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"Dark Matter" featuring one off 3D printed parts

Calen Saddler

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Update: New Acrylic (Color Switch)

As I mentioned a little bit ago I decided I wanted to switch the color of the new acrylic pieces. I had a moment to re-paint them and I really like the way it looks. Having a smaller amount of green looks much cleaner.


Display Case For Case Mod Shows:

Im modding a case to take to shows with the Dark Matter scratch build. This will allow me to display sponsors on the custom side panels as well as promotional materials for the event and hardware. Its a neat stand that will sit near the Dark Matter build and it will specify: hardware used in the build, some pics of the building process, business cards etc. So far I've added the LED strips to the top and I'm getting ready to add the bottom ones. I will be using a decent amount of custom vinyl work, acrylic and LED lighting to make it a show stopper. As of now its holding some of my PC related gear and hardware.


Modding The Display Case: Vinyl & Acrylic

The lower portion of the display case has a large, clear acrylic window. I have designed some vinyl that will serve as a backing for my acrylic, “bomb†that is part of my Envious Mods logo. I managed to get the vinyl pieces mounted and the acrylic primed to be painted. I wanted to mock it up to see what it'll look like once finished.



The top part of the case will have the Dark Matter logo/design in ice silver vinyl. On each side of the display there are 3 black panels that will be used to display the sponsors logos for this build. I haven't completely decided but, I might also put some neat giveaway items in the case as well. That way enthusiasts at the PC shows will get a neat freebie.

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3D Printed Cable Management:

A while back I designed a 3D printable cable management system that mounts behind the motherboard tray. I designed them in multiple lengths so that they could be tailored to the cabling its holding in place. The depth is also easily adjusted. The end pieces swap in and out to easily adjust the depth.

I started mocking these up to see what paths I will use for the wiring to the motherboard, GPUs and SSDs. The first two long ones I mounted will hold the cabling as it goes from the back side of the mobo tray to the passthrough.


Acrylic Mount: Digital Voltmeter

After debating on where I should mount the voltmeter I decided that I would make a custom acrylic bracket that would hold it on the side of the PSU. This way it can be seen even when the side panel is closed. The bracket consists of three pieces: two of the pieces go over top of the PSU and the third piece is where the voltmeter is actually mounted. I am going to add another meter next to it so I made it large enough to fit both.


I also cut a few more pieces of acrylic that will go onto the panel. This will help tie into the overall design. The plan is to also do some neat vinyl work similar to the ones I did for the vertical PCIe slot covers. The 19.1 volts isn't hooked up to my PSU. I just plugged it in to test it.


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Side Panel Work:

It has begun. The side panels are one if my favorite parts of the design. Theres a lot of thought that went into them. The windows are placed in specific locations to highlight the motherboard, GPUs, water-cooling and other hardware. Depending on the angle you get to spot neat details. When the top to panels open; its time to shine. The two top panels are designed to open out and up similar to a gullwing door or a bird. The bottom two panels open the opposite (out and down.)


I started cutting the main pieces for the side panels. I have scale templates drawn for all of the side panels except 1 which will be finished soon. There is a lot of inside cuts required which takes quite a bit of time to do. Once I have everything rough cut I will hand file all of it to perfection.

Here's one of the side panels that is rough cut. This also gives you an idea of where the surround or bezel goes.


There are a couple pieces of acrylic that will need to be cut for the windows as well. My last build, “StarCraft Day Zero†didn't have any windows so I thought it would be neat to do something different.

New Acrylic For The Voltmeter:

I cut a few more pieces of acrylic for the voltmeter mount. I also had enough time to test paint and mount them. I went with a flat black. The acrylic pieces help to give it more style that fit in with the theme. After mocking them up I took some quick pics. I still have a bit more to add to this panel as well as some vinyl work that I'm currently designing.


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Update: Display Case

Ive made some progress on the display case. The bomb on the front is all painted and re-mounted. I also managed to cut, weed and mount the OCZ logo as well as the BeQuiet logo. I decided to use the companies tagline as well which became very tricky due to the tiny letters.



I also cut the Printrbot badge/logo out of vinyl but I haven't mounted it yet. The RantoPad logo is being prepped to be cut and it will go up at the same time as the Printrbot logo.

Update: Work Continues On Side Panels

I've done some more work as well as cut more panels for the side of the case. I've also started working on making templates for the acrylic pieces I will go on the side panels. The acrylic windows will more than be held in place by allen headed bolts which will help carry the theme. This method will also help to keep the side panels light and rigid.

I decided to double check where the two panels met in order to make sure that they were perfect after I cut the top one. I re-took measurements and they needed very little modifications to be exact.


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Acrylic Strips: Side Panels

The acrylic strips for the side panels will be cut soon. Right now I'm finishing up the templates to cut them. There are about 8 strips in total that are about a half inch or less. These will be painted to match the build once they are cut and welded together.


Side Panel Surrounds:

Ive started re-checking the measurements for the surrounds or bezels that will go on each side of the case. The doors open out of the bezels instead of just having one piece that moves together. Having several separate doors gives me the ability to open the door I need opened. Once I'm done with the measurements I will make a cardboard or cardstock template of the bezel to make sure everything fits correctly.


After cutting out some foam board I was able to see where the bezel would sit and its a little bit too low. I want the motherboard and main components to be easily seen so I decided to move it up. The pictures show the first mounting location. About a half inch around the inside will also be removed. I only need a slight under-lap of the bezel so the panels sit correctly when closed.



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Parts Order:

Theres a small list of little things that I need to order for this scratch build. I am awaiting a reply from a manufacturer that builds the gas struts. I already have the large struts but, I need to special order the smaller set. I managed to find some SATA cables with 90 degree fittings for the OCZ SSDs. Another set I ordered was some vinyl; ice green and a few others were ordered for this build.

The other Vandal switches were also ordered. I bought some that are a little different from your typical Vandal switches. I will try out a couple to see which will fit this build best. Looking into replacing the PSU cable ends with P-079 and C-079 pieces. They look sharp and can help to give the build an original look. The parts to make the Xbox 360 power ring were also ordered. These parts will make the power ring function as if it was still connected to the Xbox.

Update: 3D Printed Hinges

A while back I test printed the hinges for the doors. At that times I decided that the design needed to be scaled up slightly. When I get closer to having a side panel rough cut I will re-print another set of hinges.


Right Side Panel: Rough Cuts

I managed to make some time to do all the rough cuts on the main right side panel. This panel shows off the large Lexan water path that I will build. It also has a cutout for the SSDs.



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Rough Cuts: (Right) Lower Panel

I decided to cut out the main shape of the panel that has two 120mm fans mounted on it. I still need to make a template for the fan cutouts. I will use foam board to make a mockup of the surround for this side as well. The surround is much thinner on this side.


I managed to take some pics so you could see my air cutoff tool. Its essentially a Dremal on crack. It uses 4“ reinforced disks and chews through just about anything you can throw at it.



Sata Cables: 90 Degrees

I ordered Sata cables that have a 90 degree bend on one end of the connectors. This will allow me to come of the edge OCZ Vector 180 SSDs correctly. I still need to order thicker Telios sleeving so they can be wrapped to match the rest of the wiring.


GPU Backplates: Original Design

Below you can see the original design that I was going to use. It was going to made out of all acrylic and would have looked neat. I decided to explore other ideas because, I want people to see something new. On the next update I will post the progress of the new GPU backplates.


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Update: GPU Backplates

Ive been playing around with ideas for the GPU backplates for sometime now. I will probably come up with multiple versions to get an idea of what I like. Its important to me to build backplates that are functional as well as original. Theres a lot of very similar GPU backplates and I love the majority of them but, its time to do something that hasn't been seen.

GPU Backplate Idea #1:

The first idea was one of those that is fairly complex and needs to be built to really see what it will look like. I started by cutting a solid lexan piece and painting it green. I then put a sweet pattern together so that it could be cut. I had enough time today to get the first layer on. The plan is to add a couple more layers of vinyl that will be cut in different colors.


GPU Backplate Idea #2

This idea is a little more traditional than the others. I made a sketched template to scale. The main portion of the design follows along with the design cues found throughout the scratch build. Two versions of this idea were sketched out but, I also want to try a iteration that is a combination of both of these.


GPU Backplate Idea #3:

I couple weeks ago I started cutting the main structure of an acrylic backplate as well as some pieces of thin metal to give it depth.

As of now this backplate will be made from several different materials. The main piece is made of lexan which will help distribute the weight of the GPU evenly. The top pieces are made out of thin metal which adds depth as well as strengthens the lexan. Currently I'm designing the vinyl graphics that will be added to the top. With the weather being nice I took the opportunity to paint the metal piece black. Theres a lot more that needs to be done on this version in order to get it where I want it.


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Update: (Left) Side Bezel/Surround Mock-ups:

Now that I have the test piece of metal cut I can mock everything up for when my new sheets of metal arrive. This will allow me to figure out exactly where every hole will go. Once I have the new metal I will use this as a template to transfer over the design. There will be a little bit of trial and error getting this fit correctly.


Everything is either very close or exactly where it needs to be. Doing this mockup helped to re-assure that all the hard work will pay off. I also mocked up some of the doors that will open. The top panel opens upward towards the top and the bottom panel opens downward towards the ground.


Painting The Bezel:

I couldn't help but, paint the bezel. The side panels need their holes drilled around the window cutouts so I will wait on those. I like the industrial look of hexed headed bolts surrounding the lexan windows. It helps to add depth as well as rigidity to the doors.



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Acrylic Work For The Left Side Panel:

On the left side panel there is a few acrylic strips that are black in the CAD design. They meet up at a bunch of different angles. I cut them out of 6mm acrylic. I intentionally cut them about a mm larger then they need to be so that I could hand file them to exact dimensions. This helps to insure that they are all the exact same width.

To accomplish this I start by making sure one side of each strip is perfectly flat using a hand file. Once I have one side flat I will clamp them all together and file the other side so that they are within spec.


Tip For Filing Multiple Edges Flat:

Another trick I learned is to use a marker across the top edge of the acrylic. Once it dries you file across that edge. Any places that are high or even will sand off and it will stay where the low spots are. It gives you a quick visual of how much you need to sand/file.

Lexan Windows: Side Panels

As mentioned I am cutting the windows for each cutout. I am using hex headed bolts which need to be ordered due to the amount of them required. I was going to use a bolt every 30mm going around the perimeter but, I realized that it would require an insane amount of bolts so I changed it to every 60mm.

Now that I have all the windows cut out I went ahead with filing and sanding them to perfection. The back sides of the windows wont really be seen but, just in case someone decides to look; they'll be just as beautiful as the rest of the case.


SSD Window:

The window for the OCZ Vector 180 SSDs is a bit thicker and will be mounted on the outside of the case using small standoffs. It will add some dimension and depth to the panel. The cutout for the water path will be tricky because some of the tubing comes slightly outside the panel. I will carefully cut clearances for the tubing.


Painted Top Panel: Flat Black

I finally had a few days of nice weather so I could paint and cure the top pieces. They are painted flat black to match the rest of the case. In combination with the side bezel you can start to get an idea of what the case will look like.



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