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Thread: Imperium

  1. #1


    From the lost journal of Anton Sokolov, head of the Academy of Natural Philosophy and Royal Physician to then Lord Regent Hiram Burrows:

    It's time to mod again!! I've decided to make a mod based on the Bethesda game Dishonored. I loved the game overall but its visual style is what sold me. I've not seen another game that looked like it. The setting, the colors, the texturing, all genius. I will try to capture some of that same feel in this mod.

    I'll be taking the finished product to QuakeCon in Dallas in July to show it off and enter it in their case modding competition also. With paint, component relocation, lighting, a large rigid-tubing water loop and a couple of motorized surprises in the plans, I need to get started!

    I am normally a scratch builder. In fact, this will be only my second attempt to modify an existing case, the first being the very first thing I did after learning of the case modding phenomenon. Needless to say, that turned out... poorly. Looking back, the Ultra Microfly was perhaps not the best choice for a first-time modder. I will not make that same mistake again.

    This mod will be made using the Cooler Master HAF Stacker case with an additional 915R unit, making the overall piece 37 inches high. Plenty of room for whatever I need to put in there. <fingers crossed>

    I hope you'll join me and Sokolov as we create his masterwork: Imperium.

    First off, a thanks to my sponsor:

    Since this isn't a worklog without some modding, let's strip this case!

    Gorgeous huge chunk of black goodness!

    LOOK at all that space!! A whole family of Microflies could live in there!

    But really, who needs twelve drive bays?? In fact, who needs any?

    Don't need all those cables or that lower 5 1/4" bay either.

    Not going to need those front panels either. The stripped-down skeleton that will be Imperium.

    Easily broken into 3 more manageable modules for now.

    Lots to do, updates to come. Thanks for following along!
    Last edited by Retrosmith; 02-27-2014 at 07:42 PM.

  2. #2

    Update 2/22/14

    Ok, I got a little actual modding done tonight! When I decided on this case, I looked it over and figured out what I could with most of it right away. One part that had me stumped for a while was that huge blank right-side panel:

    That's a LOT of blank space. At first I thought I would mount a radiator there, but I wanted to be able to remove the panel for access if needed. I started looking for a large heatsink to put on there, something large enough to cover the whole panel, as it would give that industrial look I wanted. Turns out while such things exists they are cost-prohibitive.

    Then I remembered the Scythe Himuro. Awesome-looking all-aluminum hard drive enclosure that's designed to look like (and possibly function as) a large heatsink. I already owned two of them in fact, but they had been "treated" for use in a previous mod and were unusable in this project. They've been out of circulation for a while, but I managed to find three of them brand new for $100 total.

    They are fantastic pieces of hardware, some of my favorites. They're held together with six 3mm screws each and designed to mount with rubber blocks in a 5 1/4" bay. Open them up:

    The previous project I used these on was made of wood, so to mount them I drilled holes inside the enclosures, countersunk so the screws would sit below the hard drive and put threaded inserts into the side panel. That worked fine but obviously not on a metal panel. I don't like using nuts and bolts if I can help it, and I didn't want to drill these enclosures. Plus, the vanes run horizontally on one side and vertically on the other, and they just look a lot better with the vertical side out. That side is the one without the screw holes.

    Since I wanted them facing with the screw holes in, I spent a long time measuring, marking, measuring again, then measuring my measurements before drilling 18 holes in that side panel.

    I didn't want any slop or wiggle room on the bolts so I used the smallest numbered drill bit I could and still get the screws through the holes. Of course, that left zero room for error. But measuring my measured measurements paid off in the end.

    They turned out pretty damned well if I do say so myself. Sure looks a lot better than that big empty side panel!

    Problem now was wiring. I had to make holes in the panel large enough to get power and data cables through. After getting out my trusty Dremel (and by that I mean the tool I bought eight years ago to cut some drywall with and have used maybe four times since) and making a huge mess and lots of noise, and then "cleaning up" the edges with a file and again the Dremel, I was reminded why I normally work with wood.

    These holes are plenty big enough for my cabling and completely burr free, but they are *ugly*. They have to be covered up.

    I found a pretty thick block of some good cherry on a shelf and cut it into three blocks:

    A little time on the router and I had three wooden covers for the cables:

    They need to be easy to remove but sturdy also. I keep all kinds of magnets around because... well, because they're magnets. Who doesn't love magnets?? Anyway, I had enough of these really strong coin magnets to put two in each cover. Perfect!

    Finished job for the night.

    Those covers will be shaped and dressed up later, complete with a cast-iron finish and rivets. You'll never know there's any wood there.

    That's it for tonight, waiting on an order from Solarbotics for the next stage, hopefully it will get here soon.

    Thanks for watching!
    Last edited by Retrosmith; 02-27-2014 at 07:23 PM.

  3. #3

    Update 2/28/14

    All right time for some old-school modding! Ever since this project came to mind I'd wanted something in it to really draw the eye, and nothing does that like motion. I wanted something that reflected the industrial theme of the build, and something that would stand out from the norm. I think I got it done.

    Parts first. Below is a DC gearmotor purchased from Those guys have got all kinds of cool stuff like this. The gearbox in this one is a 228:1 ratio so it produces plenty of torque even at low voltages. It starts spinning at 3 volts, turning a leisurely 12 RPM, and goes up to 47 RPM at 9 volts. The perfect range for this piece of the puzzle.

    The shaft has two flats on it, designed to turn one of several wheels they also offer. I opted for a small version with no tread or band on it:

    With no treads or belts on the wheel I needed a different way to transfer the motor's motion. Enter Lego Technic!

    I love these things. These are actually left over from the same project that I had planned to use those hard drive enclosures for. Still sorry to see that one stillborn, but aspects of it are finding their way to this one.

    So how to mount that fantastic Lego gear onto my motor? Drill, tap and screws!

    That took care of transferring the motion to the subject, but the things I had in mind to turn weren't made for this. (This is why we're modders.) I had to put bearings in the ends for them to spin on, but they didn't have anywhere to put them. A friend of mind just bought himself a CNC mill and has been dying to use it, and since I do not own a tool that will cut or drill them without rendering them liquid I took him up on it. (I never knew these things were made of adamantium.)

    After some time setting up we managed to bore a 5/8" hole in the ends of each one:

    So now the bearings will fit inside the shafts but I still have to get the Lego gears to center on the bearings. Here are the bearings I'm working with:

    These Technic gears are driven by a cross-shaped shaft that presses into the center. Here's one compared to my bearings:

    Not gonna work. Thankfully we modders are nothing if not resourceful. I took two pieces of plastic water line of different sizes:

    The smaller is a perfect press fit inside the larger one:

    And the combination makes a perfect bushing for the axle to press into the bearing:

    That took care of the idler end of the shafts. As they spin, they will spin around the axles, which will be staionary. Now on to the drive end, where the power will be applied.

    Thankfully my drive gears are the same diameter as the flange at the end of the shaft:

    I also needed to build a housing for the bearings to turn in, something that was rigid and spaced properly for the bearings and a place to mount the motor. This whole assembly will be going in the upper 915 section of the case, with a windowed side panel. I did leave the 5 1/4" bay there because I'm putting a fan controller up top also. I needed to free up as much room as I could thought, and my fan controller is very shallow.

    This bay is too big:

    Thankfully it comes out easily.

    Added a couple of boards to give it some stiffness and chopped it up!

    Much better!!

    So I had plenty of room now. I chopped up some old oak boards I had and made parallel mounts for the shafts and the motor, mounted those to a sheet of 3/16" plywood and mounted the whole assembly inside the upper case.

    Obviously the wood and the drive apparatus will be hidden in the end product, I'll build some faux cast iron boxes around them and that drive bay, but the overall project came out great!

    Aaaaaaaaaand the requisite Youtube video:

    Perfect!! The motor is hooked to a fan controller now to experiment with speed but I think it will end up being around 30.

    Disclaimer: I mentioned one of my friends used his CNC mill to help me with the portion of the project and that's true. I also have a couple of intricate pieces being laser-cut right now. I will however keep the professional high-end machinery to an absolute minimum on this build. Everything I can do myself I will.

    Thanks again, let me know what you think of the camshafts. Remember, the wood will be hidden and they will be behind a window lit with red LEDs.
    Last edited by Retrosmith; 02-28-2014 at 03:11 AM.

  4. #4

    Update 3/10/14 - Water parts

    Well, I've gotten some more work done on this thing but the section I'm working on now is detailed and very slow-going, so no work updates today, but I've seen a lot of people with updates to their worklogs showing off their water-cooling parts. I love to look at that stuff as much as the next guy and I finally got all of mine in, so I thought I'd follow suit. Here's what I've got in mind for this thing:

    Pumps: Phobya DC12-400 (x2)

    Radiators: Koolance 360 copper high-flow (x2). I chose these for their low fin count (11 fpi) and for the straight ports. Those will work perfectly for their mounting position.

    I was surprised to find these with the radiators. I'd never seen a mounting setup like this and I love it!

    Reservoir: Alphacool Cape Corp Bullseye Pro. I love the fisheye lens on this reservoir.

    CPU block: XSPC Raystorm.

    VGA block: Koolance GPU-210. I love the multi-port option on this block. I'll have a lot of tubing to run and bends to make, the flexibility will be good to have.

    Chipset blocks: Alphacool HF 14 Smart Motion universal blocks.

    RAM block: Alphacool D-RAM cooler X4. Yes, I know cooling RAM does no good at all, but I figured why stop?

    VRM block: Koolance MVR-100. The board I'm using is now in Rev 4 and the most common complaint is overheating VRMs so I knew I had to cool them. I couldn't find a block to fit them so I ordered this Koolance with the interchangeable heat plates and a plate that was too big and cut it down. (Which explains the bare copper in all that shiny nickel goodness.)

    Miscellaneous bits and pieces, including a drain valve with a straight rotary fitting (so I can position the handle however it looks best after installation), a couple of Alphacool T fittings (one for the bottom for the drain and one for the top for a fill/bleed port), and a Monsoon silver bullet anti-microbial plug.

    Bitspower visual flow indicator.

    And tying it all together, 28 Primochill Revolver fittings. I had initially bought the chain gun fittings but they turned out to be WAY too big. Honestly I think these probably fit the spirit of the build better anyway. More importantly, they fit the smallest blocks I have, though there is ZERO room to spare. When you tighten the second fitting you can actually feel the knurling rubbing on the first one:

    I'll be using Primochill 1/2" OD rigid acrylic tubing for the whole thing, and with all of the bends I'm going to have to make I decided to invest in the Monsoon Hardline Pro mandrel kit. This set is an awesome buy at $40!

    That should just about do it. Anyone with any input, comments or ideas on this loop don't hesitate to jump in here. The system is pretty basic, I'll be cooling a Phenom II 1100T, a single Gigabyte HD6950 and the onboard components mentioned. Honestly, I think this setup will be way more than I need, even with very low-speed fans but if anyone with more experience in larger loops like this knows something I don't PLEASE let me know before I bend all this tubing!


  5. #5

    Update 3/24 - New theme elements

    I got some work done over the last couple of days and I got a new sponsor! Thanks to Cooler Master for their support!

    I see a lot of worklogs that manage to convey the process of the work without a lot of dialogue. It's a skill, and when it's done right I like it. I'm going to try to do more of that here and see how it works out.

    Today's update is on the completion of the cover for the video card I'll be using. Lots to show so here we go:

    The card in question is a Gigabyte HD6950, here it is stock and through its watercooling transformation:

    So the card is ready, but I didn't want to look at it in the finished piece. I decided to hide it in a cover in keeping with the theme:

    And the finished product:

    The copper tube and elbows are for the power to the card, they will run straight through the floor of this center section so none of the cabling should be visible. The other hole in the front of the cover is for the water line coming out of the block. That's going to be an interesting line to bend.

    Any comments welcome, thanks for watching!

  6. #6

    Update 4/7/14 - New finish

    I finally got the face of the machine finished. I've always liked the edges of the stock panels, but the mesh and the shape of the center portion didn't go well with the theme. The setting for Dishonored has always been about sharp angles and flat planes. The train cars, the machinery, everything mechanical is built like this. And all of it is flat black iron.

    At first I just pulled the stock fronts off of the case and set them aside. That gave me a really nice square flat frame to work with. I had always planned to make a new face out of cast acrylic sheet, but I couldn't figure out how to do the edges so they looked right. I finally just ended up cutting the edges off of the original fronts and using them to trim out the edges. There's been a lot of progress made but today's update is largely about the finish. I was able to take glossy cell cast acrylic sheet (and the ABS plastic sides from the original fronts) and make them into a reasonable facsimile of wrought iron sheet.

    Check out the pictures and please give me an honest opinion. This is the plan for the overall appearance of the project. I'm even going to paint the water blocks to match once I'm sure it's right.

    Thanks to all!

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