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Maximum Bubble Mods - Spirit of Motion

Josiah Fast

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Upper grill welding can now happen!

I slotted each grill into the front spine and then grabbed some more MDF spacers to hold the back close to its final location. I placed a chunk of aluminum and brass on the top to hold it all down tight before I started welding.

These grills are all long and I will probably cut them off flush with the back plate when the shaping is all complete. We'll see how it looks.


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With the back of the plate welded I could lay the grill on its back and weld the inside of each.



I then oriented the grill onto it's face so I could weld the inside of each grill to the spine.



Now the grill is fully assembled! The work is far from over as I made the artistic choice when I started this project to shape the entire outside surface to match the contour of the spine. Hours of sanding, grinding, filing, buffing, poilishing, etc. are next.

I am excited for how it coming to life from those original render ideas. I'm learning so many ways I should not do things haha





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I want the components of this system for my dad to be as awesome as the case, so I reached out to a few companies. I'm very thankful and excited that EVGA and NVIDIA stepped in to sponsor two amazing items that take this computer to another level!

EVGA provided a fully modular SuperNOVA G5 power supply.
NVIDIA sent over a GeForce RTX 2080
Huge thanks to the support from everyone here on the forums. You have all been incredibly nice and quick to build up fellow modders of all skill levels. Without this community these sponsors probably wouldn't be possible.
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Time to kick off the shaping of all these square grill pieces.

I 3D printed the front chunk of the topper so that I would know how far to shape the very top grill.


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Without this physically in place, I would have no idea where to shape this grill up to. You can see in this next picture clearly that I have a lot of material to remove to bring the curved grill up to the topper.



This was hours of work. Aluminum is tough to shape for one, I also wanted to be very careful I was removing material evenly. When you polish metal (or any material) it REALLY shows how wavy a material is. I want the reflection to look consistent across the grills and for the flat sections of the side to reflect relatively evenly. It would be unfortunate after all this work to have a finished product that has a wavy/warped finish.


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I used the disk grinder with a 40 grit flapper disc to do some of the heavy removal and then used the belt sander with 40 grit paper to finish the rough shaping. I used that belt sander in a motion similar to block sanding a curved fender or something. Relatively large sweeping motions. Never stopping in one spot.




The hours of handling and vibrations from the sander and grinder did break a few welds so I will have to go repair those before I start tackling the polishing of this beast.



I am really happy with the lines of this grill really coming together how I wanted. I'm excited to start polishing soon!!




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Had some more time to spend on the Spirit so I started by working to finish all the grill shaping.

The very top most grill pieces have some compounding curves that I want to look good so I finished those up with a file. I also used a file to smooth some of the areas where I noticed some inconsistent light reflections.




I then started what turned out to be the VERY long process of getting all the grinding marks out of the grills while keeping the surface curves smooth. I had to go over the entire grill with a coarse fiber first and then jump to a fine fiber to finish the process. You can see in the photo below that I was grinding on the left side of the upper two grills to eliminate the markings left from the aggressive shaping.




I was using a simple harbor freight die grinder and quickly found the limitations of my air compressor. The die grinder was a great tool for the job, but the compressor simply couldnt keep up with tthe CFM demand.

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I also made the choice to finish the aluminum with a fine brushed finish that goes along the direction of the grill. Using long straight strokes by hand with 120 grit sandpaper. I am happy with the bright shine I am getting.



I then jumped over to the air spring bracket. I drilled and tapped a hole to mount to the rear plate of the grill.



I have a small spring scale but it didn't have the capacity to lift the grill. To fix this limitation I 3D printed a small pulley and mounted it to the bracket attached to the grill backplate.



I strung some paracord through the pulley, held one side and tied the other to the spring scale. Pulled both ends up and was SUPPOSED to get the numbers I needed to choose an appropriate spring.



After getting the numbers from my pulley setup, the poundage didn't make sense as I should have been able to lift the grill just outside the range of my scale. When I lifted the grill with the scale I could clearly tell I was more than a few pounds beyond my scale's range. Because my bracket is so close the backplate, the diameter of the pulley was actually playing into the test more than expected! I ended up using a very smooth 1/4" oak dowel and retesting. Numbers are now making way more sense at about 25lbs of force required to lift the grill from its closed position.

I'll get that ordered soon! I'm excited to see this working.

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So that back of the grill had some tails that needed to be cut off now that the shaping is all done. I started by putting a little tape on the back plate to protect it slightly. I grabbed a reciprocating saw, threw a couple drops of oil on the blade and chopped the pieces off as close to the backplate as I could.




The vibrations of the saw broke one of the little welds on a grill unfortunately. With the hours of grinding, sanding, sawing, ect. I've definitely learned that small aluminum welds are not really as strong as you would hope.

I started grinding what was left off with a rough fiber wheel on the grinder.




I was a little discouraged at the welds being less strong than I hoped and the one that was now broken. These welds to the backplate are where all the force of the grill hangs from the grill is opened. So they need to be well attached so this lasts a very long time.

I made the choice to screw them to the back plate. Using some nice looking M3, black, button head cap screws to be exact. I marked out the center points to start.




Now most of these were welded so I had to drill through the grills and backplate together with my 2.5mm drill (the one for tapping M3 threads) I then came back with a 3.5mm drill and drilled through only the grills so that I was only tapping the backplate. I then ran my M3 tap through all the holes in the backplate.




I put my screws in and like how it looks a lot! Kind of gives your eye something to stop on when you look down the length of the grill.


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Grab that drink and/or snack. Update incoming!

Priming the case first with some simple gray primer. I put it on heavy and about 4 coats so that I could wet sand it once dry. It took out a lot of the small scratches and gives me that bond I want for the following paint. I used 400 grit sand paper and used a little flat piece of oak I had laying around as a sanding block.


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While I was doing this I went ahead and painted the hinge black (the wrong black). I will have to repaint this later to match some other stuff I painted. The can said this was satin but it came out impressively glossy... Whatcha gonna do except repaint with something else.




The plan for paint was to hit the frame with probably three coats of the red depending on how opaque the paint was. Then chase it with about an entire can of non-yellowing gloss clearcoat. I ended up doing about 4 coats of the red and 6 of clear. I now have to apologize for not having a photo of painting the frame red! I did it as fast as I could with the daylight left after work one day and the pictures I took were terribly blurry... Enjoy this photo I just took instead. It is of the cans of paint I used haha




I got my air spring in the mail so was super pumped to try it out as soon as paint was dry. It was really bitter sweet. The spring worked and was really classy feeling as it opened with just a couple pounds of force and closed with the lightest of pressure. With an air spring, the force is always being applied and when the lid was in the down position there is still the 20lbs of force being applied to backplate/hinge. The hinge has just enough play to allow the right side of the hinge/grill to lift slightly. This means the grill did not close perfectly square in the front and looks terrible. Huge huge disappointment and one I could remedy easily if I could have another air spring on the left side of the case to balance the twisting force. That is exactly where my motherboard is so its not an option here however.


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My solution is a small compromise in the form of a latch that simply locks up when open by extending past center. Not AS exciting but still allows my grill/hood to open and close really nicely. And the big feature is in the lower position there is no pressure pushing upward on the grill.

I used some steel bar. It was 3/4" wide by 1/8" thick. I used the air spring as my length reference since I knew it opened the case almost the amount I was wanting.




To make things look more finished I rounded over the ends.



I drilled my holes and grabbed some hardware that I thought would work from the hardware store. You'll have to trust me that it worked great and look forward to some pictures later of it installed inside the painted frame.


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Had some fun and started work on the radiator mount. I had a general shape in mind that I printed on some paper and then glued to a piece of 3/4" aluminum angle. I cut each to length with a table saw first and then I used a piece of wood I had laying around to hold the angled aluminum flat. I brought it over to the old bandsaw and went to cutting.


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I confidently drilled my holes as one does when thinking a perfect layout is glued to the materiel being drilled. A quick test instantly showed me that the holes were not in the right spot for the second fan. There is a decent gap between the fans that Corsair designed in there that I assumed wouldn't be there. Another set of holes fixed it up and now the hole case is a little bit lighter! haha



With the test fit done I drew on some lines to make a shape that looked less like aluminum angle and more stylish. I cut these with the bandsaw as well and cleaned up the edges with a file.



I didn't have holes yet drilled through the angle or into the mount because it is not a simple thing to drill given the strange angle. I used the trick of some gel super glue to hold the pieces together exactly as you want, drilling them while glued, and then smacking them apart so you can tap your threads in one half of the setup.




I couldn't help but mount it to the frame and see how it was going to look. I then was more excited and mounted the grill on to see the entire setup in place and test the opening for clearance.

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