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Audiophyle

Custom Acrylic Case plans, Input needed.

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I currently have a Sunbeam UFO acrylic case, which leaves a bit to be desired. I needed something on the small side so I could get it off the ground since my son (19mo old) had discovered the power button on my HAF 922. The case lends itself well to being on the desk, & I do rather enjoy seeing all the wonderful parts inside the computer, however there are a lot of slight changes that could have been made that would have made this case a much bigger hit.

 

Maybe its the Arch student in me, but I want to design my own case to get exactly what I am after. My goal is showcase looks, optimize cooling potential, wiring ability (ie neatness), sized as compact as possible, and have it setup to not just fit on a desk but actually look like it belongs there.

 

I plan to build 90% of the case out of acrylic and with aluminum framing because I despise how squeaky & loose the UFO case is.

I have access to a CNC machine as well as a laser cutter, so this thing should come out sick. This will most definitely be a trial & error kind of process, so there may be a couple extra cases along the way for any interested parties. lol

All that said it will also be a very long & slow process due to graduate school kicking my butt, so by all means please toss up any cool ideas.

 

 

Desired Input

 

I am looking for an aluminum channel for the case framing. There is this case on ebay, http://www.lcdmodkit.com/images/case/c0aa-s1/top.jpg which uses an aluminum piece for the small vertical edges which is exactly what I am looking for but have yet to find anything.

The closest I have found looks like this http://imagethumbnails.milo.com/004/151/368/290/4151857_75368_290.jpg but it is actually a structural component of considerable size, and much too large of a scale for what I am after.

What I need is something very similar with the circular shaft in the center but have much less material involved, much like the mini-itx case on ebay. I have been searching all over online & cant find anything, hoping somebody on here may know of something or even have a connection for getting some.

 

 

I am looking for recommendations to a place I can order semi-bulk quantities of small machined screws, nuts, etc of various lengths I can use as case fasteners.

Local shops do not carry anything small enough, and a couple PC stores I stopped by didnt have much other than traditional sized screws which I will need to be longer. I am also unsure of the common thread sizes of PC cases, so a little verification would be great too.

 

 

I am looking for ideas on where to find a quality/cool I/O front panel, which can be anything from a prefab unit to all loose components for building my very own panel. I want to have it all, power & reset buttons, headphone & mic plugs, USB & E-sata plugs, and of course status LEDs (which will be the easiest part, lol) Ive been a mobile electronics installer & fabricator for over a decade now, so Ive got a pretty cool bag of tricks ;)

 

 

Lastly, I could use some feedback on what others think are important in a good case. It will be full ATX compatible, and accept a very large GPU (will need measurements from hardcore gamers, as I only have a Radeon 5670 for now). I plan to leave space for a standard sized PSU, 1 disk drive, and 2 3.5" HDDs. Ive never done a real liquid setup (mine is sealed) but want to have enough space & adaptability to upgrade to it later on.

A few of the ideas Ive been sketching could accommodate more HDDs fairly easily, and Ive even considered eliminating the disk drive. I rarely if ever use one anyway.

 

So thanks in advance, & I look forward to hearing some cool ideas.

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As far as structure I would keep it as simple as possible. Use some square aluminum or steel bars and a bunch of L brackets to make the square internal load baring portion of the Structure. This will be the strongest other then adding a few Triangles to the Structure and the easiest to work with and around. we had a guy on here that made a custom case that featured this kind of structure and if done correctly it looks epic. Just the need of a square plug every now and again is a must.

 

As far as the 5 1/4 bays there are a couple of ways you can do it. you can cnc a pair of aluminum panels and make your reinforcement brackets to the top portion of the case with whatever you feel or you can buy one from mountain mods. they also make a removable motherboard tray that would be fantastic for any build so I would look into that too.

 

Hard drives. well you can make your own and go from there or you can see XSPC regarding this Hard drive cage scroll down a little to see. Other then that you could always use converter bays or other methods I have not heard of or mentioned. I have owned one of these and its a neat set-up as it is well crafted and will look excellent.

 

Watercooling: well it really depends what you want to water cool and that has to be established before you start watercooling. My suggestion to you about that when you are ready to do it fully commit to it fully and go. I.E. buy the radiator, GPU block, cpu blocks, motherboard block and best pump, pumps, you can fit in the case.

 

If you are going to do one gpu, motherboard and the processor I would suggest a 360 radiator, a Swiftech pump, a decent sized res and whatever board fullcover block you want. If you are going to do multi gpu then I suggest you use two seperate loops as it tends to overstress one radiator. And if your doing multi radiators then there is no substitute for a cube case.

 

GPU Clearence. Have 12 inches between the back of the motherboard and the very back of the closest 5 1/4 bay.most top end gpu's are 10.5-12 inches at most unless its a multi core gpu.

 

Thats all for tonight,

 

My thoughts, Boinker.

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Structure will be very simple, I figure a notched 3/4" acrylic base with a similar top plate, and they will sandwich the 4 side walls while the aluminum channel forms it up. It should require very little lateral bracing, but there will be some of course. Any links where I can find pictures of this case you speak of?

 

The HDD bays may be promising, I will have to look into that a little more, thanks for the link.

 

Ill hold off on the WC setup then, cross that bridge when I get to it. lol

 

As for the 12" of GPU space, you are talking about 12" from the mobo end where the connection panels are (ie DVI/VGA/HDMI plugs are located) across the board & slightly past the opposite end of the mobo, right? Basically needing 1" to 2" of space between end of mobo & drive bays? My MSI mobo has side plug Sata sockets, so I had planed on a space 12.5" for the mobo to give adequate room for Sata plugs because now even 90* plugs dont fit in the UFO case without slightly bending the plexi panel.

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Structure will be very simple, I figure a notched 3/4" acrylic base with a similar top plate, and they will sandwich the 4 side walls while the aluminum channel forms it up. It should require very little lateral bracing, but there will be some of course. Any links where I can find pictures of this case you speak of?

 

The HDD bays may be promising, I will have to look into that a little more, thanks for the link.

 

Ill hold off on the WC setup then, cross that bridge when I get to it. lol

 

As for the 12" of GPU space, you are talking about 12" from the mobo end where the connection panels are (ie DVI/VGA/HDMI plugs are located) across the board & slightly past the opposite end of the mobo, right? Basically needing 1" to 2" of space between end of mobo & drive bays? My MSI mobo has side plug Sata sockets, so I had planed on a space 12.5" for the mobo to give adequate room for Sata plugs because now even 90* plugs dont fit in the UFO case without slightly bending the plexi panel.

 

Most large gpus today are 12" long. but if not watercooling and putting big air coolers on them be careful cause my 6970 ended up being 13" long when i put a big cooler on it

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you could do it long and stout with a sideways mounted psu. that would be pretty cool. I think if your going to be using an ATX motherboard then you should be fine with 12 inches. But if you plan on using and Extended atx then go more like 15 inches. Its all going to depend on what you are going to do. SAy you used the GTX 580's you would need 11 inches from the Back of the expansion lane to the front of the first hard drive bay or 5 1/4 bay to accommodate it. I say to heck with it and make plenty of room go 13 inch motherboard tray to make sure you have room to work with.

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Cool thread. Dig your designing process.

 

Good luck with grad. school...

 

...and keeping your son's inquisitive attentions away from this puppy, :typing:

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For the drive bays you can get some idea's from Mountian mod's for some simple fairly easy to make ones. I've used the HD ones on a couple systems and they work pretty well.

 

Oh, and I've built a system with that (sunbeam UFO) case and it was a lot of fun to mod, first case I modded in fact. (though when I got the case it was quite a bit cheaper then it's listing for now).

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I would choose to thicken the acrylic sheet on the edge where the panel is attached instead of the aluminum frame. The acrylic corner brackets of the sunbeam case are aparently not sufficient for structural stiffness. With a strip down the entire side and screws every 6" to 8" the case should not squeak or be loose. From shop class I believe acetone? (if I even remember anymore, let see that was an acrylic pen and pencil holder hahaha) was the bonding liquid used for acrylic. Acrylic sheets are made in various thicknesses. They can be bonded together to form a thicher sheet. Heat could be used to bend the acrylic to various shapes.

To get the usb 3 and e-sata, headphone and mic jack use a 3.5" or 5.25" prebuilt case accessory solution.

Now is the best time to choose a case theme for the design.

On a clear case side panel the best liquid cooling solution would use the res/pump dual 5.25" bay solution. This will be the cleanest option.

Use pre sleeved cable connectors which come in a variety of colors.

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I would choose to thicken the acrylic sheet on the edge where the panel is attached instead of the aluminum frame. The acrylic corner brackets of the sunbeam case are aparently not sufficient for structural stiffness. With a strip down the entire side and screws every 6" to 8" the case should not squeak or be loose. From shop class I believe acetone? (if I even remember anymore, let see that was an acrylic pen and pencil holder hahaha) was the bonding liquid used for acrylic. Acrylic sheets are made in various thicknesses. They can be bonded together to form a thicher sheet. Heat could be used to bend the acrylic to various shapes.

To get the usb 3 and e-sata, headphone and mic jack use a 3.5" or 5.25" prebuilt case accessory solution.

Now is the best time to choose a case theme for the design.

On a clear case side panel the best liquid cooling solution would use the res/pump dual 5.25" bay solution. This will be the cleanest option.

Use pre sleeved cable connectors which come in a variety of colors.

 

The aluminum frame would provide a uniform force along the edges, and with a small rubber gasket should be a very tight fit. With the topper & base panel notched like the framing, each panel would have a constant brace along its entire edge, which would keep the 1/4" acrylic plenty stiff, much like a window mullion in a store front, or a glass shower door. Hmmn, that gives me an idea where to look for possible channeling......

I could use screws/bolts every few inches, but that is a lot of extra work drilling/taping (especially ever taking a panel back off) & wont look as sleek as I'm envisioning, whereas a compression fit I could leave the face gasket-less & have 4 bolts to pop the top & the entire face (or faces) could easily slide out. Problem with the Sunbeam is an entire 15"~22" edge is reliant solely on 2 screws placed at the very ends of each edge. The only thing less structural than that would be 1 screw, and if they had added another screw to each midpoint it would have been a million times stronger.

 

Good point on the usb/esata, etc plugs, I noticed many of the fancy fan controller units also provided such connections. Would still need to find an elegant momentary push button for the power & reset, but that shouldnt be too difficult.

 

 

Another quick question regarding GPUs & cooling, I assume the upper end boards are the same height as mid-level boards (protrusion from motherboard PCI socket), but how much room would an aftermarket air cooler add to such a card? Are there instances where such coolers have contacted (or come close) to the side panel of traditional PC cases?

 

 

Thanks for all the ideas people, & keep them coming!

Edited by Audiophyle

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