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Thread: [Scratch build] Floating Cave

  1. #1
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    [Scratch build] Floating Cave

    Hi everyone!

    I would like to celebrate my new membership to this forum by sharing my worklog with you.

    Short introduction of myself: Iím 31 years old, living in Germany, and quite a fan of everything around watercooling and case-modding, since I started working on my PC-case at the age of 14.
    I never shared my work online. Like most people I just read a lot in variating forums, surfing around as a silent reader and took a lot of profit and inspiration from all of you. One year ago I decided to give something back and started my worklog in a german forum, a few month later I shared it with a second one. Doing this gave me a lot of fun and feedback, and since my project isnít finished yet I want to do this next step and show it to you as well. Quite fascinating to think about that there might be people in other countries reading my worklog and giving feedback about it.
    Back to topic. Most important part of my case-modding and water cooling has always been: silence. Silence in every situation. For the last years I have been using a silentmaxx ST11 bigtower, back than the most silent tower available, but not designed to use with water cooling. I used this tower for four generations of hardware. Now itís time for something new. I was not able to find a PC-case which suited all my ideas, so I decided to build my own one. The main idea was to fully integrate it in my desk, but without the disadvantages of most of the related custom builds.
    Within the next few weeks I am going to translate my worklog as fast as possible to bring you up to date to the actual status of my project. The project is finished to ~50%, and I hope to do most of the remaining work within this summer.

    The concept


    I started this project in January 2016. It took the first few month to collect ideas and to draw a first draft in CAD.
    The case will be integrated into my Ikea-Desk. I am going to rebuild the side panel of the desk as a cavity wall. All cables going from and to the PC will be routed through the side panel. The case itself will pass through the side panel and shall have a floating look. Like it is not part of the side panel. The radiator will get its own, separated case. I strive for a very clean, industrial and individual look.

    These are the first drafts:





    The components


    actual hardware:

    CPU:

    Intel Core i5 4690k

    CPU-Cooler:

    Phobya CPU KŁhler

    Mainboard:

    MSI Z97 PC Mate

    RAM:

    G.Skill Ares DIMM Kit 8GB, DDR3-1600

    GPU:

    Zotac Geforce GTX 970

    GPU-Cooler:

    Alphacool NexXxos GPX

    HDD #1:

    Samsung SSD 830 120 GB

    HDD #2:

    Seagate 512 GB (will be replaced by another SSD)

    Bluray-drive:

    ASUS BC-12D2HT Bluray Combo

    Sound card:

    Creative SB X-Fi Music

    Power supply:

    bequiet Pure Power BQT L7-530 W

    Radiator:

    Alphacool NexXxos 120 mm and 240 mm (~ 12 years old) are replaced by one Phobya G-Changer 420 .v2

    Pump:

    Laing DDC with Phobya black nickel top unit

    Reservoir:

    Phobya Balancer 150 black nickel

    FANs:

    Enermax T.B. Silence UCTB14B

    Survey:

    Alphacomputer Aquaero 5 LT with inline-temperature sensors and flow rate sensor

    Existing components:



    New components:





    My workshop


    Thereís no room for a dedicated workshop in my flat, and I donít have a basement. So I am using a mobile workstation. But at work I have access to a workshop with a lot of professional tools, including an old milling maschine and a lathe. Without this possibilities I would barely be able to realize my ideas.



    The material


    I am using MDF panels. Theyíre cheap and easy to machine. The cavity wall is reinforced by wood profiles. To achieve the same look as the remaining parts of the desk I searched for furniture foil. It took me several month and a lot of samples to find the right one. The picture is taken with flash, under normal sun light you canít see a real difference between foil and desk.



    The case itself will be foiled in shiny white, if I am able to manage this process with all the curves. I donít like spraying and try to avoid it. Inside the case I am going to use a foil which looks like brushed, black anodized aluminium.

    Realization

    The first challenge was the size of the new radiator. I underestimated it a bit Original plan was to use it together with the existing 240 mm and 120 mm radiators. But thereís not enough room to use all three together, so I decided to only use the new one. I also didnít like the fragmented look of the three radis in three different sizes at one place.

    This had been a first scetch:



    Later on I changed it to a concept with pushing instead of pulling fans.

    The assembly concept is subject to one credo: the overall construction has to be as maintenance-friendly as possible. To ensure this the radiator is placed on guide rods. He will be hold in place by magnets glued into the rods. By this he can be unmounted for service without loosening a screw.
    The fans will be mounted the same way.



    First parts manufactured using the old mill at work:





    Since I have no education for the usage of such machines this manufacturing takes long time for me.

    I had to manufacture some inlays made from magnetic steel to mount them into the radiator mountings. Theyíe needed for the magnets in the rods to hold onto. I used a foil to make them look better.





    Next step was to turn the mounting rods for the fans. Theyíre made of stainless steel.







    The counterparts for the fan holder are made from aluminium, because I had to remove a lot of material. Using stainless steel would have taken a long time. After finishing the mounting rods for the radiator itself I used an epoxy-glue for gluing the magnets into all holders. There is a gap left between the fan holders. It is meant to compensate tolerances. I adjusted them in a following step.






  2. #2
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    Next step was to finish the fan holders. Theyíre working very well, itís really cool how they snap in. The holding force of the magnets has a perfect strength.



    My local hardware store offers a cutting service and did a real good job with my MDF panels. I had to do the chamfers by myself, using a circular table saw. The material shown is for the inner cases. I will do the outer cases later.



    I drilled the holes for the radiator mounting rods. After marking their positions I used the radiator mountings as a template and as a guiding for their vertically.






  3. #3
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    I made some drafts for the design, playing with combinations of octagonal and rounded corners. The pictures show the inner case of the main part, and the radiator mounted with its outer case. The main inner case has to have the octagonal shape to leave room for the mounting rods of the outer case.
    The design decisions for the outer cases are still open.




    Having the dimensions for the inner cases I could start with sawing the cutouts in the side panels. The smaller cutouts are used for cable ducting. The lower one for main power and network cable, the upper one leads to the cable duct for monitor, mouse, power outlet strip etc.





    Next step was to reinforce the cavity wall with wood profiles. I had to consider cable ducts. I donít want any visible cables go from and to this case, all have to be led trough the side panel. The screws were just used to fix the position until the glue was hardened.





    For the case itself I am not going to use normal wood screws but M3 and M4 screws. By this there will be no problems with unmounting/remounting the case. To be able to do this I had to use drive-in nuts. As you will see in upcoming updates, I used a lot of them








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    I build a detachable stand for the side panel, to simplify the further work. Theyíre screwed in M4 drive-in nuts.





    With the stand it was much easier to apply the primer coat.



    Same for he filling.



    Next step was sanding. I hate sanding nearly as much as fillingÖ The result isnít perfect yet, but I am going to do the final finish later. Thereís a high risk to damage the side panel till the end of the project. After this I unmounted my desk to measure some fixing points. I copied the mounting holes from the original panel to the new one using my router.



    While drilling in some holes I got some breakouts. This is why I postponed the filling.



    It took four rounds of filling and sanding till I was satisfied with the result. I will do a final round after the case is completed.

    Then I milled in the cutout for the panel of the power and network-cable.



    At this time most of the holes and nuts should have been done.





    The integration of the connectors for power and network cable was the next step.




  5. #5
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    Next step was to assembly the inner case for the first time. Unfortunately the panels didnít fit as planned. My mistake was to cut the panels before I finished the side panel. After all the sawing, filling and sanding the openings within the side panels just got a little bigger than planned. Iím going to fill the gaps with glue and filler.



    Not all panels are fixed at their exact position, so donít mind the gaps.



    The section on the right is meant to be for the power supply. It will pull the air out of the main section and blow it up and out of the case. This is going to be the only active ventilation for the main section.



    At the back side there is enough room (6 cm) for all cables, the Aquaero and other supplies.



    The bottom area is meant for the cables plugged into the mainboard, the pump and eventually the SSDs. There are two openings for the cables leaving the inner case. One to the front panelÖ



    Ö and one to the back headed for radiator, multiple electrical outlet and monitor etc.



    Parallel to working on the case itself I did a lot of planning for the inner details. I ordered sample kits to compare the Paracord and the MDPC-X sleeve.


    The plan is to avoid all visible cables. But the few you will see have to look perfect! I thought about colored sleeve, but decided against it. I donít know what color theme the next hardware generation is going to have, and do not want to have to do the sleeving again. Then I got an idea for changing color accents in the cables according to the main lightning. First step of this idea was to use cable chains. They are a perfect choice to achieve the industrial look I am looking for. I am going to use the MDPC-X-sleeve in black and two shades of grey.





    In addition to the sleeved cables I am going to put fibre optics into the cable chains. I found a special one with a diameter of 1.5 mm which emits light not only from end to end but also to the side.





    The light yield was a problem, till a forum user made the suggestion to cover the open ending with aluminium foil and shrinking tube. Now itís bright enough.



    I had to check what resistors I have to use to get the same colors with my 5 mm RGB-LEDs and the RGB-strings. Luckily they are looking fine together:



    Since I am going to use more than 8 m of RGB-strings and several 5 mm LEDs, one Farbwerk is not enough. I ordered a second one.


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    Next big step was to unmount the water-cooling components of my current rig. For the further steps I need to have fast access to the hardware, to do measurements etc. Last picture of my tower:



    I cleaned all cooling parts in an ultrasonic bath. I exchanged all sealing rings. All copper parts got a bath in citric acid. Took no pics of all the work.
    Then I drilled out the rivets of the backplate of an old case. I am going to install this backplate into my MDF-backplate. By this I get a good fitting backplate with all the openings and fixing points it needs. You will not be able to see this backplate in the end, because Iím planning to use a cover. I mounted my motherboard and marked the position of the different connectors.



    Till the project is finished I am going to use only the onboard GPU and the boxed cooler. I have plans for the GPU-cooler. Another reason finish this project as fast as possible!
    To get the perfect symmetry of the sleeved cables in the energy chains I need cable-combs. Especially to get the fibre-optics in the right positions. There are no matching ones on the market, so I had to develop my own ones. They are very delicate. I 3D-printed them on a Polyjet-3D-printer at work. These printers are way more accurate than the common 3D-printers which meld a filament. They print by applying a 16 um thin coating, which is hardened by UV-light.



    The smaller combs consists of several small pieces, connected through pins which I am going to remove after gluing. After printing them I had to remove some support material. Last remains are disintegrated in sodium hydroxide.



    Then I started milling some of my parts. I am planning to build my own reservoir, using three tubes made of borosilicate glass. Found a glassblower who manufactured them for me. Most important part was to get rounded edges. My goal is to manufacture as many parts as possible on my own. Nevertheless, for the reservoir bottom part I needed the help of my chef and a CNC. There is no way of milling the inner T-slots for the O-rings on a manual milling machine. The material is POM (Delrin).



    This piece isnít finished yet, the G1/4ď threaded holes are missing. Later you will not be able to see this piece, I am using a cover made out of aluminium around the tubes.



    The aluminium piece is the basic block for the front panel, with openings for the power button and two USB3.0 connectors (not done yet). It will get a cover made from stainless steel.


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    The reservoir bottom part is almost finished. I only have to add some threads for attaching it to the case. There is a holder for a RGB-LED exactly underneath every glass tube to enlighten them from underneath. Inlet and outlet are facing upwards at an angle of 45į. By this the incoming fluid is pressed into the tube instead of directly going to the outlet. I hope to get a better degassing through this. Iím not satisfied with the quality of the surface yet. Iíll have to sand it a little bit later.







    I then started with gluing in the 3D-printed cable-combs into the energy chains. Sleeve-color is just improvised.







    Then I worked on the front panel which will be located at the face side of the side panel. The back part is made from aluminium, the front cover is 2 mm thick stainless steel. Was a lot of work with the key file.








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    I decided to go to a professional to get my visible cables sleeved. The german representation for MDPC-X is purple-banana.de, and they did an amazing job! Iím really happy about the results. I ordered the cables unmounted, to be able to assemble them easily into my energy chains. The chains are not finished yet, but I could not resist to try out. The Cable-Combs work very good, no catching of sleeve or anything like that. Donít worry about the gap between the three cables at the outer sides, theyíre needed to let room for the fibre optics.









    The sleeving of the USB3.0 was a problem. I did not want to cut up the cable, but the connectors are too big for any MDPC-X sleeve. Luckily, I had some old Phobya Sleeve lying around. It has high stretching capabilities, and looks quite similar to the MDPC-X. Main disadvantage is the coarse mesh, you can easily see through. But since the cables are black this isnít a big problem.
    Without a chance to use any shrinking tube, I used 2k-glue to cast the end of the sleeve to the connector.






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    Iím going to use two O-rings for each glass tube of the reservoir. The ones I bought first are made out of NBR with a hardness of 70 Shore-A. This is too much for my glass tubes, I canít press them in. And I am too afraid of breaking them. So I bought softer O-rings with 50 Shore-A, and now it fits really good.



    The upper end of the glass tubes will end into a top part made out of aluminium (not manufactured yet). This top part will be screwed onto a top plate with a sealing between both. The top plate contains holes for refilling the cooling fluid. I made it out of white PET. Later it will be masked with a foil to look like black aluminium. The sealing is a foam rubber sealing cord.



    I have finished most of the aluminium profiles used to hold the case together. Not sure if I am going to sand and re-anodize them.
    I flattened the mainboard back plate to fit into the MDF-plate.



    My plans for the GPU are to get a cleaner look by hiding the PCI-E power cables. A plate made out of PMMA with a cable duct, covered by a plate made out of aluminium are going to do the job. The PMMA plate will be illuminated by two RGB-LEDs.








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    Time to use the router again!



    Got a problem while shaping the opening for the front panel. I could not reach the deeper areas with mounted guidance of the router. So I had to do them free handed. I donít like the result but donít know if I should risk damaging the main contour.





    Front panel mounted, but backside front. Donít want to get scratches on the grinding pattern.



    Next step was to cut the panel for power and network cable. It too is made from 2 mm stainless steel, with a nice grinding pattern on it. The openings for the cable will be sanded and filled to look better.







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