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The Gunslinger


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“The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”

The opening line from The Gunslinger, the first book in Stephen Kings epic that follows the quest of Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger, for the Dark Tower.  The Dark Tower series has to be my favorite, mixing western, sci-fi, apocalypse, magic, the current world, and quite a few characters from King's other books, and even King himself, into one big stew of a story.  It's amazing.  *Except for the lobster things.  Da-da-chum.  I hated Stephen King for a few days after that.  If you've read the stories, you'll know.  But with the new Dark Tower movie slated to come out next year and the stars of that movie tweeting things like:




And even King telling us that this is the next time around...


I haven't been this excited for a movie for a while.  And with so much story to take from, I thought, this might be a great idea for a mod.  Or even two...

So let's get started on The Gunslinger.

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"Suppose that all worlds, all universes, met at a single nexus, a single pylon, a Tower. And within it, a stairway, perhaps rising to the Godhead itself. Would you dare climb to the top, gunslinger? Could it be that somewhere above all of endless reality, there exists a room?..."- Walter O'Dim, The Gunslinger 

The plan for The Gunslinger is to rework some of the internals more to my liking, add a custom cooling loop to the cpu and gpu, and to bring in some themes from the movie, mostly in relation to the Gunslinger, while the outside will get a brick look to mimic the walls of the Dark Tower.

Let's start with the case, a Cooler Master MasterCase5 Maker.




I really like this case.  The styling isn't exactly my cup of tea, but for an all around case to build in, it's got a lot of neat little tricks up it's sleeve.  And you can take it down pretty far with just a screwdriver.


Which nets you a pretty good pile of parts.


After tearing it down, out came the drill to get rid of some rivets.  Why do my cases always seem to start out looking like this?


In order to move things around, the back panel needs to be....adjusted.  I hate the standard way cases lay out, there just seems to be a lot of room that you really can't do anything with.  To fix this, I plan on sitting the psu on it's side and move the mb tray to the center of the case, dividing it in two.  The psu side will house, obviously, the psu, and also the drives and pump and any incidentals that I need to mount somewhere.  The other side will get the motherboard, the gpu flipped pretty side out on a riser and some "decorations".  So to make the back panel work, I've cut everything out except for the edges.


Once that was cleaned up, I fit a piece of .080" aluminum to give me a nice clean panel to work with.  That way I can mount hardware wherever I choose.


Additionally, I've cut a piece of .040" aluminum to give me a nice clean floor.


Next up, motherboard tray.

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"The World has moved on. Bad times are on horseback."  The Gunslinger

Wow, has it been crazy lately?  But I managed to finally find time to get back to my pet project and get a few things done or figured out.

First up I got my back panel mounted up so I could start working out my component placement.


With that nailed down, or rather screwed, I can start figuring out my tray.  The plan is to flip the PSU and GPU on their sides so that I can drop the motherboard to the bottom of the case.  It's a more efficient use of space and gives me some extra room for fun bits.

Laying out the components.  That's not the final orientation of the PSU, just an easy way to set it for measuring.


And from the side.  The case is laying on it's back right now, so the whole deal will be rotated 90 degrees clockwise.


Now I've got a handy road map for making my mb tray once some aluminum gets here.


Also started laying out for the res, rad and fan setup.  In my original idea, I wanted the res showing through the front panel.  Now it's just a matter of figuring out how to make that work.

Using an extra tube to figure out the angle and spacing for the front panel.  If I nuzzle the bottom of the res up to the fans, it should just poke out of the front panel.  Enough to see it from the side view, but not hanging out in mid air.  And with a little bit of work on the mounting bracket for the res, I should be able to get the angle just right.



Next is to get some nice pretty pictures to show off my sponsors products while I wait for the fab materials to get here. 

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Speaking of hardware, I probably out to drag out what I'm using in this build, and give some shout-outs to my sponsors.

First up, the Asus Z170 Pro Gaming/Aura.  I'm not really concerned about the LED lighting on this board, but it's the white variant of the Pro Gaming mb I've got for this builds twin so it's perfect.


Memory is 16 GB of G.SKILL TridentZ 3200 DDR4 RAM.  In white as well of course, because the Gunslinger represents The White, or the force of good.


Power is supplied by a Cooler Master V1000 PSU.


Reservoir duties will be handled by a Primochill 240mm CTR res.


And the rad is a Bitspower 360mm Leviathan Slim radiator.  I chose it because of it's slim size and the port options.  It lets me get the tubing to the other side of the rad without having to pipe it around.


Next up we have the GPU, a NVIDIA GTX980Ti, provided by GeForce Garage.


And to help with the cooling everything, Swiftech has left me in charge of some gorgeous cooling products.

Firstly, a  Komodo NV TITAN X ECO full cover waterblock for the GTX980Ti.


And one of their Apogee XL2 CPU blocks with the Iris LED controller for the CPU.


Also in the mix from Swiftech is a D5 pump setup with this beautiful acrylic top.  I freaking love clear tops.


There are a few little odds and ends that I've picked up for fun to add to the theme.  Some iron of course!  Though it does need some work to get the look right.


And since the Horn of Eld is very important, especially this time around, I hunted down my own battle horn!  Well a good starting point at least.  It does make some terrific noise!


Also, keep an eye out on that piece of leather.  It's going to figure in as well. :) 

And HUGE props to my sponsors, GeForce Garage and Swiftech.  They work so nicely together!



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'At this nexus lies the Great Portal that so-called Thirteenth Gate which rules not just this world but all worlds.' - Roland, explaining the layout and path to the Dark Tower, The Waste Lands

Continuing on with making the back panel...

The holes for the I/O panel and the PSU are cut out.


Though, I did miss a bit, but I'll adjust my risers to fix it.


And mounted up with the components.



Next, we need to get this baby prepped.  I just finished another build where I eyeballed the location of the GPU without the block and fittings and wound up making things a little tight, so I want give myself plenty of room to work with this time.


Off with the old...


On with the new.


And making sure I'm going to have plenty of room.



While I'm at it, I probably ought to take care of this, an Intel Core i5 6600K.





And with the board and everything out of the case, I can make up my GPU mount.

I laid it out and cut it, leaving one side attached so that I can bend it out and use it for a bracket.


Unfortunately, I forgot this panel was 6061 Al, which doesn't like to bend at a 2mm thickness.  I realized my mistake about 2/3 of the way through the bend when cracks started popping up.  Finished the bend using a torch to soften things up and then brazed over the cracks to fill them and hopefully add a bit of strength back.


Everything cleaned up and some mounting holes drilled.


And it works like a charm.




Once again, thanks to my sponsors, GeForce Garage and Swiftech!




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  • 2 weeks later...

"No one ever does live happily ever after, but we leave the children to find that out for themselves." - Roland, Wolves of the Calla


Time to figure out the rest of the cooling loop for the Gunslinger, but to do this, we need to figure out how it will work with some of our "flair".  In the area next to the mb, I want to hang Roland's revolver in a holster, but I'd also like to fit the pump here, with the top on one side of the tray and the back of the pump poking out the other.




At least I don't have to worry about extra room.


Marking out the pump.  The screws holding the housing together will be installed from the back of the tray to mount it.  I think it will be a pain to mount, but I won't need a bracket.








While I'm laying things out, another piece of flair is the Horn of Eld, or what will become the Horn of Eld.  Right now it's just a giant ox horn that needs to be trimmed down.








Much better fit, but shortly after this I had to vacate the shop.  My bandsaw made quick work of the horn, but left me with quite a pungent odor.


After some airing out, I started fiddling with the radiator.  




I debated a custom panel but decided to work with what's there.  


Since the reservoir will be sitting up front and peeking through the front panel, I needed to mock up the fans and build some brackets to hold it at an angle that matches the front of the case.




A little piece of 2mm Al will make a solid mount.  Just need to countersink the screws for the pump brackets to makes sure they don't snag the fans.






Definitely going to have to do something about the look of the brackets, but that can wait.




Mounted straight up.  Once I get the front panel cut out, I can add some spacers on my top bracket to get the angle I need.  I do think I need to move the bottom bracket up to the next fan to even things out a bit though. 


Sponsored by:





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  • 2 weeks later...

"Ka like the wind" - Susan Delgado, Wizard and Glass


With the brackets for the res figured out for the most part, now it's time to cut on the front panel to show it off, and honestly, to make it fit, haha!




I marked it out giving a little clearance on the sides for the CTR res and then cut it out with a jigsaw.  And let's see how it fits.




Now to use some spacers to get the angle of the res right.




After a little trial and error, I managed this.






Just what I was looking for, thought I'm probably going to make custom aluminum mounts and bands for the res to fit the theme and get rid of the chunky plastic ones.


With that done, I went in a cleaned up the edges of my cuts and pulled the insulation out of the front panel to make sure it didn't show and so that I could paint the panel later.




While everything was torn apart, I went ahead and cut out my holes for the pump in the mb tray.






For this to make a bit more sense, I guess I should let you in on my plans for the back panel.  In the story of Roland, his era is a sort of feudal time that has come after a very advanced technological society has fallen.  This technological society, created by those Roland calls the 'Old Ones', has been in decay for thousands of years and at it's peak was more advanced than our own.  Even after thousands of years, some of this advance technology still exists and some still even works, though the people of Roland's time consider it evil or magic, and don't really understand it's workings.  Roland and his companions stumble across some of these old machines and computers in their travels, some built by North Central Positronics, a company of the Old Ones that specialized in robotics.  So my plan for the back panel is to give it a look of this decayed technology, electronics that have been wasting away for thousands of years, hence the pump and wires popping through the panel will fit right in with a bit of detailing and weathering.


Next up was mounting the SSD's.  I'm using a couple of Samsung 840 Evo's that I've got laying around to mock it up, though I might just use them in the build rather than buying more for my growing collection of drives, LOL!




I want to make some brackets that allow me to mount the drives with the side mounts instead of the back ones so I don't have to pull everything apart just to pop a drive out.


I'm using some .05" aluminum for these brackets.






And then using a vice to bend them into shape.




Shot a little how to video for easily bending aluminum in a vice for my Down & Dirty Modding series.



The finished product.




Right now I'm mounting them on 6mm standoffs, though I may mount them directly to the tray.  Haven't decided yet, and probably won't know for sure till I start finalizing what I'm

doing on the detailing.






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The thunder of his own guns filled him with stupid wonder. - The Drawing of the Three


Now for something a little different with the CPU cutout.  My plan is to take the wires through there and run them under the board which is simple enough.  The only problem I have is that each side of the tray is a different look so how do I change over the look on the wires?  My solution, a junction box.  Simple enough and it fits the look on the back side. The plan is to make a set of wires that run to the box, then extensions that come out of it, somehow locking the receiving connector to the box.




I'm going to start out with some .06" 5052 aluminum for the main body of the box.




And after cutting out the piece I need, over to the vice to bend it.






I didn't want to have a lot of brackets holding it together and I wanted all the corners to match up so I broke the piece in the middle of one side so I can braze it and get a nice clean look.  


First off, beveling the edges so that my braze has as much surface to grab onto as I can give it.




Then set it up in the vice.  The marks on there are from a sharpie.  I figured out that sharpie evaporates a little before the aluminum reaches brazing temp, so I use it as a temperature guide.  




Easy little joint.




And then a die grinder with a sanding disc to knock it smooth.  A little paint and it'll be invisible.




I mounted it up with couple of mod blocks and cut a pass-though for the wire.




I'm using a couple of standoffs to extend the mod blocks up to hold the cover on.  The cover is .08" 6062 cut to shape.  I tried some thinner aluminum, but it wanted to bend the aluminum at the screws.  And well,

I've got tons of .08 scrap.






A few more brackets and some detail and CNC work on a few spots and I think we're ready for paint.  Yay!


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