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Dual PC Case

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Helkear

Registered
Joined
Apr 26, 2007
[I don't know how to change this, but this is pretty much a project log]

This is a pretty monstrous computer case. I've been into PC modding for a while, I find the parts tend to go in and out pretty quick, but the major components of a case have been more or less standard for a long time. Though the main PC in this case though is pretty kick *** atm.

As a minor pre-face on the style of this build; I really focused on utility with this case. I don't swap parts often, but I like ease of access when I do, places to put cables, room to work.

I've been building my own PC's forever now, and things like changing the motherboard I found cumbersome in most traditional PC case design (big CPU heat-sinks are the worst)

Another thing I had been wanting to include forever in a build is two PC's in one case. Having one run as a server / media hub, and another as a game / work station really allows a focus in selecting PC parts, rather than trying to compromise and make a mega work station that does both tasks. (Really I just like the organization and reliability of my setup - even if it is overkill)

The case started as this; the pendant for T600M TOSNUC Milling machine (I fix these things so you will see a lot of random bits) This a huge box, that has roughly the same geometric proportions as a PC case (scaled up of course).
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This stupid thing is already very heavy, the top steel is 5mm thick (two 2.5mm plates) The pendant was initially hung via that hole in the top with a swing arm assembly, it weighs probably eighty pounds normally (forty empty like this - or more, the final weigh in is mighty!)

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I had installed rails for the PC 'shelves' to run on; almost everything in this case is made in steel, it seemed like an alright decision early on, but the weight of this case grew quite fast.

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Here you can see how it is roughly just a huge computer, its just an average mid-tower beside, all of the parts used in these photos are old stuff for reference (don't care if a whoops moment happens..)

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The 'crash bars' added a nice bit of beef to the front end looks, I'm not totally designing this thing around aesthetics, but it doesn't hurt to try.

The rails give a nice amount of extension, the plan is too have the whole PC mounted on the tray, so in essence they can be swapped, removed for builds..etc. The real idea is making my life easier later.

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Here are the trays, these took a while to build, are both identical, and have a surprising number of pieces, once again pretty much all steel.

One thing to note is I used old PSU's, new ones are a bit longer, which caused some later grief, but solved with a riser to prevent the bottom of the PSU from being in the space the motherboard occupied

Each tray has a mountain mods motherboard tray (conveniently named so), room for eight 3.5" hard drives (I think you can get dual adapters for 2.5", so 16 for all that raid) one CD drive - cause I barely use it.. really just to load windows almost, but I can't use a USB CD drive, the transfer rate just isn't there.


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You can sort of see the fan grill at the top; this takes massive 172mm fans, I'll be running just three fans for the case (there are some internal fans, but the three 172mm fans are the only venting for the case)

Tray in, Tray out, pretty simple. The trays have a 'divited' position near the back of travel, they simply rest in place. I'll be working on a more rigid solution eventually, but it works fine, I really don't move the case much.

the door is starting to make a more permanent appearance. It initially held all of the front panel castings in the first photos.


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This was a real pain to do; finding where to put the holes for the mother board trays was an exercise in critical thinking, cutting them required multiple setups, getting something this big square with the machine was a unique challenge ( I think its 23" by 24".. Its quite close anyways)

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Thankfully the hassle was worth it, very clean, and accessible, I like having access to the rear ports of my computers, and having a side access is a significant difference (like I can stay sitting in my chair)

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What good is having a cool computer if you can't see into it? I thought so too, so I milled out the CRT window for the pendant from the front panel castings, screwed up the lower keyboard part during milling (this stuff was aluminum and pretty thin), replaced it.. with a big piece of steel

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..and attached it, I wasn't super happy with this, my keyboard slot screw up and some poorly placed corner holes, but it had a gorgeous piece of curved tinted acrylic that had to be used (everyone has flat windows) and I have flat screens that could fit in there in the future, behind the acrylic for that CRT old school dome

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Initially I had thought about putting the ports, LEDs, switchs, on the front of the case, but ports change, and the trays move (cables) so eventually I thought an external solution would be best.

I had been wanting a desktop headphone jack, near the keyboard, with volume control, so the external controls and a few other things became a combined idea.

This unit is going to sit on my desk at the head of my keyboard, probably forever, so I'm trying to make it look nice. It started life as a TEAC cassette player, its had some finish and milling work done to the face.

This part of the project has yet to come into fruition, but its happening.

There are a few of these pendants where I work, and a few front castings from machines that have received upgrades, I gave the front window another go, being much more careful with the bottom edge, and giving a frame to the window as well (reduce any light / air seepage)

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Here is the first and second CRT frames I milled from those front panel castings.

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The casting was thin, and brittle, and a little not straight, I cleaned up the frame edge on the mill for a better fit to the front of the case, but I could only cut so deep with any issues, so it is not perfect, but the bottom edge is the only one not totally level, so at least it will be hard to see



Almost too big!

By this point I'm sure I was tired (I did a large majority of this just after working a full day)

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It did fit!

The crash bars just needed to be resetting with the CRT frame in place. I installed an old lower keyboard unit, mostly as filler / something interesting, this project is still evolving.

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This was the worst part of everything. Drilling all of this holes was insane. Each hole because of the material and the need to use a hand drill, required around 7 drills to work up to size. I'm sure I spent ten hours between laying these out to finishing them.

But they are super important because all of the fresh air those huge 172mm fans demand comes in through here. Heat rises up, and with any luck the negatives of a mostly obstructed airflow (horizontal trays - vertical airflow :-/) are mitigated by natural convection

There is a roughly 1" between the tray and the front of the case, and the HDD section with the vertically arranged hard drives is pretty air flow friendly. There is enough room in the case that air flow stays high.

*
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Painting! This is where all of this little pieces for the motherboard trays show up. Everything for two trays I think is in the shot, minus some hardware.

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And installed!

I won't lie, I wasn't looking for red, it was just good quality paint, and steel rusts. I'll eventually get this whole thing powder-coated or something. It is still up in the air.

It still has a cool contrast with the red and silver though

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Starting to look pretty cool. The wheels keep the holes on the bottom well above the floor, I will be installing a fine mesh to keep out all of the dust and such, but with the vertical ventilation setup I imagine the whole system collects less dust anyways (that's one of the hopes, I've cleaned enough GPU heatsinks)

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The window!

This is probably not the final window, some cracks appeared in the installation, and I have a few other thoughts in mind for down the road.

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With huge industrial fans a way to control them is nice, really this photo was just for my reference, but this stuff is interesting in a way, if you've read this far..

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I'm really not sure on this, but I needed fan control, and this worked. Its basically a big current limiting voltage divider, and can clamp the fans to a certain level. The fans are 12v and I can run them as low as 6.3v with this, but I am still unhappy with the noise level.

I have some PWM stuff in the works, so more to come.

The dial is fully functional and really does the fan 'load'

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Here all of the gawdy front fan stuff is wired in, the only non-functional part is that gold resistor, initially that was to be used for the gauge, but the circuit was the not the same as started.

A handy allen-key for opening the door, as much as it is a no no, I use a magnet to hold it.

The scale display resting on the case only adds about 0.2lb or less. This crazy thing really does weigh almost 140lbs, and there aren't even any computers inside!!

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A great picture for scale, the back of my car (a CRV - not totally small) filled with PC case.

I've since added the PC portion of the case, I'll be tending this thread soon
 
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Helkear

Registered
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Apr 26, 2007
Yeah; but that's only part of the point of mine, I wanted a case that would be easy to work on in the future. I can do a whole system swap without getting out of my chair, thanks to the PC shelves.

This is very much an excess project. No off the shelve solution will sate me.
 

ikpthegame

Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2007
That cool man. And sure you could have bought that case for 2 systems but this you made and you can have a good story to tell. Plus, it's a passion to make something for yourself, like me when it comes to car audio, I make all my own boxes, and fiber glass a lot of stuff. Keep up the good work man.
 
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Helkear

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Apr 26, 2007
That cool man. And sure you could have bought that case for 2 systems but this you made and you can have a good story to tell. Plus, it's a passion to make something for yourself, like me when it comes to car audio, I make all my own boxes, and fiber glass a lot of stuff. Keep up the good work man.

Aha, thanks, definitely a story.. the photos don't overtly show it, but to get everything this far along between work and life, has been a bit over a year. Cool you do speaker enclosures, do you make molds for the fiberglass? It also looks like tedious work. If you fight for the results though, that stuff can look pretty great.
 
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Helkear

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Apr 26, 2007
I thought the Cyberpowerpc link might provide some hardware/software intergration inspiration.

Thats fair, I won't lie, I only skimmed it being late at night. Streaming stuff isn't my thing, but a lot of the other features are interesting,

I like the dual formfactor layout, if anything it would be a lot lighter than mine lol
 

ikpthegame

Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2007
I haven't made molds yet, never had a need to. I just lay down some tin foil around the back side, and go from there. I use wooden dowels glued to the back after I laid down some glass and glue them to the speaker ring. And then I finish from there, I wish I still had pics of the setup I did in my wrx but I lost them when my phone crashed. I'm hoping to make a box where my glove box is on my mustang, but gotta take it out first and make sure there's enough room. Well enough about me, no need to hijack your story lol.
 
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Helkear

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Apr 26, 2007
Alright; so there is less construction in this post so much as settling in. Both trays have PC's now (the bottom one is dead but we'll get to that)

I've had my computer running in this thing for a few weeks now, or less.. time flies as they say. I'll give you some specs as I know everyone likes numbers;

[Top PC] (So I bought 90% of this stuff June 14 - 2014)

ASUS M5A99X EVO R2.0 Motherboard

AMD X8 FX-8350 AM3+ 4GHz 8Mb Cache

Corsair H110i GT Extreme performance liquid CPU cooler

G.Skill 32Gb DDR3-1600Mhz (4x8Gb)

ASUS 750 GTX 1GB DDR5

2x128Gb SSD SATA 6Gb\s (ADATA SX900)

2x1Tb HDD SATA 6Gb\s (Probably western digital somethings)

Cosair professional series modular PSU HX750 80PLUS Gold Certified 750w

oh and some blu-ray combo drive (does everything etc..) no, not light scribe too.. maybe

___________________

The bottom PC is old; like over ten years (you'll see the floppy drive) but its function is to just store files on a network essentially so who really cares. Also, it was the first PC I ever built new, so thats cool.

its a got an AMD Athlon 64 X2 (if I had to guess 3.2Ghz, no idea)

ASUS A8V-E SE Motherboard.

Maybe 2Gbs of ram.

Until its running I'm not counting my eggs

Unfortunately the lower PC does not post, its been in a closet for a while, and rode in my trunk forever to Toronto.. I may have some luck yet, but no strong hopes.

I have a crazy dual xeon motherboard with processors at work that may find a new home.... ;)

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For all of those wondering what sort of desk could contain this beast; its this one. I have the right, my girlfriend has the left, eventually the lower PC could be used for her side, but she's all over the Macs.

I used to sit on the left, but we get some crazy highrise window glare from across the street.

If anything it does make a good divider, its a little less imposing under furniture.

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This photo is not about the computer, but I wanted the fiberglass guy to see the speakers I built a while back. I also built the center TV stand thing. The subwoofers under the main speakers aren't done.. but most of the finish on this stuff isn't done yet.

I got it all to the point where it worked and left it. Thankfully the girlfriend doesn't complain about the finish.. much ;)

Living in apartments you want to minimize your footprint, so everything ends up being tall.

I could drone on and on about this stereo, but I'll leave that for later, always full of projects.

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Here is a nice gut view, if both trays are pulled out the case lists, so that's a no no. The top PC is somewhat obstructed visually.. the radiator is not ready to go anywhere else. So this will have to do, besides, it is quite a look.

The bottom PC has one of those kickass Zalmann coolers from way back - the cooper ones were the best, aluminum did not have the same flair, it lights up too! they made these forever they were so pretty.

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You can see what I mean about airflow, it looks terrible, until you look through the top. This thing cools to room temperature as quickly as I turn up the big top fans.

I need to reverse the radiator fans (they push the wrong way for the top fans)

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alright, so I did some silly stuff here to mount a floppy drive, and then two hard drives, but its okay, the airflow is still very strong to the above PC, once something more modern drops in, it will open up like the top.

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Here is my extremely fancy 'power dongle' power, reset, status leds, and some ports. Until I build the desk level stuff, this will do.

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Here both trays have been removed from the case, it takes no time, and no tools.

The radiator mount was made later, and has not been painted yet.

You'll notice the top motherboard tray backplane has lost a few inches, it was too tall for the top fans. I'll do the other one eventually, maybe figure out a way to do it nicer, at the time I was doing the fans, and quick and dirty was required.

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You can really see the 'power dongle' in this one.

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Here is the box, with AC cables. The wiring is messy atm, but solutions will implemented.

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Here is the PSU for the fans, they can draw over 6amps (total, two each), so using the PC PSU was not an option, and really, I'll save those watts for something else on the PC.

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Here are the fans, you can see how insane these things are. They really move to put it simply. At full blast the CFM is beyond overkill. I call that mode 'heat purge'

I don't even really need to use these things right now (winter) but in the summer..

You can see my great custom gasket for the motherboard backplane, its not done, but I ran out of glue, so its only glued in, the corners haven't been seemed/sealed

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Here is why the fan control crud is outside on the front, this is how much room that fan PSU has between it and the CD drive, very little, that might be less than 1mm, I had to modify the CD mount for additional clearance.

I'll be working on the 'control unit' soon (power buttons, jacks..etc)

I had a friend looking this over and he thought a weyland yutani theme could be cool for the main pc case (bad corporation in the Aliens series) I thought it fit as well. I had given breif thought to taking a fallout direction with this.

As much as I adore both series, fallout is just not brutal enough (the new ones at least) weyland is exceptional sinister, and very cool.

Both series have a lot of CRT's though, so possibilities with the front of the case..
 
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Helkear

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Apr 26, 2007
It's been a long time; between moving, living, and actually using the computer case daily. It's time for some upgrades, I'm on vacation and I'm going to revisit the fan situation, here's a sneak preview of what's to come ;)
 

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Helkear

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Apr 26, 2007
So this is the fruition of labor;

It starts with me picking up the material, submitting the drawing and material to a local company with a few machines I work on - nothing like friends ;)

The CNC machine that produced the parts is actually a newer version of the CNC machine I took the pendant from to produce the computer case, a cool little tidbit.

So as you can see, it's designed to hold eight (120mm) fans, the plates that remove and secure to the main plate will have some sort of stainless mesh go in-between them for reducing dust (two cats.. lots of hair and dust)

Tomorrow I am getting ready to mount the main plate to the case, lots of cutting and tapping required to get started, very excited to be cleaning up this build finally :)

I am not sure what fans to be getting, if anyone knows of any particularly quiet ones I'm all ears, with eight to go into the top and however many more on the side, I'm probably looking to spend maybe 15$ or less per unit, anything more and it adds up pretty fast.
 

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Helkear

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Apr 26, 2007
I couldn't resist the need to continue playing with this; here are some more photos, hopefully get it mounted tomorrow :) I may be able to get decent fans in town as well, remains to be seen
 

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Helkear

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Apr 26, 2007
That thing is a beast Helkear.

Thanks! :)

Picking it up is not really a thing; I had to become he man to pick it up into the trunk today :p

I have a revision for the shelves in mind that uses aluminum instead; I'm hoping to drop the things weight from 140lb's to well.. anything less lol.

I'm trying to exercise the foresight of designing the parts before I build them; this was a good proof, and it's gotten me somewhere, but it could be optimized

I'll be happy once I get the side spruced up as well, the acyrilic window is starting to 'wave' and wasn't that good to begin with
 
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Helkear

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Here's today's accomplishments; I located the top plate on the pc case after removing everything, center punched the holes, drilled and tapped the steel.

I then proceeded to cut the hole in the top of the case with an angle grinder, this was intense; causing the grinder to get very hot, and basically reducing cutting disks to half or less of their original diameter pretty fast.

I had to take extensive breaks and do something else while the angle grinder cooled between cuts, basically each 'side' of the square took 10-15 minutes, then a half hour break for the grinder, I blew compressed air through the tools turbine (to expedite cooling during breaks) and the exhaust vent air was crazy hot, especially for a small motor like in a grinder.

The steel in the top of the computer case, is about 5mm think (1/4" ~ 2 1/8" plates welded together for the very curious), some bull**** high grade Japanese stuff or whatever they sourced for the machine.. it had sporadic 'hard' patches as well (tougher alloy ~ steel mixture?) the machine pendant (that is the structure of the case) was made for an industrial setting and it shows every-now and then. By installing this aluminum plate, it's actually lost some weight (not much, but a few big burritos worth)

I took the angle grinder 'breaks' as a time to do the tapping and finishing work on the other plates, the perimeter of the inside cutouts for the inside plates all required tapping (about forty holes) aluminum is a sticky material sometimes and gummed up the tap once, once I had the technique down I just simply did them all, doing work like this by hand feels endless sometimes

I cleaned up the case top, re-installed everything (the missing tray is running my PC at home ~ looks like a test station), going to get fan mesh tomorrow, fans can wait while I do some research on them

still have some finish work to do on the aluminum piece, but nothing critical, deburing and some work to make a slightly more uniform finish between pieces, paint can wait till I know what I am doing

The screws in last pic aren't actually tight if you look really close and see they are off ;)

I'm looking forward to going over this build piece by piece and making everything a bit better (cleaner, finished ~ less bad, more inadequate), the bright screws on the side panel are drawing my eye the most.. so maybe that area will be the next to follow after the fans are sorted
 

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neonthunder

Member
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May 17, 2017
Location
UK - Derbyshire
this is a BEAST!!!!

will be keeping an eye on this. If the mrs is into macs you could always build a fruit based pc for her..... Im in the process of doing mine as Im a mac fan.

Can't wait to see more
 
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Helkear

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Apr 26, 2007
this is a BEAST!!!!

will be keeping an eye on this. If the mrs is into macs you could always build a fruit based pc for her..... Im in the process of doing mine as Im a mac fan.

Can't wait to see more

She loves Mac's, I've never heard of the fruit based PC ~ I'll have to look into it, thanks! :) I suspect she'll have a windows desktop and a Mac laptop at the end of the day, I know she wants a Mac desktop, but she doesn't really utilize either OS enough to really make the choice matter, just personnel preferences.
 
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Helkear

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Today's update ~ I'll be taking a break on this for a while after this one, lots of stuff to do in CAD, I will be redoing the shelves entirely, and a lot of dimensions / hole placements will rely on those being done first before I get into anything else too aggressively (front, and rear side panels come to mind mostly)

I managed to find a paint color that was exactly the same as the original pendant color (okay a little more sparkly, still, I can't hardly even see the line with a bright flashlight and being a few inches away) can't believe my luck :)

I figured people may actually want to know what this thing used to look like, I've included a photo of the device as it was originally, its a Toshiba CNC machine, this one is one of the 'babies' they get much much bigger (like takes a few minutes to walk around almost)

I cleaned up some edges behind the 'monitor' window, removed everything, painted anything that was raw, and painted over the red in the bottom of the case for a consistent look (the ventilation holes in the floor). I took the badges off the front, I have something in mind for doing those in the future, but presently it just wasn't jiving with me

More fun on the aluminum top piece, I switched to button head socket-head cap screws for a less aggressive look, such large fasteners tend to overdraw focus sometimes.

I counter sunk the fan mounting holes inside (on the main aluminum plate), so when I put in the screws under the filter panels they remain 'flush'

Installed the screens, and called it a day. I brought the unit home, as I anticipate it being sometime before I continue, the next step being the tray replacements, will take a lot of preparing before I can do any physical work.

With great irony, I re-installed everything, put all the cables back, and promptly put an Allan key (hex wrench, if you're 'that guy') to hold the door ajar, one day I will get fans for the top ;)
 

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