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Whaler's Heading, CM Modding Contest 2011 entry


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For those that know me, a bit before I start. 2011 has been a really interesting year already. I had a son in January, and in February I found out I'm losing my sight (it's repairable, but I pretty much have to go blind before it gets fixed) and between that and my generally declining health, this will be my last case mod for a while. After my surgeries and some time with my new boy, I might be in the mood to do this again. I'm not closing the door and retiring, I'm going to take an extended break.

At any rate, I'm buckling down to make sure win, lose, or throw cats I do things you've never seen before to hardware you won't believe in ways that beggar belief. I am pulling out all the stops this time-and I am gonna have as much fun as possible doing it.

So, a few pictures, and then I'll reveal where we're heading.





As you can see, this is hardcore server hardware. An Arima quad socket server board, sixteen ECC RDDR-2 PC3200 DIMMs, and four quad-core Opteron HE8437 processors form the core of this build. Currently, power is handled by the XFX 750 Black Edition PSU (I'm expecting this to change,) cooling will be custom liquid with self-built blocks, CM fans (to fulfill requirements as well as I simply like them,) Laing DDC pumps, and a few surprises in the radiator department.

Parts en route include a chipset block, GTX 470, GPU block base, and some kind of storage. Not much to go, and most is in motion already.

The case is this cabinet that everything is sitting on-once it has some feet, it should make a handsome sea chest. Planned mods are inlays of bone and corian for scrimshaw, inlays of "whalebone" (buffalo horn as they're both keratin and whalebone is banned,) knotwork beckets (handles,) and a custom window that I think will put smiles on faces. When I finish, this will serve double duty as an end table in a house full of cats, dog and baby. Therefore, this will be built to survive the next three Armageddons. It ought to be fun to do this one last time, so won't you join me as I destroy what's left of my sight-I mean throw down one last time.

The name? A reference to old map chests found on all whaling vessels. It's all the hint you're getting at this time.

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All right, a history lesson for those uninitiated to the concept of scrimshaw.

Scrimshaw is considered to be the first original American art form. First practiced by native Americans as early as 800AD, it was named and brought to its apex by whalers in the 1800s as they worked on whale teeth and whale bones far away from home, then sold the work to supplement their meager incomes. During the height of whaling, any item possible was scrimshawed-in fact, the Pequod of Moby-Dick fame was covered in whale bone and set with whale teeth. Here's betting there was at least a bit of work in her.

Up as an example is my powder horn in progress, an item that's not actually part of the case but an example of scrimshaw work. The mistakes become a part of the character, but it's all made of scratched lines in my case. Some work with stippling (patterns of dots make by small holes) since this ws originally done with sailmaker's needles, but I work in scratches and am content with the results. YMMV, of course.



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Ordering spree today, picked up a G1/4 tap, 11.8mm drill bit and a PNY GTX 470 so far today. Corian needs to be ordered, and I can start hacking at this case.

The goal is to make it seem as though there really is nothing odd about this from the outside, save the window to be inset in the top. Only there, and in the rear of the case would you see any giveaway that there is anything "different" about this chest.

At the moment, it's back to ordering. Trying to finish up everything so I can mod in peace...

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So stuff starts trickling in...

Like the rest of my block bases...


A pair of new pumps...


Why a new pair? For one, I had a mismatched set, for two...

There's a secret to this set. You gotta see this.


All right, amps fell a bit. What's significant about that? Plenty.


Impeller designs are different, for one. The blue is the new one.


PCB is different. What's so significant? This requires more pics to illustrate.


Old pump, the coils are enclosed and they are soldered around the edges. PCB is honestly quite simple.


New pump, the coils are open and larger, there is an unused land in between the fan header and the 12v and the PCB is a lot cleaner. What's important about that unused land? PWM control. Solder a wire there and you get PWM pump control by the board. This board can honestly push all of it through the fan headers to boot-it's used to heavy loads on the fan headers. These fans ARE getting rewired to attach to the board. This will be fun....

Also, the video card came in.


PNY GTX470. Not too shabby for $139...

More to come this week, I got tools in as well, and Corian, and...

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Today, I just saw the worst EVER abuse of USPS. This is further win.


What's in the flat rate box, you ask?



LOTS of Corian. About 45 pounds. Six 11 1/2"x13 1/2" sheets.

So how much does that cover?


Two sheets almost do it, and a third would finish it off. Leaving plenty of material for block tops, knife scales, and maybe even a cutting board. Not too shabby, I tell you! And, even better...


Roughing out block tops begins. I KNOW it's not even, that is intentional and not a performance issue at all. I need the overhang to work on the side finish.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ahhh, looks very interesting and kudos for the background.

May want to cut back to 800 X 600 to avoid having to click to see the whole pic. There is no auto-resizing here like in other forums so your picks need a click to see everything in it. For those who don't know, they will be missing around 1/3 to see.

Best of Luck!

Cheers and Saludos

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We got home Tuesday, and this is amalgamated progress until then.


Reassembling my 470 for live testing with the setup...


My snortful helper here was keeping up with the shroud.

Now, for this next bit, I had to twist some arms. But...


A pair of something new!


My pumps on a set of MCR-Drive radiators. They combine rad, res and pump top/mount. Great for small space setups.


The reservoir end-these are sized to reach just as far down as a 25mm fan as well-making a very solid piece when fully assembled.


The second fillport, this will become important.


I'm about to do very, very bad and unexplainable things to this power supply. Well, unexplainable unless you know this board's secret.


Also, curse you 135mm fan.


And it's finally taking shape! More to come, of course, but all my calculations were correct.

I'm still recovering from major surgery on Friday, but I get something done each day. Tomorrow should see first cuts if all goes well.

Also, will gladly look at resizing when I feel a bit better.

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Recovery goes on, as does this case log. In fact...


Motherboard tray-plywood edition. 15 holes for standoffs and a hole for SATA routing.


The edges are profiled to ease routing, and the chunks will not be visible once the board is mounted-nor will this hole!




Sanded and ready to go...


Stained ebony to match the case...


And standoffs installed. We're not done with this yet, but it'll be set aside for a bit while I work on another important part of the setup.


The chipset bare, with that stupid bubblegum paste on it. I really hate that stuff. Time to get rid of it.


This should do it...


nForce Professional 3600 MCP-brings back memories...


An one in sepia, befitting the age of this part.


Now testing clearance...


Clearance looks fine but the block's seen better days...


Screws and o-ring removed...


And it's bathtime in CLR. Even though the label says no brass or copper.


That side looks better...


Much better!


Cleaned, polished and reassembled. Shiny.


The block itself (Mips NF4 SLI chipset block, for those wondering.)


And a final vanity shot.

Today's progress is yet to begin, but I have a busy day on the docket here too. I really need to find that jigsaw...

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Been a rough day, so no cuts, but some real progress anyway.

The handles on a sea chest are properly called beckets, and I needed a set if I was to make this anywhere near accurate, I'd need a set of my own. I just so happen to be handy with rope.

My snorty accomplice, however, was not up to the task. He tuckered out on me early.


Pressing on, the beckets start with axles, as modeled by Snort. They then have the rest of the handle built up by knotwork. Now, I don't have 6+ months to spend making 100% authentic beckets, so I improvised.


Running crown sinnets make up the sides of the becket. The axle is a pair of monkey fist knots with the interposing line doubled and then whipped.



Both sides done, now for the middle...


A larger crown sinnet, and the ends are whipped to hide the tie knots and give the becket a finished look. It's not perfect, but it's fast and looks pretty close to the original.


Cat break. You can also see my arthritic right hand clawing up on me. Before anyone says it, I know I'm skinny. I'm also pretty ill, so it comes with the territory.


And both beckets are ready for installation. That will probably come soon as I can find wood proper to use to attach them with.

More tomorrow, weather and God willing...

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This update is short, for reasons TBA after the update.


Soft white pine, ready for gluing/clamping...


Setting up...


And one becket stay filed to shape. It's not 100% perfect, but little would have been on a hastily made chest to get a sailor out to sea-he would have bought a chest with rope beckets and made his own knotwork ones himself on his own time over the up to three years at sea.

Why only one? Why so late? Well, yesterday Asher decided to have an episode of turning blue, so we're back in the hospital for a short stay. I may still get some modding done in and around it (we all need something to occupy our minds from time to time) but he should be home in a few days.

I'm almost able to go a full day without painkillers after having surgery a week ago. I consider that progress. Call it what you will.

Safe sailing until I get back, and if not, I'll see you in Fiddler's Green.

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