slipperyskip

Project Worklogs => Completed Projects => Topic started by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 02:21:28 PM

Title: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 02:21:28 PM
Official Photo Gallery (http://slipperyskip.com/page29.html)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/001.JPG)
A sheet of birch plywood from my local supplier. My working surface is the backside of a chess board I bought in Spain many years ago.  I don't know what kind of wood it is but it is very heavy and more importantly, extremely flat.  I've been using this board for years with all my small projects.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/002.jpg)
This sheet cost me $19 which is kinda crazy but what you get is a 5-ply laser-cut piece of very nice wood. It's just not smart to skimp on materials and tools...IMHO, of course.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/004.JPG)
Using clamps to fix the straightedge I make my mark first in pencil and then in razor. I've learned over the years to spend the time to clamp these things properly instead of using human clamps.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/005.JPG)
Replaced the straightedge with a 1/2" square laser-cut board to use as a fence.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/007.jpg)
Weapon of choice is an X-acto Razor Saw with a fresh blade. I usually grasp it in the center instead of using the handle...better control of downward force and I can keep it up against the fence better this way.  I saw it half way through then reset the fence on the other side. At intervals I'll run my razor knife down the trench just to "abuse" the saw cut.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/015.JPG)
That done, I set up another fence to cut a short piece.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/009.JPG)
The final "cutting-through"  of the sawing process is always done with my razor knife.  Keeping those edges clean.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/008.JPG)
The second piece will be exactly the same size as the first. I could measure it but I prefer not to measure anything if I can. Using the two original laser-cut corners as reference I clamp the two pieces together. Sure, I could make a mark and then saw it but I'm going to use the first piece as a fence to cut the second. After about a third of the way through I'll replace the original board with a proper fence.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/010.JPG)
Clamp the two boards together and "work" the edges over a piece of sandpaper to clean the edges up a little. Not a lot of work done here.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/011.JPG)
The result is two identical pieces of wood with perfect 90 degree corners. Took around an hour and a half.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/016.jpg)
I need to sprinkle this first post with some sponsor goodness so here is a SODIMM of Crucial 2GB DDR2-800. Thank you Crucial!



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/013.JPG)
This is my concept of Sketch-up. There will be equipment mounted to both sides of this board with openings for both cables and ventilation. 



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/014.JPG)
The two boards I just cut will sandwich this slot-loader slimline optical drive. The drive's face plate has been removed.

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 02:25:11 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/017.JPG)
Box



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/018.jpg)
Box inside box. Plain brown no-frills industrial box.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/019.JPG)
Mostly air and packing material inside the box.  Welcome to the world of itty-bitty.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/026.jpg)
Ta-da! The VIA EPIA P820-12L Pico ITX board with a P720-A daughterboard installed.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/027.jpg)
VIA Nano 1.2GHz 64-bit x86 CPU.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/022.jpg)
Turned around. The single 3Gbps SATA connector has a hole cut out of the heatsink just for it. To the left is the 44-pin IDE connector.  I'll be using both of these. Lined up along the front are the pin headers for four USB ports, audio, power, reset and a bunch of stuff I don't care about. :D



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/023.jpg)
Backside showing where the SODIMM goes.  The yellow thingy is the CMOS battery. Yes, a remote CMOS battery. My biggest complaint about the PX10000 Pico-ITX board was the battery holder soldered to the bottom making the unit much thicker than it needed to be.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/024.jpg)
Didn't have a Coke can handy so I thought this iPod touch might do in a pinch to show comparable size. 



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/025.jpg)
The P720 daughterboard adds 2 USB ports, a VGA port and a Gigabit Ethernet port to the mainboard's onboard HDMI port. That's what I said...HDMI.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/020.jpg)
Misc. cables I'll look at later.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/021.jpg)
For me, one of the most amazing things about this board is that it has an onboard power supply. This connector allows you to connect a standard external 60W ACDC power brick directly to the Pico-ITX. I don't have to use a Pico-PSU with this project like I did the last one. TBH..I'm...just...shocked. The power for the rest of the system like the SSD, optical drive and cooling fans comes directly off headers on the Pico board.

So what will this little sucker do? According to VIA I should be able to watch H.264 (BluRay) at 1080p with about 20% CPU utilization. Total system power should max out at around 20W. We'll see.
Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 02:30:15 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/033.jpg)
A sheet of aluminum, a Sharpie and an old video card PCI slot cover for a template.  I drop the proposed hole in the center somewhere and make sure I have plenty of edge metal to "trim-to-fit" later.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/034.jpg)
Drill a nice big hole in the middle.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/035.jpg)
Using my set of hobby files I form the hole by hand. I use a busted video card's VGA port to help guide the work. I probably test fit the hole 50-60 times while filing out the shape.

 


(http://slipperyskip.com/11/036.jpg)
Result.  I don't like a sloppy fit.  It is important to get this port right because it anchors the location of the others.  In addition to the I/O ports I'm planning on mounting the power jack and maybe the power switch to this plate. 
Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 02:33:07 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/039.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/038.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/037.jpg)

The lighting/angle makes the HDMI port look bad. I included the last photo above to hopefully show that it is in fact not.  It WAS difficult to make. The screw was supposed to be used to securely fasten an HDMI cable but I'm using it to help secure the I/O plate instead.  I may just drill out that HDMI screw and install the DC power jack there instead.

Now I've got to mount this board to my plywood using this "inverse" standoff system I've been given:

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/023.jpg)

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 02:37:35 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/040.jpg)
I took the heatsink off to figure out a better mounting system and to put some decent thermal paste on.  The smaller chip to the right is actually the CPU. The larger one in the center is the integrated graphics/other stuff chip. Regular sized brass standoff posing for size comparison. In this photo I'm drilling a standoff hole into a 3" x 1/4" piece of basswood. Again, no measuring going on here.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/044.jpg)
Put the board with standoffs up against the "master plan" to figure out the length to cut. The discoloration is the left over glue from the factory sticker. Three of the four sides will be factory laser cuts. I cheat a lot. :D




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/042.jpg)
I turned the board over and cut from the backside. A fence is clamped down and I'm using a smaller "finger fence" to help help keep the blade perpendicular. (Cheers to splelchek!)




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/045.jpg)
Since the Pico is the exact same size as the SSD the mounting boards will also be the exact same size. The SSD board will go kinda right there sorta.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/046.jpg)
Align the three laser cut sides and clamp vigorously. Saw.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/047.jpg)
Still clamped together I run the fresh edges back-and-forth over a sheet of stationary sandpaper.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/048.jpg)
Result of efforts.


Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 02:52:21 PM
I found something to do while I'm waiting on the post. I'm going to build some 2.5" hard drive mounts using an old 40GB Toshiba drive as a model.

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/050.jpg)
I cut my 1/2" x 1/2" aluminum angle iron (yes, that is a correct term) to length with an old X-Acto saw blade. To clean up the aluminum cuts I clamp on a 1/2" square board with a laser cut end and use it to guide my flat hobby file.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/052.jpg)
I follow that up by filing all the sharp edges down until everything feels smooth to the touch.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/053.jpg)
For once I break out my rule and measure where the mounting holes will go. I use my old center punch and a one pound hammer to mark the spot. It is a one pound hammer because it only takes one pound. Ouch! Sorry about that.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/054.jpg)
Drill the holes out? Nah, it can't be that easy. [I have deleted this text because I fear it will be used against me in a future psychiatric evaluation]



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/055.jpg)
Result of efforts.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/056.jpg)
And the big question is whether my angled SATA connectors will obey the boundaries. I realize this is an IDE HDD and not a SATA SSD but I can still tell it will be close.

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 02:53:39 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/070.jpg)
Calculated, cut and glued the extensions onto each mounting board. These boards will eventually have another very thin layer glued over the top of them so using extensions instead of completely re-doing them is reasonable IMO.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/071.jpg)
Sizing them up to the master board.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/073.jpg)
Time to make the boxes. These tops are identical to the mounting boards except for being 1/8" thick instead of 1/4".  When I finished cutting the boards I noticed that the widths were off which is very unusual.  It must have been a bad day for the laser because these boards are suppose to be exactly 3" wide from the factory.. I fixed it by tacking on a 1/64" strip shown here before trimming.

 


(http://slipperyskip.com/11/065.jpg)
To make my 2" tall box sides I start out with 1/8" x 24" stock that are slightly wider than 2". My carpenters square is exactly 2" wide so....




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/067.jpg)
I clamp the boards to the square on one end.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/066.jpg)
And the other.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/068.jpg)
Using my Olfa razor knife I shave the wood down almost to the steel of the square. Using 60 and 100 grit sandpaper I finish hand milling the edge down to the metal.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/069.jpg)


(http://slipperyskip.com/11/072.jpg)
The result is two 2" wide boards with sharp edges.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/074.jpg)
I then cut out the box sides by measuring each side of the mounting board, adding an 1/8" and then adding a skosh. 4 long sides and 4 short sides for two identical boxes.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/075.jpg)
The sides will be assembled in what I call a "pin-wheel".  Here I have loosely arranged them to hopefully better illustrate the pin-wheel. Each end is facing clockwise.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/076.jpg)
To assemble I first lay down the mounting board and loosely place on top two 1/2" spacer blocks.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/077.jpg)
On top of that goes one of the box tops.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/078.jpg)
I assemble my pin-wheel with a rubber band to hold it all together.  This process usually resembles some sort of clown act until you get the hang of it. Here I have decided to go with a counter-clockwise rotation.  If I needed extra strength I would just add another layer of wood using a clock-wise pin-wheel rotation.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/079.jpg)
I next add another level of 1/2" spacers.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/080.jpg)
And the remaining box top.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/081.jpg)
I use yellow carpenter's glue applied with a small brush. The block is shown prying apart the seam to expose the gluing surface and is really just illustrating what my fingers are doing during the gluing process. Note that I'm only gluing the edges of the sides. The box tops and mounting boards are not being glued...intentionally.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/082.jpg)
Add a multitude of rubber bands and after about 5 minutes of drying I flip the entire assembly over to expose the mounting block. Here you can see the "skosh" I added earlier to each corner. These will later be sanded down.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/083.jpg)
I then push down on the center support and break any bonds that excess glue is trying to setup.  Wait another 5 minutes and repeat. Let assembly dry for three hours.

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 02:54:35 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/084.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/085.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/086.jpg)
The box tops are loose friction fit. The Pico box I/O plate interface work is next up.
Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 02:57:40 PM


(http://slipperyskip.com/11/087.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/088.jpg)
Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 02:59:34 PM

The twin boxes measure 32.3 cubic inches each and the support box measures 35 cubic inches.  I'm working at one-third scale of the original.

Velcro and rubber bands holding it together.  There is plenty of opportunity to move stuff around. It is freestanding in this photo. Smaller boxes for the two empty quadrants are being imagined. The top/back box will have aux jacks and a cooling fan. The front/lower quadrant will be pure form over function. Something tasty I hope.

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/089.jpg)


(http://slipperyskip.com/11/090.jpg)
Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:01:47 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/093.jpg)
Cut the I/O shield to size.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/092.jpg)
Cut out the I/O shield box opening.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/094.jpg)
Hand-turned a hole saw to start opening the vent port.


 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/095.jpg)
Used my four-faced hand rasp to finish opening the vent.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/096.jpg)
Pause for a pose.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/101.jpg)
Attached the I/O shield.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/098.jpg)
Checked the fit.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/099.jpg)
Showing the gaps around the shield area that will be dressed up.





(http://slipperyskip.com/11/102.jpg)
Cut out and glued in some filler pieces.





(http://slipperyskip.com/11/100.jpg)
The filler pieces tighten everything up.





(http://slipperyskip.com/11/104.jpg)
Cut out a few pieces to dress up the lower section.  These pieces will be glued to the mounting board and not to the box.  This will allow me to remove the box while the computer is operating and cables are plugged in.





(http://slipperyskip.com/11/103.jpg)
Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:04:39 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/097.jpg)
I cut my vent screen gaskets out of 1/32" basswood.  The interior cut is precision but the outer cut was loosely hand cut.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/105.jpg)
Stainless steel screen is cut to size.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/106.jpg)
The gasket is slightly thicker than the screen so I can layer another slightly smaller windowed piece of wood across the assembly. I'll set this aside for now.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/107.jpg)
Cut some wood to use as a mounting system for the SSD.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/111.jpg)
The two smaller pieces are glued together.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/112.jpg)
This creates a "sliding bracket" kind of thing to insert into the aluminum angle.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/113.jpg)
The center section is slightly raised so that I can glue this bracket to another piece.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/110.jpg)
Cut some 1/2" square stock to use as spacers for the support box.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/109.jpg)
Dry fit.




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/114.jpg)
I've gotta get a "glue drying" photo in here somewhere.



BTW, this project is more of a tribute to the Edelweiss (http://"http://www.million-dollar-pc.com/systems-2009/special/lessdegrees/pius-edelweiss.htm") case mod by Pius Giger than to the Thermaltake Level 10.  IMHO, BMW and Thermaltake just ripped off a fellow case modder's original idea.  I have been wanting to do an Edelweiss-inspired mod since I saw the original in 2006. I'm not a big fan of the Level 10 mainly because I believe the basic design is more suited for a smaller PC.
Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:06:29 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/115.jpg)
Mark the window size on a piece of cherry veneer.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/116.jpg)
Cut the windows out.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/117.jpg)
Gather the components.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/118.jpg)
First, the gaskets get glued on.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/119.jpg)
The stainless steel screens are layed in loosely.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/122.jpg)
The cherry windows get glued over the top and trimmed up after drying.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/124.jpg)


(http://slipperyskip.com/11/125.jpg)

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:11:33 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/126.jpg)
Time to dig the rabbit hole. To gain access to the support box each of the mounting boards will have a section cut out for the wiring and ventilation. 




(http://slipperyskip.com/11/127.jpg)
This Pico box "rabbit hole" will have the 44-pin IDE cable, SATA cable, power and all the other auxilliary wires running down through it. The hole is rough cut for now and will be finished when it is matched up to its corresponding support box hole.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/128.jpg)
Air comes in through the mesh screen and down the rabbit hole....NOT using a 120mm fan.  It is there for a size reference.  The SSD box will have a similar setup. 



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/129.jpg)
A few veneering shots. I start off with the I/O shield filler pieces and work my way out.  I'm not going into much detail about how I veneer because I have covered that extensively in other projects. I can provide links if anyone cares.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/130.jpg)
Grain continuation that no one notices unless you don't do it then everyone notices.:hehe: Knots and other natural imperfections are most welcome.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/131.jpg)
The 120mm fan seems to be the most commonly used fan these days so I'm auditioning one as a size comparator.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/132.jpg)
Raw, unfinished cherry veneer that has been in dark storage for years compared to lacquer-finished, light-exposed cherry.  My G-metric Nano (http://"http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=144501") is the only cherry-finished project I have done and it has aged for about 2 1/2 years.  It takes at least a year for cherry to turn to a nutty brown color that it is known for.

Special note: The basswood I typically use for the structure of my projects is not strong but it is very easy to work with.  It is much, much stronger than balsa, a material I would never use.  I discovered that basswood mixed in with birch plywood and eventually coated with hardwood veneer makes for a very strong, stable structure.

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:14:01 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/133.jpg)
Dug out some of my 40mm fan collection.  A little bit of everything including a crazy loud Delta and a Sunon Mag-Lev.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/134.jpg)
Picked out this choice little T&T 11-blade 12V fan.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/135.jpg)
A size comparison to a 140mm unit.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/136.jpg)
Using my hand-held mitre box I cut out these 35 pieces.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/138.jpg)
Gluing up the first course.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/137.jpg)
Second course.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/139.jpg)
Skip ahead to fifth course.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/140.jpg)
Finished shot showing the vent opening created between the fins.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/141.jpg)
This box will contain the cooling fan and the power/audio jacks. It will be sprayed with my industrial aluminum paint to look like cooling fins.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/142.jpg)
The cooling fan will be mounted to the base of the auxiliary box and penetrate through to the support box cavity. I can't find my 40mm hole saw so I use a smaller one and use a file to work my way out.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/143.jpg)



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/144.jpg)
Bits and pieces to mount to the back of the Aux box.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/145.jpg)
Some dry fit shots....

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/146.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/147.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/148.jpg)
The back of the Aux box where the jacks/switches will be mounted is very rough....for now.

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:16:15 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/149.jpg)
Cut out and dry fit a piece of aluminum for the Aux box I/O panel.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/153.jpg)
I decided to go with the minimum...power switch, power jack and audio out.  Not much more room for anything else.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/154.jpg)
Dry fit the panel.  This will be framed up to hold in place.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/150.jpg)
The DE box gets put together after cutting and gluing up pieces.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/151.jpg)
I mitered both ends of the the wood pieces to allow me to match up the best ends. Not all miters are the same even using a precision tool.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/152.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/155.jpg)
After cutting and trimming.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/156.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/157.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/158.jpg)
Roughly arranged boxes.

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/159.jpg)

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:18:10 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/161.jpg)
Cut three 8" x 3" pieces of cherry veneer.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/163.jpg)
Glued and clamped things up.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/164.jpg)
After nine hours of drying time (three hours each piece) I trimmed up a few of the edges.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/165.jpg)
Sanded with 100-grit sandpaper and hit it with a coat of lacquer sanding sealer.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/166.jpg)
Working on the SSD box rabbit hole.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/167.jpg)
The hole is restricted in size by the location of the optical drive located immediately on the other side of the board.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/168.jpg)
The angled SATA cables come out at 90 degrees and immediately have to turn under and go through the rabbit hole.  This presented a problem with the data cable because it is not so flexible.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/169.jpg)
I devised a spacer to raise the SSD a 1/4" so that the cable radius wasn't so tight during the turn under.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/170.jpg)
The additional spacer also opens up the passageway for improved airflow.  I'm not sure exactly how much heat an SSD actually generates but I think this cooling setup will do.  They are designed to be used in a cramped laptop space with little (if any?) cooling so we'll have to see.

Change in plan on the SSD I'll be using.  I'm going to bump the Crucial C300 unit to my next project and instead use a 160GB Intel X25 in this project.

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:19:40 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/171.jpg)
I marked out the approximate location of the SSD box rabbit hole.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/172.jpg)
Used my small (25mm) hole saw and hand rasp to open up the hole most of the way.  This is 5-ply birch plywood with an additional ply of Hard Pennsylvania Cherry so it is much slower going than working with basswood.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/173.jpg)
Set up this fence to assist in getting the position accurate and help prevent creeping duriing the gluing process.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/174.jpg)
Same process with the much larger Pico box rabbit hole. I also finished opening up the SSD hole and smoothed out the passageway edges.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/175.jpg)
I realized about this time that I should have done some finish work prior to gluing anything on because the support box surface was only going to get more inaccessible by adding "obstacles".  I sanded the surface with 220-grit sandpaper and applied a couple of coats of my brush-on satin-finish lacquer. 



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/176.jpg)
Mmmm. Shiny...but not too shiny.  This is my clamping scheme for the Pico mounting board.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/177.jpg)
Finished opening up the holes and dressing them up with files/sandpaper.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/178.jpg)
Everything seems to be tight and square. I'll finish the tops of the boxes much later.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/179.jpg)
Testing my friction fit boxes.  This is how I measure the accuracy of my work.  The goal is to be able to easily remove and attach the boxes while still maintaining a tight friction fit.

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:24:04 PM
The Aux box work has been challenging and I have presented a condensed version of the work in the following photos.  A great deal of thought and anxiety has been expended in its construction and design. What is missing is the lengths I went to ensure proper positioning and alignment. 

Anyone who has built a scratch-built computer case can tell you that designing maintenance access is very challenging.  When working at this small scale those challenges can be even greater.  It is much easier to build and make something look good if you have no concern for having to tear it apart a year from now to fix or upgrade the equipment contained within.

Blah, blah. blah. On with it...

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/183.jpg)
Marked up and cut out the hole for the exhaust fan. Crazy, almost impossibly tight fit is required here.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/182.jpg)
Installed the fan into the aux box mounting board.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/184.jpg)
Dry fit the aux box mounting board. In this photo I have included the case's back plate. Unlike the Level 10 case my design will have a permanently fixed back plate.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/185.jpg)
Countersunk screws are used to attach the "cooling fins" to the mounting board. The mounting board will be painted flat black and the fins will be aluminum. The protruding edges inside the fan hole will later be trimmed and rounded to help with fan air flow.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/186.jpg)
I had to shim the mounting board to make up for the thickness of veneer yet to be applied to the surrounding Pico and SSD boxes.  This will ensure that all the boxes will extend out to the same height.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/188.jpg)
Trimmed up the shim, drilled out a hole for the wiring, trimmed up the fan hole obstructions and screwed everything back together.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/190.jpg)
Completed aux box except for wiring and paint. Two AA batteries auditioning for size comparator.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/191.jpg)
When assembled, the fan extends into the support box space.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/192.jpg)
Additional wood pieces are framed around the fan and glued firmly up against the fan body.  In this photo I show the position of the optical drive and the proximity of its adapter to the Pico box access.

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:27:41 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/193.jpg)
Cut out a block to use as the mounting board for the DE box. Rep for guessing what DE stands for.  The DE box has a single coat of aluminum paint, first of many more to come.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/194.jpg)
This is the rig I built to help me sand wood edges down to an exact size. One fence pinches down 60-grit sandpaper and the other fence is "hinged" to give me control. Back-and-forth, flipping it around to even out the process. Shift the sandpaper often to refresh it. Constantly test fitting the piece to judge progress and make adjustments.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/195.jpg)
Success.  This block isn't coming out of its hole...not yet anyway.

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/196.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/197.jpg)
I like to use blocks of wood or combinations of different blocks to get the spacing I like.  These two boards are what I used to space the Pico and SSD boxes and I'll be using them again here.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/198.jpg)
Another spacer is set up to ensure conformity with the bottom of the Pico box.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/199.jpg)
Set the DE box in place.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/200.jpg)
Flipped it over, drilled pilot holes and fastened the box with tiny brass wood screws.

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/201.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/202.jpg)
Now I can flip it back over and pry the DE box off its mounting board. I run a pencil mark around the perimeter of the mounting board.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/203.jpg)
Remove the screws from the back and using sandpaper I remove the lacquer finish to get back down to bare wood. Stay within the lines. I knew all that coloring book training would be valuable one day.  Apply wood glue, re-install the brass wood screws and set aside to dry. After drying I remove the screws permanently.

Screws have a way of working themselves out over time and the surface behind the DE box is the optical drive casing.  Besides, an wise old woodworker once told me that screws are used for things you plan to remove one day.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/206.jpg)
I thought it was a good time for a test fitting. Note the USB ports above the optical drive.

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/207.jpg)

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:31:31 PM
Painting and wiring...go.

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/209.jpg)
To start the wiring process I mount the motherboard and ALL the onboard connectors to check for clearances and to see if the box still closes over the top of it.  I was concerned about the IDE cable and the height of the SATA cable. 



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/210.jpg)
The only issue I uncovered was the front USB cable.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/217.jpg)
I had to peel back the USB cable's factory heat shrink to get more flexibility in the cable end. That worked.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/208.jpg)
After a couple of coats of aluminum paint it was time to try to remove it all. I used my sanding block to hand mill the edges down until all the paint was gone and all the edges were flat and even.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/211.jpg)
After about twelve coats of paint.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/216.jpg)
Handbrushed the interiors with a machinery gray flat latex paint.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/212.jpg)
Still more flat gray (and much more to come).  That paint looks the same as what I used to paint my deck this weekend.  Huh? Imagine that...



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/213.jpg)
Back panel interior leaving the glue-down surfaces raw.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/214.jpg)
Top-side. I didn't paint the vertical box mating surfaces because my hand wasn't steady enough. Too much coffee.  I will probably mask it off some how with either tape or just a cardboard edge.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/215.jpg)
Other half of the interior. The white dots are velcro that I'm using to temporarily secure the optical drive and USB ports while I'm wiring them up.

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:37:53 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/218.jpg)
Everything connected and routed around.  A little "lost art" IDE cable origami was performed. Whether the onboard power supply would power the optical drive through the 44-pin IDE cable was the big question.  It appears to work fine. I'm still having a hard time believing that the Pico contains its own PSU.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/221.jpg)
The assembled and installed auxiliary box with new power switch.

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/222.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/223.jpg)
Art Deco sunburst or Japanese battle flag?  The motif for the box tops will be the last thing I do in this project but that won't stop me from thinking about it.  My veneer is too small to cover a top without a seam so I'm looking at doing something that works around that issue.  I also want something that flows between the two surfaces to show connectivity and to tie things together and other artsy-fartsy phases like that.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/219.jpg)
I've been wanting to do a classic Art Deco sunburst for some time so I drew one out.  The wife really liked it so I tossed some paint on to help see the design better.  It went from looking interesting to looking like a Japanese battle flag.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/220.jpg)
I've since redrawn things (not shown) to try to get away from the flag resemblance. If I actually do this, the "sun" will be the same cherry and the contrast stripes will be a very light walnut.  I'm not convinced.  It may be too much. The wife is betting that the finished wood inlay will be much softer.
Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:42:37 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/224.jpg)
Cut a rough outline out of aluminum sheet with my Dremel and finished off the edges with a metal file.  I made the width of the piece the same as my 6" straightedge that way I could use it as a guide for my filing effort.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/225.jpg)
Semi-finished piece.  The far edge is still rough because it will be cut off eventually. I use it to clamp the piece down without fear of scratching anything important.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/226.jpg)
Meanwhile, I've glued up the back panel veneer.  The dark edges are the result of sunlight hitting the stored veneer sheets.  Cherry, like mahogany, is very photo-reactive so I am currently "baking" the panel in the sun to even out the tone.  Hopefully this and some deep sanding will help hide the seams.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/227.jpg)
I cut out some cherry veneer to surround the aluminum bits. A midsection was cut out of the large aluminum piece. I felt that creating two sections from a complete piece would help with the continuity.  It just seemed like the right way to do it.

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/228.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/229.jpg)
Dry fitting.  Keep in mind that I have an "overhang" of veneer all around so the boxes appear larger than normal.

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/230.jpg)
This solution solves the cherry-on-cherry seam issue and gives me the connected flow illusion I'm looking for. 

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:45:10 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/236.jpg)
Here I'm testing the adhesive I'm going to use to glue down the aluminum to the wood.  After drying I tried to remove the aluminum scrap from the the wood scrap by any means including prying with a screwdriver. PASS.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/232.jpg)
A key to the process is to prepare the two surfaces with very rough sandpaper. 60-grit in this case.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/244.jpg)
To firmly clamp the veneers down to the box tops I had to create a clamping system that included these extended-reach clamps.  I call them "Reach Arounds".



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/233.jpg)
I cut two 1/2" thick blocks of wood that fit snugly into the insides of the boxes.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/243.jpg)
The clamps wouldn't reach deeply enough into the box interior until I inserted the wood clamping blocks. Now I can bring crazy clamping power to the box tops without damaging the sides.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/234.jpg)
Fast forward a considerable amount of time (I think it was called Saturday, or was that Sunday?) and this is the result. Filing down the metal edges was slow and tedious mainly to protect the surrounding wood. The sharp pointy ends of the wood veneer were particularly vulnerable because of the way the grain ran.  Here, the boxes are sitting on top of the back panel after everything got two coats of lacquer sanding sealer.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/231.jpg)
Gluing two boards together to create the dimension that I need. I get bonus points for gluing scrap together.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/235.jpg)
Gluing and clamping the upper interior support piece.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/237.jpg)
The support box interior will soon be accessible only through the thin opening created in the back.  To cover this opening I am building a plug that I am going to call "The Plug". Hmmm. OK. A 1/2" square board is cut to a friction fit. 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/239.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/238.jpg)
In addition to being an access cover The Plug will also help secure the optical drive inside the support box. These pieces were cut to fit snugly against the drive's adapter (and around the digital audio thingy that I never use for anything...ever.)



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/242.jpg)
The Plug. An additional exterior dress-up piece will be attached later. 



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/240.jpg)
During "planning" I noticed how perfectly the 1/2" wide interior support boards matched up with the optical drive's thickness. Too perfectly because it didn't allow the drive to slide back-and-forth in the box. I knew early on that I was eventually going to have to shim everything. Thankfully, the thickness of some scrap walnut veneer works perfectly.

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:48:35 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/245.jpg)
The front-mounted USB ports need to be trimmed and mounted.  Although this may seem to be a "normal" USB cable setup the connector is actually 2.0mm pitch versus the more typical 2.54mm pitch setup. Most all itty-bitty boards use 2.0mm.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/246.jpg)
The port's hard rubber-like casing is sanded down with 60-grit to a friction fit. Two jam blocks are cut for mounting.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/247.jpg)
Mounted front USB ports. There will be no access to this component when it is sealed up so I test the **** out of these ports before committing.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/248.jpg)
The base boards are cut. The one on the left is a 3/16" basswood board with screw access holes drilled out. The board on the right is 1/8" birch plywood. It will (hopefully) provide the structural strength in the base.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/249.jpg)
The two base boards are glued together and posed here in these photos. From this test fitting I decided that the base will be cherry. I was leaning toward gloss black or maybe aluminum but I think the additional cherry down here is needed to offset the expanse of cherry at the very top.  We'll soon see if I am right.

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/250.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/251.jpg)
Applying the veneer. Maybe my favorite clamp sculpture of all time. The wife lol'd.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/252.jpg)
Finished base ready for some sealer. Small?

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 03:51:40 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/253.jpg)
A major milestone. Glued the back panel on. The piece is face down in a protective towel with external clamping blocks showing.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/263.jpg)
A piece of cherry is cut and glued into place across the top of the support box.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/255.jpg)
The task I have been dreading most has started. I use a CD to measure the length of the drive slot and mark the board with my late 1920's Sheaffer mechanical pencil. It's an old friend. :D



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/256.jpg)
The tools used for this task.  I have a dark history with cutting slot-loader slots and I avoid doing it like the plague. I have devised a new method that I'm trying out here.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/257.jpg)
Using a piece of laser-cut dimensional lumber (itty-bitty 2x4) as a template I mark the slot and cut it using a clamped down straightedge for a guide. Here the template fits snugly into the freshly cut slot.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/258.jpg)
The real trick is lining up the drive slot with the USB port openings. To assist in doing this I've got a fingernail file, razor knife, square hobby file and a spare USB flash drive.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/259.jpg)
About 3 1/2 hours work. The experience wasn't that bad.   I didn't even expect to get it right the first time.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/260.jpg)
Working on the external beauty-piece for The Plug. The wood screw in The Plug is a temporary method to pull the plug out of the case.

 

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/262.jpg)
Glued up and after receiving an initial coat of aluminum paint.



(http://slipperyskip.com/11/261.jpg)
After the first coat of brush-on satin-finish lacquer.  I test fit the base, mark the contact patch and remove the finish down to bare wood.  I use a fingernail file to round off all of the project's edges and corners. I hate doing this. I prefer that the edges be sharp enough to cut flesh but my cabinetmaker friends all tell me that sharp edges are easily damaged.

The front panel is being finished "off-the-box" to help prevent sawdust and lacquer from falling into the equipment. It will be glued in place in the final steps.



Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 04:08:23 PM
(http://slipperyskip.com/11/365.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/369.jpg)

System specs:

1.2GHz VIA Nano 64-bit CPU
VIA P820 Pico-ITX mainboard w/ integrated PSU
VIA VX855 chipset feat. 1080p HDMI output
2GB Crucial DDR2 system memory
160GB Intel X25 SSD
Pioneer DVD burner
T&T 40mm exhaust fan
Windows 7 (64-bit)


(http://slipperyskip.com/11/300.jpg)
Thermaltake Level 10


(http://slipperyskip.com/11/362.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/358.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/359.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/361.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/351.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/353.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/355.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/357.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/370.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/348.jpg)

(http://slipperyskip.com/11/366.jpg)

Big thanks to my friends at Crucial and VIA.

Title: Re: Level Eleven - 2010
Post by: slipperyskip on August 06, 2014, 05:26:43 PM
Level Eleven Time Lapse Construction Video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBaQisKlbg4)