the right side door finished. You can see I was working on this during one of the times I had the hard drive cage removed.
There you have it, double doors with tempered glass windows and sound insulation.
I'm really happy with how this came out! It's a nice touch to go along with the custom powder coat job