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Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Borg Cube Case Mod, Part 2

Abrasive Cut-off Wheels
Immediately after installing the system board and power supplies, I found that the main motherboard power cable would not reach the connector on the system board. One of the first modifications was to cut two holes, one through the motherboard tray and a second through the center partition in the case. This allows the power connection to loop directly from the power supply through the center partition and connect to the system board with lots of slack.

To cut the cable holes, a Dremel tool with 1" cut-off wheels made quick (but smelly) work of this. The sharp sheet metal edges were covered with some split-loom tubing, and the case vacuumed out to remove the abrasive grit and metal grindings.

[caption id="attachment_109" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Cut off wheels were used to cut a hole for power cables to the system board."]Interior of case[/caption]

Apparently, cut-off wheels are the tool of choice for many computer modifications. Somehow I cannot see using the tiny Dremel or flexible-shaft versions for cutting case windows, but the larger 4" power grinders would make for quick work and nice straight lines without too much effort or case damage.

The water cooling radiator is supposed to be positioned just behind the front cooling fans, so that the cool air entering the case is used to first reduce the water temperature before passing over the system board and other components. In a high-performance system, that would help with CPU cooling. Since it's not an issue here, I moved the radiator to the rear of the case to vent the warm air out the back rather than across the components. With the split case design, most of the air movement will be to the drive side and out the rear of the case anyway.

Aviation Sheet-Metal Snips
Hole drills are best for cutting precise fan holes in a case, but I didn't know that during my first mod. Instead, I used aviation-style sheet metal snips to enlarge the existing rear fan opening. These snips are available in right-hand (red), left-hand (green) and straight (yellow) versions.

[caption id="attachment_110" align="alignnone" width="285" caption="Snips for cutting left-hand curves, straight, and right-hand curves."]Snips[/caption]


The grill opening on the rear has mounting holes for either a 90mm fan (that would be inside the drive cage), or with the drive bays removed, a 120mm fan can be positioned at the rear. The radiator takes a single 80mm fan which I replaced with a black and chrome Centaurus fan. I used nippers to remove the double grill opening formed in the rear sheet metal of the case, but leaving the 120mm mounting holes. The sharp edges were covered with split tubing and the plastic rear cover had to be slightly modified to allow for the now-raised edge around the fan hole.


[caption id="attachment_111" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Aviation shears were used to open the rear fan hole. Split loom tubing covers the rough edges of the resulting hole."]Case fan[/caption]


Changes to the radiator assembly include reversing the pipe feed orientation in the frame, adding the fancy 80mm fan, adding a flat plate to attach a 90-to-120mm fan adapter, and last, a 120mm green UV reactive fan that attaches directly to the case opening. I placed a piece of hardware cloth mesh over the fan to keep fingers and other things out, then mounted a circular 80mm ultraviolet tube to keep the mesh from shifting and make the fan and adapter glow.

Power cables and other wires were bundled inside lots of split-loom tubing, then run to the drives, panels and components.

Water tubing was cut to length, arranged and connected to the heat sink, radiator, flow indicator, primary and secondary reservoir, and then tested for leaks.

Glow in the dark floppy and optical drive cables were checked for reach and then installed, and electro-luminescent SATA drive cables attached.

Next: Pneumatic Shears vs. Nibblers

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