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(In Win 901) Asteria II: Rearmoured

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Administrator Johnny Gomez View Post
    This is modding glory right here!
    You flatter me, sir. Thank you!
    ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

    Build log available here


    • #17
      I'm sorry to say that this project is on hold for the time being.

      I'm in the process of rescuing a number of abused rats and their babies and will need the spare room to house them all, so no space to get any work done.

      Hopefully be back soon!
      ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

      Build log available here


      • #18

        Love the I/O shroud! I have a custom wall mounted case so I'm definitely going to do something similar - cheers for the inspiration and keep up the great work


        • #19
          Originally posted by Deavo1989 View Post

          Love the I/O shroud! I have a custom wall mounted case so I'm definitely going to do something similar - cheers for the inspiration and keep up the great work
          Many thanks! Hopefully I'll be doing an update to the I/O shroud soon.
          ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

          Build log available here


          • #20

            Greetings to you all! I hope your Christmas was gluttonous and your New Year will be debauched and decadent; I think we all could use some cheer given 2016's death tally

            Well, the ratty rescue situation is more or less under control so I have some time and space to work again. Unfortunately my sheet bender has proven to be largely useless, so the planned case work has to wait while I sort an alternative.

            So I've done some GPU stuff instead and, since it's been so long, thought I'd share what I have.

            GPU block
            Originally I'd planned to use an EK block for the Titan since I like full PCB coverage and no fuss, even if it'll be facing down in the build. Unfortunately, the FC Terminal block pushed the total height about 3mm too much to fit inside the case and put the sides back on. Bit of reading around I found Watercool's Heatkiller GPU-X3 blocks would fit nicely and scored this B-Grade with a competitor.

            Great condition, and that stainless steel plate is so very shiny. Double win is that this LT variant doesn't have any unnecessary cruft on it like the other X3 Titan editions, just a sleek, smooth appearance.

            Shame about the copper though...oh wait

            Let's strip it down then...

            I'll be honest though, I know this is B-Grade, but I wouldn't expect B-Grade to be quite this filthy, and I have no idea how the INSIDE is quite that mucky. Looks like the previous owner used cherry aid for coolant too.

            After lots of soaking in vinegar solution, rubbing, scrubbing and pickling of skin, we get one nice and shiny copper block.

            Won't last long

            Masked up and hit with primer

            And now the black

            Reassembled and cleaned up!

            One Heatkiller GPU-X3 Titan LT Black Edition ready to rumble.

            It *might* be changing to silver/nickel though, we'll see.
            Last edited by LePhuronn; 02-28-2020, 01:30 PM.
            ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

            Build log available here


            • #21
              GPU backplate

              And on the other side (literally) we have our GPU backplate. I'm sticking with EK for this one, which opened up a fun little exercise in working out how to mate Watercool's block with EK's backplate, but it should all be good. Well, I've worked out the different screw sizes, but not actually screwed anything together so far

              Anyway, the backplate. Everybody knows what an EK backplate looks like, so I shan't bore you. Plus my phone camera is having a few problems taking decent shots of shiny black things on black things.


              I did manage to score an "FC Titan" backplate from eBay, rather than the generic "Geforce GTX", so I'm quite happy about that.

              Unfortunately, this left me with a bit of a quandary. The plan was always to have some visual symmetry between the external skin of the case and the internals, so I planned to strip to black anodised layer off the backplate, buff up and then replicate the brushed aluminium effect found on the 901's outer skin.

              The backplate though was utterly pristine - as in it looked like it'd never been used - and I didn't have the heart to touch it; I couldn't find another FC Titan model if I messed this one up or changed my mind. But then there's a lot of black on the motherboard now and I was also concerned having a massive slab of black GPU would be too much, even with the eventual lighting.

              So, fortune favours the bold and decided to bite the bullet. Maybe I shouldn't have been quite so bold however...

              Caustic soda mix is NOT supposed to bubble and fizz quite that vigorously. Excuse the thumb in the shot because I hurriedly took a snap whilst ****ing myself. And yes, that black liquid on the bowl's rim is liquid anodised death.

              Note for future reference, kids: don't have the water too hot! Given that it's a bit nippy outside I didn't want the caustic soda to run out of puff and get cold too quickly, so I compensated with slightly warmer water. Not a problem, however the bowl was too small for the backplate to fit in at the bottom, so I had to fill the bowl up some more.

              I got distracted and pretty much near-boiling water went in with a little too much extra caustic soda. B Negative said when stripping his H Frame down for Lumo that it takes about 10-15 minutes to do its thing. Mine could be rubbed off by hand in 30 seconds. Fortunately I didn't damage the aluminium, but I got a surprise lungful of fumes and a bit of poo came out.


              Sanded up a bit

              That grain is beautiful on the raw aluminium, and does a good chunk of my final effect for me. Backplate was wet sanded with 400, 600 then 800 grit over about 2 hours. Usually you're supposed to switch 90 degrees with every grit to buff out your previous marks, but I didn't bother this time given the effect I planning.

              Once the sanding is finished and the backplate washed up, you go ahead and grab some red scotchbrite pads and totally undo all of your hard work!

              Long, even strokes down the length of the backplate to get those scratches back in, replicating the brushed effect. Dead useful to have some kind of guide jig to help you stay straight when brushing. Switch up the part of the scotchbrite you use so you don't just repeat the same scratches.

              Annoyingly it looks like I got something caught in the middle as there's a more pronounced line half way through, but I'm not too bothered and realistically would have to sand then entire thing back to smooth before going again. There is a similar streak from one of the screw holes which I may have to sort out.

              Now for the comparison shot:

              I think that's pretty damn epic. There's 2 different grades of aluminium used so I was never going to get the backplate to match, but it's close enough side-by-side and you'll never tell the difference once the hardware is installed and lit up.

              Looks like I've gotten some dust on the 2nd layer of clear coat so I may have to 1000 grit that off tomorrow, then the EK badge can go back on.

              The question is do I keep the EK badge silver or vinyl wrap it brushed black?

              Thanks to all for looking, and have a great New Year if I don't catch you before.
              Last edited by LePhuronn; 02-28-2020, 01:31 PM.
              ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

              Build log available here


              • #22
                A quick update: I messed up the clear coat so had to strip it all off. Twice.

                To be honest the blemishes were starting to annoy me so I've worked all the way back to smooth aluminium and started again. It's come out a bit more shiny too this time, so maybe I didn't get all the caustic soda tarnish off the first time. Then when things were going well after the 2nd attempt somehow the thing fell off the box whilst drying, but with the clear coat removed again the brushed effect isn't quite as pronounced.

                Will be giving it another rub down in the morning.

                Annoyed because it looked so good the first time
                ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                Build log available here


                • #23
                  Quick little thing to share. The silver deluxe EK badges arrived yesterday thanks to a wonderfully generous member of another forum.

                  Almost like glass, which is perfect for the aluminium and glass on the 901.

                  Added to the Supremacy EVO block too for consistency.

                  Looks mint, thanks very much dude!
                  Last edited by LePhuronn; 02-28-2020, 01:32 PM.
                  ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                  Build log available here


                  • #24
                    A little teaser...

                    My bend radii are larger than I expected, so it's thrown some measurements off between 1-2mm (some not an issue, some critical) but it's getting there. These are the 2 essential (and scary) pieces.

                    I'll present properly soon
                    Last edited by LePhuronn; 02-28-2020, 01:33 PM.
                    ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                    Build log available here


                    • #25

                      Quite a few pictures to share with you in my latest update, unfortunately my phone's on the blink so most of these aren't the greatest. Hopefully they'll still give a nice taste of how things are going.

                      Although I'm rebuilding most of the 901's internals, there are a few holes and cuts needed on the bits I'm keeping, and some of them can only be done once the Titan is in place. So I thought I'd best get on with it and block up my very first GPU

                      She has to come out of her existing home first, so allow me to introduce you to Asteria:

                      My trusty Silverstone SG05 with a minor mod to fit a 10.5 inch GPU inside a 9.5 inch case, Corsair H60 cooler and 2 SSDs hidden underneath the PSU.

                      Here's the old girl, still going strong.

                      Big deep breath, here we go...

                      The Nvidia TIM masters were rather sensible when they built Asteria, it seems. Nothing flooding everything, and still quite fluid too surprisingly.

                      Easy to clean up then

                      My very first obligatory naked board pr0n shots

                      (between little space and a dodgy phone, I couldn't do anything arty with the super-shiny die, so that's just me giving the thumbs up )

                      Time to block up then!

                      I was expecting mating a Watercool GPU block to an EK backplate to be a nightmare, and my planning and cosmetic work to be all for naught. But it was bang on first time.

                      I couldn't get any decent pictures, but essentially it's just screws anyway so hardly exciting. The planning stages were working out which screws were unique to the GPU block and which were shared with the backplate, and in turn what the screw lengths would be given Watercool and EK do things differently.

                      So we ended up with 7 M3x8mm dome head screws to fix the block around the GPU, which were shallow enough in head size not to interfere with the spacing on the backplate. We then had 4 M3x12mm countersunk screws to mate the backplate with the remaining 4 holes in the block. Add 2 M3x5mm at the very edge of the PCB to secure the backplate and we're all done.
                      Last edited by LePhuronn; 02-28-2020, 01:34 PM.
                      ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                      Build log available here


                      • #26
                        And here we are!

                        Now that I know the mating works and is secure I'm going to polish up those backplate screws a little to try and match the brushed aluminium, but for now it looks magic I think.

                        Apologies again for most of the pics being shoddy, I'll be having a clean up soon so fingers-crossed I can get this DSLR working properly and get that damn backdrop free of creases

                        Thanks for looking!
                        Last edited by LePhuronn; 02-28-2020, 01:35 PM.
                        ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                        Build log available here


                        • #27

                          Hello again to everybody, it's been a while since I last posted. I have a bit of time off work so I can crack on with the guts of this project. Now that I have tangible progress and photographic evidence of my sheer perfect execution and all the mistakes I never made, I am happy to say it's time for me to walk you through the actual case work

                          Quick shots of the 3 core structural pieces:

                          Laser cut 1.5mm aluminium and (eventually) folding into shape.

                          I've said before that a core design choice for this project was to retain as much of the stock look of the In Win 901 as possible, despite the extensive modifications made to the interior. Part of the way to achieve that is using the same thickness of aluminium and to form the structure through folding larger cut pieces just as in Win do. That's meant replicating fiddly tabs for using existing rivet holes, creating seemingly superfluous bits to accommodate mount points and support for the glass panels. Rough sketches to finished laser cut pieces was about 8 months in the end, with a lot of chopping, changing and procrastinating!

                          A Little Bit Of History...
                          As I said at the very start of this log, Laine's "Clarity" project was an impressive piece of work fitting a full loop into the 901, but I wasn't enamoured with some aspects of how he achieved it, specifically the use of a pair of 120mm radiators in the bottom. Since he chopped up good chunks of the existing case, I couldn't understand why he just didn't punch through the bottom body and slide a 240mm rad in, and avoid the complications of lining them up to be level, tubing runs between the two and whatnot. After delusions of grandeur and a couple months staring at pictures and Photoshop measurements, I had a special offer land in my email for the 901 in silver at a good discount. It was my birthday too so I pulled the trigger to see what I could do with it.

                          Sure enough, there was plenty of space to fit a 240mm rad in the bottom and switch over to a SFX PSU down there too - having run a GTX Titan in a Sugo SG05 for a few years I really didn't see the point of full ATX PSUs in Mini ITX cases. All that was needed was to make a large cutout area above the optical drive and lose the 120mm fan intake area.

                          (Credit to bit-tech for the original photo)

                          I had a bit of a revelation though which changed the scope of the project; rather than refining what Laine had done I was going to try to take it up another level. Conceptually of course there's no way I can touch that man's craftsmanship.

                          Main Body
                          When I realised the existing 901 floor couldn't be re-purposed for decent radiator holes I had the idea of designing an entirely bespoke body. Still wanting to keep the same layout I measured up all the folds for the hard drive area and it struck me that the space In Win had created was pretty close to the size of a SFX PSU. I hadn't used 3.5" drives for a while, and moving the PSU up to the top-right would free up 100mm of space in the lower chamber.

                          BAM! There it was: let's raise the stakes and go 360mm radiator at the bottom. Took a while to find a rad that would work, but ultimately went for the Alphacool UT60 360 as it's the perfect width to not foul on the PSU cutout in the outer skin and has a plug on the back I could use as a drain port. Messing around with sealing the front ports with Fernox LSX is a story for another time but with position confirmed I designed a new body to fit the UT60 and SFX PSU up top.

                          Old vs New

                          Replicated the tab on the upper section for extra support, and that damn fiddly tab on the bottom-right because the glass side panel as a mount there.

                          As you can see, there was no way I could re-purpose the existing fan and PSU holes for a radiator, especially as some of the actual screw positions wouldn't have any material above them.

                          In Win do have a nice square grid design in parts of the case, so I kept that style going for the rad and PSU holes. Also copied the cutouts to get to mounting screws in other parts of the case. Trying to keep things looking stock, remember?

                          Old HDD vs New PSU

                          Dropped down and pulled in but not a million miles away from the original.
                          ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                          Build log available here


                          • #28
                            Lower "L" portion
                            So named because it's L-shaped, I might as well design a bespoke piece for the lower compartment too, rather than chopping up the stock case!

                            Again, square hole pattern for some intakes. To be honest you couldn't chop enough out of the original piece and still look tidy, certainly not with a 60mm thick rad (could that be the reason Laine didn't bother himself? )

                            Although there was a time it wasn't going to be square holes...

                            The stock case has some wonderful construction going on down here with hiding a slimline optical drive underneath the PSU, all folded from a single piece. I don't need all of that, but it's a shame to dump something so impressive.

                            I do need something for the glass side panels to attach to, and lo and behold there's 2 tabs needed.
                            ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                            Build log available here


                            • #29
                              Fan assembly
                              Well, I call it a fan assembly purely because that's where the front 120mm intake would go. For me it's just a couple of strips! Crazy pointless comparison time!

                              It's a purely functional piece to be fair. Power switch and activity LEDs will be strapped to it, but unfortunately there's not enough space between the edge of the case and the radiator to fit any sockets and cables to keep the I/O, so a pair of blanking plates will get bolted on to cover the space.

                              The stock power button is actually a nice tongue of springy aluminium that just rests on a tactile switch. I have a blanking plate variation cut which will hopefully replicate that look.

                              So there you go, a first proper post talking about the actual case work and design motivations for the project, and hopefully a slightly clearer picture of how the loop is going in.

                              Next step is to get everything trued up a bit as a lot of the 90 degree angles have slipped a touch and to map out and drill all the holes I need to rivet and screw this thing together. There's still some chopping required on the case parts I'm keeping to ensure all this goes together correctly (which has already started), so hopefully I can sort that soon and give you another update.

                              Hope you enjoyed the read, back soon!
                              ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                              Build log available here


                              • #30
                                Actually, I've not gone just yet. Forgive me for jumping ahead a few steps, but since some of the existing case chopping has begun...

                                Very rough first test fit of the SFX PSU. Once that's trued up and bolted in that's going to be mint!

                                I do have some leeway horizontally for it to slide in as-is (neoprene runners are the idea to save scratching up the PSU and powder coat), but I'm going to try and file down the bend radius of that bottom-left bend inside and get more of a right-angle so the PSU can fit a bit more snug.

                                Thanks for looking!
                                ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                                Build log available here