View Full Version : Modder's Challenge Winner

09-24-2006, 06:25 AM
This month's Modder's Challenge was sponsored by Leatherman Pocket Tools.

The winner of this month's Modder's Challenge is...


Who's written a simply incredible account of the way he'd use the leatherman to build his theoretical case. Normally, i'd thrown in a little bit of presentation: but the work that's went in here is incredible, so i'm just going to throw this at you and hope you read all the way through-because it's certainly worth it!

Congrats man, the leatherman is in the post!

NOTE: Although the Antec Super-Lanboy wasn't used here, we decided that this was fine because instead, dgrmkr has went down the difficult road of scratch-building. Which is a whole different kettle of fish from using another stock case, and added a new layer of compliexity to the challenge...

When challenged not to use a dremel, a drill or a jig-saw... what can you build? Will this hamper your creativity? Heck no! I once had no drill! No jigsaw! No dremel! Just screwdrivers, scissors, a knife or two... and an open flame, but I won't use that... sure, I didn't do much. But not because I lacked tools! Because I wasn't infected with modding ;)

So, when I saw the leatherman wave I immediately thought 2 things:

1. Wood! As a child I used only knives and occasionally a hammer to do some really weird... stuff: crossbow, sculptures, "engravings", small wanna-be furniture... and not to mention a rare one-time fishing pole ;) so, a scrap wooden case! Made from small fur-tree or maybe balsa... I think lateral going to go cheap (more real) and not use balsa for my virtual case. I worked with woods ranging from light to oak, and all you need is patience... even with sandpaper alone you can do art... with a nice sharp knife and some more accessories.. Possibilities are endless.

2. Leatherman... leatherman... I don't know... leather? : D bingo! I’m gathering experience with leather working right now so I think a mental exercise is perfect. I know I only need some chalk and a pair of sharp/stainless-steel scissors to "shape" leather.

So... i have to use wood... basicly, with just a serrated knife, i can't cut round holes or cut long portions of wood pannels... if it's not cheating, i will use some 10mm plywood already cut to size.. It is possible for me to get panels up to 25mm, for free, up to 400x600mm, as I build speakers when given the budget to do so. Basically, I tell someone the size of the panels and that's it... i wont go that way till the end though. For interior structure I will use the serrated knife a little and cut the virtual 10x10mm wood struts to size... now, what else can i do with the options i have... well, some woodfiller wood be nice, as the entire case will be made from pieces of wood... except for the panels that don't have holes...

What case to build? The antec is nice, but I’m not sure what strength I can get from the wood... a tower would be too... too... i don't want a tower :) so, this is gonna be a desktop/htpc case.

I have a DVD burner and 2 hard drives... none works... so let's imagine I will use them. Also, I want an lcd display... I don't have the money or the product in a window shop nearby.. But a single bay matrix orbital will make me happy, even if only a picture of it! Also, in the long run, I might need some space for controllers. That brings me to fans... nowadays, I hate noise, so I'll be using 4 arctic cooling fans... the open-frame ones... I think they are the most silent working fans ever made!

I also want some windows: can't cut plexi with scissors, the knife-way would be too long (unless I was in a place where time is all you have ;))... so I'll use a cheap creative trick I used long time ago: use cd cases for their plastic! 3 windows will suffice, as I wanna see stuff that's worth seeing.

I have a socket A rig, with 1x 9550 video board and an audigy 7.1... So I’ll use them. Unfortunately, I can't spare my Sonic tower in this project, as it has other plans... but i'll leave the cooler choice to a cnps9500 or thermalright 120 model (i like the second right now.. seen it and it's a piece of art).. Towers are way too big for this rig anyways... what i designed is 450mm wide, 170mm tall and about 350mm deep. So, it's smallish and won't take much room... anywhere.

The build is simple: using the 3dsmax sketches (good thing I have them...) I’ll take any piece of wood that has one dimension of 10mm and use it... i need lots of pieces, because i have to make holes for fans, mobo i/o and racks.. So, cutting slowly and carefully with the serrated-knife, filing when needed, gluing with carpenter's glue and then filling with wood filler I get the shapes I need. Then I assemble everything with glue and maybe a wood-screw or two. Before mounting the stuff in, I’ll use the screwdriver to make some holes for the bronze-mobo-mounts. Smaller holes in order to get a good tap grip. If a computer related screw is needed, leather going to screw the hell out of my screwdriver and make some holes thru the wood... for those who think this is stupid/pointless/impossible, i have to say i don't have a drill and i make holes in aluminum or steel using simple and brute force. Not an elegant method, but it can't get more DIY!

Some denser wood will be needed to carve some stoppers for the hdd mounts... no problem! I have a knife and anything available can be used... just have to be careful not to cut myself ;) then i glue the small pegs so that my hard drives sit tight on them and don't move that much.. Wood mounting should dampen some vibrations... but what about cooling? Well, I got that covered... pics will say it all.

Hmm... How can I mount/fix the fans? Well, design and... Screws ;) and the DVD? Rails and maybe one screw... and the LCD? Well...hot glue? That’s all I can think of right now... and if i think it through, glue is perfect, because it won't leave any marks on the outside... just the LCD... which leads to another idea! No buttons! Right now, I use my keyboard for on/off tasks and don't touch the case unless I wanna cut it.

The most important part is finding a proper layout for components... air-flow, clearance and... Looks! I mean, I don't want to hide my stuff... this is what i have... i should be proud of it! Of course, I don't mean frontal/lateral/top/back nudity... one panel with windows, nothing else... plain, simple, robust... rounded... RAM, CPU and video should be visible... fans and wires... not.


Basic shape of the case... For now, it’s not made of anything and it has nothing in... Just a sketch...


The top panel is made out of smaller ones, glued together to form the holes. They are about 100mm x 100mm, because a CD case has a slightly bigger area and it should be glued in the end.


Same idea with The front panel. Lots of sticks make a solid look after glued and filled.


You can see that this is one complex case because of the sticks’n’glue technique!


This is what will fill the case. Just a few components, as this is not a gaming machine. I would just listen to music and maybe watch a movie or two... Also, browsing and even CAD work is achievable simultaneously. I know that because I can do that right now. And the cooling… I hope this is enough…



Front view… Things are getting closer to what I want them to look like… Simple and non-obtrusive. One optical unit, one LCD, no buttons and some vents are all that are strictly necessary. A Spartan approach, but more knobs and dials could be added in the future, I f I would feel that it needs them. As a HTPC this shouldn’t have blinking lights and scrolling stuff, but I am a temperature freak and I would like to know my CPU is at least comfortable, if not cool.


The back is the place I sincerely must admit I made a compromise. No i/o plate and no vertical struts for the pci area… But I won’t lose strength! There is a bar in which the add-on boards screw themselves in and the usual space between mother board and metal plates… I think this can be modded later if needed. It resembles am open test-bed, but things are fixed. But, this part is not seen and lots of open space here will aid with the cooling.


Top part shows what is inside and protects the innards too.


Talking about them, let’s remove the cover... this is what we get. I want a clean air path for the main components, plus some airflow for the hard drives. I got it! Now, the airflow for the video section is messed up, but, wait! I don’t have any openings in the front, but a huge one in the back… as I’m not using the silencer cooler on the video board, the board will have to leave at stock speeds. A modded stock fan would be nice, but only if it’s squeal is too much.

09-24-2006, 06:28 AM

Here you can see the brass mounts, screwed directly to the bottom. And the rails are visible for DVD mounting, plus the Matrix Orbital unit, or at least it’s biggest dimensions, for clearance issues.


A shot from a different angle... This is the wood structure and its simplicity in its glory ;)


Bare metal..err… wood shots.
Now that we have a case... Why not spice things up a little and.. hide everything more!


Leather covering is a fun way to paint the case… of course, painting it black and covering with leather is better. But now, I’m testing my leather piece ;)


All dressed up! Some details still need working on.


Windows added, LCD added, some more shaping of the leather… I’m not sure which part will take longer: making the case of wood and glue and waiting for it to set; prep it for assembly and assembling it or leathering it? Because there are lots of corners to go around and probably different pieces of leather will have to blend into one… No problem, using cyano-acrylate glue, I can achieve the illusion of a seamless piece of leather all around the case… all I need is a dozen tubes and a nice file ;)


As the almost finished product... But it’s still empty... I should mount the system inside… I “used” colored, dark CD cases up till now…


Which is this…
Finally (because there always is a finish, even to a mental exercise..):



Some more shots... this is as far as I’m taking it... At least in the back department (I know that grey surface is not a PSU, but I don’t have a nice one yet, so I’m not using anything but a dummy. Standard sized PSUs easily fit in the small box, and if it has a big silent fan, even better.) Everything painted black, no inside lights, silent fans as much as possible, nothing flashy, no bling. And it is almost like an amp, knobs and buttons not included.
Now, imagine yourself sitting back in your living room, with the remote of choice in your hand. Relax… Push a button, wait 30 seconds (no noise to be heard), wondering if the PC is working. Then you hear the nice chime at startup and you can enjoy silence... but wait, where should you point the remote for starters? Because this unit is black and stealthy ;)

Jokes aside, I think I may actually build this if I get a spare set of things to install. I always wanted to leave my folks with a nice no-nonsense system: they know how to “work” a TV, right? So, something similar but more complex should be a short learning curve away from enjoyment. Plus, this case involves time and just a little money compared to my bigger plans. Glue and leather aside, this is a 30 buck wooden case. And if I use scraps, it’s going on free…

All in all, I enjoyed designing this thing with tools in mind. Having some limits set does not make it harder, just more creative ;) And I think this is highly do-able with just the leatherman wave and some other chemicals (filler, paints and glues). I had some fun when tackling each piece of the case and mentally disassembling it into smaller pieces. And when covering it in leather, I remained just… wow.. of course, genuine leather is expensive, but it’s a pleasure to work with.. Right now, I would cover everything I have with it, my refrigerator sized speakers included ;)

And a final render...


Truly Incredible Work, that man! Deserving of every capital letter I put in there! Feel free to leave your comments in this thread about the entry and the competition. Keep your eyes peeled for the next competition, where we'll be giving away another great prize to the best theoretical entrant!

Remember, it's all a bit of fun; but the real question is...

...do YOU have what it takes?


This month's Modder's Challenge was sponsored by Leatherman Pocket Tools.

09-24-2006, 07:17 AM
:redface: :redface: :redface: :redface: :redface: :redface: :redface: :redface: :redface: :redface:
thank u very much
:redface: :redface: :redface: :redface: :redface: :redface: :redface: :redface: :redface: :redface:

Logic Zero
09-24-2006, 09:40 AM
Well done dude! Design looks amazing! :D:D:D:D:D

*big round of applause!*

09-24-2006, 01:59 PM
I LOVE your design, perfect for a HTPC to mesh with the rest of an entertainment system. Splendid work and congratulations!

09-24-2006, 02:37 PM
Wow, very extensive. A great job, indeed! Well done dgrmkr!

09-24-2006, 05:49 PM
10ks guys (like in fellow modders ;))!!!... i'm so happy.. this is my first contest.. never participated in any till now.. but boy, this thrill.. 10q davew, next ones, i'll be sure to show even more enthusiasm :D
a mind challenge is just what someone with lots of time, not much money and lots of curiosity/will to experiment needs :D
still, no constructive criticism? c'mon.. shoot me :) i'm still a big n00b :redface: :redface:

09-24-2006, 05:57 PM
amazing, very creative

congrats!!! good job!

09-24-2006, 10:39 PM

now that youve won the tool dg...you gonna build the case.... :D

i really enjoyed that...very nice

09-25-2006, 05:31 AM

now that youve won the tool dg...you gonna build the case.... :D

i really enjoyed that...very nice

well, i'm not saying i wont.. i have some broken parts which would help with the build (positioning and test placing), i have a construction-material-shop-thingy 100 meters away from my dorm house... so, if i get the leather and just a few money for chemicals and wood.. why not? plus, the fans are getting cheaper and i love them.. all i ned is a saw(many times i used a knife for this already.. my front blow hole in the older case was made with a knife, but it died in the process:p) and scissors :D and patience :)

ah, funny thing.. all of my mates with which i live call me dgr.. i wonder why :? :rolleyes:

Forever Nights
09-25-2006, 05:15 PM
nicely done

11-28-2006, 12:27 AM
wow nice

11-28-2006, 08:40 AM
Nice... What program(s) do you use for the modeling and drafting?

11-28-2006, 09:48 AM
Nice... What program(s) do you use for the modeling and drafting?

dgrmkrp is our resident 3DSMAX guru. He can knock things like that up in a couple of hours. (In fact, i think that took just over 2 hours for him.)


11-28-2006, 12:24 PM
somehow i managed to miss that whole thing until today. that's freakin' sweet.

11-29-2006, 06:57 PM
Same here, that is one sweet idea, Grats man.