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The Shiny Aluminum Computer Case
Updated June 20, 2002 - added some extra goodies

This Case took took a couple of years to complete-mainly because I was doing a lot of other things at the same time. It is made of 12 cast sections and some sheet (all aluminium) TIG welded and fit together. There is quite a bit of painstaking fitting involved in getting all the hinges right and getting all the doors to have nice fits. Then I put in several days polishing the whole thing. The interior of the drive bays is paneled with curly maple, and I plan to do some upholstering on the insides of the doors to complete the feeling of luxury.

This Case was featured in Wired!

The project started with a sketch - the concept was sort of a retro science fiction look with an imposing stance, like a locomotive (or a heater) made in the 40's or 50's. Then the main panels were modeled in clay, molded, recreated in fiberglass/Bondo - some parts were made of wood - it's the basic patternmaking process. Then the molds were rammed and filled with metal - that makes it sound a little too easy - there's always some fussing, some patterns have to be modified and recast to work out various problems - like shrinkage and inclusions. The louvers were difficult because of flexing in the pattern - I ended up casting one with lots of flaws, fixing it up, and using that for my pattern.

 

This case was built around a standard ATX tower - after I had stripped away all of the beige plastic and metal covering, of course.


Version 2 Latch


The superstructure before polishing.

This is the curly maple interior with the drives mounted. I have yet to build a "scintillator" circuit to drive the power LED's, and I want to upholster the insides of the doors with some cushioned satin.



The latch for the lower drive bay door. 12 guage steel frame, 2 springs, bronze button. Push the door in to latch, pushing the button pops the door out. It has been working well and doesn't jam.


Version 2

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This page has recently been mentioned on http://www.hardocp.com.,
http://www.chillblast.com ,
and some others.
Thanks for all the comments. A lot of people have asked whether I was selling this case or would make more. I want to keep this one, but I will be making more, and I have more designs in the works. At present, I'm estimating the cost at $1400 for a completed case. I know that sounds like a lot, but there's a lot of work in this process.

However, after I make a few more, the price may go down, as I get the process streamlined in the new studio - I want to be fair about the price, but I've been building things long enough that I know the long slow burn of underbidding and watching expenses mount and my hourly wage sink.

The Side panel swings up - you can see the extra fan (Just under the ribbon cables with the red straps) attached to its duct, which comes from the air filter behind the louvers.

Another Case

And Another

 

A Sandcasting Primer

 

And Another!


Later notes - I am almost through the third version of this case. It has gotten somewhat easier, but, this is still a pretty demanding project. The design is still evolving. See the details of Version 2 above. Note the streamlined door latch buttons and the LED binnacle.

The experience has turned me on to a whole artform called casemodding. People are making all kinds of cool modifications to their computer cases. Here's one interesting site.
www.7volts.com/casemods.htm

 

Not all response has been good check out these comments from some of the guys discussing the case on www.slashdot.org

Man, that is about the tackiest case I've seen yet. Do you have to put it on cinder blocks out in the front yard for it to run?

Actually I think that case is ugly as sin.

What a piece of junk!

This commenter is right in one sense, about the computer inside. When I put it together a few years ago, it was pretty hot - an intel 440 BX server motherboard, a 350Mhz pentium II, 128MB RAM (now 394 MB), 4.5 Gig UW SCSI hard drive, but that's certainly not going to impress anyone these days. It's still a very solid performer though.

KICK ASS!!! It just screams "geek pimp."

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