Work Log Page: 
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I spent a few hours with the polishing
cloth and Novus to get the worst of the scratches out of the Acryl Panel.
Clear contact paper applied to both sides should keep the panels from getting
any more damage while I use them in mocking up assembly of the external casing
for the mod.
It took me forever and a day to come up with a plan for building the outside
casing for this mod. I had at first wanted the side panels to be hinged at
the bottom so that they could fold down when the top was removed, which would've
ultimately proven problematic so I nixed the idea. Next I thought about
making two sides on hinges and two sides where the panels would slide up and out
when the top was removed, I killed that idea too. My grandmother used to
say "keep it simple stupid", it has proven to be true for this mod so
far and with that in mind I came up with how I'm going to do it.
Hollow square brass rods and 1/2 inch corner alum angle, I've probably already
said this somewhere earlier in the log but I love alum angle, it makes making
stuff easier. I plan to connect everything together so that the entire
outer casing can be removed in one solid piece, this will require moving the
power button to the case bottom, but that isn't a big deal. You can also
see the final design sketch in the picture below that showing how I intend to
pull it all together, it is kind of vague but should make sense soon enough.
I cut the 1/4" corner
alum angle into 7" lengths and the brass rods into 3" lengths, I also
cut four pieces of 1/2"x3/4" corner alum angle to 7" that will be
attached to the bottom of the mod.
I scuffed up all the inside edges and JB-welded the square brass rod sections
into the ends of the alum, eight were made to cover the edges, I also polished
up the outside of the alum angle... I probably won't leave it as is but will
wait and see.
Below is a mock up to
determine mask positioning for the panel back painting...
Next is a close up of the bare corner, I am still not ready to spill the beans
on what I intend to do yet so you will have to wait... it will all make sense
Since I don't want to screw anything up I decided to do a test run with the
vinyl dye, below shows the scrap test piece.
Next shows the backside still wet after four coats of vinyl dye...
And here is what it looks like post test, it looks entirely good to go... so the
next step is to prep all the panels for paint.
The weather here in Michigan
has been unseasonable for this time of year, the temperature is almost 50
degrees in mid December... unbelievable. Since the good weather will not
last I decided to take full advantage of it and work to finish this bitch and
quick, doing so required finding a local vinyl cutting company to create a
cleaner back panel decal than the one I made, the hand cut decal was too big
anyway so I'm not crying about it. Jason at FX
Graphics did me a solid and cut a couple new back panel decals on
the spot, the best part of the deal is I now know a kick ass vinyl guy that
lives only ten minutes away. In the picture below you can see my
incorrect hand cut job on the left and the two perfect machine cut decals on the
right, this being done I am almost ready to begin vinyl dying the external
I began prepping the panels
for back painting beginning with the 'Hell's Illusion' decal side, wasting no
time I installed it and then cut the back side out for the lettering. I
also cut out the illusion section and the LCD and Matrix Orbital spots out on
their respective panels so they are now ready for paint.
I had to re-cut the side that everything ports out of, the nice laser cut panel
I had intended to use would not work with the new design for the outside casing,
below shows the simplified design... not quite laser cut, but close.
The following picture shows all the panels lined up awaiting a couple coats of
vinyl dye, it's starting to get dark so I have to work quick.
Using a hair dryer in between spraying I managed to get four coats down before
it went pitch black outside, below you can see the panels after I removed their
contact paper masks.
The final bit for today involved mocking the entire thing up again to make sure
everything lines up... which it so far appears to. Not far now and the mod will be
finished, below shows where I'm at.
The corner Alum-Angle edges of
the case are currently a shiny silver color, they need to be black to better
match the mod - but how to go about it? Anodizing the aluminum would rock,
but it is a pricey and difficult process... simply painting the aluminum edges
black is the obvious option but I instead opted to chemically oxidize the
surface of the aluminum using Birchwood Casey aluminum black.
I cleaned all the aluminum with denatured alcohol, rinsed the pieces off with
water after, I put on a pair of rubber gloves and then using a paintbrush began
scrubbing the aluminum black onto the pieces... the directions say rinse with
water after one minute but I left it on just a little bit longer.
Below shows the sections of Alum-Angle at almost two minutes still wet with aluminum
black, time to quick rinse them and then decide if further action is required...
so far the edges look good and are a nice deep black color, when they are fully
cured tomorrow I might just finish
them with a layer of clear coat and call it good.
Well, that was all a big fat
waste of time. After allowing it to cure overnight the pieces looked
blotchy, the finish also rubbed off in spots when I handled it and could not be
polished without revealing the shiny aluminum beneath. Maybe the
Alum-Angle is too dense for the aluminum black to penetrate properly, or
possibly the results I got are all that can be expected of it, either way this
experiments over... I'm saying screw it and painting the edges, below shows the
result. It's cold outside and the paint isn't 100% perfect but they are
acceptable, so weather permitting I'll hit them all with a clear coat tomorrow.
I clear coat the edge pieces
and let them cure for a couple of days before handling them, then I began knocking off the corners on the pieces for the case bottom... ten
minutes with a nibbler and file and I had what I wanted all
around. I covered the bottom edge of each panel with a layer of aluminum
foil to keep the panel from sticking to the JB-Kwik.
The side panels were all taped
in place then the bottom edge pieces were lined up and traced with a silver
Sharpie to make their placement easier.
Below shows the four
bottom edge pieces installed, I will let them cure overnight and continue work
It's tomorrow and it was a 10
hour day at my job so I didn't get as much done as I had hoped to, I did manage
to test fit the illusion panel before calling it quits for today. It is
quickly coming together and looking really sweet, work will continue on it
tomorrow... below shows where I'm at.
I covered the edges of the
internal section with aluminum foil, this was done so that the external casing
won't get stuck down when I epoxy the outside panels together.
Here it is, the final test fitting before everything gets permanently
placed. I had to re-do all of the corner angle pieces using smaller square
brass tubing and so far it all seems to line up, the next step will be sticking
it all together.
I had the whole thing JB-Kwik
assembled and it basically fell apart when I lifted the external section off, I
know exactly what went wrong and have a plan to fix it permanent. I bought
everything I need to start the outside edges over... below shows them
reassembled, painted, clear coat and ready for round two.
Round two entirely
sucked. I let the painted pieces cure overnight and covered the corner
angle pieces with some low tack quick release blue painters tape but when I went
to reposition one of the pieces of tape it tore most of the paint off the
Alum-angle... so enough trying to put the cart before the horse. I cleaned
all the paint off the aluminum edges and will instead be painting them when they
are completely finished, which makes better sense anyway.
Above shows the stripped
aluminum edges covered with blue tape to keep them clean during installation and
the filthy smudged acrylic panels taped to some shop towel sheets. The
edges of the acrylic panels were marked at approximated half inch intervals in
preparation for drilling. The following picture shows the holes I drilled
into the sides of each panel and then enlarged from the backside to allow the
JB-Kwik somewhere to go, all in an effort to make the case sturdier than my
The panels were cleaned using Goo-Gone and Plexus acrylic cleaner and the corner
angles were carefully attached one by one using the JB-Kwik. After it dried I
took off the blue tape and then had to wrestle the casing for over an hour
slowly moving it up on all sides bit by bit to remove it... thankfully it held
together and the side by side picture below shows the result of my efforts. I worked on it all day and hope to do more to it
tomorrow, so close now...
All day at work I puzzled over
how to loosen the tolerances between the PC housing and the acrylic casing,
having such a tight fit was unacceptable, once I got home and had a closer look
it didn't take me long to come up with a plan. The following picture shows
the solution - notice the missing brass corners. It took the better part
of this afternoon to carefully pry the corners off and longer still to remove
and file smooth the dried JB-Kwik, but it was all worth it and the acrylic
casing now slides on and off effortlessly. It's been a long day, more
I put some aluminum foil on
the corners and then placed the acrylic exterior onto the PC, the acrylic panels
were masked off in preparation for this next bit.
My friend Magic-Sculpt, two part simplicity that smoothes with water and dries
hard as a stone... I really can't believe more modders haven't been turned on to
it, truly wonderful stuff. Anyway, I bought some 99 cent corner brackets
from Michaels Arts and Crafts (they kind of suck) and used the Magic-Sculpt to
fill the in betweens of all the corners as an added measure in holding the outer
Since the internals could
clearly be seen through the top vent slats, and also because I don't need
anything falling into the computer, I cut some mesh to fit onto the top and it
is held firmly in place by pressure, it had to be removable to allow access to
the back of the slim line DVD burner.
I also painted the outside edges of the acrylic casing and removed the mask,
there is still gunk on the panels that needs cleaned off and I have to touch up
a couple of edges by brush but my paint job came out pretty decent. Below
shows the top panel vents with the freshly installed mesh underneath.
I still have not cleaned the panels but nevertheless it's time to go for a spin,
the following pictures show all sides of the mod so far beginning with the
port-out/Illusion-DVD 3/4 shot...