View Full Version : The Matrix: Regenerator

Crimson Sky
03-14-2005, 05:10 PM
Before we move on to the work log I'd like to take a moment to thank the following hardware manufacturers and retail providers, for without their enthusiasm, generosity and vision, this exciting project would not be possible.

Intel Corporation
Via Technologies
MSI Computer
Crucial Micron
Corsair Micro
Altec Lansing
Solarism Display
Danger Den
Logic Supply

The owners and representatives of the companies above have given their trust to my own vision, a vision of art and technology seamlessly blended into works of functional modern art. I hope to live up to their expectations on this project, and once again personally thank them.

-Paul Capello aka "Crimson Sky"

The Concept

The Matrix: Regenerator project is the second in a series of two case mods based on The Matrix movies. The first project, The Matrix: Rebirth 8.0 was a recreation of the scene where machines are breeding humans for their electric power. Regenerator will show the second stage in that breeding process, where adult humans are plugged in to their power plants, dreaming their dream within the Matrix and providing power for the machines. I will not be revealing the entire design, but rather step-by-step until the case is complete.

The Hardware

* Pentium 4 3.2
* MSI 875P Neo Mainboard
* 1 GB Corsair CMX512 3200LL
* Crucial Radeon 9800 Pro 256
* Seagate Barracuda SATA (native) 160GB X3
* Panasonic CW-8122-B 24X Slot Loading DVD-ROM & CD-R/RW
* Creative Labs Audigy2
* Win XP
* Custom Danger Den Maze 4 CPU, GPU, Radeon blocks
* Hydor L30 water pump
* CritiCool PowerPlant PCI Relay Card
* Solarism 17" LCD Monitor LM1730

After removing the drive cage by drilling out the rivets, I have a clean slate to start with in this Enlight desktop ATX case. Next step is begin planning for the various water cooled components. The resevior will be the "Human Battery Pod" as in the pic above. Pink water wetter will provide the proper color.


Planned Hardware integration: * Servo Remote controlled Web Cam (XYZ axis control)
* VFD Display
* Hidden wireless Gyration Keyboard
* Logitech MX 700 Mouse
* U are U Pro Fingerprint Reader
* Coolermaster Aerogate II thermal controller
* 12v Smoke/mist Generator

Here is a pic of early stage profile designing. Once I have the size and look I want I'll duplicate the side panel and construct the case. The housing at the top will have the remote webcam built in, while the bottom of the "L" shape will hold the VFD, Xenarc display, and wireless (removable) keyboard.

The bottom of the desktop case has now become the back:



The footprint of the case is 17" sq, about the size of a desktop styled ATX case. This is the basic shape of the case but the top edges won't be as square.


Case Construction






Crimson Sky
03-14-2005, 05:24 PM
Started the integration of the newly designed Altec Lansing VS4121 speaker system. The tweeters will be mounted on the front curved part of the case, while the drivers will be right behind them and mounted to the bottom of the case, pretty much duplicating the layout of the speaker housing seen on the left. The drivers have a shielding on them, thus eliminating magnetic inteference. The sub woofer that is part of this speaker system will be a separate under-the-desk feature.


The front control panel is complete, just have to make the speaker grilles. The panel will house the Matrix Orbital 2x20 VFD display (rectangle on the left) and the controls for the Altec Lansing speaker system. If you look closely, you can see that I used a spare bezel from a Nexus fan controler to add an interesting shape to the bezel for the power, trebel, bass and volume knobs. To the left and right of the center panel you see the mounting plate for the four tweeters. When working with the white styrene plastic and clear acrylic pieces I give a light coat of primer from time to time in order to better see contours and the progress of the build.






Since the tweeter housings will be sealed I painted a coat of flat black on the inside before installing the speaker grilles. The tweeters will be mounted from the inside of the case with a few dabs of hot glue. (more on that later) The metal speaker grill material is from the stock speakers, cut with snips and slightly curved to fit the shape of the case. These were then glued on from behind.


Bottom part is attached first with industrial epoxy and clamped until cured. I used a heat gun to slightly curve the speaker grille for ease of installation, rather than having to curve a flate piece.


Attached the right speaker just to show how it will all fit together. I also permanently attached the left speaker grille. The speaker driver will be attached to the bottom of the case, and rubber grommets to prevent vibration. The small tweeters also have a rubber ring that will be put back before hotgluing them onto the mounting plates. Will get some kind of sleeving on the speaker wires/cables.


You can see by the black plastic that I used the orginal mounting plate from the speaker.


The finished front end:


Combining a CoolerMaster Cooldrive 4 (sans the harddrive enclosure) with a Panasonic slim combo drive, I created a housing that will integrate into the top of the case. As soon as the layout begins I'll have more pics. I like the Cooldrive 4 because its built really well, has an LCD readout (several color selectable) 4 temp probes and control of 4 fans:



Doing some skinning. This is a technique to creating curves in plastic. Once the frame is completed, I created 1/4 round fins to help hold and form the plastic laminate:


Each layer of plastic laminate is clamped and glued to one another untill a strong shell is made:


Here you can see the framing on the intake/exhaust manifold I'm creating. This manifold will take care of the air cooling part of the case. You can also see the coolermaster and the DVD player in place. It's completely and easily removable for service.


Crimson Sky
03-14-2005, 05:53 PM
Since I'm going to be pouring a couple of gallons of silicone for the Intel project, I wanted to get the 'capsule' part of this project sculpted so I can pour both molds at once. This capsule will house a small human figure like in the movie, and also serve as one of the mod's water resevoirs. This capsule will be mounted on the vertical part of the case and surrounded by all the hoses and wires to replicate the scene from the film. This
capsule will be cast in Smooth-On Crystal Clear 202, which is a water clear,glass-like resin material that sets up in 9 minutes and can be de-molded in 90.

First shot is of the small support structure which is a wooden dowel screwed to a plywood disk. I cut one angled key and one half circle key so the plaster mother mold has some orientation once its in place prior to the silicone pouring:


Chavant CM-70 clay was heated up and roughed out over the support:


Then the capsule starts to take shape. I printed out a few screen caps from the movie as referrence:


The finished capsule. Next step is to make the mold, then pour a hollow slush cast in the clear resin about 1/4" thick.


The mold came out very nicely, with no bubbles or imperfections. The price of the Mold Max 30 really pays off to see rubber of this quality. The plaster and the rubber are now in my oven for a 150 degree F post cure for 6 hours as reccomended by Smooth-On.



Poured two slush coats of Crystal Clear 202 ridged urethane tonight into the mold for the resevoir. I have about 1/8 thickness so far and the goal is 1/4". The tensile strength of this material is 2,500 psi, and the
compression strength is 40,000 psi. Tough stuff!.


Once the resevoir is cast, I will create a back plate from the same material with the brass barbs embedded in the casting. The resevoir and back plate will then be joined using the same material creating a seald tank. There will be a small (nude, female) Super Sculpey figurine 'floating' inside the tank. What I'll probably do is mount this figurine to a piece of plexi and mount that inside prior to sealing it up.


Before the last two coats of clear urethane, I made a disk from 3/16 clear acrylic. This acts as a back plate for mounting the second disk which will have the the two brass barbs. This backplate is completely molded in and sealed to the capsule. The capsule will now have a room temperature post cure for 6 hours followed by a 150 degree F cure in the oven for another 6 hours.




Now that I have a head start on the capsule, I started working on the power/reset button module. Simple push buttons and HDD/Power LEDs are mounted on a removable face plate. The back of the module (the
round part) hovers over a frosted plexi area designed into the top of the case.




Crimson Sky
03-14-2005, 06:29 PM
The roughing out of the case is just about done. After a few more panels are in place its time to start doing the detailing and kit bashing to simulate the Matrix machinery. I created a mounting bracket for the radiator that also doubles as a baffle to draw ambient air in, rather than the warm stuff from the inside of the case. I'll make an intake hole on the side of the case for this.

The small square stock are stand offs to compensate for the shape of the case:


The holes you see in the corners are for acess to the radiator mounting screws:


Here it is in place:


The hinged top is framed out and ready for skinning:


All the panels on the bottom part are bolted and ready for primer after a bit of detailed parts are added:


The top part has been skinned and finished smooth with a couple coats of bondo:


The fit is really nice with a close tolerance:


The USB and Firewire extension brackets on the MSI board were pretty short, and limited the areas where I could mount them. I would have preferred them up front, but oh well..Here I created a housing for them after cutting and fitting the brackets. I over lapped one over the other to make the profile as small as possible.



Here it is mounted on the side of the case.


Another small update. I installed the lid for the compartment that houses a 12" CCFL. I used 6/32 button head socket screws and tapped out the holes. The entire inside of this console was painted with chrome spray paint prior to assembly for good reflective quality.



Started doing some plating and detailing. Raised detail gives texture and dimension to the 'mechanical' feel I'm going for thematicaly. Its really hard to see (and I really hate showing details in progress) before the airbrushing and painting, but here are some pics anyway. The patina will be worn metal with an oily, wet-mechanical look and feel...no shiny gloss this time.




Crimson Sky
03-14-2005, 06:56 PM
It's a water cooled monster. Yeesh. started the 24 hr test lets see how it is by morning. I didnt add the pink water wetter for the test. Still need to wet sand the capsule and then clear coat it for clarity. So far, so dry. ::crosses fingers::





Here is a shot taken during kitbashing. A Kewpie doll to the person who recognizes correctly the models used. Aluminum tubing and styrene plastic tubing also used


Each kitbashing application requires different techniques. If you had a large scale model ( 1/12th scale) like Matrix Regenerator, you would use kits that have large, flat parts that are good for plating, such as aircraft carriers and sci-fi space ships. Smaller scale projects might require tiny detailed parts..and lots of them, like from millitary vehicles, bulldozers, etcetera.

If you look at the screencaps from The Matrix I have on page one, You'll see that I noticed a sort of symetry to the pipes, hoses and mechanics of the Machines. It looks to me like something robotic insects might make...a natural organic and mechanical symetry..but not perfect.

When I've chosen a kit that has suitable parts, I buy atleast 4 of them, so duplicate parts are available if symetry is the goal. Quality kits have quality parts so keep that in mind when figuring out the level of detail you need.

Kitbashing should never be random...parts are laid out and arranged and only the right ones are chosen to be added to the model. When you've done this technique hundreds of times, it goes a bit faster.

Kitbashing is still used by master model makers and goes back to the 60's when plastic kits became readily available. Some of my favorite kitbashed models:

The Nostromo & Sulaco from the Alien movies (Battleship & aircraft parts)

The Death Star (over 200 model kits)

Star Wars Speeder Bike ( Made almost entirely from a WW2 P-41 Mustang & motorcycle kits)


Finally the last couple days I was able to complete the project...Here are a couple pics of the capsule. The entire system is up and running great, but needs a bit of detail painting and drybrushing. These pics arent the best, just the case on my worktable.












I added a few drops of red food dye to punch up the pink color inside the capsule..I think it looks much better!!