My first attempt at a full case mod

Discussion in 'Modding Worklogs' started by Yamunsa, May 25, 2009.

  1. Yamunsa

    Yamunsa Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Messages:
    1,651
    Location:
    Cairns
    Here is the box that I used. It’s from an SL2 server. Old tech box, this is P3 server stuff, so the thing is heavy. I am confident it will make for a better box in the end as well as be a little easier to work with. It won't be so fragile.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You’ll see that the server is complete in these photos. I actually upgraded the insides with another 1GB of ram and sold the lot in a mid sized tower. Please disregard the mess that it looks like here. (I should have taken a snap of that build I sold as I was pretty happy with the way I moved the bits over).

    I had decided that I did want a few trinkets and beads in the thing but I don't have the big bucks to pay for everything and anything in this mod... so it has had to be a flexible build. The project sort of morphed along as I went.

    Obviously cash was involved but I have been horse trading a bit on the net, with mixed results, and as expected - one mans trash is another mans treasure.

    Bearing that in mind I wanted to upgrade my use of water cooling as well as trying to future proof the box for prospective builds.

    Anyways, back to topic. Stripping the box down to its core and anything like the door mechanism that had loads of bits; got its own pint glass so as not to lose anything, you can get a good perspective of how much space I have had to work with:

    Here’s the stripped chassis.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Before I even started the project I knew that I wanted to expand the water system that I had been using for the past year. I knew that I would want to put a new radiator in the roof. Getting a new twin rad, I did all the measuring. (Luckily I've done a bit of construction work before and am happy working with a measure, square and a straight edge.) Measure twice - cut once:

    [​IMG]

    I did a bit of research on the web and decided to use my jigsaw and a really nice blade, (blade was sheet steel specific. up to 5mm thick.) I got the blade ages ago when I was fitting the new kitchen and saving money by doing the fit off instead of the plumber. I think it cost me about $18 for the blade and it's a real pearl. Much cheaper than a Dremel but I had to be very accurate.

    The jigsaw is a lovely Bosch:

    [​IMG]

    Knowing that I’d need to pre drill some holes for the blade to fit through I did just that, using a 600w power drill and an old bit:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I did the same with the desired window in the side panel and cut away:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    On a personal note - I’m bloody happy with the result. I don't mind saying that I was a little nervous cutting in to the box as I only have the one. I was going to have a little practice on a piece of scrap metal but then I thought I’d prefer not to dull the blade. It took me a few days to make the initial cut rofl.

    (With the project moving along I tried to keep up with the photos but there are likely to be a few shots more I could have taken).

    I piloted the screw holes for the radiator. Having drilled a few holes for the jigsaw I knew that the drill was going to 'skitter' around a bit so using an old drill bit as a punch, and a small lump mallet, I pre-punched the drill holes. This worked a treat:

    [​IMG]

    The next stage was to mark out, cut and drill the internal face plate... this is a little hard to explain. It will be easier to show you the finished article... if you see on the original picture of the case there is a grilled fascia / bezel. This is actually a swing door that led to the SCSI bank. Having now removed the SCSI draws I intend to insert two 120mm fans as the main air intake behind this bezel.

    Originally I was going to make the internal fascia from metal but having cut the window and radiator hole I didn’t think that the jigsaw would be the best tool to make such a tight circular cut. (During hard waste I scavenged a few old computers off the curb to use the side panels as a source of free metal sheet. Remember this project is on the cheap).

    Here are the stages:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I used a cd as a perfect 120mm template

    [​IMG]

    I also popped in to Clark rubber and picked up some cheap U channel to shroud the sharp edges of the gauze.

    [​IMG]

    The picture shows the first offer up of the U channel. Later on I sorted out the tear drop pinch shown in this picture.

    The next phase of the project is going to be the paint. I decided that I want to go down the gloss black route so I needed to get rid of that 'suede' surface that old computer cases were painted with.

    Using 240 grit hand sanding sheets, but cutting them down and using the orbie - yes yes I know I am a butcher... shush, I sanded all the external panels. It came up a treat:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Where the case had scratches I paid special attention to rub them out

    [​IMG]

    Offering up some of the peripheral units that I wanted to install I noticed a hitch with mounting the fan controller. Here is the controller:

    [​IMG]

    The case that I’m using, being a little older than most, was built with the whole of the front of the unit made up of SCSI bays that consisted of old school hot swap units like this one:

    [​IMG]

    Because of the case design the bays are actually a little over the standard 5 1/2 inches. All peripherals would need to be fitted to one of the above units.

    As you can see by the picture above; the 'hot swap cage' has a face plate that needed to come off - done with the jigsaw and some not so oh&s skills... the final result was a beauty. Offering the unit up again I noticed that there were no accessible mounting points on the side of the cage for the fan controller to screw in to.

    [​IMG]

    Having a good old think about it I did notice that I could see the screw holes through the slides on the side. Once again out came the non oh&s jigsaw and bingo, screw mounts good to go.

    Also if you see in the above picture there is a step between the base of the controller and the cage. Referring to the picture one up again you can see that the base of the cage has raised mounts for attaching SCSI's. These needed to be taken care of as well:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Offering the controller up for the final time bingo:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After a few licks with the file I was really surprised how neat this went. Once painted, all the mess seen now will be hidden nicely.

    Having removed all the stickers and tacky stuff from the chassis I gave the lot a quick going over with some 280 grit fine wet & dry to put a slight scuff on the metal work.

    Then cleaning up the garage, (which took most of the day), I made a spray bench to do most of the work on. Laying everything out that is going to get a spray:

    [​IMG]

    I know that I should have really taped off an area to make a mini spray booth… sheets of plastic, gaffa tape, a stud frame was not in the budget I’m afraid.

    There were a number of buttons on the front bezel that were getting the treatment as well so I needed to come up with an idea as to how I could spray the whole button at once.

    My solution was to use a small dot of kid’s pva and stick them to the table lol. This method I know seems a little strange but if I had used say... blue tac I would always have been left with paint missing up the stem. With this method I will only need to colour in the last little dot on the bottoms only.

    (A friend has subsequently told me a modeler’s trick: sticking the item to a pencil end so that I could turn the button round as I sprayed. When finishing, stab the pencil in to a piece of polystyrene or a cardboard box).

    [​IMG]

    The chassis; I chose to hang this from the ceiling. I chose this method because I would be able to do this piece in one hit, unlike the panels that will need turning for me to do the other side.

    I suspended the chassis by hanging it with fishing wire. I had an old roll of 50lb wire that has curled from not being used in time and it seemed to be the perfect stuff.

    [​IMG]

    To accurately get the height needed, and because I’d used fishing line, I chose to use blood knots to fasten the line. A blood knot is a fisherman’s version of a 'hangman’s noose'. The purpose of using this knot is that it doesn’t pinch the line, causing weakness. Also, because I could tighten the knot up the length of the line I was able to raise the height of the chassis to make it easier to paint.

    Here is the shot of the 2 knots:

    [​IMG]

    And the chassis suspended after a spray:

    [​IMG]

    And the panels, buttons and door:

    [​IMG]

    The primer I used is a 'self etching' type I got from Bunnings. It’s worth noting that I used the whole can and still need to use another on the undersides of the panels. Any project larger than this would need allot more:

    [​IMG]

    Day 2 of the painting - I primed the other side of the panels and bits and did a little research last night for 'tips & tricks' on spraying from a can.

    One guy had a pretty savvy trick. He puts his spray cans in piping hot tap water for 10 mins. before use. (Having helped the plumber sort the water for both the bathroom and kitchen I know that modern domestic hot water is limited to 45 degrees. The temperature safety limit of heating the can said 50 so I was confident that doing this was not going to cause any harm.

    By heating the can / paint, the guy stated that the paint is less globby and flows through the nozzle more freely. This in turn reduces the blob splats and therefore reduces the amount of rubbing back needed.

    I have to admit that this coat went on a little more smoothly but I can't tell if that is due to the warming of the can or the fact that I had done the task the day before and was more competent with a can.

    Here are the pics of those efforts:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I’m happy to say that the line and knots were still intact and that the chassis did not drop in the night. Infact it stayed solid for the whole project.

    [​IMG]

    Applying the first coat of black; I’d got 2 tins of black high gloss acrylic car spray paint for the job.

    I chose to do the inside of the box and the chassis first. The idea came from doing the primer coats. I defiantly felt better on the second coat as mentioned before so I thought that the inside is going to not need as good a finish as the outside, (that is if I HAD to make a choice), so by doing the inside of the panels and the chassis first I could use it as a learning exercise.

    Here are the results:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I was really surprised that I had to use both tins! Not having done any spray painting before I would have thought that 1 Ltr would have been enough - not so. I had to get 5 more cans all up.

    (If I were to ever do something like this again I would seriously have to decide if it would be worth going down to a panel shop and asking them to do the job. If I asked nicely, had a $50 and some beers in my hand, I’m sure that they could tack it on to a car job… I just ask them to give me a ring next time the right colour was coming in).

    Having done a few coats now I can tell you that the spray job was not actually that hard. I heated the cans the same as the primer and the mist that came out was indeed nice and fine. That was until the end of the cans… at the end, the spray that came out would spit the dregs out a little. Intending to rub it all back with 600 grit wet & dry I rubbed these blobs out with not to much trouble.

    Taking a day off the paint, I moved my attention back to the internal face plate that I had made up earlier:

    [​IMG]

    The two holes in the plate are to support twin 120mm fans that will draw air in to the case through the front bezel.

    As you can see in the picture, the addition of the U-channel has raised the surface height of the unit. If I were to try to mount the fans over the U-channel it would raise the corners of the fan a few mm off the gauze. Screwing the fans to the panel would obviously make it bend.

    Heading down to Clarke rubber again, where I got the U-channel, I picked up eight 1.6mm rubber wiring grommets:

    [​IMG]

    These grommets are basically rubber doughnuts with a channel around their circumference. They sit approximately 2mm proud of the gauze and exactly the same height as the U-channel.

    Not only will they stop the fixing of the fans from bending the gauze but, being rubber, they will also minimise fan vibration and in turn reduce noise produced by the fan.

    To install the grommets I soaked them in warm water, (the idea came from heating the paint), to make the rubber more malleable. I then used the pointy end of a set of nail clippers to poke one side of the grommet through. Pinching the grommet from the other side to hold on to it I then prized the other side of the grommet through.

    Here is the setup and installation:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After spraying the black I did an offer up. A friend of mine had told me to do plenty of ‘offer up’s’ during the painting process as if I were to have applied to many coats part sometimes become too tight to fit together.

    Here’s a shot of an offer up. The speckles and clear areas are dust from me working on another part of the project not from missed spray or freckled painting.

    The face plate is also sitting on a coin because as I had not screwed everything together for the offer up.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    (After finishing the black spray on the chassis I also applied 2 coats of clear gloss. Unfortunately I failed to take any shots of me doing that).
     
  2. OP
    OP
    Yamunsa

    Yamunsa Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Messages:
    1,651
    Location:
    Cairns
    Now that the chassis had been painted I concentrated on a few of the peripherals that were getting installed.

    The fan controller was a bit of a pain because the knobs were fully glued in place. If I had put anymore energy in to trying to get them off I would have broken the thing in half. Instead I took off the face plate and painted that separate. (Everything getting paint got a rub over with 600 grit to put a key on the surface to help the paint bond):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The single 120mm rad from my original water system, a Coolermaster Aquagate Mini R120 also caught a fresh paint job:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    With the paint being finished - I started the build. Knowing that the pump from the Aquagate Mini is fixed / combined to the CPU heatsink, and that gets fixed to the mobo from the rear of the board, the easiest stage of the build was to start with the water.

    This shot is of the rubber gasket I made up for the twin roof radiator. They are trimmed down 120mm fan gaskets. (I used some spray mount to keep them in place when I was offering up the radiator).

    [​IMG]

    Then with the rad and fans attached. (As a side note here – the 120mm Raidmax fans shown were quickly replaced with two, near silent, Zalmans. The single 120mm rad fan at the rear of the case was also replaced with a Coolermaster silent operator to match the front intake fans):

    [​IMG]

    From above:

    [​IMG]

    With the water tubing run I made a start on the first cable to sleeve - the water pump to the main board. It looks a bit shabby here and was my first attempt. It has subsequently been sorted as you’ll see later:

    [​IMG]

    Taking much longer than anticipated here is a shot of the mod, mostly naked with its guts hanging out… but you get the idea of how much sleeving was undertaken. (I used 9m of 6mm sleeving as well as 1.5m of heat shrink. Combine that with 7m of clear 6mm tubing to perfect the double sleeve effect):

    [​IMG]

    Today, the project is 99% finished now. The only jobs I have left are to organise the cabling from the mobo to the front bezel LEDs.

    Over the process of the build there had certainly been some highs and lows. Jobs that I thought were finished were not... the final offer up showed some errors as well as some minor scratches in the paintwork that needed touching up etc.

    Anyways, back to the point... here are the 99% finished shots:

    Front bezel closed:

    [​IMG]

    Front bezel closed:

    [​IMG]

    Front bezel open:

    [​IMG]

    Profile view with front bezel closed:

    [​IMG]

    Profile view with front bezel closed:

    [​IMG]

    Profile view with front bezel open:

    [​IMG]

    Profile view with front bezel open:

    [​IMG]

    Rear of case looking forward:

    [​IMG]

    Rear of case looking forward:

    [​IMG]

    Profile view of wiring loom and water:

    [​IMG]

    The thermal paste still needs a little time to settle but having put the rig together I couldn’t resist running some benchmark testing to see the results of my handy work. (As almost all the internals came from my gaming rig I was able to run some comparable tests as well as fast track some of the overclock settings.

    This unit is running an Intel E8200 Duo CPU on an Asus P5K motherboard with 4 GB of G.Skill Pi series 1066 MHz ram. My settings are:

    AI overclock tuner: Manual
    CPU ration setting: 8
    FSB Strap to North Bridge: 475 MHz
    FSB Frequency: Auto
    PCIE Frequency: 101
    DRAM Frequency: Auto
    DRAM Command Route: Auto
    DRAM Timing control: Manual (and I set the timings to 5,5,5,15 which are the rams native settings)
    I also altered the power settings to give the system a little more juice. These are:
    CPU voltage (Vcore): 1.3v
    DRAM voltage: 2.1v
    Everything else set to Auto

    Running at 3.8 GHz this system is very stable. I have been running it at these setting for nearly a year now with no problems at all.

    I dug around in my files and found some OCCT temperature tests and found one that I ran for 25 minuets. Running a similar stress test again - here are the before and after shots:

    CPU 1 – 12 months ago

    [​IMG]

    CPU 2 – 12 months ago

    [​IMG]

    CPU 1 – Today

    [​IMG]

    CPU 2 – Today

    [​IMG]

    Admittedly, last years tests were done using OCCT version 2.0.0a and today’s tests were done using OCCT 3.1.0. Last years OC was also being benched at 3.2 GHz not the 3.8 GHz of today’s but as you can see the results are quite remarkable.

    CPU 1, 12 months ago maxed at 63.5 degrees
    CPU 1 today maxed at 51 degrees

    And to top it all off here is a snap shot of the rig in full song at 4.2 GHz, (When the thermal paste beds in I’m hoping to lose another degree to two):

    [​IMG]

    As mentioned earlier, the mod is 99% finished. I’d love to be able to fill the case with all the new toys but unfortunately money won’t permit. Future additions will include a newer mobo as well as a nice gfx card. When the mobo is installed I'll also have a crack at lapping the CPU.

    For the time being I’m just happy that it’s nearly over lol. I know it’s a little late to get suggestions but please do offer some feedback.
     
  3. guy.incogneto

    guy.incogneto Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Messages:
    5,957
    Location:
    Melbourne
    good work man, looks great so far
     
  4. phantom220

    phantom220 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Messages:
    788
    Location:
    Perth, Australia
    Wow, very nice work mate. Was good to see you go through the whole thing in one hit.

    Could you describe the layout of your WC loop please? Pump --> CPU --> radiator...etc?
     
  5. DJ_Hippster

    DJ_Hippster Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Messages:
    558
    Location:
    NE Adelaide, Australia
    Looks fantastic. At first I was wondering how you could pull that off as it really didnt look all that great, amazing what a coat of Black can do to a case!

    Well done :thumbup:
     
  6. Oppressa

    Oppressa Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2004
    Messages:
    5,559
    Location:
    Sydney
    Wow that looks amazing. Thanks for all the details.

    It's nice when a whole worklog goes up and we don't have to wait for updated progress pics!
     
  7. Bertross

    Bertross Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Messages:
    13,445
    Location:
    Melb, CBD, East Subs
    i quite like it, great work from a beige case! As soon as you pulled the Case to bits i seen it had great potential from the depth of the case.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Yamunsa

    Yamunsa Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Messages:
    1,651
    Location:
    Cairns
    Blimey, really fast responses!

    The WC loop is pretty simple but i set it so i can future proof the case a little. it goes - reservoir, double 120mm rad, single 120mm rad, pump / cpu and then back to res. A very simple loop but in time will allow me to attach a GPU water block easily.

    Cooling the GPU; I would alter to loop to go – reservoir, twin rad, CPU / pump, single rad, GPU and then back to res.

    (The Aquagate Mini, which was the base for the WC system, has the pump sitting right on top of the CPU heatsink. its a cracker of a setup. I got it a while back from MSY on special for about $60 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCdOrUCGBTk).
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2009
  9. JuzIE

    JuzIE Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Messages:
    849
    Location:
    Sutherland Shire, Sydney
    Good build ;)
     
  10. quickshot84

    quickshot84 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Messages:
    925
    Location:
    Melb, Vic
    Fantastic case to do it on :thumbup:
    i was thinking of doing something similar with old old work servers we're getting rid of soon
     
  11. standby.

    standby. Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages:
    118
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    nice work
    but you should spray the pci slot things and also the panel at the back (i forgot what its called)
     
  12. Pipster

    Pipster Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2008
    Messages:
    584
    Location:
    Adelaide
    slot covers?


    looking awesome loving the water and the uv stuffs!
     
  13. baby_ute

    baby_ute Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    Messages:
    521
    Location:
    Sydney, Eels Territory
    really nice any tidy looking case mod great job. making me feel like i should get off the computer and do something to it.
     
  14. wanna_

    wanna_ Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2004
    Messages:
    363
    You've really done it. Turned a shitbox into a decent looking case. Well done. :thumbup:
     
  15. Kenny3011

    Kenny3011 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2009
    Messages:
    60
    Location:
    Sydney
    WOW :eek: That was awesome for a first mod :thumbup: That case was huge
     
  16. Chop92per

    Chop92per (Banned or Deleted)

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Messages:
    1,296
    Location:
    CraneBrook NSW (2749)
    yea looks really good mate i am planning on doing something very similar but with a sever case thats dual sided
     
  17. hazard002

    hazard002 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2008
    Messages:
    509
    Location:
    The Burn
    Great work man it looks awesome :thumbup:
     
  18. elstado

    elstado Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    Messages:
    1,393
    Location:
    NSW
    Great work man! I wish I could get mine done so quickly. :p
     
  19. Eagleman75

    Eagleman75 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    Messages:
    83
    Location:
    Upper Coomera QLD
    Excellent Job on that server, looks really awesome.
    I wish i had skills like yours.
    By the way I've seen about a hundred of those server cases in a warehouse on the GC.
     
  20. Jolly-Swagman

    Jolly-Swagman Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Messages:
    239
    Location:
    Victoria, STH Gippsland
    Awesome work for your First attempt Modding a Case for WC ,, Great Job Well Done!!:thumbup:
     

Share This Page

Advertisement: