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.