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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. 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.
  2. 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:
  3. 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.
  4. 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:
  5. 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:
  6. 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!
  7. 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!
  8. And then there was the wiring. Like I said before, I wanted to try something different so I laid the pass throughs in a leaf pattern. To stick with the color and theme of the pattern, I found a 550 paracord in 'Tree Frog', it's a color shifting weave with yellow, green and blue, and it matches up pretty well. Then it was just a matter of sleeving and pulling all the wires through. One by one. After splitting up the GPU and 24 pin sets, it looks pretty cool. Even kind of looks like a leaf. My plan has worked! After getting all the runs cut to length and hooked up. The zip ties will have to go, but they hold it all in place now. And the front with the 8 pin as well. And to do something with the fan, I tore back into this. I've already stolen some of the screws from this for my cooler, now I'm gonna take a fan. It's a 10mm thicker fan so my tolerances are closer, but it looks soooo much better. And I have LED's if I want. Thanks for following along!
  9. So, yeah, no AM4 bracket...dangit! Can we work something out? Luckily, the cooler has a pretty straightforward mounting design using the 4 holes on the plate to connect the different style brackets. So modify or make a bracket, simple enough. Now we just need to figure out the backplate. I originally had a Corsair H110 on this board, so that's a good place to start. Do some eyeballin' Get some pieces of 6061 Al cut out and mounted to the block. I think this is 2mm stock, good and stiff. Pretty them up a bit so it doesn't look like a total hack job. And the hard part, finding some screws to hold it down. I think these are from the 2011 mount for another CM cooler I had, but I tried so many different screws, I could totally be making that up. Naturally I also had to grind down the posts on the Corsair backplate to get them to work because of course I did. I wouldn't call it exactingly perfect, but it does the job. And it didn't fall off! But what is up with that fan? And then on the base to make sure that all looks good. And with the side panels to make sure everything fits inside. But that MB tray, it's killing me. Paint doesn't look good and didn't work anyways. Sandblasting looked OK, but just OK. I've brushed so many pieces of aluminum, along with everyone else, over the years that it's kind of old hat. Classy, but we've covered that ground many times. Engine turned...doesn't really go with the build. But I do like the idea of patterning the Al, so let's just grind some wispy patterns on it and see how it goes. Yeah, that's the ticket. I like the random, wispy grass look. It's a nature themed build so it works. And it's easy and fun to do at home kids! Next up, my not favoritest part, wiring. Thanks for following along!
  10. With the base put together, I could route my wires from the switches to the board and get the mounting of the plates figured out. Nothing spectacular, but drilling that hole trying to hit the channel on the bottom was one of those "Why don't we measure this one more time to make sure" moments. And some screws to hold the plates. I'll be painting these black later. Now some tung oil. I'm liking this. One more thing to do before hardware is to paint my aluminum side panel. I sanded it, primed it with etching primer, and then hit it with a green that I think is an Infinity color. Or Mazda. Something like that. Whatever company, it's a color that matched my epoxy mix and doesn't photograph well in my paint room. It's a 2 stage, needing a base and clear. I prefer single stage cause it's less work, but it turned out nice with that clear on it. And now we can hardware! Slapping the PSU in. You might notice the sandblasted finish on the tray and bracket. I was having a hard time deciding what to do besides paint and tried blasting it. It was a great way to get the paint off and is a unique finish, but I'm not sold on it just yet for this case. Then the drives. And the MB and processor. My original plan was to use this. Asrock Z87 with a i5 4670K. I had it, it works, it's a perfectly capable system, and it's killing me that it's just laying around my house. My goal was to build a case that it didn't matter the hardware that was in it, And that's why the side panel was the focus. Give some peeks at the hardware, but make the case the center of attention. But... I just can't do it. Something inside me just couldn't deal with it not matching, or at least being complimentary. My girlfriend called it a "bit Christmas-y". LOL! So I dragged out my little InWin 301/Ryzen build. It will give up it's parts so this mod can live. So this is what I ended up with. MSI Bazooka 350M with a Ryzen 1700X, 8GB HyperX Predator DDR4, and a 250GB HyperX Predator M.2 drive. Bit of an upgrade. And the M.2 already has a cover that I made for it, so time saved. It's mATX and the tray is set up for ATX, but it's not really a thing looks wise with the vertical mount GPU, since that would cover the bottom half of an ATX anyways. Just an extra screw hole to add to the tray. But then I ran into a problem. I was thinking ahead about possibly entering this in the scratch side of the Cooler Master World Series, hence the CM PSU, but I also wanted to use a CM cooler. On the scratch side of the contest, your build just has to use a CM part and the PSU takes care of that, but for me, if I can use a CM cooler too, then it's more in the spirit of the thing. And it's more of a challenge. Anyone can swap out some fans to a different brand, but designing around a cooler to make sure it fits in with everything? That can be a bit more work. As I was about to find out. Enter the cooler...the Cooler Master Geminii M4. Had to do a little hunting since it seems like this is on its way out, but I really wanted this particular downdraft cooler. The M4 is shorter than the Geminii M5 and doesn't have a red LED fan. I've already said no to red, and height is definitely a consideration, it's a tight spot. The other options were a stock style or CM's UFO/LED/magic mushroom looking cooler, and just no. But this came with it's own problems. Having ordered it for a Z87/4670K combo, I didn't pay attention to the fact that it's not, you guessed it, AM4 compatible. Well that's gonna be an issue, but I'll tackle it next time. Thanks for following along!
  11. Thanks! They really should, it's an occasion.
  12. And I'm back! I mean, I didn't go anywhere, but I'm back working on this mod. It's nice enough weather now that things will actually cure in my basement so, let's make up for lost time. When I left off last time, I was cleaning up the mold from my de-molding the mold process. Totally doing that differently if I do that again. But, I got the sides cleaned up and filled any holes with some gelcoat and sanded it all nice and smooth. Then I was ready to try my layup. First things first, wax and plenty of PVA to make sure this thing comes out easier than last time. And what am I laying up you ask. I'm starting with a layer of 3K carbon twill, then two layers of Kevlar twill and then a layer of carbon fiber veil. Why this mix? Why Kevlar? What the heck is veil??? Well this is a deep rabbit hole with a lot of interesting stuff, but lets just go for the overview. Ok, lets start at the CF twill. We all know CF is light and stiff which makes it good for this shell, unfortunately it doesn't do so well with impacts. Hit it with a hammer, run it into a car at 40mph, it breaks. That's kind of a problem, and that's where the Kevlar comes in. Bullet proof vest right? Yep, and that's sort of the reason I'm using it. It is super tough and resists impacts. Not that it won't break, the epoxy in the matrix will break apart but the Kevlar is stupid tough and will hold it all together. Think safety glass, it shatters and breaks, but it doesn't go flying everywhere. So if something bad were to happen with the shell, it would break, but you wouldn't wind up with chunks of carbon fiber flying around being all stabby. Kind of important. And then there is the veil, it's a super thin weave that doesn't really add to the structure, but holds epoxy. This makes it a good sanding layer over my Kevlar since Kevlar is a PIA to cut and sand and just frays anytime you get into it. I would have prefered to do the layup with another layer of CF instead of the veil, but I shorted myself on materials. Being able to sand the veil, I can go back and add a layer later. Starting off with the CF. Then the Kevlar. I didn't get a shot of the veil because at this point I was in a hurry. I decided to try vacuum bagging the layup, which is exactly like it sounds. Put it in a bag and suck the air out. This helps to compress the layers, pull out any bubbles, and pull out any extra epoxy, so you wind up with the lightest and strongest part possible. And since it was my first time trying this, well let's just say next time will be a lot smoother. So in the bag you go with a layer of material that is permeable and doesn't stick to the epoxy, and a layer of fill that lets the air flow out and sucks up the extra epoxy. Then, in my case, spend 30 minutes reworking your vacuum pump to work with this set up and another 45 finding all the leaks in the seals, and suck all the air out. I never did get that thing totally sealed, but it turned out pretty good for a first try. The inside was a bit rough with the veil giving me some folds and pockets, but I'll take care of that next update. Thanks for following along and thanks to my sponsor:
  13. With the wood side of the case taken care of, it was time to work a little on the aluminum side. With how the panel was going to fit, it needed to go around my PSU bracket. It's not really a jigsaw spot so I wound up giving the dremel some work. Spot on. With that done and me changing up what I was going to do with the switches, that panel was ready for prep and paint, so we'll put that on the back burner for now. Speaking of switches, I needed to figure out some, and also a base for the case. Seeing as I had plenty of walnut left over and that was a major theme of the case, I decided that a base of walnut would be perfect and I'd work some switches into it. So first I had to cut out the base and some pieces to hold my tray, and the rest of the computer for that matter, so I didn't want to skimp on them. Nothing crazy, just some simple arcs to get the tray up high enough in the center to clear the base and not interfere with my side panels. I'm going to use some dowels to join these to the base to give them more strength so a little bump won't knock them loose. And then the switches. I got these little micro switches to use on Deep Blue but never used them. So it's fitting that I'm going to use them with part of a fiberglass panel that I made for Deep Blue and didn't use. I knew what I was doing last year, I was just ahead of myself. This is all a fine start, but what about buttons. Well...wood. I tried to match the grain by cutting the buttons out of the scrap left over from cutting out the base. After it was all said and done, it turned out pretty close, doesn't really show here. So here's the plan, lets see if it works. And yeah, I totally wired the switches wrong. I figured keeping my momentum going was more important that getting them right, I could always come back, pop the switches up, and re-do them. And that's what I wound up doing. First, I had to chisel out some holes for the buttons. And then on the bottom of the base, route a channel for the wiring to the tray mount and give myself an inset for the fiberglass panel and another panel to cover all the wiring. Perfect. Just gonna need some spacers to get the buttons flush. I hope it works. Now I just want to test fit the tray before I go gluing things together. What did I do with that thing? Oh yeah, I drilled a bunch of holes in it. I wanted to do something interesting with the wiring since most of the internals aren't very flashy. And since I very strongly dislike the super precise wiring look, I decided to go the other direction. How about spacing them all out and letting them pick up and carry the leaf motif? So that's the 37 holes for the 24 pin connector plus the 8 and 6 for the GPU, spaced at 5mm. And then just another 8 with nothing fancy for the CPU power. This wiring job is gonna suck, but look really cool....hopefully. I also threw in some slots for the I/O header and SATA ports, big enough for room to grow if the need arises. I painted the tray and components up basic black because I needed them there, but wasn't looking for them to really be attention grabbers. And then test fit everything to make sure I had it all lined up the way I wanted before glue up. The tray sits in some slots and I drilled and threaded some holes for set screws to hold it all together. Everything turned out pretty good, except for the paint. Even with a few days curing, you couldn't handle it without leaving prints and the slots just peeled the paint right off. Grrrr, gonna have to do something about that. But then some routing, some sanding and some gluing. And I have a base. Next time, I'll put all this stuff together again, but for real, LOL! Thanks for following along!
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