Case Design

posted Jul 4, 2012, 10:16 AM by Andrew Stock   [ updated Jul 4, 2012, 10:16 AM ]
Time for a small update! Well... it looks small... but in reality it took hours of internal debating and crumpled up balls of paper...  ... but I think I have a (semi) final design for my case! Sorry about the crummy photo quality, my scanner is great at text and that's about it.  This was also done with a lot of shading that is not evident in the scans... alas, it is the design that's important right now!

First, the case wall. The plan is to have this design on both sides of the case. The right side of the case (the one you can actually see the components in) is drawn here, and the left side of the case would be a mirror image of it.

Some notes about this design:
1) The "inner triangle" at the top right is a flush mounted window that you can look through to see the computer components. It will be edge lit by a RGB LED strip all the way around.
2) The "outer triangle" surrounding the window will be a 1/4 inch piece of acrylic on it's side, flush mounted with the wall of the case. It will be edge lit by a RGB LED strip along its length. 
3) The lettering on the "inner triangle" will be etched from the inside, so that it will glow with the color that the window is currently lit with.
4) The radiator cutout at the bottom will have some kind of thin mesh covering the open parts... maybe modders mesh, maybe screen. I haven't decided. It needs to be rigid, have small enough holes to block any dog/cat hair, and removable for cleaning.
5) I am presently planning on painting the case wall black with a mirror finish. I am considering mounting the thin acrylic strips and outer triangle PRIOR to putting on the final gloss coat, so that the entire case surface is one flat clear panel.

That covers the left and right sides of the case. Now for the case front and top:

Some notes about this part of the design:

1) The case top will have similar design features to the case walls... there will be a small window in the top with the etched lettering on it, and flush mounted LED lit acrylic strips. 
2) The case top will feature a small RGB-lit LCD negative display along with a few control buttons and a pair of USB 3.0 ports for easy access.
3) The prominent feature on the front of the case will be a centrally located tube reservoir. This reservoir will be suspended by it's top/bottom in a conclave half-cylinder. The cylinder will have a line cut through it lining up with the center of the tube reservoir, so that light shining through it will illuminate the reservoir, diffuse, and create a 'prismatic warping' effect.
4) The base of the front of the case currently has a physical case badge and front-mounted USB/Audio ports. These will be removed and a design similar to the sides and top will be put in its place. 
5) The front of the case is mostly perforated mesh in the original design. I am considering backing it with a solid sheet of frosted acrylic that is edge lit so that the entire surface will glow, showing through the perforated mesh. 

They linchpin of this design revolves around a central Arduino controller that will be mounted in the case. This Arduino will be able to control every individual led on every strip, producing just about any combination of lights and patterns I desire. The Arduino will also control the display at the top, displaying statistics like temperatures, fan speeds, and liquid flow rate, as well as letting me control fan speeds. The design intent is that I can generate just about any color or pattern I want, like chasing lights, pulsing, etc. One such planned color/pattern is to have the entire case slowly phase from blue to red depending on the temperature of the air, water, or CPU, like a giant thermometer. Other patterns include a slow randomized 'pulse' traveling along the thin acrylic lines, a case-wide heart beat pulse, and a slowly cycling rainbow of colors. I also plan on having a very complex initial animation when you press the power button. 

As you can tell, this will be a very ambitious design with a lot of difficult-to-implement features along the way. A lot of the Arduino work is already underway, facilitated by a college friend of mine that I used to program with back in the day. I'm actually going over to his place today to check out the progress! I am also going to be testing the process of flush mounting and glazing the case/acrylic design next... just to make sure that's actually possible and it comes out looking right. 

I have a long road ahead, but it should be a lot of fun! Here we go!