Sunday, November 20, 2011

6TB Windows themed case mod

Introduction
A friend gave me this old Pavilion case a long time ago because she didn't need it anymore. It's been sitting in my basement for all this time and one day I decided to do something about it. I had already run out of space on my server (see my 5.5TB case mod) and I needed more space. So I started designing the case, trying to come up with a theme. Eventually an idea came into my head and this is what I ended up making with Google Sketchup:


The case modding begins.
The case itself was horribly designed. There was barely any space for components so I started taking it apart, breaking it down to as many pieces as I possibly could.

From the side you can see how constrictive this case is, which is fine if you're looking for a single hard-drive, single optical drive, cheap computer but for my purposes it just wouldn't do.


So I removed all the rivets and I observed the case at its broken down state.



The front side is still too restrictive for what I had in mind so I decided to get my dremel out and take care of the issue.

I have to say, this looks a lot better. The time had come to start the paint job for the case. After a lot of primer and 2-3 coats of paint, and some re-assembly I ended up with this:

The case surprisingly enough was put together without any scratches and it already looked awesome. It was time though to start working on the cover panels for the front, top and bottom of the case.

After a lot of painfully slow bending and clamping I was able to prepare this piece you see to the right of the case:


Then I started assembling the case, and putting electronics in it to see how well it works. I mean, Google Sketchup said it'd work, but experience says that test fitting is always the best way to verify that everything will fit nice together. So I did a test fitting and left it running long enough to install the OS and build the RAID:

And in the dark:

I also got from MNPCTech a fan grill that looks like cross hairs. Here's a detail pic of that:
And in the dark:

Also, just with the fans' lights on, the acrylic that holds the hard drives suspended looks awesome:



The logo

After the case was ready to accept the electronics I started working on the logo which proved to be a bit of a challenge but I kept pushing forward to get it done because I wanted to see the end result. So I started by taking a piece of blue scrap acrylic-type material (I don't know its exact name, if you do please let me know) and cut a disk using my table saw:



Then I put a pattern for the windows logo on the disk and cut it with a scroll saw:

And after some filing:
After a lot more sanding I was ready to put it on the case, but before that, I had to work on the rest of the electronics. First was the power and reset buttons. Here are both of them sleeved and ready to be plugged in to the motherboard:


Then, the rest of the electronics, a LED chaser and 4 LEDs (red, green, blue and yellow) hooked up through a hex inverter to the controller's LED 4-pin connector. They all have a common ground and the inverter was necessary because the controller was giving a logic 1 when there was no drive activity. I wanted the LEDs to come on only when there was HD activity so a NOT gate was necessary. Here's the 2 boards:


Here's the inside of the case, with the board installed:


Here is the front of the case, with all the electronics installed:


So it's time to put the logo to the case. I used REALLY strong double adhesive tape and covered the back of it:

Then I put the pieces of acetane I got, 1 for each color of the Windows logo:


Then I used hot glue to assemble these flasher reflectors to the board:

And the final result looks like this:

Not bad eh?

The side panel

I decided to cut a window on the side of the panel, and to make it a bit more unique, I cut the Windows logo for the... window. Here's the final product, cut, painted and with the clear protective coat:

Final assembly pics
So after I powered it up and let it run for a while I closed the case and took the following pics:

With the CCFLs on:

And in the dark:


This is what it looks like in the dark, when the hard drives are busy: