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Old March 12, 2013, 04:11 PM
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Default [Scratch] Project: Crimson Server Desk Module (Update: 14-04-14)

Hi Guys,

Iīm currently only a couple of days away from finishing APASF (which hasnīt had any updates in months due to work and life in general getting in the way) but that should be done real soon, a lot of more has gone in to it but Iīm saving it for one big final update.

Anyhow enough on that.

This new project has many "new" things for me.

1: Itīs the first project I actually plan for an extended period of time. APASF, Fallout Cause SP, PS2 Corset, etc where all simply ideas I had in my head and they just developed as I did the projects. On APASF, having such major modifications to the case I realised how important it was that certain things I should plan out ahead to save me trouble later on when certain things didnīt work out the way I wouldīve liked them to.

2: Even though Iīve done quite a few casemods, improved my paint effects skills tenfold and learned a lot, I felt itīs time I did my first scratch build. The reason I had never done one before is merely because I like to have a "canvas" if you will to work on, therefore prefering to do casemods. In this case (no pun intended) however itīs different as the following project is meant for my room, as an extension of my desk and Iīll get in to the details further down the text. That said, I do expect this project to be relatively simply in design, work put in to it and final look, being my first scratch build, I donīt feel comftable overdoing it in design and details as I tend to do with casemods.

3: Itīs the first time I do a project which I intend to use myself rather than just doing it for the fun of it (and having my everyday pc on the side)

So, a lot of "new" aspects to this project and a lot of potential things that could go wrong but the fact is, this project is essentially an experiment, if I enjoy doing it and would like to improve my skills with wood I wil most definately do more in the future, with the final idea being a wood take on my APASF project on a much larger scale (you wouldīve though everyone would be sick of steampunk by now but hey!)

Right! Now thats all out of the way...

...letīs start with a bit about the concept of this project. The idea is simple. In my "mancave" I have one desk thatīs long enough for my 3 screens and my PC and next to it, on the left, is an extension "desk" or "module" mostly for aesthetical reasons, it fills up the side of the room nicely and adds more space to store stuff in, place crap on top, etc.and next to it thereīs another piece thatīs only for storage.

So, under this "desk-module-thingie" is my bin and my server. Itīs one of those servers that we use for media streaming around the house (2 floors with 3 rooms and the lounge with TVs in all of them), downloading over night (our connection is rather crappy at only 3mb, so big downloads happen over night), music streaming and general storage. Itīs one of those where we put all the old hard drives that are kind of small for todayīs main PCs but still work perfectly and would be a shame not to use them, so for example, thereīs a 160Gb in there, a 250, 2x 500 and 1x750Gb.

Unfortunately lately the server has been failing, a couple of the sata ports donīt work all the time (the HDDs are fine though), the motherboardīs ethernet stopped working a long time ago, so it has an added pci card for that and in summer it gets very hot due to poor ventilation. Yes I could add more fans or even liquid cooling, but you have to understand itīs a pc with all the old hardware inside that only has a sharing purpose so, spending money on upgrades just to extend itīs life a bit doesnīt seem right. Itīs an old M2N ASUS Motherboard with an AMD X2 3400+ and in summer, the poor thing suffers (we get up to 45c on a hot summer day in the south of Spain, so the CPU easilly reaches 70-85c). and the hard drives... wow.... yes. Iīve also never liked the fact of having the server on the floor, it gets very dusty, dirty and generally ugly. But I donīt really have space on the desk plus, itīs kind of ugly so donīt really want it up there.

Hereīs a picture of the current desk-module-thingie with the server (and bin, of course) under it.



The concept of the project is to replace this desk-module-thingie unit with one that will match the desk on the right and storage unit on the left as this one does. This new unit will have the same height, width and depth but the actual "box" will be deeper using all the space between the top and the metal legs (which I will be re-using from the current unit in order to match the style of the rest). The surface will have nothing on it as it will be partial glass/acrylic (depending on what seems like the best idea) and 200mm fans with filters in strategic possitions (one above all the hard drives and the other I havenīt decided yet (as in I know where it will go but not what to put under it). The reason for this fans being on top is because thereīs no breathing space on either side of the desk nor the back, and I didnīt want them on the front. Within the "desk-module-thingie" will be the server, that is, same hard drives but new hardware, thatīs right, Iīve decided to retire this server for good.

By doing this I hope to integrate the server and by doing so, keeping the same style of furniture within my room and adding a stylish surface with the server in it and solving once and for all, itīs heat issues, dust issues, etc.

Yes, I know, weīve all seen a lot of desk mods, and some of them are trully great and amazing, BUT! has anyone ever seen a desk-module-thingie-mod before?! Didnīt think so.

Letīs start then.

I went out and bought the screws, drill bit and a new tool for my collection, basically some of the stuff Iīll need to do this.



As I said before, Iīve actually been planning this for a while and checking out loads of projects from several moders out there, to see how they worked the wood, problems they encountered, etc. By doing some research I encountered my first issue. The fact of how expensive good wood is. Donīt get me wrong, I have no trouble paying whatever I need to pay if it means Iīll be happy with the result, be it hardware, tools, materials, you name it. But! being my first wood experience I figured it would be criminal to get good wood and potentially screw it up and have to get more, and essentially not do it justice, so. I took the desk-module-thingie apart and saw that it was made of plywood, which was surprising as I always though plywood was weak and not sturdy yet this thing is rock-solid, so figured, well, I could do it with plywood as long as I can find something as good or better than this. Went down to my local wood warehouse and in deed, I found some stuff thatīs actually a lot better, and they even offered to give it a "wood-look" finish, it also happened to be cheap enough so I went for it.

Now, I have some pictures of the wood itself, which I had them cut to the right sizes (obviously, measured everything up weeks ago in preparation for this) but they are in the camera which I donīt have right now (the first picture I put earlier in this thread is done with my phone and so are the other three you will see before this post is over, so I will add the others later on and everything from then on will be done with the camera I normally use.


(Future edit: Insert wood pictures here).


The front openings I can do (and did) myself, for the switches, optical drive, sound card bay unit and fan controller but the top I really needed a CNC machine to do the grooves nicely, which is where the glass/acrylic will fit on and since I needed to do that, might as well get the CNC machine to also do the fan holes (which are quite specific as you will see). So, went back to the wood place and they did have a CNC machine there, sat down with the computer guy (never thought Iīd say that in my life), and we went through the CNC program with the measurements and all that. Now. normally Iīm against having someone else do a part, no matter how small, of my project, but I donīt think I had no choice here. Anyhow, Iīm really happy on how it turned out, so I put all the pieces of the "box" togueter (no legs yet, obviously), without screws, just to see how it would look so I could show a couple of pictures, so here goes.

First, with the back off:



And with it on:



Now I know itīs obvious I did the front holes myself as they are not perfect, it was weird cutting wood compared to metal which is what Iīm used to and I think I may just need to use just a bit of filler in order to get it spotless, but you know, not bad for my first time right?

Thereīs another piece of wood within that structure that you donīt notice but I have to tell you about it because it is important. Itīs a fake base. Itīs where everything will be mounted on and what not. so you may ask, why a second base for that? Simple. between that base and the real base, thereīs about 2cm of empty space, the purpose of that is the following. On the fake base all kinds of holes will be done to pass through cables, connections and all sorts of other stuff that will be stored in that space between the fake base and the real base, for the simple reason of Cleanness, no cables, better air flow, looks muchs nicer, specially since youīre going to be able to see the inside from the top.

Of course this makes it somewhat complicated if I need to change a part, add cables whatever once everything is finished, so, in order to that, easilly, the next item in the list is to cut a square of the true base and mount it back on itīs place in the form of a trapdoor. So, you canīt see it but itīs there for when I need to access cables or do some tinkering from underneath.

In terms of hardware, the last pieces I needed arrived today:



So the complete list is the following, basic stuff mostly:

Asus P8B75-M LX Plus
Intel Dual Core G645 2.9Ghz
2x Kingston HyperX Blu DDR3 1333 PC3-10666 4GB (1x4GB) CL9
Liteon IHAS120 CD/DVD SATA
Asus U3S6 PCI-E which adds 2 more USB3 ports and 2 more SATA 6gbps ports.
Conceptronic PCI which adds 2 more SATA2 ports and one IDE port (I have one old 500gb IDE hdd that I didnīt want to waste).
Sharkoon Media Reader 2.5" (for the front).
Kingston SSDNow V300 60GB for the OS.
NOX Hummer M 650W 80+
2x Lamptron Vandal Resistant Switches (red iluminated)
Lamptron FC9
A few NZXT sleeved LED cables (again, red ilumination).
2x Cooler Master 200mm fans (again, red ilumination) which where used to measure exactly the cuts on the top where they will be fitted.

Sorry but no water cooling in this one for now, might change my mind, depends on what kind of space I have left once Iīve decided where everythingīs going to go.

Aside from that list, I bought a ton of cables and all sorts of bits and pieces a couple of weeks ago, including fan black fan filters which will look perfect in order to make the surface as clean as possible.

And well, thatīs about it for today. I hope I have another update for you guys soon, hopefully next week as I am pretty packed this week and I do want to get APASF done and done.

Cheers!

PS: About the name, while it may look like it has to do with the red lighting it will have, it doesnīt really as the desk is mostly black. Itīs actually because at my place we call the old server "Crimson" due to itīs red details, the fact itīs in my red room and the fact it gets stupidly hot in summer, almost expecting it to be red hot so I kind of wanted to keep the "pet" name and thatīs the why :)

Last edited by Luciel; April 14, 2014 at 02:32 PM.
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Old March 12, 2013, 06:25 PM
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Good Read Luciel. big fan of your previous work. looking forward to seeing this come together.
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Old March 12, 2013, 07:15 PM
Luciel's Avatar
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Cheers Bungwirez! Have in mind that this will not be anywhere near as detailed or elaborate as my usual works, but I hope you like it aniway! :)

On a side note, while sorting out the workshop I found a little something I had completely forgotten about, a rather old but fully functional via itx system, with a 1ghz via cpu and 1gb of ram, if I remember correctly itīs power needs are rather low, so, I have to make some measurements but if I could also fit this in here and add a switch inside as well, I could use that for overnight downloading, set up rsync between both so when both are on (i.e. in the morning) all downloaded stuff will automatically be copied on to the main server.

Iīm also debating raid solutions for the main server, considering all drives are of different sizes Iīm wondering what I could do, mostly so I donīt see so many drives in windows or linux (havenīt chosen yet what Iīll use) specially since I plan to add even more drives (having 11 sata ports and all), any suggestions are more than welcomed! Jbod came to mind but of course that means if one drive is lost, the whole thing is screwed so... no.
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Old March 12, 2013, 10:48 PM
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Might I suggest FreeNAS for ZFS filesystem, about as robust as you can get. FreedBSD or Open Solaris are other options, but require a little more setting up for ZFS. Something to consider if you're willing to ditch Windows for your server.
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Old March 13, 2013, 02:38 AM
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Thanks for the suggestion Astaroth, Iīll definatelly look in to at some point today and get back to you with my thoughts on it :)
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Old March 13, 2013, 10:19 AM
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Es muy interesante! I've always wanted to do a desk mod. I'll keep an eye on this to see how it unfolds.

Random side note: I loved Malaga when I went there a few years ago.
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Old March 13, 2013, 12:28 PM
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Hi Guys :)

Astaroth, I downloaded the FreeNAS image and mounted it on vmware to have a look. After an hour of tinkering with it Iīm impressed on how complete this suit is, I also love the fact that everything can be done with the browser rather than having to remote desktop. That said, I canīt help but feel that sooner or later Iīll want to do something and wont be able to due to the software limitations of FreeNAS, so Iīm 50/50 on it right now. BUT! I do have a compromise idea that I will explain in the next post as I have some updates :)

Nic-CM, ĄGracias!

Itīs not only my first deskmod but my first scratchmod so itīs specially interesting for me, Iīm actually still in doubt about asking my usual sponsors for some parts (upgrades really since I already bought everything I need for this project) in terms of being afraid it wonīt be up to the quality standards that my latest project has, but in any case, I hope you enjoy the thread as it goes :)

On the side note, Málaga is a great place to visit and have your holidays in due to the fact you have the beach, the mountains and the snow 2 hours away in Granada at certain times in the year. That said, itīs not the best place to live for many reasons, but I guess this aplies to most tourist oriented cities, regardless, glad you enjoyed your stay in my hometown :)
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Old March 13, 2013, 02:07 PM
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As it turns out I had some time today to work on this so, update!

My original idea was to fill the "T" with 6mm glass, however Iīve been recommended by several people in that area not to do so because aparently cutting one single glass piece in this shape would not be very sturdy so instead I went with plexy. I have several bits and pieces of it in the workshop but unfortunately non that are 6mm so instead of having to go out and buy a new 6mm piece, I found some 1mm and 5mm so figured Iīd cut those two to size and use it instead (no sense to waste decent material!) Have in mind that the final look will have all those wood-colour parts painted so it will all match.

Unfortunately I didnīt get my camera back today as I thought I would so, phone pictures again, sorry about that.

So first I cut the 1mm to size:



And here we go:



Thereīs some sanding needed for a perfect fit though:



Perfect! it was a pain to do though, 1mm is somewhat fragile and itīs very easy to over-sand the sides.

I also found that I already had one of these cutting tools so no need for the one I bought, Iīll be taking it back tomorrow as this old one works just fine, plus I am fan of bosch for power tools but they are always so expensive. Anyhow, started on the 5mm piece, this is much easier to work with.





Just need to do the round borders now and hopefully Iīm done with that by tomorrow. The plan is to aply a smoked effect vynil between both pieces as Iīm really liking the smoked look, so I will go out and see if I can find some tomorrow. After that, I will paint the parts of the plexy that sit on the standoffs black as opposed to painting the surface of the standoff black in order to get a perfectly smooth look.

On a side note, brought up the small via itx pc from the workshop and Iīve started taking it apart and will check if it still works shortly. But itīs definately looking promising! I still have to do some calculations taking in to account the lenght of both motherboards, the psu and the pico psu to make sure I can fit all the backplates properly (i.e. if thereīs enough space) in to the back of the desk.





Here are the specs:
VIA Embedded - VB7001

Iīll update when I make the calculations and check if this thing still lives!
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Old March 14, 2013, 05:18 AM
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Little update today :)

This morning I finished the plexy and I have to say, it couldnīt fit any better or tighter. Originally I was debating wether I should screw it or glue it down or simply leave it alone but, considering how tight it fits, itīs not going to vibrate or go anywhere so, itīs perfect, hell it wasnīt easy taking it out again (as I will be painting the wood).



And just so you can see how it could look like minus the paint and filters.



Hopefully I can play around with the VIA mobo this evening and do the calculations I needed to do as yesterday it was pretty much instant K.O, needed to catch up with sleep!

PS: I also aplied the slight smoked tint vynil to the 5mm plexy on the underside (so itīs between both pieces). The guy from the vynil shop did say that I may encounter issues since plastic contracts and expands with heat and then cold (on/off server) but I may get lucky since the temps arenīt that much and itīs between two pieces. I took the risk as it wasnīt expensive and worst comes to worst, Iīll take the vynil off and aply some smoked lacquer instead. Unfortunately I took no pictures and you donīt see it because the plexyīs top layer protection is still on, no sense taking that off until the end to prevent it from getting dirty.
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Old March 21, 2014, 03:59 PM
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So itīs been a full year since my last update, other modding projects, work and life in general got in the way, but Iīve now resumed work on this project. So, did the cut out on the base of the desk for the trapdoor. Remember the desk has 2 floors in order to hide cables between them and the trap door is to be able to access these cables without making a mess or taking stuff apart. I then added the hinges and the locks. Itīs unfortunately painfully obvious itīs my first time working with wood (rather than making other materials look like wood), but this wonīt be seen unless you go under the desk so itīs one of those "itīll do" cases I think. Have in mind that the "exposed" wood will be painted so as not to stand out from the rest of the desk (black).





Started assembly of the sides. The back will have to come out again in order to make the cutout for the I/O of the 2 boards inside but I need it to be in for now for the sake of measurements for the other parts.



Started to put the "fake floor" in to place and tested the trap door, all seems well.







In order to match the other desk in the room where itīll be (as I explained in the opening post, this is an "extension"), I can only do the desk so high and so deep, which after measurement, taking the thickness of the wood in to account (even though the fake floor is 1cm thick as oposed to the rest which are 2cm) it only leaves me with 2cm high open space to hide the cables, itīs going to be tight. but the trap door helps a lot for this very reason and will keep the end result nice and tidy.

On a side note, Iīve also decided to move away from the VIA board, and acquired a Gigabyte GA-C1037UN-EU which still has a very low power footprint (which is the whole point of the second board which gets left on 24h) and comes with an integrated 1.8 dual core celeron which should work much better in hash checking than the VIA 1Ghz single core cpu (plus it was quite cheap, 64€).

Aniway thatīs all for today, should be able to work more on it tomorrow.

As always, thanks for reading!
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