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Casemod Project: "Strobe" - Building new case from scratch

diy
casemod
#1

Heyyyy everyone!

TLDR I’m building myself a computer case. Come and take a look if you are interested. :slight_smile:

I started to build my second computer case in 2012, and this has been kind of an ongoing project since then. I used to work on this during summer breaks, but for the past 3 years I haven’t done anything to this. I’m now on holiday for few weeks, and decided to continue working on this, maybe even get the case done, so that I can start planning new projects. :wink:

Originally, I was going to use custom watercooling loop to cool CPU, but my plan for now is to modify this case to use regular aircooling. Also, my original intention was to make custom I/O plate for GPU, which I did for my GTX 570, but after I upgraded to 1060 I decided to modify the case so that I can install graphics cards without having to make custom I/O plates each time.

Imgur

When I started to plan out this case, I wanted to use the hardware I already had (2500k, mATX motherboard and GTX 570), snice I had just upgraded my computer in 2011, and didn’t want to invest money for new hardware back then. Goal for this project was to build small case for existing hardware that wouldn’t take too much space on my desk. CPU and motherboad are still running as my main rig, GPU got upgraded to 1060 in 2017. For storage, my plan was to use 120gb ssd and laptop HDD for local storage and dump all media and other data to separate file server. Well, since SSD prices are much more affordable than in 2012, I will use only SSDs for local storage. Currently I can install two 2,5 inch drives, but I’ll see if I can make space for a total of four 2,5 drives.

Anyway, I try to chronologically document where is started and where I’m now. I’ve lost some of the pictures for some things I’ve done, so there might be some gaps in my workflow. AND since this case project has been going on for years it’s hard to remember every detail, so I might skip some things that might be interesting to some of you. If there’s things you want to have more pictures of better explanation, just ask! :slight_smile:

Some of my original ideas have since changed or discarded, but I’ll document them here anyway in case someone else could use them in their own projects.

HEY! What’s up with that project name?
I used to post my worklogs to other forum, where users named their projects. I took names for my projects from music. Strobe is a song by Deadmau5

This was the original plan. PSU is mounted on top of the CPU.

In the beginning the case looked like this. Just some 3mm aluminium plates and aluminium L-profile. At first my plan was to attach all plates together using alu L-profile, but later I noticed this method was not strong enough.

Starting to look something. Bellow you can see where the SSD/HDDs was meant to be placed. Drives are mounted with rubber grommets since I wanted to reduce the noise that spinning disks might cause, but now this is unnecessary since all drives are solid state drives.

Holes for the I/O.

Motherboard tray

And here’s all put back together. I’ve lost the pictures for cutting the opening for bottom fans, but tbh it’s nothing special really.

I’ll continue posting more once I get more pictures sorted out and resized. :slight_smile:

20 Likes

Badge giver
#2

Sweet, this is great. Looking forward to the next steps.

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#3

Nice project!
DIY-ing a case is harder than it seems (speaking from experience).

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pinned #4

2 weeks

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#5

I have this thread set to monitor.

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#6

Thanks for the encouragement everyone! :slight_smile:

It is, and it would help a lot if I would be better at planing. Or wouldn’t change my mind or focus of the project. :smiley: I should try to learn some proper CAD program, that should help a lot with the planing.


Alright, another picture dump incoming!

Here’s some pictures for making the ventilation opening to the top of the case. I used some basic mesh I was able to find at the hardware store.

And I also made hole to the motherboard tray. Should make attaching CPU coolers easier.

This is one of the ideas that I might or might not end up using. I wanted to hide the front I/O somehow and putting the USB connectors under the case seemed like a good idea. I now have one USB extension mounted to my desk, so I don’t really have any need for front I/O.

Since I wasn’t going to use reservoir in my water cooling loop, I had to use fill port. My first idea was to put the fill port for the water cooling on top of the case, to make it easy to add cooling fluid if needed.

After this I changed my mind and decided to hide the fill port inside the case, since I didn’t want it to be obvious how the computer is cooled. Both of these fillport placements are now unnecessary.

As I mentioned earlier, using aluminium L-profile to assemble the case was not strong enough. I noticed the case wasn’t holding up because I couldn’t attach side panels to the case once I had installed heavy PSU inside the case. I replaced some of the L-profile joints with some solid 15mm x 15mm aluminium rod. With these new joints I was able to connect both the front and back panel and either top or bottom plate to the same sold piece of aluminium, and this made the whole case a lot studier than before. Now the case does not give in even one millimetre when all the hardware is installed inside.

More later. :slight_smile:

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#7

Looking good! Stuff like this reminds me what makes LVL1 great

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#8

Glad you like my work. One reason why I’m posting my stuff here to encourage others to share their casemods as well. :slight_smile:


Since I managed to make custom I/O plate for my GTX 570, thought I’d try if I could make custom I/O plate for motherboard as well. It wasn’t that difficult actually, but I unfortunately couldn’t get the piece to look as good as I wanted. Don’t know if the needle file set I have is bad, or then I just suck. :smiley:

Work in progress

I/O plate looks better with masking tape on. Once I removed the tape I saw all the imperfections.

I placed one thin 120mm fan to the top of the case, since I was worried the hot air would not get exhausted well enough without any active fans. This will also be one of those things that won’t get into the final build, but at least I have backup fan if I ever need any active exhaust. My current plan is to put two 120mm fans to the front of the case and let the positive pressure get rid of the hot air.

At first I had extra panel only in front of the case, to hide all the mess and screw holes from the front plate, err, I mean the front plate that all the stuff gets attached… You probably know what I mean. :smiley:

Since I didn’t like how asymmetrical the case looked with two panels in front of the case, I decided to make extra panel to the back of the case as well.

And here is pictures about the front panel. This is actually the second version of the front panel. First one was just a simple piece of 3mm aluminium, but since it looked really plain and boring, I made new one. I’m not sure if this second edition looks any more interesting, but at least there’s some detail in it now. :smiley:

The new version is 2mm + 1mm aluminium plates sandwiched together. My first plan was to use a router and make small grooves to the panel, but since I didn’t have access to router that can handle aluminium, I made the panel from two separate pieces.

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#9

Nice work man. I enjoy the precision in your work.

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#10

How tf did i miss this thread till now? Jolly good stuff.

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#11

Nice thread. I love DIY stuff.

Is the final look going to be the bare aluminium or you are going to do some paint/graphic design ?

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#12

Thanks! :slight_smile:

To be honest I have no idea. At the moment my plan is to paint this, but I have to wait until weather gets warmer. It’s currently about +5 Celsius here, which is too cold for me to sand the panels.

I could do what I did with my previous case and just sand the panels go give it sort of brushed look.

I thought I’d post this to the lounge if someone in there might be interested, but, well, I didn’t. :smiley:

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#13

looks great nice job. you should make an extra or 2 and try to sell the design to lian li or some other high end manufacture they just might like it enough to buy the rights to it.

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#14

TBH It never crossed my mind that I would sell this to anyone, but knowing how much work I’ve already put into this I’m not sure if want to make any extras. I’d rather use the time to build something new. :smile:

And this case design is not entirely unique, I got inspiration for the exterior design from another case mod.

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#15

things are generally faster the second time around. the first time is trial and error. the second time is streamlining the process. the third time is finding shortcuts for efficiency. but i totally get it

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#16

Sorry for the lack of updates, I spent last week pretty intensively in the workshop and didn’t have time to sort out any more pictures. Let’s fix that now! :slight_smile:

I did make custom wires for my Seasonic PSU, but I’ve since then learned that Seasonic uses some technique to monitor voltages, and custom wires might hamper that. I don’t know exactly how that works, I just remember Wendell mentioning about it in one of his videos.

Anyway, here is some pictures about the wires. Remember that these will not used with the new PSU. I might make new PSU wires for the new Corsair sfx PSU, but let’s see if there is any need for it. If I do end up making new custom wires I really have to buy better wire crimping tool that can handle Molex wire terminals. The crimping tool I have right now is horrendously bad, since it keeps breaking terminals all the time.

Testing if the Seasonic PSU works before using my own wires with it. That way I know who to blame if the blue smoke makes grand appearance. :smile:

If I make new wires, I might not use any wire sleeve with them, since it just makes wires much stiffer and thicker and that just complicates wire management in small cases.

Here’s my temporary soldering station in my sister’s old room, hence the fabulous wall colour. :smiley:

Since the Molex crimping tool was garbage I had to be creative, and jerry rig wires from old PSUs. I had bunch of old PSUs lying around, so I cut wires from them, soldered them together and VOILA, new wires!

Here is the power switch for the case. It’s just plain and simple switch I bought from car repair shop. I didn’t worry about the switch too much since it will not be visible.

Since I will keep the case on my desk, I can mount the power switch at the bottom of the case. Here is the switch with mounting bracket.

And here’s picture where the switch will be placed. Out of sight, out of mind. :slight_smile:

You can also see the new fan mount, which will be up next!

Here’s one picture with all the hardware mounted according to the old plan.


Everything thus far was done between 2012-2017. Now we can get to the stuff I’ve been working for the past two weeks!

Let’s start with new fan bracket. First I cut a piece of 2mm aluplate.

And testing it to the front of the case. Case is front side up in the following two pictures.

I did cut the hole for the fans to the front of the case as well. Reason why the hole is bigger on the lower half is because that used to be the hole for the old HDD/SSD holder.

Holes cut and bracket attached to the case. Fan bracket is attached inside of the case because I will attach the fans with anti-vibration mounts from Noctua. I didn’t find the exact model but they are like these, just shorter:

https://noctua.at/en/products/accessories/anti-vibration/na-sav4

Anyway, bracket is mounted to the inside of the case since those Noctua fan mounts will not be completely flush with the outside surface. Why I need the front of the case to be flush without any protrusions? WELL I’M GLAD YOU ASKED! :slight_smile: I will make custom removable dust filter! More on that little later, I got distracted while making it and didn’t take proper pictures. It’s almost midnight already so I’ll post more pictures tomorrow.

Here’s the last picture for the fan bracket. Those extra notches and holes at the top and bottom of the bracket will make room for the dust filter’s mounting solution.

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#17

Seeing you make those fan openings, how did you cut them?
I will soon be in a similar situation and don’t want to f up.

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#18

I used regular jig saw and my collection of metal files. :slight_smile:

After drawing the desired shapes to the plate drilled some holes with 8mm drill so that I can fit the blade of the jig saw inside the shape I want to cut out.

This picture is from when I cut the opening for the roof of the case, but the process was similar with the fan holes.

image

Fan bracket is made from 2mm aluminium, and in my opinion that can still be cut with jig saw. Just make sure you clam the piece close enough to the sturdy surface so that the material will not bend. And remember to keep in mind where the surface, like the table top is when cutting! Otherwise you might end up cutting in to the table and that’s not good.

If the material is thinner than 2mm, let say 1mm, you can cut that with a Dremel tool. You can cut 2mm aluminium with Dremel as well, but that is just slower, and I’m impatient. :slight_smile:

For example this hole was cut using a Dremel, and the material was 1mm thick.

image

And REMEMBER to use protective gear when cutting! Safety first.

I’m not sure if you wanted so detailed post but, oh well… :smile:

EDIT:

I forgot to share this:

http://www.stillthinking.com.au/cutting.html

Australian guy named Attila has really good guides for metalworking and his case projects were the single biggest inspiration for me to start making cases. :+1:

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#19

Exactly what I was looking for, thanks very much.

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#20

Shroud for the dust filter was cut from 1mm aluminium sheet.

Here I’m testing how the filters will fit to the shroud. Idea is I will use two of Silverstone magnetic dust filters, and either glue of some other way attach them to the aluminium shroud. That way the dust filters can be removed and cleaned at the same time. I’ve used these filters before, and since I think they work really well I decided to use them again.

Initial plan was to either 3D print some rails for the dust filter shroud, so that I can slide it in and out. Then I thought if I could make the rails out of aluminium, but in the end I figured quite easy solution for this. I will use screws that are intended to be countersink to the material. I just won’t use them as intended. :slight_smile:

Here’s pictures of what I mean:

Screws will act as a “lip” that will hold the dust filter shroud in place. Two screws on top, two at the bottom and one on the side to act as a stop, to make sure somebody I will not push the dust filter too deep.

Here’s few pictures how the whole thing turned out eventually. I ended up attaching the dust filters with thin double sided tape. Seems to be working well enough. Originally I thought of using epoxy glue. However, if I ever want to replace the dust filters I would have to redo the whole filter shroud, since I believe it would not be possible to remove epoxy glued filters without damaging the filter shroud in the process. That’s why I think the double sided tape works better here.

The small “handle” is made out of aluminium L-profile. It is glued to the shroud using epoxy glue.

I used these filters:

https://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=393&area=en

And here’s the dust filter in its place at the front of the case with the outer front panel removed. And please ignore those new Noctua fans, time for those will come later. :wink:

And short video to demonstrate how the filter is removed and put back in. I had to make new spacers that will go between the two front panels, but considering I used TWO FULL DAYS to make those damn spacers I will post an update for them tomorrow. And its already over midnight, again. FUUU--

6 Likes