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  1. Definition: Server After going to the Midwest Modders Meetup a few weeks ago, I got bitten by the modding bug again. I finally decided to get around to moving my fileserver duties away from my dual socket 604 Xeon motherboard, and onto something a little less power hungry. I wanted to get it as small as I could, but still accommodating the pair of 4-bay hotswap cages I have had for several months (was slowly buying parts to redo the server). Seeing as how my woodworking skills are probably better than my case modding skills, I was thinking about doing another wood build for the server. But then I decided that having a wood server would get heavy in a hurry. I also knew that I wouldn't be able to build it any smaller than a mATX case I could buy. So, I started hunting for suitable cases. I thought about going with a standard ATX mid tower, with 6+ 5.25" bays I could just mount the drives in, but I wanted to go with a mATX board at largest for this, so there would have been too much wasted space in that. Then I started looking at the mATX towers. Ended up settling on either the Fractal Design Define Mini, or the Arc Mini. They're the same layout, just different panels and front bezel. I ended up deciding on the Define Mini. I like the front door, and how it will hide the hotswap bays, and the activity lights associated with it. When MicroCenter had a sale on all cases, I went down there and picked one up, and got to work. I wasn't very good with taking pictures of the case before, I was too excited to tear it apart and get to work. I will be putting the hotswap bays in the front where the 120mm fans were, and where the doors that covered them used to be. In order to pull this off, I had to widen the openings by about 1/16" or so (it was too tight at the top and bottom). Again, not so good with the pictures, but I assure you, it was just a bunch of filing plastic. Eventually the two bays would fit in the opening. Then I turned my attention to the side panel. I wanted to put a window in it because 1.) I hadn't done a window mod yet, and 2.) Why not? Started the slow process of removing the Fractal Design sound deadening foam, stuff. It wasn't quick, but it did work. All in all, it wasn't too bad. I mean, wasn't easy, but not too bad. I used my pocket knife to slowly separate the foam from the side panel, while pulling the foam away. A word of advise for anyone attempting to do this in the future. Don't try to fold the foam back over itself while pulling it off. It'll just break the foam (it's dense) and then peel off the fabric backing. Instead, pull up and away. This sounds counter intuitive, but it helps lift the foam off the panel while not breaking the foam. Using the knife helps release the adhesive. In the last picture, you can see I left a few scratches at first, until I got the hang of it. The long scuffs show where I was running the knife along the edge where the foam was still stuck to the panel. After that, it was time to do something about the front of the case. These 120mm fan openings aren't large enough for a 5.25" device. So I marked it out as best I could, from the front bezel I already widened. I also laid out where I wanted to make the window on the side panel. At this point, it was time to make some cuts. Only issue I had, however, is that I live in an apartment, with no garage of my own. And my dremel and jigsaw are at my parents' house (not that far away, but still an issue). So I would have to wait until I got a chance to get there. Enter Bill, at MNPCTech. I was asking some "how best to" questions regarding the bulge from the fan mount in the panel, when he invited me down to help me out. So I took the opportunity during a break in the snow storm to head down there and get this stuff done. He gave me some pointers, and helped me cut the window out of the panel. The radii I had laid out pushed the limits of the jigsaw blades abilities, but Bill made it happen. Note to self: gold dollar coins aren't a large enough radius for a jig saw. While Bill was helping file the edges of the window, I set about cutting the front of the case. Another note to self, make sure to start with the dremel cut on the end that allows me to cut on the right hand side of my line. I didn't, and as a result couldn't see the line next to the blade while I was cutting. It's ok, though, as it worked out alright, and was still pretty straight. It also didn't matter too much, since it wouldn't be seen anyway. Filed it down, and test fit the hot swap bays. All was good. Then we installed the window with some U-Channel, and 4010 tape. I was too focused on what we were doing, and "in the moment" that I didn't take any pictures of the process. But here are the pictures after getting the case home Test fitting the hotswap bays: I must say, they do look pretty good up front, too. The reason for the size and location of the window, is because I didn't feel the need to have the window show the sides of the hot swap bays (pretty boring, really), and no real point in showing the side of the power supply, or the cables coming off of it either. So this window will do what I want nicely. And I will even be using the fan acoustic covers that came in the 2 fan holes from Fractal Design. I'm going to use them to support the hot swap bays. Being foam, it should help reduce vibrations to the bottom of the case, and also brings the back of the bays up to the same height as the front of the case. They're not attached to the case yet, just sitting there at the moment. I understand I typed quite a bit, so if you made it this far, thanks for checking it out. Hope to have another update, with more progress, soon. Thanks again, Bill, for giving me some pointers and helping me out.
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