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Hi There!

Welcome to my second mod log. I wrote this just as I would any other project log... as if you were actually here reading and responding to my updates. As such, it may be a little weird... it was definitely weird for me to write, as I found myself missing the positive feedback and constructive criticism at times, writing into empty space as it were.
Well, now it's unveiled... it's a little late for helpful advice for particular situations, but I always welcome new tips and tricks, so feel free to let me know if you have a better/different way of doing things in some of those funky situations.
A bit of a Disclaimer - (no, not the safety disclaimer... you should know that already, and I do mention it several times in the log, actually.) While I did have the full 6 months to plan and do this, I slumped, got diverted, procrastinated and ended up making a mad dash to completion that was Not A Good Idea! I barely refrained from tossing certain parts through walls or taking a hammer to them at times, and kicked myself senseless for stupid mistakes that would have been much less painful with a more sensible timeline. Some of my design flaws would have been more evident earlier if I had planned adequately and left myself time. I ended up sacrificing some of my design goals to time and material concerns... but never fear... like any mod, this will get modded more down the line (again feel free to contact me with suggestions.)
This is my first modding contest entered, and I have to say I didn't really end up enjoying the whole process. The timeline was what killed it for me (not OCN's fault... solely mine.) At this point I'm not sure I'd do it again. To be fair, I'm saying this after a week of averaging 5 hours a sleep, and basically going to work 8 hours a day, then modding the rest, so my perceptions are a bit off.

Buckle yourself in for a ride!

I went from this:


To This:


More Final Pics in Final Pics Post (see Table of Contents)

Table of Contents:
1/15/09 - Intro, Original Case Parts Pics, and Planning <-- (You are Here!)
6/6/09 - Oh, Hello Again & Mobo Tray
6/7/09 - Full Day (side and mobo cuts)
6/8/09 - Front Cuts and PlastiDip
6/9 & 10/09 Front Window Cutting
Tool Time Videos (6/9 &10/09
Front Fits
PSU Plans
Full Day #2
Another Full day in the Garage
#11 â€" no pics
Eventful Week
Arggh!
Mobotray revisited
Drivebay
Quick Late Update
6/25
#18
PSU Cable
Saturday
Fortune Cookie Sez (Sunday)
Monday
Tuesday
Final Pics

Materials:
Peavey Bandit 112
Plexiglass (Cast Acrylic, bought from TAP Plastic's as Scrap, mostly. )
Nuts & Bolts
Sleeving materials
PlastiDip - Aerosol

Tools:
Table Saw
Coping Saw
Dremel
Cordless Drill
Measuring Tools + Cardboard for layouts/templates
Laminate Trimmer
Jigsaw
Files
Razor
Chisel
Hacksaw
Sandpaper

Design Goals:
Music/Amp Theme
-ReUse of Amp parts
Quiet operation
Future Growth/Ease of disassembly and assembly (
last night assembly was a PITA!
)
-Removable Mobo Tray
-Upgrades (SLI?)
-Front window Interchangable inserts
--Stage 1 - Window
--Stage 2 - LCD (later)
--Stage 3 - Touchscreen (later)

Plexi Practice
-PSU cover/Vent/Cable Mgmt - Clear or Black? Clear shows off PSU board and sleeving...
-Window
-Mobotray & I/O
-Engraving
-Lighting
Electronics Circuits Practice
-Leds (scrapped)
-CCFL
-Fan Control (scrapped)

This mod is the second mod I've started, but one of the first I imagined doing. It started with my noticing a post on Freecycle.org (a creative recycling/reuse site, all free stuff, highly recommended, btw). The post offered someone's old busted guitar amp, a Peavey Bandit 112.

I responded to the ad explaining my intentions to mod it rather than try and fix it, and asked that I be considered as a grateful recipient, if no musicians wanted it. A few days later I got an email back saying I could come pick it up.

I promptly took it apart to do what I could to imagine the layout and possibilities. I was pretty good about documenting it, and plan to continue this during the build stages.

It's pretty hefty and large size, Here's pretty much the state I received it in (I took out the speaker):
Exterior








Control Panel:










Interior:


Initial Layout Ideas:






PSU:




Jan 16, 09
Move parts around a bit:


I like the mobo in the middle with the backplane down. I'll raise it up a bit with custom feet to allow connector height to work, and having it in the middle gives me more room to play with/stealth things.

I plan on building some plexi vents as a PSU vent, cover & cable management solution. I'll have adjustable lighting (hopefully some circuits sound activated if my skills are up to it) and fan speed. This will be air cooled (for now, but I'm keeping my eye and plans open for future watercooling, should the budget allow.)

Did a bit of sketchup work (My first sketchup model)

This is supposed to show the bottom panel from the inside, with the PSU and back plexi piece in place.

I'm liking sketchup. Fairly easy, though I feel like there's gotta be easier ways to do what I did already.
 

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I've been sidetracked by life (and my flighty brain that constantly wants to try new things...), and haven't been doing much on this. A little thinking now and again, but no work. :sigh: I'd figured that I'd already missed the deadline, but just realized I have until 7/1... so I'm gonna see if I can get this complete by then. I'm gonna be abandoning Sketchup once again (or should I say "postponing!"... I gotta learn this one of these days.) so pardon the lack there of

So today I got back in the garage and started working on a new version of the Mobotray. Rather than using the metal sliding/folding tray I got from a scrap case, I'm making my own out of ~1/4 blue plexi. It'll drop into the base of the amp, into a inset hole cut to size.

The hard part is going to be aligning the I/O ports and slots with appropriately sized/located holes. I've started on that with a practice piece.

I used the old tray as a template for drilling the standoff holes. It worked out great, as the tray had stamped indicators that showed through the back indicating ATX or AT locations.


I couldn't fit the entire piece on the drill press, so I did most of the holes with a 7/64 bit there, then did the last couple with a cordless drill, working carefully to keep it at a 90deg angle.

Then I tapped with a 6/32in thread for the standoffs. (I use water as a lube and go slowly.)
 

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I had a busy day today in the garage. About a full 8 hours were spent on this project, minus a bit of time where I fixed a neighborhood kid's bike, and answered a lot of "what are you doing?" and "what does this do?" questions. I also broke a couple tools, but was able to get most of them back up and running...

I started by making some cardboard templates of the mobo tray and an 80mm fan.

Then I used a laminate trimmer (like a small router) to groove out the windows on the side, and the mobo tray mounting area. I was able to use some scrap and my metal square as guides for the trimmer's base plate, giving me some good straight lines.
(btw, I gotta give love and advertisement to the Temescal Tool Lending Library, which is a great resource for those without tools! Unfortunately, due to the financial situation, they are contemplating cutting back on the hours it is open, and are contemplating charging fees to use the tools (now it's just with your library card, and you only pay if you keep the tools past the due date.))

Here's a shot of me using the trimmer on the first side window. You can see a couple of the scrap pieces of wood and plexi that I used to serve as stops for the trimmer.


Once I got the shape routed out, I drilled some holes set in from the corners a little bit, so I could cut out the window. I don't own a jigsaw, so I improvised. I used a little circular saw attachment for my generic dremel (now called GRT, Generic Rotary Tool). I'd bought it a while ago and never had occasion to use it, so I pulled it out and started to work. Within a minute there was a loud sound and the bit shot out of the GRT.


I don't know how it happened, but that mandrel is toast... and its not a normal size hole for the saw blade, so that's the only mandrel I can use.


I moved on to Plan B! A Coping Saw!


However, the throat of the coping saw was not large enough to accommodate all the cuts I wanted to make. I was able to connect 3 of the holes, but still had 2 more lines to cut.

Plan C was back to the GRT, this time with the little mini circular saw blade that came with the kit. It wasn't big enough to cut through the 3/4 in particle board, even with portions routed out... and then this happened!

That's the whole shaft of the flexible shaft attachment, with the blade still attached! I don't know why it came out like that, but I stuffed it back in after checking all the pieces and doing a little cleaning of caked on dust. (It still works!)

That's when I gave up, and called my dad... I knew he had an old sabre saw (aka Jigsaw) and a chisel set, so I popped over and borrowed that. (After all, he's been using my table saw!)

With the jigsaw in hand, and some fresh blades, it was easy to cut through the rest of the holes and pop the window out.

I also worked on the mobotray mounting area, using the trimmer and some more scraps to help guide the area to be cut. Again, I drilled some holes at the corners, and used the jigsaw to cut it away. I had another mishap with my tools, this time having my cordless drill get knocked off the table. As a result, the brad point bit I was using to drill the holes got bent, and while the drill still seems to work ok, I think I messed up the shaft/chuck.


Here's the layout on the bottom of the amp, where I've drilled the holes for the saw blade.


Particle board is nasty stuff... after the routing, drilling and cutting, I needed to do some filing to clean up the edges. The tape is there to serve as a guideline.


Some areas were pretty far from the line so I took a shortcut... GRT and Sanding Drum! Here's an action shot... watch those particles fly!


Here's a shot of the window, with the jigsaw I'm using.


Here's what the mobotray area cutout looked like with the trimmer and bit I used:


The other side window was a snap, in comparison, now that I'd had all that practice and the tools were on hand.


I had a problem with the Jigsaw stopping while cutting, and eventually not starting at all.
(I know... can you believe it!?) So being the handy dude I am, I took it apart and checked all the contacts and did some cleaning and tightening...

It worked after that!

Here's all the holes cut:


I cut more cardboard templates for the windows:


Then I used those template to mark out some of the extra plexi left over from the mobo tray into side windows. I used the scroll saw to slice em out.


After a lot of paintstaking trial and error (involving much chiseling, sanding (had 3 sanding drum thingies split on me and fly away!) and filing both of the plexi and the cutouts), I was able to get all 3 pieces into their appropriate spots.


Wrapup...
Whew! :wipes brow: It was a long and eventful day. I'm not totally happy with these side windows. I plan on using plastidip inside the case, so hopefully it will blend well with the outside vinyl covering, and cover up the recessed particle board areas. The smarter thing to do would be to route from the outside just to the thickness of the plexi. This would allow me to make a much larger window, and might look more professional. Also, I realize that the plastidip will be adding an additional thickness to the edges, so more sanding will have to be done.
 

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I had to return the laminate trimmer to the library today before 8:30pm, so I rushed home after work (well, I stopped at an ACE hardware to pick up a can of PlastiDip) and put the trimmer to work on the front window.

Basically, I removed the metal panel area, took the 4 velcro pads from the corners of the particle board off by removing staples and prying them off from their very sticky glue, added a stop with a block of wood and a clamp, and let the trimmer run around the edges to route out the window. I started off lightly, and adjusted the depth each pass. I also had to move that block from side to side, depending on where I was cutting.

After I was done, it looked like this:

I love routing!

Then I took my cordless drill and drilled big holes in the center of each side (except for the bottom which was already curved) and used the jigsaw to cut to the corners, leaving a lip. I wasn't as successful as I'd hoped to be, with the jigsaw blade bending on me, I cut into the router channel a bit too much in some places. I should still have a pretty solid lip to hold the plexi in.


Lots more filing and sanding to do to smooth out that pita known as particle board.

I also tested the plastidip on one of the cut out pieces.

Here it is after 1 coat-
With Flash:


Without Flash:


See how that stuff reacts with the styrofoam I was using as the base? Melted it away! It looks promising, but I'll probably need more coats to cover up that rough particle surface.

I did another coat before closing up the garage for the night and coming back here, but no pics as of now.
 

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I cut the plexi for the front window today. It's ~1/4 bronze. I used the table saw to cut a corner out of a decent sized piece that was sold to me at scrap prices for being such a good customer! Gotta love scrap bins at the plexi store!



That's the toolmarking I get from the saw blade.

Here's a video (well, once it's edited) of me cutting on the table saw.

I purposely left a wide margin for my cuts, and had to get rid of the extra. I was able to cut off a sliver with the table saw for one edge, but the table was too small for a fence to work for the other dimension.


So it was on to the file!

Clamped down with a square scrap bar on the line. This was taking too long as I had so much material to remove, so I brought out the dremel and sanding drum.
video
Much faster! But I realized that the drum wasn't an exact cylinder... it bulges in the middle due to the compression method of keeping it on. This results in some pretty deep depressions in some areas if you're not careful.

I used it to round the corners as well, and then started a long (still unfinished) series of test fits and shaving off of obstacles to fitting!


My file wasn't cutting it, being clogged with particles. My new favorite trick with Plexi is to use a razor blade (like from a utility knife, or similar) to scrape the edges flat and smooth. It works like a plane and you get some great and quick material removal.

Last shot before I called it a night.

You can see that the bottom is not really in, especially the bottom right corner. Soon... Soon...
 

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Here's the action shots of various tools I used.
It's been a long time since I had formal instruction (if you count 7th grade woodshop), so any tips you want to share on methods or jigs would be greatly appreciated. I've learned a lot from other modder's logs, and always appreciate a good jig or a "you're doing it wrong".

Tablesawing the Front Window:


I've got a sliver in my plexi:


Fairly straightforward... align saw blade edge to cut line or as close as you're comfortable... push!

Material Removal 1 - File


I like to use a flat metal edge as a guide for filing. It can be good for rapid removal in a straight line, depending on the file. I lack a file card (or brush) so my files are all filled in with plexi particles, so it's hard to get good cuts sometimes.

Material Removal 2 - Dremel


Cuts away excess plexi quickly... but it's hard to get a straight line. The rounded edges and bulging middle can leave indentations.

Material Removal 3 - Razor


I like it! It's probably slower than filing with a good fast file, but it's really good for making a straight edge, and smoothing out toolmarks. I was basically shaving off the areas that interrupted the smooth fits! I've been experimenting with a few different speeds/motions and they all seem to work great. Moving to fast or at the wrong angle can get you some "chatter" marks but they're easy to remove.
 

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Here's some pics of the PSU socket:
I started with the socket from an old dead one, figured out where on the amp's backpanel it could fit in, and traced it out. I cut it on the scroll saw.

I wanted to add a little signature, so I left space on the bottom.



Today I did a bunch of shopping and picked up some electronics parts, some router bits, and a bunch of plexi. I raided the scrap bin at TAP as usual, but also got them to cut 2 bigger (wider) pieces that I needed.

I got a thin 1/8" sheet of plexi for the back, and also as a cover plate for the Amp control panel.

I marked it up for cuts


Then started at it with a sabersaw(jigsaw). That went badly. I had set it up with a guideblock to get a nice straight cut, rather than setting up the tablesaw, and it went really slow. I changed out the blade for one of the new ones, and continued the cut, and it immediately cracked!



Video

As you might expect, this immediately made me angry... so I stepped away for a minute before re-evaluating. Did I really need to buy a whole piece? I had left some wiggle room in my measurements... I decided to pretend it hadn't happened and continue, as I wanted to get 2 opposite 90 bends, and figured I should practice!

video

It turned out ok, even though the first bend I made started to come unbent as I applied heat for the 2nd bend.



It was a little long, so I set it up for the scroll saw on top of an appropriately thick piece of wood, so I could carve more of the lip off.
video
It worked pretty well, though I still had some area's that needed to be brought level. I was repositioning the board in the amp, when I dropped it. I thought all was well, until I noticed this!




I tried to reglue it, and went to work on other parts:

Plexi circles!


Man that's a lot of work! The holesawing didn't go as fast as I thought it would. Not only did the saw attract melted plexi to the teeth like college student and $1 beer, getting the disc out of the saw was a continual challenge, taking forever to poke out.


I like this picture... It's really not that dark of a blue, but this looks sweet!

Here's a (time-edited) video of me doing the blue... just to show you how long it takes. Multiply that by 16 to get all the parts pictured above.

video

I also practiced my engraving... still not happy with it.




For those that haven't seen how I do this in my Lexa Log: I started with word, and created some word art in various sizes and fonts. I flipped them over so they're backwards, printed them, and glued them to the back of the piece I want to engrave. Then I trace with my GRT's pointiest grinder bit, and engrave away.

Oh yeah, here's my new router bits!
 

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Despite staying up late to edit video footage and choose among blurry pics last night, I got up early today, gulped some coffee and headed back to the garage.

Let's see, I've done some many things, and skipping around, so I kinda forget everything!

I cut some plexiglass rectangles for badge ideas and Front panel idea.


Also printed out some more logos in reverse and glued them to pieces for potential use.


I cut fanholes in the amp


Cut (started) wire and air throughway through the Front Panel


Cut and glued Mobo side braces (not yet to I/O, still need to get that taken care of... tbh it scares me!)






Reglued cracked backpanel piece from yesterday


Bought some long bolts and fasteners, tapped and spun discs with file and 220 and 400grit paper. (also bought a battery terminal cleaner, due to my car dying at Ace!)




Profiled a few edges (and screwed up a few) with the router table.






Worked on a plan for the amp front panel... found out that my switches have too big of a booty... so I can't fit them as close together as I'd planned. Plan B (or is it D now?)


And of course, took lots of pics and videos to be sorted and editted. (I'll edit those in later.)
 

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Picked up some tools from Home Depot today after dropping off the holesaws and router table at the Library. I wanted to see if the dremel router attachment thingie would fit on my generic dremel. Looks like it will, but I got home too late to actually turn it on and try it out. (I try to be a conscientous neighbor, unlike that crazy guy walked up the middle of the street shouting, and those lazy ghetto-asses honking their horn continuously around 11pm.) I'm looking forward to trying it out... those fan holes are going to be a PITA to get my 80mm fans to fit into.

Spent some time with the dremel and a cutting disc before all this, and roughed out the cutouts on the Amps panel box. I'll need to check the fit and then clean up the edges.

I also cut out some more discs from the plexi. That extruded crap was not working for me, so I found another piece of black from my scrap pieces booty and went to work. Unfortunately this stuff is really thin... I already cracked 2 pieces just in the process of cutting/removing from the holesaw.

I tried out my new disc sanding jig (bought a couple metal fender washers to go with the rubber ones, as well as a wingnut to fit.) It's working ok with the little testing I was able to do tonight. I bought new sandpaper as well, so I'm thinking optimistically.

Bit of bad news... the glued side panels make the mobo impossible to fit on the tray! I'm going to cut some grooves in the sides to see if I can get away with that, rather than having to remake the whole thing...
 

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I had some problems this week... I got my electricity turned off one day (my fault, forgot to send the check in) and my internet turned off the next (comcast's stupid auto bill pay didn't synch properly, and they thought i wasn't paying them...) The back piece glue job didn't hold, so I went with plan B. I was able to cut grooves in the mobotray side pieces, but that resulted in the standoff holes not being aligned, so those had to be re-marked and drilled. My neighbor came over to warn me that his wife wanted to call the city on me for noise pollution as I worked, plus, I'm coming down with something, so I'm not 100%.


But I've spent some time on this, and here's what I have to show:
Engraving Peavey logo:

I cut out the lines with a hobby knife and straight edge.


After some engraving.


The bits I used with the GRT for engraving.

I peeled and peeked at the back piece (front view) and I'm not real happy with it.

I cut and bent the plexi shroud piece

One side bent


Second side bent


Mounting holes drilled and tapped


With the PSU

I cut out the recess for the fan holes with a mini router bit for the GRT, but that only worked for some areas, as the interior wall blocked the bit holder.

The limits of the router bit base.
The rest I got at with a chisel.

Using a fan grill as a template to locate the holes, I drilled and tapped holes to mount the fans.



Tapping the case


Interior view of the fan mount. (I tapped the fan holes too.)


Fan mounted with tools used

I also started to spray the cut particle board with Plasti-Dip, now that I was satisfied with the holes.

Before spraying in the makeshift booth I used for my Lexa mod.


After the first coat

I've got lots of video footage to edit, and still a lot more to do with this mod... tick tock tick tock.... Videos may have to wait.

I've bought the electrical components to make another fan bus, so I'm going to get started on that tonight, as well as have another think about the front panel design.
 

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Let me just say, while I love modding (getting my hands dirty, playing with tools, etc...) it can be REALLY frustrating!

I picked up the router table again from the library this afternoon, brought it home, and promptly mangled 2 plexi pieces of the planned front panel mod.
I definitely need to get cracking on building myself a solid router table. (next week... :sigh
I'm not gonna post pics, cause I couldn't bring myself to take any.

I did a little more engraving work, then shut down somewhat early so as not to try my neighbors' patience. (and cause mine was about to result in a new world record for the plexi toss.

I've been working on the diodebus for the fan controller, trying to translate my circuit diagram to a breadboard for testing, and eventual perfboard layout. I should really try out some of the board layout software I've seen online, but I've still got a big list of things I need to do to finish before the 30th, so can't see myself working on the learning curve. Also, everytime I look or think about this mod, I find other things I need to do...

I managed to mis-layout/drill a couple holes in the plexi, both in the mobo tray, and the PSU shroud. I ended up cheating and widening the holes in the psu to fit. I'm still not certain what I'm going to do about the mobo tray, but there'll probably be some non-ideal solution tomorrow.

On the plus side, the plastidip has turned out pretty well, and a test fit of the windows looks good. The front window couldn't fit better (I almost can't get it out!) while the side windows are fairly snug. I've been researching what to clean the exterior vinyl with, and have a few good leads. My test with GooGone melted away some of the vinyl...


I checked my sleeving stash, and it's woefully low, so I need to really plan well what and how I'm going to sleeve this (or else buy some ridiculously overpriced sleeving at Frys.) I was also thinking that some clear blue led 80mm fans would look great in this case... but again, shopping and timing don't work out.

I'm trying to think of when I can call in sick at work, so I can squeeze a few more hours into this.

At the rate I'm going, you'll be lucky to get a time-editted video of progress, let alone a seamlessly edited showing of the various stages of the build with soundtrack and narration like I wanted.


But hey, on the bright side... I haven't broken any tools recently (don't count that scroll saw blade... I had others!)


G'Night Modders!
 

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Back to work!


I spent a good portion of my work time today filing and sanding. It may be repetitive and sometimes boring, but today I found it calming and relaxing. Plus, it's quiet, something my neighbors enjoy.

Those are my plexi-dusted files.


My big news is a revision of the mobo tray. It's been a source of grief, what with my originally laidout and drilled holes not aligning once the side pieces were mounted. I'd tried grooving out the side pieces, but still had to drill different holes for the standoffs. Once I was done, the standoffs just weren't aligned on all the holes.


So tonight, I came up with a new idea.

See what I did there?


No, how about now?

Yep, those are some socket cap screws... looks cool, eh?

I mounted them with some nut rivets



That's a closeup of the back... you can see the old hole next to it. Boooooo!

Here's the nut rivets:

I picked them up a while ago from Harbor Freight, knowing they'd come in handy. (Also got those socket cap screws there as part of a set.)

To make sure I was going to align everything right, I drilled out the mounting holes on an old mobo with the appropriately sized drill bit. This was after I filed the previously filed groove all the way down to the bottom of the tray.

I clamped that board down over the plexi tray, and started to drill. I have a couple locations that still need holes drilled. One is too close to the side piece for my drill, so i have to ponder on that. The other was in the center, so the press can't reach it, and I used up the cordless drill's battery, so couldn't get to that.

The only problem with these improvised standoffs is their height.


I was trying to get a pic of the cpu cooler backplate... it's thicker than the height of the nuts, so I'm gonna have to add spacers.

I also sanded the router tool marks from the Peavey logo I'd engraved and glued to another piece.
Here's a quick preview:


tick tock tick tock....
 

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Hey Again... It's me... back again with a report from the garage.


My goal today was to make the drive cage... and so far so good.
Here's where I wanted it to fit.

It's gonna sit in the middle of the front panel with a slimdrive salvaged from a laptop sitting on top and hopefully having a stealthy cover.

I started with a floppy drive tray I'd salvaged from an old case.

(yes, that is my calendar showing days till OCN competition deadline! )

I used my trusty GRT and reinforced cutting wheel to chop it down to size.
Action Shots!


mmmm, sparky!

And I was left with this:


Then....

I realized I couldn't use this as cut... the holes for mounting the dvd drive were not going to work, since there was no metal in place to drill a hole through.
(what a great smilie!)

But being the resilient and resourceful guy I am (humble, too
)... I made my own out of some plexi glass. I cut a couple pieces to size, did a bunch of test fits, and careful laying out and measuring of holes, and ended up with this:


I screwed the HD in to make sure I was aligning it right, and did some acrylic bonding. (just the outside. I'll take care of all the inside edges and the spots I missed tomorrow, after this bonds.)


 

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after my last post I went back to the garage and worked on some "quiet stuff"

That's my heavy duty rasp/file (don't know the official name.) It works wonders for quickly removing large quantities of plexi!


Those are the 2 layers that I'm planning on using over the front panel, and while I'd cut them to the same size with the tablesaw's fence to guide me, they weren't really matched up. Some double-sided tape, that file, and now the layers match up and have the blade marks out.



I couldn't wait to glue the rest of the drive bay thing...


Also, while staring at the FP, I realized I'd forgotten to plan for a USB connector!
So I raided my stash box and found this:


It's not the orientation I was hoping to find (2 stacked on top of each other, rather than side by side) and the cable will be too short, so I'll have to lengthen it, but at least there'll be a USB connection easily accessible!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Tonights labors included the CD slot, the backplate, and cleaning.
I started off by placing the HD and CD bay in it's prime location so I could figure out where I needed to cut. I'd had a hard time making this cut, not so much physically, but psychic-ly...
... I'd really wanted to keep the front panel as it was, to show its roots as an amp control box. But I couldn't think of how I'd do that and mount the CD drive and other switches and knobs... so cut I did.

I'm amazed that picture came out so clear. Me drilling holes for the scroll saw blade. I later realized that there was no way I could put this on the scroll saw and cut it, so it was off to the trusty GRT...

... not so trusty as it turned out. The blade kept stopping as I moved it along, even with very light pressure. I took a break and realized the flex shaft was spinning loosely in the GRT, due to wear on that internal flexible shaft and the collet no longer gripping it tightly. I 'fixed' it with a bit of tape around the shaft, which provided enough friction to finish the job.

Next I worked on the back panel I/O port area. This would have been much easier if i had the original plate, but I'd picked up this mobo from a friend for free (see my Lexa Modyssey log for details) and it no longer had that little piece of metal.

This is me using a trick I'd learned from jhanlon303 (resident Wise Old Man of bit-tech). I brought the mobo and tray into work today, and copied the back! I got some funny looks, and had to let a few people know what was happening here on OCN and in my garage on the late night...
I'd tried this previously with the Lexa Modyssey (sorta) and had problems due to the scan not being printed out at correct size. This time I copied it, and measured before I took it home! Once home, I cut carefully along the mobo tray outline, checked size again, and glued.


It worked great! I used my drill press and a bradpoint drillbit to drill holes through the locations indicated, used a file to clean out some of the sticky points like the serial port and the digital SPDIF port, and then made sure it fit!

As you can tell from my buddy Sozo above... all was not well. While the holes were aligned, I'd made a screwup in planning (again!) There's like a mm of protrusion for many of the ports from the base/back of the mobo, which I'd aligned flush against the back wall. I think I can salvage this by removing some of the material around the ports. I'll try that later with the little router bit I got for the GRT. It's gonna make it messy though, not the pristine clear I was hoping for. Sigh....

For my quiet work tonight I worked more on the layout of various switches and knobs and LEDs on the front panel (no pics at this time) and also did some cleaning.
I pulled out the corner pieces and handle from the storage bin I'd placed the amp parts in so I wouldn't lose them, and cleaned them with some soapy water. I did the same with the exterior vinyl (?) stuff that covers the amp, and had some paint, etc on. It worked much better on the amp cover than the metal. While I did get the majority of the paint off, it also revealed numerous scratches and dings.

It feels kinda like cheating, but I'm gonna spray the metal pieces with plastidip and that should smooth it out and make it look good. It'll also match quite well with the outside. If I'd been smart about this contest and started working on stuff when I first entered, rather than a month ago, I would have had time to paint them a nice metallic blue, which I think would look pretty sweet as a counterpoint to the black, but also working well with the mobo tray... oh well... that's my fault for procrastination.

By the way, today Michael Jackson died while I was eating birthday cake in the office. (Ironic, sort of.) As a child of the 80s, I'd listened to his music and worked on my breakdance moves and moonwalk, but I pretty much lost all respect for him once he started all that plastic surgery, sleeping with children and other way-beyond-odd behavior. (As artistic people, we get a sort of license to be odd, but he was way past that.)
As such, I was amazed to see the response of my workmates, mostly older than I, who were frantically searching the web for the latest confirmation, and discussing it passing, asking if I'd heard the news... in comparison, no one talked about the brutal martial law and protests in Iran or the homes getting foreclosed upon and rent-paying families evicted onto the streets here in Oakland, turned neighborhoods into crime-ridden crackhouses and squatter camps, or the proposed shutdown/cutback of city & health services that is going on. I did learn however that one of my co-workers owns a scrap of a leather jacket that Michael Jackson once threw into the crowd after a performance, and that he dove into the wild scrum of other fans to emerge triumphant with his piece of history. I suggested he try ebay while the iron was hot and retire... /rant

Sorry to the Michael Jackson fans deeply affected by this...
 

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Discussion Starter #18

screws to be cut to size


My favorite action shot of the day... happy almost July 4th day to you!


The back and tools used to mount it. (10/32 tap) I was cutting the bottom piece screws in above pics. This is the Plan B I came up with after breaking the original plexi back.


The bottom feet mounting point ( 1/4 T fasteners) These were going to go inside the case, but the front 2 drilled into the front wood piece, leaving me no space for the nuts. The missing one is due to my bending the prongs after removing it from the inside where I'd first tried it out. I'll have to stop by ace tomorrow. While I was banging them in with the hammer, a chunk of the particle board interior (where the PSU fan goes) broke off. Luckily it's a non-essential piece, and won't be visible, ever!


Metal pieces after the first coat of plastidip. Came out pretty well. Up close you can see where the dings were. Spraying the handle wasn't the best idea. The edges are now peeling off.



Semi-assembled case pieces. I was trying to figure out the custom wiring lengths I would need for all the pieces. My method was to use the old speaker cable (white) to approximate lengths and paths to the various components.


Can you guess what that is?

How about now?

Tis supposed to be a scorpion. The front mesh piece says "Scorpion Equipped" so I felt I needed a scorpion inside. I'd planned this as an optional piece, but somehow found myself in front of the scroll saw cutting this out, instead of working on the main pieces. I still need to make a couple more cuts and lots of filing and sanding to be done still. I broke one of the claws (actually, accidently cut it off, so I stopped to glue it back.)

Back to work with the sleeving and cable cutting!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Man, time sure flies when you're inhaling solder! I didn't realize it was almost 2:30am, until just now. I'm not done, but I thought I'd post up some progress.

Kids, please note, don't try this at home. Actually, do try, but learn from the stupid way (Seems I always have to mod the hard way!) I did some of these things.


Here's my wire supply. My only new wires are in the 26 gauge area, and these PSU cables are 18. You don't want to use that with a power supply. I'm no electrical engineer, but going from a thicker to thin wire is not recommended due to potential problems. So I dug around, and found some wires I'd hacked off an old PSU to make a bench test PSU, and set up to use those.
If you look carefully, you can see my notes on cable lengths.


My sleeving supply, left over from a couple kits and some special ordered sizes I'd gotten for the Lexa Modyessy. I didn't have enough thin sleeving to sleeve individual wires, which I would have liked to do, and the crappy thing about most sleeving kits is the give you plenty of the thicker stuff... so I made do.


This is me shortening the PCIe 6pin. So.. this was done the stupid way. I would have done it the smart way, ie. cut off the connector end to length, attach pins and crimp and solder, but I didn't have any leftover pins. Instead, I chopped 7 inches out of the length. (I did this intelligently, meaning I staggered the wire cuts.) This meant I had to solder the individual wires back to each other. I placed the appropriate length of sleeving with the appropriate heatshrink size on the connector end, and pushed the sleeving up past the cuts, and used another heatshrink and twist-tie to hold it in place while I soldered each wire. I also placed smaller heatshrink on each wire in advance to ensure no shorting out. However, The heatshrink I put on each wire in advance was too small to fit over the solder joint once connected.
So I ended up removing the connector after all, sending larger heatshrink down the wires, and redoing the sleeving and heatshrink.


Why, yes, I AM happy to see you!

(that's with the connector removed.)


This is what I mean by staggering the cuts. Instead of chopping all the wires at the same point, I left an inch or so between each chop, so that in the end, all the solderjoint\\heatshrink bulges are spread out, instead of making one big bulge. (That's the smartest thing I did all night...) This is the 4pin ATX power cable. This one was lengthened, which mean 2 soldering joints on each wire... not ideal, but hey... whatcha gonna do? (I don't know of any 24hr walk-in mod shops, do you?)


Here's the results.

Oh by the way, safety is good... you probably already know that PSUs can hold a large, dangerous charge in the Capacitor that can seriously hurt you... so be careful what you touch. Also, soldering fumes are not good to inhale. I solder in a room with the window wide open, and a fan blowing across the table out the window. (that's pretty smart.)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Busy day today. Stopped at ACE hardware (twice) to pick up some hardware, called all the possible electronics and computer stores nearby to look for ATX connector pins, then ended up driving an hour to Frys to get some. (Almost strangled someone when I got there and they couldn't find the part number I'd called ahead to confirm stock on, but luckily someone else was able to help!) Since I was there, I picked up some blue 80mm fans which I'll show you later. Looked for a laptop CD drive to sata or IDE convertor, but couldn't find one. A fellow customer heard me ask a salesguy one, and wanted to know as well, apparently he's been looking for a year. I know I'd seen em online previously, but it looks like it won't be functional by Tuesday.





Using the router attachment to clear out a little bit of space around the I/O ports to allow the backpanel to fit against the mobo tray.


Drilling cable passthrough holes from the PSU shroud.


Using the drill press jig to drill a few holes for the GFX slot for later cutting on the scroll saw.



Notice the problem here? Lack of foresight made me forget about the extra width and depth needed by the GFX card bracket. sigh


Located and drilled out holes on the front panel for power switches/LEDs and USB slot and mounting holes.


Made a mess with all that.



Sanding with the drill press jig (Did I already show this version with the angled piece of metal?) and 400grit (I think... it may be 1000 at this point.)
 
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