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Explore Modding - Project A.R.E.S.


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Aaaah feels good to be back man...   Hey everyone! My name is Alessandro, for those who don't know me, I am the winner of last year's Tower Mod 3rd place. I was super happy to get there as i

Of course, a starship wouldn't work without its very own command center! For the peripherals mod, I decided to carry on the A.R.E.S. theme and create a dedicated command center for it. The worklo

I finally figure out the design for the PSU side and came out with some sort of armor for the PSU itself which will add a lot to the overall looks. The main goal was to make it look like some sort of

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5 hours ago, MonsterMawd said:

clean work... is the router noisey? looks like it would be without any shrouding to isolate it. 

Thank you! The spindle itself is very quiet, most of the noise comes from the bit milling the material, especially on aluminum, or from the vacuum. I changed compressor for a silent one, that was the most noisy part of the workshop before I changed it, by far. Generally speaking yes, it's noisy equipment, but things like miter saws etc. are noisier imho

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Chunky update this week!

 

Got to work on the base, and this will be a rather particular part of the project! I started by designing and cutting the piece that will attach to the bottom of the case out of 8mm aluminum. This piece has: three pockets with holes for acrylic inserts and blocks, mounting holes for the case, mounting holes for the 360mm radiator and air vents. It was a pretty intricate job for me to be a CNC newbie 😝

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Then I fired up my new Datron 6mm polished edge endmill and saw what it was capable of... well, it's nuts! This pieces will be fit into the aluminum pockets you just saw and they look like jewels!

 

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Speaking of jewels, the real MVP of this part of the project are the acrylic blocks, which I like to call pillars, which will connect the case to the pedestal that you'll see in a minute. These are 4x4x8cm blocks and they look absolutely magical! My goal with this is obviously making it seem like the case is suspended, and given how clear these are, I'm pretty it'll work out!

 

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Now time to load up the 15mm acrylic to make one of two parts of the pedestal. This piece was perhaps even more complicated than the aluminum one, because this time I chose to give it a huge 15mm chamfer on the edge, other than a cool engraving resembling orbital discs, the same pockets we found on the aluminum panel, a channel for LED strips and a bunch of holes here as well. The chamfer was made using a 3D scallop operation and a ball endmill, since it was so huge.

 

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The endmill had left pretty noticeable ridges though, and I wanted a perfectly smooth surface on the chamfer, so I fired up the orbital sander and took those down.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Took a break from updates last week as the pandemic raged back on in Italy and I had a moment of panic where I was afraid I lost the chance to complete this year's project... but for now I'm still managing through so I hope I can make it to the end! :D

 

First things first, making the last piece of the pedestal, which is this aluminum panel that will go below the chamfered acrylic one. You can see it has a little slot underneath to pass the LED cable through the back of the case

 

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Then I proceeded to bring some elbow grease out and used my new drill press to drill these profiles I made from 8mm aluminum, there was 35mm of material to drill through :D

 

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Those holes were then M5 tap threaded on both side so that the profile can be attached to the case and the 8mm panel to the profiles themselves

 

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Meanwhile I glued the little acrylic cookies to the pillars using K450 acrylic glue, and made a little plate out of 2mm aluminum which will serve as a cover for the LED groove on the camfered acrylic panel

 

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Let's get it on with some fit testing!

 

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Now onto the next part: designing all the hardware mountings and panels. First steps I went through were making the motherboard backplate (5mm alu) which will include mountings for the custom GPU brackets (8mm alu)

 

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I started with a couple prototypes made from MDF to check for holes alignments and other measurements, and after having fixed a few mistakes in the model, I proceeded with the real pieces

 

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Some eye candy of the X570 Steel Legend with its fresh new backplate next to the case :D

 

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Now fixing the GPU brackets after having drilled and tapped holes on their edges to allow for a seamless mounting

 

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I finally figure out the design for the PSU side and came out with some sort of armor for the PSU itself which will add a lot to the overall looks. The main goal was to make it look like some sort of core of the spaceship or something like that :D

 

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Started with the acrylic parts

 

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Then went to the two 8mm aluminum plates that will go front and back. These two will have all the mounting holes for the acrylic plates on the edges, drilled at the drill press and M4 threaded

 

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Next up is the big 15mm acrylic panel which took a whole lot to design because it will have all the cables routed inside, integrated lighting and it will obviously house all the main hardware. I started by cutting an MDF prototype of the silhouette with holes and nothing else, so that I could trace down the placement for the watercooling holes and test fit everything

 

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To be able to mount the whole module to the case and test the pivot system, I went to make some big countersinks at the back of the two pivot disks you saw a few updates back, and drilled M5 holes on the edges of the U brackets also seen earlier

 

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Obviously something will go wrong in such an ambitious project... I had designed an integrated detachable waterchannel that fit into the big acrylic panel, and connected CPU OUT to GPU IN. Thing is there wasn't enough space to make it the old oring+screws way, so I tried the glue technic. Cutting went great, nice pocket for the channel, nice G1/4 hand threading etc... then I went to the glueing process, and things trickled down quickly. Turns out I wasn't using the right glue for the job, it was a specific glue for acrylic but it was way too thick and cured way too fast, meaning that I couldn't do capillary glueing because the glued wouldn't flow through, and I couldn't lay the glue on one surface to put the other layer on because by the time I had finished l putting the glue, it was already dry. So I started doing a bunch of research and found out pure acetone could work in my case. So I picked up some pure acetone and tested it on a little test hex res I made, with the same glue-able surface and... it holds water but doesn't withstand the air leak test. So for now I just gave up the idea of integrating it in the acrylic panel because I just don't have enough time to make a bunch of tests, and I don't want to risk having bad leaks once I'm done and ready for the deadline, so I'll see if I can make an external one later or I'll just used a tube at the back for this one. Pic of the poor first pieces before I messed them up

 

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Now to some more cheery content! Here's a demo of how the pivot system actually works. It has 180 degrees of free movements and can be set at any angle withing range. Obviously it will be even more mindblowing once tubes and cables are in :D

 

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As you can see, I tried that diagonal tubing layout, which I came up with while I had the assembly laying on the table with misaligned tubes and thought it could be interesting... but honestly, parallel tubing just does it better for me :D

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here I am back after a week of silence, since I took that week to finalize a bunch of designs on Fusion and cut them all at once. Now I'm left with just a few pieces to design and cut and then we get to the semi-final phase which is the paintjob. But for now, let's take a look at some pieces I made for the externals.

 

Cutting them out of 5mm acrylic, these are the parts that will replace the brushed aluminum panels from the C700M, specifically top and front since the back was the very first piece I made (the one with the hex reservoirs and domes).

 

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Then I proceeded to bend the panels to have the shape of the original ones, so I used those as a template and just heated up the areas and shaped it.

 

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And here's a fit test of those panels

 

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Little interesting insight: since I used two top sections of the C700M in this project, replacing the bottom one, I quickly realized that the front section wasn't symmetric, meaning that the lowest and highest sides were different, to connect seamlessly with each section (top and bottom). Since I used two tops, the bottom side (now the back) wasn't seamless anymore, so while redesigning the top panel, I didn't make it exactly like the original brushed one, instead I made the two opposite sides completely identical, so that it's now seamless on both front and back!

 

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Now to some real eye candy. This is probably my favourite piece of acrylic I've ever made. So I took 15mm acrylic, designed this ellipse which is supposed to resemble some sort of face or big eye that looks into infinite space, and added a big chunky fillet to the edges. This was cut by making a rough cut and leaving the steps on the fillet, to then do a finishing pass with a ball endmill, to take away the steps and leave a nice and smooth finish. Obviously, since my machine isn't all that rigid and it chutters a lot, I had to go down with the elbow grease and make it REALLY smooth, going up to 7000 grit. I then hit it with some polish and here the final result, a big acrylic gem :D

 

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Which will sit like this. Now, as to what is going to be visible through it, you'll have to wait a bit more. All I can say is "prepare yourselves" :D 

 

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Weekly update is here! After so many revisions on Fusion 360, I finally machined the centerpiece that will hold all the main components together. Milled out pockets for LED strips and cables, all the holes for screws and fittings, and threaded all the holes using a power drill. The G1/4" threads will serve as pass-throughs instead of the usual pass-through fittings as I can save a lot of space around them and get a cleaner results.

 

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But enough of that for now, I wasn't brave enough to take the protective film off as I'm not mounting it on the case yet. That will be one of the last stages when I take everything apart once again for the paintjob :D

Next up is the side frame, which are one of my absolute favourite parts of this project! They have FOUR parts for each side, and will have integrated edge lighting shining through and litting up the insides. But the best thing about these is the shape: the ring-look makes it look like some sort of portal, it's a portal that creates artificial wormholes used by the A.R.E.S. starship for its intergalactic travels. Well, enough of the lore, let's get to the real thing :D

 

First parts were the 2mm aluminum side covers that will start the ring design

 

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Then the 10mm acrylic frames with milled channels for the LED strips. I alternated mounting holes and pockets for screw clearance on the opposite side because they use the same holes of the aluminum profiles that the internal panels mount to, so this allows me to keep those in place while I can take the side pieces in and out as I want

 

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I recessed the holes on the external side using the drill press so that I could avoid a double sided job on the CNC, which I can't seem to get right with my current setup because it lacks repeatability. This will allow the screws to stay below the surface so the aluminum cover will mount flush. To mount the covers, I threaded the mounting hole on the acrylic so these have also separate mountings and are easy to remove if necessary and headache-free assembly.

 

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Eye candy shot with the first two pieces made

 

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The other two parts I mentioned earlier are just to complete the ring design: they're both made of 5mm acrylic, I added a chamfer for a smoother look and made that rectangule with my logo just to add a bit of contrast and break the circular pattern. Those rectangules were narrowed down to 3mm and then sanded and polished to a clear finish.

 

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Here's all the pieces mounted together with a really special (IMHO) side view. I love how both sides work together for such a tridimensional and dynamic look.

 

You might be wondering what's that hole at the lower left corner, but I'll save that for later :D 

 

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