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Thread: Project: Unimatrix

  1. #1

    Project: Unimatrix

    As a fill-in until I can afford to buy all the parts I need to get started on my High Voltage desktop PSU and push on with Lobo, I'm going to do some work on a Yeong Yang 0221B Cube server case.

    I'll be posting this build both here, at Modders-inc and also over at but it won't be going anywhere near that "other" site heh.... I'll keep both threads up to date as long as there's interest in them....

    For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to do a Star Trek Borg themed case - I've been holding off until I have the skills and confidence to do something with my current server, a Lian Li 343b cube. I've decided instead to breathe some fresh life into the previous chassis which held my server, the YY-0221B.

    To give those of you who've never heard of the case (which I imagine may be most, but not all, of you) here are some photos of the stock case which I pinched from an old review....

    Stock, the case is made up of two sections - on one side, room for the motherboard, and the other half of the case holds all of the drives and the power supply. It has 8 internal 3.5" drive bays, 2 external 3.5" bays, 6 external 5.25" bays and room for a full-atx motherboard which means, in a case a little wider but no taller than a small midi-atx tower, you have the capacity of a full tower.

    Cooling is courtesy of a single 120mm fan in the front of the case on the motherboard section, and a pair of 92mm fans on the rear of the drives section. In addition there is space for a side mounted 92mm fan on the motherboard side. By modern standards, nowhere near enough but we can fix that (well actually I already did).

    When I bought this case, around 7 years ago when I was in Australia for a year, I carried out some mods to improve the cooling.

    I added an air intake tunnel to the front of the case directly in front of the 120mm intake fan, and fitted a mesh grille. Originally, the air intake was a slot less than an inch wide in the bottom of the case - the tunnel provides much cleaner and more substantial airflow.

    The left hand panel I left stock - I plan to cut a custom window in this panel as this is where the motherboard sits so there'll be something to see - that 92mm intake grille is definitely history.

    The right hand panel is also untouched, and other than paint, will remain that way - this is the side of the case which holds all of the drives and PSU - it's a little cramped once it gets close to full so cable management is an utter nightmare - best thing I can do here is hide it heh.

    imatrix/005.jpg" alt="" />The top of the case had two 120mm fans fitted. The fan on the right, above the drive section was placed around the locations of the drive bays - it's an exhaust fan which is designed to suck out air for the two 92mm fans in the rear of the drive section which I made into intakes to pull fresh air straight over the drives. The other fan was placed nearer to the back of the chassis and set up as an exhaust for the front 120mm intake. It COULD have gone further back but I decided at the time to place it as far from the back of the case as the other fan was from the front.

    The rear of the case had the fan grilles cut out and replaced with metal filters over the two 92mm intake fans.

    The base of the case has the stock castors installed, which will probably stay - the all steel contruction of the case makes it heavy so any help moving it around can only be a good thing. I may add an intake hole here to feed the PSU IF I can find a way to cut it around the castor location.

    With the door open, you can see there are 4 of the 6 5.25" bay covers missing along with one of the 3.5" bay covers - assuming I can't find these (which I doubt) I'm going to have to find something to fill those gaps with.

    Inside the left hand door are the lines I put in place a LONG time ago for a window - that is NOT going to be the design I use - for one thing, I want rid of that vent - for another, I think I'm going to incorporate the Borg logo in that window in some form.

    The inside of the case is a mess - that'll be getting a damned good clean, and will be getting painted with a couple of minor modifications.

    The final modification I carried out when I first got the case was that front air intake. To be honest I wasn't really happy with it then, and a closer look now shows just how untidy and unfinished it is - so that will be getting totally re-done.

    Messy but it'll improve....

    And finally, for tonight, the 6 LEDs mounted in the case as standard - they'll be getting replaced with green ones, and probably trebled up so there are 3 power and 3 HD activity - unless I can think of (or someone here suggests) an alternative use for them (LAN maybe, optical activity - we'll see)

    The whole case will get a full automotive standard paint job - probably in Toyota Dark Emerald (it's a damned nice green which isn't too blingy, and has a kind of imposing name which works with the theme) with the chassis and rear in black - possibly matt, possibly gloss - maybe a combination of both...

    Some bondo work will be involved - I want rid of some of the detailing on the front - those horizontal lines for starters, the LED symbols, although the vertical slots will probably remain in place, and that air intake will get some serious attention too.

    I'll pick up a bag of filler tomorrow to start on that front panel but for now - ideas welcome as always, and nothing I've put in this inital post is set in stone so if you guys have any thoughts or ideas, let 'em rip

  2. #2

    Project: Unimatrix

    I'd agree with getting rid of the horizontal lines. And if, by chance, you can't find covers for the bays make some custom honeycomb mesh ones.

    As for lights, I'd say go with one power, one lan, and four hdd's. Or if only three hdd's, go with one optical.

    Color scheme thoughts?

  3. #3
    Super Moderator tech-daddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Plano, Texas

    Project: Unimatrix

    So, wait.... I'z confuzed....

    Is this going to be a Borg cube case? or is it going to be a Borg Themed case?

    Looks to me like it would make a sweet cube case, but if you are going themed, then are you trying to make it looks like something that would have been incorporated or used on their ship? Or are you going somewhere else with this?

    If you are going on the cube, and with all that space in there, I could see you model kit crashing and using styrene overlays to make the outside look like the outside of a Borg ship, then run fiber optic stranding all through out the model to put light points in the hull!!!! Put a cluster of white/blue/maybe green LED's as the light source with a little fade controller to scroll through each LED to raise/lower brightness, you could have all kinds of light activity on that ship!

    Build up some raised panels over the fan exhausts so the air can exhaust properly, .... doood..... limitless!

    If you are going for something incorporated, pick up black plastic wire looming and make "hoses", lots of piping...,_2366.jpg

    randomize and incorporate....

    Looking forward to the build!

  4. #4

    Project: Unimatrix

    A Borg themed case - to be honest a full-on cube is way beyond my skill level AND my pocket right now. If and when I feel up to that kind of thing, the Lian Li 343B my server lives in now will be a much better candidate - it's a lot closer to a cube than this case is - sharp corners etc....

  5. #5

    Project: Unimatrix

    Time to rip this thing to pieces and see what I'm really letting myself in for....

    I left you with this - a case in decent repair but in need of some TLC - and because Will over at TBCS made SUCH a HUGE fuss about a TINY *grin* amount of dust - I wiped it down....

    Quicky popped off the front panel and got to work - about 8 screws and a couple of choice words later, along with a little brute force to get that tunnel lining out, I ended up going from this...

    To this...

    Drive bay disassembly - I removed the runners for the 6 5.25" bays first - I'm SO glad I have never lost any of them - I've always made a point of putting them back in, used or not so I still have that full set. Then on to the 5 3.5" bay holders. Each of these holders has room for two 3.5" drives so along with the lone front panel reinforcer (which will probably go awol during the mod - there's no real use for it) I ended up with a pile of 18 pieces.

    One of the 3.5" caddies has previously been modified to allow clearance for the fan in the top of the drive side of the case. The cut is a little rough at the moment - while it does the job, I'll definitely refinish the edges with the same methods I used to get the window edges on Lobo so clean.

    Assorted other screws and fittings later, I have a second pile of parts - specifically the castors, the rear fan covers, the top fan grilles, the LEDs, switches, PSU mount, plastic button covers, motherboard standoffs, and PCI slot covers.

    Once all of that was out of the way, out came the existing case cooling, specifically 3 120mm AC Ryan blue LED fans, and a couple of 92mm fans which I THINK came with the case.

    All of these fans will be getting replaced. Newer fans produce more airflow at lower noise levels than these 7-8 year old beasts. I DO remember paying a small fortune for those AC Ryans way back then though!!! Bitfenix has some awesome looking 120mm black fans with green LEDs and I'm sure I can get a couple of 92mm fans from somewhere.

    Normally when I paint something, I pull it all the way apart - my recent Antec 900 revamp was a total bare metal refinish, and Lobo is going the same way (or it will be - explanation a lil later in this post). I don't think that's going to be an option this time. Yeong Yang haven't used screws or rivets to hold the chassis together - it's all been spot-welded.

    While I could remove all of those welds and get the chassis re-welded after refinishing, it'd only screw up the paintwork so I'm going to have to take a slightly different track with this case - I'm thinking it'll be getting media-blasted instead of sanded down for starters - that's the only way I'll get into all those tight spots reliably. Gives me a chance to try out the new hose-fed sand-blasting gun I bought nearly a year ago heh.

    Looking down on the case...

    We can see more of those nasty rough cuts - hey, 7 or 8 years ago when I modded this, I didn't know any better - these will also be getting refinished.

    Some of the holes didn't line up perfectly and had to be extended so the fan grilles removed from the top of the case will be getting re-used as they do a grand job of hiding the imperfections unless I find something else which will do the same thing...

    All of that leaves me with the following...

    Front View

    Motherboard Side View

    Rear View

    Over View (geddit)

    Now there may be a couple of you out there wondering why the hell I'm starting another brand new project when I haven't finished Lobo - well mainly because I was dumb. I have managed to lose several key parts without which I can't continue. I WILL find them because they're DEFINITELY in the house and I've found a lot as I start to ruthlessly tidy up my computer room - but this is one mistake I'm NOT making again, so everything which came out of Unimatrix is nicely organised and collected.... here...

    Anyone can make a mistake - only a real fool makes the same mistake twice - here's hoping I'm NOT that fool.....

    Next post will probably be my plans as the next physical step is bondo related - and I've never done that before in any depth so I'm expecting it to be time consuming and take a couple of attempts. I will show you guys the screw ups as well as the final results, but yeah, I figured I should probably get kinda specific about what I'm going to do to this case.....

    As for what I'm GOING to do with it when it's finished - I honestly have NO idea - I don't need another computer right now - in fact the Antec 900 is sitting here empty too - but we'll see

  6. #6

    Project: Unimatrix

    Just had me a doodle and I'm thinking of using this as a window on the side panel of the case where the motherboard sits. Because of the almost unavoidable clutter that will be on the drive and PSU side, that panel is staying solid....

    Black is metal, White is clear or tinted plexi (probably lightly tinted to keep it a little darker) and the grey would be frosted plexi to make it really glow....)

    Thats 7 windows and this is seriously thick steel but if ya want what ya want you have to do the work lol

  7. #7

    Project: Unimatrix

    Another day another update - I'm sick of my projects crawling along at a snails pace so I'm determined to push this one on as quickly as possible WITHOUT cutting corners.

    As I mentioned before, I'm going to be putting a full automotive quality paint job on this case, and the only way to get a really good glossy finish is to have a really smooth surface to start with. My original plan was to remove the horizontal lines on the front door but leave the vertical slits but after my first attempt at using filler, that plan has now changed heh...

    The filler I'm using is called Fantastic, a Upol product - the guys where I work tell me it's the best quality filler we keep in stock so it was the only option as far as I'm concerned. I can understand busy bodyshops using cheaper stuff as they go through so much of it and the cost savings add up - for me, as I'm only doing a small amount, the cost saving with a lower quality product isn't worth it IMO.

    Lump of filler, drop of hardener and a high quality professional mixing board (yeah it's a lump of cardboard heh). There is a formal 50:1 mixing ratio for the filler but the guys I work with have told me not to worry too much about it. As long as the filler changes colour a little, but doesn't go PINK pink, it'll work - it just might take a little longer than the 20 mins on the bag to actually be ready for sanding.

    First application - As I said I only wanted to get rid of the horizontal lines but after sanding this layer down, it became obvious that getting the filler back out of the gaps was going to be a mammoth job - and frankly, the kind of hassle that might make me give up altogether. The fact it, the case is now wrecked without this door so I have to get it right, and get it done, so I decided to fill all of the slots too. A generous second, and then third application of filler later, and a LOT of hand and air-polisher sanding later, and I got here...

    It's almost perfect. I think I'm going to have to put one final skim on to get rid of a few minor marks but it is really smooth to the touch everywhere there isn't a pinhole. I'm saying pinhole but the marks are bigger than pins and definitely need another coat.

    This is by far the worst imperfection - I figure it's about 2mm x 4mm x 1mm deep, at most, so easily finished with a final coat and sanding session.

    It's mothers day here in the UK so I'm probably going to have to leave this there for today - I'm taking my mother out for dinner and I don't think she'd appreciate me turning up covered in dust and smelling of thinners :P

  8. #8
    Super Moderator tech-daddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Plano, Texas

    Project: Unimatrix

    thumbs up!!!!

  9. #9

    Project: Unimatrix

    Those 6 LEDs on the front of the case - I was thinking about some kind of hard disk activity meter where the harder the drive works, the more get lit, all off with zero activity, all 6 lit when the drive has been working for a "while"....

    I don't think I need a power LED as I'm going to be using LED fans in the case so it'll already be obvious when the machine is turned on and the LAN activity LED requires soldering to the motherboard (I believe) and I may end up using this case with different parts as time passes so I think that's a no-go too....

    I've already found a couple of 10 LED schematics but my electronics knowledge is poor at best - time to get me an edumacation I think!!!

  10. #10

    Project: Unimatrix

    Great start good man!

    How have you been?

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