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Thread: Cosmos Cruizer

  1. #1

    Cosmos Cruizer

    Ok folks, time to get back in the modding saddle! Having completed all my commissioned obligations for the time being, I thought it would be a good time to start my next personal project. This time I'll be taking on the gargantuan "Ultra Tower", the Cosmos II. I've always wanted to do a hotrod-themed build, and I think the Cosmos II lends itself well to this theme with its sleek, aerodynamic lines, and beefy roll-bar type handles. I'll be playing off these features, moving some things around, and generally wreaking havoc on this poor case, but in the end you'll still be able to distinguish it as a Cosmos II.

    The first thing you'll notice is the open-air design. I actually hated to get rid of those cool doors, but I wanted that open engine compartment feel. And with pretty much everything watercooled, there would be no reason to worry about airflow. Next is the watercooling manifold. I spent the most of my design time on this part, as it has to be functional, as well as look like an actual automotive component for fuel delivery. It will accommodate two separate loops: One for the video cards, and one for CPU, memory, and motherboard.

    As far as hardware, there are still some items up in the air, but here's a short list of what I have already:

    EVGA X79 Dark motherboard
    EVGA GTX680 HC x2
    Intel i7 3960X CPU
    Cooler Master SPH 1050w PSU
    Crucial 8x4Gb Ballistix Tactical Memory
    Crucial 2x256Gb M4 SSD drives
    Koolance Quick Disconnect fittings & pipe adapters
    Razer Deathstalker Ultimate Keyboard
    Razer Ouroboros Mouse
    EK Waterblocks: Supremacy CPU block, Dominator Ram blocks x2, X79 blocks
    EK Radiators: 280 dual, 420 triple rad
    EK 250mm Reservoir
    EK Dual Pump Top

    I'll be updating this as I get stuff in.

    Ok, I guess that is enough of an intro, I'll be posting my first progress update shortly. Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll be joining me on what promises to be another wild modding ride!
    Last edited by Boddaker; 07-16-2014 at 12:00 PM. Reason: adding hardware

  2. #2

    Cosmos Cruizer

    Let's take care of the bottom bars first shall we? In order to make the headers, I need four ends per side which means I need another set of bars. And Cooler Master were kind enough to send me an extra set.

    Here's a shot of all four ends lined up.

    After marking where I needed to cut, I hacked off the ends. These bars are solid cast aluminum. CM does not cut corners when it comes to supporting their Ultra Tower!

    Positioning the piece and rechecking my cut angle. The rest will need to be filed away.

    One set of header pieces cut! Now for the other side.

    Both sides cut. I want the headers to come even with the back of the case, which is why I made the fourth piece longer. It will make for a trickier weld to the first piece tho.

    Filing one of the middle header pieces.

    I clamped all the pieces upside down to a flat board to aid in the positioning. Once everything is filed down and fitted perfectly, this will be how it will get welded back together.

    And finally a close up shot of how its fitting to the main bar. It's getting there!

    I'll be doing a lot of filing over the weekend, but the aluminum is fairly soft so it should go quickly. I can bring out my die grinder to get the bulk of it if need be. I just don't want to remove too much material.

    For attaching the pieces, I was eyeballing those Alumiweld brazing sticks at Harbor Freight. Anyone have any experience with them? I have seen the demo vids on Youtube, and it seems easy, but there's gotta be some kind of learning curve. I'll probably grab some and just experiment first and see how it goes.

  3. #3

    Cosmos Cruizer

    Made some good progress on the bars over the weekend. Lots of filing and sanding! It actually didn't take as long as I thought. Or it didn't seem like it anyways.

    For the two center pieces, I used a combination of round and half-round files to get them to fit on the main bar. But for the end of the main piece, I had to use my die grinder with metal cutting wheel to get it to fit around the curved end piece. The wheel's diameter was pretty much spot on.

    The end result. I don't really have to be too exact with the fit, since any gaps will be filled during the welding, then filed smooth.

    One side done. I clamped it to a flat surface again to check alignment.

    Once I got both sides filed down, I went ahead and sanded everything down to bare alu. Decided to do a quick mockup, and clamped both sides to a steel plate I had lying around. I put the rubber feet back on to confirm that it would still sit perfectly flat. This is mainly because the orientation of the feet is largely unchanged from stock.

    So these things are pretty much ready to be welded. I just have to bolt them down to make sure they don't move at all while they're being joined.

  4. #4

    Cosmos Cruizer

    So I went ahead and grabbed me a pack of Alumiweld rods, and gave it a go today. I think it went fairly well! There was certainly a learning curve, but it wasn't too difficult to figure out, and I got the hang of it pretty quickly.

    I was going to practice on some spare parts, but didn't really have anything comparable to the 3/4" thick bars, so I just dove right in and started on the first joint: Welding the two longest pieces together.

    I had my hands full with one hand holding the torch and the other feeding the rods, so I couldn't get any in progress pics. But here's how it went down...
    1. Cleaned parts thoroughly with soap and water, using a wire brush around the areas to be joined.
    2. After drying completely, it got wiped down with acetone.
    3. Bolted down parts to steel plate. Made sure the two parts could not move at all.
    4. Began heating parts with torch. This took about 4 minutes to get the aluminum to the correct temperature (in this case, 750ºF)
    5. Started drawing the Alumiweld rod across the joint until it melted into a pool. This was key to knowing when the alu was hot enough. Before, the rod would just break off and away, and wouldn't stick. Once it pooled up, I could work it into the gap with the rod. This took some finesse to get the pool where I wanted it. I ended up dabbing the rod as it melted along the gap.
    6. Once the gap was filled, I slowly worked my way around the piece, bringing the heat with me as I went.
    7. After going around the entire thing, I quickly moved on to the next part to be joined. After all three areas were welded, I let the whole thing cool for about an hour.
    Here's the result of the first weld:

    The welds are pretty messy, but I wasn't concerned about getting a perfect bead on my first try! I just wanted to make sure I had enough weld built up to close the gaps and be able to grind it down smooth with no pits or sink-holes.

    Once it cooled down, i could unbolt it from the steel plate and check it out.

    Next step was to stick it in the vice and start smoothing out the welds. I initially used my bench grinder to get the big chunks, then I moved to the dremel and files.

    After the files, I used my orbital sander with 80grit to get all the file marks out. Next I'll move to 220.

    Other side:

    A couple close up shots of the welds:

    Over all, I think it came out pretty good considering it was my first try. It really pays to do your research! I heeded all the warnings about contamination, and made sure everything was as clean as possible. And it helped to watch all the vids available too.
    Tomorrow I'll do the other side, and I'll set up my video camera and see if I can capture some in progress shots for ya.

  5. #5

    Cosmos Cruizer

    Didn't get as much work done this weekend as I had originally planned. On Saturday, I was at my kids' school helping clean up and get ready for the new school year. Then on Sunday it was just too danged hot, and I tend to get quite lethargic when temps get into triple digits lol.

    Anyway, getting to what little progress I did make... I didn't feel like filing or sanding in this heat, so I decided to just mount the headers to the case.

    The first lug mounts in its factory location, then all the others had to be drilled.

    A view from the back. I had a little bit of play to work with, and was able to get them looking symmetrical.

    I then proceeded to mark and cut the bottom of the side trim away. I thought about cutting separate holes for each lug, but that would have made it very difficult to feed the header lugs through since they are all different orientations. So I just cut the entire area out.

    From the side you can't tell where the cut is.

    Even when you get down to the header level, it's hard to see the cut line.

    And finally a view from the back.

    Now that I have one side cut, I can transfer the cut area over to the other side. Any adjustments I need to make should be minor if any.

  6. #6

    Cosmos Cruizer

    You're making great progress there. Welding aluminum is one of the hardest to do well. But as long as you can slop it on and then grind back the excess like you did, it's beautiful. Keep up the great work!

  7. #7

    Cosmos Cruizer

    You're making great progress there. Welding aluminum is one of the hardest to do well. But as long as you can slop it on and then grind back the excess like you did, it's beautiful. Keep up the great work!
    Thanks Dan! Yeah, I don't know about TIG welding, but these brazing rods are kinda like soldering on a larger scale. I wasn't too worried about how it looked at the time, as I knew I could clean it up. I just wanted to make sure I got it clean enough and hot enough for it to stick.

  8. #8

    Cosmos Cruizer

    So did you use a Oxy-Acetylene setup or just a plain ol' plumbers propane torch?

    The last time I tried welding aluminum it came out looking like Sh%&.

  9. #9

    Cosmos Cruizer

    So did you use a Oxy-Acetylene setup or just a plain ol' plumbers propane torch?

    The last time I tried welding aluminum it came out looking like Sh%&.
    I just used a standard propane torch. Took about 4-5 minutes to get the alu hot enough to melt the rod. That's the trick, to melt it with the alu, not with the torch. The Alumiweld has a really low melting point compared to the aluminum so I had to work the part for a while before applying the rod.

  10. #10

    Cosmos Cruizer

    The left side panel is one of the more challenging parts of this build, if not the most challenging. It completely does away with the factory door panel, and after the modifications it becomes a major part of the support structure. Almost all hardware will be mounted to it, both front and back, and it will be seen from both sides. So not only does it have to be strong, but it also has to look good as well. And to top it all off, this will be the first time I'll be using fiberglass. So yeah, pretty tall order for this piece!

    After spending hours in Sketchup designing it out, checking and double checking my measurements, I finally got to a point where I could start the fabrication process. The first step is creating the form, so a block of foam was glued up. This shape represents the reverse of the concaved area of the side panel where the components will go.

    After marking it up with centerlines and borders, the carving began.

    Work continued, carving and smoothing the foam to the desired shape (tools used: retractable knife, hacksaw blade, drywall sanding block). Then I added cutouts for the "shock towers" that will later become part of the IO panel on the bottom, and cable access on the top. I also added a piece of plywood on top for strength, and used zip ties running through all layers of foam to make sure it all holds together.

    Here's a closer shot of the IO area.

    To smooth out the imperfections and fill the voids, I slopped on the bondo.

    While that was setting up, I moved on to the custom side scoop that will cover the lower radiator fan intake holes. Again, I stacked up three pieces of foam and glued them together with spray adhesive.

    I already carved the door's contour into the bottom piece so it sits flush.

    After taking a step back, I decided that 3" was too high. I removed one piece of foam, and started marking out the scoop shape. I added another small piece to the end so it tapers all the way to the edge.

    Showing the preliminary front shape.

    This piece was small enough to use my retractable knife. These knives are perfect for cutting foam because you can extend the blade out as long as you need it to be.

    Once I got one side roughed out and matching the body lines, I needed to do the other side the same way. I'll be making two of these scoops, one for each side of the case, so it has to be symmetrical.

    Profile shot. I like it!

    Smoothed out and ready for filler.

    Body filler added. More sanding required!

    Work continues...

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