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(In Win 901) Asteria II: Rearmoured

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  • #31
    Hello hello!

    Given the positive response this project has received so far across the interwebs, I thought it was about time to share the first actual failure, and it's kinda big, kinda not.

    The main body part of the case I'm keeping needs a few cuts to remove unneeded tabs, awkward flanges and space making for my pump. Funny really, part of the reason for designing entirely new sections of the case was to avoid chopping up irreplaceable parts, but hey ho, the needs must!

    (I wonder if B Negative has thrown his 901 innards out for Celestial...)

    The original hard drive area has guide runnings stamped into the roof of the case. Originally I was going to repurpose these for the PSU but they're a bit too big and will be off-centre.

    DDC is getting squeezed in here behind the Titan, so we need a cutout.

    Masked off...

    ...let surgery commence! (the next day)

    The 1.5mm thick aluminium cut like butter with the hacksaw, skipped like hell with my rubbish rotary tool and took forever and a day to file cleanly. Didn't turn out too badly actually though.

    So far so good...and now the fun begins. And by fun I mean annoyance, lamenting and re-thinking. Let me tell you another story...
    ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

    Build log available here


    • #32
      Sometimes you should just following your gut and then take the hints presented to you.

      The plan from the outset was to use a DDC pump. I got very early measurements quite wrong and had largely committed to it for placement and loop order. After realising my folly things were still workable but going to be really tight, given the only space really I could mount the thing neatly was behind the Titan in that far corner. Overhang was the concern: I had about 50-55mm to play with, and any overhang should be no more than 2mm at worst. I could add spacers to the side panel mount to give some extra room and then edge the glass panel with some neoprene to seal the gap. Sounded like a plan.

      At the time I was using a full-cover EK block for the Titan, which meant that all top-facing ports on the DDC top would be blocked off. XSPC to the rescue it seemed as their multi-port DDC top had an an inlet on the side opposite the outlet. Perfect, I could run the loop essentially around the perimeter of the case. Trouble was, by the time I was set to go that version of the top was discontinued, and the new V2 is something crazy like 28mm tall which pushed the entire DDC assembly about 5mm too far, and that's an overhang I couldn't compensate for.

      ...Follow your gut, this isn't feeling viable now...

      Almost packed the entire project in at that point (nothing really had been purchased) until I saw a DDC top on AliExpress that was 24mm in height and had in and out ports on the side. Winner winner, bought it to see how things would go. It was delivered in 3 days, except somebody somewhere messed up and nobody would admit to it: I live in Stoke, the item was delivered to somewhere in Surrey! The AliExpress seller said nothing and couldn't confirm the address he put on the parcel, I tracked the UK courier down and it was Hermes (shock horror) and, after a little social engineering, I got the customer service rep to break their operating rules and tell me what the address was. But I had no reply from the Surrey address when I wrote them a letter asking if they'd had a weird delivery in my name.

      AliExpress refund never showed up either :sigh:

      ...Take the hint the universe is presenting to you...

      Anyway, all ready to rage quit I see the Aquacomputer DDC top with ports on the side too, only this time they're both on the same side as well as a pair of ports on the top. The loop order would be a bit fiddly but I could make it work so pulled the trigger. About this time too is when I found out an EK block for the Titan would be too tall to fit, so switching over to the Watercool block actually freed up some space along the PCB for top-facing ports on the DDC. Winner.

      And here she is: Alphacool DDC310 in Nickel with the Aquacomputer top.

      And the back with my custom mount attached (temporary screws)

      Mating the pump and top wasn't easy. The mounting set supplied with the pump unit were 5mm too long to attach the top and 3mm too long at the mounting side causing more dreaded overhang. Plus, the screws supplied with the top left no means to then mount the assembled pump. Quandary.

      ...Again, TAKE THE HINT...

      Ultimately I decided to just include the pump mount as part of the assembly. Yeah, to remove the mount I'd have to dismantle the entire thing, but when it's in, it's in so no big deal.

      Test fit time!

      Titan is sagging a bit, I'll address that later, but all is looking good. Nicely placed, the outlet fitting doesn't interfere with any capacitors and I can even go back to a non-rotary fitting I had used originally as I have clearance.

      Even my custom cover did the job!

      Putting a stop plug on the center inlet fouled so I made a copy without it.

      And then I looked at the back

      The fins and about 1mm of the heatsink body hangs outside the case. That's about 6mm, and there's no way I can extend the side panel mounts safely to support the weight of tempered glass. The kicker is I kinda knew this would happen but still went for it. So yeah, not at all happy right now.

      So now it's a case of working out where to go. My immediate thought is to finally take the hint and sack off the DDC and run with the Alphacool DC-LT instead. At 35mm thick I won't have any placement issues, plus the acrylic top has side-facing ports so my original loop is back in play. I don't have a mental loop and I've had discussions with a few using them in very restrictive loops with no issue.

      The trouble now though is I have this massive space cut into the case for a pump I'm not using. The DDC is 65x65mm, the DC-LT is 50x50mm and I cut the space a bit big as well, so I have this scruffy-looking gap that looks unplanned (because it kinda is). I may be able to cover it over, we'll see.

      Alternatively, do I cut off the fins on the DDC heatsink? That almost removes the overhang, and I can safely shim the side panel mounts 2mm max. I did have an active cooling idea in mind for the pump anyway so losing the fins shouldn't be an issue. Of course then really I'd need to strip the nickel off the pump housing and clean the brass up to make things presentable. In the long run it might be worth it, and some mod cred too

      So yeah, a bit of a long post just to say "my pump doesn't fit and I kinda knew it wouldn't", but I do like to spin a yarn, and part of doing a public build log is to document the journey and how you arrived at your choices.

      Comments and input welcome regarding this pump issue!
      ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

      Build log available here


      • #33
        Bent as a nine bob note!

        Between awkward bends, multiple re-bending of bits, cutting, trimming and generally handling the piece, there literally wasn't a right angle anywhere on the main body panel.

        With guide jigs made (I won't rant about how my brand new circular saw was off by 3 degrees and my MDF stock had warped), bolted to the main radiator and everything clamped and screwed together, hopefully this bloody thing will remember what shape it's supposed to be before I start drilling NEW holes rather than just matching existing ones. Need to break out the JB Weld too to fill in a couple of incorrect holes and re-drill

        But, once I can get this main bit finalised and back into the exterior skin I can then test fit the full case and components, and then the floodgates will open with lots of more interesting stuff
        ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

        Build log available here


        • #34

          I have a BIG update for you. Not so much in volume, but in significance. After 2 years of planning, design, redesign, stress and very scary moments I think I might actually have the case.

          And for all those who asked the question directly, here is the big reveal: the Alphacool UT60 360 radiator mounted inside.

          Close-up of the rad in situ

          And after all the trouble with bending the lower L incorrectly, trashing all backup pieces, bend radii throwing measurements off and ultimately taking a hacksaw to lovely laser cut work...

          It's turned out pretty much bang on. Hell, I might have even taken a tiny bit too much out!

          Things still need a bit of adjustment to straighten bits up, but here's a cheeky shot of the back with a vanity plate I put in to cover the PSU opening. Should look nice once cleaned up and brushed to replicate the case exterior.

          And to wrap up, I simply had to throw the hardware into the case. Consider this a teaser and a spoiler for when everything comes together

          Forgive the grotty photos because I'm over-excited and over-tired! Still lots to do to get the case cleaned up and finalised, but I think finally I've now broken the back of it. The grunt work is done, so everything now is a million little things so I can potter about and do bits here and there, rather than have to schedule in large blocks of time.

          Plenty more to do, plenty more to see, and plenty of things I've not even talked about yet

          Stay tuned.
          ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

          Build log available here


          • #35
            Hi all, just a quick note to say updates will be slow at the minute whilst I get some cash together for the next phase. If I do something interesting with the blanking plates for the lower portion I'll document that, otherwise it's just some flat plates held on with a thumbscrew or magnets, possibly magnets

            However, I would like to thank you all for your interest in this project so far. It's been a genuine surprise, which is why I'm very pleased and humbled to say that Asteria II has been nominated for bit-tech's ongoing monthly modding poll. I won't post a link in case that's breaking a forum rule here, bit if anybody here are also members of bit-tech's forum and think this project is worthy of your vote, I'd very much appreciate the support!

            Hopefully back soon with some more progress on a fresh element of the project.
            ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

            Build log available here


            • #36

              Not much to say at the minute as I'm trying to get some money together for the next phase of the project. Rather than let this log vanish into the ether, I thought I'd share a little preview of something upcoming. Very rough photos as this update has been thrown together rather hastily

              With the radiator occupying the entire lower chamber of the case, and the PSU residing where the hard drives would usually sit, I need to relocate the storage. Since I'm sticking with 2.5" drives right now, I thought I'd make the new drive position a bit of a feature. So, one drive mounting plate drawn up and cut:

              and will be placed on the back of the case over the motherboard cutout, something like this

              Space for 2 drives; I'll be repurposing my existing Samsung 840 500GB as it's still in excellent health and pairing it with one of those slim 7mm tall laptop drives for file storage, more than likely the Western Digital WD10SPCX 1TB. Allow this battered Seagate to illustrate.

              I'm going for a wireless look for this storage plate, so each drive has a cutout for running cables out of the way. I'll be using those ultra slim Silverstone CP11 SATA cables to tuck under the GPU, route under the motherboard and out the big case cutout into the storage plate. For power I'm going to try and make up a veroboard for sharing the power a few ways as I have something fancy planned (and is what's costing the money)

              Given the visual mismatch of a mechanical dive paired with SSD, I'm not leaving the drives exposed. Pair of aluminium covers will be used, and I've cut the Asteria II and In Win branding into them for some visual flourish paired with something to come later.

              It'll be along these lines when they're in position:

              That's the general gist of it anyway

              Hopefully I can scrounge some money together soon and get the acrylic and LED strips in and get this bit put together properly.

              Catch you soon!
              Last edited by LePhuronn; 05-21-2017, 10:41 PM.
              ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

              Build log available here


              • #37
                OK, I have a few things in the works now and hopefully I'll get a few little bits up over the weekend after I've done my acrylic cutting.

                In light of my pump placement issues and discussion on another thread I've decided to have a crack at making my own DDC top doing exactly what I need it to do. This is the pump top I came up with:

                It's based around what I can theoretically do with a drill press and some careful measurements, so no spiral volute this time. I'm milling the volute out with a forstner bit so I could, in theory, offset the center a bit a couple of times to fake a spiral, but it won't be smooth and would probably just end up causing turbulence before the water even exits the top, doing an even worse job than just a circular volute.

                I grabbed some offcut white acetal for a test and have drawn out quite a few drilling guides that I'll be making up in acrylic. All I need to do is build my pillar drill and I can give it a whirl!

                If this works then loop routing is much easier and I'll have no conflicts with the graphics card so can raise and lower the entire pump as required. I'll then address the heatsink at a later date.
                ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                Build log available here


                • #38
                  Hello to all, I'm not dead, just been rather poorly and overworked. There has been some progress, but I'm not super happy with how things have been going when you try and force yourself. But since it's been a while, I thought I'd share some things anyway.

                  Hope you enjoy!
                  ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                  Build log available here


                  • #39
                    Blanking Plates
                    What is some good news is that I've finally finished the core construction of the case. Still lots of new holes and whatnot to put in for tube runs, mounting points, etc, but it's nice that the procrastination is done with and I can stop faffing about.

                    To keep the stock look going I wanted to blank off the front half of the radiator area underneath the glass panels, but I also need easy access to that area for working with tubing, running cables and the DDC cooling fan. So the idea is to have 2 plates attached with thumb screws that are folded around the upright and horizontal parts of the case body. Unfortunately previous bending attempts on tiny flaps of alu met with the same issues I had on the larger case parts; try to bend too wide a piece and the bend radius shoots up.

                    Let's try perforating the fold lines then and see if we can lessen the resistance.

                    Fold lines marked and center punched

                    Drilled (forgot to switch to a 1mm bit before starting )

                    Lined up in the folder

                    And folded up, with no real improvement in bend radius down the length.

                    I guess ultimately I'm not reducing the amount of material to be folded with such small holes. Ah well, no big. Looks fine once the holes are filled and put in place.

                    Annoyingly though it looks like something got into my bag of smaller metal bits and scratched them during a recent tidy up. Should buff out no problem before powder coating, but it's an extra job.

                    I have a choice of panel for the front side:

                    Both replicate the stock 901's power button in that it's a springy tongue of material resting against a tactile switch. I'm going initially for the version with a power icon cut into it so I can try and light it up.

                    For this to work as intended, I need to slice off a bit of the new bodywork to give an inset for the plate to press into.

                    It's about 3mm deep and angled up to the "hinge" on the blanking plate.

                    So when the plate is in position...quick balancing act!

                    The upper half of the plate is flush against the bodywork, and the folded tab on the far side is pushed over 90 degrees to give a tight grip. The lower half then can be pressed in and trigger a tactile switch set up behind it.

                    In place

                    Minor disappointment in that with all the bending issues I've had all dimensions are just a tiny bit off what was originally planned, so the power button strip is now about 3mm lower than it should be and no longer lines up with the In Win logo on the front of the case. I really hope I can buff those scratches out without resorting to filler they're not actually deep so fingers-crossed smoothing them off and then powder coating will hide it.

                    I might have spares though, assuming they're not scratched up too. Worst-case scenario I just remake them, but I'm inclined to just use alu angle so I don't have to worry about folding it. The thumbscrew tab bends nicely, and I can just round off the sharp angle edge. An option...

                    Either which way, with this bit done and the lower portions finally supported, threaded (again) and all screwed together, the actual reconstruction is done. Finally. Hurrah.
                    ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                    Build log available here


                    • #40
                      Motherboard light panel
                      What is decidedly "meh" is the light panel intended as a halo around the motherboard. I drew a few bits up and went laser cutting some acrylic.

                      5mm thick Opal 050 acrylic. This is actually my second attempt after the original clear acrylic version shifted slightly in the laser cutter and went wonky. Plus I couldn't find anybody who'd sandblast small pieces of thin acrylic (original plan) and there's no way I could get the finish I wanted through manually sanding

                      Annoyingly though, it didn't feel right once I'd cut it. Hell, it didn't even cut correctly. Using exactly the same settings as the clear acrylic, there were some areas when doing the opal wouldn't go fully through and had to score and snap some bits out (with razor blade sharp edges my scarred thumbs can attest to). I passed it off as a quirk of the material given it only has 37% light transmission.

                      But then I got home and did some test fits and things still weren't right. It's too thick.

                      I forgot that opal acrylic is cast, not extruded, so we have manufacturing tolerances to come into play. Something like +/- 10% thickness + 0.4mm. OK, so 5.74mm is within tolerance. It's 1mm thicker than my initial clear panel though.

                      A bit better

                      Um, hang on, that's ridiculously out of spec. Is that why the sheet I bought cost so little? It's actually "B" grade?

                      I need to thin this down a bit. Let's quickly line up some way of pinning this down. Wrap some electrical tape around some M4 screws to fill the holes better.

                      And drill a hole pattern into my work board. Unnecessary pictures ahoy!

                      Let's get rasping!

                      And after about 5 minutes I stopped because even 6mm thick panel should've still fit, but could be falling foul of solder points on the board that I didn't need to consider before.

                      Quick and dirty mapping solution. Masking tape the top side of the panel:

                      Apply blue felt-tip pen to the bigger solder points, ICs and chokes on the underside of the motherboard and then press down onto the light panel in position (I still love how the board looks):

                      Worked well enough to get an idea of where the bit items were, but not well enough to be picked up on camera, so no pics of the transfer I'm afraid.

                      Drilled out some shallow holes and a rough n ready router channel:

                      Now the board can sit in position and rest correctly without anything interfering.

                      Except that it doesn't. Something is still not right and I can't quite see where it is. And it turns out I didn't even need to make all those holes for solder points because they're not the reason the board isn't flush, so I've trashed the piece.

                      So 3rd time's a charm and I'm going to make another one, this time in 3mm acrylic so the cast manufacturing tolerances will keep it within my original plans.
                      ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                      Build log available here


                      • #41
                        Waste not want not
                        Since the actual shape isn't changing I thought I'd get the LEDs sorted anyway and give it a test.

                        Cool white 3528 LED strips on a 5mm wide PCB wrapped around an inner frame so the light shines outwards. A bit frustrating as the length of the outside edge didn't divide nicely by 50mm so I could fill that gap.

                        Just as an experiment, I covered the underside of the light panel with silver foil to see if it'll help with internal reflection.

                        And then the LED ring is slotted inside the light panel

                        Note that I'm not sleeving wires on a test piece

                        So, let's give it a whirl!

                        Yay, ish kinda. The gap in the LED strip at the bottom makes an obvious dead spot, but isn't too much of an issue as the GPU covers that entire side of the motherboard so you won't even see the lit edge (shame). The corners are frustrating though. I know there are holes in the way so it was never going to be perfect, but I thought the LEDs had a much wider viewing angle than this to help fill the dead spots.

                        But then also look how the light doesn't fully penetrate the opal acrylic. Opal 050 has 37% light transmission and is perfect for lightboxes, but I guess that only applies if you're lighting underneath not directly into the sides.

                        So, time to look at other acrylics for my 3rd attempt...
                        • Opal 030 has 70% light transmission so that should help, but it's more frosted than a solid white
                        • Polar White Frost looks similar with a 60% transmission
                        • Crystal Clear Frost (oxymoron there, Perspex?) has 90% transmission, which is likely to be blinding given how damn bright these LEDs are

                        There are also a matching pair of panels like these for the storage covers which I haven't built the LED rings for, but could suffer the same issues. We'll see when I get to them, but if I'm changing the acrylic for the motherboard then I do want the storage to match when the lights are off as well as on.
                        ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                        Build log available here


                        • #42
                          It's not so bad when the motherboard is put into position.

                          But you can definitely see where the light isn't filling into spaces left by narrow angle LEDs. I think that can be rectified with more light transmission. I'll probably tweak the internal dimensions too for a tighter 50mm division to lessen dead spots.

                          Why not throw some red ambient and my phone's torch into the mix for a laugh

                          Of course bear in mind that the Dominator Platinums have white lighting to them too, so we'll have an extra soft glow from the RAM, and the Titan backplate is so very shiny as well which should catch any stray light and reflect it up into the CPU area. Could work rather nicely.
                          ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                          Build log available here


                          • #43
                            So, thoughts from this:
                            • Replace the Opal 050 with something with greater light transmission
                            • Rework the internal shape to get the length of the outside edge closer to a 50mm division for the LED strips and close up the dead spots
                            • Position the LED strips so there's actually an LED as close to a corner bend as possible
                            Worth making up one of the storage light panels too to double-check that, but I probably be cutting new ones so the acrylic used matches the motherboard.

                            That's me done for now, hopefully I'll be making some more progress soon. Cheers for looking!
                            ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                            Build log available here


                            • #44
                              Drive covers

                              Yeah, these work nicely.

                              Corners are still a touch dark because of the holes, but I'm experimenting with clear nylon screws since there is no load bearing on these covers, so hopefully having some clear material physically in the holes will transmit light back into the acrylic and light the corners up.

                              We'll see when the panels get threaded.
                              ASTERIA II: Rearmoured Watercooled 901 mod

                              Build log available here


                            • #45
                              the lighting beneath the hard drive looks like this concept, I like it !
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