View Full Version : Origami

12-31-2006, 04:10 AM
Hello. Iíve been watching this forum for a bit and I think the people here are top notch modders. Thought Iíd post the plans and progress for my new system here and see if you all had any input for me.

Hereís the short of it: Iím a professional graphic designer (actually an Ďart directorí) I got into modding 3 years ago when I built my last systemÖand loved it. Itís time for a new system. Basically my use of a computer is purely for the professional purposes of doing design work. Massive amounts of vector illustrations, photoshop, web/flash, and some 3d design. I donít game. My full time gig is as an art director at a sign manufacturer. I have access to dozens of plastics, computer controlled routers, lasers, vinyl plotter and every manner of saw and drill around. Soooo I think itís time to build a case from scratch. Iím easily and expert plastics fabricator (and modest too) so I think Iíll try my hand at an acrylic case. Iím also a bit obsessive about good planning. Youíll see what I mean below. (and please be kind, Iím by no means a great 3d modeler)

Hereís what Iím thinking:


Basically what youíre seeing is an acrylic box held together with some fancy aluminum hardware. The cylindrical sections at the corners are a 1.25Ē dia aluminum extrusion with (2) 3/8Ē channels at 90 degrees to each other. (4) ľĒ thick acrylic panel go between these to make a box. Theyíre held in place by a rubber gasket inside the channel. The side are also larger pieces of acrylic held to the ends of the extrusions by way of 4 Ďcapsí (think of them as really fancy bolts) They pass through the side panels and thread into the aluminum extrusions. The fancy hardware is made by a company called Gyford that I use in a lot of sign designs (http://www.standoffsystems.com/)


Most of the visible acrylic Iím using here is a reverse engrave type. Basically Itís a ľĒ thick piece of clear with a thin layer of black fused to one side of it. The graphics on the out side of the case will be engraved out of the black layer (but donít go really any deeper than that) which basically makes them clear. Iíll be using blue CC lighting on the inside, which will light up like crazy when it shines through the panel. I did this on a case I build for a Theremin a few friends built and it worked great (see below) Yes, I know it doesnít have a windowÖIím actually not crazy about seeing the inside of a case.


Iím trying something a little strange on the fans. Iíd like to try and move air in/out of the case by moving it through a vent just behind the outer graphic panels. Iíll take a piece of ĹĒ acrylic and cut it like a comb. Then Iíll use a layer of 1/8Ē acrylic, cut 120mm holes in it, and mount an array of fans to pull/push air through the vent. Itíll restrict the airflow a little, but thereís (7) 120ís in there, which is plenty of movement. The 3 fans at the front (right side) pull fresh air in. The 2 in the middle (right next to cpuís and video card) exhaust hot air. The fan just above those, Iím not sure on. FB-RAM gets super hot, and Iíll just have to test if I want it to pull or push. The 7th fan, which is not really shown is a 120 in the PSU. It blow up, and Iíll have to add vent on the top panel to let the air out there (also not rendered). Iíll regulate the fans so the in fans are going fast than the out fans. Iím on the Ďpositive pressureí side of the airflow argument. The nice thing about the case design is that it is very well sealed (no unnecessary holes), so the positive-p theory could work very well (or at least test the theory on a sealed case)Öand hey less dust is great.


The hard drives and opticals are mounted on clear acrylic panels which then mount to top/bottom panels of the box. This again is some fancy hardware. Basically just an aluminum gripper that bolts on the case panel and holds the acrylic panel with a set screw. The mobo is mounted onto a hollow acrylic box. The box then mounts to the rear panel of the case. This does two things: Letís me pull the whole mobo easily (just remove back panel) and the space inside the box makes for a nice easy place to stash cables. The heat sinks on the Xeons mount to the case (not the mobo), so Iíll need to find some way to hook them to the box, but Iím not too worried about that.


Iím also a bit of minimalist when it comes to hardware. Iím only planning for one optical drive, and the only card Iím using is the video card. The rear of the computer is sealed except for the i/o plate, the psu opening and one PSI (for the gpu). Iím doing a classic stealth job on the optical drive. Itís simple and Iíve always liked this mod. The little twist here is that Iím using it to cover the bay above the optical when will hold a digidoc. I like having temp monitoring and fan control, but once itís all set, I donít want to look at it all the time. I know thatíll send some people running in terror, but really I donít mind.


So thatís the idea. I think itíll look hot. I think itíll weight a ton (that much acrylic is HEAVY)Öand hopefully the strange fan system will work out. The fabrication is pretty straight forward ( I do stuff like this everydayÖreally) So whatís inside:

Dual Xeon Woodcrest 5130ís @ 2.0 ghz
SuperMicro x7DAL-E Mobo
4gb Crucial FB-RAM
Silverstone ST75F 750w PSU
PNY VCQFX1500 Quadro 256mb GPU
150gb Raptor HD (system)
(2) 500gb Caviar HD (storage, Raid 0=1tb)

This is a design workstation. Of course this could be higher spec, so if anyone wants to mail me a few ClovertonsÖIíll give you my address. Iíll keep this log updated as things progress. Iíll start ordering parts and materials at the end of this week. Let me know what you all think. Suggestions are very welcome (itís just pixels right now)

Happy new year:banana:

PS: if youíd like to see my last system: http://www.xoxideforums.com/case-gallery/3015-hive-complete.html?highlight=hive

12-31-2006, 04:22 PM
i... can't... help myself...
it's not new year yet here, and i said i would refrain from posting till then.... :| but HELL!!! this is a kick ass project! and the graphics are sweet :)
i think the idea is very good (the slits for intakes... woot), but there are still some things you could improve on.. and go wayyy overkill in the process :D

1st, use bigger, as in thicker, plexi for the intake/exhaust panels.. and, seeing that u have the necessary equipment, to improve on the weight issue, simply remove material from unneeded sections.. and use that space too>> lights :)

2nd, even though the airflow and case looks kick ass, why not going with a 3.120 x2 radiator/fans setup.. like, water cooling? there are some new slim radiators on the market and maybe, just maybe you can re-design the interior to fit them.. from outside, the nice model will be unchanged, but inside, the thermal conditions will be far better.. also, budging some water cooling for the ram (fb.. nice.. i wish i had the money and time.. :( i respect u, man!) would make them happier (either use a thermaltake or koolance or homemade block) :)

3rd.. i love this!!!

I'm subscribing (and expecting a steady progress;)) as i think there is lots i (errrm.. we) can learn from you :)

and a HAPPY NEW YEAR to all!

01-01-2007, 11:11 PM
thanks for the positive response all. I'm way excited to get started.

dgrmkrp: Actually the original design was WC'd. I eventully pulled away from the idea because of cost and reliability issues. Water cooling dual prosessor systems really adds up. Also I've never done a WC and I'm sure I'll screw it up, which I really can't afford to do concidering I need the system for work. Howuuuuver...I think the system I'm using right now (HIVE) would be a prime candidate for WC once I've got Origami up and running. OC those old xeons and cool em with water...we'll see

armadilloben: I'm a little worried about the fan noise too. 3 things: 1) thick acrylic is a good insulator of sound and case is well sealed. 2) 120 are pretty low noise as it, and I'll be running them at a lower RPM 3) I need really good fans. That being said. Anyone have any suggestions. I was looking at these, but I can't find anyone with any in stock: http://www.frozencpu.com/products/5229/fan-258/SilenX_120x120x25mm_-_11dBA_-_46CFM_iXtrema_Pro_Fan_IXP-74-11.html?tl=g36c15s550&id=BM23b4Fy
Anyone know where to find them? or something better...that isn't $20 each

The models were all done in 3d Studio Max V7. It's pretty robust and has a ton a features I don't understand. Modeling a case is pretty easy though...basically just boxes with different materials and skins applied. V7 isn't the current version, but it seems to work fine for me. Check your local torrent server for further details. This is first case I've designed in a 3d program, and I really can't recommend it enough. The version you're seeing is about the 5th-6th one. You really learn alot about how you're about to screw up all that plastic when you can look at the thing from every angle. An early version had all (well most) the wiring rendered...but then I felt like a freak and deleted it...but you could take it this far.

nocturnal: love your sig graphic

I'm ordering parts this week. Please keep feedback coming.

01-15-2007, 02:36 AM
Hey all. Hereís the first official progress update on Origami. Sorry the for the delay, but I had nothing ordered when I posted those plans. (this is not a bad thing, itís good to sit on your plans for bit before you start pushing the button on 100ís of dollars of materialsÖ)

Fans and switches are in.


So the only things more ugly than a Noctua fan is SIX Noctua fans! These things are top notch quality, but painfully ugly. Iíll get a can of vinyl dye to them shortly. Big thanks to Moddersmart.com for having the sense to carry these and for shipping them out.

The vandal resistant switches will be used for the power/reset. I originally planned to put them on the back (how often to you really use those buttons), but these switches are just too hot, so theyíll find a home on the front panel. Anyone ever use these before? There are four connectors on the bottom; I assume two are for the switch and two are to power the blue led on the inside. Iím just not sure which is which. Also no sure how Iím going to power the led.
The connections are arranged like this:

Also got my fancy aluminum hardware in from Gyford. These kind of things make me very happy.
Hereís the edge of the extrusions used on to hold the corners of the box together
You can see the two channels used the hold the edges of the box there. Also notice the center hole is not tapped. The vender wanted another 50 bucks to tap those for me, so I value engineered and decided to do it on my own. This is a manual die and tap set:
Basically you just screw one of those drill bit looking pieces (tap) down in to the hole which treads the inside. The very hard part here is to keep it straight. My technique is lubricate the tap (silicone spray) then crank in a 1quarter turn, rotate the piece being tapped, and repeat. This lets you keep adjusting the tap to make sure itís going in straight. Itís actually pretty tricky and Iím sure thereís a better way, but it worked for me.

Now for the plastic. Spent hours at the shop last night engraving the graphic side panels and the one of the vent panels. The plan on the vent panels is to go as big as I can. Iím shooting for 1Ē. Problem being 1Ē acrylic way to expensive for me. Iíve scavenged up a large piece of scrap 1Ē but itís 16Ē x 48Ē. That wonít make one 20Ēx20Ē vent panel. Iím going to make one panel out of this in two pieces and seem them back together. Iíll use this for the left side vent which is actually painted black around the edges. Hopefully that will hide the seem. Iíll make the right vent panel out of (4) pieces of ľĒ clear acrylic (thus 1Ē) and glue all the panels together. This panel is clear on the edges and there is no way to make them look like one solid piece, but I think the 4 even layers will still look very nice.

Hereís a shot of both engraves working. One is on the graphic panel the other (with heavy router head) cutting the ľĒ acrylic for the vent.

Even equipment this nice has itís problems. The router is so strong it vibrates the ďfingersĒ on the vent, and this causes the edges to chip because the pieces is bouncing around. There are 21 fingers per vent (times 4 panels) this is a lot of cutting


Hereís a tight shot of the chipped edgesÖgrrr


Fortunately no one will ever see those parts. All the outside edges are very clean and smooth. Theyíll get a proper flame polish this week.

I took the suggestion to do a little weight reduction on the vents. I took out a large chuck in the middle. Each ľĒ panel weighs 7 lbs. The chuck I took out weighs 4 lbs. The other side made of solid 1Ē should weight the same so that just saved me 32 lbs! (but this is still going to be a very heavy case). Hereís all four panels. They still need to be cleaned, glued and polished on the edges. Iíll be working on the solid 1Ē panel later this week.

The graphic panels also had some mixed results. Just so you know it took about and hour and half to take my original vector drawings and prep them for engraving. The koi on the top panel took the most work. I started the two large panels 9:30 pm and they were still cutting at 2:30 when I walked out. Hereís the engraver doing itís thing


Basically whatís happening is the engraver is loaded with a fine tipped conical bit. It just goes back and forth filling in the shapes I give it on the computer. (like you would color in a coloring bookÖif youíre into that sort of thing) The blade is cutting through a thin layer of black on the back side of the material, which is clear except for that thin layer.


All this was going very well, until I walked in this morning. (FYI, these engraver run unattended all the time) It seems at some point in the last hour of engraving the machine decided to die. Basically just stopped as it was almost finished. The right side panel was done, but it still has a few wavy lines for the left

This sucks, but I think I can save it. I hand cut the pieces out from the larger sheet. I checked them against the vent panels, and I actually got them out square and correct size. Iíll just need to round the corners and add holes for the end caps. I should be able to put the left panel back on the engraver to finish the missing linesÖonce it gets working again. That said, the graphic panels are going to look great. This will give you an idea of what the light will look like coming through them.


that's all for now. Thanks for the great advice. I'm wiped....

01-24-2007, 01:52 AM
Another weekend working on origami

The goal was to recut the graphic panels that got jacked last weekend (when the engraver asploded), complete the vent panels and to a test fit to see how close to crazy I am.

I spent some time optimizing my files for the graphic panels, and recut those with success. No pics of the process, but youíll see the results in a bit.

Vent panels weíre the main fabrication focus. I wanted to make two 1Ē thick vents, but I had a bunch of ľĒ acrylic a 16Ē x 48Ē piece of 1Ē thick. Last post saw me cutting (4) ľĒ panels. Iím going to glue all those together. For the 1Ē, Iíd just have to make the panel in two parts and join it in the middle.

Making a 1Ē panel. Please keep in mind that this panel only needs to be clear to get light out to the graphic panels on outside of the box. This is going to be ugly

Meet Mr. Weld-On.
Weld On is a water-thin acrylic glue readily available from any plastic vendor. Chemically itís almost acrylic. It glues things by stealing a few molecules from the acrylic you apply it to, and turns itís self into acrylic. In skilled hands it makes very strong almost invisible bonds. Uhhh, thatís no me, but no one can see the glued areas in the finished case. To make the 1Ē panel, I stacked the four ľĒ panels and glued the hell out of them.
Basically just flood the top of the panel with weld on, then stick the next panel on top.
The vent fingers hand to be glued individually. This is easy because the glue is so thin and comes out of a needle applicator.
Once all four panel we glued together, I ran a line of glue down the seem of all the edges. Water-thin adhesives will flow into the tiniest openings. (actually called capillary action) This just made sure I got a good bond all the way to the edges. As you can see, it makes the acrylic pretty ugly.

For the 1Ē acrylic, I had the vent cut as two pieces and then joined in the middle with a plate
You might notice on face is pretty ugly. The piece of 1 inch I had was really old and the masking paper had stuck to it. I had to sand off the paper residue. This really isnít important because you only ever see this piece from the edge. (and the edge is flame polished and damn pretty)

To increase the strength of this part I didnít have the vent fingers cut all the way through.

I also had two of these parts made. Itís like a mini version of the large vent panel made for one 120mm fan. I donít really have any plans for them, but had some extra room on the piece I was cutting. Hotness!


Also assembled the fan mount panels. This are 1/16 clear with 120mm holes in them. I powered up one of the Noctua fans, and I was blown away. These are the quietest fans Iíve ever (not) heard. I couldnít hear it over the fans in my current computer. Iíve got no worry about putting 6 of these a computerÖitís not going to be loud. Also I think the 90 degree vent will do a lot to dampen any noise from inside the case. Noctua also provides these neat little rubber mounting pins for the fans. I assume these cut down on vibration.

Last step before the test assembly was to paint the channel gaskets for the corner pieces. This is ďUĒ shaped rubber gasket the grippes the ľĒ material used in the top/front/bottom/back panels and then slips into the 3/8Ē channels in the corner pieces. It only comes in grey, so I used some vinyl dye to paint it.
This is how it works in the corner piece
As you can see this is going to leave the system very well sealed. Thatís good considering I want positive air pressure.

The test fit went very well. Everything fits and Iím a happy boy. Even with all the modeling, I didnít realize how big this thing really is. The thick side panels give this buff look to the box. I like it!

The array of circles is a semi-passive vent. The Silverstone PSU Iíll be using has a 120 that blows straight up. The holes vent the hot air from the PSU and pull out any heat trapped at the top of the case

I do have some concerns. I hooked up a test PSU to test the fans and lightingThe 90 degree vents are a little fussy. They actually seem to exhaust air better with the fans running at 5v instead of 12v. I think the 12v pushes more air than the vent can move, so it ďbouncesĒ air back into the case. Iíll need to test this more once the case and content are more complete. Any thoughts? The intake side seemed fine and pulled a healthy amount of air in. The side panles donít seem to diffuse as much light as I thought. I tested with 2 (there will be 6) lights and you could make out shadows of the fans on the graphic panel. I might need to sand the acrylic layer more or sandblast it to make it scatter the light more.

Well thatís all for this update. Questions? Ideas?

01-24-2007, 09:34 PM
Looking great so far. I can't help but say I'm totally floored by the craftsmanship behind the project. This reminds me of the first time I saw your Hive mod, and the first time I had to wipe up a puddle of drool from my desk.

I can't help but contain my envy as I look at it, it just looks too cool. Those fans are truly great, I'm probably going to pick up a few for my next project.

In terms of a few suggestions/comments...

-Dust shouldn't be that bad, I can just see some unsightly accumulation over time in those channels. I think it should be okay for now, but cleaning should be a simple yearly process in any case (no pun intended).

-You're probably encountering some resistance from pushing so much air through such a little opening. 5v should work and should be a bit quieter without doing a major redesign.

It's looking great so far. Where's mine?

Thanks 7, yours is in the mail. Actually I've made 500 hundred of them and I'm sending them to everyone with a numeric name...because I like that.

Actually i'm considering a way to manufacture something like that minivent as a bolt on part, but that's a ways out.

Those fans are great, but they are soooo ugly. Respect for Noctua for marketing something so ugly it could be iconic. I'm still wondering how I'm going to filter the vents. Any suggestion?

Along with everyone else - I am floored! That is an awesome concept and what you are creating is fantastic!! Thanks for sharing with us not only your creativity but genius.
Did you also do the Super Hornet that is featured in the February 2007 Maximum PC? It looks so similar to the Hive.
Again thanks for showing us your skills.


hmmm, nope that's not me, but the simularities are there. I'm not saying Hive got copied, it's a pretty obvious design if you want a hive/bee/wasp's nest themed case. Wicked dual WC'd cards on that system. So how do you get in Maxium PC anyway?

Great work. I love it! I can't wait till you post pictures of it all lighted up.

Concerning the fans:
Would it be possible that the fans don't have enough pressure? Which may cause the air to "bounce" back?

Or could it be the design of the vents? Maybe a fan like the one found on the Nvidia 8800GTX would be better suited with your vent design?

That fan would be perfect. I had a slot cooler fan like that (with the blades perpendicular to the spin axis) That would be the way to do it, but I couldn't find a fan like that in 120mm. Also I noticed my slot cooler fan really hated to be turned on it's side. I kinda figured on this, but I think with 6 of those guys blowing, i'll get enough airflow even at reduced effincy.

Anyone know the voltage that commonly comes off the HD activity led on a mobo header. I was thinking it would be nice to power the LED in the switches of the HD activity indicator...or at least use that make the light blink .

Link to original thread. (http://www.thebestcasescenario.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5733)