[Scratch Build] Acid Steam Punk case build

Hello Teksyndicate

here is the build log for my new case probject, this is a massive project and it will probably take me a good few months to finish this build, but as always i will try to keep this post as up to date as possible.

Here is some of the concept models i crudely made in sketchup.

another view from the front

The theme for this one is to make it all from wood, a plywood frame for strength and rigidity then finish the outside with hardwood. for the hard wood i have purple heart wood (which is actually purple in real life without even being stained) and afromosia, which im going to make into an alternating layer laminate. This build is also going to be liquid cooled, but since cooling blocks are so ridiculously expensive im going to make my own on the milling machine.

Work begins:

After almost a year of looking for various things, i have finally started the build. here is a first look at the frame with 2 hotswap bays i got from a server.

another view from the front

some details on the, the radiator at the bottom: it's from a beckman centrifuge from the 1970s, it pretty huge at 40cm long, 30cm wide and about 6cm high (without cover). im still in the process of fitting fan mounts to it so i can run 6 12cm coolermaster R4 fans inside it.

note the purple heart wood on the front, its actually purple untreated. haha, the only problem with it is that it turns brown over time with UV exposure, so it needs to be painted with a UV resistant varnish

as for the hot swap bays they didnt look all the great so i repainted them to look slighly more steampunk

Since the original backplane for the hotswap bay was some SCSI thing, so i had to make a new one from scratch, here is a pic with HDD installed. the connectors are male to female SATA power and data, they go for about $2 each on Ebay. they also had to be drilled out to 4mm to fit the threaded bar. Hot swap complete, just needs to be installed


next i sorted out the tube display, this still needs a tonne of work so that it looks decent and fits properly, here are some pics.

and with the valves fitted

The plan is to have the tubes light up using their 6.3V heating elements with a thermistor to prevent current inrush.

I have made the side pannels and the basic shape out line for the 5.25 inch bay, the profiles still need to be cut out and the edges neatened up.

Custom making hardwood planks for fittings from rough timber is no joke, it took me an entire day just to make 4 planks let alone fit them.

side view, the plywood on the sides still needs to be cladded with hardwood, but this is a very time consuming process, but hopefully i will have an update soon. 4 big aluminium feet that i salvage from some piece of equipment have been added to the base

I was going to use brass screws but they are just too soft and get chipped and tear easily, so i have opted for stainless steel instead so it will still look good, still soft but not as bad as brass.

With new sandpaper for the belt sander, the massive task or squaring up rough wood and cutting around 30 8mm strips could begin. this was a massive task. i have glued the strips on to the ply wood side panels, but there is still tonnes of work to do in terms on sanding them to the correct thickness, im still trying to find out what the best way is to do this.

I have also been working on some pieces to cover the holes at the front. im making them out of purple heart wood. it has been tricky to get them to fit nicely

I will try to answer any questions and reply to comments.

Work will stop for a few months as i need to write up my masters thesis and i will be out of town. but im hoping work will continue sooner rather than later.

Liquid Cooling:

i most likely going to use gas or air compressor fittings and maybe some copper pipe in the loop.

For the reservoir i was going to use the tradiational perspex, but perspex is very expensive and hard to come by here in South Africa, but as i was looking for brass decorations for the build i came across this 2.5inch brass shell casing from 1924 for 70 ZAR (about $7), its really easy to solder, drill and tap brass, so im going to make it into the resrvoir for my build

On the radiator front:

this is a radiator from a beckman floor standing refrigerated centrifuge, if it was good enough for a centrifuge that cost over ZAR 100 000 (about $10 000) new, then its good enough for me. it doesnt look very nice so i made a cover for it, in which 6 120mm cooler master R4 fans are mounted. the copper pipe for the outlets are 3/8 inch

The cover, this would have been a lot easier to make with a sheet metal bender lol

The green LEDs on, also part of the "acid" theme

The reservior still requires the a follower so i can mount it in the lathe, working on modding one from a different lathe, so i can drill the correct holes for the fittings.

The pump arrived, cheap chinese one, but it packs a punch for a small pump, i sleeved the ugly 3 stand cable with some neon green paracord 550. this is a nice pump because it can be speed controlled like a 3 wire fan

I think it will look really cool once it's finished. Are those one of those old valves that can display single digits and letters? Displaying temps and speeds? That will really fit the theme better than LEDs. 

Keep posting pics and good luck

thanks man will do

those valves are triodes and diodes, they are mainly used for amplification or current rectification respectivly. the ones with the letters/numbers are called nixie tubes, they run on 110 to 200 odd volts DC at low current which is a little dangerous, i would love to have a nixie tube set up to display temps etc, but the problem with them is that you need a massively complex control circut to get them to do that (sadly far about my electrical know how) i will post you a pic of the control boards for some nixie tubes i salvaged, its pretty crazy

Looks amazing I'm just wondering with the reservoir made of brass what are your radiators going to be made from, since I personally wouldn't feel great having different metals in a loop.

Oh I didn't know that. Would've been really cool if you could figure it out. I just noticed that the little ones look like 12AX7, is it going to be an inbuilt audio amp?

looks real good. i guess with paint you can make anything look like metal. looking foward to progress.

They are ECC88s a 12AX7 equivalent, well spotted. i think i will leave out the amp hey, i own studio monitors. but a valve amp would be schweeeet.

i still need to remember to take a pic of those nixie control circuts for you.

speaking of nixies, i did some digging and it turns out that there is a guy who makes a nixie control shield for the arduino. that makes it 1000 times easier to display temps, fan speeds, time, all kinds of things, if you are interested here is the link to his website: http://arduinix.com/ best to build the circut youself from the PCB, you can save quite a bit of cash that way

So my nixie control PCB and ardunio are on their way to me.

i hear you on the metals front. i had to do a ton of reading up. i do have an aluminium radiator, i can either put something lower on the galvanic series of reactivity in the loop, or the best solution i have seen is to use a racing car anti corrosive additive in the water since racing cars have a lot of aluminium parts in their raditors loops. you cant stop corrosion, you can only do your best ot slow it down

well the HDD hot swap bay is made entirely of mild steel :P lol, yeah but paint can do wonders. though something tells me i shouldve invested in some primer too

Nixie clock and other displays:

So it turns out they make a shield for the ardunio that can multiplex nixies, so i bought the PCB from http://arduinix.com/index.html and some tubes, sockets and ICs from the Russians and Ukrainians.

I still need a few more things to finish the PCB but since i bought the componenets locally some of the parts have been ahrd to find, though it was way cheaper than the kit it has been a lot of hassle.

I managed to win some Russian made IN-12B tubes cheaply on an Ebay auction. they are the ones im using for the clock.

I also bought 6 sockets and 6 of the Russian made ICs (KM155ID1) they can be like $7 each if you buy them individually, so look for a bulk deal.

I also grabbed a couple of these IV-15 VFD tubes as they glow a cool blue colour when wired up, but i have had to ask one of my electrical engineering buddies for a hand since it's not straight forward to wire them up.

The code for the shield/ardunio is all open source so once i have finished it, i will have to do some experiments and keep you guys posted. this is still a long way from being done by any means, it will prob be 4 months till everything that i need to complete it has arrived