While not necessarily ‘retro’ (but getting close) this project is still my pride and joy to this day.
One fateful day back in in the end of 2009 I found myself checking out custom computer builds.
“Custom computer builds?!” you ask!… No, I don’t mean just buying a case and throwing parts in it. That happens every day… I mean ‘building’ the computer from scratch…
I really liked the open look of a test bench design and got to work visualizing in my head what I could do to make something like this work.
I knew I wanted two shelves, but didn’t want it to just look like a ‘test’ bench. I wanted sleek and modern, with a little artsy thrown in the mix.
I’ve always been fairly decent with woodworking thanks to growing up in my grandpa’s woodshop as a kid so I settled on wood for the shelves and aluminum for the corners and back.
So… I went to shopping around!
Here’s the ‘block’ of wood I picked up-
It’s Purple Heart wood which isn’t very purple here (yet)
I quickly went and had it cut in half and planed-
Here’s where I could decide on the final overall shape I was after. I knew I wanted a DVD drive on the top shelf but didn’t just want two squares on top of each other. I came up with a design and got to shaping it… Turns out this wood is extremely hard and took a long time to shape. (this section alone took 8 hours to sand out on the spindle sander)-
Got all the shaping done and the corner holes drilled out-
(the one on the right is the top shelf)
Now it was time to start hollowing out these pieces. I wanted to have them both have the ability to stow away and hide all the cabling. I think I went through 8 forstner bits for this part… again, this wood is HARD!
With the shelves hollowed out I needed a way to keep all the cabling, etc held in so I went with a grating material-
Making sure the DVD drive fits-
And now it was time to finish the wood with some polyurethane and shellac (after getting the holes drilled for the cabling off the motherboard).
Now we’re starting to get a better color out of this wood!-
Added some sound-proofing material on the insides of the shelves to dampen vibrations, etc-
Here are the corner posts drilled out and sanded (for a brushed-aluminum look). These facilitate cable runs between the top and bottom shelves as well-
I designed and shaped the backplane to hold the radiator and addon cards as well. Working on this aluminum was SO much easier than working with the wood-
Finally time to start working on the electronics/water-cooling bits! The front-panel fan controller was meant to just sit on a desk but… well, I void warranties, and this baby was about to get mounted on the case so it needed a touch of Erik’s modding first-
(this shows the panel as I was working on cutting off the stand)
Silver power supply units just won’t do-
The radiator (push/pull 4×120)-
And, after all the wires and tubes are in, it fits! (well… barely)-
(I’ve since re-done this and it’s much cleaner now)
And here is version 1.0!-
I have upgraded this system several times. The only things left that are original at this point is the fan controller and fans. I’ve also re-done all the cabling and wiring (as in every individual wire from a modular power supply cut to the exact length it needs to be to avoid taking up extra space). This is the revision we are currently at- let’s call this version 3.11 (see what I did there?) 😉
My entire office at current (I’ll soon be adding a page documenting my desk build as well)-
Current system specs:
(keeping in mind, it’s nearing retro territory by this point)-
ASUS Sabertooth Z77
Intel i5-3570k @ 4.8Ghz
2x EVGA Nvidia Geforce GTX-1070 SC
2x Samsung 840 Pro 128GB SSD (in RAID0)
9x 120mm fans, in all
5x Dell U2412M monitors (debezzled) @ 6000×1920
…okay, that was a long post. Time to take a break and play some Commander Keen on the retro DOS rig.