I am writing of my exploits on my second mod, called Smokey
I am writing of my exploits on my second mod, called Smokey
This mod was a build for my niece Megan. My mom originally wanted to buy a laptop, but that was not financially feasible at the time. Megan always admired my gaming desktop when over to visit so my mom wanted something like that. This was a budget build, but I did the best I could within budgetary constraints. I think you'll see that I made a competent gaming machine. The main criteria I had to work with is Megan's colors of black and red.
So I started with a budget case, an HEC Compucase Blitz midtower. This would require some serious modification.
The case was found at Newegg for $40. Humble beginnings, but it will be customized for gaming. For a budget case, it did a fine job although I must admit that cable management is nearly non-existent. Didn't come with much for fans either, but that will be addressed.
So there it is! Looks pretty sharp, but I've envisioned something different for the interior. The mesh isn't going to reveal much, so I'll have to cut in a window. Can't decide if I want a small one or a full window....
A couple of quick pics, I don't have a CNC mill, or much in the way of tools. My workshop is a one car garage with no heat and not much room. Someday I'll have a much bigger operation, but much like the HEC Blitz I have humble beginnings. Here's some of the stuff I used for my project:
Some modding essentials, with my drill, heat gun, glue gun, Dremel, and a jigsaw that's not pictured. Some paint supplies and a couple of fans I've picked out. Also in my arsenal I have a lot of sanding supplies; including sanding blocks of various sizes and 400, 800, 1000. 1200, 1500, 2000, and 2500 grit sandpaper.
The work is done piecemeal, meaning that throughout the project I had to order parts about once a month. they came in sporadically so there were times where I had to wait for stuff. So these in between times were where I got a lot of time in painting and sanding. Most of this was done by hand, I do have an orbital sander for the big stuff, but mostly there is a lot of painstaking hand sanding.
For this project I just focused on the two main left and right panels. Unfortunately there seems to be a bit of a missing record for the painting stuff. At the same time I was also finishing my first mod, Magnum Mysterium. For some reason I kept a much better accounting of the painting and so forth with the other project.
Yay! I finally got some stuff in. I am concerned because I was hoping to have both projects done by December 2010 for Christmas. After a budget committee discussion, it looks like having it done in time for Megan's birthday is more realistic. But I am getting some of the parts in, so I can see how its all gonna fit together.
Gosh it looks like there's two of everything!
I found some great deals so there are repeats of some of the items for both projects, such as the OCZ Fatality 550W power supplies, and the GT 240 graphics cards.
Got in some modding supplies too, sleeving and lighting stuff:
The mod smart sleeving was cool, more than I really needed though. But it was a true red, so it wasn't UV reactive. Turns out that is ok because that wiring is not visible when the UV lights are running. There ended up being a lot of wires being exposed from the lack of wire management.
Now I am more particular and less forgiving of poor wire management in an enclosure. If I could have zero wires visible, that would be best. My current build is going to be a better example of what I can do with a decent case. That build is gonna be a whole different story though, in terms of the magnitude of the project, the exposure, you name it; its gonna be bigger in every conceivable way..
8-) Just a teaser!
So now I've got some things to put together. I like to pre-assemble everything so I can see what I've got in terms of where everything fits and how that works with any mods I have planned.
PSU fits..But I'd like to see the red light fan since thats why I bought the damn thing. Also-- am I the only one who cringes at seeing that FaTaLiTy stuff all over everything?? No thanks..
Hey it works!
Testing out the sunlight sticks. For the lighting I've chosen the following:
Two red sunlight sticks
two 12 inch UV CCFL
One UV sunlight stick
5 Yate Loon 120mm Red LED fans
And an NZXT red Sleeved lighting kit, 2m.
The lighting effects are selectable from the front panel, where I'll install 3 toggles switches.
Now getting that toggel panel installed was a real bitch, but it finally went after a lot of cursing, some begging and pleading, some tears, and several threats to destroy everything in my path. :twisted: In the end, I won like I always do. But that's another one that I will do differently next time. Little bugger.
Make wife calls me a dog with a bone. I am relentless when I am pursuing something.
As most modders know, things rarely go completely as planned and one has to make things up as they go. Sometimes it can be an incredibly frustrating experience when things don't go well. But occasionally this leads to moments of inspiration where you can make something even better than you originally planned.
Take this case for example...
I was busy moving things around in my crowded workshop. It tends to get very untidy in an amazingly short amount of time. Anyway I was moving things around and I dropped something..it landed right on the left side panel that I was prepping for cutting the window in. It put a huge dent in the panel on the right side!! CRAP!!!
This was after removing the mesh panel it came with. So now my idea of putting in the cast acrylic to match the hole wasn't gonna work. I was telling my buddy Shawn, "Oh well. Looks like I'm putting in a full window!"
Which is what I did.
Here's where the photo record is limited. So I'll describe briefly what happened. I cut the window in on the left panel. Most people don't bother doing anything with the right panel. I think that's a waste of huge real estate. So what I decided to try was making a logo for Smokey with a small plexi window and some red el wire. I think it came out ok, but I doubt I'll use el wire again for that application. If I had to do it again, I would illuminate the area with led strip lighting.
The holes were cut with the jigsaw. I had to trim the plexi for the left panel, so I had some leftover. I used a gray "smoked" plexi for the project. I made a backing for the el wire, and used hot glue to glue the el wire in place to the plexi. I used tape of the gods to attach the acrylic to the inside of the panels and U channel around the panel cuts. It came out nice, although again I wouldn't use el wire for this type of application. Oh well, live and learn.
There isn't much to show of the painting, here's the process:
1) Removal of all paint from surfaces via sanding. They are cleaned thoroughly, and wiped down before painting.
2) 3 coats of primer. These are relatively thin coats, the number of coats aren't as important as evenness.
3) 6 coats of base coat. Again it is more important for the coats to be complete in coverage and even.
4) 3 coats of clear coat. For one of these panels the whole process had to be redone.
After painting the panels need to be wetsanded. For this mod, I wetsanded after all the coats were done. I now wetsand after every coat, including primer. This leads to a better finish, but its a major pain in the ass. Very tedious, but I think the results are wiorth it.
After wetsanding, the paint needs to cure, which can take up to two weeks. Then its time for finishing compound. 6 applications are probably enough, but I've been known to do 12. However buffing down to the paint is a hazard, and I have experienced this more than once. Touch up at this point is extremely difficult, this is another reason for wetsanding between coats. Anyway take it easy on the buffing.
Afterward I wait another day or so to put a shine on. I found a product at my local checker parts for less than $3. Its a polish that goes on before any wax. Its been recommended to me to wait 30 days before waxing, and minwax is fine.
So at this point its after the new year. I've returned to school so my time for projects is limited. I did the unveiling of my first mod for my sister Kelley on Christmas Day, which of course was a big hit. I was driving my family crazy the week of Christmas with my non-stop modding and preparations. It was very successful, so after the holidays I was in a bit of a slump due to the constant waiting for parts to order. This time of year always wipes everyone out financially, so my backer wasn't backing.
Eventually we started back up again. The PSU was modular, and had black sleeving besides. But I really wanted to create something that could be either stealthy with just the fans running, or bright and colorful when she chose. I did use the red sleeving, but I was less than impressed with the results. Again, the wires were everywhere so I just didn't like the look. So, back to the drawing board.
In order to use the UV to my best advantage, I used some blue UV and a little orange UV to highlight things. I took the heat shroud off the video card and painted it UV blue. I painted the fan UV orange. I did a little experimenting with the colors, in the end however I ran out of money and supplies. So unfortunately I think the whole sleeving thing could have been done differently. The wiring is ok, but not an example of my best work.
So I modded the lighting to be toggled with 3 switches in front. As I metnioned this was one of the hardest parts of the mod. The damn switch panel was supposed to fit in a 3 1/2 bay. Well, the circuit board stuck out about an 1/8 inch. So I filed and sanded as much of the board as I could, which wasn't much. Then I wrestled with the thing until after about 45 minutes it finally went in. Then I pushed a switch to test it and the bottom half of the panel slid into the case.
:x :x :x
Eventually I was able to get the god-forsaken panel in just so and prayed it wouldn't fall out again. One switch was for the red roof lighting, another for the UV roof lighting and another for the ambient UV.
By the way, I have sworn off using CCFL. The leds in the sunlight sticks are vastly superior. Here's why:
1) Leds are instant on. It can take up to five minutes for CCFLs to reach their full brightness.
2) One sunlight stick = 2 CCFL in terms of brightness.
3) The cursed (pronounced "cur-said" inverters. These evil little boxes are a pain in the buttocks, and they have to be hidden. Also throw in the silly pci bracket and you have a serious mess of wires to deal with. Just say no to inverters. Much like the devil invented cell phones to confound humanity, inverter boxes are useless items that should never have existed.
4) LEDs put out much less heat than CCFLs, so they run efficiently and quietly.
Anyway, that's my diatribe and I'm sticking to it.
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