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Topics - slipperyskip

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Completed Projects / Project Clean Slate - 2016
« on: August 29, 2016, 10:43:47 AM »
New project inspired by vintage tube amplifiers.

I'll be using a Micro-ATX motherboard for this build. I like this model because it is a small Micro-ATX and it places the x16 PCIe slot in the second position instead of the first.

Comparison with a VIA EPIA 800 Mini-ITX motherboard which happens to be the very first Mini-ITX motherboard ever sold. VIA created and wrote the Mini-ITX standard. Mine has been modified..of course.

Instead of cutting a template out of a solid piece of paper I taped together a dozen or so 3 x 5 index cards so that they formed around the shapes. Just seemed easier that way.

Transferred the index card template to a piece of art board.

Finally I transferred the art board template to 1/8" 6-ply birch plywood. Using the intermediate art board template kept me from potentially ruining an expensive piece of wood.

All three pieces stacked together. Just because.

Motherboard mounted to the underside of the plywood with components sticking up through the top of the case. Similar to a tube amp that has exposed transformers, tubes and other components "displayed" on the top.

Thanks for looking!

Completed Projects / Project SkyVue - 2016
« on: January 03, 2016, 12:15:41 PM »

This is a case mod project. The case being used is a Silverstone LC02 that the company donated to me back in 2007. It was initially involved in a project that got shelved because the motherboard wasn't ATX compliant. What I like most about it is that it is all-aluminum so it should be easy to work.

The case came with Silverstone designed and branded riser cards and extensions so that PCIe cards could be installed in a "laid down" position.

The motherboard was donated by Gigabyte. I really like their WIFI series of mini-ITX boards with its all-black color theme.

Here is the motherboard and graphics card installed in the case using the riser/extention parts.

Corsair's new low-profile mini-ITX AIO water cooling system.

The case has to be modified to provide for the cooler exhaust vent.

Before cutting out the vent with a Dremel, a piece of aluminum bar stock has to be attached along the edge in order to strengthen the area. The case has a cut in an unfortunate place in order to attach a drive bay that will not be used in this project. I used a two-part epoxy for this.

The mounting system for the Corsair cooler shares three of the four motherboard mounting screws. The screws that came with the kit didn't fit the Silverstone built-in standoffs. Easily fixed by a trip to the local hardware store.

Cooler "dry fit" to check for proper vent location. The unit has a foam collar that fits tightly against the case interior in order to seal the exhaust.

This project is being brought to you by:

Thanks for looking!

General Discussion / Black & White Gallery
« on: August 17, 2014, 12:37:54 PM »

Completed Projects / Ingraham - 2008
« on: August 10, 2014, 12:21:57 PM »
Welcome to my latest project log.  I'm calling it Ingraham because I'm taking inspiration from one of my favorite radio designers from the thirties and fourties.  Ingraham didn't build radios.  They were a clock company that got into designing and building wooden radio cases for the big name radio companies like Emerson, GE and Stromberg-Carlson.

The front of the case is dominated by a 7-slat horizontal louver (louvre for you Brits) system that is designed to hide two 3-incn (76mm) ventilation ports. 

I apologize for the crude photos.  I haven't got my photography kit together yet.  My tripod has walked on me.  Pictured above is seven 3/16" x 3" basswood planks cut to the width of the case.  Spacing the slats out are 3/16" support planks.

The support planks are set back at a 3/8" depth all around.  This photo kinda simulates what it will look like.  No glue here only clamps.

The support planks are brought back out flush with front edge.  This gives me a flat surface draw my 3" circle.

The support planks are pulled and cut at the pencil marks.  The resulting pieces are reassembled.

Completed Projects / Acero - 2012
« on: August 10, 2014, 11:48:53 AM »
Acero...Italian for maple.

Completed Projects / Orchestra - 2014
« on: August 10, 2014, 09:31:55 AM »
Orchestra is a decorative cover for a Jawbone Big Jambox bluetooth speaker. The design was inspired by a 1961 Curtis Mathes stereo console.

1961 Curtis Mathes stereo console

Completed Projects / Usonian - 2011
« on: August 09, 2014, 03:53:54 PM »

Completed Projects / Mondrian - 2012
« on: August 09, 2014, 02:32:30 PM »
Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) was an influential Dutch abstract painter who worked with simple lines, right angles, geometric figures and primary colors. This scratch built computer case is my tribute to his art.

Building a frame for the I/O shield.

Mini-ITX motherboard with Scythe Kozuti heatsink. The CPU fan is located below the fins where it pulls air in through the fins/heatpipes.

This is my panel cutting setup. A fixed fence, a floating fence and an X-acto razer saw.

Locate and install the motherboard standoffs. I'm using aircraft grade birch plywood.

Mark and cut-out the hole for the CPU heatsink.

Cut the second panel to the exact same dimensions and do a test fit. This design allows cool external air to be drawn into the case through the heatsink making overheating nearly impossible.

Building the corner supports. These supports also function as spacers for the edge vents.

Dry-fitting my edge vent system.

Dry fitting the back panel components.

Hot internal air escapes through the edge vents without the use of a fan.

Completed Projects / Ayr - 2013
« on: August 09, 2014, 10:51:56 AM »
Here is the start to my latest custom computer project. The name Ayr was chosen because of the fanless air cooling that is the center of this project. Literally, as you will find out later.

The objective is to get Intel HD4000 graphics out of a fanless, solid state, no moving parts, dead silent HTPC system.

Gigabyte Z77 Mini-ITX board.

Silverstone HE02 Heatsink. Nearly 1 Kg of cooling goodness. 

Intel i3-3225 with HD4000 graphics.

Completed Projects / Project Addison - 2014
« on: August 08, 2014, 01:07:09 PM »
Project goal is to design and build a powerful as possible gaming rig into a small as possible enclosure.

Note: I place captions below photos.

Click here for final photos

Start by building a temporary structure to help mock up equipment locations.

This will be my first use of water cooling even though it is just an AIO unit.

The key to this build is this Mini-ITX sized GTX 970 from Gigabyte.

Gigabyte has been a sponsor of mine since 2006. This is the WiFi version of their Z97 Mini-ITX gaming board. I chose this over their GA-Z97N-Gaming 5 board because I didn't need the onboard Killer NIC and liked the idea of having dual HDMI instead of just one.

Gigabyte was also gracious enough to provide me with one of Hi Cookie's i7-4770K Intel Engineering Sample CPUs.

Silverstone has been a sponsor of mine for over ten years. 

For this project I'm using the modular cable version of their 450W SFX PSU.

Here it is sitting next to their hard wired version. Modular cables are awesome but for this design so are the fan and power cable connector locations.

Kingston HyperX is a new sponsor. They provided me with this 480GB SSD which will be the system's only drive.

They also sent me this 8GB Fury kit rated at 1866MHz.

Thanks for looking.

Completed Projects / Flightline - 2013
« on: August 07, 2014, 11:54:39 AM »
Introducing my new project based on the thin mini-ITX form factor. Intel developed this thin version to support the AIO (All In One) PC market. It was in response to the popularity of the iMac which bundles the monitor and system into a single thin chassis.

I have other ideas for it.

After a 20-hour work marathon I put together this chassis. Wood of course. It is the medium I work in.

18 pieces of wood assembled onto a 1/16" sheet of birch plywood. The wood is all basswood (AKA lacewood) except the darker center piece. That is 1/4" thick maple.

Many of the boards, including the maple, are simply to stiffen the structure. 1/16" (1.6mm) plywood is easy to work with and keeps the project thin but needs a little help to prevent flexing.

Gigabyte offers three thin mini-ITX models This is the high-end H77 chipset version.

One of the tricks in keeping the board thin is use of laptop-style SODIMM memory

The thin mini-ITX I/O shield is exactly 1/2 the height of a standard ATX standard I/O shield. Some board makers include a full height shield to use in a standard chassis.

If you installed a "normal" heatsink onto a thin mini-ITX board it would no longer be thin. Intel makes this heatsink and AFAIK it is the only such product on the market.

The heatsink uses a blower instead of a more common axial fan. Blowers are typically noisier and less efficient but Intel spent some serious R&D on this bad boy. This is the first blower I have ever worked with that allows air intake from both sides simultaneously. Testing will be done.

Completed Projects / Aerodyne - 2012
« on: August 07, 2014, 10:05:43 AM »

VIA VE-900 mini-ITX mainboard w/ attached picoPSU.

Standoffs screwed into small wooden blocks. This helps me position the board up or down by removing or adding material. The system's SSD will be mounted underneath the board. Once the proper height is set I can order the appropriate sized standoffs.

Frame for the I/O plate.

Seven pieces of wood come together to form this...

I like the curve on this sugar canister.

This is a separator/bracket I made for my "ribs". I'll need five or six more at least.

My very first video. New camera so I'm playing around.

Completed Projects / Level Eleven - 2010
« on: August 06, 2014, 02:21:28 PM »
Official Photo Gallery

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.

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.

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.

Replaced the straightedge with a 1/2" square laser-cut board to use as a fence.


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.

That done, I set up another fence to cut a short piece.

The final "cutting-through"  of the sawing process is always done with my razor knife.  Keeping those edges clean.

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.

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.

The result is two identical pieces of wood with perfect 90 degree corners. Took around an hour and a half.

I need to sprinkle this first post with some sponsor goodness so here is a SODIMM of Crucial 2GB DDR2-800. Thank you Crucial!

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. 

The two boards I just cut will sandwich this slot-loader slimline optical drive. The drive's face plate has been removed.

Completed Projects / Skyscraper - 2007
« on: August 04, 2014, 06:10:29 AM »
The idea behind this project is to build a digital picture frame that has a built-in PC to give it a little more capability than just a plain off-the-shelf digi-frame.  Of course it will be encased in something different.  Those of you who know my work will guess correctly that it will be made of wood and be retro-styled...something art deco maybe?

Here we go....

Here is the screen I'm using.  It is a 11.3 inch LCD with a 800x600 native resolution.

I bought a new Starvision rooftop-mounted video screen and gutted it.  I chose this screen primarily because the OSD controls are located on the upper portion of the unit instead of mounted next to the screen as most of these are.  Reason: It must have a long cable to reach that far away.  I will use this length to mount the control panel wherever I want to.  I was afraid that controls mounted next to the screen would have a very short cable.

This is the screen's backside.  The black ribbon cable is for the OSD control panel.  The round black cable carries video, audio and power which is 12VDC being that this is an automotive accessory.

The control panel and the wiring harness.  There will be some splicing going on with that harness.  The control panel has, in addition to the OSD controls, an IR receiver for a remote control, a radio transmitter for the audio signal (plays thru the car's stereo), flashy, blinky LEDs and a couple of dome lights with switch.  I'll only be using the OSD controls.

Marked are the mounting tabs that have to go to make way for the wood bezel. Everything that sticks out past the screen's aluminum frame will be cut off.

Here is the steel frame after removing the electronics and screen.  The tabs have been Dremeled off and the sharp edges have been filed.

Some woodwork finally.  Here I have cutout a paper template of the screen.  It is trimmed slightly in order to ensure a small overlap of the wood bezel over the edge of the screen.

The wood strips are made from basswood, my wood of choice for this kind of work.  It is technically a hardwood but it is very mill-able.  It is also widely available here in the States at most every hobby store.  See Midwest Products.

I'm not doing mitered corners. Instead, I'm doing what I call a counter-rotating pinwheel.  The first course, which is the actual bezel face, is not structurally sound.  The second course, shown placed around the frame, will end up overlapping each corner because I reverse direction of the joint alignment.  Additionally, there will be a third course that will add a great deal of structural integrity to each corner.

I'm not doing mitered corners for several reasons.  I find that mitered corners are very fragile and since this project will be either painted or veneered there is no real compelling reason to miter (mitre?).

I cut my wood with a tiny little extra length.  I mill these overages back to spec as part of the finishing process .

Completed Projects / Unidyne - 2006
« on: August 03, 2014, 11:41:31 AM »
The Unidyne was my first attempt at writing a project log.  It was published at HardOCP (and no where else) in 2006.  It is much more detailed than my website posting.

Over the years, the Unidyne has been included in many "top ten"-type lists in case modding.  It is difficult to find a "Most Unusual" or "Weirdest" case mod list without the Unidyne being included.  I consider this a high honor. :D

The project starts off with 7 pieces of 3" x 3/8" x 8" laser cut basswood separated by six pieces of 1/2" x 1/2" x 8". This entire arrangement is backed by two adjoining sheets of 3/16" x 4" basswood stock.

I printed out an enlarged PDF file of the subject and cut out the top curve.

Traced out the curve on one side and then flipped everything around to get a tracing on the other side.

Resulting curve.

Tools of the trade: A Dremel with flex-shaft and a sandpaper drum bit, a hand rasp and sandpaper wrapped around  a scrap piece of plywood.

Knocking down the end pieces to the drawn curves.

Some spacers have been inserted to provide some support.

The center fins are rough-cut using the Dremel drum sander bit and the end pieces as a guide.


The center fins are brought further into submission with 60-grit sandpaper.


Result of efforts.

Let's do it again!

Exact copies.

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