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Thread: Project: Blue Shift

  1. #1

    Project: Blue Shift

    I've been meaning to post this here for some time. I was first introduced to Modders-Inc during the Desert Bash lan party earlier this year but at the time I had stopped working on this mod but since I have started it back up again I figured it’s a good time to bring the work log over to here. I originally posted this on TBCS so if you’re on that site too you have already seen all of this. But for the rest of you, you get the benefit of my revised and organized work log lol.

    This project was original Called “Stealth 1200”. It is my first true modding attempt and with that my initial intent with it this mod was to stealth everything on this case and as well as solve a few of the inadequacies of Antec’s original design primarily the inability to change out the fan filters without removing no less than 28 thumbscrews and disassembling the entire case. Shortly thereafter I renamed the case “The MCC” MCC being roman numerals for 1200. But that didn’t last long. Now the Project is in its third and hopefully final phase as “Blue Shift”. Referring to the shift in light to the blue end of the spectrum when and object is heading towards you. Though a good friend of mine keeps begging me to Slap a lambda emblem on the side of it and make it a Half Life Theme out of it, which is still a possibility lol.

    Stealth 1200 / The MCC Work log

    Fan Controller

    The first thing I did was add a fan controller to the top of the case. I simply wanted to be able to turn on/off any of the three banks of fans (the case currently has 12 fans and sounds like a 747 taxing for takeoff) so that I could turn down the noise when the system is idling. Also I needed a switch to control the CCFL.

    My first attempt at the install was an udder failure and required to me rethink my approach, (sorry no pics of the fail) But essentially I neglected to properly measure and drill pilot holes first so while the hole for my first switch was perfectly in place the subsequent holes were terribly misaligned. Fortunately the switches I bought came with a raised platform that they would click into and I used those to cover my mistakes. Here is the end result.

    The Result worked but I was never completely happy with it and would eventually fix it when I restarted the project as Blue Shift.

    DVD Stealthing

    As stated before my goal was to stealth as much of the case as possible to give it that factory custom type of look. The first place I started with that was the dvd drive.

    To do this I used two of the blank drive covers. One I cut out a hole for the drive tray to slide out through. The other I cut a piece out of to cover the hole in the first bay cover. Next I cut a piece of styrene to use as a backing to the mesh and used a second piece as an end cap for the disk tray. Then I using a styrene dowel and a flat piece I was able to relocate the eject button so it would pass through the mesh. Then I used glue and a few styrene standoffs I glued the mesh cover to the end of the disk tray. A quick coat of paint and the drive disappears into the sea of mesh.


    (I apologize for the low image quality; many of the pics from the first stages of this mod were taken using my cell phone camera)

    Temperature Display

    There are many options on the market these days for good temperature displays but after having used a few different models I was never completely satisfied with them, So as they say if you want something done right do it yourself.

    Using styrene I traced out the location of the temperature displays and cut out the holes. I had to trim the sides of the temp displays so they would fit snugly in the styrene. Once I had it together I cut some slim strips of styrene to put around as standoffs to recess the panel behind the mesh. I cut two windows in the mesh so you can read the displays. Once I had the displays mounted in the frame, (I used hot glue to mount them) I turned to the wiring. I put in a push button switch so I could independently turn off the displays. Once I had the wiring complete I painted everything and used hot glue again to hold everything together.

    Design Shortcomings

    The Antec 1200 is an awesome case but like most things it is not without its flaws. While it has tons of room to work in the main compartment it could seriously use another 1/8-1/4 of an inch on the back side for cable management. But there is little I could do to fix that short of attempting to move the motherboard tray over which is way beyond my meager skill set. However there where two other design shortcomings that I felt needed correction. For cable management reasons I needed to flip my PSU upside down (or technically right side up since the psu is located at the bottom of the case) this left the psu with only about a 1/4 inch of clearance from which to draw warm air from inside the case. Next and probably the most prominent failing of the designers at antec was their failure to allow the user to easily remove and clean the fan filters. After about two weeks my filters would be clogged but it was such a pain to change them, (typically taking 30-45 mins to do) I would usually go two months requiring me to not just clean the filters but the rest of the case now. And lastly which may be the most minor but still a nuisance is that this case when fully loaded weighs over 50 pounds making it rather difficult to move.


    To fix this problem I decided to create a vent in the bottom of the case by drilling a series of holes. I flipped over the case and taped off the area and began drilling a series of pilot holes in the grid that I had traced out. After I began drilling I realized that I had miscalculated the spacing and corrected it but this left a few pilot holes in the wrong spot. While for the most part it worked out on one of the hole the drill slipped, it’s hard to pick and it will almost always be hidden, but it’s one of those things that will bother me until I figure out a way to fix it. Now that I had the holes drilled I took a spare fan filter and cut it down and modified coax wall tacks to hold it in place.

    Drive Cages

    The 1200 has 3 hard drive cages that are held in place by 8 thumb screws each in order to remove the fan filter at the front of the drive cages you have to remove all 8 screws and pull the drive cage out at least an inch and a half to be able to remove the filters. And in order to get to those 8 screw you have to remove both side panels each held in by 2 screws. So in order to clean all 4 filters you have to remove 28 thumb screws. In order fix this problem came up with the idea of cutting a slot for one thumb screw on each side to slide down.

    I taped up the sides and traced out the path for the slot and then began to drill a series of holes along the length of the slot. I then took my dremel and a cut off wheel and opened the slot up and then cleaned it up with a grinding wheel. I later used two of the original thumbscrews and a washer (one on each side) to hole the drive cage in place, I then bent out the detents on the drive bay covers so that when the drive was pushed into the case it would lock into position. Next I had to come up with some way of easily being able to pull the drive cages out, I went to home depot and found some draw pulls that would do the trick nicely and with a little modification to the mesh they fit quite well.

    This though introduced a new problem that I hadn’t anticipated. The mesh is attached to a plastic shroud which is hooks into the drive cage with 4 plastic hooks, when I went to pull on the cage the fan shroud popped off of the drive cage. To fix this I screwed 4 countersunk screws into the fan shroud to hold it to the cage. This did the trick but not before I had an epic failure in the process. I initially the countersink bit I was using was to wide to fit into the holes I had drilled for the screws so I made an attempt to do it with a drill bit. While my first hole went well the subsequent ones did not. The drill bit caught the plastic and sucked the entire shroud up into the drill press doing damage to both the shroud and the fan wiring underneath, oops! After this I modified the shrouds so I could get my countersink bit in to the holes and that worked perfectly.

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    When I have this case fully assembled with all its parts (Mainly the Zalman 850w and the 3 hard drives) the systems weighs in at about 55 pounds. At the time I had to unfortunately transport this system around a lot. My Girlfriend and I weren’t living together yet and I would take the system over there every few weeks so we could play L4d together while I was there over the weekend. Additionally I wanted to raise the system up higher than the standard legs so that the new PSU vents could breathe properly.

    At work I found an old shredder that we barely used that had flush mounted caster, I realized these would be perfect to mount on the 1200. After clearing it w/ the boss I removed the casters and took them home with me. I marked out the holes and drilled them and used sheet metal screws to mount the casters to the case. After which I ground down the tips of the screws with the dremel to make sure they didn’t come in contact w/ my PSU.

    End of Steath 1200 / The MCC

    At this point I considered the project complete all the major mods where done and aside from a little refinement here and there the system looked good. All that was left to do was reassemble the case and take some pics.

    I am a cable management freak. I hate to see a case with cables strewn all over the place, that said I don’t mind the rats nest since at times its unavoidable, I just thing everything possible should be done to conceal it. In this system that meant building a good amount of custom cables so that I could route everything behind the motherboard, aside from the wiring harnesses for the switches I created a set of extensions for the motherboards additional power connectors and modified and sleeved a usb header for use with my ready boost thumb drive (so I no longer had to have it hanging off the back.)

    With the wiring complete and all that was left to do was to button her up and take some final pics.

    Systems Specs: (at that time)
    Processor: AMD Phenom X4 9950 3.0ghz (OC)
    Motherboard: MSI K9A2 Platinum
    Memory: 8gb G.Skill DDR2 800
    Graphics: Sapphire Radeon 4890 1gb (OC)
    Hard Drive: 3 Samsung 7500 rpm Sata II HDD 2tb total (1 500gb, 2 750tb)
    PSU: Zalaman ZM850-HP 850W
    OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64bit

    And with that I shelved the project thinking that there wasn’t much left that I could do with it….

    Project: Blue Shift Work log

    Recently I moved into an apartment with my girlfriend and after we got settled in I couldn’t help but feel that my case was missing something. What it needed was an overriding theme. So far 90 percent of the mods I had done to it where strictly functional while they served their purpose they left me feeling that something was lacking. Enter Project blue shift, I decided I wanted to paint the case and with the advice of my girlfriend who suggested that I paint to blue to match all the blue lights that came with the case I went with that concept. Also I wanted to take this chance to fix the fan controller, one of my first mistakes.

    One major difference between blue shift and Stealth 1200 is that while the modding was going on for 1200 I was able to move the system into a spare case, but since moving I no longer had a spare case and my computer is now our primary entertainment center so I couldn’t take the system offline for long while I did the mod, so I had to ghetto rig it, masking tape and zip ties to the rescue lol.

    Top Panel

    I decided to paint the tray of the top panel and the mesh for the 200mm fan blue and then I I was going to use styrene acent pieces along the tray that would be painted black. These served two purposes, first and most important was they would cover up my previous mistake with the switch panel and two they added to the style of the case. First thing I did was tape off the top panel and then I cut the styrene pieces and laid them out. Once I then drilled the holes in the front styrene piece to accept the switches and sanded everything down and painted it. Next I placed the switches in their panel as used hot glue to hold them in place as well as to attach the styrene plates to the top panel. One that was done I had to do some more modification to the case. Since the switches were now about a half an inch lower I needed to cut a hole in the top of the drive dower so that the wiring could pass through. My first attempt was to high so using a drill bit and the dremel I widened it. Now that there was room for the wiring harnesses I need to rebuild all of the harnesses. When I built them the first time I neglected to run a ground for the led on the Switch so I made sure to include it this time.


    While I was working on the top panel I also began to work on all the drive covers. First step was to sand them down, this proved easier on some than others as some of the covers had a couple of layers of paint as opposed to a single layer like others. But once that was done it was on to paint. I used Krylon Fusion paint for everything thing since I knew that would stick well w/ the plastic parts and I am not a patient person so general painting isn’t something I’m fond of doing. But the end result came out well. I initially attempted to paint the metal handles I used previously but the result was pretty bad. But when I was at Lowe’s I found similar handles that were already painted black. The only problem was that they were about 3/4 of an inch shorter. This meant that I couldn’t mount them in the same manor that I had previously so I tilted them inward.

    Temp Display / DVD Drive

    The temp display and dvd drive needed to be painted as well, but while the temp display was a simple sand, paint and glue operation the dvd was a bit more involved. I had previously used glue to mount the end plate to the dvd tray, this worked last time because everything was painted a single color, but now since the mesh would be blue and the background black I had to come up with a new solution. Screws. I drilled two holes into the tray and used two painted rounded head screws to hold the mesh in place. This worked quite well and It also meant that it would be easy to move this over to the blue ray drive that I will eventually get in the future.

    The End Result

    The Final product came out exactly as I had envisioned it. Though in these pictures due to the flash the blue is a bit brighter than it is when you’re in the room with it. I will later take more Pictures with the case outside so the lighting is better.

    Systems Specs: (Currently)
    Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 940 3.4ghz (OC)
    Motherboard: MSI K9A2 Platinum
    Memory: 8gb G.Skill DDR2 800
    Graphics: Sapphire Radeon 4890 1gb (OC)
    Hard Drive: 3 Samsung 7500 rpm Sata II HDD 2tb total (1 500gb, 2 750tb)
    PSU: Zalaman ZM850-HP 850W
    OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64bit

    The case is now about 95% complete. I have a friend who has a vinyl Cutter and I’m gona have him make some vinyl decals for me to finish off the case. I’m working on drawing those up now so I will hopefully be able to post pics of that sometime this weekend. I hope you guys enjoyed the work log so far, there is still more to come so stay tuned.

  2. #2
    The Main Man Dewayne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Project: Blue Shift

    Well it is about time you made it here! ... lol

    I remember taking to you. You made the bays so that you could pull them in and out at and stuff. The case does look different from when I seen it last and it looks good!

    "I have a friend who has a vinyl Cutter ..." I think we have to talk ;-)

  3. #3

    Project: Blue Shift

    Yeah after the lan i pretty much didn't even touch the case modding wise till about two weeks ago when i started this next phase. figured now was as good of a time as any to start posting here. lol As for the vinyl cutter, lol its my sisters father in law, i've done some computer work for him in the past, but he has his own sign making business so I'm hoping he will cut me a deal on the decals. i wont know for sure till i send over the designs later this weekend. But in the meantime i ordered new side panels for the Blue shift from antec today. The plexi in the left side has picked up a few real nasty scratches over the last year plus there are a few chips in the paint and what not so i decided it would be easiest to order a couple of new panels so i would have a clean slate to put the vinyl decals on when i get them made up.

  4. #4

    Project: Blue Shift

    Im still up in the air about the way i want to go with the decals for the case so for right now that is on the back burner till i figure out exactly how i want to do it but in the mean time....

    It has always been my intention to water cooling this rig. Thermally she is at her max on air i could probably get higher clock speeds on both the gpu and cpu but that would mean pushing it into a temperature zone (and noise zone, the stock ATI cooler is extremely loud above 45%) that I'm not completely comfortable with. So the obvious solution is to water cool it. However this stage is going to be majorly held up by available funs. So until the funs arrive i thought i would break out sketchup and start drawing out the custom parts i was planning for the rig.

    This is my first atempt at water cooling so any pointers or suggestions any of you might have as to materials, tubing sizes, connectors, etc, please feel free to offer them up, they will be much appreciated.

    My plan is to use a single loop to cool the cpu and gpu with a single 240 radiator externaly mounted off Blue shifts rear exhaust fans. I plan on utilizing the Empty drive cages (now acting as wind tunnels to for extra cooling for cpu and gpu) to house the Reservoir and Pump. The Reservoir will be custom designed out of some sort of acrylic/plexi to fit inside the drive cage. Since a 120mm fan sits at the front of the drive cage i was planning on using copper tubing to create mini wind tunnels through the reservoir turning it into a sort of second radiator.

    I started mocking up the drive cage in sketchup and its almost finished, once that is done i will start on the custom reservoir.



    I'm thinking for the loop it will go Pump > GPU > Radiator > CPU > Reservoir > back to pump. The CPU is what I'm concerned with most so i want it to have the coolest water pumping though it. so i put it directly after the Radiator. Since the Reservoir should, with this design, act in part as a second radiator that should drop the water temp before it hits the gpu. Witch i would think would be better than having the GPU directly after the CPU, please correct me if I'm wrong.

  5. #5
    Master Modder
    Join Date
    Nov 2006

    Project: Blue Shift

    pretty nice case you got there, thumbs up from :mrgreen:

  6. #6

    Project: Blue Shift

    Ok So i have alot of new ideas on where to take this mod. (All of wich i need to be done with by the end of june. II want this case in prime condition for Desert Bash 9) Mainly liquid cooling for starters (Birthday is next week and im getting blocks, a pump and a rad to start with) But before i can dive into water cooling i need to address some issues with the current set up Mainly the wiring. While i initially thought it was up to par i now see it needs a major over haul especially to accommodate the liquid cooling set up that will be installed within the next two months.

    The picture is crap but it gets the message across lol. (phone camera and 5 mins in photoshop lol)

    The plan is to relocate as much wiring as possible so its out of sight (Red circles). Anything that cannot be moved will be resleaved in a combination of black and blue sleaving (Blue boxes. Sleaving will be in a roughly 2 to 1 ratio of black to blue). Then anything that cant be sleaved (or doesn't look good sleaved) will be covered (green boxes)

    RED: First im going to move the wire bundle from the top panned to a hole i will cut in the side of the drive cages. Next when i water cool the two middle fans and cages will no longer be there so that wiring will disappear. Next I'm gona reroute the sata Data & Power cables so then come up from under the drives as opposed to the hole where everything else is crammed through.

    BLUE: ATX, PCIE, 4pin, SATA, and additional mother board PCI-E connection will all be reseaved

    GREEN: Depending how the sata cables and that mess going through the first pass through look afterwords i will build a cover to hide them. Additionally i have my reservations about the 4pin and Molex connection on the mobo and i think they may need to be covered up as well. but we wont know until we get there.

    The first of my water cooling supplies will be arriving beginning of next week so first thing i need to do is find a temporary home for my system while i start modding process up again.

  7. #7

    Project: Blue Shift

    Went to harbor freight and Home depot the other day. got a bunch of new toys for this mod.

    The two important finds of the bunch where the new casters. The ones currently on Blue shift are off pos shredder from work. I'm in constant fear they they will simply snap off under her weight and after i add the extra 10 + pounds from liquid cooling... sufficient to say these new ones should hold up much better. they also ride on ball bearings which means they should swivel alot better than the current ones. also the current casters are secured with sheet metal screws i think I'll use rivets this time to make sure they are on there good.

    The other thing i found was a nibbler. The first article i ever read about modding mentioned one of these and i had completely forgot about it. i think its gona be perfect for cutting out the designs in the side panels. (and if not, that's what the jig saw blades are for lol)

    On a slightly off topic subject my Sister game me her old computer to clean up so she could give it to her son. Clean being the operative word here...

    i don't thing that think has been opened up in the last 3 years, add to that she has three dogs. it wasn't a pretty sight when i hit it with the air compressor.

    Anyway if anyone has any old AGP graphics cards or DDR memory they are looking to offload let me know. This system has a 64mb graphics card and 256mb of memory. it need a little boost in those areas lol.

  8. #8
    Wet Sanded
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Project: Blue Shift

    I have some AGP cards, but I think they might be 32mb ones lol! I just needed them to load dual monitors on some older machines.... I might also have a 128mb PCI card (FX5200 I believe), but if I do, that one doesn't have the metal mounting bracket, so you'd have to be careful...

  9. #9
    Super Moderator tech-daddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Plano, Texas

    Project: Blue Shift

    Wowsers, great explaining of the work performed! Looks nice! (I'm a fan of blue and black). Nice build, and I like the fact that you are continuing to work the management on the inside now that you have the outside all tweaked up! They say that it's the last 5% of the mod that takes up the most time...

    That "clean up case" aint the worst... but it is mighty nasty! Fire hazard too!

    I'll see what I have on the AGP front, and see if I have any DDR kicking around.

  10. #10

    Project: Blue Shift

    Thx guys, This is actually about to split off into another project entirely. I just ordered a P4 3.0ghz proc for the system off ebay for $20 shipped. and i'm doing as much scrounging around as i can to find cheep DDR and a new Graphics card for it. The goal is to get this rig up to the point where it can run L4d 2 (doesn't have to be maxed just needs to run it well) i think i can pull that off quite nicely with atleast 2gb of ddr (4 would be nice) and hopefully a 512mb graphics card (but i'll settle for 256 if thats all i can find). Im gona drop a spare 400w psu into it and as well as a 250gb hd and a DVD burner that i have lying around. I'm gona start a separate thread for this soon as im gona give this a Spy vs. Spy theme. I've only got 4 weeks to do this b4 his bday so this is gonna be interesting.

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