Calen Saddler

"Dark Matter" featuring one off 3D printed parts

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Comparison Between CAD Design & The Build:

Once I get far enough along in the build I like to compare design screenshots to progress screenshots of the actual build. It still amazes me to see how close it is to the design. I still have a few more things to do in this part of the build but, its coming along better than I ever could have imagined. You'll notice little changed here and there that have been made to the design. These come about when I'm struck with inspiration or feel like something is missing.

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Painted Back Side of The Motherboard Tray:

Painting behind the lexan water-path really made a big difference. I know it would help make it look more complete but, I didn't know how much it would allow the water-path to be seen. The last parts for the water-path are on their way. I need to do a little wet sanding and polish out the milling lines. The picture below shows what it looks like now with it painted behind the water-path (top) & what it looked like before it was painted (bottom). It will really pop once the green coolant is added.

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Led Mount: Back Of The Res Mount

Ive been trying to figure out how I can mount the LED strip behind the tube res while having the lighting effect also show behind the OCZ triple SSD rack. I don't want them to be very bright either.

I came up with an idea to make an all lexan box behind the tube res mount that I can slide the LED strip into. This would share the lighting between the two as well as allow me to dim and diffuse the light though the lexan box its mounted in. Im a big fan of solving multiple problems by building single parts and this fits the bill.

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After taking some measurements of the lexan and the LED strip I was able to come up with a template that I can use to make the box. Below I added a quick video of what it looks like mounted behind the EK X3 250 reservoir.

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Vinyl For The Dual Voltmeter Gauge Mount:

I posted information on how I built the dual voltmeter gauge earlier in the build log. The main gauge monitors the motherboards voltage and the secondary monitors the GPUs voltage. I decided I wanted to add vinyl labels so that I could easily determine which gauge is which, quickly.

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3D Printed Mandrel Set:

After looking at a lot of the mandrel sets online I decided that I could easily design and 3D print a complete set. The advantage to doing it this way is the ability to change the mandrel size and less than an hour worth of printing. this set is designed for 12 to 13 mm tubing.

T there are four main mandrels used in majority of water cooling runs. They consist of a 45, 90, 180 and 360 degree mandrels. The nice feature of these is the ability to easily make bends in all axis without added effort. The metal 90 degree brackets allow them to be mounted vertically to a work surface as well as horizontally. I also added angle marks on the mandrels for quick reference.

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BeQuiet 120mm PureWing Fan Decals:

As many of you know, I have a slight OCD for even the smallest details. I decided to custom make tiny, “Be Quiet†vinyl decals in green ti replace the orange ones on the fans. I will have to put a brand new blade in my vinyl cutter. Doing so will assure that they are cleanly cut at this small size.

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Arrival: Supermicro C7Z170–OCE

I have been very excited awaiting the motherboards arrival and it's finally here. My first impressions are very satisfying. It came well packaged and looks beautiful. The box was stocked with SATA cables. I've seen a lot of motherboards in my lifetime; I could tell immediately that it was built using quality components. Supermicro is known for making server grade gear and this motherboard shows it. I will be making a few slight modifications to the motherboard so that it fits well within the theme.

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Case Intrusion Detection System:

After reading some of the features for the motherboard I saw something that said it has an case intrusion detection setup. Im going to explore this further as I like to use as many features as I can to show off what the hardware can do. Theres the JL1 header on the motherboard that is used to trigger the intrusion detection system. I have some switches that will work perfectly for each of the door panels.

Test Mounting G.Skill Trident Z DDR4 (black & white edition):

Now that I have the motherboard I decided to was time to mount the G.Skill Trident Z DDR4 ram to see how it looked. I had originally planned on taking the heat spreaders off and painting them to match the build. This was planned when you could only get them in red and a grayish color. I think these would look much better if I changed the G.Skill or Trident Z badge to green instead. That would be the best of both worlds in my opinion.

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Test Mounting EKWB Supremacy Evo CPU Block:

I also wanted to test fit the EK Supremacy Evo block to see how it would look and in very happy with the way it looks. Combined with the DDR4 it is killer. They match each other and the motherboard better than I could have hoped for.

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Cooler Master Sickleflow 120mm Fan Mods:

I will be using a Cooler Master 120mm fan on the back of the case. It has blue LEDs that match the build. I am going to do a few mods to it so that it fits in with the build. I have started by designing and cutting out vinyl decals that employ the newer, “Make it Yours†campaign that Cooler Master has been using. Below you can see how the fan comes stock.

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The hard part is the size of the lettering on this part. They are insanely small in order to fit properly on the middle of the fan. I am very happy with the way it looks as its much better than the stock holographic decal used. The decal that comes on this fan is neat but, it makes the brand name illegible. I also paint matched the fan before doing the vinyl work so that it fit in with the color scheme.

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Notched Out The Frame & Mounted 2X120mm BeQuiet PureWings 2 Fans:

I managed to drag my air-compressor into my assembly room in order to notch out the frame because I didn't want to move the case and all its parts to the shop. I used a combination of cardboard and drop cloths to protect the other sections of the case.

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Aluminum & 3D Printed Cable Management:

I had originally went with an entirely 3D printed cable management setup for the back side of the motherboard tray but, I decided to go with an aluminum piece. The risers on each side are 3D printed and modular. This allows me to change the height by adding or subtracting the plastic printed standoffs (risers.)

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Crazy Days Ahead:

Over the next three days I will be finishing up almost all of the case and mods. The last bit of parts from EKWB should arrive then. They are sending the coolant, hard line tubing, bending kit and all the fittings required. Once those arrive I will immediately start work on doing the custom loop and prepping it for final photos. I'm also waiting on some custom vinyl I ordered that should arrive in the next few days. I've prepped all of the cutting patterns for when the vinyl arrives.

Arrival: Intel i7 Skylake 6700K CPU

I was finally able to get the CPU for the Dark Matter scratch build. I could have easily gone with an i5 but, all the hardware is top notch so I felt it deserved an equally awesome CPU.

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BeQuiet Dark Power Pro 11–1,200 PSU Mods:

I have added the last piece that will be part of the dual voltmeter gauge mount. I bent a couple pieces of aluminum in order to taper the front of the panel. I also cut a piece of thick lexan that it edge lit using green LEDs. This will give the completed mount an industrial and futuristic look. The piece of lexan is used to mount some of the pieces so I didn't have to drill holes through the side of the PSU.

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Painting: Gas Struts

I made quick work of the gas struts and mounts. The majority of them are painted black as they were in the design. The end pieces that are next to the green hinges are painted green in order to carry the then. I also have designed some custom vinyl pieces that will be added when my special order vinyl arrives.

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Cable Management & Water-path Surround:

I made a panel that goes around two sides of the water-path. The hardline tubing that comes out of the water-path will pass through this panel; through the motherboard tray and out the other side. This surround will also allow me to keep all the cabling from the PSU organized on its way to the motherboard and other components. Now that it's cut and prepped I will paint it to match the build.

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Front Grill Insert:

Originally I had designed the front fan cutout to just have a grill over the fan cutout. After mocking the front panel up I decided I wanted to try a few different ideas that would give it a bit more dimension. My solution is cutting a combination of acrylic and metal mesh that will go together to make inserts over the fan cutout.

I started by drawing out different shapes using angles found throughout the build. I found if I make a bend in the middle of each insert it will give it the dimension I've been looking for. Luckily I just purchased a heat gun which came in handy for bending the acrylic. Now that I have all the pieces cut, filed and prepped I can move forward with bending the pieces for the front.

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LED Cables & Controllers Routed:

The LED system on the build is extremely complicated and requires the use of several controllers to run many of the functions. My LEDs are usually an expression of my mood so I like a wide variety of options.

EKWB Revo Pump Mount:

Earlier in the build log I showed the stand and mount of the EK Revo pump. Since then I have sleeved the PWM cables and cut a hole to mount a rubber grommet. The hole is so that the wiring can come out of the back of the pump, through the stand and into the floor. I didn't sleeve the two power cables as Im going to put a wrap on them.

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Update: Honeycomb Floor Pattern

I showed the custom cut 12mm thick lexan floor but, I've recently been able to paint the honeycomb inserts. I used 4 different colors to paint the inserts. I will arrange them in patterns. I was inspired by a desktop wallpaper I came across during the Dark Matter build. I added the photo that inspired me to build this below. I'm not 100% finished with the floor but, there's enough done to show you all.

Inspiration For The Floor:

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Scratch Built Rigid SLI Bridge:

Due to the crazy mounting locations of my Gigabyte GTX 960 Extreme Ed GPUs I need an SLI bridge that has a 90 degree curve. I can buy a flexible one but, they are insanely ugly. To me the true art of scratch building is building every part possible, thats involved in the build from scratch. I know this isn't possible with everything but, during this build I've attempted to build as much as I can including things like hinges and switches.

Once I mocked up the mounting locations for the GPUs I could use my calipers to take measurements for the SLI bridge. I then used hard stock to make a rough template that could be used to get the general shape down. Once I had the general shape it was easy to cut and bend some metal. I went back to the hard stock so that I could make the side pieces. Once I have it painted and re-assembled I will update with pics.

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Update: Finishing Up The Rigid SLI Bridge

Now that I have the side pieces tacked onto the top I can prep it for its first coat of paint. I went with a black backing to match 2 SLI Gigabyte GPUs. I designed some vinyl pieces that are mounted to the top and front of the SLI bridge.

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Arrival: EKWB's Water-cooling Fittings, Tubing, Coolant & Bend Kit

The fittings I got for me EKWB include pass-through, 90 degree, HDC 12 mm hardline fittings and a fill-port. I decided to go with primarily black nickel which looks beyond awesome and I haven't seen any builds that use them. The pass-through fittings are for the connections that pass-through the motherboard tray. EK also included a bend kit which comes with: hobby saw, sandpaper and two sizes of tubing that goes inside of hardline during bends.

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G.Skill Trident Z Ram Mods:

I've started doing a few mods to the G.Skill Trident Z ram modules. Originally I wasn't going to do any mods to these because they are the new black and white edition. Since then I came up with the idea of changing the G.Skill and Trident Z logos to match the build. It amounts to being the best of both worlds.

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Gigabyte GTX 960 Xtreme Ed GPU Backplate Changes:

The first idea I had for the backplates didn't give me the look I really wanted. Im the type of person that will redo something as many times as it takes to get it perfect. The new idea I have really focuses on the shape and design of the GPU and backplate while carrying on a combination of design elements.

I decided to try this concept using acrylic for the backplate sides. I am extremely happy with the way this backplate addition turned out. It leaves enough of the stock Xtreme edition backplate while taking it to another level. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.

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Cooler Master Front Badge:

In honor of the Cooler Master Case Mod World Series that I am participating in. I felt that it was only right to put a cooler master badge on the front of the case. I used the new special vinyl that I ordered. I love this vinyl but, it takes 10 times longer to make anything with.

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Building Passthrough Plates:

Currently I'm working on building the pass-through plates that go on the front and backside of the motherboard tray. I started by cutting foam board in order to make a very accurate template. If any of the holes for the past through fittings or even slightly off it will be very very noticeable.

Once I have the first play cut out of acrylic I will make an exact duplicate for the other side. That will sure that everything lines up perfectly. Due to my lack of sleep lately it is taken me a bit longer than usual to make this but, its all part of the game. In the picture below I show the foam board and acrylic water path plate so you can get an idea of what I'm doing.

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Last Cables & GPU Cable Combs Arrive From Ensourced:

When the sleep cable were made for dark matter I didn't know exactly which GPUs I would be using. At that time I just had them make a single 8 pin for each GPU. Once the gigabyte GTX 960 Xtreme edition GPUs arrived I realized that I needed another 6 pin to go with the 8 pin. I also requested that Ensourced send their new GPU cable combs due to all the requests to see them. The best part about these GPU cable comes from Ensourced is that you don't need to unpin your cables to install them. They came up with an awesome solution that is a breeze to install.

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Finishing The Front Panel:

Im starting to get very close to being finished with the front of the case. I just need to do a little vinyl work, permanently mount everything and finish up a few small details. I figured I'd give you a sneak peek at what it looks like since it's primarily together. Using a filter on the image lets you still enjoy the surprise during the final pics I am extremely happy with the changes made to the front.

Originally I was just going to use a expanded aluminum grille insert to cover the fans. Once I saw mocked up that way I decided it needed more depth so I changed it up and it looks sick. Once the LEDs for the front are on it'll look even better.

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Final Assembly: It Has Begun

The time has arrived! I am finally ready for reassembly and wiring of all the parts, hardware and case. When I designed the case I took the fact that I would be taking it apart and putting it back together a bunch of times into consideration. This made it a lot easier to put back together for final adsembly. As mentioned earlier in the build log the entire top portion of the case slides off on a track system. This gives you full range of motion throughout the top of the case to the inside.

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Mounting Passthrough & Plates:

Thanks all my carful measurements the mounting of the pass-through went together rather well. In between the two plates it's about a 30 to 50 mm.

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Bending Hardline & Custom Loop Install:

Now that I have the pass-through all finished and remounted; I can finish bending the hard line for the rest of the system. Going from the acrylic water path to the pass-through was relatively painless due to the use of 90° fittings. After the tubing gets to the motherboard side it starts to get a little bit trickier. I had to do several bends and I ended up free styling the bends instead of using a mandrel set that I 3–D printed / designed myself '.

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Adding Vinyl: EKWB Coolstream 480mm Radiator

I designed and custom cut some vinyl pieces for the radiator. The first piece has the Dark Matter logo in green and the second piece is the EKWB logo. I mounted them on the side of the radiator so that they could be seen when you look in the case. Some carefully placed LEDs really make them pop.

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