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Unread 10-09-2003, 11:27 AM   #1
Zogthetroll
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Default custom-built clear case (its finally DONE!!!)

this project began the planning stages probably a year ago, not that that means a whole lot since it took me a while to get started, get it finished, get the pictures developed and then scanned and posted. anyway, shortly after my interest in computer building/modding/cooling began i stumbled across my first view of a clear plexi case (probably over at directron.com, good site for parts btw). my first thought was "man, that's sweet" shortly followed by "hmmm, i could probably do better than that" and yes, as i found out, it is harder than it looks :-) being the sort of guy that is intensely interested in how things work and what makes things tick a clear case that would let me see all the internals seemed like a cool project. anyway, long story short, i ended up deciding to build it for my brother who would be going to college this year and my parents would help pay for the parts (provided it worked, which admittedly i was kinda nervous about since this is the first computer i've ever assembled from parts, let alone built the case to go along w/ it) basically what i did designing it was to model it after the YY cube case (sort of) since i really like those for their expandability. so, first off, the original plexi case (kudos to whoever designed/built this baby)
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Unread 10-09-2003, 11:34 AM   #2
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ok, first major step was to model the case in 3D to see what it looked like. a couple of design criteria
1. had to have four 5 1/4 drive bays (my computer only has 3 which has forced me to think creatively)
2. i wanted it to be as compact and as close to a true cube as possible. i got darn close as 12.5"x12.5"x14.5" overall
3. slight variation from the YY cube as there is no seperate motherboard chamber. (i wasn't sure my lexan skills were up to that as i'd never worked with the stuff before.
and this is the original solidworks rendering, as you'll see it got changed a bit in the building process as i'll explain.

front side view
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Unread 10-09-2003, 11:37 AM   #3
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rearward view
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Unread 10-09-2003, 11:38 AM   #4
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oops
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Unread 10-09-2003, 11:54 AM   #5
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now, a few things you'll notice later on that i'm just gonna point out now. the power supply was located on the bottom of the case (got relocated to the more standard position at the top since when it arrived the power cord wasn't long enough to reach the power connector on the motherboard). again, oops. also, i changed the location and number of fans on the case as it progressed, no big deal there. anyway on to construction. a major thanks to the assembly guy at The Wooster Glass Co. for explaning how to work with lexan and specifically how to glue the stuff together and selling me a bottle of IPS weld-on. i don't have any pictures of the case pieces being cut and glued together unfortunately, but on an interesting note, the only spots i used a dremel on were smoothing out the blowholes since i didn't get a dremel until mid-summer. everything else was with a hand saw, drill, files, and a sheetmetal nibbler, and you thought it couldn't be done, hah.

some basic specs here,
the case is 1/4" thick lexan throughout
biostar M7VIQ motherboard w/ onboard video & LAN
256m DDR
300 Watt ps
40 gig western digital HD
AMD XP2000+ cpu w/
Coolermaster HAC-V81 hsf
40x16x48 cd burner
generic cd-rom
floppy drive
sound activated 12" ccfl

next pic, motherboard. note the custom i/o plate fastened on there.
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Unread 10-09-2003, 12:06 PM   #6
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next, an old cd drive fell victim to my newly purchased sheetmetal nibbler, muhahaha. as you can see i totally exposed the cd and also did a little design behind it. this meant i had to epoxy a 1/8" thick plexi sheet on top of the drive to hold the spindle in place. that was a mistake where the epoxy didn't fill in it looked funny and worse, the spindle wasn't lined up quite right (those things have pretty tight tollerances) so it didn't work. well, much later on i ripped the top off along w/ the offending epoxy, realligned it, and countersunk some machine screws in there to hold it tight, worked beautifully and looked sooo much better. oh, and this started out completely beige. i also painted the tray to fade to dark blue from the exterior black. a word of advice, vinyl dye is worth the extra time and money when you're painting plastic (although some brands do work better than others, duh)
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Unread 10-09-2003, 12:19 PM   #7
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ok, this next shot is from the motherboard side of some creative ducting that i made to help bring fresh air to the cpu hsf. originally when i assembled the parts into the partially completed box and fired it up (i was impatient to test out my new toy, can ya blame me?) it ran pretty hot, or at least a lot more so than i'd come to expect from my trusty desktop. this is where a seperate motherboard chamber would've been handy, instead things got interesting.
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Unread 10-09-2003, 12:24 PM   #8
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and here is more of a top view of the case with the duct in place and the motherboard installed. the duct made of 1/8" thick plexi instead of lexan, and it is rectangular in shape and sort of flat, but it brings air from up front near one of the intake fans to the intake of the hsf. the duct itself screws onto the drive cage using existing holes, neat, huh? the fan in the top of the case helps pull hot air out of the case almost directly as it exits the top of the heat sink.
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Unread 10-09-2003, 12:41 PM   #9
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next, a shot from the back of the pc showing it mostly assembled. gotta love the mess of wiring i had to deal with there. that alone is probably the reason i don't think i'll ever make myself a clear pc (as awesome as this turned out, imho). i have too much custom stuff in my work pc or is currently being added to it, and i prefer to hide wiring and the like, which is all but impossible with a clear case. i decided to make my own rounded cable since i was kinka on a budget here. (lets see, ide cable for $0.20 plus time spent to cut the wires apart and wrap them or $8 for a prerounded cable, hmmm) i wanted to see how easy it was or not after seeing a how-to on the internet. obviously not a professional looking job, but i had fun, and they turned out pretty good, plus they still work as intended. hehehe. also on this pic, my single most time consuming mistake on this project involved motherboard placement. simply put, when i measured how far from the back to place the motherboard, i forgot to add in the 1/4" overlap with the back panel, putting the motherboard too close to the back to be able to mount my scavened pci rack neatly under the i/o plate. more on that later. if you look real closely under the power supply you'll notice a wire coming down from that. one really annoying thing i found out was that the ps fan was run at 7 volts, not good when you're needing that as an output fan. so i ran wiring to the system fan jack on the motherboard and its much better now, i even have fan speed monitoring on it. bonus!!
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Unread 10-09-2003, 12:51 PM   #10
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another slight change, due to the enclosed nature of the extra 3.5" drive bay, i decided to place the hard drive in one of the extra 5 1/4" bays using mounting brackets. nothing fancy there, just had to use some washers to space it right in order for the drive cover to fit back on. another detail, the front switch panel was a spur of the moment kinda thing. i picked up some drawer pulls from lowe's and used those as guards for the on/off button as well as the switches for the two front fans (7v/off/12v configuration). the two outlet fans run continuously. something interesting i found out about the front led fans, when run at 7volts, the leds don't light up, useful if you want them on say while you're sleeping.
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Unread 10-09-2003, 12:58 PM   #11
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a nearly finished view showing the fixed cd -rom that was windowed, the ccfl installed, and all bay covers in place (those are actually tinted lexan). all fan covers in place as well. i ended up putting some wire mesh under the grill of the fan on top of the case since i was kinda doubtfull of the effectiveness of the fan grills to stop anything smaller than say someone's fist from being inserted into the fan blades and i didn't want small objects falling into the computer. on a similar note, as you may have noted, both of the side panels are removeable, all other pieces are welded together, pretty sturdy. the side panels attach by way of screwing onto tabs welded to the other panels
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Unread 10-09-2003, 01:02 PM   #12
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and here was my solution to the pci rack problem, a custom built lexan rack. despite it being required by a screwup on my part it looks good. probably fits better than the sheetmetal one would have anyway.
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Unread 10-09-2003, 01:05 PM   #13
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NICE job.
How did you cut the lexan?
How did you make those boxes w/out getting glue everywhere and making it messy?
Is the glue clear?
Did you require any supports to make a 90 degree on the boxes you were making? (ie. the 5 1/4 bay)
What was the total cost of making that thing?
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Unread 10-09-2003, 01:07 PM   #14
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Nicely done Zogthetroll, I've worked with Acrylic in a similar fashion, but not for a full case. Although I have had plans in the works for a while... hmm, where did I put those.
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Unread 10-09-2003, 01:09 PM   #15
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and here it is, the night before it ships off to college with my brother, with all protective wrapping removed and rubber feet installed. its all fired up and good to go. BOOYAA, project finished. i am now officially addicted, hehehe.
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Unread 10-09-2003, 01:13 PM   #16
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and because i know somebody will mention it, here's the obligatory crappy night shot. i say that because i don't have a digital camera so i can't preview my shots, just send them off to the devoloper.
on the plus side, the ccfl makes the rounded cable have this nice glow to them even though they're not reactive.
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Unread 10-09-2003, 01:27 PM   #17
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ok, to answer your questions, the lexan was cut to size where i purchased it, any place that deals with that sort of thing specifically should do that for you free of charge when you order it. that was a HUGE help in ensuring that the sides were square and pretty exact to their overall dimensions. That said, that was only the rough squares & rectangles, all the holes, slots, and openings i cut with a hand saw. the "glue" is actually more of a welding agent, it bonds the two pieces together so its incredibly strong. the process i used to glue the box was to tape the box together how i wanted it, and then run the syringe full of glue (because the stuff is the consistancy of water, similarities end there, the stuff has an odor you wouldn't believe, anyway) along the seam between pieces and the glue is sucked in due to capillary action. and yes, there were one or two spots where i dribbled a bit, but the glue is clear so you only see a slight ripple in the lexan. so as far as supports go, nope, the box supported itself while it was being glued. and lastly, i'm estimating (pretty closely) the overall cost partswise to be around $650, which doesn't include lots of little random nuts & bolts type things. the lexan alone accounted for a little over $100 of the overall cost, not cheap.
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Unread 10-09-2003, 04:39 PM   #18
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VERY nice!

Congrat's on the pro job there, and solving the pci rack prob...I like the see-through cases alot, gonna have to think again about DIY'ing one myself...

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Unread 10-09-2003, 05:32 PM   #19
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Nice job indeed!
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Unread 10-14-2003, 06:29 PM   #20
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Nice job, luve the grillz
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Unread 03-09-2004, 02:12 PM   #21
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GREAT job dude
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Unread 06-24-2004, 08:16 AM   #22
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good work, its always nice to see something that someone has put the time into.
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Unread 06-24-2004, 10:01 AM   #23
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Looks good, nice work!
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