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-   -   Completed The Lounge. (http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/case-mods-worklog-gallery/36038-lounge.html)

tzetsin September 8, 2010 05:14 PM

The Lounge.
This thread will be the work log of a computer that I finished about a month ago. I do a lot of builds, and a lot of custom builds, but this is the first build i've done that I thought was sufficiently different from the rest to warrant a build log.

The Inspiration for this build came from the old (and new) arcade style pay for play machines. You know the kind, they usually have a couple light guns, or a steering wheel, they do something different. Thats what i wanted to do with this build, something different, but "pay for play"

Because this "computer" would be acting in a similar manner to the old arcade boxes I was presented with a couple of unique challenges;

1: Control. How do i give the user enough control to enjoy a game, but not enough that he/she has the ability to use it for purposes other than it was created for?

2: Payment. How do I charge to use it?

3: Content. What can I offer that is sufficiently different, and exciting enough for people to want to pay to use it?

4: Reliability. How do I make it reliable enough that it can be left unattended and used by unattended people?

5: Proofing. How do I keep people from intentionally / unintentionally wrecking it or stealing it?

6: Cost. How do I do all this within a reasonable budget?

Because this build is so much more than a family computer and because of the amount of actual custom work done to it, I've decided to post this work log. Anyone who enjoys this work log can also thank the guys in the IRC channel for buggin me to post it. ;)

Ok, first thing first. This computer is actually going to be sitting in a public location. The location is a Pub. The pub has a minor theme, there are a lot of older "antiqueish" items at the location, so I tried to find a way to incorporate "Antique" Into the build. Yes i know what your thinking... Antique? gaming computer? Ha! an your right... like oil and water really but I think I pulled it off.

I was sitting around my ol' mans farm, going through kijiji with my ma, looking for a suitable cabinet to put this together on. My mother was convinced that I should use a cradenza for the build (click the link to see what a credenza is) I thought it was a good idea too, it pretty much seemed to be just what i was looking for.

We spend the afternoon checking around, looking for one in the area that was both affordable, large enough, sturdy enough and antique looking enough for the build. Not an easy task to get all those requirements in one I'll tell you. So we took a break and had a coffee with the old man, we were talking about It and of course he didn't have a clue what a credenza was either, so I showed him. He said
" That looks like that old record player I've got in the shed"... "Oh?" I said " lets go take a look."

The cabinet looks a lot like a credenza with two major differences. One, this cabinet is an old record player, so its got a lid. Lid you ask? why is that important? Two words. Keyboard Drawer. Two, it really IS an antique!


The hole from whence it came ;D


Check out the Authentic antique spider webs!


Oh, did i also mention that it had an 8 track player too?


This thing is so old, it was built before they invented CABLE MANAGEMENT !

OK, at this point I gutted the thing an chucked out all the electronic parts. I had so much fun that I forgot to take pictures for "after" the gutting. ;)

KK folks, I hope I tickled your interest buds because there is A LOT more to come, but I'm out of time for today. I'm going to finish gathering all the pictures That I've got for this build and try to organize a bit for the rest of the log. Again, this build is already COMPLETE, so you wont have to wait months to see how it ends ;)

tzetsin September 8, 2010 05:15 PM

Ok, got some time for this next part.

Another issue I was having was deciding on which case to use for the project. Also whether I should put the case outside the cabinet or inside.

If I leave it outside It's going to look like a computer on a desk, which I DONT want (remember this is supposed to be arcade style) and is going to disappear inside a week.

I tried to find an inexpensive case to put inside, but because of the dimensions of the interior of the cabinet (remember this was designed for a record player, not as a storage unit) It didnt go very well. I would have likely had issues with heat, so it wasn't an ideal solution anyway

The solution? Screw the case.

At this point i decided that the cabinet was going to BE the case. The cabinet is about 5 feet long, a foot and a half wide and about 2 and a half feet tall. I dont know what it weighs, but it was built in the days before furniture material became OSB board. This thing is made out of solid hardwood and takes 2 people to lift it BEFORE anything else is added.

Using the cabinet as a case had a number of advantages.

1: controlling airflow. Because of the nature of high end computing, heat is ALWAYS an issue. by removing the obstructing walls of a computer case I was better able to direct airflow in and around the computer and exhaust as well.

2: Theft control. It is quite literally impossible for a single person to move this cabinet. The completed unit is so heavy that one person cannot even lift a SINGLE END of this cabinet. If someone was to try, they would well deserve the hernia that will likely follow.

It also had one fairly substantial disadvantage. Because the unit is so heavy and cumbersome, hard mounting the computer would make it 100% field serviceable only. A public location isnt the most ideal place to be working on a computer so to solve this, and to make mounting the components easier, I decided to buy a HighSpeed PC Tech Station. Will it make it easier to steal? No. I bolted that baby in there good. It can be removed as a unit, but must be disassembled from the cabinet.

There were a number of things that had to be done to make this cabinet a viable computer case for use in a public pub.

1: It had to be made WATERPROOF. Oh yeah, bet you didnt think of that eh? Guess you dont spend enough time in the pub. ;) Yes, This baby had to be proof from liquids, at least in the electronic area anyways.

This was made easier, and harder because it was originally a stereo. It was hard because of the lid. Two breaks in the table top to pop the lid up make excellent places for water to flow. Because I wanted to use the lid as an access to a roll out keyboard and mouse, I wasnt able to seal them. The original electronics sat into a second floor inside the cabinet about 4 inches from the top. When they were removed, they left a big hole in that second floor though, so another board had to be installed and sealed to prevent fluid from entering the electronics area in the event of a spill.

Squaring up the original cutout in preparation for the patch board.

The patch board. Yes, that is OSB. Yes, I know that its the perfect material for catching spills. (sarcasm) Anyway, I sealed the top part, so we wont have any swelling issues.

2:Sub floor. The original sub floor of the cabinet was made out of cardboard. Obviously that material is not designed to be load bearing so it was replaced by a piece of 3/4" partical board.

3: Cooling. The volume of air inside the cabinet far exceeds what conventional computer fans were designed to move quickly. Again, this unit was expected to create a large amount of heat, so the ability to move the air in and out quickly is paramount to the project. Moving that much volume fast enough would require a blower. Anyone who's been around a blower knows that they are NOISY. Like noisier than is plausible in a piece of equipment that is meant to be enjoyed.

To solve this was pretty simple. Decrease the volume of air required to move by adding a partition inside the cabinet where the electronics will reside.

I just want to add here, because I didnt get a picture of it, that the partition now has a 92mm exhaust fan along the bottom/center edge of it. The PSU ended up creating alot more heat than I expected because it was exhausting into a dead airflow space. The PSU was operating within safe temperature specs, but to increase reliability of the psu and decrease total partition ambient temperature, I decided that a 92 mil exhaust fan was needed. Exhausting into the second partition wasnt an ideal solution, but space constraints made it the best possible option.

Shot of the tech station in the electronics partition.

The table top was a bit roughed up over the years, so I decided to strip it down and restain it.

Because I want to share with you the beauty of my Pal Tia. Not her best shot. ;)

After lacquering the bejesus out of it.

That pretty much sums up all the case mods. Stay tuned for more!

tzetsin September 8, 2010 05:15 PM

Ok, so for this section of the worklog I've decided that its necessary to explain what it is exactly I've decided to build.

In todays world of Xbox 360s and PS3s pay for play gaming machines really have to put out something vastly unique and exciting to entice players to actually pay to play a game. Fortunatly we've all just came around the bend of some pretty damn exciting technologies. Some of them so new that when I put together the machine they weren't even "officially" supported yet, and because of this my budget officially went out of the window.

So what does a person who wants to build an exciting gaming machine with no budget decide to build?

Nvidia's Surround 3D of course. Three small words with one very large price tag. Big price tag = not common, not common = unique enough to charge for ;D

I'd imagine that a few of you folks out there are probably thinking, ooo woopy, its not that expensive... but let me tell you this. Adding 3D to this project has MORE THAN DOUBLED the cost of surround gaming by itself, And because of that, I can assure you, you wont be seeing very many surround 3d gaming setups anytime soon.

So, with a destination in mind all that is left is to get down to brass tacks, order up the required parts and put it all together right? I only wish it was so simple.

Naturally, even without a budget in mind I want to make the project affordable. I've got a bit of last gen hardware kicking around, good stuff only barely past its prime, and powerful enough to play any modern game at triple widescreen resolutions. The hardware mentioned is:

EVGA 780i FTW motherboard
6 gigs Mushkin Redlines
Intel 9450 @ a comfortable 3.3ghz (she'll do more, but i like to keep it down)
Antec True power 850W PSU.

(you might recognize this equipment in my sig ;)

So I got all the parts ordered up;


3 x Acer 23.6" HD 3D ready monitors
1 x Nvidia's 3d kit
1 x Nvidia's extra glasses
2 x Noise canceling headphones

And of course the glue that makes it all possible;

2 x EVGA 480GTX Graphic cards.


At this point I should let it be known that I didnt have the cabinet ready, nor decided to get the tech-station. I did have a huge hankering to try out nvidia's 3d though, so I put everything in my antec P182SE just to see what it was like.

And there began a 2 week long struggle.

Problem #1 SLI.

Try as I might I could NOT get SLI to enable in surround mode. Because this tech was still in beta I didnt know if it was something I was doing wrong, If it was the driver, the hardware or if it was even supported. (there was very little documentation at the time) So I fiddled with everything that I could to see if I could make it work.

It never did.

I never did find the solution to that particular problem. After 2 weeks of banging my head against the wall I decided to break down and swap the mobo out. I would have been happy buying a different 775 board and keeping the CPU and RAM, but finding a NEW 775 board FAST wasnt so easy. By now time is beginning to become a factor, so I splurged and swapped up to a 1366 board.

So NOW the project has;

Asus p6t mobo
6 gigs Patriot Viper 2 ram
Intel 930 @ a comfortable 3.3 ghz (she'll go MUCH higher, but I like to keep it down)
And because the old equipment is still usable as a system I bought a Coolermaster 850W modular PSU.

I was in a bit of a rush to get the project started again so either I dont remember taking pics of the parts, or i never did. Either way, NO PICS of these parts ;)


I know I know, I'll get 20 guys that tell me to STFU I dont know wtf I'm talking about. Well whomever presumes to tell you that the 480GTX doesnt run "that" hot, and they arnt "that" noisy has never run them in a system that pushes them THIS hard.

3 x 1920 x 1080 = 5760 x 1080 PLUS Nvidia's 3D = an effective 11520 x 1080. This aint your grandma's resolution my friends.

The reason for this statement is that with 3d your computer is actually outputting a unique frame for EACH EYE. That means for every 1 frame an average computer renders, this computer has to render 2. That being said, if your computer can play a modern game at say, 60 FPS, as soon as you enable 3d, your cut down by HALF. This project is destined for a commercial market, so it goes without saying that it MUST be able to play all games at MAX IQ at a reasonable average frame rate. This machine CANNOT pull it off. Even with 2 480s, I still have to reduce IQ to maintain playable frames.

Ok, all that said, every game I played with this machine would quickly cause the 480s temps to spiral to absolute. The 2 fans on the cards were at 100% ALWAYS, and the lowest gaming temp was 96C. Some might say that I probably had poor airflow... well come on guys, who takes a project on like this and DOESNT already know a thing or two about AIRFLOW. Airflow wasnt the issue. The cards just plain run hot, especially when pushed hard.

The temps of the GPUs cause two rather LARGE problems for the project and threaten to stall the whole thing altogether.

At this point I'd already decided to use the cabinet as a case, had it built and the techstation installed. Because of the design of the cabinet computer area and the large amount of potential dead air pockets in it having TWO almost 100 C little Ambiant heaters inside that pocket would cause them to overheat in pretty short order. Remember that this machine is intended to be ON and running a game for at least TWELVE hours every day. This is far far more work than an average computer is expected to put out.

Unless I could get these cards to run cooler... ALOT cooler this project is destined for the scrap pile.

I havnt even bitched too much about the noise. lets just say that even if the cards ran cool enough, the noise would have stalled it just as fast. there is NO way a machine that is ment to be enjoyed could be that loud and get away with it.

More to come!

tzetsin September 8, 2010 05:15 PM

Ok, I've found some more time to post more.

Alrighty then, I'm sure you all figured out the only "real" solution to the heat/noise problem already, but I'll spell it out W.A.T.E.R. Why not more fans you ask? The cards were overheating in a well ventilated case, the cabinet wont be as well ventilated. Even if i was to add more and more and more fans and redesign the cabinet like crazy, all I'll have to show for it is... two cards that are over heating. Think about it, If they're overheating in a case thats been "engineered" for the purpose, theres no way in hell I'm going to be able to do a sufficiently better job myself using materials that were never designed for the task.

So water cooling it is then.

I want to start off by admitting that before this project I was for all practical purposes a WC newb. I did dabble a bit... once... a while ago... So I knew what I'd need... sorta.

So I want to thank all the guys at HWC IRC for their help and advice. You guys made this portion of the job a heckova lot smoother than it would have been without you.

I also want to thank Daz from Dazmode.com for all his help as well. If your watercooling you wont get better support from anyone else.

On to the parts!

1/2"ID Tubing - High Performance Barb (Pack of 10)
10 ea. 3/8"ID Tubing Hose Clamp
1 ea. EK-Multioption RES 150
2 ea. EK-FC480 GTX Reference Design- Plexi+Nickel
1 ea. HEATKILLER CPU Kuhler Rev3.0 1366
1 ea. HEATKILLER block Backplate 1366
1 ea. TFC - SLI VID Connector - G 1/4 - 1/2/3 Slot Retail
2 ea. Feser One - Cooling Fluid - BLACK / UV Blue
10 ea. Feser Tube Hose - 3/8" ID - 1/2" OD - CLEAR/UV BLUE (1')
1 ea. XSPC Mini LCD Display with Temperature Sensor - White
1 ea. TFC Xchanger - High Performance Quad Radiator 480 Gen1
4 ea. Noctua P12 120mm fans with grills.
1 ea. Swiftec pump that I had laying around.



Yup thats a QUAD radiator. A little much? Meby... but I didnt choose that rad because I thought a Triple wouldnt be enough. I actually bought it because it fit nicer in the cabinet and was thick enough along its edge with the fans attatched to sit lengthways without any other support. Also, its badass!





The Offending part...




Did you notice the Tri SLI connector? If you were wondering, I used that because of the extra stability its design affords the gpus. That techstation doesnt support them well enough to be moving the unit around.

Alright, had enough pics? Good. How about some more drama then? I can do that!

If I was to say that the WC system was added without incident I'd be Lying.

It actually started out pretty damn good. I got all the parts in, all the water blocks installed and the barbs n tubing put together without a hitch. After careful placement of absorbent materials around the connection points the fluid was slowly added, the bubbles finessed out of the system all with NO LEAKS!! Things were definatly looking up. Then I realized that i'd installed the CPU water block backwards... It was doing fine, I SHOULD HAVE JUST LEFT IT ALONE.

But I didnt.

So I drained the system, swapped the hose positions and spend the next 3 days trying to find out why I was getting very little pressure from my pump.

After a whack load of testing and a couple phone calls to Daz, I determined that the "Correct" flow direction of my cpu block was causing massive flow restrictions in the system. When I put the hoses back together the "wrong" way I had very high flow. Took the HK block apart, nothing seemed to be unusual, put it back together, still no flow, put it the wrong way again, an got lots of flow.

I still dont know what the problem was. I stuck it on the wrong way, it keeps everything nice an cool. All is well.

All "was" well that is... until I tried to boot the system. (before this, the pump was powered on by a separate power source, the mobo had no power until this time.) When I hit the power button I got fans... no post. no post, no post, no post.... This is the second Asus motherboard I've had with this same problem. So, spent 1 day more trying to solve that puzzle, gave up went back to the store that I bought it from 7 days prior, they said they'd "look at it" (I was hoping for a straight up exchange, little more than I should have expected from Memory Express though as I hadn't bought the "in store warranty")

Any way, after the better part of a week they called an said what I'd already knew and offered to send it to RMA for me, (was still hoping for a replacement...) put the phone down logged into NCIX and ordered a Gigabyte X58A-UD3R. If you dont know it you can google it because by this time I had no time for photo taking ;)

After getting It all back together and checking the temps I found everything to be satisfactory.

Running Prime95 with the cpu OC'd to 3.5 and furmark's extreme burn in on the gpus at the same time, the cpu topped out at around 70C and the GPUs a balmy 65C

You might think that the cpu temps are unusually high for having a quad rad and a high end waterblock, but I want to point out that the cpu is actually last in line in my loop. The water has been pre heated by the 2 GPUs to 65C, so the cpu will never be lower than that number. Adding only 5C to the loop is still pretty good. Remember that the I7 930 can run at 80C at peak load pretty comfortably, so 70 is well within my "24/7 on" temp spec. The GPUs didnt even IDLE at 65C before, so I have no problem running these things 24/7 at that temp. Another thing to remember is that these temps are during extreme burn in and will likely not reach even close to those temps in its lifetime.

More to come!

tzetsin September 8, 2010 05:16 PM

okokok this section doesnt have alot of pictures unfortunatly so use the imaginarium thats inside your cranium.

Now that I have the case, the computer, the cooling, next I gotta figure out how to make it so that people can pay to use it. This has its own set of problems. I'll explain.

1: how to give people enough control to play the game, but not enough to muckabout with the OS?

2: how to allow people to pay to use it?

3: how to control the control via the payment?

This was a bit of a mind nummer for me as its a bit outside my knowlage zone, but I'm not afraid of research so off I go!

To solve problem number 1 I decided to use an XBOX360 controller. I chose that controller because its well made, cheep enough, and familiar to many gamers. This project's end design doesnt allow for the user to control the keyboard or the mouse, so any game played on it obviously has to have controller support... which isnt always Ideal because 2 games that I get requests for all the time are battlefield bad company 2 and call of duty modern warfare 2.... BC2 doesnt support the controller but runs and looks awsome on wide 3d, and CODMW2 doesnt work with surround, so both those games are unsupportable in this system.

I had a number of ideas to solve problem 2, the first was to setup a "pooltable" like payment scheme. Remember that this unit isnt designed to play for 2 minutes like other arcade machines, but more like a pooltable, where you sit down for a half hour / hour and enjoy a game. The pooltable like payment scheme would work like this...

go up to the waitress and sign out a wireless controller, play for as long as you like, bring the controller back and pay for your time.

This system had a couple of caveats though, #1 the waitress has more work to do. #2 nothing to stop you from bringing your OWN wireless controller and enjoying the game for free ;D I really didnt want to make this unit any more work for anyone more than having to turn it on and off, so that Idea though doable, wasnt really practical. So off to do more research I went.

I checked out how the Internet cafes were doing things and this is what I came up with. Coin powered USB ports. Its pretty simple really, its just a piece of circuitry that exists between the peripheral and the motherboards USB port. Add a coin and it turns the timer and the usb on, time runs out, it disables the port. pretty simple yes? I thought so to.

So I looked around for one an found a shipper in Hong Kong. I was in a bit of a hurry so I didnt look around much, pretty well every unit I found was coming from HK so I ordered it, had it shipped and it arrived as promised.

When I took it out of the box, the first thing I noticed was that it really seemed cheaply made. Now this unit wasn't CHEAP at all. At 250 bucks for the circuitry, the coin accepter and a tin box, I really expected a unit that didn't feel like it was going to fall apart in my hands. It did work however... mostly... so whatever.

First thing I noticed was that while playing JC2 the controller would seem to randomly stop working. When I first noticed this my mind was about to explode. This project seemed to be doomed for failure, it pretty much seemed that every step of the way has been stopped by some stupid problem one after another. Fortunately my brother in law was beside me when it happened and he had the bright idea that it could be stopping whenever the vibration on the controller was activated. That was easy enough to test of course, I just shut off vibration in the options and lo, controller worked perfectly. Seems my "cheap" expensive circuit board, though self powered, doesn't have enough voltage in the usb line to run the vibrate feature on the controller ;P way to go cheap ass pos circuit board provider.

The coin unit actually comes in 3 parts.

1: the coin accepter. where you put your money in.
2: the circuitry. the part that enables/disables the usb port and drives the timer.
3: the display. The device that lets you know how much time you have left before it shuts off.

The computer was in service for 1 week when I had the first problem with the coin accepter mechanism. Try as you might, all coins were rejected and nobody could play the machine.

I pulled the unit out and brought it back to my shop, obviously any warranty on this thing is going to be long and useless as I'd have to ship it back to HK, and I've got more than enough of my own experience with circuit boards, wireing and whatnot, so I decided to disassemble it and see if i couldn't fix it on my own. It turns out that a wire on the solenoid that opens the gate to accept the coin had been kinked and the solder let go. simple enough, so I soldered it back on an we were back in business. That lasted 2 days and then it no longer accepted coins again. Back to the shop it went, but try as I might, I could see nothing wrong with it, though it seemed to be the same issue, the coin was accepted, the signal sent to the gate to open, but the solenoid wouldn't open. Off I go to research a new company, cause I'll never buy from those guys again.

I actually found a company here in Canada that sells em, which is awesome, and they actually have a lot better support... well, i should say they "have" support, because anything is better than what I was getting at the other place.

So I got a new accepter, circuit board and display. I came across another minor issue though and that was that I'd already cut out the hole in the cabinet that the display fit into. The display on the new unit was actually integrated into the circuit board and wasn't as nice as the old one I had. Fortunately though the new accepter was compatible with my old circuit board, so I was able to keep the old display. Unfortunately that means that I still have no vibration functionality on my controller.

Like I'd mentioned I dont have many pics for this portion of the project, but here is what I've got.

The holes the accepter and the display fit into. Notice they are pretty low, this isnt ideal, but the sub floor in the cabinet didn't allow for me to put them any higher.

A shot of the OLD coin accepter and the Display.

Thats all for now, check back for more later!

tzetsin September 8, 2010 05:16 PM


tzetsin September 8, 2010 05:17 PM

RESERVED padding my post count so i can get into bst! ;D RESERVED

Zero82z September 8, 2010 05:20 PM


Pine September 8, 2010 05:35 PM


OT: Is the pub paying you and collecting the cash from it or are you paying them or are they just letting you leave it there and collect the cash?

headsh0t September 8, 2010 05:36 PM

Why not just edit your first post and put all the pictures there? I see no point in reserving post spots, but alright. Look like you may have an interesting mod here though

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