Calen Saddler

"Dark Matter" featuring one off 3D printed parts

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Dark Matter Article: “Dark Matter: A World Champion In The Making?â€

I recently found out that an article was written about the Dark Matter scratch build and me. Allerlei Designs wrote about the build.

You can check it all out at:


Prepping Gas Struts For Paint:

I could have ordered some of the gas struts in black but, I figured I would be painting them anyways. You'd be amazed how many versions of black exist and my OCD would drive me nuts if it was off. Luckily gas struts are fairly straight forward.

The cap on either end un-screws so that they can be roughed up to paint. I used 500 grit sand paper because they were fairly smooth to start with and plastic is generally more soft. Once I had the basic parts sanded I needed to tape off the threaded holes and the actual rod that slides in the struts. This will remain chrome.


3D Printed: Cable Bezel

The cable bezel will go around the cutout where the PSUs cables will come out of the frame. The bezel has a couple different purposes. It will give the cutout a clean look as well as serve as a mount for the cable organizer. The organizer will keep all the cables in the correct order on their way up to the back side of the motherboard tray.


Vinyl Work: EK

I also started doing some of the EKWB vinyl work. I started by first having the design file sketched out. After that I used some brushed aluminum vinyl to do the first prototype run. I couldn't help but, use the test run to put the EK logo on my cutter.


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Update: Xbox 360 Controller

I managed to get the base layers down on the Xbox 360 controller that I am modding to be used with the Dark Matter scratch build. I went with the same green and black found throughout the build. These are the base layers. I will add more over top of this layer while leaving some of it exposed.


Update: 3–D Printed Hinges

Since I have the doors off the side of the case I am going to take the opportunity to finish the hinges. I will finish filing and sanding them before using A filler primer. Earlier in the build log I give a step-by-step on how this is done. Once finished ill move on to painting them.

You can see what the hinges look like after the first layer of filler primer is applied. It usually takes between 6–8 coats of filler primer and sanding to get it perfect. Once its painted you'll never know it was 3D printed.


Sata Cables Arrive:

The Sata cables finally arrived for the 3 OCZ SSDs. I ordered ones with a 90 degree connector on one side. This will help keep the sata cables going in the right direction versus sticking out the side.


Update: (Left) Side Surround

Now that I've had an opportunity to test for the doors I realize that I can take more off of the side surrounds. This will allow more viewing space of the internal hardware of the case. I will take off about 20 or so millimeters around the inner edge. Or use my calipers and some painters tape to mark out where the cut should go. My handy air cutoff tool will make quick work of it. Hopefully there's only minimal sanding and filing to be done after it's cut.


All Cut & Re-mounted:


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Custom Paint Matching: 120mm BeQuiet PureWings 2 PWM Fans

The two fans on the lower right panel needed to be paint matched to the flat white paint. I taped off everything except the blades and then lightly roughed it all up. After painting the front and back I was able to attach one of the click in 3D printed fan rings I designed earlier. I will make two more like this for other parts of the build.




Vinyl: BeQuiet Dark Power Pro 1,200 watt PSU

I put together a design and font that carries on the overall design theme. At first I wasn't 100% sure of what I was going to put but, later it cane to me. I have a bit more to add to the rear PSU mount. The plan is to design and 3D print a bezel that goes around the PSU mount. This will give it a more polished look as well as help to add more dimension.


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Finishing The Holes For Door Windows:

Now that I have enough hexed headed bolts I can drill the rest of the holes needed to mount the Lexan windows in the doors. I had to be extremely carful due to the thickness of the windows. I might cut or etch some of the windows but, that will have to wait for now. Now that all the bolts are mounted; it looks much better.


Update: Tube Reservoir Mods

A while back I took a break on modding the tube reservoir so I could work on other parts of the build. Now that I'm between sections; I can continue work on it. I wont be using this res but, its fairly close. I used hard stock paper to make a template which allows me to try out different ideas.


I wanted to add 3 strips to the Lexan that is already mounted. These strips will run the full length of the reservoir. As of right now I just have the basic shape done. I plan to cut some sort of design or venting in the Lexan. Now that I have the 3 pieces cut I've started to design the cutouts. I will more than likely paint the lexan while leaving the edges clear. This will allow light to travel through the edges.


Update: OCZ Vector 180 SSDs SATA Cables Routed

Now that I have the SATA cables for the OCZ SSDs I decided to run the cables towards the motherboards mounting location. Im glad I didn't order longer SATA cables as these will be perfect. I took a picture from the opposite side of the SSDs so that you could see the cables. They are barely noticeable and will fit perfectly with the custom sleeved cables.


Ensourced Custom Sleeved Cables:

As previously mentioned, ENsource supplied the Dark Matter scratch build with custom sleeved cables. These cables were specifically built for this build and are a one of a kind creation. They are being finished up right now and I will soon unveil them. Here's a sneak peek to get you by.



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Hinges Test Painted & Re-mounted:

I finally managed to test paint the hinges and I really like the way they look. It brings the theme together well and doesn't overdue the hints of green. The hinges are adjustable and need to be adjusted a little bit to make sure they are perfectly square.

Once I remounted the side doors I realized that I could take another 10–15 mm off of the surround. This is important because it allows a better view of the hardware that will be displayed inside. Once I get it all situated I will go back and take out that extra bit.

Im the type of modder that will go back 3 or 4 times if thats whats needed to get the look I want. I prefer that every build be the best version that it can be. Even if that means making adjustments a few times or re-building a piece of the build.


Wiring The Modular LEDs:

A while back I ordered some new style modular LED pods that are true RGB. I decided to run the wiring through the frame which keeps the build looking nice and clean. I have 6 pods to place and the first two are mounted on the back, top frame rail next to the controller. The other two will be on the opposite frame rail which will help light up the hardware once its installed. I had to unpin each cable to pass the wiring in and out of the frame rails.


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Update: LED Tests & Wiring

I continued to wire the modular LEDs through the frame of the case. I had to take the top of the case off to do so. Removing the top of the case is pretty easy because I designed it to slide off. Its on a track system that locks in place. The frame rails are perfect for wiring. Everything is kept clean and is easily accessed. Once this build is finished I will take everything apart and do final paint work. This will give me an opportunity to widen the cable holes and add rubber grommets. For now I just drilled the holes so I could run all the wiring.


I tested out and determined the final color/mounting combination that works best for this build. I will use green and blue LEDs throughout the build. The colors can be easily changed as they are all true RGB LEDs. The scanning white LED strip is on its own circuit so it can easily be turned on or of separately.


Overkill Ring:

A long time ago I won a black, anodized aluminum 120mm Overkill ring from Bill at MNPCtech. I loved the way it looked but, I never had done a build that it would look right on. I had forgot about it until today so I decided I would mount it to see what it would look like. I was happy to see that it fit perfectly with Dark Matters styling.

However it was missing a little pizzazz so I decided to kick it up a notch by adding the 3D printed ring I had designed for the build. The combination of the black and green looks perfect. I was excited to see that they fit exactly together as if I had designed them to do so. Sometimes in modding things just want to be together. Most of the time it takes a lot of sparks to marry two separate pieces so perfectly.


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Soldering: WS2812 LED Ring for XBOX 360 Power Ring

I've been working on the code for the LED ring. I want the Xbox 360 power ring to function like it would on an Xbox 360. After a lot of research I've found that using intelligent LEDs is the best way to accomplish this. A friend of mine said I should encode it to give the red ring of death on command (RROD) that so many old Xbox 360 users are familiar with. Right now I only need 3 out of the 6 connectors on the back of the board. I soldered up some ribbon cable to it for testing. Once I get a 470ohm resistor I can start testing the code.


Acetal Cable Management:

Ive built about 3–4 different ways to get the PSUs cables from the passthrough to the back of the motherboard tray. I haven't been completely happy with any of them. Now that the fully sleeved cables are here it will be easier to complete.

My latest idea uses 6mm rods and acetal. The plan is to cut oval shaped rings out of the acetal. These pieces will be evenly spaced using the 6mm rods aa a mount. I will also cut thin strips of acrylic which will serve as guides for the different groups of cabling. Each idea that I try gets me closer and closer to something that will look and function perfectly. The mounts for either ends of the rods will have to be custom built.

I have cut 3 acetal rings and sanded them to a perfect fit. The 6mm rods have also been bent and cut. Luckily I had some custom aluminum standoffs from a prior project that worked perfectly to mount the tops of the rods to the mobo tray.


Now that some of the acetal rings have been test fit I can cut the acrylic separators. These pieces of acrylic are designed to keep the cables in their own portion of the acetal rings. Doing so will insure that they look perfect all the time. I managed to mock it up to get an idea of what it will look like.


Sleeved PSU Cable Passthrough: Ensourced Cables Arrive

The wiring from the PSU goes under the floor and into the frame rail on the bottom. That way it can come out of the frame rail and up to the back side of the mobo tray. Proper cable routing was a big consideration during this build.

Lots of meticulous measurements were taken to make sure the cables were exactly what was needed. After taking all the measurements, Ensourced custom cables made sure that they were perfect for the Dark Matter build. The custom cables arrived at the shop from Ensourced.



I also designed and 3D printed a bezel that goes around the passthrough at the bottom of the frame rail. The bezel is part of the cable management system that keeps the cables in order on their way up to the mobo tray.

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EKWB Logo Bezel Paint:

I managed to find a grey paint that was the specific shade I've been looking for. The first piece I tested it on is the bezel that surrounds the EKWB logo thats built into the top grill. I will also paint the top pieces in the middle this color now that I know its exactly what I've been looking for. I now need to design the mount for part of the bezel so it will fit perfectly.



Rear Top Cover:

I decided it was time to fabricate the rear top cover. Now that the rest of the build is coming together it looks weird without it. Its also been a little while since I've cut something up so; I knew it was time. I used some foam board to get some quick measurements. The back part is a rather intricate and odd shape so this was the best way to translate it into a template I could use to cut a new piece. Once I have the rough shape cut I can whittle the shape down to a perfect fit.


Now that I have the main shape its time to drill two of the mounting holes. This will let me refine the shape and easily return it to that exact position. A lot of the stuff I do is: sand/file a small amount off and then check. I do that over and over and over as do many freestyle modders.

Rear Top Cover: Flat Black Paint

Now that I have it shaped correctly it is time to prep, prime and paint. I decided to go with flat black to match the rest of the side pieces. This will help carry it over. The frame rails on the back will eventually be painted flat black as well. It was pretty easy to paint once prepped and primed.


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Custom Built By Envious Mods:

EMI Designs has made the first test sample of the dog tags and badge that will go on the Dark Matter scratch build. They are laser cut out of black coated aluminum. The dog tag version will go with me to PC and case modding shows. I am very thankful to EMI Designs for sponsoring this build. Working with them is a pleasure and I really appreciate it.


240 Grill: Inside Fan Grill

I have seen the first 240mm grill prototype done by EMI Designs and I am very excited for the final version to be done. I gave them the design concept and they did a great job. This will go on the two side mounted 120mm fans that help circulate air for the 1,200 watt BeQuiet Dark Power Pro 11 PSU. The door that these fans are mounted on open downwards so I wanted them to look slick when that panel was opened.


Custom Sleeved Cable Routes:

I have the main cable routes pre-planned but there is a couple that I left until everything is in position. The SATA power cables have been my main focus recently. I have quite a few different options for these cables. More than likely I will run them in a similar way as pictured below. The large Lexan water path will be on the back side of the motherboard tray and it uses standoffs. This leaves a large gap behind it and some of the cables will run through there.


Trying an Idea: Left Side Panel

Ive been milling around an idea I has for the side panels of this build and I recently decided it was time to give it a shot. Everyday I have a flood of ideas and certain ones keep coming back. If they start to take up too much of my thought process; its time to build it. This is one of those.

This idea took a little while to figure out how to do it well and mount everything. I didn't want to permanently mount it, just incase I decided it didn't look right. My solution for this was to make a very thin backer piece out of acrylic and paint it to match the panel so it wouldn't be seen. This would also help to align all of the detailed pieces of acrylic.


Now that its painted and mocked up you can see the idea come to life.


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Update: Xbox 360 Power Ring

Now that all the parts are soldered up I can start doing some tests to see if the code written for the Arduino will simulate all of the original Xbox 360 functions. The main color that will be used is blue and green. Ive also decided to add red for the RROD (red ring of death) as a tip to all of those who have dealt with it. The combination of this Xbox 360 power ring and the custom modded Xbox 360 controller will go together well with the build.


RantoPad MAX Aluminum Mouse Pad:

RantoPad sent me an aluminum MAX gaming mousepad for the build. I really liked the way it looked right out of the package so I didn't want to change to much. I went ahead and put together a design that I cut out of matte black vinyl. It will do a good job of tying the build together once everything is finished. Id like to thanks RantoPad for all the sweet gear they sent for this build.


Prepping & Mocking Up Right Side:

Ive printed the second to last set of hinges for the build and started to prep everything for the two side doors on this side. The top door has the window mounted and is painted. Once I paint the hinges it can be mounted but, I did test mount it.


The sub structure for the bottom door is rough cut. The rest of the pieces needed are on there way. While I wait for more materials the main side surround panel will be made from foam board so that I can start cutting right when the metal arrives. This side will come together rather quickly due to all the work I've already done.


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