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"Dark Matter" [Scratch Build] by Envious Mods •3D Printed Parts•

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Dark Matter Scratch Build:

Who am I?

A bit about me; a few years ago I suffered a traumatic brain injury that caused my brain to hemorrhage. After spending a long time in intensive care I kept thinking about case modding. Before long, its all I could think about. After recovering from my injury I was left with epilepsy and brain that no longer functioned like before.

I started to look at things differently. Inspiration for mods began to pop up in the oddest places. I eventually became overthrown with modding ideas and designs. Soon I decided it was time to start. Theres nothing quite like being in the grocery store and yelling, “thats it, 45 degree angles” and then running out of the store like a mad man. No matter what I was doing, it all kept coming back to case modding. Today case modding is my life and it allows me to be truly happy. For some case modding is a hobby but, for me its a lifestyle.

And So It Begins:

Why:

I decided to do this scratch build, “Dark Matter” for several reasons. I was tired of limiting my mods to the confines of a mass manufactured case. There are a ton of great cases out there but, I wanted to do something my style from the ground up. The design phase began once I started getting close to completing the StarCraft Day Zero case. However, a lot of the main features for this build have been planned over the last year.

During the scratch build I will be using new modding techniques as well as using materials that aren't always associated with case modding. If you like seeing original creations and have a love for the truest form of modding; you're in the right place.

Design Screen Shots:

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I would also like to thank the Sponsors that believe in the Dark Matter Scratch Build

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• Quad vertical PCI-e slots added

• Modded the stock 80mm rear fan into a 120mm

• Tons of custom metal fabrication found throughout the build.

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• 90 degree brackets for the frame of the case

• Snap in color matched rings for the 120mm PureWings 2 PWM fans

• Gskill logo badge with backlit letters

• EK logo with plate on the top grill insert

• Extensive cable management setup and cable combs

• Case for Arduino Mega and mini TFT touch screen for the animated case badge

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• 1,200 watt DarkPower 11 Pro BeQuiet Modular PSU

• 7 X 120mm PWM PureWings 2 case fans

• 16mm angel eye Vandal switch (blue)

• 5050 RGB LED strips with wireless remote

• Arduino Mega with mini TFT touch screen (animated case badge)

• Printrbot various filaments (3D printed plastics)

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• Large custom lexan water-path behind the motherboard tray

• Combination of nickel plated and PETG hardline tubing

Main Sponsors:

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Gigabyte: (SLI GPUs)

• 2 x Gigabyte GTX 960 Extreme 4 gig SLI GPUs (8–gig total)

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Supermicro: (Motherboard)

• Supermicro C7–Z170–OCE motherboard

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G.Skill: (DDR4 Ram)

• Gskill Trident DDR4 black & white edition (4 sticks of DDR4)

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OCZ: (Solid State Drives)

• 3 X OCZ Vector 180 SSDs (almost a terabyte Total)

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BeQuiet: (Power Supply & Fans)

• 1,200 watt DarkPower 11 Pro BeQuiet Modular PSU

• 7 X 120mm PWM PureWings 2 case fans

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Ensourced: (Custom Sleeved PSU Extensions)

• Custom length cables, sleeving design and cable combs

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Printrbot: (Filament & Hotend)

• 7 rolls of filament and an experimental hotend with a 1mm nozzle

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EMI Design (lasercut work)

• Honeycomb floor panel, 240 grill and bottom door

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EKWB: (Water-Cooling)

• EKWB X3 250 reservoir

• EKWB Supremacy Evo CPU block

• 480mm radiator (quad BeQuiet 120mm fans)

• EKWB Revo pump w/plexi top

• Fittings Including:

- 12mm HDC hardline fittings

- 90 degree adaptors

- 50mm spacers

- M to M adaptors

- 10 & 12mm hardline bending kit

- 12mm tubing

- Passthrough fittings

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Cutting The Frame:

I started to build the frame for the build by cutting metal stock that I've been saving for this build. Some of it is steel and the rest is aluminum to help shave of any weight that I can. I also designed and 3D printed all of the brackets needed to put the frame together.

I would have rather used a more aggressive tool but, my Dremel and a hand full of cut off disks have made quick work of the first few pieces.

The Frame:

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3D Printed Brackets:

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Tomorrow the plan is to cut the rest of the pieces needed to complete the basic frame shape and start work on the triple SSD mount.

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Sweet! Design looks slick, and I look forward to seeing it come together, especially the side panels!

Thank you, the side panels will be tricky but, I've done a bunch of prep and testing. Each side of the case has two separate panels that open. It's nice to finally do a build from scratch.

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Finishing The Frame:

Today I was able to finish cutting the frames square tubing. I knew this case was going to be a beast but, wow. I can now tell how big of a beast it will be. Mock-ups of the frame have been started as well.

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3D Printed Brackets:

I also wrapped up a couple replacement 3D printed brackets. I designed these brackets specifically for this build. That way everything fits perfectly. I printed them with 100% infill using a new experimental hotend called the UBIS 13S. Printrbot also sent an experimental 1mm nozzle that makes quick work of any solid or larger pieces I need to print. This saved me a ton of time in printing. It heats up a lot quicker and it can handle the added volume of filament put through it.

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Triple Monitor Mount:

I decided to convert a single flat screen mount into a triple monitor mount using a few 3D printed parts. This allowed me to mount several of my old flat screens so that I could monitor system information from the 3D printer and desktop CNC. It saves time so I can mod and easily look up to see what's happening in realtime.

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My goal for tomorrow is to finish assembling the frame and start mocking up the custom feet that will be mounted soon.

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I managed to get the basic parts of the frame together. It took a little bit longer than anticipated but, thats ok with me. I used washers that are made from thick pieces of nylon. This helps to insulate the bolts and the frame. I also added lock rings to every bolt used which will keep the bolts from loosening over time.

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Mounting The Custom Feet:

I was lucky enough to be able to re-purpose the feet that will be used for this case. I think the feet of a case serve a good purpose other than aesthetics. Getting the bottom of the case up off the floor a bit helps with cooling.

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I have decided to look into adding 2X200mm fans to the bottom of the case. This will help pull air in through the bottom and out through the top+back. Smoke testing will be done to figure out the best settings/arrangements for the fans throughout the case. I do this with the majority of my builds. Please don't try this unless you know what your doing. You could damage hardware. The test results will be posted after they are done and I might do a short video.

The Triple SSD mount:

I designed a triple SSD mount to go on the right side of the case. It will have a see through piece of lexan on the outer panel. The SSD mounts were originally designed to be parallel to the side panel but, when I started cutting everything I decided it would look much better if they had a slight tilt. I made a couple of bends on each end, which allows them to be slightly tilted. I finished all the rough work with these mounts and I will do the aesthetic work after I get the rest of the side panels cut and formed.

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coming along nicely so far

Thank you very much. I'm getting the front an back pieces together hopefully today. I will be using stainless for those two panels but, I still need to find a cheap donor case for a few parts like the mobo tray.

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Front & Back Panels:

Now that I have the basic structure together, its time to start wrapping the case. I went with stainless steel for the front and back panels. There will be quite a few pieces that will be built on top of these panels; stainless is a good strong base for those elements. The two panels I have are a little bit wider than I need so I will need to make a couple cuts once more cutting blades arrive. For now I can test mount the panels and double check where they need to be cut.

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Bottom Panel:

The bottom panel took a decent amount of measurement to make sure it fit correctly around the feet that have already been mounted. This part of the case will be covered up but it will have about a 40mm gap. This gap will allow me to run some of the wiring so to wont be seen. Down the road to will come in handy to access any wiring needed for maintenance or upgrade.

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I'm over the [MSI-stuff] build log flood with all the placeholders. :lol: I will razz you about doing such a wickedly detailed scratch build, and staying in the atx box shape.

I hear ya. Thanks for checking out the log. Luckily my logs are anything but, typical. I played with the idea of using an odd shape but, I wanted to challenge the usual case design. The design I posted doesn't include some of the neat features I'll be adding as I go and my designs are constantly evolving as I build. The details is where I thrive so it will be fun to take it up a notch or two.

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Motherboard Sub-Mount:

I started cutting out the sub-mount for the motherboard and the passthrough for the water-cooling. I used heavier gauge steel because this mount will also have to hold the giant water-path that will go on the back side of it. For right now I just have it mocked up so that I can get an idea of the spacing.

Cutting Out The Motherboard Sub-mount:

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Mobo Sub-mount Mockup:

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3D Prototyped Hinge/Latch:

I wanted to 3D print the custom hinges I designed for the outside of the case. This will let me know if they will be big enough. I am using the 1mm nozzle on the metal Printrbot UBIS 13s hotend. This allows me to print my designs much quicker than I could before. The resolution isn't as high as it would be using a much smaller nozzle but, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. A 45 minute print takes about 5 minutes to do with the 1mm nozzle.

New UBIS 13s Extruder:

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Testing The Prototyped Parts:

After printing the 3 separate pieces that make up one hinge/latch; I can already tell that there is going to be a few changes made for the next iteration. The overall size seems a little bit smaller than I imagined it would be. I will scale the design up a little bit to make everything a little larger and more industrial sized.

The bottom piece also needs to have a thicker base. Currently its about 3mm and I think 6mm is where it needs to be. I also want to slightly change the round part where it connects to the middle piece. These changes will be quick when done within Sketchup. After I finish the changes I will print another prototype to make sure its ready for the final pieces to be made.

Prototyped Latch/Hinge 1st Gen:

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I really like the look you came up with in your model. Spiffy!

1mm nozzle: let it flow, let it flow, don't care about resolution any more!

It's much appreciated. The 1mm nozzle really shines when it comes to printing large models or if you have a need for a quick print. Later on in the build I'll be doing some of the larger prints but, this allowed me to quickly get a physical object that were to scale. Thanks for checking in Noobas4urus and I hope you stop by again.

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Front Panel Pieces:

There are a lot of pieces that go together to make up the front panel. The majority of it will be made out of acrylic and aluminum. I have translated the first 6 pieces onto a template that I can use to cut them out of acrylic. I will be using acrylic that is about 7mm thick for these pieces. They are designed the pieces to different thicknesses for the front panel. This will give it more dimension once assembled. Some of the pieces will be layered on top of each other. Layering different thicknesses of acrylic is something I love doing on my mods because it really does a great job of making the design cues stick out.

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The Acrylic Process: Cleaning up edges

All of the pieces of acrylic are first hand cut using my scroll saw and then sanded/filed to make sure all the edges are perfectly flat. I make good use of a large array of different types of files and sandpaper. Typically it'll start off with large hand files to remove enough material to take out any bumps or mis-alignments. After that I will use needle files (small files.) Once all the markings are filed out I will move on to 200 grit sandpaper and rotate to progressively finer grit sandpaper for a smooth finish on all the edges. Its a long process but, I find it to be somewhat meditating after a while.

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Rounded Side Lip:

Im the type of person that is always willing to learn new techniques and tools to put in my modders tool belt. When my buddy said he had some time available at his metal fab shop I jumped at the opportunity. I wanted to learn something new so we jumped into making some bends for the bottom side of the case. These parts wont really be seen much once the case is completed but, its one of those small details that add up to make a case thats memorable.

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More Acrylic Work:

Today I managed to cut about 10 more pieces of acrylic out for the front panel. Doing a little bit at a time helps me not get burnt out on the scroll saw. Most of the pieces I cut consist of the bottom layers and the grill inserts. Theses pieces are cut out of thinner acrylic that is about 3mm thick. Now that I have a decent amount of the panels cut out I started to lay them out to see what they'll look like. So far they are dead on the design I did in Sketchup.

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Metal Work:

Lately Ive spent a bunch of time doing metal work. Unfortunately my Dremal kicked the bucket on me so I had to buy a cheap rotary tool to get me through this build. Currently I'm looking into buying a new metal cutting tool. I haven't decided between electric shears, die grinder and a few others. I managed to get the back panel all mounted a fit correctly.

A decent amount of time has been spent getting the top angled roof together. It has an partial octagon shape along the top of the case that is kind of hard to see in the design screenshots. The entire top slides on a track. This makes getting to the top of the case easier in the future. It also sits a bit higher than the top of the cases frame.

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LEDs:

Im not a 100% sure what LEDs ill use and where. I invested in a little bit of everything when it comes to LEDs and accessories. I have cool white, green, blue and natural white LED strips as well as a couple different kinds of 5050 RGB strips with wireless controllers. Recently I managed to get a smoking deal on LED strip extenders, mounts and cables.

More than likely I'll end up using the RGB LEDs as they give a wide range of options. The smart LEDs also showed up recently which will be a great addition to any case build. Ive haven't seen them used yet on a build. It'll be neat to see how they look once they are all hooked up.

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Really like the direction youre heading with this one!

Thanks Bill. I spent a lot of time doing pre-planning so it should shape up to be a sweet build. I just need to wrap up a couple more sponsors and I'll be cruising right along. It'll be a beast once finished. I have a lot of neat things planned for this build.

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Old School Techniques:

Most of the skills I use are passed down generation after generation. I like to hand build as much as I possibly can and I will typically translate CAD drawings into 2D sketches. Doing so allows me to make templates to scale. It takes a decent amount of time to do it this way but, it also allows me to really know the design well. With all the technology I have at my disposal I still can't get away from doing it this way. Today I've been working on sketching out the main features on the top portion of the case.

Part of The Side Panel: To Scale

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The Top Panel: To Scale

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Case Ideas:

This is the portion of the build where I start coming up with crazy ideas that usually come to me in spurts of inspiration followed by eureka moments. Being the noted Rain Man of Modding I leave certain parts of the case intentionally un-designed. Being my favorite part of the process; I typically get excited and sometimes need to be reeled back in.

Eureka! A Case Badge:

The first idea I received, while eating a bowl of corn flakes was to do a custom animated case badge. With the use of a mini TFT touch screen I plan to add a badge to the front of the case which will have a short “Dark Matter” animated design. I have ordered the touch screen and luckily I already have the other parts required to do this animated badge. I will be running it off of an Arduino Mega. I went with the mega due to the larger amount of memory which is required to do animations.

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Very cool. I look forward to seeing the screen up and running!

It should be arriving in about a week so I'll be able to test it all out then. I also just came up with an awesome idea for the cable passthrough to the mobo so I'll spend more time on it to see how do-able it is. My mind sometimes comes up with ideas that seem to be more simple than they actually are. I'm always ready for a challenge though. Thanks for stopping by Mosquito.

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Custom Peripherals:

Thanks to RantoPad I will have a MXX Mechanical Gaming keyboard and mouse to mod for this build. I haven't nailed down the exact design I will use but, it'll match the case. I will carry over the design queues in order to make everything look as one cohesive family. The keyboard and mouse will be almost completely stripped down once I decide what I'm going to do to them and paint arrives.

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XBox 360 Controller:

An Xbox 360 controller will also be modified for this build. I received a used one due to the fact that ill be ripping it apart. It will be matched to the rest of the build as well.

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Taking apart the Xbox 360 controller is pretty straight forward. Use a Tx-8 or a small flathead to get their proprietary styled screws out of the back of the controller. One screw is hid behind a sticker in the battery tray. After those are removed you can start basic disassembly. All painted surfaces are prepped using sandpaper. Once I finalized a design I will use my vinyl cutter to make paint templates. More than likely I will break out the airbrush for the controller because it allows me to do more detailed work and its awesome.

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