Navig Does It Again – Project Resilience is Complete!


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If you frequent the cases and modding sections of our forums, chances are you have seen or heard of Navig creations. He’s been making custom cases since long before I’ve got into overclocking. If I recall correctly, he has been featured in CPU Magazine before and for good reason. His cases are superb examples of creative ingenuity.

His latest project took about a year’s worth of (intermittent) labor. The end result is a work of computer art. The long build log, formerly titled “Project R-Unit” can be seen in its entirety in the alternative modding section of our forum. After final completion, last night he posted more concise overview of the case, which will be merged into this post and you’ll be able to see his work  below. For now, I leave you with my favorite photo.

Project Resilience - Image Courtesy Navig
Project Resilience - Image Courtesy Navig

Thanks for sharing your beautiful work with us Navig!

– Jeremy Vaughan (hokiealumnus)

About Jeremy Vaughan 197 Articles
I'm an editor and writer here at Overclockers.com as well as a moderator at our beloved forums. I've been around the overclocking community for several years and just love to sink my teeth into any hardware I can get my paws on!

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Navig

Senior Case Master

1,725 messages 7 likes

Conception

I decided I wanted to build a smaller but still full sized case. I wanted it to be sleek and utilitarian like a futuristic piece of laboratory equipment. I also wanted to incorporate some curves, yet be completely identifiable as a computer case.

So I started with a sketch pad, and the first shape I drew was a slightly modified "R":

Runitdraw5.jpg

This basic shape has some curves (yes I'm aware of what sort of curves we might be talking about), but I was also planning a component layout.

Bumping it into a 3 dimensional shape:

Runitdraw2.jpg

This structure could actually have 3 separate compartments. The front curved area for an upright motherboard, a back area for the powersupply and hard drives, and a bottom unit for 5.25 bays.

Finally I had a dream of having the front curved panel open up with a hydraulic type action:

Runitdraw1.jpg

And so I had my basic idea of how I wanted this case to look like.

Time to head into the shop.

.

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Navig

Senior Case Master

1,725 messages 7 likes

Construction

I started with a paper template, sized to accommodate a rough layout of components:

Sidepanellayout.jpg

I then cut out the basic structural panels from 1/2" MDF:

Firststructuralassembly3.jpg

MDF is an artificial wood product. The pluses of using MDF is that is strong, has a very even composition (no wood graining), but can be worked with all your standard woodworking tools and techniques. The downsides are: its very dusty to work with, the cut edges are pretty rough, and its very water-absorbent.

The additional bonus is that MDF is very cheap and obtained from your local Home Depot/Lowes. In total I probably spent <$10 in MDF.

Here I machined out the general layout, so now you can get a good idea of how this was going to house components:

Motherboardtrayshaping.jpg

The general tools I used to work MDF were a tablesaw for rough cutting, jigsaw and scrollsaw for detail cutting, router for machining.

The structural parts are jointed with dado joints, reinforced with screws (I used a lot of 6-32 machine screws, with a corresponding tap and/or brass 6-32 threaded inserts).

All standard woodworking kind of stuff.

.

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Navig

Senior Case Master

1,725 messages 7 likes

Plastic Paneling

Now that the structure was there, I planned on having the large surfaces covered with plastic paneling.

I started with stock 1/8" thick dark gray plastic sheet (from Delvie's plastics).

After cutting it to the appropriate size, I popped the sheets into an oven, and with very careful monitoring, brought them up to a temperature where they were pliable.

Then I pressed them into molds replicated from the curves on the original panels, where they were allowed to cool and re-harden:

PlasticPress1.jpg

This panel was cooled and checked for fit:

Hingemountedplasticpanel.jpg

There were 2 curved panels, the large front panel, and the top panel. The rest of the panels were plain flat rectangles. I cut the rest of the panels, getting the whole surface sheeted in smoked acrylic:

Backpanelmounted.jpg

5.25 bays were located in this lower area here, with additional spacing for a switch panel and a USB/firewire/audio panel, plus a lot of wire routing.

Switchcabinet2.jpg

A lot of hinging, mounting bracketry, trim finish later:

Breakdownleftfrontlow.jpg

Breakdownrighthi.jpg

Breakdownback.jpg

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Navig

Senior Case Master

1,725 messages 7 likes


Paint

I had pictured this case being like some sort of minimalist futuristic lab apparatus. I took my color cues from the lab depicted in the movie Moon.

Moon1.jpg

The large plastic panels and trim were going to be all smoked gray acrylic and flat black.

I chose to paint all the structural and interior panels (basically anything made from MDF) laboratory gloss white.

For color highlights, I choose a cool tone yellow. I painted all my fan blades this yellow, as well as some decorative striping on the video card.

Black

As you've already seen, all of the plastic was a dark gray. Add all the trim components painted black:

Painttrimfinishedmatteblack.jpg

The effect I was trying to achieve was to essentially have the whole center portion of the case wrapped in black:

Leftfrontlounlit1-1.jpg

Backunlit-1.jpg

White:

The large side panels and all of the interior was painted white.

I started with the bare MDF, sealed it with multiple coats of high fill primer.

PaintPSUpanelgrayprimed.jpg

I then base coated with white and top coated with glossy clear:

Assemblyframetogether.jpg

For the large external surfaces, I went so far as to polish it to perfect reflectiveness.

Paintreflection.jpg




Yellow:

I painted some small components a cool yellow to add some color.

Fans:

Paintingfansdone.jpg

PCI plates:

Paintingpcislots3.jpg

Video card accents:

FA6950done.jpg

The end result was a very clean and striking sleek case:

Leftfrontlowlit2-1.jpg

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Navig

Senior Case Master

1,725 messages 7 likes

Components

Here were the components I selected:

CPU: Core i7 26k
Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth P67
RAM: Corsair Vengeance 2x4gb DDR-1600
Storage: OCZ Vertex 3 240gb, WD Black 2TB
Video: HIS 6950 2Gb
DVD drive: Lite-on Blue ray/DVD burner
PSU: Corsair AX 750W
Heatsink: Thermalright AX140 RT
Fans: 5x 12cm Yate Loon low speeds
1x 14cm Yate Loon low speed
Fan controller: NZXT Sentry 2

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Navig

Senior Case Master

1,725 messages 7 likes

Let's take the tour

I'm going to take you on a tour of the completed case, with some higher res pictures.

Motherboard compartment

The first thing that pops out is the main front compartment.

Frontlefthiunlit.jpg

The big blacked out panel gives it a sort of monolithic appearance, but the curve also makes unique and more organic.

Unlit, its a bit mysterious.

However, hit the 3rd button on the switch panel, and the internal lighting kicks on, showing all the inside components:

Frontfacepanel.jpg

The internal lighting is pretty dramatic, check out this video of lit and unlit.

th_Frontlightdemo.jpg

This internal lighting effect is achieved by two hidden light bars (one CCFL and one LED) shining down onto the motherboard. I've highlighted them in this pic:

LightBars.jpg

Underneath there, you can now see my Sabertooth motherboard, the large 14cm fan blowing over the cpu heatsink, and my video card.

However!

It wasn't enough for me just to be able to see these pretty components. Being a longtime overclocker, I needed actual access to my components!

You may remember in my post above, during the conception phase, I wanted to have this front panel open up, giving me instant access to my motherboard components.

First, you push this button on the top of the front panel, which pops up a hidden knob.

Panelopendemo.jpg

Twist the knob and a latch releases, causing the entire curved panel to pop open.

Panelopendemo2.jpg

Panelopendemo3.jpg

And now I've got full access to my motherboard, allowing easy change out of PCI components, RAM, even the cpu.

The mechanism is actuated by this piston gas spring and the stealth latch mechanism.

Gasspringsmall.jpg

It is really that easy! Here is a video of it in action.

th_Panelopeningdemo.jpg

I chose the Asus Sabertooth P67 motherboard primarily for its sleek look--the plastic shielding hides a lot of the caps, chips, and traces. Visually, the compartment is dominated by the large fan on top of my heatsink. Given the curved bulge in the compartment centered over the cpu heatsink, this case can accommodate super large tower style heatsinks, but the Thermalright downblowing heatsink performs excellently.

The video card also got some yellow highlighting, mostly to cover up the original red ATi color scheme (pic here).

I also put in a fair bit of work keeping my cabling clean. There are cable pass thrus at the top, bottom, and right of this compartment to allow for wiring to the 5.25 bays, power supply, and hard drives, located elsewhere.

At the very bottom of the motherboard compartment, I put a pair of peek-thru windows into the switching compartment. I don't really know why other than I thought it might look neat. Also a good segue...

Windowpassthrus.jpg

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Navig

Senior Case Master

1,725 messages 7 likes

Switch Panel

Switchpanellight.jpg

This bottom potion of the case houses my switching panel and 5.25 bay drives.

The upper row has my switch array. The large white circle is the main power, the small circle reset, and the little dot toggles my internal lights.

The right half has front panel USB/firewire/audio connectors.

In the center is a floating eye that is the Power-on indicator. You may notice that from picture to picture that this LED lit double sphere is a different color. It actually automatically slowly transitions through various colors.

Just below it a red LED lit half-dome indicator which is the HDD activity light.

These are actually what those units looked like during construction.

BothLEDsunlit.jpg

Since this little area is actually a completely enclosed chamber, I decided to go ahead and add some additional lighting effects inside.

When you punch the lights-on switch, 2 side bars and 2 middle floating white LED bars light up:

Switchpaneldark2.jpg

All of this lighting effects is a bit difficult to capture in pictures, so I did a quick little video:

th_Switchpaneldemo.jpg

Below the switching chamber is a row for 2 5.25 bay drives. Currently I've got a Blue-ray/DVD burner in the left, and a NZXT Sentry fan controller on the right.

The backside of this compartment actually has 2 more slots for 5.25 bay devices.

Back525.jpg

To access the 5.25 bays and their associated wiring, I have an access panel on the underside of the case.

FAundersidecablemess4.jpg

FAundersidecablemess3.jpg

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Navig

Senior Case Master

1,725 messages 7 likes

Side panels

This side of the case has the two 12 cm fan intakes.

Leftside.jpg

I think I have mentioned that I laid down a show-car quality paint finish. Check out the reflections I caught in this pic:

Sidepanelreflection.jpg

This is a pic of the right side of the case.

Rightside.jpg

We've got the 12 cm exhaust, plus all the i/o ports. The power supply is also located here.

This profile really highlights the nice curve of this case, and its relationship to my original sketch based on the letter "R".

.

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Navig

Senior Case Master

1,725 messages 7 likes

Top of the Case

This is nice picture of the case, top down, and internally lit:

Topdown.jpg

I've got 2 120mm fans up here exhausting--they actually straddle both the motherboard and the hard drive chambers, pulling out the heated air.

.

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Navig

Senior Case Master

1,725 messages 7 likes

Back of the Case

Here is the backside of the case:

Backunlit-2.jpg

Like the front, it also has internal lighting:

Back1.jpg

You may notice the same concealed button latch. Press and twist, and the back panel hinges downward:

Backopen-1.jpg

This panel doesn't have the gas spring hydraulic action--for access reasons, I wanted this panel to hinge downward. It is hinged on a friction-hinge, tho, which means it will open and stay open at whatever level you leave it at.

As you can see this back compartment houses the power supply and the hard drives.


Hard drives

There are currently slots for 4 hard drives.

This is a bit of an exploded view to show how the hard drives mount:

FAdrivesglued.jpg

There are 4 straight posts.

Each post has a metal bracket that screws to the hard drive, either 3.5" or 2.5":

Harddrivemount.jpg

The metal bracket then mounts to the post with a single thumbscrew:

FAdrivesmounted.jpg

Currently I've got a OCZ Vertex 3 240gb as my primary drive, with a WD 2TB as storage.

Power supply

Backinternal2.jpg

Compared to standard cases this location for mounting the PSU is a little different, but placement here puts its cables in close proximity to all the elements (motherboard, video cards, hard drives, 5.25 bays).

I'm using a Corsair AX 750. Nothing fancy with the cabling, just stock Corsair kept tidy.

Here is a video of me opening the back access panel:

th_Backpaneldemo-1.jpg

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