Caged Heart Project

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CAGED HEART: Organic soul, technological power.




About Me:

    My name is Ben, AKA Bennyboy. I have been tinkering with things and building stuff since I learned how to use a screw driver, and have had a real love of PC gaming and modding since 2005. I have build some mods in the past, always from scratch, and they virtually always are made of heavy metal, could kill a cow if you dropped it on its head. Back in 2010 Nvidia saw a mod a I did in a beer keg computer, and commissioned me with the guidance of Richard Surroz AKA DarthBeavis, to build a behemoth of a computer in a full sized beer keg, it also needed to have a functioning beer tap all in time for CES 2010. Needless to say I pulled off the NVIDIA Kegputer and it was a massive success. 
  Since the Kegputer project I moved down to Oklahoma, away from my fathers shop, away from all the tools and resources for modding, so PC modding has been on hold for quite some time. I recently moved back to my home of Boise Idaho, bought a house with my girlfriend, and needed to build a workplace from the ground up to start my hobby again. Over the last month I have built a welding and work bench in our very small garage, and bought some very basic tools I have needed to get this project going. You don't need a fancy CNC machine, laser cutters, or really extensive skills to make a great mod, and I really want to show that to people. I hope you enjoy the process as it goes along, and I really hope everything comes together as well as I have planned.

The Project:

So with the Kegputer project I really upped the ante, because when I build a custom build I want to do something people haven't done before, I really want to re-define what a Mod for a computer is. With this project the plan is to have a nice Mini ITX portable system, with an articulating heart that beats with the CPU usage of the system.  Mio I-zawa is a Japanese artist who served as my inspiration for this project, he created a mechanical tumor that pulses with a PC; I have a similar idea except I want a heart, and I want the liquid cooling to look like it's being pumped by the heart.




This build will be inverted, this allows the water block on the GPU to be nice and visible, it also allows me a nice place to suspend the heart below the graphics card. I will be creating the frame out of 3/4 steel tubing for the majority, powder coating it, then using Oak panels, and acrylic windows to cover the sides. The plan is to have the cooling and electrical components for the heart all hidden in the bottom with the PSU and cables, the way I plant to have the tubing run through the heart will give the illusion the heart is pumping the coolant, but of course I will have a pump hidden doing the work, while a vacuum pump powers the heart.






  • CPU: Inte i5-4690K
  • Motherboard: MSI Z87I AC Mini ITX
  • PSU: Silvertone SFX Series 450w
  • Ram: Crucial 14900 8GB Tracer Ballistix
  • SSD: Crucial MX100 512gb, possibly getting MX200s :)
  • Graphics Card: Zotac 970GTX
  • Cooling Fans: Cooler Master JetFlo 120 White
  • Liquid Setup: All EK : Supremecy Evo, EK-FC970 GTX, CoolStream PE 240 dual, DCP 2.2, RES X3 110, Monsoon Hardline connection.


Sponosors: Crucial Memory!








I have much more to come, I actually for some goofy reason thought the Mods where due Febuary 7th, so I have been working my butt off the last few weeks to find out I still have a few months left. I will post work progress later tonight.

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Seriously though this is probably the most difficult part of the whole project. I need to create not only a realistic looking heart, but it needs to be hallow, and it needs to be able to inflate/deflate to mimic a pumping action. The major components for this step will be monster clay which I will use to create a heart sculpture, then two part Silicone Mix to make a mold, then produce a cast.




The rough shape of the heart, I then work on more detail including all the veins.



It's time to build a cast box, and get this guy ready to cast. Two part silicone is very expensive, I ended up using over $100 in the stuff just to make one heart, many trial and errors as you will see below.


The mold after setting for about 6 hours and removal.




The mold back in the box ready for a casting, we'll see how this goes.


You can so the progression of cast from left to right, using X amount of silicone, and rotating the whole mold for about two hours by hand, then using fiberglass strips to reinforce weak-points that had a tendency to break when removing from the mold, I eventually got a good piece that was nice an hallow.


The final product!


It is now time to paint! For those of you who do not know Silicone is one of the worst things in the world to paint, simply because anything you paint to it will naturally not stick. I will be experimenting with silicone mixtures to server as a base, then doing touch-up highlights and shadows with the airbrush; this stuff needs to expand with the heart and not crack really bad.


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Heart is essentially finished, maybe a little more highlight touch up, but the painting looks to be finished. I am debating if I should put some of clear sealant over the paint, it needs to be able to flex good, so not really sure what options would work best.




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Wow, eerie!  :) Cool skills you have! Interesting to see how you will attach the necessary veins to the heart. Hope you don't have the heart bleed bug! ;) How did you break the mould, can you just tear it in two pieces?


Happy Mod-Modelling!

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I used an exacto knife to slice my way around the mold, it was really tricky when I got to the parts with all the valves because you want to cut in such a way that allows the cast to be released fairly easy. The plan is to have one rigid tube with coolant run from the top through the bottom major arteries, then smaller tubing filled with blood red coolant through the smaller ones. The heart itself will not have any coolant in it ofcourse, it will be full of air which the vacuum pump will suck in and out to make it beat.

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Sorry for such the delay in the worklog, this has been finished for a while, but I haven't had time till recently to upload everything.




3/4" steel tubing will be the main frame, smaller 1/2" for internal parts.

These 90 degree welding braces are so amazing, don't leave home without one.


Everything is coming together, I use a stick welder, so everything is rough and dirty post-97340-0-21020200-1430187189_thumb.jpgpost-97340-0-56256800-1430187193_thumb.jpg

Nothing that can't be grinded out.
Rear power supply mount, this was a pain to weld because of the really thin steel, had to use a bunch of bondo to fill in holes I burnt.

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Bottom plate with hole for PSU air.


Custom frame to fit in my oven for powder coating.


Hung and ready for powder coating.


Coat on; who needs a fancy paint shop when you can do this stuff in your own garage?


In the oven, one word of caution, don't do this when you're girlfriend is home.


Though this looked pretty cool.


Powder all cured.


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So now it's time for some wood, using white oak for panels and front grill, a combination of power tools, and good old fashion hammer and chisel.


Side panel fits nice and snug.


Making the front fan grill, I honestly had no idea what I was doing here, I just started cutting away and doing the first thing that came to my mind.


I bought some walnut slats I figured would make a good grill, using the table saw I cut horizontal slats at a 45 degree angle.


Doesn't look half bad with them glued in, can't wait to see it stained.


Side panel with control buttons: power, fan speed, and heart switch.


Another shot of the grill, love how this turned out.


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First Coat of Stain on.


"I'd tap that"


Motherboard mount, no CNC laser cut board here, all by hand using a ruler and square.



So many holes to drill, you have to be really careful when drilling plexi to prevent blowouts and cracks, usually having your piece clamped flat to some wood, and drilling slow is the best way to go.


With panels on it's looks pretty damn sweet.


Chiseling out a slot for the fan control unit.


More shots of the fan Grill, hard to do justice with the lighting.


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Now it's time to bend some plexi, this is quarter in pelxi, which is going to require lots of slow heat and patience to bend.


Looks like it fits.


Look at that sexy 90 degree angle.


More taping. 


Time to cut out the rear IO shield.


Need somewhere for the air to flow out the back, time to cut more holes, but much larger this time.


Not looking bad.


Testing alignment with the mobo in.


Picture of the frame with heart in the background.


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