Hi all, I just pushed through tonight to finish up a build I've been working on for a while now. But it's done, so time to share it. I had originally wanted to make something cubic, but it turned out to be a little too tall, so it's basically a big brass
box. Here's a view from the front left side:
on from the other corner, also showing the top:
The outside is pretty basic, I made the sides out of sheet metal brass
(special thanks to the sheet metal topic in cases!). It wound up being bigger than I thought it would be, around 21.5" high by 17.5" wide and 17.5" deep. The interior is much more messy, I was inspired by the silverstone cases with the rotated motherboards, as well as the antec with the separate area for the supply and hard drives. So I basically put the motherboard up, and then put the power supply and hard drives around the back. With the case off it looks like this from the front:
The motherboard side looks like this:
I scavenged the motherboard tray from a cm-stacker, it has a hole down at the bottom for a lateral flow fan, and I figured that would be perfect for cable routing. It's not bad, but I probably could have used a normal tray and just routed them under the bottom of the case, you need to have some height to keep the fans at the bottom fed. The frame itself I made out of a metal shelving bracket, you can find them at Lowes or Home Depot. I got a 6 foot piece an bent it into square for the base, attached a couple other pieces for the cross members to hold the motherboard in place, and used some flat pieces to provide the A frame on the back and on the front on the motherboard side. Holding it up I just have some bolts with some nuts holding them, and some felt pads on the bottom.
Currently I have an i7 980x and a gtx 295 in there, I use the machine mostly for Folding at Home, so it's going full on all the time. And in this case, it's really pretty quiet, mostly just some fan whooshing from the outside. The hard drive side looks like this, with only half the drives in and unconnected:
And all filled in:
That's 9 drives, a dvd writer at the front, and an ssd drive hanging there above the power supply. I put a piece of sheet steel on the back of the motherboard, and covered it with velcro. You'll notice velcro all over the place here, I used it to connect many things, it's nice because it doesn't really transmit vibration, and it's holds more strongly the more vibrated it gets. And it let me screw around with a lot of different configurations.
The configuration of this side was the biggest question, I could have done a lot of things differently there, but this way was the easiest to set up, so that's the way I went. The switches and usb panel came from the cm-stacker too, they conveniently made them fit into a 5.25 slot, so it was easy to put them in with the dvd writer. The hard drives have velcro holding them to the back, and then I used some plastic coated wire connected to the upper motherboard support, and connected to the drive with a screw with one of those vibration grommets on it. The connections are all along the outside, and the sata lines are mostly routed around the bottom up the top, velcroed to the back, and then they come out to the outside. I tried to keep them lined up so that the bottom fans could get some air between them. The power supply it set at that odd angle so that it can still get some air coming up, without taking too much space from the hard drives. I wanted it closer to the front so that it would be easy to route the extra connector to the cpu, and that did turn out fine. The main connecter was a little trickier, I tried it through the bottom, but it blocked too much of the fan at the bottom, so I routed it around the side, that seems to work fine. One of the best things about this architecture is the cable routing, I left space on all side of the motherboard so that wires could go wherever they needed to, and it's all great in that regard.
I should probably mention the fans as well, there's two 120mm fans (noctuas, I think) on the hard drive side, they had to be smaller because of the space taken up by the dvd writer. On the motherboard side, there are two 140 mm fans. They are velcroed to some cardboard, I was going to put them on metal after I'd measured it out on cardboard, but then I thought, eh, cardboard works. There's also the top fan, think that's another noctua.
The outer brass
panels are mostly mounted with velcro, with some exceptions. The front and back pieced hang over something, the back has a bracket that hangs over the top of the A frame in the back, and the front hits the top of the dvd writer, so they have a little extra support there. The side pieces are L shaped, and wrap from the sides around to half of the top, and connect to the front and back with more velcro. Having no metal on metal touching keeps things quiet. The holes in the top are covered on the inside with aluminum screen door stuff. I folded the brass
over the edges of the screen door stuff, my theory there was that if I could get a good connection between that and the top and side, then some of the heat that got blown out the top might get conducted to the sides. There is some mild effect there, but it probably wasn't really worth the effort, a separate top piece would have been simpler. Eh, live and learn. I also put Acoustipak on all the inner walls, here's what that looks like:
Here's a top down shot of the top, there's another piece of velcro across the gap between the pieces to keep things from falling in:
So all in all, I feel good about it, but if I did another one there's a lot of room for improvement. I could probably take a couple inches off of each dimension if I had known how things would go, I put a lot of extra space in to make sure there was room for everything, but a lot of the extra cable routing space isn't all that necessary. I added a bunch of extra space for tall cpu coolers, I think I could fit one 200mm tall, and there's extra space for an 8th pci slot, in case I want to put in quad gpus. Not sure if I will. The hard drive side could have been a lot different, the biggest problem is that I wound up with an overhang at the top of the motherboard. Since you need some extra height for cables at the top of the motherboard, if you use that extra space, another row of hard drives could probably fit in.
On the other hand, it looks pretty good, nice and shiny. I still need to really polish it up, I gave it a mild polish, but there are some scratches on that didn't come out. I had a hard time finding the metal, and had no luck finding it entirely unblemished. I need to get a polishing wheel for my dremel and see if that will do it. It'll be a shame to have to use a dremel, I did all the construction with just a drill, some tin snips, an a crimper on some of the folds. But anyway, let me know what you think!