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retrosmith

One Last Time - Black Cherry

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Hello to my fellow modders!  I'm new to The Mod Zoo so I don't know many of you here yet so I'll just stick with that.  I've got a scratchbuild project going on, and I received an invitation to post a worklog here.  Please forgive what seems an abrupt opening, as I hadn't really planned to post a log.  The first pictures I have are well into the construction process.  Further updates should be both shorter and more timely.   :)

 

So to this project.  I've decided it's time to get out of the custom PC world and move on to something else.  I love it but it just doesn't give the satisfaction it once did. Having said that, I couldn't move on without building one last nice custom PC, this one for myself.  So was born Black Cherry.

 

I love working with wood and am blessed with a decent woodshop.  I've made a couple of iterations of this case design before, dubbed Open Air and Open Air Mk 2 (very creative, I know).  

 

I loved that first wooden case.  It was built specifically to fit on the file cabinet next to my desk, and its width was limited to that space.  This one will be sitting in the exact same spot, so the width is again limited, though I had to allow a couple of inches overhang, giving a total width of 17 inches.  Since I want a custom water loop in this one, I needed a lot more interior space.  I managed to cram it all in there by making this one slightly taller and quite a bit deeper.

 

This is the first image I took of the case assembled during construction:

 

 

 

HJAEdRJ.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

The body is cherry, the top and side panels are all 1/4" black cast acrylic, and the border inlay is walnut and maple with tigerwood corner strips.  

 

I debated doing the inlay at all as I thought it would make it too busy, but I think this pattern in this location came out pretty well.  

 

 

xSAgWeW.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

At this point in the construction I already had a lot of holes cut in the top panel.  In that first case I made, the top was made to fit the motherboard.  In this case, with the need for extra space for the radiators, I ended up with a LOT of empty space in front of the motherboard on the top plate that I had to fill up somehow.  

 

I decided to get a little creative with the part that I love looking at: the water.   :)

 

 

uNczcD7.jpg

 

 

 

 

sYD4xJK.jpg

 

 

 

 

oXM3AGY.jpg

 

 

 

 

This last image shows it best.  The front center reservoir is the primary, that's where the system will be filled and that's what feeds the pumps directly below it.  

 

Once the water fills up the radiators it will come back up into the smaller reservoir on the right, fill it up, then through the prop-style flow indicator in the center, to the other small reservoir and back inside.  

 

(I've since decided to do away with the chrome elbows here and make rigid acrylic connections here, hopefully a graceful curve rather than the harsh 90.)

 

From there is comes back up at the fitting beside that small res, goes through the actual cooling loop, ends at the fitting on the right beside the right-hand small res, and comes back up into the center of the primary reservoir.  That big chrome lump in the center of the reservoir is a T-fitting.  With two DDC pumps I suspect I'll have a pretty good flow rate and don't want the water splashing around as it comes back vertically, so the T both redirects the flow and cuts the pressure by doubling the area of travel.

 

At least that's the plan.  

 

So the top is looking fairly good so far.  All of the side panels are cut, I have a couple more holes to make in the rear panel.  Each of these is held on my some strong magnets and will be accessed via suction cup.  I should probably buy some extras.  

 

Opening the front panel reveals the amount of work I still have to do inside though:

 

Evuc2hI.jpg

 

 

 

 

Ugly.   

 

One last piece in this update.  Since this piece is designed to show off the contrast between wood and electronics, I decided to trim it all out in cherry.  I found a supplier for good cherry hardwood in thin pieces, which is hard to find, and will be framing out all of the holes in the side panels.  I also finished custom backplates for the video cards:

 

lrITgDC.jpg

 

 

 

 

Qzu768O.jpg

 

 

 

 

a8PBkij.jpg

 

 

 

 

Obviously they need a little touchup work, final sanding and a finish but I think they turned out pretty well.   :)   

 

That's it for the first installment, please forgive my rambling.  Further chapters will should be more concise.  

 

Thanks for watching!

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Your vision on this is Incredible. Those Back plates are completly oringinal and I'm lovin that. Have you considered doing trim on the Radiators like that? Veneer tubing he he he go wild on what ever makes sense to you, this is very cool!

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Your vision on this is Incredible. Those Back plates are completly oringinal and I'm lovin that. Have you considered doing trim on the Radiators like that? Veneer tubing he he he go wild on what ever makes sense to you, this is very cool!

 

 

Thanks very much.  I can't wait to have it purring away beside my desk.  

 

As for the radiators, yes I have.  :)  They're going to be hidden inside, but they will have honeycomb grills covering the fans, and *those* will be framed in cherry.  I should have those in the next update.

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Love it. I'm a person that likes noisy and extra details, so the inlays work just fine. Exposed hardware is pretty busy anyway.

All those wires to sort, though... ouch. In the future, you might want to use larger exit holes tucked under the mobo. That way you can fit the extensions without removing an end.

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All those wires to sort, though... ouch. In the future, you might want to use larger exit holes tucked under the mobo. That way you can fit the extensions without removing an end.

 

Appreciate the idea, but I didn't want to run anything under the motherboard.  Since I had to set the board extra high for the bottom tabs on the PCI brackets on the video cards to clear the case, I'm planning to put a wooden "apron" of sorts around the motherboard underneath to close up that space.  

 

I'd have to take off the ends of the cables anyway, they'll be running through individual-hole cover plates, like I did here and here.  Definitely harder than running them under the board, but I just love the way that setup looks.  

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A little more progress tonight.  I got the cherry frames cut for the intakes on the radiators.  They turned out great, my only concern now is noise.  The fans are very quiet on the radiators, but the addition of a grill changes the whole airflow equation.  Noise testing later tonight.  

 

Bare intake openings:

 

C3komQ9.jpg

 

 

 

 

With new framing:

 

j6VqvNS.jpg

 

 

 

As with the backplates there is a little but of final work to be done and of course the finish but progress continues.  I think I only have two more wooden pieces to make, and hope to get those done tonight.  

 

Stay tuned!

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Well, it's done.

I got all the trim pieces done.

I got the finish just the way I wanted it, beautiful hand-rubbed oil sheen to it.

I got all my tubing routing done and the system filled.

Leak checked, one tiny leak easily repaired.

I giddily slid it into place by my desk, got out my OS disc, cracked my knuckles and pushed The Button.

Nothing. 

"Oh hell, I forgot to flip the switch on the PSU back on. I do that every time." Flipped the switch and pressed The Button.

Nothing.

"Well, this switch IS kind of old." It's the same power switch I used on my very first mod. Hooked up test switch and pressed The New Button.

Nothing.

Removed the front panel, disconnected the 24-pin and jumped across green and black.

Nothing.

Dead power supply. 

Now this would be bad in a normal case, but only cause a short delay. THIS case however was built frm the ground up, STARTING with the PSU. It was the very first thing installed, and everything else was built on top of it. There is no way possible to remove it without completely dismantling the whole thing. 

Design flaw? Possibly, but I've never had a PSU fail so my experience told me it was an acceptable risk. 

It gets better. Two days prior, the PSU on my main (read:only) PC failed. Two 1000-watt PSU failures in 3 days. So here I am, looking at more computing power than I've ever had and no way to use it. 

Since I had to dismantle it all anyway, that's what I did. After buying a new PSU I built my new PC in my old case. 

This beautiful inlaid cherry box is now empty other than the trim pieces sitting inside it, sitting on a shelf in my storage room, there to stay for the foreseeable future. 

Moral to the story? If you're going to make your own case, make component replacement (ALL component replacement) minimally invasive.

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Moral to the story? If you're going to make your own case, make component replacement (ALL component replacement) minimally invasive.

 

But that's no fun!  Design before function I say!  Er, wait...

 

I've done it before too.  I tested my PSU about 6 times to make sure it worked before I put one of mine together.

Mini_Watercooled_HTPC_modsquito_wood_scr

This is how far back I'd have to get to the PSU lol There's a wooden plate that covers all the wires, a shroud that covers the rest of the wires, and the reservoir is mounted to the cover plate, and can only be removed by taking apart the loop. Ah the fun of compact scratch builds lol

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Yeah, that's rough when things die like that.  Had a similar issue just recently with my Downtown project.  Dead M.2 drive & power supply caused a full deconstruction of the project just to get all of the available parts out.  Now they're in an Air 540 - lol.

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Sounds like a late night power jolt. I made a habit of switching off at the surge strip because of the ones here. They finally changed out a nearby transformer and things improved here, but not before I lost several PSUs. 

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But that's no fun!  Design before function I say!  Er, wait...

 

I've done it before too.  I tested my PSU about 6 times to make sure it worked before I put one of mine together.

Mini_Watercooled_HTPC_modsquito_wood_scr

This is how far back I'd have to get to the PSU lol There's a wooden plate that covers all the wires, a shroud that covers the rest of the wires, and the reservoir is mounted to the cover plate, and can only be removed by taking apart the loop. Ah the fun of compact scratch builds lol

 

Yep, that's about it.    

 

Love the use of the Koolance GPU block on the CPU there by the way.    ;)

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Yep, that's about it.    

 

Love the use of the Koolance GPU block on the CPU there by the way.    ;)

haha, thanks! It was the only block that I could find that would fit on an AM1 CPU socket lol

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A lot of Mods are Jig Saw puzzles, If we wanted them to be easy to work on we would leave them the way the manufacturer built them. Ohh your the manufacturer he he Stuff happens, My current build had the mother board fail after 2 boot ups, well there goes another month.

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Good news, it looks like this project may yet see the light of day.  Or the lights in my basement office anyway.

 

I'm going to have to rebuild my PC next weekend anyway (really don't like the board I bought for this one), and I had an idea that will make the rebuild a LOT easier, so rather than rebuild it haphazardly in my present beautiful-but-too-big-to-put-it-anywhere-you-can-see-it case, I may well end up rebuilding it in the Black Cherry case.  

 

Look for glamor shots on my next update.    :D

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Yeah, Koolance is a weird company in ways... They choose to not participate in dialogue with the community... but, to their credit, they do things right the first time in terms of quality ....,but it would be nice to see more options and different aesthetics offered

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