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InsolentGnome last won the day on May 16

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About InsolentGnome

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    Just Plain Crazy
  • Birthday 08/05/1976

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  1. And now to lay up the back panel. First layer down was carbon fiber followed by Kevlar. Then my plywood support panel went in followed by another layer of Kevlar and 2 more layers of carbon fiber. I'd have shots of the work but it's hard to grab picks when you're covered in epoxy. But the final product. Then I vacuum bagged it to pull out the extra epoxy and keep from getting air voids in the layers. I learned from last time and just sealed a cover to my table. So much easier. After prying it off the mold, we have a back panel. Then I cut the part down to a more manageable size and checked the fit. Total weight of the case right now stands at 7 lbs 6 oz. Not bad. Since I need to start getting things drilled out for hardware, we should probably check out the hardware. Intel Core i5 9600K Asrock Z390M 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 2666MHz RAM Corsair MP510 480GB NVMe drive Silverstone SST SX600 600w PSU And the monster NVIDIA RTX2080TI Yes, I'm shoving all this and cooling and a keyboard, mouse, and headset in the case. But first I want to get the back panel mounted up. To do this I need to mount the MB and PSU because they might have some say on where the mounts for the back panel end up. Mounted up the MB and PSU on my frame. Next up I mounted some spacers that sit just outside of the hardware so there are no clearance issues. I'm getting some real mileage out of these 1/4"-20 x 1" aluminum spacers. Good thing cause they're pricey. These will be a direct link from a majority of the hardware(and weight) to my plywood support panel and in turn, the straps for the pack. It works like this: The shell carries the weight of the radiators/fans and any peripherals that you have in the pack and that gets transferred to the frame through the 9 bracket mounts. The frame carries the rest of the hardware weight and transfers that and the shell's weight directly to the plywood support in the back panel through these spacers. On the back panel, I'll use d-ring tie downs or something similar to connect the straps, using the same screw that is holding the back on to the spacer. It seems really complicated in words, but basically I'm trying to tie the straps as directly to the weight of the hardware as possible and avoiding stresses on the CF panels anywhere I can. To hold the back panel where I want it, I made some temporary tabs for the inside of the shell that will keep it lined up while marking out my holes. Bit of marking, a bit of cussing, some drilling, and the back panel is mounted. I liked the idea of the tabs to keep the back in place, so I made some permanent tabs from extra CF pieces and epoxied them on. Thanks for following along and thanks to my sponsor:
  2. Probably, and easier for shaping as well. But I had the plywood and I'm trying to use up the OSB since it's leftover from our old shop. The only thing I would worry about is if it did decide to stick, MDF would be a beast to chunk out. I figured the worst that could happen with the plywood would be some strands get left behind. On a side note, maybe you have more experience with MDF than me, does it poof up with shellacs or sealers like it does with water? I've never had a reason to find out.
  3. And the back panel. I've been putting this off trying to wrap my head around everything so I don't epicly screw it up. This is where the rubber meets the road. Where the straps meet the backpack. Where, if I screw up, $500 of epoxy carrying $2k of hardware meets the floor. No pressure. I want to make a plug for the panel, that way I can have curves and make it look like a part of the pack, not just a panel slapped on the back to finish it off. So I'm starting with a piece of 3/4" plywood cut to match the interior dimensions of the shell. This will let me build up layers and match the shell, or be really close. This went on to a piece of scrap 1/2" OSB I had laying around and then I flush cut it to the original piece of plywood. This is to add thickness to the plug because when the cloth goes from the vertical of the side to the horizontal of the panel the plug is on, there's a flare and I don't want that to interfere with my final cut line. Then I put a 1/4" roundover on the plywood to give me a gentle curve from the back panel into the shell. And then I flipped over my plywood and did it again because someone forgot the shell isn't perfectly symmetrical and he needed to flip the plywood to keep everything lined up. No biggie though, everything is going to be filled in the end. And then I attached the beginnings of my plug to a base made out of some more scrap OSB. Now for the details. My plan is for the back to be the attachment point for the straps and the frame/hardware. Basically, this back panel is the middle man for transferring the load from the frame to the straps. Now, CF is tough, but I'm not sure that it can handle the stress of that weight being loaded on some bolts going through it and transferring to another set of bolts so I wanted to build in a panel that could. I decided to use some 3/16" plywood I had laying around because it's stable and I know it could handle the load, plus it's something the epoxy could really grab ahold of. I thought about using aluminum but even roughing it up, it's just a piece of Al floating around in a composite matrix whereas the plywood can soak up the epoxy and become part of the composite and less prone to separation. At least that's my thinking so I'm going with it. Since I didn't want this panel to jut out on the exterior, I routed a spot for it in the plug. I also need a door on this back panel for access to ports and plugs, and as a way to get your gear in and out. So I routed an inset for a door as well. The door itself will be CF as well and be held on with some cam latches so it's going to need a nice clean lip to sit on when it's all said and done. To get a nice roll for the lip and to help the cloth sit nicely on the plug, I beveled the edges of my insets. That pretty much did it for shaping, now to get it ready for epoxy and cloth. My main thing here is I don't the epoxy to be able to soak into the wood and I don't want any edges for it to grab on to. First up some sanding and then shellac as a sealer. After some more sanding, I used some filler to give me a smooth surface on the OSB, fill in any knot holes and grain, and to give me flat sides with a fillet to the base. And for a final layer to help this all come apart, PVA wax. Now I should be able to layup my back panel, but I'll save that for next time. Thanks for following along! Thanks to my sponsor and hopefully next update, I'll have another sponsor to add to the project:
  4. And back at it. Once the epoxy sat up on my frame, I got it cleaned back up. Ready for paint or clear, either way it should look sharp. Now that I could determine how my frame was gonna sit in the shell, I could cutting on the shell, putting in a window and cutting it to its final depth. First the window. I want to have a good look at the GPU and stick close to the shape of the shell's panel. And then cutting the case down to size. I started out cutting on the shell with a die grinder and abrasive wheel but soon turned to a pull saw. It was faster and a lot cleaner without the chance of screwing something up in the blink of an eye. It also dealt with the Kevlar much better than the grinder. Next up was getting the frame mounted inside the shell. This took a bit of research because the frame needs to be mounted in a way to transfer the weight of the shell to the straps and not fall apart but it also needs to be removable since I can't really put anything together through my little window in the front. Combine this with me not wanting to use any sort of screw that would show on the outside of the case, and I was left with some sort of glue. Or rather epoxy. 3M DP420 seemed like the right stuff, good for bonding metals to composites and a high shear strength. I mean, one of the uses the show is gluing golf club heads to graphite shafts, I think it'll stand up to my use. Pricey though, but should be worth it. First up some aluminum brackets. And marked out ready to bend. Since I want the brackets to match up with the look of the frame, I decided to put some at angles, cause who wants to make things easy. And on top of that, I needed these to be at about a 60 degree angle to sit right with the shell. Only problem is my bender is set up to do 90 degrees. Yay! More work. Had to grind my hold down bar to allow for acute angles and notch the frame a bit but it can now pull off about a 60 degree bend. That bar was a beast. It bent my brackets like a charm. You'll notice on these two straight brackets that I roughed them up to give the epoxy something to grab on to. The angled brackets were naturally more of a PITA. Luckily before I glued them in, I thought about the radiators being close and did some measuring. Need to knock them down a bit to keep them from interfering. Along with the brackets, I also made a jig that would allow me to set them square and at the same height around the case. I did have to tape them to hold them in place till the epoxy cured. 20 minutes turned out to be more than enough work time. And with some cure time and some holes drilled and tapped, I could mount the frame. The two brackets at the top are a bit off, but they're matching and you should never see them so I'm not worried. Plus that epoxy is a beast to remove. I found that out redoing a couple of the brackets that didn't line up the way I wanted. With the main brackets out of the way, the smaller ones were done pretty much the same way but using the frame as a guide. Next up the back panel! Thanks to my sponsor:
  5. It was a quick one. I'm staying away from metal for now but I do have a project coming up with some tigerwood that I'm planning on doing an accent matching the grain that will be inlaid. Thinking aluminum wire though.
  6. Continuing with the frame, there was a lot of cleanup to do on it before I could continue. The side that was in the foam was especially bad since the resin had seeped into all the little air pockets I had opened up when I sanded it. But after a while I got this. Nice and flat and about an 1/8" thick. Next up, I re-laid my tape lines on the frame to give me the pattern I started with. Now I can clean up the edges. Much better. I did get one line a bit off, but I'll fix that in a bit. As it stands, it's pretty tough, but not as stiff as it needs to be to hold a computer and all the water cooling and all the peripherals and the shell. Plus, it looks a little like a wreck, so lets put another pretty layer of CF on it to give it some more strength and make it look nice. Little bit of Super 77 to help hold the CF in place before it gets epoxied. And once that side is cured, flip it over and do the other. To fix my crooked line, I just added in some CF scraps to build up where I needed to move my edge to and when I clean up the edges again, I'll shift it over. With the finishing pieces covering my crime, no one will ever see it. Thanks for checking out my log and thanks to my sponsor:
  7. Material choice is a big question. How much abuse is this gonna get? If it's just a cover and inside a case, you might be able to get away with styrene which would be super easy to work with(exacto knife and some solvent) but if it needs to be a bit stronger you can move up to acrylic or aluminum. 1/8" cast acrylic would be pretty easy to make this out of, just cut out the parts and weld it together with some solvent or even super glue. That's what I used for my first PSU cover and it was a good learner project. Aluminum would be the most durable but only if you used 1mm or thicker. I'd shoot for .05" 5052 alloy for something like this. Anything thinner is harder to cut and really it just bends too easy. Poke it with your finger and you get a dent. Thicker and it gets harder to work with. But aluminum is a rabbit hole to go down. Alloys and annealing, brakes, boxing the ends. If you're just looking at cutting out each side and gluing it together, acrylic would my choice. Easier to cut and glue together and probably a little cheaper too.
  8. Warning: Long update or at least it seemed long to me. With the shell made and sort of under control, it is time to work on the inside. I planned for everything to fit but I know how my plans usually turn out, so I did some test fitting. Stand ins for the 240mm radiators and fans. Getting them situated so they don't interfere with the tray. Speaking of trays, I need to figure out what I'm doing with mine. First thought, sheet of aluminum cut to shape. And the cardboard template. And then figuring how the hardware would sit on the tray. Before we continue on with the building, I should probably revisit how my plans never quite go...as planned. From the beginning I've been racking my brain on how to work out a monitor. It's a pain because even though there's plenty of room for even a widescreen 24" like I normally use, it would have to transport in a portrait orientation and then somehow rotate into a landscape orientation. So that adds complexity, weight, and thickness. And thickness is becoming a concern. This thing is not small so anything I can do to shave it down is a bonus for when I actually have it on. So I can ditch the widescreen and go with a small portable monitor. But then it's a tiny crappy monitor and you still have some extra thickness. Just make it so I can transport the monitor and assemble it separately on site. But I still have at least an inch of thickness plus then the whole back has to open so you can get it out. Plenty of options to get a monitor in the pack, just all of them make the pack even more unwieldy. So executive decision...leave the monitor out. This also makes figuring the straps out soooooo much easier. Is it less cool? Perhaps. But it's more "me" friendly and if I really need to take some sort of monitor in the pack, I'll look at a VR setup. I definitely have the horsepower for it. So with the executive decision made to go for a more wearer friendly design(thinner and lighter), I started thinking about that sheet of aluminum I was about to stick in the case. Did I really need 'all' that aluminum or could I cut a lattice out that would be strong enough to hold the parts and attach the straps to? And why am I thinking about this in terms of aluminum anyways? I can make a lighter and stiffer lattice out of carbon fiber and I happen to have everything to do it. Well, almost I had to order some expanding foam. This is a polyurethane foam that's used for floatation in watercraft. Think of it as the spray can of expanding foam on steroids...and meth...and maybe some PCP. These two bottles will give me 2 cubic feet of foam that I can use as my mold for my frame. Getting my shell ready to be molded. I didn't have enough foam for the whole thing and I didn't need a full mold anyways so I blocked off part of it. The garbage bag is a liner to make it easy to get back out of the shell. Mixed part A and part B and dumped it in. This stuff gets a little warm. Kinda looked like bread rising, so I guess now I have a loaf of foam in the shape of my shell. Next I cut it down to where I wanted my frame to be and filled some air pockets with some regular foam from a can. I laid out my component locations so I knew where my frame needed to run. Even had room to slot in a couple of 92mm fans in the bottom for more air flow. Laying out my lattice with tape. Some spots I wanted wider to carry more load while others were more for bracing and were thinner. Made a couple of sanding blocks to cut channels in the foam. Now some wax(which was useless) and 216 strips of carbon fiber. And then epoxy it up, layer by layer. 8 layers in all. After getting most of the foam pulled off, I wound up with, amazingly, what I was hoping for. I about did victory laps around the house. It still needs to be cleaned up and the shape refined. And I'm seriously considering adding a solid layer of CF front and back to pretty up the look. Other than that though, I'm super happy how this is going. Thanks for wading through this long update and thanks again to my sponsor:
  9. Keeping going on the shell, I got my order of CF so I could add the final layers. I sanded it all down, inside and out. And then made a slurry mix of epoxy and Cab-O-Sil to fill in any air pockets and smooth the corners out to make the next layer of CF lay a bit better. I got the piece for the inside cut out and figured out how I was going to weave it all together. Then epoxied it all up. Same with the outside but a little different method. I cut pieces that fit a little better and leave nice seams but still overlapped and stuck them in place with a little Super 77 adhesive to keep them from moving around. It's such a complex shape that you'd never get one piece to lay nice over it and seams are necessary. Still trying to figure out the best way to pull them off, but it turned out alright for the first time. Then epoxy. After the fact I kinda figured that the best way to seam it would have been to cut that center piece wider, epoxy it and just not work the sides down. That way I could just sand it back giving myself a cleaner seam. As it was, I cut it close and wound up with strands hanging over instead of weaved material. All in all, it worked but it wasn't the cleanest seam. The whole thing was sanded to get most of the bleed through of the weave out. It could be better, but it's still pretty cool. I'm gonna hit it with a medium scuff pad and then put another thin coat of epoxy on it to even the surface and then with some sanding it'll be ready for paint. Yeah, I'm covering up all this CF. It looks cool, but it's not perfect and I'm looking for perfect. Plus, that's a lot of CF in one spot, I'd rather have some carbon accent pieces than everything carbon. Thanks for following along and thanks to my sponsor on this build:
  10. And now for the final shots. Thanks for playing along and go check out the Cooler Master World Series where this is entered in the scratch contest!
  11. To keep on putting it all together, I started on the switches. Like I said before, I painted the backs black so they'd look better, even though you should never see them. And wired the micro switches up right, cause you know, I'd like them to work. And mounted. Also added some rubber feet to the base. Fancy shot of the set screw before I tightened it down and the wires popping through the mounting bracket. The switch cables got cut down and sleeved in the 'Tree Frog' paracord. Note to self, oversize the hole next time so the paracord fits without a fight. And then I wanted to see if they worked. Oooh, that green is a bit too intense. But the switches work, let's give it some buttons. Some spacers, some super glue, and some patience... Looking at it now, I realize why the reset looks so wrong, it needs to be rotated 180 to match the angles of the grain direction. Should help it blend in better. Dang it! I'm tempted to walk across the room and just swap it around. Power button came out super nice though. So there we go... feces! Zip ties! Gotta change those out. Found some leather cord I had planned on using on another project. Performs the same task, doesn't look like a zip tie. With that done, the only thing really left that bugged me was the green LED on the fan. Unfortunately, this is a lower range MSI board and only does 16 colors on the RGB header...Lame! But as luck would have it, MSI's yellow plus the CM fan equals the right color of green??????? I don't get it, but sometimes, you just go with it. I think this means all that's left are the finals, so til next time! Thanks for following along!
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