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InsolentGnome - La Brezza

Insolent Gnome

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Hey folks!  Back for another world series in 2020.  It's been a crazy year and I haven't been as into modding as years past, but how could I pass up another competition?


For those that don't know me, I'm InsolentGnome, a modder out of the state of Missouri in the USA.  Been doing this for a bit.  In fact, what I consider my first real mod took 2nd in this competition waaaayyy back in 2015.  Another 2nd in 2016 and best gaming last year with the LANpack.  So I couldn't NOT do a mod this year!


For this year's entry, I had to do some hunting to find the right name.  I finally settled on La Brezza, the breeze in Italian.  Or so that's what Google is telling me, so if it's wrong, I'd appreciate a heads up.  I wanted something to do with wind and Italian seemed like a natural choice since Italians make the beautiful supercars that have inspired a lot of the feel I'm going for.  I say 'inspired the feel', because I'm not making a Lamborghini or Ferrari mod, they've been done.  And it isn't going to look like a car, that's been done.  But I wanted feel of building something that pushes the envelope, uses different materials, and pushes the boundaries of style, but still stays stylish.  The starting notion of La Brezza was how do you take a carbon fiber and make it stylish.


Well, that's sort of an introduction, and once I remember how to post on forums, I'll show you my journey!



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For this years build, I wanted a big canvas to work with and I think I've bought one of the biggest, a Cooler Master Cosmos II 25th Anniversary Edition. It's as big as my table...jeez, what did I get myself into?



It's so honking big, I can't even see the top of the case when it's on my work table.




It is pretty sharp though.



But kinda chunky. I don't want to weight shame anyone, but this thing needs to go on a diet.


Holy crap there's a lot of stuff in there!


But now I can get it to the base that I want to start from.


Thanks for checking it out and come back next time I we'll look at a whole lot of effort I put into something that I didn't even use!

Edited by Insolent Gnome
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So where do I start?  How bout the top?
The top panel is pretty cool on the Cosmos II, sliding door, lots of cool buttons, and all that.  But it's a little busy for my taste.  Here you can see it after I've popped the sliding door off.
My original idea was to take out the I/O and change up that area, leave off the handles and fill those holes to give everything a sleeker look. To start, I had to begin hacking on some panels.  Namely the I/O panel.
I really didn't know what to expect the final product to be, but that looks kind of interesting. Could easily make that into an interesting intake, but I'm planning on having the hardware I/O's on the top, so I need to make this a solid panel.

After deliberating on it and trying out the intake look...
I settled on filling the area in with a curved panel with a possible handle.  This is a pretty big case and since I'm leaving the original handles off, they could use replacements.
But I'll let you all in on a little secret...I did this.  Made a handle out of carbon fiber, and then made a fill panel out of fiberglass and carbon fiber...
And got started on finishing it...
And decided I wanted to change directions.  I just wasn't feeling it, and couldn't come up with a way to match the back cover for the top that I liked.  
So what to do now?  Well lets fix our top panels together with some hot glue to keep them lined up correctly and block off the holes with some foil...
And buy a large box of clay...
Knowing that this wasn't really the best clay for this use, but being the only thing available in town, roll with it...
And then fill in the top panel so we can make a fiberglass mold...
The bad thing about this clay is that when it dries, it shrinks.  So I made quick work of shaping it and building a flange for my mold.
Wax on for release...
And then lay up the fiberglass mold...
Now this is a quick and dirty way of making a mold for a part.  Normally, you'd use a better product than the clay that I used for a filler, finish it with epoxy, use gelcoat for the mold...but...I was in a hurry and I knew that I was going for a one off, so the quality of the mold didn't really matter to me.  I could either spend all my time finishing the buck, or slap it together real quick and spend that time finishing the final product, which I was going to have to probably touch up anyways.
Moral of the story, don't do this and expect to end up with a finished product out of the mold!
But the mold turned out alright...
So I slapped in some carbon fiber...
This CF might look a little odd, it's a triaxial weave instead of the 2x2 twill that is normally what you see.  It's a little tougher since the strands run in 3 directions instead of two and I got some on sale, so it makes for great base layers.  I'll be adding a 2x2 twill layer over the top of it to give it the normal CF look.
Thanks for following along and check back next time to see how this crazy mess turns out!
Edited by Insolent Gnome
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So how did the top panel turn out?  Well it's not much to look at out of the mold.
But with a bit of work with a dremel and a sanding block.
Now to make it look like what everyone would recognize as carbon fiber by smoothing out the surface and putting a finish layer on it.
After a couple of sandings and additional coats of epoxy, it's looking pretty good.
But not perfect, so more sanding and hopefully now the last layer of epoxy.  While that's wrapping up, let's check out the beginning's of the motherboard tray.
I was also making a carbon fiber fender for a little Honda CB400 I picked up this summer.
Laying down more of the triaxial weave on an aluminum sheet so I get a nice flat piece carbon fiber.
The finished product is definitely interesting, but we still need to cover it with 2x2 twill because expectations.
Sanding it down to knock down any high spots and get some good bite for the epoxy.
And then laying the twill.
And it's also going through the same process of sanding and re-coating to get a perfect finish.
Once it's good, I can cut it down to fit into the case and I should have enough extra for some brackets that I'm going to need.
Thanks for following along and check back to see what other crazy ideas I can come up with!
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  • 2 weeks later...
Continuing on with my carbon fiber journey, I think I'm at the final coat of epoxy on the top cover.
And the final sanding on the tray.  There are a few low spots left, but they're shallow and shouldn't show once it's cleared.
Next lets cut this down and fit the tray.
I originally though to use stand offs to mount the tray since the side rails of the case are covered, but I ran into a bit of a problem with the door latch mechanism.  It's kind of in the way.
To fix this, I made some tabs for the tray out of the cutoffs that will attach to the front and back panels.
DP 420 epoxy is the sh*t.  If it can hold the head of a golf club on, it'll work here.
My carbon fiber pieces sanded up and ready for finishing. The final coat will be a 2K clear. The epoxy would buff to a shine, but the clear is easier and I know I'm not going to end up with a pin hole or have to sand so much I risk burning through.  But, I'm not going to clear them till the end so I can't mess them up while test fitting.
Next up is chopping the frame to suit my needs.  The dang thing is so big I had to sit it on the floor to get an angle on it.
I took a bit out.  Some for airflow, some to flip the I/O to the top and clean everything up.
Speaking of the I/O on the top, I need to replace what I took out. I think this is some .08" 5056 aluminum.  I didn't mark it when I got it so I'm guessing.
Marking it out for mounting holes and also to give room for the screw holes for parts that attach to the top panel.
With the top panel set, now I can mount the tray.
Thanks for following along and check in next time for the hardware mounting and whatever else I get up to!
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  • 2 weeks later...
I guess we ought to look at the hardware because I'm about to start fitting things in.  I started off with this:
Intel Core i5 9600K
Aorus Z390 I PRO WIFI mITX board
16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX at 2666 MHz
480GB Corsair MP510 m.2 drive
2TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus m.2 drive
8TB WD Black spin drive
NVIDIA RTX2080Ti with a Raijintek Morpheus 8057 cooler
It's kind of a weird mix, but since this is my personal computer, I went for for a build that fit my needs.  Enough horsepower for gaming at 1440p and light design/editing work and a ton of storage.  I've been living off of a m.2 and 4 SSD's with capacities between 240 and 480GB and I'm tired of running out of space.  So now it's a 480GB m.2 for system and programs, a 2TB m.2 for games, and the crazy 8TB spin drive for all the pictures and videos that come from computer modding.  I'm never running out of space again...or at least for a few years.
One of the first things I needed to do was mount the cooler on the GPU.  You might be asking why I'm running an aftermarket cooler.  I've been wanting to try one of these bad boys cause to me they just look cool, and the 2080Ti I'm using had a water block on it.  Since I'm not putting it under water in this build, I figured it was the perfect time to try one out.
That's a whole lot of radiator!  
Another question might be why an mITX board in this gigantic case?  Well, I didn't want mITX, I really wanted mATX because of the layout I'm using, but with the Z390s being a generation old, it was hard to find one I liked that wasn't priced crazy.  I liked the look of the Aorus board, so I tried it out.  And I'm glad I did, I've been having weird crashes and the most likely culprit is the board I think.  I was worried it was the GPU since it's been handled so much, but still having the same issue with different stock cards.  So I went hunting for a new board.  And I spent way too much money, but it does match the theme of the case.
Nice little carbon fiber accents.
And this ginormous beast for cooling.
It's high-end, says so on the box.
So now we know what I'm going to try to shove into this thing, next time I'll update you on the progress of the shoving.  Thanks for following along.
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Since I've got a motherboard tray and a motherboard, might as well start putting things together.  I'm going to have the I/O at the top of the case and mount the gpu separately so we can see that huge radiator.
And to make sure that I left enough room for the CPU cooler.
Since everything fits, I marked out the holes for the I/O and got to cutting.
To keep things simple, I like bending out a tab for the GPU mount.
Had to do a little adjusting to the top of the case, but it all works.
The GPU is fine mounting with the bracket, but I needed some standoffs to mount the motherboard.  Luckily I can modify the plastic standoffs I have pretty easily, just chop off the threads and they're ready to be epoxied on.  This is a 10mm standoff, but I ended up using 6mm standoffs.
Now all I need is a keeper for the GPU bracket and nothing should fall out.  Some scrap carbon fiber should do the trick.
You might be wondering about the hole in the bottom of the case.  Well, I need some airflow there.  Why?  I'll get to that later.  But for now I should probably add some screening to it rather than just having a hole.  So I grabbed some perforated aluminum I had from another project.
A little epoxy and some weight to hold everything down should do the trick.
There was another hole on the case that needed to be covered, where the PSU mounts.
It's been a minute since I disassembled the case so I'm guessing that there was a mounting bracket, but I'm using a Silverstone 700w SFX-L unit, so I'm going to need an adapter anyway.  Might as well just make a new bracket.  I cut out the mounting holes for the PSU, but apparently didn't take a pic.  So you'll just have to take my word for it, there are holes and a SFX PSU will fit, LOL!
I know this was a lot of busy work and not crazy or glamorous, but the cool stuff is coming.  Thanks for following along!
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Now for some fun stuff!  Since I'm going with an automotive theme, what do you do with the wires and messy mechanical bits that you want to clean up in a car?  Make a cover, and that's what I'm doing for the motherboard tray.
I'm using 1/2 MDF for my buck.
The cover is going to cover most everything but the radiators and the RAM but since we don't want it to be just a slab of carbon fiber, I'm going to follow the form of the hardware.
I beveled the edges and gave myself some room for wires and connectors.
It's all screwed and glued together.  The last thing I want is a piece popping off and sticking in my part.  Then some bondo to fill the holes and to fillet the joints.
I followed that up with sanding and shellac to seal the MDF.
After sanding that out. I gave it a few coats of gloss clear coat to get a nice glossy surface.  It's not really going to matter as far as looks since this is the inside of the part, but this should make popping the part off the mold super easy.
With the buck finished and coated with release agent, it was time to lay down some carbon fiber.  I'm going with 2 layers of the triaxial weave and 2 layers of 2x2 twill.  Like before, the triaxial makes for a good base and I have a ton of it and the twill gives us the look.  Plus the 2x2 twill flows over the sharper corners better than the triaxial weave.
Everything set up and ready to go.  Once I get the CF down it's going under vacuum to hold it to the mold.
There are a whole lot of moving parts here and I'm on a timer and covered in epoxy, so no pics of laying the carbon fiber down or setting up the bagging. But I did manage a pic after getting it under vacuum.
After curing up, my cover popped right off the mold.
Not perfect but I'm thrilled with how it came out!  A few flaws from the bagging where it wasn't fully pressed down because I don't do it enough to remember all the tricks, but it's gonna work!
And now to start putting a finish on it before I clean up the edges and cut it to fit around the hardware.  The buck makes for a great part holder while I topcoat with some epoxy.
Hopefully this was cooler than the last post!  Up next is some paint and a whole lot more sanding and epoxy.  Thanks for following along!
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