Topic Title: Project: Containment Breach
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Created On: 09/08/2012 12:12 PM
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 09/08/2012 12:12 PM
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I figured I'd repost my most recent project log here to help get things rolling.  It had been a long time since I had done an in-depth case mod, so when I got the bug I had to make something.  I usually had only a few hours a week to work on it, so from start to finish the project took about four months to complete.  I kept the components of the machine mostly the same, and just worked on the case.

System:
Phenom II X6 1100T
8GB Corsair XMS3
Biostar TA870U3+
Radeon 5870, made by somebody... I forget who
Corsair Nova V128 SSD
2x320GB Samsung SpinPoint F4's in RAID0
1TB Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex USB3 external HD
Kingwin Stryker 500 Watt Fanless PSU

Cooling:
Hardware Labs Black Ice SR1 560 radiator
Danger Den MC-TDX CPU waterblock
Danger Den DD-Summit GPU waterblock
Alphacool VPP655 Variable speed pump
4x120mm Noiseblocker NB-Multiframe M12-S1 fans
Lots of compression fittings from Bitspower

The case I originally decided on was Corsair's Obsidian 550D.  Other front runners were Antec's P280 or Fractal Design's Define R3.  I hate noisy machines, so I like quiet cases. 

The only problem... I didn't have one, and neither did anyone else.  Corsair hadn't released it yet, so I downloaded Google Sketchup and started drawing.





With the design done it was time to paint things.




Frog tape.  Enough said.


A few touchups on the radiator were needed afterwards.  This is how you know a geek lives here.


The reservoirs and pump once assembled.

More to come... 



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Edited: 09/09/2012 at 08:32 PM by Mime
 09/09/2012 02:08 AM
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Cant wait to see this one finished!



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 09/09/2012 01:28 PM
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Next up was the actual "containment" breach.  The plan was to crack open the smaller reservoir and create my very own toxic spill.  That's the reason for attaching fittings to the inside of it as well.



Besides, the best projects are always those where I get to smash something with a hammer.



Oops.  Perhaps a little too much smashing, but it's nothing a little extra frog tape won't fix.




For my toxic spill, I used ordinary expanding foam sealant that I picked up at a local hardware store for a few bucks.  Nifty stuff.



Uh oh... looks like someone didn't make it out in time... 



After the foam had set I scraped it off the cardboard and carved a channel in the bottom for a strip of orange LEDs.





Instant biohazard. 



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 09/10/2012 07:32 PM
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Sweet!!!



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 09/10/2012 09:18 PM
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At this point, I was a few weeks into the project, and still waiting on the release of the 550D from Corsair.  I was pretty much in a holding pattern until I had one, and then I began to hear of delays of a few weeks more before the launch.

Grr... Arg...

I decided to bail and go with Fractal Designs Define R3 instead.  Doing some more sketching would help to see how things would work out in the new case.  This was both a good idea and a bad one.  Good, because it helped confirm that the Define R3 would work for this project.  Bad, because it showed me just how well the Define R3 would work... leading to even more ideas that I couldn't leave alone.

A few days later I had a big box waiting for me. 



Any regrets I might have had about bailing on the 550D went away once I opened up the Define R3.



It just looks cool even by its self. 

The first thing to do was to replace the rubber grommets with pass through connectors and fittings.





Then it was time to test fit the motherboard, and finish stripping the case down.


The lack of a northbridge heatsink was explained here... I plan to cannibalize the old motherboard for the required mounting hardware.



It's not a project if you don't have spare parts.  Spare parts go in one pile... Stuff to be painted/drilled/cut to size goes in another.  Still more to come... 



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 09/12/2012 01:00 AM
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On a project like this, the obvious thing to do with a new case is to get the drill out and start whacking holes in it as soon as possible.

First thing to do was to ditch the two 5.25" drive bays, because I won't end up using those at all.



The 5.25" bays were riveted to the hard drive bays, but that was fine because those had to come out also.



After drilling out a few more rivets the hard drive cages collapsed into two identical racks and a bunch of drive trays.  I got out my Dremel and cut one of the racks in half since I'm only going to use three drives.



After cleaning up the cut edges with a file I hit the two halves of the rack with some black paint which brought out the texture in the metal.... and made pictures difficult.  In person they're more shiny industrial and less Mardi Gras glitter... 



A little more drilling, and where I once had a case I now have parts.

Now beings the painting.  This was the point where I started wondering if I should have bought the white R3 and just painted the inside black. 



Oooooo.  Shiney. 

Back side panel


Bottom


PSU with it's frog tape masking



Masking removed

More to come. 



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 09/12/2012 11:06 PM
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Here begins fabrication. 



The pre-stamped fan grates in the top of the case would only be partially covered by the radiator, so I masked and filled the exposed holes.  You can also see here the obligatory injury shot for the project.  It's where I drilled my finger while drilling out a rivet.  If my hand hadn't been in the way my first thought would have been "I'm glad my hand wasn't in the way of that"... instead it was "gee... that was really stupid".  Fortunately the drill bit I was using wasn't very big. 



I did the same with the top input panel. The radiator would be covering most of those ports anyway leading to a bunch of unneeded wires inside the case.



Time to cut some fan holes.... wheeeee. 




The filler paste didn't hold up well to the drilling, and I wouldn't want it coming off so easily anyway.  I'll have to get some better goo and try again.  You can also see the holes marking the location of the fan controller as well... more on that later.

The top panel turned out much better.




Next up for fabrication was the front side panel where I drilled my pilot hole then cut a whacking huge hole for the window.




Since I want the inside of the case to remain black I have to do some creative masking.  First I mask off the edges making sure the tape overlaps the edges of the panel.



Then I tape down the tape.  This seals off the inside of the panel while leaving all of the area to be painted exposed.




My can of primer ran dry while painting it... grrr.  It needs another coat to completely hide the black paint underneath, so putting in the actual window will have to wait until next time. 



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 09/13/2012 02:38 AM
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Looking great so far.



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 09/13/2012 08:57 PM
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At this point in the project, a surprising amount of tools and materials suddenly appeared in many boxes.



This is a smallish update considering all that stuff since there's a ton of things half done right now.  Two things that got (mostly)finished since the last update were the front panels and the window.  I won't be needing the air vents in the front panel of the case, so I figured they were a good location for more lighting.



I got my Dremel out and cut some pieces of left over acrylic, then stuck them to the inside of the panel using bits of double sided tape.  One side had to have notches cut for the hinges of the case door.  After cutting the pieces I roughed them up with a little 200 grit sandpaper to give them the frosted look.



Another string of orange LEDs provides the lighting.



The lighting is actually more subdued than I would have thought.... which is nifty.  I was planning on using a solid state relay or some other electronic gizmo to hook these LEDs up to the HD LED pins on the motherboard, but I kind of like the way it looks just like this.



You can also see here where I added a little more sound proofing to the front and bottom, and where I filled and sanded a few unused holes in the backplate.  More filling, sanding, panting, hacking, cutting, drilling, and so on still to come. 



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 09/14/2012 09:34 PM
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At this point in the project I had been whacking big holes in the top of my case for a while now.  Here is where I finished it.



Those be the cooling.    Those four 120mm Noiseblockers will be the only fans in the system.



Test fit of the fans+radiator... it's always nice when theory meets reality.    A few days after the test fit the resevoirs developed an annoying film on the inside...



Yes, in my house you're just as to find likely reservoir parts in my dish drainer as you are dishes.



I filled the unneeded holes(and mistakes...) with metal filling epoxy after my first attempt failed.  After a lot(a lot!) of sanding this is what I had.  At the last minute I decided against including a fan controller since I'd never actually use it, so I filled the holes for that also.  It kind of looked a horror show...



... until I painted it. 



The big empty hole is where the power button will be.  I didn't have a 3/4" drill bit, so I made a 5/8" hole and attacked it with the Dremel.  Almost seems a shame now to cover it up.

More next time. 



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 09/15/2012 10:13 PM
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When I finished whacking holes in the top of the case and started to put everything back together again it seemed like there was too much black at the front of it, so I painted the front intake grills white and left the door black.



A bad blurry photo... but it looks better this way. 

Fabrication continued...  This was my 24"x24" aluminum sheet, with a test piece I hacked out.

... with the help of some new toys...



The new jigsaw is awesome.  It was a bit of a struggle cutting through the sheets of aluminum with the old one.  This one doesn't break a sweat.  I forgot my camera on the day I did all the cutting, but I already pictured the big sheet all marked up anyway.

The first thing I did with the saw was make myself a bracket for the hard drive cage.  When I cut apart the stock cage, it lost all it's structure, so simply riveting each side to the case isn't going to work anymore.  It needs something to resist the outward force applied by the drive trays.



I'll need something for the bottom as well to keep it squared up, but that shouldn't be a problem.



Here I am drilling holes for rivets.  The big hole is going to be an interior window that will get covered with a sheet of plexi to showcase Dead Fred... or at least what the toxic goo hasn't eaten yet.

The other new toy is Grizzly's mini mighty bender.  Almost just as awesome as the saw. 





The piece I'm bending will end up getting JB welded to the motherboard backplate.  It'll replace the chunk I hacked out to make room for the fan controller... which I ended up not using. 

You're supposed to use the mounting holes on the sides of it to secure it to a workbench.  I'm being bad by not doing that. 



One final shot to tie it all together.  More bending, drilling, hacking and cutting still to come, but it's starting to take shape. 



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 09/17/2012 01:31 AM
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Project sprawl.    At this point in the project it had taken over an entire room of my house.


Hmm... what could I be up to here? 

One of the last painting jobs was to paint the blades of the noiseblockers.  I had seen it done in other mods and wanted to give it a try.




Crackle paint works well with the biohazard theme.    The fans will be covered by the radiator on top, and fan grills on the bottom, so they won't scream so much once everything is put together.  Next up was to continue working on the bottom section... got most of that done this weekend.



Here I am about to bend the section which will cover the pump... with a note not to do something boneheaded.    Next was the section which will cover the power supply.



What I really needed for this was a scroll saw, but the new jigsaw handled the job fine.  Aside from looking cool, the biohazard cut-out will act as a vent for the power supply.



Rough cut finished... time to clean it up, and bend it.



I stuck a few rivets in the holes to hold it together while taking pictures. 







More next time. 



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 09/19/2012 01:12 AM
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At this point in the project fabrication was starting to wind down. I made my fan guard and mounted the hard drive cage, which were the last two big things left to do. It seemed like I might actually be done soon. 





Hard drive cage... mounted to an extension I made for the motherboard backplate.



The fan guard being painted...



Test fit in the top panel of the case...



Mesh installed and riveted in place.  Ignore the uglies peaking out there next to the fans... it'll be covered over soon.  More next time. 



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 09/20/2012 09:23 PM
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Only a few more updates left to go here... A while ago I'm talking with a friend of mine(a fellow builder and another of our geeky brethren) about the project and he tells me that anodizing aluminum is actually something you can do at home.  I'm interested, since if it's worth doing, then it's worth overdoing.

There are complete kits you can buy for DIY anodizing, but they seemed overly expensive.  Hence the bucket of pool chemicals, the bottle of drain cleaner, and the other weird components that I've been posting teasers of over the course of the project.

Commercial anodizing is done using sulfuric acid, which was a bit too hardcore for me.  After some research I found an alternate process  here.  The main difference is that sulfuric acid is replaced with sodium bisulfate as a safer and easier to handle alternative.  This, plus a phone call to a family member asking how high on the Stupid Meter this might be was all I needed to get started.

Enough talk!  Lets see some pictures. 



Some scrap aluminum I had left over to act as a cathode, a few alligator clips, and a cheapo generic power supply that I picked up from amazon for $20.  It's light as a feather and has short, stubby little cables.  I don't plan to have it anywhere near the actual machine once it's finished, but it should do the job here.  The power supply will... uhm... supply the power used when anodizing.



As always, surface prep is important.  I sanded down the pieces to be anodized and as explained in the guide I linked above, I then scrubbed away anything that the sanding might have missed.  I did that while wearing gloves to avoid putting my smudgy fingerprints back on it.  It's a good idea to wear gloves while doing this anyway.



The first step in the actual anodizing process is a sodium hydroxide etch.  This is where the "pure lye" drain cleaner is used.  Another cheap purchase from Amazon.  Once you start the etch bubbles will float to the surface.





After the etch, there's a step here that I skipped called "desmutting".  It's another acid bath that eats away non-aluminum metals from the surface of the piece to be anodized.  If you're anodizing an alloy that contains a significant amount of other metals you might want to check it out.  I was using a 6061 aluminum alloy which is typically 95%+ aluminum, so I skipped it.  I left the pieces in the etch for a few minutes, then after a quick rinse with a spray bottle it's into the anodizing solution. 



More bubbles.    This time, it's hydrogen bubbles coming off the cathode.  The extra surface area of the cathode wouldn't do me any good if wasn't submerged in the anodizing solution, so I bent it in half.   In these small quantities, it's not much to worry about, but it's good to remember that hydrogen can go boom in the wrong circumstance.  I mean, I like things that go boom... I'm just saying. 



Here you can see the alligator clips that I hooked on to a few wires from the power supply.  The positive wire goes to the piece being anodized, while the negative wire goes to the cathode.  I left those pieces in the solution for about an hour, then tossed them in the dye bath.



No, you are not witnessing a crime.    I wanted a deep, blood red for the dye.  I found it here at Caswell Plating.  I left the pieces in the dye bath for another hour, then rinsed it off.



Hmm... Pink wasn't exactly the color I was looking for... 

Back in the etch it goes to strip it back down to bare metal. For round two, I followed the procedure from a different guide, found here. Replacing sulfuric acid with sodium bisulfate didn't appear to affect the process.



The sodium hydroxide etch is the container on the left with the reddish-orange bubbly action.  The brownish-yellow container is the desmutting solution, and the other is the dye bath. It can take a few minutes to get through the anodizing, so the bubbles may not start immediately.  Once they do you can speed up the process a bit by wiping any dissolved gunk off the part every few minutes until you're back to bare aluminum.  After a rinse the part needs to be desmutted to remove any non-aluminum metals that may have been exposed by the stripping.  That's not nearly as dramatic... no bubbles there.

Stripping the part will give it a matte finish.  To make the part shiny again I ran some 1000 grit sandpaper over it.



Now it's time to start the actual anodizing.  In order to avoid the problems from last time, I figured I needed to make some changes. 



I went from the bargain basement power supply... to this.  20 amps, 30 volts.  That should do the trick. 



I also made myself a bigger anodizing tank with more cathode space.  One cathode on either side of the tank probably would have done the job just fine.  I added the third since it was all scrap metal anyway.





After a while of futsing with wire I found the "hanging wire" method to be extremely irritating, so I made myself a quick and dirty rack using... more scrap metal.  Since the rack is aluminum also it will anodize along with the part.  That can be avoided by using titanium instead, but titanium is expensive, and I can strip the rack afterwards just like I did the parts.



No finicky wires to worry about this time.    For this type of anodizing, the anodizing solution should be at room temperature(68-73F).  Running current through it often wants to heat things up, so I filled a few plastic water bottles, froze them solid, and tossed them in the tank along with the part.  Rinse again when done.

One thing I didn't show last time is that the dye bath needs to be heated up to 140 degrees.



One steaming cauldron of awesome... 

After some time in the heated dye bath...



We have a much better result. 



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Edited: 09/20/2012 at 09:41 PM by Mime
 09/21/2012 09:49 AM
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Coming together nicely!!!!!!



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 09/21/2012 06:38 PM
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Final assembly has started! 

First, a few parts got splattered with suspicious green goo...

The top





+ fans



The back



I just randomly started flinging paint at it.  Best paint job ever. 



The reassembly involved rivets.  Lots and lots of rivets....



... and a frankenbot of new case parts + old hardware. 



Anodized panels and power supply in their new home.



The frankenbot evolves, and grows a backplane.



Behold!  The board is in the case!



An awkward angled shot of the big window.

It actually looks like a case again.  More next time. 



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 09/23/2012 07:08 PM
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Running cables...



Connecting tubing...


Fully assembled... the front


... the back


Ready for leak testing. 




No leaks, but green goo everywhere.


It looks cool in the dark also. 


... and one last thing to finish it off.


Overall I'm pleased with how it turned out.  Thanks everyone for checking in.  Where one project ends... another one begins.



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