Building the Box
The Base Plate
The construction started with a Â¼’ thick aluminum base plate that supports and ties together both halves of the case. After cutting the plate to size it was carefully flattened to insure that all of the component mounting would be plumb and square. Everything that mounts to the base is fixed to holes that are drilled and tapped into the plate.
The Right Side
Housing the drives, power supply, water pump and radiator is a ‘chopped and channeled’ LianLi PC61 case, shortened in height by 4-1/2 inches. It started by cutting down the case’s chassis. The face plate and side panels were also shortened. Because the black LianLi case had an unwanted fan switch on the face plate, an older version was cut down to match. The end result, a shortened mid tower, is fixed to the base plate with six screws.
The Left Side
The mother board enclosure is considerably more complex, as it was entirely hand crafted. It was fabricated from aluminum plates and various extrusions.
It started by mounting a length of Mini-Tec extrusion to the edge. This extrusion has five continuous slots in it that accept hex nuts for fastening various things to it without having to drill any holes. These slots were used to mount the extrusion to the base, mount the fan controller and coolant manifold, as well as receiving the large window. The fan controller, made by Zalman, sits inside of this extrusion. It needed a new face plate in order to mount it, which was made from a 3/16′ aluminum plate and sits in a rectangular cut made in the extrusion. The LED’s were changed from blue to green, just for fun. Making this simple little plate was a good excuse for a nice, new drill press. 🙂
The mainboard tray was taken from the PC60 case, along with the sliding tray tracks and hardware. Installed to the base with one inch long stand-offs, it allows coolant lines and wiring to run underneath, from one side of the case to the other.
In the following shot, you can see all of the slots in the extrusion as well as the first placement of the radiator and shroud. It was about this time that it was becoming clear that although things were going to fit tightly, there was going to be room for everything.
Next up, was supporting the top of the motherboard tray. Three brackets were cut from 3/16′ aluminum plate and fixed to the adjoining chopped down PC case. In order to keep the motherboard tray plumb, Â½’ long stand-offs were used to attach the upper tray track to the brackets.
Here you can see all threee upper brackets in place, along with some of the greenhouse supporting angles, the water pump and a cutout made in the LianLi chassis to allow wires through from the power supply.
The greenhouse has a front and back face plate, each cut on a CNC mill from Â¼’ aluminum plate. Careful attention was paid to the dimensions of the motherboard tray on the back plate, while the front plate includes cutouts for an intake fan and USB ports. Special thanks to Steve Svaboda of Precision Molds in Sonora, CA, for letting me play in his shop and his amazing milling machines.
By far my favorite part of this case is the top of the greenhouse. It was fabricated from a duplicate of the top plates used on the original BaDass. It started as a piece of 3/16′ aluminum plate with 37 ball milled slots and two sets of holes for 80mm exhaust fans. This plate was then cut into three pieces and mitered on a chop saw. The miters were finished on a stationary belt sander. Making these three pieces fit was a good excuse for a nice, new belt sander. 🙂 When the three pieces are assembled, they make up the greenhouse canopy.
Jumping ahead just a bit, because I didn’t take pictures of them before they were finishedâ€¦ here’s a picture of the parts that make up the canopy. The skinny piece on the right is probably the trickiest, because it attaches to the front edge with #2 screws that go into drilled and tapped holes in the edge of the 3/16′ plate. It allows the greenhouse window to snap in and out, which you’ll see later.
The hole pattern for all the fan openings is a mix of twenty one Â½’ and sixteen Â¼’ diameter holes. The pattern was copied from an art deco air grille in a
One of the last bits of fabricating was mounting switches, LED’s, a cover plate for USB ports and the fan grille to the front. The LED’s were intended for an I-Star dual 500W power supply, but in the end, it couldn’t be used because it lacked an AGP Pro power connector. They’ll be used for hard drive activity lights instead. I haven’t been able to get them to work off of the RAIDCore controller yet, but that’s for another day.
After a lot of fabricating and double checking what seemed like a zillion critical dimensions, the building of the box was finally done. A local plastic fabricator formed a thirty degree bend in a piece of Â¼’ green plexiglass and after some careful cutting and fitting of plastic panels, it was all beginning to take shape. It was time to concentrate on the liquid cooling system.