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[Sponsored] Project: I.S.A.C - Thermaltake 2020 Case Mod Challenge

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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-13-2020, 06:31 AM - Thread Starter
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[Sponsored] Project: I.S.A.C - Thermaltake 2020 Case Mod Challenge

Hi-diddly-hey modderinos!

Welcome to the project log of my entry in the Thermaltake 2020 Case Mod Challenge; Project: I.S.A.C. - themed on Tom Clancy's The Division 2, a game by Ubisoft Massive.

For the competition, 5 of us have been given the same components to do a case mod with and we have until 15th June to complete our mods. I'll try and post regular updates to keep you updated on the progress. A huge thanks to all of the sponsors for making this competition possible; Thermaltake UK, Scan Computers UK, AMD, ASUS and Seagate. First off lets have look at the parts we'll be using for the mod:

Thermaltake View 51 Tempered Glass Snow ARGB Edition

Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 850W PSU

Thermaltake ThoughRAM RGB 32GB 3000MHz

Seagate FireCuda 520 500GB M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD

Seagate IronWolf Pro 14TB NAS 3.5" SATA HDD

ASUS ROG Strix X570-F Gaming

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X

ASUS Radeon RX 5700 8GB

300mm Thermaltake TT Premium PCIe 3.0 Extender

Thermaltake TtMod Sleeved Cables & Combs Kit

Pacific V-RX 5700 Series Plus GPU Waterblock

Thermaltake Pacific C360 DDC Hard Tube Water Cooling Kit and Hard Tube Bending Kit

Again huge thanks to Thermaltake UK, Scan Computers UK, AMD, ASUS and Seagate for sponsoring the competition. I'll be back soon with some progress, so stay tuned Crap fans. Same Crap time, same Crap channel.

Mods: I couldn't create a thread in the sponsored builds section. I have marked it as such in the title, if you could move it to the appropriate section that'd be much appreciated.

Last edited by crappy; 04-13-2020 at 06:34 AM.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-13-2020, 06:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Here's a video with a little about my history with modding, a more in-depth look at the parts.

Please note the competition mentioned has now closed. Sorry!
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-13-2020, 06:54 AM - Thread Starter
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I've sometimes done builds where I have an idea in my head of what I want to do, I might even have sketched some quick plans of what I want, but when I come to actually do the build I find things don't fit in like I thought they would. Sometimes it can be solves with a couple more parts or fittings, but sometimes when things REALLY don't fit, you have to scrap then plan all together, or get drastic with a Dremel.

I had to make sure that all the components worked, so what better way to do that and get to know the case properly than do a complete build in it! Whilst this is quite different from the final configuration of the mod, it has allowed me to evaluate some of my design ideas while building and try/figure a few things out.

So sit back, put your feet up and enjoy the ride.
(If you want you can skip to 14mins for the juicy bits)
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-13-2020, 06:56 AM - Thread Starter
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​Just a few pictures from the test build, includes some "behind the scenes" (and by scenes i mean motherboard tray)

A Spaghetti mess of cables

Cable Management just means you managed to get them in, right?

In these difficult times there's no tissue available for leak testing. Fingers crossed!

Pretty from pretty much any angle.

A look with the lights on (wish I'd taken a few more picks like this)

All working A-OK!

While editing my mouse kept catching on something and I saw this poking off the bottom. 6-7 years of owning my R.A.T. 7 and this sticker has only just come off.

I never thought editing would be such a PITA.

Stay tuned Crap fans! Another little update should be hitting you soon. Same Crap time, same Crap Channel.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-15-2020, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Ahoy hoy Modderinos!

So now we've tested everything works. It's time to break it all down and start modding!

I can't believe how well the case stood up to the pelting I gave it, just shows the quality of the finish on the case. There's a lot of sharp, jagged, pointy edges on those stones and they've really not done much at all. Really going to have to give it some welly to rough it up like I want.

The brick on the other hand did manage to leave a mark....

....and a bit of a dent.....

....but nothing that wasn't easily fixable.

Now it's time to get serious and bring out the big guns

This will be my home for the next couple of months, best get comfortable.

That's all for now folks. Don't worry, there's already PLENTY of damage dealt already for the next update, so stay tuned Crapfans! Same Crap time, same Crap Channel.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 09:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Things Get Brutal

Ahoy hoy modderinos!

After my woeful attempt to cause any damage with rather unorthodox methods, it's time to get back to good old fashioned power tools.

I didn't really have a defined plan for what i wanted or how I was going to do it, just more of an idea of how I wanted it to look. I decided to tackle the back panel first, as that would be taking the brunt of the damage and I could try a few things out. First up I had to get rid of those nice neat grills.

The jigsaw cut through them so much easier than I thought it would, so glad I've got it in the toolkit as it would have taken an absolute age with a dremel. The Dremel is good for getting the smaller bits and grindin stuff out though.

But in those small places it can get caught up and break discs, which is why safety gear is an absolute must. You may look a bit funny, but losing an eye is not. :nono:

I didn't want to make it too perfect, so i left some of the protruding bits and gave it all a quick file to take any sharp rough edges off.

Then things took a bit more of a drastic turn. Armed with a couple of hammers, a screwdriver and a chisel, I dented up and scored out this line and put a little gouge in with the Dremel, as though someone had tried to smash their way in. It will be developed further as I go along, build it up a bit at a time.

Next up I started putting some wear marks in places that would get a lot of action and likely to get bashed a bit. These bits were done with a grinding stone bit on the Dremel.

The edges took a beating from a sanding wheel, as well as some other areas of the panel, wearing off some of the paint to varying degrees.

To try and blend those in I thought I'd try a wire wheel, and while it did work to an extent, it mostly just left a mark on the panel, the metal rubbing off on this extremely sturdy paint. Now as luck would have it, it was exactly the kind of grubby look I'd wanted to put in places, give it a dirty man-handled effect.

Here you can see someone's dirty fingerprints and wear where the panel would be pinched on along the front edge.

I don't entirely know what I was going for on this bit, I was kind of experimenting with different bits and seeing what happened. I did get some nice deep score/scratch mark across the panel bit these 2 bits though.

Now the panel is largely finished in terms of damage and relieving it of it's paint. I might give some sections a very light sanding to blend some of it in and there's a little painting and other touches, but overall I like the brutality of it. It should contrast nicely with the clean clinical look I'll be going for in the front chamber.

Perhaps most importantly, it still fits and functions as as panel!

Against the clean rear side of the case you can really get an idea of difference and what a hard life that right hand side has had.

As have these little troopers, god rest their shanks.

That's all for now folks until the next update of more damage and destruction and I attempt to blend in that panel to the rest of the case. So stay tuned Crapfans! Same Crap time, same Crap Channel.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 04-25-2020, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
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More Damage!

Hi-diddly-hey modderinos!

I've not been too well over the last week, fortunately not from you know what, but it has meant there hasn't been an awful lot of progress. I haven't been completely idle though. I've done a few test fittings as the odd part has come in and done some detail plans for some of the things that weren't fully fleshed out. I've also had some more destruction equipment turn up, so toward the end of the week I got back to it.

First on the agenda was to continue the "ageing process" and try and blend the side panel into the rest of the case. After I'd finished the side panel I was a little concerned that maybe I should have had the panel on and been doing it in-situ, but I needn't have been.

Being a bit of a clumsy oaf and having dropped more than my fair share of computers, I know they can get a bit dented and nicked around the bottom edge. What better way to expedite that than the pointy end of a hammer.

I had been using my Dremel with the stand just on the floor. It had fallen over a couple of times and wasn't exactly the ideal orientation for free use of the flexible shaft (quieten down), so I rigged up something a bit more secure that would allow better movement and it helped no end in getting in to it at the right angle (I said quiet in the back!)

I want to try and make sure there are nice little touches here and there, things that may not be immediately obvious or possibly hidden from view, but it's those little flourishes that can make all the difference. In particular I want to try and put in little touches of wear where there would be from actual natural use, not just outright destruction. The little HDD access panel at the back seemed like a prime candidate for just such a thing, where the 2 tabs sit into the case.

Taking my trusty 'not for wood any more' chisel, I slowly ground down into the paint and I tried to do it with the same kind of small pivoting motions you'd get from moving the panel about.

And not forgetting the panel itself of course.

I'm not going to be using the fan filter on the bottom of the case and the tabs that stick out to hold it in place are no longer required.

They also kept getting caught on stuff and it got annoying so.....

There's also something else missing here. Care to guess what?

Can you tell what it is yet?

You might be thinking I've gone completely nuts at this point and of course you'd be right, but I went mad long before now. Muwah ha ha ha haaaaaaaa! Don't worry it'll all make sense eventually. I hope. lol

Next up for ruination are the door hinges. First up a little sanding, trying to swing round as the door would and make it look like natural wear.

Then I took them out so they could spend a little time with Mr Dremel the Destructor. I used this pointy grinding bit to get in the nook of the screw threads on the first one, which was a bad choice as it left a lot of score lines.

I switched over to the abrasive wheels for the other side and the other hinge.

Of course when I go to put them back in I drop one of the screws, it bounces once then down through the crack in the floorboards of the shed. So I go in search of a replacement, I've got loads of screws from this and that, one is bound to fit. First stop is the screw tin.

I didn't find a screw that matched, but it did appear to be the same thread as a motherboard stand-off, so off to my bag of screws to find an M3.5

No luck there either so we turn to the tin of last resorts, where screws go to die, there must be something in here.....

Ah. Just whole bunch of junk and tat. So armed with the remaining screw and a stand-off I went back to check that was indeed the size.

Success! So I ordered some nice shiney nickel plated replacements. Probably for the best anyway, black ones would look a little daft once all those rivets have been removed. But that's for another day.....

..... as is this rather large parcel.

That's all for now folks. Will you ever find out what's in the box, or what's happening to the rivets? Stay tuned Crapfans! Same Crap time, same Crap Channel.

Last edited by crappy; 04-25-2020 at 02:55 PM.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-10-2020, 06:08 AM - Thread Starter
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An Open Letter To No Work

Hi-diddly-hey modderinos!

I just wanted to apologise for the lack of progress and updates, as since the last episode of Project I.S.A.C. I've not been very well. I have nerve damage from a botched hernia operation and subsequent ill-advised treatment, so I have to be a careful with any kind of physical activity. After the last break due to a stomach complaint, I pushed a bit too hard in an effort to try and catch up and ended up aggravating the nerves and have had to take a couple of weeks to let that die down and concentrate on my physio (all 3.5hours a day of it!). Even though I've been feeling a lot better and doing some stuff around the house, just yesterday I was in a lot of pain after 10-15mins of washing up. It's immensely frustrating.

I'm not after any sympathy, so put the violins away, just a little understanding that whilst I'll do my best to bring you an update and some meaningful progress each week, there may be times when I have to down Dremel and look after myself.

There should be a little update video being pushed out by Thermaltake tomorrow, be sure to keep an eye out for that. For now I'll begetting on with a few little bits and pieces of 'lighter' work, so stay tuned Crapfans! Same Crap time, same Crap Channel.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-18-2020, 03:47 PM - Thread Starter
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That mobo's gotta go

Ahoy hoy mod fans!

While I was waiting for the rest of the parts to turn up before I could do anything further on the case, I set my sights on some of the internals that could do with some tweaking.

I needed to brighten the motherboard up as the main chamber of the case will have a bare metal finish and it would look like a black hole in amongst all the bright shiney metal. I've also never been much of a fan of modern motherboard heatsinks. I loved the fin-stacked heat-piped up solutions of yore and I'd even kept the one's off the Striker II NSE/Extreme boards for the ages after I'd binned the boards, but lost them in a move. What I did have was some Thermalright MOFSET heatsinks and a beefy Supermicro 1U copper cpu heatsink that I could use instead of or in combination with the existing ones

Time to get this board stripped down.

The CPU heatsink's mounting holes lined up perfectly with the mounting holes for the cover, almost like it was made to live there.

Not sure it's supposed to come out like that

Was very lucky not to strip any pins out of the CPU. Can just imagine how well that conversation would have gone down with Thermaltake After that heart exploding moment I gave the CPU, block and board a bit of a cleansing.

This was the kind of setup I was looking at doing. I plan on milling a flat channel into the boards original heatsinks and using thermal glue to attach the Thermalright MOFSET heatsinks to them, rather than on there own. MOFSET sizes have grown a bit since these were made! There may be a bit of a fitting issue for the one on the left side MOFSET bank as it clashes a little with the IO shield. I'd rather keep that intact if possible.

Those original heatsinks would still be too dark as is though, so we'll have to do something about that gun metal grey anodising. First off taking the fan off the chipset cooler, stripping the thermal pads (after measuring the sizes for their replacement) and giving them a good clean with TIM cleaner to remove the grease from the thermal pads, before they go for a little dip.....

... in some of this horrid stuff. Also know as Sodium Hydroxide.

I'd picked up these old sweet containers to bathe the parts in and then rinse. Sadly I didn't get to eat the contents first, but given my ever increasing waistline that's probably for the best.

I'd given them a good clean several times over and then a thorough rinse as I didn't want any contaminants in there that may react with the Sodium Hydroxide.

You'll have to forgive me for the lack of pictures of the process, I was dolled up to the 9's in PPE (including a waterproof coat with a bin bag over it, was quite a sight) and didn't fancy getting my phone out whilst in the middle of it all. I placed the 3 tubs in the bath, seemed like a good place to do it as there's good ventilation in the bathroom and if things go south it can turn the taps on and ditch it down the drain quick. With the drain on my left, I used the left most container to have the solution in. I filled the other 2 with water as a 2 stage rinsing set up. I put 1 litre of water into the other and added 50g of sodium hydroxide crystals in gradually, in about 5 or 6 stages, mixing thoroughly with a toothbrush I had to scrub the pieces as the anodising came off. I used cold water to control/slow the reaction a bit so I could leave the pieces in long enough to get all the anodising off, without it just eating the aluminium away

I put the large MOFSET cooler in first as I figured it could probably do with going in when it was fresh. It took a little while to get going and do anything, but sure enough bubbles started to come. I turned it over a few times, giving a little whirl in the fluid and you could see the colour fall off it. I then started giving it a helping hand with the toothbrush, especially in the little gaps. When the anodising had all come off I pulled it out and gave it a gentle shake, dropped it into the next tub with the clean water in, gave it a good whirl in there and and gentle clean with a second tooth brush, then into the third container for more fresh water, before finally putting it on some kitchen towels I'd set to the side to dry off. I then repeated the process with the rest of the pieces.

The end result was better than I ever could have imagined

The Aluminium on the newly stripped heatsinks is so bright, almost white. Look how it contrasts here to a peice of Aluminium sheet that I've had for a few years.

And they look so good on the motherboard too! Super chuffed with the result. At least 3 chufty badges!

Sadly the copper cpu block isn't going to fit, although given it's gargantuan size it shouldn't be all that surprising. I could have had a go at cutting off a corner here and there to get it to fit, but I don't think I've got the tools for the job and I'd probably end up ruining it. In all honesty with the amount of silver that's going to be around, the copper would probably look out of place anyway. Best to keep that for another day.

I had a little test fit with the MOFSET heatsinks, either just sat on or with the help of an old thermal pad. Still not convinced that one on the left if going to fit without interfering with the IO shield.

Thought I could maybe switch that one to the lower M.2 slot cooler.

In all honesty I'm not entirely convinced. Now I've got the stock heatsinks stripped, they look pretty dam cool. I have to be 100% sure as if I commit to it and it doesn't look good with the heatsinks on, I'll have wrecked the originals, so there's no going back. That can go on the back burner for now. There's a lot to be done still and I can always come beck to it later. It does look pretty dam sweet as is though.

We got some new parts!

Huge thanks to the guys at Scan (and DPD) for getting these over to us.

Lots of fittings and adapters, a couple of litres of coolant, some 1m tubes for longer runs and backup for the inevitable ****-ups, a nice thick rad and 9 of Thermaltake's new Riing Quad fans which I'm looking forward to getting snazzy with the NeonMaker software. I am NOT looking forward to the cable/sleeving job of those 9 RGB fans

Now putting heatsinks to one side, I'm still not done with the motherboard and whilst I have done some more stuff, it's not finished and I don't want to put it out half baked. I had hoped to finish it today but after 3 days of working on it on and off, this morning my body said no. This seemed like a good place as any for a little update though, I hope you all enjoyed the show. For now I'll leave you with one last shot of those heatsinks in all their glittery glory. Hopefully I'll have another update for you later this week, so stay tuned crap fans! Same Crap Time, same Crap channel.

Last edited by crappy; 05-18-2020 at 04:08 PM.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 05-23-2020, 06:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Motherboard Metal Madness

Gooood Moooorning Modding faaaaaaans!

So with the motherboard heatsinks nicely brightened I couldn't just stick that black plastic shroud back over them. Luckily I have some 2mm aluminium laying about that I've had forever and this will make an ideal replacement. I started by tracing round the the original cover, but because it has mounting struts and other stuff underneath, this was better done turned upside down to get it flush(er) against the paper, which is why the drawing is backwards. Then I took measurements for the rest of the board so that I could expand it out a bit and cover up more of the motherboard.

This is the area I want to cover, colour coding showing the original and then different additional bit that I might want to add.

I did the drawing on card so that it would stay relatively flat once cut out and got it lined up with the mounting point and punched them through. Once on the board it didn't look right having a lot of square corners given the boards original angular designs, so I marked out bits I'd want tweaking with rough angles from the heatsinks.

Back off the board I used the cover to get the proper angles and see about different levels of cropping.

Couple of snips later and I think we have a winner!

Now this was a fairly rough drawing so I then traced round this template in pencil and took to the drawing board to get all the lines true.

Again I used the original to get the angled lines in, it was an awkward angle and I don't have anything like a sliding bevel. I could still find ones that were out like the one I circled in orange.

With a couple of lines done this way I then turned the paper so the the angle was horizontal, checked them against each other to make sure they were correct and then filled in the rest. With the design completed I did a couple of photocopies and also scanned it for safe keeping.

From right to left we have the original plan, the final design, the photocopy to be used as a template and the aluminium, with the original cover centre and glue to stick the template on.

Only that's completely the wrong glue Looks more like spider spooge.

Still, it stuck that template down pretty good, if a little on the lumpy side. I also had to rub dirt around the edges where there was no paper to remove the tackiness of the glue and stop the jigsaw from sticking.

That very morning I had been reading up on a scratch build someone was doing for their first mod and advising him on how to cut outside the line and file in, so what do I do on the very first cut? Cut BANG ON the line It was the edge on the far right next to the SATA ports so wasn't a complete catastrophe, but was very careful and took my time with the rest and came out fine, although the small vertical edge under the angular protrusion top right was hard to get at.

The Filing went ok, I'd bought a set of steel jaws for the workbench to clamp it in which helped keep it nice and steady. This tight angle was tough though as I didn't have a triangular file that matched or was under that radius. i had to edge in with the half round file, flipping it over every few strokes.

A bit of folded sand paper helped get it a bit tighter, but it put up a good fight,

Took a good lot of doing, had to go at it in a few goes to save me from injury. But was all this mess worth it?

It fits!

There were a couple of areas that needed work that I highlighted in green, either to straighten them up, change the angle or stop it overhanging headers I'll need access to.

Bang on.

To get it to sit flush in the recesses of the M.2 heatsinks I needed to drill holes for the screws holding the heatsinks down. To mark where they were I put masking tape on the back, coloured the screw heads with whiteboard marker and pushed the piece onto them, being careful that it lined up with where it needed to sit. Seemed to work well.

I used a punch to mark the centre and make sure the drill bit didn't wander.

I thought the screw heads were 4mm so I drill a hole with a 4.2mm bit to give a little wiggle room, but I must have measure the wrong screws (the ones that will mount this to the motherboard i think) as they were a little too small. I needed 5.37mm holes minimum.

My step bit had a 7/32" step which is 5.56mm ( ) and would do the job nicely. Unfortunately, due to either a wandering bit or inaccuracies in how I got the positioning the top hole was just out.

To be honest I wasn't THAT upset. There were a few edges that were a bit naff and there were a couple of tweaks I wanted to make, so I widened those holes a fair bit so I could get it into place, check the fitment elsewhere and make sure the markings for the mounting holes were accurate, which they were.

And just for fun I took off the paper and gave it a really quick and dirty "brushing" with a washing up scotch pad, but was mostly just from trying to get all that nasty glue off. Still looks pretty tasty

It's a shame it's going to end up in the recycling, but for a first whack it's not gone too badly. I had prepared myself that it might take a couple of goes to get it right and with the design tweaks for Mk II already in my head, I wouldn't have been happy till I'd redone it anyway. So stay tuned crap fans! Plenty more of Makin's metal manipulation to come. Same Crap time, same Crap channel.

Last edited by crappy; 05-23-2020 at 07:37 AM.
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