Author Topic: Level Eleven - 2010  (Read 34841 times)

slipperyskip

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Re: Level Eleven - 2010
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2014, 03:16:15 PM »

Cut out and dry fit a piece of aluminum for the Aux box I/O panel.

 


I decided to go with the minimum...power switch, power jack and audio out.  Not much more room for anything else.

 


Dry fit the panel.  This will be framed up to hold in place.




The DE box gets put together after cutting and gluing up pieces.




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.






After cutting and trimming.








Roughly arranged boxes.



« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 04:41:02 PM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Level Eleven - 2010
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2014, 03:18:10 PM »

Cut three 8" x 3" pieces of cherry veneer.




Glued and clamped things up.




After nine hours of drying time (three hours each piece) I trimmed up a few of the edges.




Sanded with 100-grit sandpaper and hit it with a coat of lacquer sanding sealer.




Working on the SSD box rabbit hole.




The hole is restricted in size by the location of the optical drive located immediately on the other side of the board.




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.




I devised a spacer to raise the SSD a 1/4" so that the cable radius wasn't so tight during the turn under.




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.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 04:42:05 PM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Level Eleven - 2010
« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2014, 03:19:40 PM »

I marked out the approximate location of the SSD box rabbit hole.




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.




Set up this fence to assist in getting the position accurate and help prevent creeping duriing the gluing process.




Same process with the much larger Pico box rabbit hole. I also finished opening up the SSD hole and smoothed out the passageway edges.




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. 




Mmmm. Shiny...but not too shiny.  This is my clamping scheme for the Pico mounting board.




Finished opening up the holes and dressing them up with files/sandpaper.

 


Everything seems to be tight and square. I'll finish the tops of the boxes much later.




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.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 04:42:43 PM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Level Eleven - 2010
« Reply #18 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...


Marked up and cut out the hole for the exhaust fan. Crazy, almost impossibly tight fit is required here.




Installed the fan into the aux box mounting board.




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.

 


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.




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.




Trimmed up the shim, drilled out a hole for the wiring, trimmed up the fan hole obstructions and screwed everything back together.




Completed aux box except for wiring and paint. Two AA batteries auditioning for size comparator.




When assembled, the fan extends into the support box space.




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.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 04:43:53 PM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Level Eleven - 2010
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2014, 03:27:41 PM »

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.




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.

 


Success.  This block isn't coming out of its hole...not yet anyway.




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.




Another spacer is set up to ensure conformity with the bottom of the Pico box.




Set the DE box in place.




Flipped it over, drilled pilot holes and fastened the box with tiny brass wood screws.




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.




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.




I thought it was a good time for a test fitting. Note the USB ports above the optical drive.



« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 04:44:51 PM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Level Eleven - 2010
« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2014, 03:31:31 PM »
Painting and wiring...go.


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. 




The only issue I uncovered was the front USB cable.




I had to peel back the USB cable's factory heat shrink to get more flexibility in the cable end. That worked.

 


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.




After about twelve coats of paint.

 


Handbrushed the interiors with a machinery gray flat latex paint.




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...




Back panel interior leaving the glue-down surfaces raw.




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.




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.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 04:45:29 PM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Level Eleven - 2010
« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2014, 03:37:53 PM »

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.




The assembled and installed auxiliary box with new power switch.




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.




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.




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.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 04:46:00 PM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Level Eleven - 2010
« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2014, 03:42:37 PM »

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.




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.




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.

 


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.




Dry fitting.  Keep in mind that I have an "overhang" of veneer all around so the boxes appear larger than normal.


This solution solves the cherry-on-cherry seam issue and gives me the connected flow illusion I'm looking for. 

« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 04:46:35 PM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Level Eleven - 2010
« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2014, 03:45:10 PM »

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.

 


A key to the process is to prepare the two surfaces with very rough sandpaper. 60-grit in this case.




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".




I cut two 1/2" thick blocks of wood that fit snugly into the insides of the boxes.




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.




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.




Gluing two boards together to create the dimension that I need. I get bonus points for gluing scrap together.




Gluing and clamping the upper interior support piece.




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. 




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.)




The Plug. An additional exterior dress-up piece will be attached later. 




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.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 04:47:50 PM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Level Eleven - 2010
« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2014, 03:48:35 PM »

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.

 


The port's hard rubber-like casing is sanded down with 60-grit to a friction fit. Two jam blocks are cut for mounting.

 


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.




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.

 


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.




Applying the veneer. Maybe my favorite clamp sculpture of all time. The wife lol'd.




Finished base ready for some sealer. Small?

« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 04:48:35 PM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Level Eleven - 2010
« Reply #25 on: August 06, 2014, 03:51:40 PM »

A major milestone. Glued the back panel on. The piece is face down in a protective towel with external clamping blocks showing.




A piece of cherry is cut and glued into place across the top of the support box.




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




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.




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.

 


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.




About 3 1/2 hours work. The experience wasn't that bad.   I didn't even expect to get it right the first time.




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.

 


Glued up and after receiving an initial coat of aluminum paint.




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.



« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 04:49:26 PM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Level Eleven - 2010
« Reply #26 on: August 06, 2014, 04:08:23 PM »




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)



Thermaltake Level 10
























Big thanks to my friends at Crucial and VIA.


slipperyskip

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Re: Level Eleven - 2010
« Reply #27 on: August 06, 2014, 05:26:43 PM »
« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 05:39:56 PM by slipperyskip »