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Thread: Aperture Science Mod

  1. #1

    Aperture Science Mod

    Hey there fellow modders!
    I'll be posting this in 3 (or 4) seperate posts because I've written such a flood of text that it just wont fit into one!

    Before I start talking about my project, a few general things: As you can see I'm completely new to the forum. You see, I'm actually german, and I have already posted my worklog in 2 german forums. Since the german modding community has been shrinking fast in the past 2-3 years, I just thought it would be interesting to get some more feedback on my work and also check out the international modding scene at the same time. The german one was quite large and active for some time, but it seems this is coming to an end now, or at least the way people mod has drastically changed (by that I mean, do-it-yourself is dying and getting stuff done by specialists is the new thing). Maybe that's why noone seems too interested in my project - I'm all about modding my own case rather than having someone else do it for me.

    But enough introduction, I'll get to the modding part now. The case I'm using is a Cosmos 1000 which I love for a number of reasons, the design being the most important one obviously. The only real downside is that it is extremely heavy, but then again, all cool things are. Like tanks or spaceshuttles.
    I've already done quite a lot of work on this mod so I can't help but write a lot to explain it all. This was originally 3 forum pages worth of updates so it's going to be a LONG post. Sorry! I'm going to try putting some kind of structure in it though so it's a bit easier to follow.

    Here's what I'm going to do or have already done:

    New paintjob for all outside parts.
    As you might have guessed by the name, the design of the mod is partly based on the Aperture Science Designs from Valves Portal and the portal gun itself. So the colours I'll be using are matte black and glossy white. I'm also going to paint a portalgun on the right side. How am I going to pull this off? A magician never reveals his tricks. You'll see!
    It should look something like this (this is just a quick and dirty photoshop)

    This should also give you an overall idea of the style I'm aiming at here. Another good example for the style I'm trying to replicate is the video to Björks (yeah, I can actually make those funny dots with this keyboard ) "All is full of love" from Chris Cunningham that most of you have probably seen.

    Just like on the picture, the Cosmos will also get a new front. I'm going to cut the Aperture Logo out of a piece of sheet metal, put a piece of milky acrylic glas behind it and illuminate that with white LED's. The result should be a white, glowing Aperture logo in the front.

    Of course the case will also get a window, or to be more precise, 7 of them. I didn't just want a dull square like on many mods these days but something with an interesting shape. It's not so much a window in the sense of "you can look through it and see everything thats inside" but more like an element of the overall design. After many, many sketches and different designs, I finally decided to use this one (another quick shop, I made the shape with another program):

    I think it fits the overall smooth, curvy design of the Cosmos while not looking too crazy or over the top.

    Other stuff I'm going to do:
    Because I can never decide on just one, the case will get a whole number of lightning systems. The heart of it will be a programmable USB-controller which is going to be connected to about 40 LED's throughout the case. Red, Blue, Green and White, 10 each. With the RGB LED's and the controller, I'll be able to create virtually any color you can imagine and also make them fade in and out and a bunch of other cool stuff. If I don't feel like doing that, I got the bright white LED's For the sterile Aperture look. On Top of that, two UV-Cathodes are going in the case too. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to use all of this stuff at once to make the thing look like a christmas tree, I just want to have a lot of options.

    The rig will be water cooled too, it's going to be my first water-cooled PC so I'm not going to go high-end here. I'm only going to cool the CPU and GPU because I think it's very pointless to spend 200$ on mainboard-coolers if the thing already has passive heatsinks anyway.
    I'll put one 3x120 Radiator in the top and another single 120 Radiator in the bottom of the case.

    I think that's all. It doesn't sound like much but trust me, it's proven to be a LOT of work. I'm now going to end this wall of text and instead build a wall of pictures, of which I have a shitload. There's many hours of work documented here, so I can't help but write a freaking novel to explain it all. I hope you like reading.

    Oh, one last thing: You might be wondering what kind of weird background you see on all the pictures. Mostly, it's going to be my old ugly carpet and my couch-table. Yeah, I don't have the luxury of a big, fully equipped workshop like many other modders. I'm building all of the crap you're going to see in my one-room apartement, with sometimes questionable tools and under crappy conditions. Basically, all I'm using is an electric screwdriver for 20$ and my (not so) trusty Dremel 300. So if this becomes a good mod, it's double awesome!
    Now, pictures:

    After a week of waiting, my case finally arrived.

    Almost too pretty to be modded, I know. Almost. First step was taking it apart, and holy shit, this thing has a lot of parts for a computer case:

    The side panels have this weird foam padding glued on. I'm going to leave it on the right side, but on the left one, it's obviously got to go. Sounds a lot easier than it was.

    At first I tried to just pull it off but the glue is so sticky, I had to try EVERYTHING and nothing worked. Then I went to the hardware store and got some nasty nitro-cellulose thinner which kind of did the trick. It still took me hours to get the stuff off and I was getting very dizzy from the fumes but I finally managed to get it off. Thanks Coolermaster, I guess double sided tape just wasn't annoying enough, eh?
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    The next step was to remove the original black frontplate so I can later replace it with my own creation. Luckily, this was a lot easier than the foam padding - they actually DID use double sided tape here!

  2. #2

    Aperture Science Mod

    So much for the first steps. I then started making a number of stencils so I could later precisely put the shapes on the material for the Sidepanel and front.

    Those little knives are very precise. I used to suck at this pretty bad in grade school.

    Why the circles? I'm going to drill those areas out before cutting (not the blunt edges of course, that drill would have to be HUGE) so I have smooth curves later.

    GPU-Heatsink came!
    So did my brand new Dremel!

    With both of those lying around, why not just polish one with the other. It's kind of pointless because nobody will see it later, but damn, it looks cool.

    Now I'll start with the real stuff. I think the pictures speak for themselves.

    Preparing the parts for the front:

    Delivery guy came. Hell yeah.

    Less talking, more cutting the shit out of that poor sidepanel.



    Voila !

    What, you think it looks like crap? Just wait till I'm done filing and grinding, you'll drool all over the screen!

    But in the meantime .. lets show some love for the front too.

    After using my awesome stencil, I used the dremel to cut out the rough shapes veeery carefully. It's not that obvious on the pictures, but the little shapes are pretty tiny.

    Not so bad. After that, the real fun started: Filing my ass off. It took hours but it was totally worth it.

    4 Down, 4 to go.

    But hey, speaking of filing, what happened to the side panel?
    AWESOME, that's what happened to it. This is not even the final state - this is only after filing, not grinding, and I'm not even fully finished with the filing here either.


    Appearently, I'm too dumb for filing by the way. I slipped out of the Metal about EVERY TWO MINUTES while doing this and then, still in the same "Up,Down,Up,Down,Up,FUUUUU-" motion, rammed the pointy end of the file in my hand. Thank god I didn't hit my wrist. The Thumb wasn't so lucky. But it takes more than a little blood to stop me!

    I then started the grinding. At least you can't ram a piece of sand paper in your wrist. Now I don't mean to brag or anything, but damn, this side panel came out nicely.

  3. #3

    Aperture Science Mod

    But what about the front!
    Well, the filing and grinding and torturing myself with sharp objects continued for another day and then I finally got this glorious piece of metal:

    After filing, before grinding:

    After grinding:

    Remember how I polished my GPU-Heatsink for no appearant reason? Well I just can't help myself when it comes to polishing stuff so I just HAD to:

    It's completely pointless in this case too because it's going to get painted anyway but that the hell, the picture was worth it.

    I then used sandpaper on a piece of acryllic glas to make it milky and put an LED flashlight behind it to test if what I'm trying will even work. Well, it does, at least in theory.

    And another test with the blue LED from my current Case:

    The problem is, the LED has to be pretty far away for this to work. I'm going to use "real" milky acryllic later and also diffuse LEDs, but I'm not sure the light will "spread out" like that and illuminate a wide area like it does when you have some space between the light and the glas. Maybe someone has an idea here, I'm currently blocking out the thought that this might not even work because I don't want to have created that logo for nothing.

    Anyway. More manly work coming right up. Next, I made the hole for the radiator. The Cosmos already has 2 Blowholes in the top by default, but while this is a nice gesture, they're completely useless to me because they're in the wrong position and I also want maximum airflow so they had to go.

    Man, sparks are awesome. I just had to make some action-shots:

    In retrospect, it was a pretty ****ing dumb idea to put my camera right where all the sparks fly. I almost ruined my 200$ objective this way, but damn, that is a cool photo.

    Done. At least that's what I thought.

    Filing, Grinding, etc.">

    Delivery Guy was here again, by the way. Now what could this be?

    And it gets better, Delivery Guy brought some of his friends! Getting cool stuff brought to your door is awesome.

    This is my MDPC-X Sleeve and the obligatory scribble. It says "What's the best? Murdermod and MDPC-X!" in german. Thanks Nils!

    My LED's:

    And a bunch of electronics stuff:

    Wondering what all the connectors are for? You'll see.

    More work on the top. I thought I was done with the radiator but then noticed 2 things. First, I kind of ****ed up the position of the cut so those left-out areas in the top left and right aren't where they should be. The bigger problem is though, that Coolermaster, for whatever reason, put in these lowered-down screwholes. I'm talking about these:

    Well those are nice. And also pointless and in my way, because they mean I can't put the radiator right below the top but about 1cm lower which results in a gap around the whole radiator which again results in shitty airflow since I was going to mount the fans on top of the whole thing. It couldn't be helped, they had to go:

    Now how am I going to mount the radiator? This is how:

    Yeah, take that, lowered down screwholes. You can't compete with that shit.

    Put in one fan for testing, everything fits!

    From the inside:

    And with all fans attached.

    I then had to make some slight modifications for the Top-thingie to fit over the fans, only took a minute.

    Theeere you go.
    [img]br /[/img]

    Now, the bottom Radiator.

    What where they thinking when they put those huge and ugly things on the side of it? I'll never know, but we won't see them again.

    This is where it will go

    Be gone, ugly grid!

    Alright, that's all! Well almost. This is as far as I have gotten with the rough stuff, and I should be done with it too, except of some little adjustments here and there and the painting of course.

  4. #4

    Aperture Science Mod

    Now comes the shitty part: Making the circuitry for the lightning system. I'm not much of an electronics guy, the main reason I decided to build this myself is that "real" RGB-controllers are pretty expensive and can do a lot less than this in the end, IF it should ever work. Also, people will think I'm a pretty cool guy and girls will want to have sex with me when they see all the cables. Oh yeah.

    Right now, nothing does what it's supposed to, I'm not sure whether its because of my circuitry (highly possible) or because I screwed up and damaged the controller at some point because I'm stupid (also highly possible). Or maybe even both. It might take me a while to figure this out but I'm determined to get this abomination working so don't worry.
    Now here's a few last shots of the building process so far.

    One of my first tries, I later discarded this version because it confused me too much. Don't ask.

    I then started to build the casing for all this stuff FIRST. This made it a lot easier to get my head around how exactly I'll build this thing. Here's a crapload of 2,5mm headphone jacks that I'll use to connect the LED-clusters of which there will be three. You heard right, this shit is modular. You might also have noticed that I'm using one of the harddrive cages for this, so later, I'll be able to just pull out the connectors at the back and pull the whole thing out of the case if I need to repair anything or show it to people so they'll think I'm awesome.

    This is one of the soon-to-be LED clusters.

    This is some cool stuff with cables and resistors and stuff. I've written this whole post in one session so I'm too lazy to explain anything in detail at this point. And you are too lazy to read it anway, right? Yeah you are. Just look at the pretty pictures.

    One of the many sketches that I made and that always confuse me even more rather than helping. I honestly have no idea what the **** any of this means.

    This is what my table looks like when I'm working. Or not working. Or at any other time.



    The final thing should look something like this.

    SOMETHING is glowing. It's just not glowing when I want it and not in the way I want it and even if all this might look like I'm making good progress on the lightning thing, It's a freaking desaster in reality. Nothing works like it's supposed to, like I said. Anyway, this post got WAY too long a while back. I'm coming to an end now.


    So, what else can I say? This is the current status. Feel free to leave any feedback on what you think of all this, hell, even flame me if you feel like it, I can take the beating.
    And ask if you want to know anything, I'll answer. I'm going to keep this updated of course!.

    Also, kudos to everyone who actually read all this. I know it's an assload of text but I have also done a lot of work on this already and I thought it's kind of pointless to post pictures without explaining anything at all.

    Peace and Happiness.

    Herman the German

  5. #5

    Aperture Science Mod

    Welcome to MI ultraflip

    Yep we all can't have a luxurious fully equipped workshop like we would like so we make the best of what we have.

    What you have done so far looks good ultraflip.

  6. #6

    Aperture Science Mod

    Sweet mod, great theme and awesome case work. Your doing pretty damn good with what you have. Thumbs up and welcome to MI.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2008
    Chehalis, WA

    Aperture Science Mod

    very impressive to make your own controller for RGB.... I found this one to work for my needs (well I needed 6 of em) enid=755333dd3f8108183c743209bc29e2ee


  8. #8

    Aperture Science Mod

    Got some more work done today. First I built something to put the waterpump on later (which is going to be an Aquastream XT). I had originally planned to just put it at the bottom of the 5,25 drive bays but then I spontaneously had this idea today. I used two aluminum profiles which are attached to the floppy-drive mounts with vibration buffers I took out of the hard-drive case I'm using for the light stuff.

    On Top of that, I'll put a piece of frosty/milky plexi of which I now have a LOT. They only had these huge sheets at the hardware store which were cheap as hell too so I just went for it and now I'll use this stuff for anything I don't need metal for
    Anyway, foam is going under the Plexi as well as under the pump, so overall, I'll have 3 spots that should reduce vibrations from the pump. I hope that'll be enough to keep everything silent.

    Then I cut the piece for the front out of the plexi. This stuff looks so much better than just using normal plexi and sanding paper. I'm not sure yet how I'll put the plexi and the Logo together, I don't want to glue them together because for some reason, I just don't like the thought of never being able to seperate them again wihtout destroying anything. Then again, double-sided tape could be too thick and screws, while cool in theory, just don't fit the clean style.

    Now, lightning stuff again. Since I was so frustrated with the controller and everything I decided to make the LED clusters first. This proved to be a lot more work than I had expected (as usual ...) but the good message is, it actually works for once. The bad one is, I have to build 2 more of these suckers.

    With 6 LED's it was still pretty managable:

    Quick test, works.

    With all the LED's, it got pretty crowded in there. I'll make the next one a bit bigger, it's a pain in the butt to squeeze all those tiny cables in there while making sure they're not touching each other in the wrong places. (If you have perverted thoughts right now, don't worry, so did I when I wrote this.)

    This is what the final thing looks like. It might not be the prettiest way to do this, but those cable conduits are cheap, easy to work with and they just do the trick. Nobody is going to see them anyway!

    This is what it looks like when all the LED's are getting 12V from the power supply. Holy crap thats bright.

    You can already see that the colours mix, I have only blue and red plugged in here and they produce a nice purple. I just wish the damn controller would work so I could actually control all this in realtime.

    Well, enough for today. It's 2 AM here and I'm going to bed. Good night or good morning or whatever to you guys!

    Oh and @rod: I'm not actually making the controller myself, I think you confused something there The stuff I'm putting together is basically just the circuitry that enables me to control the LED's with the controller I bought, which isn't an LED-Controller per se, it's more like .. a little programmable computer with inputs and outputs that you can use for pretty much anything, controlling LED's being only one of its uses!

  9. #9
    Super Moderator tech-daddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Plano, Texas

    Aperture Science Mod

    nice nice build, and great work on the cuts!

    It's not a mod until you have some of your blood in it... *then* it is yours!

    Welcome to MI and I think this mod is going to be a sweet lookin piece of engineering once you get done.... filing, and filing... and sanding... and filing...

    Love your writing too!

    Welcome to the party!

  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2008
    Chehalis, WA

    Aperture Science Mod

    Roger....I understand now.....with the Mod I'm working on Teabag3 I'm controlling 54 groups of 4 RGB I've done a bit of playing with em...very cool!!!


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