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thatauthorguy

The Student Project Build

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The Background:

 

My son’s high school has a graduation requirement of completing a Senior Project. Any project must have three elements to it:

 

·         The student must learn how to do something new,

·         The student must choose a project that will benefit some community organization or another,

·         The project must be done by the first part of April of his senior year.

 

Some kids have held golf tournaments, walk-a-thons, or built things like custom electric guitars. My son comes to me last fall and says he’s been watching this guy in Minnesota do this show called ModMen, and the Boy says he wants to mod a computer for his senior project. Sweet!

 

I’ve worked with computers as a tech, and the Boy had even spec’d out and assembled a few machines from scratch. This is right up his alley.

 

Next we got talking to a local Autism, ADHD, Learning Disability center that needed money for new computers in their reading lab. We’re talking Dell 2300 machines were the norm. The Boy decided to auction off the computer he builds, selling a boat-load of tickets for $10 apiece, and giving over the rest to help purchase new laptops for the reading lab. Community service – check!

 

The Challenge:

 

The Boy is fascinated by reusing this Beige Box, which he likes the lines and potential of:

 

beige-1-600.jpg

 

He also only has a budget of $1000 for the guts of the machine, and $200 - $300 for modding the case. Sorry guys, no water cooling for this rig. Also, this is his first exercise in modding (did I mention the “learning something new” aspect of the Senior Project?). It could get interesting.

 

beige-2-600.jpg

 

The Twist:

 

First bad news – the Boy has his own ideas about things, and the Wife has already stepped in once to reign in the Super Annoying Dad. Ahem. Somehow I got stuck with the role of chronicler and photographer (sorry in advance).

 

First good news – I entered one of Bill’s giveaways, for the leftover parts of the ModZoo MZ-1 build, and we won! We got this cool stuff in the mail:

 

MNPCTech%20parts.jpg

 

Cool poster for the Serenity Build also came with the package -- thanks for the inspiration Bill! :P

parts-1-600.JPG

 

Everything still wrapped in shiny plastic ...

parts-2-600.jpg

 

Note the complete lack of snow out the window. It's been a drought here in CA.

parts-3-600.jpg

 

Now the Boy has to get cracking soon, or he’s going to run out of time. And I’m hoping he can find some interesting way to incorporate the parts Bill sent. Stay tuned! I've got more photos I can post as soon as I get them in some kind of order …

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Oh Daddy!

This is right up my alley: a great Cause, a cool old school chassis Mod, and plenty of learning.

Subbed for the duration

 

We'll definitely be learning lots. It's also fun to re-use parts, because I get a ton of old part and computers through my shop that end up in the trash. This beige box got rescued.  :P

 

Nice to see a project with a cause!  This is going to be cool to watch unfold, get that A and raise a ton of money.

 

My hope is to sell at least enough tickets to cover the cost of the parts! Everything else is going to be gravy for the organization.

 

Thanks for the support, guys.

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First Steps:

 

After a quick trip to the hardware store, the Boy now has sandpaper and a sanding block (all that muscle work builds character, right?) and the painting supplies he needs (including the all-important filter mask). Next on the agenda: disassemble the chassis, sand down the paint, and start with a few coats of self-etching primer.

 

Easy, right? Not so fast. Did I mention our house is in a rural area, accessible only by a dirt road? Finding a spot to start priming and eventually painting will be tricky. Dust is everywhere, and if he’s not careful, this may be called the Tatooine Mod.

 

Actually, the colors the Boy picked out for this build are glossy black with trim in blue. I think we’ll end up calling it the Bruiser Mod.

 

Nothing but bare metal here:

disassemble-600.jpg

 

The Boy wielding the deadly primer:

primer-1-600.jpg

 

After the first coat, we now have a lovely gray:

primer-3-600.jpg

 

No more beige. These aren't the parts you're looking for:

primer-2-600.jpg

 

Finally, the Boy has the guts of the machine selected as well. Remember now, he’s shooting for a mid-level computing machine that could go to a fellow student, grandma next door, or the nearest accountant. He’ll overclock the processor, but not by much, and the video card is a single, with SLI as a future option if our winner is a gamer. Here’s the list:

 

·            Gigabyte GA-Z87X-D3H Motherboard

·         Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Processor

·         G-Skill RipJaws X, 8GB of RAM (in blue)

·         MSI GeForce GTX660 (but not the Ti)

·         Corsair HX 650W PSU (semi modular)

·         CoolerMaster Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooling Fan

·         Samsung 840 EVO 120GB SSD (for the OS)

·         Western Digital Black 1TB HDD (for everything else)

·         Asus VE228H 21.5” LCD Monitor (one of my personal faves)

 

And here’s a pretty picture of this list, for those of us who are visually stimulated:

 

guts-600.jpg

 

More photos coming soon, as all this painting was actually last week's work. Stay tuned!

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Also, you've made the fan page, just to give you a little boost of encouragement. ;-) 

 

https://www.facebook.com/TheModZoo/posts/10152317706522009

 

Thanks! Very kind of you.

 

 

Nice start man, and love to see a project for a good cause. I also love the approach you guys are taking. You sir are a great father and I tip my hat to you.

Thanks for that. Sometimes it's a trial, but worth it.

 

 

Painting in a dusty area is a real PITA.

Even on still day I'll usually get stuff landing on my paint  :(

Tell me about it. Not only do we have lots of dust (only rained three times this winter), but we have construction going on next door. In this shot, the steps and the gravel are ours. After that is the neighbor:

dusty-600.jpg

 

Also...

 

To everyone in the Midwest:

 

If you're done with all the snow and rain, can you please send some of it our direction? We need it for sure, but we also supply a lot of water to the Bay Area, and all those people are gonna start getting cranky.

 

Rain clouds would work best, but FedEx or UPS is fine too. Just send it on over, thanks!  :D

 

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The Twist:

 

First bad news – the Boy has his own ideas about things, and the Wife has already stepped in once to reign in the Super Annoying Dad. Ahem. Somehow I got stuck with the role of chronicler and photographer (sorry in advance).

I wouldn't exactly call that bad news, how else are the youngsters

supposed to learn? ;) 

 

First Steps:

 

No more beige. These aren't the parts you're looking for:

 

Hehe, I see what you did there... 

To everyone in the Midwest:

 

If you're done with all the snow and rain, can you please send some of it our direction? We need it for sure, but we also supply a lot of water to the Bay Area, and all those people are gonna start getting cranky.

I know I'm on another continent, but if anyone has some leftover

proper winter weather feel free to send it to my region. We went

more or less directly from fall to spring without any winter in

between, which utterly sucks for a snow-loving kinda guy like me. :(

Oh and yes, nice project.

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Hehe, I see what you did there...

;)  I'm glad someone got that joke.

 

And I don't mind the Boy doing all the work and having his own opinions about it, but I guess that's means I'll have to start my own project! I've already got some good ideas ...

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The Misdirection:

 

This update is not really much of one. The Boy is feeling the pressure to get ticket sales going, so what he did was put what he had of his painted panels (with only a single coat of the colors in question) and other bits together to make a mock-up of the final product:

 

mock-1-600.jpg

 

 

Not much to look at, but since it's only for the advertising and the tickets, we did a little Photoshop magic. First, removal of the background, blurred and smoothed out.

 

mock-2-600.jpg

 

 

Then coloring the bay covers to match the black.Also cut a window out to put fake "guts" in the case.

 

mock-3-600.jpg

 

 

Add some glow, and other effects, including fake guts.

 

mock-4-600.jpg

 

 

Finally, the totally fake gradient for the posters and tickets, to generate excitement!

 

mock-5-600.jpg

 

 

I'll put more photos up when ACTUAL work is done and worthy of looking at.  ;)

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This is good, if someone want to go always with modded case need to chop up this cases first. My suggestion is to do like at least 1 scratch build and few mods of this kind of cases and then go modding some pricey stuff. You need experience because no one wants to ruin 200$+ case. 

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You need experience because no one wants to ruin 200$+ case.

+1 to that. And I get a lot of old cases through my shop, especially old Dells. Now if I could only figure out what to do with the clamshell cases ...

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besides the paint and window, Can you tell us what other mods you have planned for it?

 

I keep pushing for more, but the Boy tells me there will be paint, the windows, a fan plus grill on the top, sleeving of cables and general cleanliness inside the case, some fancy feet, and a couple of other little things (like a colored, unused fan grill on the reverse side). We've really just put the photo together to show people on the tickets and posters that -- hey, it's a computer!

 

I think he's trying to be conservative here, as the box may end up with a grandma prone to epilepsy, or in a business, so he doesn't want to go wild. He's already starting to plan his next build, a "radioactive box" using other parts he's got now.

 

On the other hand, he hasn't thought of a good use for the 240mm radiator cover, and has no plans for water cooling. Maybe someone out there can use this, and I can send it along?

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That photoshop mockup actually doesn't look too bad. :)

On the other hand, he hasn't thought of a good use for the 240mm radiator cover, and has no plans for water cooling. Maybe someone out there can use this, and I can send it along?

Aside from simply using it as a fan cover, I usually don't worry too

much about parts I can't use in a build and just save them up for the

next one (or wait until something good pops into my mind). ;)

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