Work Log Page: 
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Time to Crack the Whip... Update 06/26/2006
The flat ribbon IDE cables I had intended using looked
unsightly inside the case and covered up too much of the motherboard.
There was no good way to fold them out of the way so I scrapped them in favor of
the black rounded IDE cables shown below.
I removed the paper tabs and the boots
from the ends
Here are the cables attached to the main
board and positioned within the case, it looks much nicer without the fat black
IDE cables covering up all the hardware.
Next up are the two 320GB hard drives that
will replace the two 250GB drives that I had originally planned on using... 640
Below are the two drives hooked up to the
main board and Windows Media Center being installed, it is now officially a
computer. I still have some hardware to install - pinhole camera, LCD
screen and Matrix Orbital - and the hard drives still need to be mounted but it
is definitely working, so I am working on it again.
Yesterday I went and saw my friend with
the laser, we worked together all afternoon cutting the pieces of Acrylic that
will make up the case exterior, he also has a really cool, brand new, high end industrial
printer... if I would have measured out the parts placement beforehand he could
have back painted the panels too. I don't know how well it would have
worked because I don't want the light to show and I am uncertain of the inks
opacity, but like he said... it could also just print out a painting
template directly onto the acrylic to make masking easier.
Check out the tasty laser-y goodness...
Mmmmm, crunchy. The picture below shows the laser vented top panel and the
front illusion section panel with the slot for the DVD burner cut out, it's
starting to come together.
Below is the side panel that everything
hooks into and ports out of, it came out really kick ass... especially when you
factor in how it was done. The case was placed onto a flatbed scanner
(connector side down) and the scanned image was then traced in Corel Draw and
used as a cutting template.
The following picture shows just how well
everything lines up, it only took two tries cutting scrap to get it all lined up
Three-quarter overhead view of the mother
board tray side, the port out side and top...
Motherboard side and top... the vent slots
on the top panel turned out awesome and everything fits together really nicely.
Lastly, the LCD and Matrix Orbital side
panel.... no real fancy laser cutting on this or the last panel other than being
cut to size.
The acrylic panels have a few minor
defects here and there, I am detail crazy (anal) and now currently working on
polishing out all the tiny scratches, swirl marks and laser haze. Quality
of work over quantity of work, with modding (or art) if there is anything that I
can do to make it better I will likely end up doing it... so panel polishing,
though tedious and in no way fun, was necessary and will make the finished mod
that much better. The picture below shows the three different bottles of
Novus and below them the sanding pads that came in the $14 sample kit I bought,
I don't need to use the sanding pads as none of the scratches are deep
The scratches and such are minor enough
that I skipped using Novus #3 altogether, here's how it went... clean the panel
with Novus #1, then polish it with Novus #2 and then clean it again with Novus
#1, check your work and then repeat the entire twenty minute process. I
have somewhat mixed feelings about Novus, it works and all that but then again
so does toothpaste and Brasso... oh well, the sanding pads are nice.
Today I worked on the wiring, I had to
before I could do anything else because with everything hooked up to the little
PSU... the remote control 40 LED lighting I made would not work,
it does however work when connected to my test PSU. I think that I may
have been splitting the power off too many times, the top cable in the picture
below should fix the problem - I eliminated the power lead for the back case
lighting so it now only has to power the remote lighting and pinhole
camera. The old three LED array in the lower left of the picture below
will not be used in the mod now (since it's power lead was eliminated) so I
instead made a new three LED array that will not only light the back panel of
the case but also serve a higher purpose by connecting to the main board as the
power on, HDD activity and suspend LED's.
The rounded IDE cable that I intended to
use for the HDD's is dead, I was using a pair of electricians scissors to remove
the black tubing from the cable in between the drives and wound up slicing
through two of the wires. I ordered two more 18" dual device black
rounded IDE cables so I can try it again, hopefully they get here soon.
I spent some time working on the graphic
for the carbon fiber side panel, I think it came out pretty decent. The inner
lettering that is white will be masked off from the inside of the panel and will
not be vinyl dyed, when combined with the LED back lighting and carbon fiber it
should look pretty cool.
Below shows the red mirror chrome vinyl stock, a roll of
transparent contact paper, ball point pen, an X-Acto knife and the decal design
The following picture shows the pattern taped onto a cut piece of vinyl stock and the whole shebang
taped to a magazine.
The outline of the pattern was
traced with a ballpoint pen ( the magazine beneath provides a little give so that
the impression is deeper) the pattern sheet was then removed - the picture below
shows the impression lines.
Using an X-Acto knife with a
fresh blade I began the task of cutting the vinyl, the trick here is to apply
just enough knife pressure to cut through the vinyl but not go all the way
through the paper backing. After cutting for a few minutes you will be
able to tell by how the cut sounds if you are going too deep.
Be careful when removing the
scrap vinyl, watch that you don't let the piece you are removing get stuck to
the decal, this can happen when cut lines don't meet up since you have to
hit it again with the knife, when you peel sections up always pay attention to
what the scrap material is doing.
With all the scrap material
removed a piece of clear contact paper is cut and than applied to the decal
using a credit card.
Below shows the decal coated
with contact paper, cut to size and ready for install.
After thinking over the
past couple months about this mod I decided there was a need to simple things up
and there are a few reasons why. I planned the internal part of this mod really
well, but had no plan for attaching the outer acrylic panels... the method I
have come up with does not allow for the side mounted hard drive since it
attaches directly to the corner angle. The hard drive that was removed would
have had questionable ventilation to it's underside anyway, with a single drive
mounted to the openly vented case bottom the top fans become unnecessary...
color them gone. I wanted to lighten the load to the power supply so that the
6" LCD could lose the external 12V power adapter and run PSU direct, so the
HDD, both fans, the pinhole camera (a novelty that would have been lost in a sea
of novelty) and the TV tuner card + IR receiver (piece of crunk) have all been
With all the above parts
removed I once again fired up the little computer, plugged in the 6" LCD
monitor and set it up in the BIOS. Next, I installed Windows and all the
drivers and the small LCD worked perfectly through it all powered by the tiny PSU...
right as I was about to give myself a pat on the back I remembered that I had
not tested the remote control lighting. I grabbed the remote and pressed the
on switch... the PC powered off... not good. I
tried it a couple more times before deciding that 40 LED's might have been a bit
overkill to begin with, two Lazer LED's are not as bright or impressive as the
LED array I built, but is more realistic.
In the top right of the above
picture is the homebrewed LED lighting that was removed from the remote sensor
and the bottom left shows the Lazer LED's that will replace it. I screwed
together and notched the edges of the Lazer LED's so that the zip ties don't
move around and two rubber grommets were used to spread them apart to space out
the lighting. Below shows everything ready for soldering with the heat
shrink ready after.
I plugged everything back in
to test fire the lighting, the following picture shows the zip tie mounting
method for the LED's and remote sensor...
And below is the case interior
lit up by the Lazer LED's, not nearly as bright as the 40 high intensity LED's I
had intended to use, but still bright enough to light things up.
It's alive, working properly
and looking very sweet... next up, the money shot. I still have a few
things left to do before I begin working on the outer panels, I may in fact wind
up entirely re-doing
the outer panels. ACRyan AcrylPanel scratches like mad, it's a fairly
'soft' acrylic and not really optimal as an external case surface... so it is at
this point up in the air as to whether it will be used for anything other than a
The 6" LCD monitor is a
bit clearer in real life than it looks in the following picture, but it does
show the tiny monitor with open windows on it doing stuff and/or things.
Pretty sweet so far, but I still have not come up with a finalized attachment
method for the outer panels... that will be next.