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(In Win 901) Asteria II: Rearmoured

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  • LePhuronn
    started a topic (In Win 901) Asteria II: Rearmoured

    (In Win 901) Asteria II: Rearmoured

    Welcome one and all to my very first build log. Hopefully this will be a great experience to share with you all as this is a project of many firsts: first extensive case mod, first foray into custom water cooling, first hardline loop too, and first time putting everything out there for public display! Exciting and terrifying in equal measure

    Asteria II: Rearmoured is based around the stunning In Win 901 Mini ITX case, and was inspired by Laine's "Clarity". It was great to see a custom loop put into this case, but I felt more could've been done with his radiator placement. A year of planning and exploring later I've bitten the bullet and giving it a shot of my own.

    The name
    Asteria was a Greek goddess associated with falling stars and prophetic dreams. She was also a Titan and, frankly, that's why the original Asteria was named as such - all of my computers are female and she had a GTX Titan inside The Titan and a few other parts of being reused in this new project, and hence Asteria II: Rearmoured was born.

    • i7 6700K
    • Maximus VIII Impact
    • 16GB Dominator Platinum
    • GTX Titan
    • [S]Silverstone ST45SF-G V2[/S] Corsair SF600 Platinum PSU

    Water cooling
    • EK Supremacy EVO Acetal
    • Watercool Heatkiller GPU-X3 Titan LT with EK FC Titan backplate
    • Alphacool UT60 360 primary radiator
    • [S]Alphacool ST30 120[/S] XSPC TX120 secondary radiator
    • Alphacool DDC310 pump with [S]Aquacomputer[/S] custom-designed DDC top
    • Aquacomputer Aqualis ECO100 res
    • EK 12mm hardline compression fittings

    • 3x Corsair ML120 White LED
    • 1x Noctua NF A12x15 Black

    Since this has been in the planning stages for over a year, there's no starting pics of the case I'm afraid since it's all in bits for measuring!

    Where I can though I do intend to give some stock shots of components before they're modded. Right now though I only have my phone camera available, some cheap lights and a black bed sheet that refuses to have the creases ironed out of it, so don't expect miracles in the photography department

    Thanks for looking, progress will be updated as it comes.
    Last edited by LePhuronn; 02-28-2020, 01:21 PM.

  • LePhuronn
    OK, it looks like I'm not going to get Super-speed on my wee experiment. I grabbed the Intel USB 3 and USB Group cable assembly spec documents and nothing in either actually talks about this mythical pin 10. Intel refer to it as "over current protection" but all pin out diagrams and data talk about the big-ass plug (19 pins) or the interface ports (9 pins), but nothing about how the two link together.

    So I ripped apart the 901's stock front panel cable knowing I won't be using it and had a look

    Well won't you look at that. Pin 10 is not connected, but the ports attached to this cable enable Super-speed just fine. Note the "S" for Super-speed on the icon.

    Plug in my experiment however and we get "H" for Hi-speed (registers as a different hub on the USB 3 root too)

    So, the upshot is I'm falling foul of impedance limits because the USB 3 spec pretty much states Super-speed capability is a very finicky business. There's something on my DIY job that's causing the controller hub to fail its Super-speed self-test and therefore falling back to USB 2 speeds. Although my wires aren't shielded, they're 24 AWG across the board which is much bigger than the 28-30 AWG listed in the spec so I can't see the copper being the issue. The PCB, however, is a cheapo job so I'm thinking that's where signal quality is lost and kicking out the test.

    To that end, I'll think about where to go from here. I could go down a direct solder route and hook up the wires directly to the ports (I do have, after all, an internal USB 3 cable already part-shredded ) or I could cut my losses and just live with USB 2 speeds. And if I'm going down that route then I can save myself the grief of 8 wires and just use the 10 for USB 2.

    Still, it's been a learning experience!

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  • LePhuronn
    Thought I'd quickly mention an experiment I'm working on.

    One of the biggest complaints made of the In Win 901 when it first launched was "form over function", and one of the biggest "lolwhut" design choices is the fully enclosed rear, blocking off access to the motherboard I/O area. In a standard build it'd be bad enough having to pop the rear plate off every time you wanted access to the USB ports or whatever, but it's be impossible for me as I'm mounting a 120mm radiator inside the rear cavity between motherboard I/O and case rear. So there's always been a plan in my mind to reroute the front panel USB 3 ports to the back, tucked up underneath the 360mm radiator at the bottom of the case or some such.

    But those USB 3 cables are massive, chunky and disgusting even before you try to bend them for half-decent cable management. So how about we try our own? Time for some potato pics...

    That's 9 wires of 19 (or 18, but I'll get to that in a bit) for 1 USB 3 port. That is a Molex Milli-grid 51110 connector; 2mm pitch with 10x2 circuits. Now, it turns out I misread the specs and bought the wrong ones. These are 51110-2050 which don't have locking ramps or a polarisation key. At the very least you'd want 51110-2052 which has the polarisation key. 51110-2051 has the locking ramps as well, but since the 20-pin header on the motherboard isn't actually a Molex Milli-grid I don't know if the locking ramps will match up correctly. I may replace them, but for now I'm using the pin 1 triangle to indicate the empty pin location and wire up from there.

    The wires are a little bitten, but not as bad as the picture suggests, because I had to bodge crimp these since Milli-grid connectors are so small.

    Top is a standard Dupont connector for front panel and the like, bottom is a Milli-grid. As you can see the barrel of the Milli-grid is so much shorter than the computer crimps we're used to it actually rests inside the jaws of the crimp tool, so if you try to treat them like Dupont or ATX crimps you actually crush the barrel. I ended up crimping the cable strain relief on its own and then using needle-nose pliers to grip and flatten the strands crimp. Worked out OK actually, but is a major fiddle and it does dig some minor marks into the wire insulation. Looks like I'll have to sleeve these after all.

    For the other end, I landed a couple of these fun little USB 3 PCBs off eBay.

    Quick bit of through-hole soldering and we have a USB 3 port! The pinout on the PCB isn't 1:1 with the motherboard header pinout so there's an annoying cross-over and twist with VBUS, D+ and D- ending up at the other end of the connector, but it'll be hidden

    And I'm happy to say that it works...kinda. A variety of USB flash drives all connect and work perfectly, but I am limited to USB 2 speeds because of 1 little question mark: pin 10.

    You can see from the PCB that each port has 9 pins, but a motherboard header has an additional 19th pin and I don't know what to do with it. The pinout and spec says pin 10 is an "ID pin" used to identify that a USB 3 cable has been inserted, and therefore enable Super-speed mode, but I just don't know exactly how to wire it up. Some say it's another ground pin, but do I hook that into GND on one of the ports? Both? Some claim Asus boards don't even utilise it, but their front panel USB 3 does enable Super-speed mode. I'm not too bothered if I can't get Super-speed mode working because these aren't shielded cables, but it would be nice to at least try.

    So, if anybody knows how the internal 19-pin cables are hooked up to get ID pin 10 working then let me know! Before I take apart the stock 901 cable since I'm not using it anyway

    Fun times with potato pictures, hopefully catch you soon with more updates.

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  • LePhuronn
    To all you lovely folks following this log, do me a favour: the next time I even think "individually-sleeved, hetshrinkless front panel cables" somebody please shoot me. What an utter ballache this was!

    2mm matte black and electric blue paracord connecting a single 10-pin Dupont I robbed from an Asus Q-Connect adapter for the motherboard and an 8-pin for the front panel PCB.

    3D printed a few combs too mainly to help training because paracord isn't very rigid even at maximum stretch, as well as a fiddly end cap for the motherboard end to hide 1 or 2 over-melted paracord ends

    Not going to comb all the way down as there is an awkward twist to the wires as my PCB pinout is wildly different from the motherboard pinout. Also need a bit of give as I stuff the PCB end into the case and wrap around the front of the 360mm radiator.

    Utter pain, took a few attempts to get my technique down, but ultimately very happy!

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  • LePhuronn
    Testing it all

    First test is the easy one. Knowing I'll only need the 12V supply, and I was likely to make a mess of the SATA power soldering, there are no traces for the 5V and 3.3V pins in the PCB, essentially giving myself breathing space if solder crosses over the connections. Also I can use the ground wire furthest from the 12V wire to avoid any short-circuiting there.

    Hooked up

    Sacrificial PSU, sacrificial motherboard (because I've lost my jump starter, don't have paperclips and don't have male ATX crimps to make one), Noctua fan to load the 12V rail, hit the switch and...

    Success! Bright, blinding, flaring success!

    I shan't put up another 3 pictures of the same blinding light, but suffice it to say all 4 headers work like a charm.

    The bigger test is the fan splitter. Initial load works perfectly.

    Full power going to the LED strip, nice and bright LED to glow that power icon. Didn't let it run for long as all that's coming off a single fan header on the motherboard

    The crunch comes tying everything together with the Asus fan extension card. I'm going to use the CPU fan header purely to monitor pump speed, so the 4 radiator fans will come off the extension card, and in turn one of those channels will drive the fan splitter so the 3 ML120s all work in unison.

    So let's set up a rat's nest of cables and boards.

    The chunky braided cable is female-female PWM fan cable coming off port 1 of the extension card and into the fan splitter for the trio of ML120s on the 360mm radiator. Port 2 will drive a Noctua NF-A12x15 sat on the single 120mm radiator. There will also be a Barrow temperature probe hooked into the extension card too.


    And a quick test with the horrendous Asus Fan Xpert shows the ML120s reporting their RPM correctly and fully controlled through PWM.

    So, that's the PCBs covered in this neverending build log. Next up is to measure wire lengths for the proper fan cable and the front panel connectors and get those cable looms made up.

    Thanks for reading as always, stay safe and wash your damn hands

    Back soon

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  • LePhuronn
    Front panel and fan splitter

    I'm usually really ham-fisted with small, delicate work, but I'm really quite proud of this solder job, especially as it's been almost a decade since I last picked up an iron. Too much solder here and there, but nothing that can't be cleaned up with some braid later on.

    Gravity and through-hole soldering are an interesting combination, but complete nonetheless!

    Those LED holders look ace I must say. In retrospect I should've allowed for the 45 degree overhang in the design, but they were enough of a pain to print correctly at a mere 6mm tall without doing rounded bases and whatnot. Now, do you remember this?

    This is why I used a longer tactile switch at the end. The angle of the PCB and the recessed switch allow a few mm of movement for the aluminium tongue that forms the power switch. There will be a sliver of frosted or opal acrylic glued behind the power icon cutout which will just rest on the tactile switch. The 45 degree orientation of the LED then illuminates that acrylic sliver to give a nice glowy power icon when the system is running. Since nothing is assembled right now I don't have a picture, but a preliminary test works so very nicely.

    Also, the black In Win logo strip is illuminated too on the stock case, so I'll be keeping that motif with a small LED strip wedged in somehow and powered by the 2-pin connector behind the power switch.

    The other tactile switch and LED are reset and HDD activity, and it'll take a pin to activate that switch (by design though).

    Anybody would think I actually planned all this out

    LED power splitter

    I'll be honest in saying I made so much of a pig's ear of the SATA power I'm not going to show you so cute from above though.

    4 connections for 4 light sources. The SSD covers and motherboard light ring will hook into the bottom 3 headers, with the 4th spare just in case. Likely to be a small light source above the motherboard to give a bit of flood fill, but we'll see closer to the time.

    So all made up, but do they work?

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  • LePhuronn
    Well crikey, could it be there's an update to be had? There is indeed! Time for some soldering methinks...

    So, rejigging the case layout to accommodate the 360 radiator means there's no space to use the stock front panel connectors. The original plan was to veroboard some switches and LEDs together, but about 18 months ago (I know, I know) I thought "let's just go all-in with this project and make up everything custom I can". So out with the veroboard, in with some custom PCB design

    If you're looking at doing PCBs, I strongly recommend EasyEDA. The online editor is just incredible for creating your circuit schematics, hooking in real manufacturing parts and generating PCB layouts with proper footprints. EasyEDA is in the same group as LCSC for components and JLCPCB for PCB manufacturing, so you have a one-stop-shop to design, make and populate your custom bits.

    4-pin fan headers and SATA power I sourced elsewhere, but the EasyEDA editor allows you to create your own component footprints too, so I grabbed the Molex specs and drew up the missing parts.

    And here we are! (Excuse the potato phone pictures, the room is very gloomy. Tidied up as best I can)

    No extra charge for black board, no extra charge for simmer board thickness, and 5 boards for very little money if you stay within a 100x100mm footprint. Winner.

    I know you're not going to see them once installed, but if Asus can put a ROG logo on their Thor PSU heatsinks then I can sure as hell brand my PCBs

    Combination front panel interface and PWM fan splitter

    The rightmost fan header connects up to the Maximus VIII Impact's fan extension control board with the other 3 for the ML120s. There is also a 2-pin header on the very right edge sharing the 12V input for the fans which I'll be using for a tiny LED strip. Fortunately the fan extension control board is actively powered so I don't have to worry that 3 LED fans and a 12V LED strip will burn a motherboard header

    All laid out...

    ...with a pair of tiny holders for the 1.8mm LEDs, also designed and printed by moi.

    4-way 12V splitter board, SATA powered

    1mm thick PCB rather than 1.6mm as it's mounted to the back of the hard drive plate, so there's only 8mm gap until the motherboard. The odd shape is to wrap around some large surface components on the back of the motherboard.

    Made me chuckle that JLCPCB threw in a magnifying glass as their token gift because that SATA power has 15 pins at 1.27mm pitch! My eyes don't work that small.

    So let's do this!

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  • LePhuronn
    My very first ATX crimp

    These are proper 18AWG Molex pins on thin-wall 17AWG wire but crimped using a cheap tool I bought purely for Dupont connectors. Annoyingly it looks like the crimp is perfect, but the tool makes a bit of a mess of my SATA pins and I was looking at doing a few double wire crimps with 16AWG pins which my tool won't do, so gotta buy one anyway

    But still, my very first ATX crimp

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  • LePhuronn
    Brief sharing of activity!

    I've planned from the start that the brushed aluminium backplate on the graphics card would catch and reflect all lighting in the motherboard area, but given the size of the Titan in the case it does act like an internal wall. So to prevent the motherboard looking like a small area just floating in the top corner of the case, I thought maybe use LED fans to create a soft under glow to give the main chamber a bit of substance, but wasn't too sure how well it work work given the fans will be in pull config and therefore the hubs are pointing downwards. Amazon has discounted the white LED Corsair ML120 Pros, so I pulled the trigger:

    It's not going to reflect quite that much once the aluminium bodywork is painted, but this has turned out a lot better than I expected it also means the beautiful custom DDC top actually gets some love too.

    Stainless steel plates on the pump top and GPU block reflect the fans nicely, helping with filling that area with soft light.

    Another step closer!
    Last edited by LePhuronn; 04-29-2019, 09:09 AM.

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  • LePhuronn
    Nerd level intensifies...

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  • LePhuronn
    Ooh! My pump top is in somebody else's video!

    ​​​​​​Many thanks to Lucas at Mp5works for his help, incredible work.
    Last edited by LePhuronn; 02-25-2019, 08:11 AM.

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  • LePhuronn
    My guy did some CAM tests in acrylic for the internal structure.

    Hot damn that looks good! So good in fact there's a small part of me regretting going black acetal for this. But, just like the cap head screws, however good this looks it doesn't fit with my overall theme.

    Devil says "Except for the fact the SSD covers are a brushed metal plate with an acrylic light ring, and with the brushed stainless plate on top of this, it would actually look like the SSD covers if you light it up."
    Angel says "Except the corners then wouldn't match because these are angled with a parallelogram motif and the SSDs are rounded rectangles."

    NO! I shall be strong and stand by my convictions! And stop talking to myself!

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  • LePhuronn
    OK, shortly after I posted last night I had a change of heart about the number of screws in the top plate. 6 started to look a bit cluttered, although I liked the symmetry of it. Since the top plate is 1.2mm stainless steel and won't flex because it's only 77x58mm in size, I remodelled to 4 screws instead. But because it's a slow day at work and I'm procrastinating, the 4 or 6 screw thing is bugging me. So I've done 2 quick layouts to illustrate (Fusion 360 in a browser is awesome!).

    Looking at these without any lighting or textures and fancy projections, I think I'm actually satisfied with the 4-screw variation, it feels a lot more "open". The 6-screw symmetry is very nice but does feel a little cramped when I apply the graphics to the plate.

    Any thoughts?

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  • LePhuronn
    Update! Minor change of plan already

    As I was fine-tuning the CAD work, I realised that I'd completely forgotten a fundamental point in this entire build: clearance spaces. And specifically, the entire reason I've been working and fighting with side ports is because I have zero space on the top face. So why in the hell did I put cap head screws along the horizontal centre line? They're going to foul the bloody graphics card! What a wally!

    So as I was reworking things, it also occurred to me that as I'd gotten a bit carried away with replicating Aquacomputer's aesthetic, it would actually look out of place with my aesthetic. Countersunk screws solve both of these issues! So, the portion of the pump top that is visible peeking over the graphics card will have countersunk screws just like the GPU backplate. Also, my logo would be totally obscured by the GPU too.

    So new model and new renders

    It might yet drop to 4 screws instead of 6, but this IS getting made

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  • LePhuronn
    Hey there. Might as well post some pretty renders of part 2 of the "seriously, haven't you fixed or discarded the DDC yet" saga.

    With the pump assembly perfectly in place, it now transpires that I can't make the tube routing from pump to radiator through the floor to work without a stupid, ugly amount of adapters, and it's too tight for soft tube too and just kinks. So as suspected it's time to return to the custom pump top idea. Completely redesigned this time though. Enjoy the renders

    I've extended the body width by 19mm to cover the distance between the pump body and the radiator holes in the case floor, so now an EK 90 degree rotary fitting will align directly above the radiator port's centre line, with sufficient vertical space to get a compression fitting on and angle some tube. That extension means I've gone down a distro plate approach to go from the volute outlet to the port, which has of course necessitated o-rings and a sealing plate.

    And yes, the strong resemblance to Aquacomputer's DDC top is intentional; wanting to keep the look, I've drawn on many design cues from their dual DDC top to create mine as a homage to the top I've had to discard. I don't think I can get in trouble for that

    To allow for measuring and manufacturing tolerances I will be using Mayhem's ultra clear soft tube for this part of the loop, but it's very clear for soft tube, 13mm OD is indistinguishable from 12mm OD acrylic when piped in, and once I have Oil Black Pastel coolant running you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between the soft and hard tubes I think.

    And I'm also very excited to say I'm discussing manufacturing of this right now. CAD models are being verified as I type

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