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Insolent Gnome

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As you can tell by the last pic I posted, I 3d printed some trees. You might ask yourself, "Why did he print some trees?" A totally valid question. Well...

This build is sort of themed around trees and carbon. Maybe not overtly themed(yet) but it's been in the back of my head during the build. Wood panels, carbon fiber tub, so I wanted something to be the bow that sort of tied it together. And since I needed grills for some airflow, we printed some trees.


And you might ask, "Why do you have a view from the top and one from the side?" Also a good question.

And the answer is, in my head, that seemed cool. If you look at the front of the case, you get a side on view of a tree, from the top of the case, you get a top down view. Sort of like if you were to have a tree in the case and project the views to the acrylic panel these are going into. I'm weird, but it works for me.

The next question is most likely, "What are those two bumps on the side profile?" Well, that is a little personal bit I put in for me. Just before I started working on these, I had to put my 16 yr old lab down. I thought it would be nice to add a little reminder of her into the build, since this is a personal rig. Now it's very personal. The silhouettes are for her and her brother, who she's buried next to under a tree on my property.

And now I have something in my eye, I swear.

There was a whole process of finding pictures for the shape, fixing them in an editor, converting them to .stl and taking them into fusion. Needless to say, they ended up on the printer. And like most printed parts, they are a bit rough. Some because of the printer, some because of the design. To clean up the prints and hide my sins, I decided to silver foil them to match the foil I used in the carbon fiber.



Now all I need to do is put them in the acrylic panel. Break out the power tools!


I cut the acrylic a little tight and filed and sanded till I got a good friction fit with the grills. I didn't want to have to add brackets or mounts or glues that would mess up the finish or look, and I also wanted the option to change them out in the future. Now the case can breathe a bit better. I wanted them just for general airflow, but I did place them so that the front grill would give the PSU somewhere to pull air from and the top grill is over the GPU fan, which I think is an exhaust???




While I was playing around with Fusion and the printer, I decided to knock out a handle/latch for the acrylic panel. Something to open it without getting a bunch of oily fingerprints all over the acrylic and kind of hold it in place. Not that I expect it to really fly up at any time.

To mount it to the acrylic, I decided on screws. Adhesives would have worked but screws would allow me to change it out if I ever wanted to. For the mounts in the handle, I used push in inserts and epoxied them in.



And handle!


Thanks for following along. Next update will be generic putting things together I think. Not exciting, but you kinda gotta do it.

Thanks to GeForce Garage for sponsoring this build!


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So lets get the boring stuff out of the way so we can get to the cool stuff at the end of this update.

Putting parts on the motherboard.


I was gonna tape up the CM cooler so that I could paint the pump, but I got to looking at it, and the top pops off. Sweet.


Not only did that make it easier to paint, it also gave me a spot to hide the wires so I didn't have to cut them down and put new connectors on.


I didn't get a picture of the top after paint, but I painted it with Killer Chrome paint, which does give a good chrome finished on super glossy parts, but on parts with texture, it has a cool metallic look that matched the motherboard. So I went with it. I've got some other parts coming up that I painted with it, so you can see how it looks.

Some things are coming together.


I was ready to mount my switches but I needed to lengthen the wires and sleeve them with the reflective paracord I went with.



I was gonna epoxy them down, but there was no real good way to hold them in place while it cured, so I used super glue. Hey, it works!


And the wires ran right through my nice little inset on the bottom of the tub.


Next up are some fans. Can I just say, WHAT THE :) IS UP WITH FAN PRICES??? $30 a fan and nothing was what I was looking for.

With a bit of hunting I did find these and I like the look. Just a simple LED ring, one color, with the LEDs tied into the fan power so no extra wires. Almost perfect. Granted the LEDs will dim with the fan speed, but I can work with that.


And 5 of them...$27. I got all I needed and an extra fan for less than one LED fan. Now I will let you in on a secret, I did change the fans out later for more expensive units(still not $30 a pop though). Not because they didn't work, but in this case with all the reflections, it got super busy so I went with non-LED fans.

But getting down from my soapbox...one pair of fans got wired together for mounting on the AIO, the other pair, I sleeved the wires to run them behind the mb to their own fan headers. I mean, I've got like 4 extra headers, might as well use them.


And with most of the hardware in the case. Looks pretty solid.


While I was doing all this plugging things together, I decided to try something different on the fan grills. I like the look, but the foil wasn't the cleanest way. I debated going with a painted finish, but since I would have to print another set to paint anyways, I tried a silver silk PLA on the print. I think it came out pretty good for no finish work.


Less sparkle, but way cleaner. I was really impressed.

I was debating on putting the wiring in this update, but I'm trying to catch you all up, so here we go with what I think is the coolest bit.

It starts simple enough. Sleeving my wires with paracord. I used a reflective paracord cause it was a simple pattern that went well with the build, but part of me was hoping that it would add some sparkle.


I hate using cable combs, as some people might know, but since the wires were just going to be hanging out in the open and I planned on them being a feature, I figured I should round up some combs. Round being the key word there.


3d printed with the same silver silk PLA as the grills, they have a nice metallic look.

I didn't give myself enough room to slip the wires through easily, but I managed to mangle my fingers getting them in the combs. Are they combs if they're round???


With the round form, it took a few more combs per cable than normal to keep it all in check. It all looked really cool till I had to put the other connector on. Silverstone is a one to one, so the other connector flops over. It took a few tries to make it look like something, but I wound up weaving them back across each other to make it work.


Lets just say the 8 pins were a joy compared to the 24 pin.

Although I like the fact that the round combs are different, there was another reason for making round cables.


Those are LEDs and 4mm side lighting fiber optic cable. It looked cool on the website so I thought I'd try to put it to good use. Just a warning, avoid Adafruit if you value your wallet.

In every comb, there is a middle hole just for the fiber optic so I can run it down the center of the cable. It winds up being invisible.





The LED's do require a bit of infrastructure so I built a holder for them that includes a spot to hold the wiring.




It just sticks to the back of the PSU and plugs into on of the extra peripheral connectors. The tape is to mark the bit of fiber optic that I need to cover up with heat shrink otherwise that open bit would drown everything else out in the case.



And the full set of cables. The 24 could have used some extra space to shine light through, but it's already bulky enough. The 8 pins are just about the perfect spacing though.


And of course I had to try it out in the case. Ignore the multiple colors on the LEDs, this is before I could go in and set it all up.


See what I mean about busy with those fans? But I think the cables look awesome! Like they're glowing! I ran all the wires long so they could meander around the case and be a feature. The best way I can describe the look I was going for is a high tech interpretation of the branching of a bristle cone pine. You know the super old trees with the windswept branches? I just didn't want the cables running straight to the components. It would have been boring.

Thanks for following along! Next time I'll start all the tweaking that I'm going to do. Normally I have to hurry and finish for a deadline. This time around I can take a minute to tweak things and change stuff that doesn't quite work. Such a luxury!

And thanks to Geforce Garage who had no idea that a main feature of this case would be...wires.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Before I get into the little tweaks to make this thing desk worthy for me, I did grab a pic of the pump housing after the chrome paint. If you remember, I said that Killer Chrome does a good impression of chrome on super glossy surfaces, but on textured surfaces, it's a good metallic look.


Not flashy but it does match the board very well.

And now the little tweaks. First up I was thinking about this build in competitions. It needs a name and a little stronger theme. I decided to cut the name down to Carbon seeing as most of the case is built from carbon materials, be it carbon fiber or the carbon in the wood. And to tie it together better I'm changing up the grills for competition purposes.


For me, the tree grills mean a little extra and I think they're cool in my head, but for competing, I'm going with grills based on a graphene lattice. A simple lattice made of carbon atoms. It makes for a simple and more normal looking grill and you don't get much more on point with the Carbon name.


But the silk silver PLA wasn't doing it for me, so I printed another set, smoothed them out with primer and went with a black ceramic engine paint. It just has a good sheen to it and now the spheres really show up.



The next tweak was a breeze. Literally. It's fans.

I was proud of my cheapy ring fan find, and they were pretty quiet too, but the LEDs were just too much in the case. So I went with one of my favs, the Noctua Redux.




Granted they're better looking than the browns, but the frame color just looks off in the case. Since I had luck with the Killer Chrome before, I decided to try my luck again.


And they came out with a sharp cast metal look that I really like!

Since I was getting close to wrapping the case up and everything was working, I went ahead and dropped my drives in. A 512GB and a 2TB for the m.2 drives and an 8TB spin drive.


It's definitely much calmer on the inside now. Matches the outside of the case better too!


One thing that was bugging me though was the lack of light coming from the 24 pin cable. In my original design, I staggered the wires to keep the cable tight, but that wound up blocking all the lighting. So back to the drawing board.


This time around, I went with an open, snap in design. I'm not feeding all those wires through again!

But the closed combs bit me in the butt again trying to change them out. Not only was it a pain to get the wires in, but it was also a pain getting them out. I wound up cutting the combs off.


It's a bit of a different look, but they work and I don't have to pull pins from a connector to add more combs if I want.


As for the 24 pin, it wound up about the same overall size.


And now I get a bit of light peeking through.


I think that's all the changes I had for the build. I'm pretty satisfied with the final product so all that's left are some final shots which will be coming soon.

Thanks for sticking around and also thanks to GeForce Garage for going along with a build that is a little off the beaten path from trendy.


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And the final shots. I tried out my Pixel's portrait mode...worked pretty well. Better than me playing with f-stops on a real camera.














It's already been to one LAN party and a note to self, lighter wood next time! Thanks for following along! Hope you enjoyed the build or at least learned from my follies!

And one more huge thanks to GeForce Garage who helped make this build possible and helped me get my sanding game on point!


Edited by Insolent Gnome
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