Build Log: Project Askew

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator


I've been talking about it for a while and finally got started on the planning and initial build of my new test bench/display project called 'Askew'. I really didn't know what to call it (and hadn't even considered naming it anything), but during the very first few steps of the frame, I realized that lightweight wood has a tendency to have a mind of it's own until you get it reinforced...crooked...aka...'Askew'. This caused some moments of rethinking how I actually should progress and actually caused a slight alteration in design. However, the new design is much better to look at than all the sketches that I initially came up with.

The case is designed to be a functional test bench as well as a semi-viable artistic showpiece. I spent a couple weeks actually detailing out a plan for a traditional test bench only to come up disappointed that it wouldn't look nearly as cool as some of the $200 benches out there. So, I scrapped those plans and went with the Askew, dual-box offset design.

I have a basic blueprint that I threw together via Visio that I will attach later that was my main design template. A little has changed since I started, but all is coming along very well. I have a couple of ideas I want to try out and test (one of which is already proving to be kind of cool) so I'm taking my time to do this the right way.

Hardware:

Using my current rig, so nothing spectacular.
Q6600 @3.4ghz
EVGA 790i FTW
4gb Patriot Viper DDR3
SLI EVGA GTX 260 Core 216's
WD 1TB Black
WD 250GB
BFG 1200w

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Hardware Upgrade 2.10.12

i7-2600
ASUS Sabertooth P67
8GB RipJaws DDR3
OCZ Vertex 3 120GB SSD
SLI EVGA 560 Ti

Keeping:
WD 1TB Black
BFG 1200w
DVD burner
Scythe KazeMaster Fan Controller

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Watercooling Components:

MCP655 Vario
D-tek Fuzion v2 CPU block
MCW60 GPU blocks x2
MCR320 x2
Bitspower Z-multi 80 res
Tubing/fittings (TBD)

As promised, the quick blueprints I threw together for reference as I work on this build. This should help give everyone an idea of the direction I'm going in. As you can see, the offset of the upright tower is evident in the actual frame build and isn't in the drawing.


The frame itself is incredibly strong and pretty lightweight. I used simple pine 1x's and the side panels are dense fiberboard.

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Just wanted to add some updates:

Got the vast majority of the case build completed. There were some additions to the frame as seen above such as the PSU cage and the HDD/DVD/Fan controller cage. These are pretty simple and I'll try to get some shots as I get everything put together.

Here are a couple pics after 3x coats of paint today:



One thing I've encountered during this build is that while you are working on fabricating one or two components, you really have to think 5-6 moves ahead and plan for how they will all fit and work together, in three dimensions. This meant I had to take a lot of time planning how I wanted the motherboard 'tray' panel to fit (my first idea got trashed when I figured out how to do it how I did), where to place hole spacing so I wouldn't end up with blocked ports or screw/bolt locations as well as trying to take advantage of space. As I mock up the rads, MB, pump, etc, I quickly find that had I not carefully planned locations, I would have built the original frame too small. As it is, I could have benefited from a little different case dimensions, but I'm pretty happy with how it is coming so far. I plan on mounting up the rads, res, MB and the card slot hold-downs. I spent a lot of time at Home Depot and ACE Hardware stores looking through nuts, bolts, screws, standoffs, threaded inserts, etc to find the best way to mount and incorporate components with the resources I had.

More to come.
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
Wanted to post some more pics- getting closer to this project being done. Need to start wiring up all the components to the PSU as well as get the power/reset switches wired in. Also need to order my tubing and some fittings in, as well. Picked up some new fans on Thursday after eating turkey day goodness...some Scythe Ultra Kaze 3000's. I have a couple 2000's, so I wanted to round out the rad fans and utilize the fan controller to keep those monsters under control. I'll update when I get the fans mounted and the tubing routed. I'm still not 100% sure how the lines will go, but I'm at least 99.75% sure how I want it to go. Outside of that, it's really shaped up well over the long weekend.

Front/Motherboard side:



Same side, but sans flash to see the lit EL wiring 'neon' signage



Rad/res/pump side:



Close up of the EL wiring for the logo (sorry for the blurriness- my phone had trouble focusing due to the light it was making):




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12.5.11

Added fans this past weekend, as well as thermal sensors (not visible) on the 2 rads- one on the IN tank (by inlet fitting) for the first rad, and the second on the OUT tank for the other (next to outlet fitting). Also got the front panel switches wired up and the LEDs and switches mounted (no photo yet).

Photo here doesn't do justice to how big the Scythe Ultra Kaze's really are...they are massive compared to normal 25mm case fans. Also to note: the 3000's are at least 75% heavier than my existing 2000's. I'm not sure if this is due to changes over the past year or 2 in design, or if the 3000's simply are that much more powerful and require more copper windings in the motor and heaver magnets, brushes, etc. All I know is Day-um!

 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
12.10.11

Little more work today- very close to being done. Just waiting on my Jab-Tech order to arrive Mon/Tues with tubing and I should be all set. I mainly worked on getting the GPU retention components in place which can be seen in the photos below. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to do this since I didn't have the usual mounting cage and backplate you get in a normal case. I had built in a mounted thread insert for the all-thread using the thumbscrew to help keep the cards mounted in the PCI-e slots, but they are still a little heavy and would sag when left hanging. I had known since the beginning that I would need a support structure, but unsure how I would do it...I used some legs I put together of 4-40, 6" all-thread pieces with a joint in each, some 4-40 nuts and nylon washers (duh). Almost forgot that I got the back panel completely fabbed today, including paint, PSU cutout and fan cutout. The last panel piece seemed to be one of the best of the entire build- went very smoothly and turned out better than I actually envisioned.

Also, worked on getting paint on the 3/16" rod that I mounted on both front corners. There will also be 2 sections on both back vertical corners once I have everything completely up and running...the last bit of pizazz. Also got my old UV cathodes out of the old case and mounted them under the case focusing up...I'm going for moderate glow under the case as there is a 3/4" gap around much of the bottom...if I don't like it, I have an easy way to disconnect.

Forgive the image quality- I'll get some better images once this is completed. I really think the blue tubing on the white/black is really going to work well. My oldest son noted that the color scheme is straight out of Portal 2; and he is correct. Nothing like a little GLaDOS/Wheatley color theme since my avatar has been the original Portal image for a few years now.

Build is really coming together...almost there. Found out that my 24-pin ATX plug is just a bit short. Time to pick up an extension. Also, my 4+4/8pin ATX plug is a tad short as well. (can be seen in 3rd image down) (Damn- looking at these pics, I'm embarrassed with the sucky phone pics. I'll make sure my Canon Rebel XS and flash are ready to go by the time I'm ready for the good pics.)


View of the front/left side to show the colors working together...can't wait for the blue tubing.


Finished up the back panel and some view of the GPU support structure. Video cards are very solid and don't budge at all. Also- the 4+4/8pin plug being short, as mentioned above.



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12.12.11

Tubing arrived today, and got it run:




Little disappointed as the Primochill LRT is more of a purple than it is a blue. Either way, I'll live. For now. I ordered 10ft and only have about 1.5 ft left over...and I didn't leave any scrap. However, I really like how the tubing works on this box. Going to pickup some distilled tomorrow and try to start filling the loop. Still waiting on a 4+4/8pin extension and a 24pin ATX extension from FrozenCPU. I'm waiting until I get the loop full before I weigh it. :)
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
Not yet, maybe sometime. Would be a cakewalk to upgrade hardware with this, though. I just wanted to get the case build done for now...I'm in no rush to upgrade hardware just yet...especially with new stuff due to be out Q1 2012.
 

boiler1990

Splendid


It's supposed to be; it's the same socket, and should just require a BIOS flash to work on the P67/Z68 boards. The Sandy Bridge-E is the one running on the new socket (LGA 2011/X79)
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
Just some random thoughts:

Using my KazeMaster Pro fan controller (it was a gift) I'm seeing some good things on some Phobya fans I received from AuqaTuning.com-

All 12 fans in the shipment are 1500rpm fans. All are very quiet and either run at just under the rated 1500rpms (1460 seems to be the lowest) to almost 1600rpms.

Putting the fans in direct push/pull to one another (fans back to back) fan 1 (intake) speeds up almost 100rpms while fan 2 (exhaust) speeds up as much as 250-300rpm. Running push or pull through my MCR320's, I see speeds drop from 1500 down to 1440rpms. If I run push/pull on the rads, I see almost the same speeds as the fan-only push/pull. Airflow with push/pull through the rad seems almost double with the 2 fans vs. 1. (you're welcome, courtesy of Cpt. Obvious)
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
Not really sure- I'm better well over 40 lbs so far. The frame was very lightweight, but the paneling is very dense and heavy for only being 3/16" thick. Also, adding the rads, HDD, fan controller, DVD drive, motherboard and PSU added significant mass as well. I'll be curious what this weights once I get the 2x GTX 260's and waterblocks on here as well as the tubing and the actual water for the loop. I'm betting close to 60 lbs when it's all said and done. By then, I should have a new battery for my bathroom scale so I can get an actual weight.

Added pic of the EL wiring.
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
My last case was all aluminum, a Gigabyte Aurora v1. However, I wanted to make something new that I designed and see how well it worked. Yes, if I had the cash and tools, I would go the route of aluminum or other metals. But, this was a way for me to try out something new and see how I liked it. This is my intermediary into an actual test bench like the DimasTech eash/hard, so I wanted to be creative and see what I could come up with in the meantime.
 

SushiDragon

Distinguished
Sep 19, 2011
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Ah, I see. I personally wouldn't have gone with that design (Since I wouldn't want to have heavy motherboards and etc. hanging off a delicate piece of wood; and having to compensate using heavier, denser wood.)

However, I am excited to see what you have planned. Is there any way to use less dense paneling and using a perhaps a sturdy cardboard-like material for the horizontal piece of wood? It wouldn't affect strength, but it'd certainly would decrease the amount of weight.
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
Well, it isn't that heavy- but when you start putting it all together, it adds up. It's actually very, very solid- I could stand on any segment of the case and be supported quite well. The case itself really isn't too bad, but when you start adding everything, it just adds up. I kind of knew this from the beginning and meant for it to be more of a piece of artwork rather than something I'll be toting around to LANs (although, I need to go to more- I haven't been to one in about a year or so). Anyway, I'm just getting antsy for this to be completed since I've been working on it for at least 6 weeks or so; 8-10 weeks if you count the on/off times I worked on design concepts.
 

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