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Thread: Dark Matter (Scratch Build) W/3D Printed Parts

  1. #11


    PSU Surround & Mock-ups:

    Now that I have my PSU I can start prepping the surround pieces and mocking it all up. I made a template for a piece that will go around the bottom of the PSU. This piece will serve as a platform for the extensive cable management setup I will be building. I cut this piece out of thicker lexan than I typically use (8mm.) Later on I will add some detail to this piece but, it will be left fairly rough for now.








    3D Printed Snap in Rings: 120mm Fans

    After the BeQuiet PureWings fans arrived I noticed that they have a tapered edge around the outside. I immediately thought about designing and 3D printing a piece that could be snapped into the edge. I haven't completely decides if I will use the rings in this build but, I decoded to make them anyways. That way I can decide if I want to use them or not. If I decide to use them I will paint match the rings so that they match the build.

    It took two iterations of these rings in order to get everything perfect. I had to allow for the filler primer and paint when I made the 2nd version. Each print only took about 6 minutes on my Printrbot plus 3D printer using a 1mm nozzle. So far they look great and I'm almost ready to test paint the first one.




    Metal Fab: Inner Work

    In the top of the front portion of the case theres a overhang that has all the rough work almost completed. Now I need to make a plate that fits inside and covers the back portion. It has a few angles on each side as well as some odd shaped bolt mounts that run along the length of the aluminum top. I need to make sure it fits very snug so I used my air cutoff tool to get the general shape correct.



    Now that I have the general shape I will use several different metal files to get it perfect. This will take a good deal of time as you shave a small amount on each pass until its exact. I use a set of needle files for any detail work I do. Needle files typically come in a set. Each needle file has a different shape and size which make them the perfect tool for acrylics, plastic, metals and wood. I save the larger files for straight lines or when I need to remove a lot of material.






    Switch Bezel: Ideas & Design

    Recently I've been playing around with different ideas for the front switch bezel. As of right now I have two audio jacks and the angel eye Vandal switch mounted. I went with the mic and headphone jacks in the front of the case primarily for gaming. This will allow for easy access when using voice and headphones.

    The plan is to add two smaller indicator LEDs and one more Vandal switch that is different from the one already mounted. One of the indicator lights is for the capacitive lock-out feature. This feature is custom built and requires the user to touch the hidden capacitive switch while pressing the power switch. Doing this combination is the only way to power on the PC. This is especially handy when kids are around or at shows. It also helps to eliminate accidental switch activation.




    Click In Fan Ring Prototype: Update

    This is an update to the 3D printed rings I made. I'm not 100% sure if I'll use them in this build but, if I don't try it out I wouldn't know how they'll look.




    Painting Triple SSD Rack:
    I decided to start priming some of the pieces in the case. The primer is the same color as the final paint in the next few pieces I do so it'll be nice to see what they'll look like. I had already primed the mounts for the SSDs but, now I'm doing the main piece that holds the SSD mounts.



    Im also going to do the motherboard tray as it looks horrible in the stock silver. I will remount the motherboard tray after I build the plate for the new 120mm fan and the new surround. I had to make the new surround because the 120mm fan is wider than the back of the donors case.


    LED Testing: Mounting Locations

    I am still awaiting the arrival of some intelligent LEDs that I ordered but, I do have the 5050 true RGB LED strips. I also have pre-wired 3 way splitters that I will use for the build. The main reason I did the testing today was to determine the best location to mount the strips.

    The first spot I tried is on the inside of the main cross frame rail. Mounting it in spots like this allows the glow from the LED to be seen without actually seeing the LED strips. It also does a great job of giving an even glow to the inside of the build.



    The second spot I tested was inside the curved stainless steel that runs along the bottom edge of the case. I had originally planned on mounting strips here so I intentionally left a small space that runs the length of the case. When the LEDs are lit it gives a clean straight line. As the build goes on I will test a few more spots.




  2. #12


    PSU Mount: Painted (black)

    The backplate for the PSU mount is finally cured enough so that it can be remounted. I think it looks great and its a perfect fit. I left about a half of a mm of space so that it would fit correctly after the paint and primer was applied.




    Top Acrylic Pieces:

    Currently I'm doing some test painting on these pieces to see which color combination I like. I have two more pieces to do which will more than likely be black. This will help make the small bits of green pop which is what I'm going for. I still need to find the right materials to hand make the top grill. Ive been looking into using either acrylic or aluminum.




    3D Printed Fan Ring: Update

    I managed to paint the 3D printed fan ring I did for the BeQuiet PureWings 2 120mm fans. This time I used my paint gun which made a huge difference. The coat is much more even and smooth. The lime green is one of the paints I've been looking into using.




    Overall Update:

    Lately I've been splitting my time between fabricating metal pieces for the build, drawing scale templates for the side panel and priming as much as I can while the weather is decent. Ive been getting a lot done but, not a whole lot of showable progress. Once I get to a good point I will have a decent sized update.


    Re-fitting Test Painted Pieces: Back Panel

    Over the last few days I've been priming and painting pieces of the back panel as well as the motherboard tray. I do this so I can get an idea of what colors look best. The motherboard tray looks sharp in a flat black. Most of it wont be seen once the hardwares installed but, little bits will be seen and I want them to look good. I still need to cut part of the panel for the rear mounted PureWings 120mm fan.






    Rear 120mm PureWings 2 PWM Fan:

    I started working on the mount and design for the rear mounted fan. As mentioned previously there was an original 80mm fan that needed to go. I found some thick honeycomb modders mesh that would make for an awesome custom grill. I used the 120mm fan as a template to mark out the cuts.

    I will also add a custom 3D printed ring around the edge which will look slick once mounted. Im also testing to see what the click in ring will look like on the inside. It required a little bit of modification to the fan to get it into place. I had to cut off the clip for the wiring in order to fit in the rings.




  3. #13



    PCIe Slot Covers: Test Paint

    I test painted some of the PCIe slot covers I has laying around to see what they would look like. I think the color is right on but, I haven't completely decided on the style. I recently found some slot covers that are slotted at an angle. I think the angled slots fit the design style more accurately.




    More Templates: Side Panels

    Ive been working on the last two templates for the right side of the case. There will be two 120mm fans on this side as well as the acrylic window for the triple SSD rack I designed. The area around the large water path is also cut out and the nickel plated hardline water cooling tubes come out the side a little bit.

    To me the side panels are an important part of the design. The left side has several layers to it which give it added dimension. The top part of the side panels open upward like a Delorian and the bottom panels open downward. This allows for a neat look as well as accessibility when working on the case.




    Indicator lights: Ideas & Hand Made

    I know that I want to use and indicator light for a couple different parts on the build. I went online and searched to find some that were original looking. I wanted something I hadn't seen used on a case mod or PC build. All of the sudden it hit me, “ why not try making one?” I hand make almost every piece on my scratch build and it didn't occur to me to make an indicator light/bezel.

    I don't own a lathe which is generally what would be used to make the mount and bezel. I do however own a hand drill. The size is just barely enough to try out a few ideas. Ill have to dig threw scraps to see what else I can find.




    Aluminum Strips: Passthrough

    I wanted to give the passthrough a little more style so I cut some thin aluminum strips to run vertically. Its a small touch but, it added a lot of character to the passthrough. I will make the cuts for the water-cooling and PSU cabling once I get the motherboard.




    New Sponsor: OCZ

    I am happy to announce that OCZ is the new SSD sponsor for the Dark Matter scratch build. They will be supplying 3 of their freshly released Vector 180 SSDs. The floating triple SSD rack will be filled with OCZs solution for hardcore gamers. I would like to thank OCZ for supporting this project.




    Aluminum Top Grill:

    I am custom making the grill for the top of the case using aluminum stock. I probably could of bought something pre-made and adapted it to the build but, whats the fun in that? The stock that I have will have to be cut in half to make a total of 8 slats that run almost the full length of the case. I still need to find the middle piece which will be a bit wider than the other slats in the grill. More than likely I'll need to design a mount to hold everything together. It has taken a long time to cut the aluminum into strips and sand them but, I was able to show you the first of the strips (below)



    Behind the grill I will have 4–5 fans and possibly the top mounted radiator. I haven't decided how high the rad will be mounted. If its mounted lower I will mount case fans behind the grill. A custom mount for the fans will also need to be built from scratch in order to fit them in the way I want them. Ive been debating a louver style mount for the fans so that they can be used as intake or exhaust fans by simply sliding a piece on way or the other. I may save this ideas for a future build unless I have the time and space to do it.


    OCZ Custom Badge:

    Ive been getting ready for the arrival of the new OCZ Vector 180 SSDs. I designed the triple SSD mount to have a plate at the bottom so I could mount the OCZ logo. The aluminum backplate had already been cut out and mounted. Now I needed to cut out the main plate. I chose thin (1mm) acrylic because it is easier to work with. My scroll saw made quick work of the acrylic panel.



    I used a high resolution copy of the OCZ logo to create a cut path on my vinyl cutter. Flat white really makes the logo pop due to the background vinyl. The trickiest part of working with vinyl is always placement. Typically you only get 1 shot at placement and if its not right; you have to start all over again.



    I wanted to try something different so I used a combination of flat and gloss black for the background. The gloss black was cut by hand and laid at an angle with a corner to match the ones on the acrylic panel. Even know this isn't very noticeable; to me its worth it for the few people that look up close and say, “wow!” Its also a throwback to old school automotive design.




    Wiring: Through The Frame

    When I designed this case I wanted the wiring to be perfect. All of the case fans, led wiring and similar wiring will run inside the frames tubing. I have started marking some of the inlet and outlet sections to run everything. I will 3D print passthroughs so the inlets look clean. As far as all the wiring from the PSU; it will be sleeved and ran through a custom cable management system that I designed. I plan on sleeving it in lime green, black, white and grey or silver.


  4. #14


    Prepping Fan Wiring:

    Im starting to test run the cables from the case fans to the PSU. I am running a rather complex setup for cooling the entire case. There will be at least 7 X 120mm BeQuiet PureWings PWM fans on the case itself. These fans will be connected to the Dark Power Pro 11 PSU (1,200watts.) It has a built in thermistor that monitors the cases internal temperature for hardware protection. If the internal case temps get too high it will automatically speed the fans up to quickly cool the internals back down.

    As previously mentioned I am running the fans wiring through the frame. I purchased some cable glands that I will mount directly behind the PSU. This will allow the fans wiring to go through the bottom of the PSUs mount, into the lower frame rails and to the fans. Inside the frame rails I have click in cable organizers that will keep the wiring neat. I will sleeve the fan cables even though you'll only see a small part of the wiring.




    Parts Ordered:

    Voltage Meter:

    I recently ordered a few small parts for the build. The first item is a green LED voltage meter. This will allow me to easily see the main voltage coming out of the PSU. The color was kind of hard to find but, luckily I was able to snag this one.



    DRL LEDs:

    I also bought some DRL LEDs. Typically these are used for high end vehicle (Daytime Running Lights.) I haven't decided where or if I will use them but, they are definitely worth trying out as I've never seen them used in a case mod or scratch build.


    Wireless LED Controller:Arrived

    I ordered a wireless LED controller that works for single colored LEDs. It has a much smaller remote that looks like a key fob for your car. It has the ability to turn ON/OFF or dim the LEDs. The main feature for me is the ability to dim the LEDs as they're typically too bright. To my amazement these have already made it to the shop.




    Continued Work: Top Grill

    I had to come up with a new way of cutting the aluminum strips for the hand made top grill. I used a cheap fake dremel for the first two and it took forever. I guess I will have to break out the air cutoff tool.

    If you plan on doing a lot of cuts in metal; the air cutoff tool will be your best friend. The cutting disks last a long time and it will chew threw almost any kind of metal. I use the air cutoff tool in conjunction with my bench grinding wheels for most metals.



    After I had my strips cut I needed to figure out how I was going to mount them. Originally I was going to 3D print a mount but, I came up with a neat system using extruded aluminum. The extruded aluminum is U channel so I need to make a notch for each strip. This will allow for a tight fit as well as give me the ability to make adjustments if I need to.

    I decided to go with 10mm spacing from the center of one slat to the center of the ones next to it. For the middle I will use a strip that is wider than the rest of the strips. The center piece will have a larger spacing due to its added width. Once its all together it'll look slick.


    Backlight For Mid-Plate:

    As mentioned before I left a space under the PSUs mount at the bottom. This space will allow for easier wiring and running LEDs to light up the mid-plate. I plan to cut some vinyl which will ho over the frosted acrylic. That way the acrylic will glow except the spaces where theres vinyl. It already looks pretty sweet and I haven't even modified it yet.




    Reservoir Mounts: New Ideas

    I haven't decided exactly what I want to do for the reservoir but, I came up with a sweet idea. It'll have to be built before I know if it'll look right. Im using a old reservoir to mock everything up as I had this one available and its about the same size. I started by making templates to cut out of some really thick Lexan. Im hoping this idea comes out like I think it will because Lexan in this thickness isn't cheap.



    It'll have two thick Lexan brackets with nickel plated tubes running the length of the reservoir. The brackets will serve as a mount as well as hold the tubes in place. They all kind of work together to work as an extensive mounting system. Once I finish the mock-ups ill update the log with what it looks like. As of now I only have the first rough cut Lexan bracket. I was able to start doing some fine sanding on the outer edge but I still have a few more different grits of sandpaper to go through. Up next I'll finish the rod mounts and the center ring that the reservoir will go through.




    LED Control Box:

    This box will more than likely go under the floor panel where it'll be completely covered but, I couldn't help myself. I decided to add a little style to it so it'll fit in with the build. No one else will know it's there but, you all will.


  5. #15


    Running Cables From The PSU:

    I couldn't decide exactly how I wanted to run the bulk of the cables from the PSU up to the motherboard trays backplate. Once it gets to the backplate it has a mapped out route to go. I decided to do some custom metal work mixed with some 3D printed parts. I did all the metal fabrication first so that I could design the 3D printed bits to fit perfectly. The piece that I made has 4 slots cut into the side of it so that the sleeved cables are kept nice and tidy on their way to the motherboard + SSD rack.



    This method was chose over a PSU shroud because I want to show off the PSU and the sleeved cables. Covering everything up is the easy route and I'm all about making the hardware part of the show. Ive seen a few good builds that make the portion right behind the PSU part of the show. When done correctly it looks great. I love showing off every bit of hardware because, the hardware is an important part.






    PSU Customization: Dark Power Pro 11 (BeQuiet)

    This build fits perfectly with the Dark Power Pro 11 PSU. The grill is very originally looking and you know what it is right after you see it. The PSU really doesn't need much customization to fit the build but, I prefer to put my touch on as much as possible.

    Some of the things I will do include sprucing up the bottom; which faces put the left side of the case. I might also customize the PSUs fan. Paint matching it to the build will help bring it all together.



    Custom Reservoir Mount: Update

    Today I spent a good deal of time on the Lexan reservoir mount. As previously mentioned I decided to free-hand draw and cut a mount out of Lexan. This mount will more than likely evolve throughout the build but, I am very happy with how it came out. Ive been playing with the idea of adding two more pieces of thinner Lexan to the overall mount. The combination of thicker and thinner Lexan will contrast nicely. I still need to cut the nickel plated tubes to fit exactly and I haven't had the chance to finish the mount for its final location.




  6. #16


    Reservoir Mount: Mock-ups

    I have a couple different places I could mount the tube styled reservoir. I really like the first place I tried which was vertically next to the motherboard tray. More than likely the pumps will go below this location so it seems like a good fit.

    The hard mount that I made is cut out of aluminum and has a couple simple bends in order to place the reservoir far enough forward. I still need to adjust the brackets so its perfect but, it already looks good. I wont be using this exact reservoir but, it is the same style as the final one. It will look even better once I make a couple more changes to the mount as well as prep the other water-cooling parts.




  7. #17


    Arrival: 3 – OCZ Vector 180s SSDs

    My package from OCZ arrived at the shop today. As you can imagine I was very excited to see that they showed up. Ive heard all kinds of great things about the new Vector 180 SSDs. I didn't waste anytime prepping the triple SSD rack. When I cut the brackets I left a little space so that I could cut out a small portion for the sata and power cables



    I went with a few bends on the mounts so the SSDs have a slight angle when they are in place. This is a big improvement over the flat mount I had originally designed. The OCZ logo plate has also been mounted to the bottom of the rack. I custom made this piece as well and it really brings it all together.




    OCZ SSD Mods:

    The OCZ SSDs look great how they are but, I always have a need to make it mine. The main color found throughout the Dark Matter build is green. It will also have some small bits of blue but, I thought it would be neat to change out the blue stripes on the SSDs to a green that matches.



    Using a pair of calipers I measured very accurately in order to get the exact size of the stripes on the SSDs. I took these measurements to adjust the size in my vinyl cut software. Once I had that figured out I started by having the vinyl cutter plot on paper using a pen so I could see if the scale was right. Everything looked correct so it was time to throw in the green vinyl and give it a test.


  8. #18


    Finishing Front Panel Cutout:

    About a week ago I finished the inner section of the top, front part of the case. I didn't cut out the spot where the main switches are located. I had some free time so I decided to cut and file the section so it could be remounted.






    Peripherals: RantoPad USA

    Im lucky enough to have RantoPad sponsor all of the peripherals for the Dark Matter scratch build. They provided a Mechanical MXX Gaming keyboard, optical gaming mouse and an aluminum gaming mousepad. I have to say that I was very impressed when they arrived. The packaging and quality of their products are top notch.







    RantoPad Parts: Mods Planned

    Im planning on doing a couple minor mods to the aluminum gaming mousepad. It is absolutely beautiful and matches the build style right out of its package. The MXX Mechanical Keyboard will need to be modded to match the build. It will be painted and customized to match the cases design cues. The plan is to cut vinyl masks so that I can use my airbrush to custom paint it. I might 3D print a few custom keys as well. I will need to customize the optical gaming mouse as well.




    Reservoir LED Tests:

    Ive been trying out different kinds of LEDs for the reservoir. The first set I tried were some really bright blue ones that do a scan pattern. I like the patterns but, the LEDs were way to bright and I still had a set of white to try. Below is a flip pic which shows the cycle of the white LEDs. I think that these best fit the area due to the downward scan cycle that they do. It follows the flow of the water in the cooling system which is pretty sweet. The white LEDs are also not as bright which is a better fit.


  9. #19


    Mechanical Meets Organic:

    Ive put a lot of thought into the piece of acrylic that is backlit on the bottom of the case. I like to spend a lot of time making sure every piece of the build follows along with the design and theme. The design evolving from the mechanical honeycomb pattern to the more organic fits it like a glove. It looks amazing now that its cut, mounted and backlit.

    I started by using the plotter so that it could be sketched out to scale. This allows me to check the sizing and come up with a game plan for, “weeding” the vinyl once its cut.



    I originally planned to use regular vinyl to create a dark section on the acrylic mid panel. After a day of experimenting with some new materials and techniques I decided to use what I had been testing. I think it came out absolutely beautiful. I really like the fact that its something that hasn't been done before.




    Part Arrival: DRL LEDs

    I purchased a set of new DRL LED lights. These ones are blue and they are supposed to be more diffused than most LEDs. I have done a few quick tests so you can see what they look like. Ive never seen these used in a case mod or build so it would be sweet if they work like I hope they will. While testing the DRLs I noticed that they reacted with the ink in the test sheet I did on my plotter. Its kind of weird because they are not UV.



    Last edited by Envious Mods; 03-12-2016 at 04:23 PM. Reason: Forgot pic

  10. #20


    3D Printed Grill Mounts:

    You may know that I've been trying a lot of different ways to build the top grill from scratch. Its a new endeavor for me so I knew it wouldn't be without issues. I decided to design and 3D print brackets for the grill. This way I can limit the amount of issues caused by attempting to adapt something else to work.

    The new Printrbot UBIS 13s hotend with a 1mm tip has made 3D printing stuff like this, much easier. My old setup took a lot longer. The resolution is higher with a smaller nozzle but, I don't need high resolution for solid brackets. The UBIS 13s also heats up faster and maintains temps while blazing through filament.






    Top Grill Mock-ups:

    I managed to mock up the grill but, it still needs tweaking to get it perfect. It really looks stunning with the internal LEDs on. I did a basic mount of the wider center piece thats made from acrylic. This piece will be made up of two or more pieces to give it the look I want.




    3D Printed EK Grill Insert: Work Continues

    Now that I'm starting to get the top grill sorted out I can mock-up the EK insert that is mounted on one end of the grill. Once I have it notched out on the bottom I can prime and paint the logo to see what it'll look like in its finished form. Due to my high standards, its taken a little longer than I had hoped to get it looking nice and smooth.



    Even though the insert isn't finished I still wanted to get an idea of what it will look like when its mounted. Below is a pic of it near its final mounting location.


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