the case project.

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This case is for sale.

The case project has actually been an ongoing effort for the past few years. It started during my freshman year at school, as I grew dissatisfied with my run-of-the-mill Gateway P166MMX curvy plastic case. Aside from being the rather bland 'putty' color, the plastic panels would alternate between vibrating against the chassis and remaining silent in a slow cycle. This would force me to turn the box off at night, and generally made me unhappy.

Busy with academics and life, though, nothing was done about the problem - that is until the summer rolled around. Working in an atmospheric sciences research center, I had daily access to the web. Having been introduced to by a friend right after finals, it was that summer that I began reading the site religiously. Slashdot taught me a lot, and I could identify with BOredAtWork's handle. More importantly, though, that was the summer of the first 'cool case' forums. There was a semi-long-lived batch of front page stories about cooler cases, and it got my mind working. I envisioned pure plexiglas cases (and later saw pictures of exactly such a case), black iron gas pipe rollcage and plexiglas cases, internally blacklight lit cases, brushed metal cases, and - most importantly - wood cases.

The best thing about wood was that I had already begun learning to work with it, and had access to a wood shop. This was because my dad has a pretty much fully equipped shop, and builds furniture in his spare time.

As I mentioned, I had already begun learning to work with wood; over freshman year winter break my dad had started showing me furniture/cabinet-making - and I had built a simple oak cabinet for my stereo.

And just like that, I had a summer project to think about all day, and work on at night. Designing the first case revealed many potential problems, not the least formidible of which was maintaining the necessary tight dimensional specs. So much movement as the seasonal expansion and contraction of solid wood (due to moisture content) would totally ruin any careless design. Thus, my first case was a mahogany tube (top, bottom & sides, with an open front and back) in which the metal chassis sat. A carefully cut and fit solid mahogany and maple front was mounted using common hardware (four bolts, each with two nuts, were used as standoffs). Another key point of this case was the 80mm 120V AC fan I mounted in the bottom front of the case. When switched on (with a very nice chrome toggle switch), that fan moved a 'whole lotta' air, and sounded like an industrial hotel vacuum.

Using the mistakes of the first case as a guide, my next attmept aimed to be both sleeker, more functional and different. Making a wood case for the metal chassis was not pushing the layout design of the components inside - it was merely accepted the standard [read: boring] rectangular computer case.   more...