View Full Version : Project Nighthawk: Skunkworks F117-A Worklog

Crimson Sky
03-15-2005, 02:37 PM
Ok here begins Project Nighthawk!--I'm very excited to be creating this one-of-a-kind custom PC together with Cable Organizer.com, and would like to thank all those involved in helping to bring this awesome project to life.

Here is the basic ideas behind the concept we have developed for this project:

Project Nighthawk will be a custom computer designed as a flight simulator and gaming console. The inspiration for the design was taken from the exotic looks of the Lockheed F-117A Stealth Fighter, one of my personal favorites among millitary aircraft. The shell of the PC will have lots of angles and sleek sharp edges reminding one of the radar deflecting shapes found on the F-117A.

In the concept art below, you can see that the front of the case has the look of a cockpit, complete with the gauges you'd find on modern aircraft. I'll have to do some research to see if these can actually be integrated into the case and sync up with software such as Microsoft's Flight Simulator. There are lots of alternatives, so come back often to see how this project develops, grows and takes on a life of its own.

There will also be three 17" LCD monitors, not tewo as in the drawing below. As soon as I have my artist change the concept image I'll re-post it here.

Here are the working PC specs for the project:

*MSI K8N Neo Platinum SLi Mobo
*AMD Athlon 64 FX-55
*WD Raptor Series 74GB 10,000 RPM SATA Hard Drive
*CORSAIR XMS Xtreme Memory Speed Series, Xtra-Low Latency 184-Pin 1GB(512MBx2) DDR PC-3200
*Dual nVidia Graphics Card NX6800-TD256E SLi
*Microsoft Windows XP Professional With Service Pack 2

Here are the specs for the F-117A Stealth Fighter: :D

Primary Function: Fighter/attack
Contractor: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company.
Power Plant: Two General Electric F404 engines
Length: 65 feet, 11 inches (20.3 meters)
Height: 12 feet, 5 inches (3.8 meters)
Weight: 52,500 pounds (23,625 kilograms)
Wingspan: 43 feet, 4 inches (13.3 meters)
Speed: High subsonic
Range: Unlimited with air refueling
Armament: Internal weapons carriage
Unit Cost: $45 million
Crew: One
Date Deployed: 1982
Inventory: Active force, 55; ANG, 0; Reserve, 0


To make a custom PC as intricate and engineered as this one, I'll start out with a paper model to help me get an idea of the dimensions and shape of the shell. The paper model will not be super detailed, however it will allow me to make all the proper measurements before I begin cutting the material. Architects create many cardboard 'White models" when pitching a design idea, and this is borrowed from that practice.

I took some foam board and cut a square to the proper dimensions of the ATX motherboard. I then used an old Radeon 9800 as a guide for making the two mockups of the dual video cards. I used spray mount adhesive to to glue on some colored paper to the foam board as well, to help make the model easier to see.




Crimson Sky
03-15-2005, 02:38 PM
The second largest piece of hardware is of course, the full ATX power supply. I made a scale model of one from foamboard, even adding a fan grill as a guide for orientation. Studying the angles on a Stealth fighter, I made a platform for the motherboard. You can also see that I've slipped the PSU model beneath it. This project will require some pretty interesting ventilation engineering to get it running cool and comfy....all part of the fun! :D




Crimson Sky
03-15-2005, 02:38 PM
Here I'm starting to build up the shape of the shell. A lot of cut foamboard pieces are rejected before I choose just the right shapes that give me the composition I'm looking for.




Crimson Sky
03-15-2005, 02:39 PM
The design begs for some sort of canopy---so I thought that a hinged (and possibly motorized) canopy with cut windows would look pretty cool. With some yellow or amber light inside it would look fantastic against the flat black stealth body. Maybe even yellow glass with white light inside--I'll have to see which would look best once we get to that part. I still havent commited to the exact position and size of the canopy--it's simply propped up on there for now.

I also adjusted the angle on the front section. Even small changes can make a dramatic difference. The case isn't going to sit flat on a table--I have plans for some sort of "landing gear" to raise the whole case up--with some really cool lighing beneath :D




Crimson Sky
03-15-2005, 02:40 PM
You just can't get the fine lines and final composition in a foamboard model, however i think I've found my overall shape for this design. The final case will be nowhere near as bulky looking as the paper model, so I have lots of room to shrink and finesse the size/shape of this piece as I start the styrene work :D My last bit of paper modeling will be to design the side intake vents for cooling the case.

I'm ready to start constructing the aluminum skeleton today!



Crimson Sky
03-15-2005, 02:40 PM
The framing for the skeleton is well underway--The shape mimics the model I built from foamcore, and will help support the outter panels. The material is all aluminum--flat stock and angle. The screws are stainless steel. I essentially created a motherboard tray and back panel, using a an ATX case as a guide for measurements. Plenty of room for the PSU and HDD's inside this framing.







Crimson Sky
03-15-2005, 02:41 PM
Here's a few pics to that shows the direction I'm taking with cooling the PSU and HDDs. I made a dual drive rack from angle and flat stock aluminum and will be mounting a modified ThermalTake CPU cooler on the back. There is also a duct that will snug up against the TT fan to allow the warm air to exhaust out the bottom of the case. To the right of that you see the white model of the PSU I made earlier. The PSU will also have a duct behind it to vent the air out, although this box-like unit will be made from sheet styrene.




Crimson Sky
03-15-2005, 02:42 PM
The ductwork for the PSU and HDD exhaust system is basically finished, I just need to add some rubber gasket to seal both the HDD and PSU frames to their respective scratch-built, styrene plastic ducting.







Crimson Sky
03-21-2005, 02:08 PM
The most difficult part of making this complex shell is getting the first few pieces of .060 high impact styrene plastic cut, fitted and assembled. Since there are no 90 degree angles anywhere on the shell of this case, these two side panels were the most challenging--the rest is a cakewalk, and very fun to build--here are the two side panels:




03-23-2005, 01:37 AM
Paul, all your mods are just incredible! i really want to see how this one comes out.
Check Holiday Gift Guides (https://www.weeklyads2.com/holiday-gift-guides/) and Michaels Ad (https://www.weeklyads2.com/michaels/).

Crimson Sky
03-23-2005, 02:04 AM
Hey thanks---I'm having fun with this one so far :D

03-23-2005, 02:07 AM
Who wouldn't be?
It'd be interesting if you could get some analog gauges programmed to act like the gauges in the real cockpit...I know they make gauges that work with serial ports, maybe USB?


03-24-2005, 05:11 AM
Looking great paul :)

03-24-2005, 09:46 AM
It just struck me that this is probably the least stealthy "stealth" object ever made. Everyone on the forums will be watching this worklog. ;)

Great work as always CS

03-24-2005, 01:12 PM
Just a quick question are those threads created with a nutsert tool? Are you using a metric tool for the motherboard standoffs?

I've got a metric nutsert tool which is excellent, its only got metric heads though.

Crimson Sky
03-24-2005, 01:28 PM
Just a quick question are those threads created with a nutsert tool? Are you using a metric tool for the motherboard standoffs?

I've got a metric nutsert tool which is excellent, its only got metric heads though.

Owwie--nutsert sounds somewhat painful--lol..actually the mobo standoffs are 6/32, and the rest of the build is 8 and 10/32

Good to see you here Gordy!..I hope you share your creations with the people here when you get the time

03-24-2005, 01:43 PM
I will do :Smile: Not done much of late been working on my sgi 02 case today.

Nutserts are great, you can make threads in anything :BigGrin:

Crimson Sky
03-25-2005, 04:25 AM
With the side structures completed, its time to build the top section that houses the mobo and graphics cards. With the board in place and the dual 6800 cards installed, I can take measurements and begin to plot out the sections on paper before cutting them from .060 styrene. :Smile:




04-02-2005, 08:14 PM
tus mod son geniales

Crimson Sky
04-03-2005, 08:44 PM
tus mod son geniales

hehe..i hope thats a good thing :p

04-03-2005, 11:03 PM
It means "your mod is brilliant" (Good ol google)

04-03-2005, 11:04 PM
hehe..i hope thats a good thing :p

My limited spanish, (and that's very limited because we don't speak spanish in Canada) I think he said:

your mod is genius.

genial adj. : 1. genial adj. 2. inspired adj. 3. of genius adj. 4. brilliant adj.

found on Ultralingua.net (http://www.ultralingua.net/index.html?action=define&sub=1&searchtype=stemmed&text=geni&service=spanish2english)

But what do I know?

04-03-2005, 11:54 PM
Great Job Crim your work is ausome as usual. Keep up the good work :D

04-04-2005, 01:59 PM
No kidding. I am waiting for this finished product. It is gonna look amazing. I have always been obsessed with airplanes. Its like a combo of my two favorite things.

05-04-2005, 03:53 AM
yeah must say that the mod looks great so fahr...

Have just joined TBCS today, but CrimsonSky is like a famous mann around the globe - havent seen this mod before though... looks awesome...


05-04-2005, 06:00 AM
Looks great, but no updates for a while :(

Crimson Sky
05-10-2005, 01:52 PM
Here are some production pics I took last week showing the interior of the "shell" and aluminum framing. Can't resist polishing the metal so there will be a combination of painted and polished metals on the frame--even though you wont see much of it from the outside, its the small details that scream "custom" :)



The Antec Neo PSU was a perfect fit. Having a paper model of the PSU was a great help in construction.


The canopy and control surfaces are in the works, and once these are finished and wired up, the interior of the shell will be reinforced with resin and fiberglass, then the rig will be painted and assembled. This entire shell breaks down into smaller parts, and can be 100% disassembled if needed. When creating a complex project like this, you really need to make everything accessable--and avoid building yourself into a corner by creating hardware/component roadblocks that prevent the rig from being altered or repaired easily in the future.


I really like the angles of this shell. Fitting all the components inside was a challenge!~


05-11-2005, 02:34 AM
looks good !

05-11-2005, 05:56 PM
Great job so far. Does the project have a deadline for it to be done or will it be done when it's done?

Sweet bar stool btw

05-11-2005, 08:41 PM
Yeah...this is an amazing piece. I cant wait to see it finished.

Crimson Sky
05-12-2005, 01:48 AM
Since the canopy will be on a hinge and open up for folks to peek inside the rig, I decided to pimp it out and install a Linear actuator (http://www.firgelliauto.com/item137.htm) with a 6" stroke to open and close it. Pics to come soon :D


05-12-2005, 11:06 PM
Haha thats too sick

05-15-2005, 03:59 AM
While this may sound like i'm not paying attention to the mod... That is one cool looking stool u have in the background.. lol
Nice mod job too, looks awesome so far.

05-15-2005, 01:10 PM
great mod. cant wait to see some updates ;)

Crimson Sky
05-15-2005, 02:42 PM
This portion of the rig is the back panel. made from .0080 styrene, its very intricate in the way it fits on the case as you can see. :)







invalid lab
05-15-2005, 02:44 PM
Very nice.

05-15-2005, 03:01 PM
very cool.

05-15-2005, 05:09 PM
Very awesome.

A red glow from the rear would be nice, coming out them pipes.

05-15-2005, 07:01 PM
Very awesome.

A red glow from the rear would be nice, coming out them pipes.

took the thoughts right out of my head...'afterbuner' look... :eek:

X child
05-16-2005, 03:35 PM
This just makes me want to see the styrene Modders Workshop video even more. When can we expect that one?

05-16-2005, 03:47 PM
Looks absoloutely brilliant. Vey Stealthesque (I don't think that is a word). Keep 'em coming.

05-26-2005, 04:46 AM
Nice looking so far, can't wait to see it finished.

I'm goin to have to look into using Stryrene for the case I'm working on now.
What are you using to glue the stryrene together and how strong of a bond does it give?

Crimson Sky
05-26-2005, 12:16 PM
Ok here's some pics I took before final construction and painting:






05-26-2005, 01:04 PM
That is one funky lookin' PC. Is that HUD going to have something look at behind it or is it just a cool aesthetic piece?

05-27-2005, 01:11 AM
Crimson, u tha man!

And yeh, are you planning to have that HUD have a working display or not?
Or are you gonna make us wait and see =P

05-28-2005, 04:32 AM
looks great!

05-28-2005, 08:28 PM
I wish my workbench was that organized... :p

05-31-2005, 07:52 PM

06-02-2005, 08:04 PM
Wow Man

Crimson Sky
06-05-2005, 06:37 PM
Project Nighthawk is completed and delivered!...There are a few details that were not completed in time for the Paris Airshow, like the laser etching for the HUD and some insignia...I'll get to this when its in my hands again fir a LAN event. The owners of Cableorganizer.com were thrilled with the project and are having fun playing with it. They are some awesome folks at that company, a real role model for the small to medium sized business, and I can't wait to work with them again. Anyway I just got in the door but here is a first pic. I'll put more up later. Thanks to all for following along with the project! :) :)


06-05-2005, 06:48 PM
wow man!! that looks sick. hey what LAN event are you talking about? something in NYC?

Crimson Sky
06-05-2005, 09:01 PM




Paul Holstein approaching take off speeds in a Cessna:


06-05-2005, 09:08 PM
thats gotta be a thrilling experience. very nice. i wonder what happened to the screen on the right. it seems to be out of the order looking at the others.

Crimson Sky
06-05-2005, 09:17 PM
Here are some in progress pics that i did not have time to post earlier in the project. I have a bunch more but I need some rest tonight:

Bottom of the case:

Fitting the touch screen Monitor:


HUD area with opening for Crystal Fontz 635:



Crimson Sky
06-05-2005, 09:19 PM
thats gotta be a thrilling experience. very nice. i wonder what happened to the screen on the right. it seems to be out of the order looking at the others.
Check Rebel Sport Catalogue (https://www.catalogueau.com/rebel-sport/) and Amart Catalogue (https://www.catalogueau.com/amart/).

thanks man. I think we were playing around with the Hat switch on that third monitor when I took the pic so it is out of alignment

06-05-2005, 11:07 PM
Teh amazink!

06-06-2005, 02:25 AM
All i can say is WOW. Very Very good job

06-06-2005, 09:19 AM
That is the most awesome work I have ever seen. I wish I had half your talent. I looked through the thread and didn't see anything about what type of touch screen that is, and I am unable to make out the name on the front of it. Would you share the wealth and tell us.

Crimson Sky
06-06-2005, 11:24 AM
Thanks for the kudos!

That would be the 7" Lilliput (http://www.mp3car.com/store/product_info.php?cPath=25&products_id=33&osCsid=583efccdca68b1a241f4d1cb005af7bc) LCD with TouchScreen. Not a bad screen for the price. VGA screens are pricey, unlike their lower res composite video bretheren that sell for $100 or so.

06-06-2005, 02:07 PM
Thanks and keep up the excellent work. Which project are you going to focus on now???

06-06-2005, 02:26 PM
I like the way the case is raised off the ground. It makes it look like it is flying. Very nice touch. The etching on the HUD is going to look great too.

Crimson Sky
06-06-2005, 08:12 PM
Thanks and keep up the excellent work. Which project are you going to focus on now???

Doom3!!!! :D

06-06-2005, 09:35 PM
Doom3!!!! :D

Yeah!! More Doom3 updates ... :D

06-07-2005, 02:16 AM
Awesomo! A very nice mod indeed.
Its about time u got to doom 3 u slacker :D (lol j/j)

06-07-2005, 02:17 AM
* correction - its not really a mod, its more of all out creation... which makes it all the more amazing!

06-07-2005, 01:19 PM
Mod...all out creation...same difference. :P In all honesty this is the best "mod" out there. It is defeneatly amazing and I cant wait to see it done. So get your ass to workin. I want updates.

06-07-2005, 04:52 PM

06-08-2005, 01:23 AM
Mathew... ah... the mod is done... check page 6. lol :D

06-08-2005, 08:30 AM
I donīt know, what to say...
This is awesome! Wow, nice work, talented constructor!

Greetings from Germany!

Crimson Sky
06-08-2005, 07:06 PM
Putting it all together:


Parts layed out before assembly:




06-09-2005, 09:52 AM
I watched this almost from the day it was published on your web site and I just have to add my amazment to how creative you are and your talent is just unbelievable.

also whats a 9v battery doing there? on 1 of your pictures

Crimson Sky
06-09-2005, 11:47 AM
I watched this almost from the day it was published on your web site and I just have to add my amazment to how creative you are and your talent is just unbelievable.

also whats a 9v battery doing there? on 1 of your pictures

Hey thanks man appreciate the feedback! the 9V battery was used to test the FX soundboard prior to install.

06-09-2005, 07:41 PM
Whats all the buttons for on the left...excuse me if you already answered that...

06-14-2005, 01:55 PM
Oh my, this is looking sick. :D

06-17-2005, 07:41 PM
As a flight sim enthusiast this is my favorite. Good Job bro.

06-19-2005, 01:24 PM
I can't wait to see the finished product!!! That's gonna be sick Dude!!!

06-19-2005, 01:29 PM
I just seen it (On page 6)...You ARE DA MAN!!! Sick Man...Absolutely Sick!!!

06-19-2005, 07:59 PM
That is one very sweet case. Now that it is finished, does this mean you will get back Doom 3?

Crimson Sky
06-20-2005, 09:25 AM
That is one very sweet case. Now that it is finished, does this mean you will get back Doom 3?

back to Doom3 Wha??? :?

;) yeah it has resumed

06-20-2005, 11:50 AM
SWEEEEEET DOOM 3 is back in comishion baby

07-10-2005, 04:26 PM
this is absoluty georgous!! - m uncle wants one, when can you start production...lol

02-11-2006, 06:15 AM
your pics dont work.

02-17-2006, 06:34 PM
your pics dont work.

nope, your pictures dont work. they work for me.

02-20-2006, 08:20 PM
that is one freakin sweet mod man, what do all the buttons n stuff do? they actually control stuff? i can see cables on some of them from the production shots, so i assume u found a way of making them more than aesthetic :)

Crimson Sky
02-20-2006, 09:19 PM
that is one freakin sweet mod man, what do all the buttons n stuff do? they actually control stuff? i can see cables on some of them from the production shots, so i assume u found a way of making them more than aesthetic :)

hey thanks man--appreciate it!!

Look for an article I wrote on Project Nighthawk in the next issue of CustpmPC (http://www.custompc.co.uk/) magazine in the UK

The 6 buttons on the left control the individual channels for the soundFX board...stuff like "prepare for landing on runnway 3" and "Missle, warning, warning, warning!!" basically sounds I pulled form the game Lock On Gold. The other buttons and switches are for lights, power, reset, etc.

02-21-2006, 11:58 PM
Once again, your love for the arts and for what you do is clearly evident by your work. That is one sweet ride! Great job Crimson!

03-05-2006, 12:17 AM
i am a big fan of your work and i would hope to creat something as fine and well done as yours

Crimson Sky
03-05-2006, 10:39 AM
i am a big fan of your work and i would hope to creat something as fine and well done as yours

You can, and will!--just believe in yourself, and never stop experimenting with and practicing new skills

03-05-2006, 08:41 PM
paul. u are a legend mate.

That is just incredible what you have done there. I do know that it would take quite a long time and a lot of effort too make but for you my friend, it pays off.

Truely magnificant too say the least. Well done and hope too see some great new mods and ideas from you in the future.

Once again mate, well done and congrats on all the hard work and the fantastic mod.

04-17-2006, 04:18 PM
thats crazy./ i love everyone of your cases/

04-30-2006, 02:38 PM
utterly amazing case...dont spose youd like to give it to me would you?? lol...

what have you got planned for your next??

05-25-2006, 03:42 PM
that's so awesome. that goes beyond modding.

12-27-2006, 06:37 AM
You are incredible! This is truely amazing! I love the cockpit switches.

04-05-2007, 10:11 PM
One of a kind for sure. I would have added some more speakers. Amazing!

09-24-2007, 05:35 PM
It looks so, well, perfect!
Great Job

09-29-2007, 02:53 PM
Good as ever:D

02-11-2009, 07:29 PM
Stupendously wicked:D love it
it was this one that got me interested in finding a styrene souce and want to use it in my next project.

02-12-2009, 12:03 PM
Awesome! Just Awesome!

02-17-2009, 05:26 PM
Heh, I've seen this thing in the flesh, but it had the BSOD. Trust me, didn't subtract from it at all. One thing you just cannot get from these pictures is the sheer quality of the craftsmanship. Crimson is truly in a league of his own. I just hope I get to see Doom 3 in the flesh one of these days.