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Project Cooler MaSteam-Punk (09 Mod Contest Entry) Completed

E.E.L. Ambiense

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Greetings, all! This will be a quick little project I'll be doing on the side to move out some of the chassis I have laying around to make room for...well, probably more chassis. :lol: This project will be based around an old Cooler Master ATC-210 that I've had laying around for quite a while and figured I should either mod it or toss it. So I figured I'd mod it first before I attempted to toss it.

Stupid project name aside :lol:, here's a pic of the chassis as it originally was...


I've long since removed all the acrylic crap from it, but I still have all the little aluminum bits for it and I may use those or not; haven't decided yet.

A buddy of mine's father has a system in a POS chassis, and I've always hated that his system sounds like a jet-engine with all the crappy high-speed fans he has in that thing. Ugh, a total eyesore. So I figured I'd make him another kind of eyesore!

I really don't know exactly what I'm going to do to this thing, so I'm just kind of winging it. I had initally set up a mockup in red because I have some metallic red laying around, but I also have some metallic copper. I really don't know. Maybe I should 'age' things? I don't know, lol. I'll see what he thinks about it as well; that will probably show what I'm going to do about the paint-job. ;)

Here's the concept anyways...


Let's get to work, shall we? :)

Here's the stock case as it sits right now...


I had mentioned to Bill the other day that I was going to start a small project log (this one, obviously) using an old case I had laying around, and I would be using one of the MNPCTech Steampunk grills I designed that was graciously sponsored by MNPCTech. Bill then proceeded to ask if I'd make a tutorial out of it. So after a good 25 mins. of me whining, crying and complaining, I finally conceded and accepted doing it. :lol: So, here's my little tutorial integrated into this project log in it's entirety. Put on your sarcasm-caps folks, and enjoy!


So here we are... An easy, simple, little grassroots-guide to installing an MNPCTech Steampunk Grill. This guide can be applied to any MNPCTech acrylic grill, but will not work at all with any other (read: inferior) brand grills. ;) I don't know; I think it has something to do with DOS and BASIC or something.

This guide contains certain assumptions of the reader. For instance, how to plug power tools in to wall sockets and how to breath. But these are all common things most human beings perform, but it's just a precautionary blanket statement.

The case I will be installing the grill onto doesn't matter, but here's the top of the chassis for visual aid.




And here we have MNPCTech's awesome, awe-inspiring and extraneously omnipotent grill. Well, one of them anyways. ;)


I decided I'm putting the grill on the top of the chassis because the stock case has a paltry single 80mm fan there, and I wanted to cover that up. Normally, I'd go through the trouble of creating some kind of overly-complex stencil that only I could decipher with no small help from my trusty decoder-ring I acquired out of stale caramel popcorn box with a sailor on it, but for ease of use and for the reader's comfort, I'm going to go back to the basics and do things in a normal, simple and obviously logical sense. Granted, it's been a number of years since I've modded in this low-tech fashion, so bear with me, kind reader!

(Inserted comment... Regardless of what I do here, you really should masking-tape the panel you're cutting to protect it from any possible mistakes or bleeding incidents before beginning work on it!)

After placing and lining the grill exactly where I want it to reside, I simply apply some tape to hold the thing in place. This isn't totally necessary, but for those who do not have a steady hand or those that aren't that good at playing the game Jenga or perhaps not adept at performing brain-surgery for instance, might find this a good thing to do.


Next, I simply take a writing utensil of some kind; in this case it's a pencil (#2 to be exact, because no other pencil will work; Beauty & The Beast graphics on it counts as extra points), and trace around the inside of the grill's edges as well as the (in this case) 8 (eight) fan mounting holes.


Some like to just hole-saw the holes out or even dremel them out in a circle, but this particular (read: awesome, awe-inspiring and extraneously omnipotent) design of these grills complement the inside edges of the fan itself; i.e. flat edges with rounded corners. So, in this case, I'm going to be cutting the case to match the inside edges of the grill proper.

After about 4 hours of making sure my pencil lines are straight, I'm left with this lovely sight...


Now, let's get to cutting, shall we? All modders have their methods. Some like to cut with a jigsaw; some with a rotary tool; even some that like to use a scroll saw or their own teeth. Personally, I like to use a rotary tool. They're easy to use, fast, and convenient. Kind of like a drive-thru bathroom, I suppose. :worried:

Now, I'm not going to to take the time to delve deep into the logistics and philosophy of utilizing a rotary tool, because there are plenty of guides for that already. Bill's video Guide to Dremel Techniques is well-worth a viewing or 5. It's almost a religious experience, and it may save one or two of your precious digits, not to mention that irreplaceable case panel!

Personally, I like to use a Flex-Shaft with my rotary tool because it allows better control. Of course, that's my personal opinion about them, but others may disagree; similar to the boxers-or-briefs debate. I also tend to use the reinforced EZ-Lock discs. I can get three cases-worth of cutting out of a single disc (your experience may vary), and they're way more reliable than the standard ones.


Oh, and it may be a good idea to wear some hearing and eye protection. Just food for thought.


You could easily cut along the lines you've already drawn and it will come out fine, but I like to take it one step farther by 'beveling' the cut. I just make a new path slightly outside of the existing drawn line which creates a buffer on the metal.


By doing this, the final cuts will be made slightly wider than the grill's edges which makes the grill overlap your cut edges. It looks more tidy, and it will possibly serve as 'insurance' to those that aren't that good at the aforementioned Jenga game and the cuts are everything but straight.

Now, let's start to cut the case panel. Simply align the disc along the lines and let the rotary tool do it's job. DO NOT push down hard, or barely at all. Again, let the rotary tool do it's job; i.e. removing metal.



And after another 4+ hours of back-breaking and grueling manual labor, we're left with this...


I simply like to run a flat-file along the edges of the cuts to remove burrs and snags and to 'shape out' slight errors in the cuts.


You can also use sandpaper (if you're careful not to ruin the finish on the panel if you don't intend to paint) or even a rotary tool's sanding disc attachment. Whatever you choose will result in wonderful, glorious excitement to be had by all.

I forgot to drill out the holes, but that's okay. Let's take care of that as well. I had a scrap chunk of wood laying around, so I propped the panel on top of that allowing me a flat surface to drill into as well as getting it up off the table. Again, everyone has their own method.



Now, after that's all wrapped up and dipped in awesomeness, let's see where the grill's going to sit, shall we?


Looks perfect. I then remove the protective paper from the acrylic (I personally like to wear disposable latex gloves to minimize fingerprints, peanut butter & jelly, or whatever happens to be on your grubby little hands at the time from transferring to the acrylic) and place it on it's final home. I also align the (in this case) two 120mm fans roughly where I want them on the opposite side of the panel.


Next, let's begin to thread in the mounting screws into the fans. If all your drilling was actually straight this time, the holes should all line up with their corresponding holes through the panel and the fans themselves.


I personally use larger #10 5/8" length screws for fan install if I'm not using socket-cap screws, but the stock screws that come with your fan(s) work just as good. Although the black-oxide screws look beefier and better though, don't they? ;)

Now, that 'beveling' I mentioned earlier? If you look closely, you can't see the edges of the cut metal.


Looks killer and professional.

Now sit back and admire your mod-godlike results...


Let's flip on the fans for a little light-show action! (note: only LED fans will light up, so purchase accordingly. Some may not produce an actual light-show, but will create some light)


And this concludes my little tutorial to cutting holes in your case and installing an MNPCTech grill. Again, this guide only works with MNPCTech brand grills, so please keep that in mind. ;)

Now, enjoy the fruits of your labor and--D'oh! I just realized I now have to do the same thing to the top of the inside chassis too, since there's two layers here! :x


Now, that was fun, wasn't it? :D


Until the next update, I got nuthin'. :wink:

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Alright, time for another infusion here. Let's get right to it. I'm stuffed and I want to go to bed.

Last we left off, I needed to cut the top inside panel of the chassis to accommodate the dual fans up top. Let's do that.

Here's the inside top panel marked off using the top panel with the grill/fans installed on it.


After cutting some pilot slots with the rotary tool, I jigsawed the piece out. I cleaned it up with a flat-file as well to remove the burrs, etc. Doesn't have to be perfect, because you won't see it. But it's a good idea to get things as clean as possible.


And a quick drop-in with the top panel shows me this...


Everything clears and looks fine! I will not be using these green LED fans, BTW; they just happened to be closest to me when I started work on the tutorial, lol. I'll probably be using simple black fans, but I really don't know. My friend's pop isn't much for a carnival in the form of a computer tower. ;)

Here's the front panel for the chassis....


And here's where I am right now on the design(s) I'll be using. I should also note that I only have a little bit of scrap black acrylic to use laying around, so I can't get overly-dramatic with this mod. It's not a rig for me or anything. ;) It's just something quick to get rid of it more than anything, so I'm not going to spend a inordinate amount of time on it.

You can see I'm also putting a little 'trim' on the bottom there, but also am putting in a complimenting opening for the stock dual USB ports. Why not, right?


A quick spin of the ratcheting screwdriver and an Allen bit on it gets the panel off the chassis...


Let's remove the stock USB leads off the front panel here, as well as the stock power switch, reset, and LED's.





This panel is really thick. It's a nice solid chunk of aluminum. This whole series of chassis were really good and shared parts between them. This particular chassis was on the low-end of the spectrum though, especially when you compare it to the Praetorian. Definitely lighter-weight and a cheaper build.


I'm going to be putting a 92mm fan up front. That's the largest I can get in the chassis without having to remove parts of the HDD bracket inside, and I can't afford to do that. :), this particular chassis doesn't have any fans at all up front. That's obvious since there's no place to get any fresh air from! But I'm going to change that. Since I now have slow-spinning 120mm's up top exhausting, I need to get some more air coming in.


I hate to mar this front face since it has such beautiful machining on it, but--


--Let's do it anyways. ;)

I need to mark out where I'm going to be drilling it...


Getting it drillpress-ready...


Midst of cutting it...


Literally 25 mins later (it was a really thick panel), I'm left with this.



Until the next update, I got nuthin'. ;)

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I'll get right to it. I don't have much, as it's been a weird hectic short workweek, and next week probably won't be any better. :( Anyways, on to the update.

I was able to get around to blasting the chassis and coating it in matt black...


And after that, I started pax-matting the chassis bottom, etc. ..


I love this stuff, when it's used in the right situations. For 'non-show cases', it's perfect for that extra step to quiet things down. Since this chassis isn't exactly top-of-the-line CM work, it's kind of flimsy. So I figured, why the heck not. lol.

I also started reinstalling the little plastic stuff like the slide-rails for the removable mobo tray.


I'll try to have some more next time. Hopefully, some beautiful metallic copper goodness. ;) I decided on that instead of red. Now, if I could just track down some 80mm version Akasa Ambers in the United States.... :x I can find the 120's and the 92's, but no 80's anywhere. :x


Until the next update, I got nuthin'. ;)

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Alrighty, I have another lil' update here. Let's get to it, shall we?

I began work on drilling holes for the power switch and the two power/status LED's going up top towards the front of the case.

I marked out where the holes needed to go...


...and I drilled them out. I used my usual hole-saw for my vandal switch installs, since that's what is going there for a power switch (as you can see). Test-install of the switch was just fine. And yes....those are going to be some pretty big status LEDs going by the holes....


I also marked out and drilled the side panel's fan spots as well as where the acrylic dressing for those fans will go on the outside of the panel.


I also was able to get around to shooting the mobo tray in the metallic copper. I love this color. :)


Installed, it's going to look very contrasty and beautiful (to me anyways, lol).


And finally I also got around to the front panel's coating. Looks wonderful. Should look even better with the acrylic trim as well! ;)


Oh, also...the issue with the Akasa Ambers? I think I tracked a pair down in 80mm size, so I think I'm set. Of course I won't know until I actually get them, but that's besides the point. ;)


Until the next update, I got nuthin'. ;)

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Okay, here's another installment of this little project log going on here. Let's get to it, shall we?

The acrylic's all done for this project, and everything looks grand IMHO. I also was able to snag those elusive 80mm Akasa Ambers I was needing, and obtained them pretty fast considering the actual distance they traveled! Thanks again to those across the pond that offered to get me some; just the offer is sincerely appreciated, mates. I also snagged Three 120mm's and one 92mm for this case as well. Considering stock-wise, this case had a single 80mm exhaust. --That's it. Which is cringe-worthy. :lol: Just wouldn't cut it, which is why I did what I did to this poor case. Which should step up the cooling potential considerably.

Anyways, I'm rambling. Let's move on to the update now.

After an additional order from MNPCTech, I obtained some more of Bill's modder's mesh. Seriously, guys...I may be biased, but this is the best modder's mesh around. 'Nuff said.


Anyways, I cut it to size roughly what I needed for the intake 92mm, the side intake 120mm/80mm, and the top dual 120mm exhaust.

Here's the front 92mm intake acrylic frame laying on top of the front panel. Came out tops to me! And the modder's mesh/fan is behind it to give a rough estimate of what it will look like.


And then I coated it in gloss black for it's final residence.


Let's go ahead and put it together now...


And finished! Looks gorgeous.


Now, let's install the rear 80mm exhaust fan along with the new 80mm gear acrylic. I love the look!


I don't know if Bill wanted me to say anything about it yet (I apologize bro if I spilled the beans, lol!), but other versions of this 'Steam-punk" single fan grill (this particular design is specific to this case though) along with other styles will be available soon from MNPCTech, starting with 80mm and 120mm. Others sizes may follow suit. If ya love it here, check it out over there!

Some of you noticed I left the stock 'mesh' on the removable mobo tray's exhaust fan port; I just felt it was adequate for what I needed it for. It's not like these 80's push an enormous amount of air anyways, and it's open enough.

Here's a face-on look at the rear fan/grill...


And starting the fan up...


"Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen." - Emperor Palpatine


Until the next update, I got nuthin'. ;)

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Yes, you read that right. Two updates in a single day. No...it's not the Apocalypse. E.E.L.'s just on the ball, as they say. ;) Anyways, on to the goodies.

I was able to get the side panels shot and finished. Here's the opposite mobo panel, where the acrylic and fans will be housed.


Which is some of this stuff.


It will house a 120mm and an 80mm fan. Total overkill, but no one ever said there's logic present here. :D

After unmasking and carefully lining up the two fans on the opposite side of the panel along with the mesh in between them, I was able to get it together. Not as easy as it looks, lol. Everything wants to go its own way while you're trying to crank down on screws, etc. But everything works out in the end. Well, for the most part. Sometimes. Actually, seldom. Alright...never. Sorry for getting your hopes up. :lol:


And all finished there!


How about some little trim pieces, eh?


These go right up top to cover utilize the stock case holes where the front door's hinges were housed. Fits right in to me, to add some 'flair' as they say.


And finally, here's a shot of the lower front, where the bottom acrylic has found it's final home as well. Everything was spot-on too. I just love having the USB ports integrated into the design in a way.


There'll be some more a'comin....stay tuned.


Until the next update, I got nuthin'. ;)

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Here's another update to cook in the spoon. :shock: ...wow. I can't believe I said that, lol! ...ahem.... :? On to the update!

Alrighty, I needed to get to the 'control panel' up top and towards the front first, so let's do that.

Here's the pieces I'm going with...


Incandescent lamps for power indicators (12v driven), a vandal-resistant momentary switch from MNPCTech, and obviously, the panel itself.

Let's double-check where it's all going, shall we?

Placing the 'control panel' on top...


And now, inserting the incandescent lamps in their slots. Vandal switch will drop in that gaping hole in the middle there. Clever spot for it, eh? ;) Everything's going to be fine.


Now, let's finally install (again, lol) the top "steam-punk" rad-grill graciously supplied by MNPCTech, along with the coated modder's mesh and the dual 120mm Akasa Ambers.

Easy as holding everything in place, and cranking the screws. :roll:


Again, not as easy as it looks because everything wants to just move around all over the place. I keep mentally picturing that scene in Disney's Alice in Wonderland where Alice is playing croquet with the Queen or something and they select a bird for the mallet, but Alice is holding on to two of them and they're trying to scatter everywhere.

:lol: Good times. Hm? Oh! Sorry...got off-track there. Anyways...

All done. That wasn't so hard, was it? :)


Here's a sneak-peak at the top when roughly done...


And here's the indicator 'lit up'... Very subtle and 'old-fashioned' to me. I wonder if I should go dual amber instead of a red one and a blue one?... hmmmm....



Until the next update, I got nuthin'. ;)

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Alrighty, here's a tiny update before the final ones coming. I needed to finish up a couple other things before I can move the hardware into the case. Let's get around to that.

First off, I've used these things before in some of my builds...quite a few, actually, lol.


I miss these things too since they're now extinct. I purchased up like 10 of them last I found a cache of them, but it's okay. Time to move on, right? Anyways, here's my last one in the package. I used a black one (what was left of it, anyways) for this particular build because the eject button is also black, which blends in with the shot gloss black but still has the eject symbol on it. Should stealth the optical drive just fine.


And the aforementioned amber incandescent lamps I snagged from PPC's, as well as grabbing a new black Scythe Kaze Q 3.5" rheobus because the old Noise Isolator VR unit I was using for the case decided it didn't want to work anymore. Oh well. I wired up the amber lamps a little better this time splitting them both from the same power source inside the case. Looks great. Color's so subtle, and definitely not blinding or distracting. I've also already begun the long process of wire-management, etc.


I didn't take pics of it, because I forgot, lol, but I also shot the PSU bracket for the back of the case in copper as well. Test-fit on the case everything looks great to me. I can't wait to move the hardware into it!


Until the next update, I got nuthin'. ;)

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Alright, folks. Let's get right to it.

First of all, I will state right now that this project would've been done on sunday, but it came to an infuriating halt; not because of something huge, but because of something so mundane you'll laugh.

It wasn't a missing limb, no. It wasn't lack of power-tools. It was because of this little git...


Unbelievable. See the problem was, I was under the assumption this entire time that I had plenty of those damn old-school clip-in standoffs, which I in fact do...an entire box of them from Lian Li. The only problem is, I don't have this size. Argh! I tore everything apart looking and hoping and praying to find a small cache of these bloody elusive things laying around, but no dice. I called in favors; I even went to James @ PPC's to see if he had any of them. He laughed at me. So I went home with my head hanging wondering what the :) I was going to do. So I found some finally on a site, and ordered them, but they were coming from California. Anyways, probably a good week before they show up. So I get a call from James earlier today and he proceeds to tell me he found a whole bag of them. At this point, I'm laughing hysterically, and he's probably wondering if I'm going to show up with a machete or something. So I ran by PPC's headquarters again and nabbed 8 of them from him, which finally set me straight with the build. So I was back in business.

Got the mobo installed, and began the arduous task of cable-management. It doesn't have to be perfect either, since there are no windows or anything. Just simple, effective tidying, right?


After that I installed the side panels and polished the acrylic and dusted everything off. Ready to deliver. All done. Complete. Fin.

And that completes everything. The build is now complete. Sincere thanks to all who peeked in and who participated on this little venture! Thank you to Bill Owen of MNPCTech for graciously sponsoring this build, and for being an awesome dude. Thanks, bro!

Steam-Punk dual grill used in this build is now available from MNPCTech, along with single grills (including steam punk gears).





Hm? You still here? Oh, sorry.... you were wanting some final pics? :roll: Alllllright.... Scroll down...

....and enjoy!

Final Photos

Thumbs are clickable for large photos

thumb1-1.jpg thumb2-1.jpg thumb3-1.jpg thumb4-1.jpg thumb5-1.jpg thumb6-1.jpg thumb7-1.jpg

thumb8-1.jpg thumb9-1.jpg thumb10-1.jpg


No more updates, so I got nuthin' else. ;)

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