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Craig Tate

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Go big or go home. Seems to be the mantra of modding as of late. Dramatic, some bordering on flamboyant. I mean, this is still case modding! It's an art form, and everyone interprets art differently. Sometimes to beautiful and BRILLIANT effect. I have loved looking over the entries over the years. Masterful craftsmanship, and I applaud you all; past and present makers of the modding art. 


When I read about the 25th Anniversary case mod competition, and the special section regarding using/referencing past classic CM cases, I was immediately inspired. For, in my garage, I have held on to a pristine ATCS that I won at Quakecon man years ago. I recognized it then for it's classic beauty and simplicity. The perfect canvas for many modders. Straight lines, full side panels, and the inside frame of the case is almost as special. So... what better way for me to get back into the thick of it, then by using my prized prize, and bringing it into the 21st century! 


My goal of the build is to take the case and it's internals, and rework it to accommodate modern 120mm (maybe 140mm, but I wont know until I get into the box) and, just like a car that is a "sleeper", you won't know what is lurking under the hood! It will look nearly stock. Body work, metal work, etc to allow the beast within to breathe and groan... but maintain as much of the ATCS simplicity to keep you guessing! It will be a fun trip down memory lane, with reverence and respect that I will be channeling on one of my prized, untouched cases. 


Stay tuned, and (to shamelessly plagiarize the move "Dune") watch as "the Sleeper awakens!"


PS: After re-reading my log this morning, I opted to just name the project "Sleeper", as I dont want to cause any confusion. Its not a "Dune" mod, it's theme going to be a ATCS time warp! 

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So... to those that have not seen a living and breathing ATCS, here it comes in all of its current dirty glory:



It has been sitting on my case shelf for many a year, just waiting to jump into the fray! 



Yeah, it needs a bath




Finish is in decent shape, but it will be sanded and repainted by the time this is all said and done... *especially* after what I found out today during disassembly. More on that in a few pictures.



Looking at the back, you can see that 80mm exhaust fan dosent have much material around it in order to make space for a 120mm or 140mm fan. Something will have to be done to accommodate this need.



Pull off the side panel to reveal years of dirt. This chassis is nearly pristine. *Very* little wear. This is *all* aluminium, milled parts, U channel, rivets and screws.




This is a dead 140mm fan placed in comparison to the 80mm, Yeah, that is not going to fit as is, going to work on aluminium fabrication of parts. 



Front intake 80mm fan placement, I have removed the front screen, and exposed the integrated mounting bracket. Remove the front bezel (which is also 1 solid aluminium milled piece).



This was something that I noticed, and wanted to point out to you all, this is the backside of the front bezel. Looking at the hole for the power button. Note that it is not just a hole for the power button. It is actually milled large, so that another metal ring can be inserted, and the power button fits through that. The reset button also gets the same treatment. 






Metal rings around the power and reset button, and all aluminium. Now.... check out this next bit...



This is looking down from the back of the case to the front of the case. What I am trying to show you here in the picture, is that the base of the ATCS is a *milled* piece of aluminium! Look at the bracket attachment and how the aluminium moves up around where the bracket bolts in. That is not a bend. That is a milled channel! The base of the ATCS was a milled piece of aluminium, not a bent sheet!


Which now brings me to my next bit of news. I am going to have to "grow" this case in order to make the space for the fans (front and rear) and because there are parts of this case that I cannot simply refabricate (like this base) from sheet and a bending brake, I'm going to take a trick that I have seen in auto customization, and split the case long ways (down the middle) and inlay aluminium of the same thickness in a central strip fabricated into the top and bottom, which will make the case "thicker" from side to side. This will allow me to fabricate the back panel to accommodate the 140mm fan, and open up the front of the case for the 120mm or 140mm fans. While maintaining the same structural asthetic... 


that's the plan fore now at least... ;)


More as I have it!


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Sorry for the lack of updates since the initial post, I'm organizing resources, planning out tool purchase and going to start practicing my welding technique. I've soldered in the past, but never welded. I've now done a good bit of research on the techniques and I think I know how I can economically pull this off, doing the work myself. Going out to the garage today to cut up some old aluminium panel, and practice my welding techniques to make sure I can produce the proper end product. Once I have this down, the next stage will be cutting the case, placing the fans and widening the stance, and welding in the spacers to hold the case dimensions. 


It all completely depends on my ability to execute on the welding. :)





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Woot! Getting closer guys! 

Found a company here near my work that is a metal supermarket.... no really! 

No minimums, they cut to order, and they have a TON of stuff!!! (yeah, I nailed that pun!) 
So, I am picking up sheet alu, havin 2 of the strips cut to precisely 3" wide, and 290mm long, and then another 12"x24" sheet, and I picked up two of the 5"x16" 3mm castoffs that were left over from a previous sheet that was cut. My 3" wide strips and my 12x24 sheet will be ready tomorrow (it was lunch time, the guys in the shop were hungry, didn't want any accidents, ;) ), so after I pick that up... I will be ready to start some fabrication!!! 


I also picked up a 4 1/2in angle grinder, and 3 flap head discs of various grits (30/60/120) to work that weld bead down flush... hopefully!!! 


Got my aluminium welding rods, and I need to go pick up ceramic tiles to put the work on to keep the heat from catching my work surface on fire when I start welding. 


The technique I will be using is a simple propane torch to heat the joint and the metal, then using an aluminium welding rod to create the weld. It's technically more "brazing" than "welding"


This is a similar rod to what I will be using to attach my plates together. 



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I want to thank my wife, right - the frik - now, as she said something that made me rethink how I was approaching this mod.... and because of that, I have a *much* less complicated way of getting the equipment into this case, that *will not* require me splitting it in half!!!! I will still be cutting and there will still be material replacement and some structural alterations, and some welding, but thanks to my wife asking me a simple question ("Are you making this harder than it has to be?"), I have been chewing on the end goal design... and I realized she was right! 


Lord I love her! 

Tomorrow starts the work! 

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Sometimes it's always a good idea to step back and look at things from a different angle. :)  


I've used a rod very similar to that for brazing and it's pretty slick.  Grab some MAPP gas if you can though, it'll go a lot quicker.  The only thing I don't like is that it doesn't pull into joints, so surface brazing is a bit iffy if you don't bevel the edges.

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Today was a messy, grinding day... quite literally, in the garage. So, what I found, was that I can make the components that I am wanting to use, fit the existing framework... with a little cutting. Isn't that always the case in modding? ;)


So, the ATCS is going to be watercooled. single loop, dual rad, blue and black color scheme. The case will have to be significantly cut away in order to accommodate the radiator functions and space needs, so today was disassembly, and cutting. 


Dead Rivets.... ;)



What the rivets were holding together...




This is that computer base I was talking about that is a single, seamless milled piece! 



Placement for the rads will be one in the front, where the front intake would be, and one on the roof. The main issue with the front is the taper of the drive frames from the 5.25" bays, down to the 3.5" bays. The picture below shows the issue. That radiator you are seeing in the foreground is sitting on top of the center front intake that was designed for 2x80mm fans in front of the bay area for the 3.5" devices.. The radiator simply wont fit, it is too wide. Buuuuuuuut..... it is not too wide for the case, so I figured I would cut some of the drive bay walls out and slide the radiator *into the frame*. 



Size needed to be wide enough to account for the radiator and the attached fans.

This was taken early on in the material removal. Very rough cuts as I get most of the material removed. 




And after I removed the base shape on the other side...



I mocked the case back together, and put the rad in, and was generally happy with the results, until...



I realized that the width of the slot was about 1-2 mm short, and would not accommodate the rad and the fans simultaneously. Well, fudge! ;)



So I pulled out the angle grinder and removed the necessary aluminium from the mount bay sides, checked measurements this time with a micrometer that I had set for the combined size of the rad and the fans, and *bam!* aced it this time! It was while I was working with the grinder that I remembered I had an electric nibbler that fit on my drill, why hadn't I remembered that before??!?! This would have been *SO* much easier! 

Oh well. I may use the nibbler on the roof for the 2nd rad if the gauge of the aluminium isn't too thick. 


Will draw out the fan frame mount for the rad, trace it to a piece of paper, then overlay that trace on the top and see what kind of cut out I can come up with that will be unique and complimentary to this build. 


Right now, it is rough out the cuts and flesh out the cut sites. 

One cool thing that I have done on the rad water path, is it will go from the front rad to the pump, to the CPU, then up to the roof rad, get cooled, then dropped into the video card, then back into the front radiator. Jury is still out on if I will be using a reservoir. Will see if it fits the build of the case. 


Anyway, I had aluminium dust all over me, going to hop off... good luck everyone! 



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