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Geek Culture / Building an acrylic PC case

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Phaelax
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Posted: 1st Jul 2017 21:20
Haven't quite found the mini-itx case I want yet, so thought I'd try and build one myself. I bought some sheets of .22" thick acrylic, has anyone worked with it before? Any tips? I wanted to originally use metal as I'm more familiar with metalwork, but I don't have a spare microwave to build a spot welder and rivets sound like work.

The case I had in mind is a mini tower, which you'd think would be easy to find. But they're all either too wide or, most common, too deep. I have a half-size GPU, I don't need an 20" deep case with quad 200mm fans. My rough dimensions so far is 7" x 12" x 8" (WxHxD). At the moment, there is no plan for an optical drive, but I could probably extend the height an inch to fit a slim-dvd into it and extend the depth slightly. Now those dimensions are not set in stone, it was just some brief rough calculations.

"I like offending people, because I think people who get offended should be offended." - Linus Torvalds
Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 2nd Jul 2017 08:25
Quote: "I wanted to originally use metal as I'm more familiar with metalwork, but I don't have a spare microwave to build a spot welder and rivets sound like work."
Trying using this extruded aluminum stuff! I've never worked with it myself, but I think you just need to cut it to length and use fasteners to hold it together. And those slots that run down the sides, you could slide the acrylic panels into those.
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Phaelax
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Posted: 2nd Jul 2017 19:57 Edited at: 7th Jul 2017 07:47
Those are very cool, and look simple to use. But the pieces are 3/4" thick which would add about an inch or so of additional size in every dimension. (I think I've seen those before) It's the reason I decided not to use wood, it'd be too thick to have the stability I wanted. Acrylic (or polycarbonate) is fairly sturdy yet thin. Metal is the best medium because it could be even thinner plus it won't trap as much heat. But I don't plan on heat being an issue with the water cooler, which will have a 120mm radiator mounted on the back.

Here's some early pics. All I really have done is the motherboard tray. I've laid out the components to get a feel for the size. So far, I'm able to stick with my initial dimensions. The PSU is about 1.5" longer than the older seasonic I was using to test the build. (which 430w powered this just fine, but 650w is the lowest I could find from seasonic that was fully modular) I might have to extend the depth a little to accommodate the cables with this longer PSU. And I'm still undecided if I want to add in a slim bluray player or not. I rarely use the one I have now, but it's nice to have when needed. I just need to find an internal slot-loading drive.

http://imgur.com/a/5glmA

http://imgur.com/a/kXCvE

"I like offending people, because I think people who get offended should be offended." - Linus Torvalds
Phaelax
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Posted: 17th Jul 2017 17:32
Made a little more progress.

http://imgur.com/a/7MVmW

Finally got the solvent in the mail I needed for joining acrylic. I tried some test pieces and I'm less than impressed by it's strength. I'm losing confidence in this build.

"I like offending people, because I think people who get offended should be offended." - Linus Torvalds
Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 18th Jul 2017 01:10
Quote: "I tried some test pieces and I'm less than impressed by it's strength. I'm losing confidence in this build."
Uh oh! I thought the bent bits looked pretty neat, actually. Push on, I bet you can figure something out.
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Seditious
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Posted: 19th Jul 2017 17:58
Looks really cool. I'd love to make a custom case for my gig PC but I wouldn't know where to start. Acrylic definitely seems like a good option.
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Phaelax
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Posted: 21st Jul 2017 04:25
Acrylic has it's pros and cons. I find it easy to bend and fairly easy to cut. However, careful how you cut it. There's probably specific blades to use. I used a jigsaw with a blade for wood. Decent cut but move quickly or it melts. Same goes for sanding the edges.

"I like offending people, because I think people who get offended should be offended." - Linus Torvalds
Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 21st Jul 2017 05:14
I wonder if polycarbonate (Lexan) would be a viable alternative, if you're still having issues. I am working with some for an experiment of my own. The stuff is insanely strong. You have to bend some yourself to truly understand how strong and resilient it is. I've only cut it using a scoring tool and then snapping it, but I bet it cuts pretty nicely with power tools. Not quite sure about the options for bonding it together, though.
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PartTimeCoder
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Posted: 24th Jul 2017 19:43
Quote: "Decent cut but move quickly or it melts. Same goes for sanding the edges."


I use a converted tile saw, the bottom of the blade sits in water for cooling I replaced the tile cutting wheel with a smooth cut 4inch blade for a mini grinder, for sanding the edges I use rubbing compound and a soft flapper disk, I used to repair a lot of green houses replacing broken glass with perspex and could not find suitable tools so I made my own, a small orbital sander with ultra smooth pads bevels the edges nicely, again a small amount of rubbing compound on the pad and it polishes up nicely
Phaelax
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Posted: 26th Jul 2017 17:34
The back IO panel and the motherboard tray I used polycarbonate. The rest of the case is all acrylic because it came in thicker sheets. The poly might be a lot stronger, but the thin sheets available at the store weren't stiff enough to use for the main body.

The gluing seems better now than it was before. I let it sit over night before really moving it and it feels pretty secure. Maybe I expected too much too quickly with the scraps I tested.

I did discover that if you drip the solvent on the acrylic it's best to just leave it. Sure it leaves a small trail as it basically melts the material but it's a lot less noticeable than if you try to wipe it off.

Oh, and about my spot welder. My microwave started going out and I bought a new one. So as fate would have it, I now have a spare microwave to turn into a welder. I'm building a model in studio max right now and then I'll make it out of aluminum.

"I like offending people, because I think people who get offended should be offended." - Linus Torvalds
Seditious
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Posted: 26th Jul 2017 21:21
I've used an MOT for the same purpose, although I haven't actually built any framework for it (just used the wires directly). Really cool.
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Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 27th Jul 2017 07:57
Lol, and here I am afraid of the StyroSlicer I made that uses a little step down transformer. A MOT! Really clever idea if you know what you're doing, though. Grant Thompson's older content is really good.
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Phaelax
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Posted: 27th Jul 2017 16:04
The amps in this thing can easily kill, so I'm taking every precaution.

"I like offending people, because I think people who get offended should be offended." - Linus Torvalds
Seditious
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Posted: 28th Jul 2017 02:29
Not if there's not enough voltage to put all those amps through you!
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Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 28th Jul 2017 09:02 Edited at: 28th Jul 2017 09:02
Quote: "Not if there's not enough voltage to put all those amps through you!"
ITS NOT TEH VOLTZ THAT KILL; ; ITS THE AMPS ! smh srsly

Just kidding. Those things put out pretty serious voltage though, iirc.
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Phaelax
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Posted: 29th Jul 2017 20:59
According to the creator, he stepped down the voltage to about 3v, but with 800 amps.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCrqLlz8Ee0&list=PLbDYIZ0o1HPIymwDTE7falNuZ84o_n4Nj

"I like offending people, because I think people who get offended should be offended." - Linus Torvalds
Dark Java Dude 64
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Posted: 30th Jul 2017 07:05
Ooooooh I see, that's interesting. That's much safer then, which is good. If you check out some of Photonic Induction's older videos, he has one where he makes a transformer that puts out just a couple volts in the thousands of amps range. It'll melt a wrench but you can touch it with bare hands!
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Phaelax
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Posted: 31st Jul 2017 21:50
I'm only getting about .03 volts and maybe 40 amps. I need at least 10x that power!

"I like offending people, because I think people who get offended should be offended." - Linus Torvalds
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Posted: 31st Jul 2017 21:55
You're only getting 1.2W? I guess if the voltage is low enough and the resistance is high enough that makes sense. Add a few more turns on the secondary.
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Green Gandalf
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Posted: 10th Sep 2017 22:45 Edited at: 10th Sep 2017 22:48
Intriguing thread Phaelax. I admire your skills at making things. For some bizarre reason your exploits and that video of how to make a cheap spot welder made me think of this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo7l1QAe_es

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