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Old 21-04-17, 07:50 AM
mr.maler mr.maler is offline
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Germany
Posts: 45
[Scratch build] Floating Cave

Hi everyone!
I would like to celebrate my new membership to this forum by sharing my worklog with you.
Short introduction of myself: I’m 31 years old, living in Germany, and quite a fan of everything around watercooling and case-modding, since I started working on my PC-case at the age of 14.
I never shared my work online. Like most people I just read a lot in variating forums, surfing around as a silent reader and took a lot of profit and inspiration from all of you. One year ago I decided to give something back and started my worklog in a german forum, a few month later I shared it with a second one. Doing this gave me a lot of fun and feedback, and since my project isn’t finished yet I want to do this next step and show it to you as well. Quite fascinating to think about that there might be people in other countries reading my worklog and giving feedback about it.
Back to topic. Most important part of my case-modding and water cooling has always been: silence. Silence in every situation. For the last years I have been using a silentmaxx ST11 bigtower, back than the most silent tower available, but not designed to use with water cooling. I used this tower for four generations of hardware. Now it’s time for something new. I was not able to find a PC-case which suited all my ideas, so I decided to build my own one. The main idea was to fully integrate it in my desk, but without the disadvantages of most of the related custom builds.
Within the next few weeks I am going to translate my worklog as fast as possible to bring you up to date to the actual status of my project. The project is finished to ~50%, and I hope to do most of the remaining work within this summer.

The concept

I started this project in January 2016. It took the first few month to collect ideas and to draw a first draft in CAD.
The case will be integrated into my Ikea-Desk. I am going to rebuild the side panel of the desk as a cavity wall. All cables going from and to the PC will be routed through the side panel. The case itself will pass through the side panel and shall have a floating look. Like it is not part of the side panel. The radiator will get its own, separated case. I strive for a very clean, industrial and individual look.

These are the first drafts:

The components

actual hardware:

Intel Core i5 4690k
Phobya CPU Kühler
MSI Z97 PC Mate
G.Skill Ares DIMM Kit 8GB, DDR3-1600
Zotac Geforce GTX 970
Alphacool NexXxos GPX
HDD #1:
Samsung SSD 830 120 GB
HDD #2:
Seagate 512 GB (will be replaced by another SSD)
ASUS BC-12D2HT Bluray Combo
Sound card:
Creative SB X-Fi Music
Power supply:
bequiet Pure Power BQT L7-530 W
Alphacool NexXxos 120 mm und 240 mm (~ 12 years old) are replaced by one Phobya G-Changer 420 .v2
Laing DDC with Phobya black nickel top unit
Phobya Balancer 150 black nickel
Enermax T.B. Silence UCTB14B
Alphacomputer Aquaero 5 LT with inline-temperature sensors and flow rate sensor

Existing components:

New components:

My workshop

There’s no room for a dedicated workshop in my flat, and I don’t have a basement. So I am using a mobile workstation. But at work I have access to a workshop with a lot of professional tools, including an old milling maschine and a lathe. Without this possibilities I would barely be able to realize my ideas.

The material

I am using MDF panels. They’re cheap and easy to machine. The cavity wall is reinforced by wood profiles. To achieve the same look as the remaining parts of the desk I searched for furniture foil. It took me several month and a lot of samples to find the right one. The picture is taken with flash, under normal sun light you can’t see a real difference between foil and desk.

The case itself will be foiled in shiny white, if I am able to manage this process with all the curves. I don’t like spraying and try to avoid it. Inside the case I am going to use a foil which looks like brushed, black anodized aluminium.

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Old 21-04-17, 10:34 AM
mr.maler mr.maler is offline
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Germany
Posts: 45

The first challenge was the size of the new radiator. I underestimated it a bit Original plan was to use it together with the existing 240 mm and 120 mm radiators. But there’s not enough room to use all three together, so I decided to only use the new one. I also didn’t like the fragmented look of the three radis in three different sizes at one place.

This had been a first scetch:

Later on I changed it to a concept with pushing instead of pulling fans.

The assembly concept is subject to one credo: the overall construction has to be as maintenance-friendly as possible. To ensure this the radiator is placed on guide rods. He will be hold in place by magnets glued into the rods. By this he can be unmounted for service without loosening a screw.
The fans will be mounted the same way.

First parts manufactured using the old mill at work:

Since I have no education for the usage of such machines this manufacturing takes long time for me.

I had to manufacture some inlays made from magnetic steel to mount them into the radiator mountings. They’e needed for the magnets in the rods to hold onto. I used a foil to make them look better.

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Old 22-04-17, 05:05 AM
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Avet Avet is offline
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Wow. This is a proper project. It looks stunning.
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Old 22-04-17, 05:30 AM
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Excalabur50 Excalabur50 is offline
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Very interesting concept me likey
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Old 23-04-17, 11:27 AM
mr.maler mr.maler is offline
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Germany
Posts: 45
Thanks! Don't want to let you wait, so here's the next update:

Next step was to turn the mounting rods for the fans. They’re made of stainless steel.

The counterparts for the fan holder are made from aluminium, because I had to remove a lot of material. Using stainless steel would have taken a long time. After finishing the mounting rods for the radiator itself I used an epoxy-glue for gluing the magnets into all holders. There is a gap left between the fan holders. It is meant to compensate tolerances. I adjusted them in a following step.

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Old 24-04-17, 07:56 AM
mr.maler mr.maler is offline
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Germany
Posts: 45
Next step was to finish the fan holders. They’re working very well, it’s really cool how they snap in. The holding force of the magnets has a perfect strength.

My local hardware store offers a cutting service and did a real good job with my MDF panels. I had to do the chamfers by myself, using a circular table saw. The material shown is for the inner cases. I will do the outer cases later.

I drilled the holes for the radiator mounting rods. After marking their positions I used the radiator mountings as a template and as a guiding for their vertically.

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Old 25-04-17, 06:59 AM
mr.maler mr.maler is offline
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Germany
Posts: 45
I made some drafts for the design, playing with combinations of octagonal and rounded corners. The pictures show the inner case of the main part, and the radiator mounted with its outer case. The main inner case has to have the octagonal shape to leave room for the mounting rods of the outer case.
The design decisions for the outer cases are still open.

Having the dimensions for the inner cases I could start with sawing the cutouts in the side panels. The smaller cutouts are used for cable ducting. The lower one for main power and network cable, the upper one leads to the cable duct for monitor, mouse, power outlet strip etc.

Next step was to reinforce the cavity wall with wood profiles. I had to consider cable ducts. I don’t want any visible cables go from and to this case, all have to be led trough the side panel. The screws were just used to fix the position until the glue was hardened.


For the case itself I am not going to use normal wood screws but M3 and M4 screws. By this there will be no problems with unmounting/remounting the case. To be able to do this I had to use drive-in nuts. As you will see in upcoming updates, I used a lot of them

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Old 26-04-17, 07:54 AM
mr.maler mr.maler is offline
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Germany
Posts: 45
I build a detachable stand for the side panel, to simplify the further work. They’re screwed in M4 drive-in nuts.

With the stand it was much easier to apply the primer coat.

Same for he filling.

Next step was sanding. I hate sanding nearly as much as filling… The result isn’t perfect yet, but I am going to do the final finish later. There’s a high risk to damage the side panel till the end of the project. After this I unmounted my desk to measure some fixing points. I copied the mounting holes from the original panel to the new one using my router.

While drilling in some holes I got some breakouts. This is why I postponed the filling.

It took four rounds of filling and sanding till I was satisfied with the result. I will do a final round after the case is completed.

Then I milled in the cutout for the panel of the power and network-cable.

At this time most of the holes and nuts should have been done.

The integration of the connectors for power and network cable was the next step.

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Old 26-04-17, 10:04 AM
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SuB SuB is offline
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Oh wow this is quite a project.. Very impressive!
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Old 26-04-17, 11:34 AM
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Wraith Wraith is offline
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Colour me impressed, love me some wood work! It's such a tactile medium and fun to work with, Subbed!
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” ~ Albert Einstein
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