Insolent Gnome

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About Insolent Gnome

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  1. And finals. Thanks for checking out my build!
  2. As intimidating as all those jagged edges were, I wanted more. Tentacles. For the tentacles, I wanted what appeared to be sleeved cables, but I also wanted them to stay in place, so standard cable wasn't going to work. I chose to use 14 ga. solid copper from some 3 strand house wire that I had left over from a project. I cut it down into 2' and 3' sections that I could sleeve and ditched the bare neutral, since I wanted the insulation to help fill out the sleeving. Some of the cables sleeved for my original crazy plan. Before slapping the tentacles in, I wanted to get some of the components in so I knew what I had to work around. In goes the MB, processor, RAM and that gorgeous stock Intel cooler so I can see how the I/O cables would run. Right through the middle of the case, with clear zip ties...perfect. I'm going to mount the tentacles coming out from under the PSU. It's a good place to hide the mounting hardware, plus it looks like the PSU is sprouting cables. To hold the cables in place, I used a couple of 4" steel brackets and sandwiched the cable ends and the case floor between them. That way I could lock them together and the cables shouldn't twist, which was a concern when I was working this out in my head. Now originally I had some crazy plans. Yeah, it was a little busy. And I was going with some crazy diorama ideas with the cables, but that got a little out of hand. It's one thing for my someone to not get the gist of what's going on in a build from a pic in the middle of the process, but when I have trouble figuring out what's going on, that's a problem. It was a very colorful mistake though. And the PSU covers up the mounts perfectly. And that PSU...I went with an Enermax 500W unit that I had. No modular cables, ketchup and mustard wires, the whole nine. Or would it be a lack of the whole nine?? Save for the fact that I'm using a mITX board instead of ATX, this system could be the twin of the system I mistakenly looked at at Walmart the last time we were browsing around. I wound up taking all the different colors and ideas out and went with something a little simpler that you could understand at a glance. Fewer cables and all of them red make for nice tentacles. You might be wondering why, if I took the time to position the other cables like I was playing with an action figure, did I leave to sets unfinished. And I'll tell you. This case came to life, tore itself open into a giant maw to devour any hand to got to close, grew tentacles to grab up all the cool RGB performance parts, and... ...ripped it's own GPU out of it's slot to hold it in a vertical mount position. If that ain't some cool, gamer case cred right there, I don't know what is. I love how the 8 pin connector is just staring you down like, "What are you looking at?" I did use a riser cable to hook up the GPU so it does work and the cables do hold it in place and keep it from moving around. Plus with where it's at in relation to the teeth, it should get some decent air intake. And now you can see why I added a slot for the display cable, the GPU isn't really mounted to a panel that gives you access to the ports. Also in that pic you can see none of the zip ties are cut flush or even all that straight. It was surprisingly hard to make sure I didn't cut them off cleanly. And there you have it, a cheap 'boutique' gaming PC that has come to life and is determined to look cool and will take your hand off if given the chance. Next up the final pics. Thanks for following along!
  3. For the motherboard tray, I got stuck for a while deciding whether I wanted to just cut it down so it didn't get in the way or if I wanted to match it up to the rest of the torn look of the case. I went with the latter which meant a lot of grinding. After it was all cut out, I ground the edges and paint off of them tips and twisted them to make it look like they had been torn asunder. While in my grinding fury, I hit the back of the teeth on the metal door to clean up the ball peen marks on them. Next up was some paint. I wanted to give the torn metal parts a shiny metal look without having to worry about them rusting down the road. I tried Molotow chrome paint for the first time and boy was I impressed. Way easier than other chromes I've tried and really looks great. I did my initial painting with an air brush. I also hit the tooth pattern on the rest of the case with the chrome to match it up. After the air brushing was done, I went back and dry brushed the edges with the chrome. I wanted it to look like the paint had cracked or been worn down around the edges of the teeth. I also hit the torn part of the MB tray with the chrome treatment. You might notice the nice little panel holding the angle of the case in that pic. I decided that using a hammer to prop open the case wasn't a real long term solution so I made a plate that covers the original PCI slots and holds the case open out of aluminum. The slot is for a display cable to run to the GPU, because, well, that isn't really gonna mount to the case in a normal fashion. A bit of bend on the plate keeps the maw open. Since I wanted the case to look stock, at least in the non-ripped open parts, I wanted to get the paint on this plate as close as possible to the stock paint. To get the textured look, I used Krylon's stone textured paint as a base and covered that with a semi-gloss black. It's not perfect, but you've got to get pretty close to spot it. Close enough to lose a hand. With that, the maw was pretty much done except for some tweaking for fit. Thanks for following along!
  4. Just cutting a door and some of the frame won't cut it. (haha, cut it) We need to match up the other side of the case and the window. The window that came with the case was, I don't know, some thermoplastic something or other, but I want to cut teeth into it and sharpen them. Plus I want it non-tinted and crystal clear. We're gonna need some acrylic. Using the original window as a template I cut out some 1/8" acrylic. Then I cut my tooth pattern to mimic the other door and used a grinding bit in my dremel to sharpen all the tooth edges. Adding a sense of danger...oooooohhh. You might notice some cracks. I wanted it to look like when the panel pulled apart, it cracked the acrylic. I was originally wanted to get that look across the whole panel and tried a bunch of different ideas. Breaking the acrylic with a hammer, but that was pretty uncontrollable. Getting it to craze with alcohol, but the acrylic needs to be under tension to craze(ie a bend), so that didn't work either. I wound up tempering my goals and went for cracks at the points of the break. I got these by bridging the acrylic over my open vise and using a ball peen hammer to tap just enough to give me a crack. Once the crack started, I could just put some pressure on it to extend it. Next I turned my attention to the back door. I didn't want just jagged edges. I wanted it to look like this thing grew teeth. I wanted to give a bit of bend to them to make them look realistic. My first approach was to beat the edges with a hammer over a piece of iron pipe, giving them a bit of curve. It was the right direction but just not enough for me. To get more bend, I took my ball peen hammer (it got a workout on this build) and beat the center of the teeth, thinning and expanding the metal out in the center of them. This plus bending them back into line with the panel gave me the perfect look. It left me with impact marks, but those sand out. And now I have some truly vicious looking teeth. Then I had the front panel left. This one went a little sideways from my original idea. I cut a tooth pattern in the plastic front panel to somewhat match what was cut on the metal front of the case. I didn't want it to be a perfect match cause that would look too perfect. I ground the edges of the teeth like the side panel, but also ground across the teeth, wanting to give them a textured feel. Unfortunately I'm not a fan of the frosted look that the grinding produced. To deal with this, I coated the ground areas with clear coat. This fills up all the little gaps that light jumps around in and really toned down the frosted look. Now the areas just look wore down and roughed up. While I was at it, I hit the edges of the teeth on the acrylic panels as well, killing the frosted look and giving them more of a crystalline feel. Thanks for following along! Next up the MB tray.
  5. So this mod starts with a story. It isn't a real story, but it is the story behind this mod. Imagine yourself in a building. All around are people putting together computers for sale at large scale retail stores. Off in one corner is Sean's work table. Sean is putting together computers just like everyone else. Budget PC's to be sold at someone's local Wally World. And though the box will say 'gaming', these computers aren't the gaming monsters purchasers are lead to believe. A bunch of technical jargon plus the word 'gaming' meant to sucker anyone not well versed in computer lingo. Sean is at his table, putting together another computer. His fifth one today. He used to care. He used to get the wires just so and snug them up with a zip tie (he wasn't a fan of the zip ties, but that's what his bosses gave him) and cut the tie of perfectly flush. He used to make sure the computers he put together looked as good as they could with what he was given. Now, he doesn't. As long as a zip tie won't poke someone's eye out and the back door shuts on the wiring, it's good enough. At two paragraphs in, you're probably wondering why I'm telling you a story about some guy named Sean, and you'd be right to. But this isn't a story about Sean, it's about that fifth computer of the day that Sean is putting together. Whether by some universal magic, a random cosmic ray striking just the right spot, or an oddball plot device used to make a story work, that fifth computer was special. It was aware. Now it didn't know everything there was to know right at the moment it became aware. This isn't 'that' kind of plot device. But slowly, after being shoved into a box and sent to some store in middle America, it started to realize what it was. Even though it's box said 'gaming' it didn't feel very gaming. In fact it felt quite boring and weak. It knew it couldn't do much about what parts Sean had put into it, but it could do something about how it looked. It could at least feel gaming even if it wasn't going to be playing AAA titles at maximum resolutions. It knew what it had to do. And it knew that anyone who tried to stop it was going to lose a hand. And that's the story of this case, a boring, cheap, entry-level boutique build that's decided to take matters into its own hands, or cables as the case may be. The base is a cheap computer with basic sleeving, ketchup and mustard wires, zip ties, cheap stock parts, etc. and it has ripped itself apart giving it a maw that can easily take a hand and sprouting sleeved cables as tentacles hunting for the parts to finally make it look cool. And I'm calling it Fluffy, cause why not? I'm starting off with the Cooler Master MasterBox Q300P. And interesting little case with some nice handles on it. It's a little flimsy but for the price, not a bad case. And air flow everywhere, the thing is nothing but holes. Granted they cover all the holes with pieces of plastic, but I can work on that. Joining the Q300P is some hardware that I'm quite familiar with, it's the hardware from my Scout build. Gigabyte Z-97N-WIFI, an Intel 4790K with 8GB of Crucial Ballistix RAM, Asus GTX960 Strix, and some other parts that will actually be swapped out for something different later. Hey, it happens. Like I said, the Q300P has some neat little features, like the moveable I/O panel. That's pretty trick. But the side window is plastic and the front and top are covered by plastics that have very small grills for air flow. That's not pretty trick. The aforementioned holes everywhere plus 3 fans, 2 RGB and one non-RGB. On the cheaper side of fans, but for the price... Look at the tiny grills this thing is supposed to breath through. I'm gonna have to open it up a bit. Not that my setup will need that much air flow with a stock intel cooler and a 960, but it just seems wrong to make a case breath through this. What is this, the 90's? The first step in modding this thing is, well, to cut it in half. Why start small, right? Laying out a general tooth pattern. And next thing you know, it's a jagged tetanus machine. And that's it for this round, but thanks for checking my build out and sitting through my little story!
  6. So one last thing I wanted to do before submitting this build for the CM World Series was to clean up the wire. When the case is closed up you can't tell what's going on behind the scenes, but that just isn't good enough. I wanted the wire handled so it didn't look like a rat's nest. So I started to clean up the fan wiring, which was no small task. 4 fans with power and RGB, and and RGB controler that had it's own mini-connectors with around 18" of cable for the RGB hook up. To make things more difficult, the fans had super thin wiring, not really great for re-pinning or soldering. So what to to, fight these cables to make something decent looking, maybe or swap fans?I swapped fans. Will I get dinged on it because the rest of the Cooler Master products I have are hard to see in the case? Maybe, but I'm really wanting nicer, uncluttered wire in the back. I went back to the Polaris fans that I was running before since they daisy-chain and now I have one set of cables instead of 8.Also in a weird twist, they're quieter in this case. Both sets are silent running outside of the case, but once everything is together, it turns into a resonating chamber. The small mechanical noises get magnified A LOT! The Polaris fans seem to be either a bit quieter or at a frequency that doesn't stand out as much, so you don't wind up with as much of an annoying hum while it's running. Granted, at a LAN, you'll never hear it, but I do run it at home too, and it's just enough to be noticable.But back to the case, the cleaned up wiring. Now down to one line from the RGB controller and no need for a fan splitter.Also while in Omaha, we did a little looking around and found a camping store between the hotel and the event and they had 3/4" tension locks. No 1" locks, but these are definitely better for the top straps since they're the right size.Now all that's left are pictures for the contest.Thanks for following along and thanks to my sponsors:
  7. So back from QuakeCon. 2nd place in the scratch builds.I was hoping for more, but even while I was there I was noticing things that I wanted to fix.First on the list was my cheap straps. I ordered a nicer set of straps that were meant as replacement straps for backpack sprayers. They didn't have any cheap metal swivels and had strapping that I could make work. To make them work I needed some tension locks though, so I sacrificed an old hiking pack that I haven't used in a long time for the cause.Those aren't exactly what I'm looking for because they hook on to a loop, but they'll work. I also have the problem that these locks are 1" and my straps are 1" on the bottom, but 3/4" on the top. I'll keep my eye out for the right ones, but these will get me by for the next LAN in Omaha.As you can see, the straps are a little bit and have an extra bar, but they do work and won't give out like the metal swivels on the last set.Next fix was something that I notice at QC that had never caught my eye, but stood out when the inside of the case was lit by the fans in the dark. The lining I used in the basement was perfect, except that you could easily see the edge of it through the window and it looked pretty messy. So pull everything apart...I bought some 1" gloss black automotive trim to cover the edge of the material.So much cleaner.And since this is in the Cooler Master World Series I picked up some CM MasterFan Pro 120 LED fans and Cooler Master's RGB controller so I could get the green I wanted in the fans.My god, the wiring is a mess. But everything is installed and works and I have a LAN to get to, so cleaning up the wiring can wait....again. At least it all looks good from the front through the window.One part of the wiring that I did clean up were the switches. I had had them mounted in a box by the GPU, but that really stood out through the window. Plus, the reset button got too hot when I was re-soldering it and didn't work, and they were just a pain to reach. So time for some new buttons.I soldered up some micro switches and attached them to the frame closer to the back of the case and then ran the wires along the frame to keep them out of the way. They're invisible unless you know they're there and make turning on the rig so much easier. Plus, they both work, bonus!Now to throw it all back together and head to NETWAR in Omaha to play some games and run a case modding contest!Along the way, my truck hit 100K miles. I'm not sure if I'm happy or depressed about this.Thanks for following along and thanks to my sponsors:
  8. Time to start on finishing touches.I cleaned up the wiring with some leather cord. This isn't the last bit of wiring clean up for the case, but I needed to get it wrapped up for QuakeCon.And then I shoehorned all of it into the shell. It was a little precarious balancing everything while getting the radiator mounted.And hit the power works!The green is too much but my board didn't have an LED header so I hooked the green line of the RGB to a fan header. It's not sophisticated and I'll get a better solution, but it works for QC.And an obligatory "junk in the trunk" shot. There are some things that I'll tackle later but at least now I can throw it in the truck and we can head to QuakeCon.With my peripherals of course. Headset, mouse, TKL keyboard, 50' of cat-5, and a display cable. It's snug, but it fits.Thanks for following along and thanks to my sponsors:
  9. With the outside kinda wrapping up, let's put the inside together.With the PSU mounted, I can set the height of my GPU and attach the bracket to keep it from flopping around. I epoxied the piece of aluminum because I didn't want to drill holes in the backplate to mount the bracket.And I got everything put on the board except for the cooling.I also wrangled some switches from another build. I don't think they're permanent, but I do need a way to turn it off and on.Starting to run the cables. The switches will go on the CF frame above the GPU if your looking at this pic. The panel they're on uses the same mounts the frame does.At this point I was waiting on seeing what I was going to be using for cooling so I checked to see if what I had so far fit.I also knocked out some decals to break up the solid black. How about a nice NVIDIA green .At this point, I couldn't wait. QuakeCon was a few days away and my cooling stuff hadn't come in, so I went with Plan B/sorta Plan A.5. I wanted to get this into the CM World Series, but couldn't for the life of me figure out how, none of their PSU's even come close to fitting and I'm not gonna put a few fans in it and call it good. But, I needed a cooler, and I happened to know where a Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 240 was. Off to my parents house!Yes, I stole the cooler off my parents computer. I'm a horrible person. But I did put a Scythe Grand Kama Cross 3 back on, which is not only cool looking but dead quiet. Not that they even care, the only question I got was could they still use it.And cooler installed on the board. Installing this thing in the shell is going to be....interesting.Actually just mounting the MB to the frame was interesting. Yes, I had to pull a stick of RAM to plug in the PSU. I mean, we've all run into that before, right? Right?!?But I would guess most people haven't had to ream out the mounting holes of the PSU to gain that 1/16th of an inch so they could get the RAM stick back in and working. Just guessing.I think doing a little testing with this spaghetti monster might be a good idea before shoving it into the shell.It all works and next time I'll start cleaning it all up so I can shoehorn it into it's home. Thanks for following along and thanks to my sponsors:
  10. While the window was curing up, I decided to get the back panel and door ready. The clear coat came out nice, but you can always make it nicer. So I knocked the finish down with 500, 800,1000, and 3000 grit sandpaper and then attacked it with some finishing compound.With the door shined up, I decided to put my latch hardware on it. Just some simple cam latches, but that's all it really needs.So I drilled some holes and slapped them in. Fine tuning them will come later.The door is covering a nice little spot that I'm gonna toss my keyboard, mouse, headset and cables, so all I have to carry into the LAN is a monitor. Since those items can be a bit pricey to replace, I wanted to finish the cubby with something softer than carbon fiber since I don't feel like buying new peripherals. I had some fleece backed suede-like material and I thought that would be perfect, soft, fluffy, just what it needs.I cut a piece to fit and using Super 77 adhesive, slapped it in. The edges are a bit rough, but I'll get back to those later, cause at this point I was in a bit of a rush to finish for QuakeCon and from the outside you can't even tell.I think it's kind of a fancy look. Makes me think of a hypercar with a nice tan interior, crazy performance on the outside, luxury on the inside. I decided the door could use the same treatment because things would be rubbing on it, plus the suede was a good material to keep the door from scratching up the lip it sat on.It looks horrible but it gets better. I trimmed off some of the fleece around the edges.And then some more Super 77 to stick it down. I did go back after this pic to straighten up the edges, they just bugged me.So now we're getting somewhere, let's see about making this contraption carryable. When I put all the parts together I slipped some tie downs in at the bolt locations. They're pretty beefy, rated at 700 lbs. but this isn't the place to skimp.And then some replacement backpack straps.Just a little spoiler about the straps. 1st off, they totally worked, I carried the LANpak into QuakeCon strapped to my back, no problems whatsoever. But $12 backpack straps gonna be $12 backpack straps. After judging for the mod contest and getting into the top 3, I had to take the case to the ballroom for the place announcements on stage. I was just starting to pick up the case and one of the ends of the straps gave out. Luckily I hadn't even gotten the case off the table so no harm done, but dang it! Thankfully it happened then and not when I was carrying the case around on my back. New straps have been ordered with a little more capacity and no cheap metal connectors, but this is part of the process so I had to throw it in.So with the straps it does work like a normal backpack. A little bigger and in need of some strap adjustment, but it works.And the case, with straps...under 10 lbs. Awesome!Thanks for following along and thanks to my sponsors:
  11. So with the shell, there was a whole lot of coat and sand and coat and sand again, but I finally got to the final coat of epoxy.The nice thing about the epoxy is I could put my top coat on an hour later, so no waiting for it to cure up for a day. For the top coat I decided on a Hot Rod Black that I had gotten for a previous mod. I liked it on that case and it was a pretty durable coating. On top of that, the satin finish meant that it was less likely for something rubbing on the case to dull the finish like with a gloss, and the satin finish doesn't show every little flaw. So win win.After another coat and curing.Now it was time to start fitting the hardware.For the GPU, I adapted a miscut aluminum bracket from a previous build.Making sure everything was lined up right before marking out any holes.And checking it out how it looks in the case.That's one of those moments where things come out how they looked in your head and it's kind of amazing that you got there.Next up are some brackets to help hold the GPU steady and keep it from stressing the CF frame too much. The plan is to run a piece of aluminum from the back of the GPU to this bracket to keep the GPU from flopping around.Before I got to far, I decided I should get my window panel made and installed. Nothing like having to pull everything apart to put this in cause I forgot it.Just some 1/8" acrylic and I'm attaching it to the shell with some epoxy. And some lead weight to keep it in contact until the epoxy sets.Thanks for following along and thanks to the sponsors!
  12. With everything laid up and mostly figured out, I put down another coat of epoxy to fill any voids, pits, etc. I'm planning on top coating all the pieces, but the better they go in to top coating, the better they'll come out.After that coat cured, more sanding....but it'll be totally worth it in the end.The next thing I wanted to tackle was some tape???Oh yeah, and a flat piece of CF I laid up earlier under the tape! This is gonna become my door panel. I cut it to size then beveled the back edge so it fit the back panel as close as I could make it.Then I cut the back panel making sure I had enough of a lip for the door to sit on.Came out pretty slick, though I did get the weave going the other way.With that done, I started tackling the finish of the shell. It had some defects that epoxy just wasn't going to fix, at least not fast enough to get it done by QuakeCon. I also knew that I was painting the shell. Two reasons for this, one is that would be a lot of CF all in one place if I left it natural. Two, with the sharp corners, my weave wasn't as perfect as it was on the back panel. So I turned to a polyester filler to smooth out the exterior. I had one more thing to do to the shell before it went to paint...I had to drill out the fan holes. Let me tell you, fun times. I used a 4.5" hole saw and a couple of Bill's fan templates to put some giant holes in this thing. I was worried about the saw jumping or breaking the little bit of shell left between the holes, but it all came out great.With all that done, it was finally time to get spraying. First up, clear coat on the back panel, door, and frame.And an epoxy primer/sealer on the shell, which I promptly sanded and did some more filling on. Nothing like a nice coat of paint to show you all the imperfections.Thanks for following along! And thanks to: