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  1. #1
    Joined
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Southern Ontario
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    45
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    13,194

    Time to rethink the farm.

    Well, my farm has't been doing so well lately. I've had too down size the farm quite a bit awhile ago, and it just doesn't seem right. So I guess the only thing to do now is built it back up. But between my roomate and I, 7 computers in a single house is enough (we were as high as 9 at one point). So I'm going to have to built one computer and build it well.

    So the question is what should I build? Hmm, How about the latest X2 with a monster O/C heatsink, some killer RAM, and....no. That's too boring. I need something different. I need something a bit odd. I know, How about building a cluster within a custom case? Yeah, I can do that. Why not. And I can build it to support 7 motherboards, with an aluminum frame, and polished stainless steel sides. As Bob the Builder says, "Can we build it? Yes we can!"

    As a matter of fact, this is what I've been doing for the past couple of months. I started working on the case design late last year and then I started building it after hours at work. I normally don't get more then an hour of work done in a night, but at least I get something done nearly every day.

    Ok, so lets start at the beginning. First thing I did was come up with a design.

    Note: All these pictures are about a week old
    -

    So my design calls for a welded aluminum HSS tubing frame. Anyone who's into welding should know that aluminum is one of the hardest metals to weld. I may work at a weld shop, but very rarely do I ever get to pick up a TIG torch. But the guys here are great. Alls it takes is a few questions and they are quick to offer me some advice. So after a bunch of practicing and a tonne of filler wire, I was able to TIG up a frame.





    But as shown in that close-up, I'm definitely not a pro! Well, I guess that leads me to the oldest trick in the book. If you cann't weld worth crap, then you better be good at grinding! Boy did I have alot of grinding. Personally, I hate it when people grind thier welds. But I really do have something to hide!

    Well after an evening of grinding, I finally had something worth looking at. Here's a close-up of one of the welds I ground.



    Wow! This thing really is going to be big. Standing over 4 feet tall, I better get something to help me move it around. I found some little casters wheels at the Home Depot. They are great. I bought two fixed wheels, and two swivel wheels for under $10.



    I also found some great handles when I was there. Actually they are identical to the handles we have in the kitchen at work. So I bought up all that they had. I'm still a few short, but I should be able to get the balance when I return.

    There is still a very important part of this build missing, the front cover plates. This is where the benifits of this place really comes into play. Seeing as we get alot ofplates cut by a CNC lazer cutter, I was able to throw in a couple of plates on one of our Stainless Steel orders!

    Now it's just a matter of waiting for the plates to come in. In the mean time, I concentrated on making all the other side plates. I found some old light weight Stainless plate with a B4 finish. The B4 finish means that the one side has a highly polished finish straight from the factory. The only thing is some of this material has some scratches in it (probably why it was left in the rack to begin with). But beggers can't be choosers, so that'll do me just fine.

    ----more on it's way----
    Last edited by Spankin Partier; 03-04-2006 at 10:41 PM.

  2. #2
    Joined
    Jan 2003
    Posts
    615

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    Nice work. i cant wait to see the finished project. What do you calculate the total weight to be when you are finished? Never used a Tig but i am quite handy with a Plasma cutter , a Mig and I can glop it on with an Arc welder. And yes thank god for grinders. My father owned a Body shop when I was growing up so there was plenty of opprtunity to do some metal ....ummm sculpting yes not gouging..but sculpting .....

  3. #3
    Joined
    Nov 2001
    Location
    anchorage alaska
    Posts
    1,079

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    did that 4 years ago..someone post my pic for me by email

  4. #4
    Joined
    Dec 2000
    Location
    myrtle beach,south carolina, U. S. of A.!
    Posts
    12,696

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    Quote Originally Posted by harley2paws
    did that 4 years ago..someone post my pic for me by email
    use this.... its free! http://photobucket.com/

    hey spankin, you had me nervous for a minute, till i scrolled down and saw your "one" computer!


    now thats a computer!

  5. #5
    Joined
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Southern Ontario
    Age
    45
    Posts
    13,194

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    Quote Originally Posted by An Ugly Girl
    Nice work. i cant wait to see the finished project. What do you calculate the total weight to be when you are finished? Never used a Tig but i am quite handy with a Plasma cutter , a Mig and I can glop it on with an Arc welder. And yes thank god for grinders. My father owned a Body shop when I was growing up so there was plenty of opprtunity to do some metal ....ummm sculpting yes not gouging..but sculpting .....
    UG, You're always full of surprises!

    Well, I started playing around with TIG for some time now, and I'm alright with stainless and mild steel. I usially can lay down a 'decent looking bead. But aluminum, oh man, that's something else. My problem though, is I'm too used to TIG. When ever I try MIG it just flows so fast. I'm just not used to it. If you ever get the chance try doing some TIG. I like the percision that comes with it.

    I haven't tried out our Plasma cutter. Maybe I'll have to come up with an excuse for that some time.

  6. #6
    Joined
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Southern Ontario
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    45
    Posts
    13,194

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    Quote Originally Posted by thelmores
    hey spankin, you had me nervous for a minute, till i scrolled down and saw your "one" computer!


    now thats a computer!
    hehe, I tried!

    I'm not sure what I'm going to be puting in this thing yet, but it's going to have to be somewhat economical. And for that matter, I'll probably only start out with one or two boards. Then I'll grow it over the next while.

  7. #7
    Joined
    Oct 2001
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    Southern Ontario
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    45
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    13,194

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    I've ben wanting to post this for a while now, but on the same token, I've wanted to keep this as a little surprise. Well, I guess I had a weak moment last night as I spilt the beans.

    Actually, I've been working on that post on/off for the past week using my PocketPC. So all that info is a bit out of date. So, here's an update....

    I got in my Laser-Cut face plates! Man do these simple items ever make the project move along. I drilled and tapped the frame just so I can test both them and the side plates out. This pick shows what it'll look like when everything is put together. I grabbed an old power supply, CD-ROM, and a motherboard ATX adapter plate just for the pic:


    That pic also shows the handles I found at Home Depot. I think they are a perfect match for the case.

    I was also able to get my HDD/CD-ROM shelf mounted.



    The hard drives will be mounted from under the self using the 4 mounting screw holes on the bottom of the drives. As you can see, I've got room for 3 drives. I'm hoping to set up 3 SATA drives in a RAID 5 configuration. For me, this will be a big step as I don't own any SATA drives at all. Last time I was shoping for a system for my self, SATA technology was still pretty shaky.

    Now, all that's left is to build and mount my motherboard rails, and to polish up the frame. Then I can actually think about placing hardware into it. Seeing as I don't have any wood working equipment at my disposal, I'm going to have to have a friend make up the rails for me. I've had a couple of offers, so we'll see who comes through.

  8. #8
    Joined
    Oct 2001
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    Southern Ontario
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    45
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    13,194

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    Quote Originally Posted by An Ugly Girl
    What do you calculate the total weight to be when you are finished?
    I almost missed this question.

    The weight will really depend on the power supplies I get. As you know they can be quite heavy or very light depending on make and quality of power supply. I'm actually trying to hunt down effeciciy ratings for different power supplies as if I can save 10% power by using a more effecicent power supply, I'm there.

    But the weight of the frame is not much. Maybe only around 10 pounds. But it's really those stainless steel face plates. Since they are 1/8 inch thick, they'll weigh about 2 1/2 pounds each. That's extreamly heavy compaired to the rest of the frame. This means I'll have 20 pounds of cover plates on the front of the case. And with my small wheel base, I've found it gets a little unstable and tippy.

    I was able to go with lighter material for the other sides. They are 18 gauge (approx 1/16 thick), stainless steel plates. I'm hoping that they'll help to balance out the case a bit more. If not I'll have to add some weight to the bottom, or re-think the wheels. Maybe I can move them farther out, or something.

    Right now I'm just hoping to keep the completed system under 75 pounds just so I can put it in my car without too much trouble.

  9. #9
    Joined
    Oct 2001
    Posts
    5,942

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    This is so cool. Nice work there SP. If you need any parts to keep the cost down, just ask. I have several PSU`s, 478/939 pin heatsinks/fans, and lots of cables/face plates,etc.

  10. #10
    Joined
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Home
    Posts
    6,889

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spankin Partier
    This means I'll have 20 pounds of cover plates on the front of the case. And with my small wheel base, I've found it gets a little unstable and tippy.
    Heh, heh. The engineer in me was about to make a safety comment, then I read this. Glad to see you found out before anything bad happened. Even if it had the center of gravity in the middle, it is still tall and would be unstable. You may wish to consider a "dock" at home. You know, something that would restrain it from incidental bumps by kids, pets, drunk roommates, etc. I've got a 35 gallon hexagonal fish tank on a custom wood stand I made. It's strapped to a pair of 2X4s to keep the kids and dogs from dumping it.

    For travelling, well, that's a little more challenging. You could design pivoting outriggers that lock in place. Fold 'em up flush to the sides for the journey and pivot 'em down to the floor and increase the footprint by six to ten inches per side on site. It would make a huge difference. You don't want to create a tripping hazard, but as is I would be afraid of taking that thing out to party.

  11. #11
    Joined
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Blaine, WA
    Age
    66
    Posts
    30,989

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    Very, very nice indeed! It gives me lots of ideas indeed!
    Main Rig: EVGA 141-BL-E769-A1 LGA 1366 Intel X58 CLASSIFIED/WATERCOOLED ED. cooled by the Monster Water Cooling Setup
    HTPC One BIG Case Asus 8 CORE Monster
    ASUS: 5 * BIOSTAR: 1 * CHAINTECH: 1 * EVGA: 3 * GIGABYTE: 5 * SUPER MICRO: 1 *TYAN: 2
    180+ GHZ total power for PC Perspective Killer Frogs Rosetta @ Home Team as The Uncle B's!!




    Spoiler!

    I'm the Uncle your Aunt won't talk about. Go ahead and pull my finger!

  12. #12
    Joined
    Dec 2000
    Location
    myrtle beach,south carolina, U. S. of A.!
    Posts
    12,696

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spankin Partier
    Right now I'm just hoping to keep the completed system under 75 pounds just so I can put it in my car without too much trouble.
    h3ll yea, grab a couple twelve pack's, throw in the car....... ROADTRIP!



    Quote Originally Posted by UncleBob
    Very, very nice indeed! It gives me lots of ideas indeed!
    imagine that!

  13. #13
    Joined
    Oct 2001
    Posts
    5,942

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    Quote Originally Posted by thelmores
    h3ll yea, grab a couple twelve pack's, throw in the car....... ROADTRIP!


  14. #14
    Joined
    Jul 2001
    Location
    UK
    Age
    51
    Posts
    20,229

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    Awesome Spanky

    I've been interested in stack systems for a while. I did a very basic stack a few years back, but nothing on your scale:



    One question - how you planning on getting all the heat out of the stack? Is it going to be fully enclosed, if so all the heat is going to rise to the top and systems at the top will drastically overheat.

    My reasoning for an open stack system was to reduce system noise. I figured why spend money on noisey case fans to remove heat from the case when you can just do away with the case all together - your effective system temperature becomes room temperature. Most air cooled CPUs with run at a fixed level above ambient temp, so if you can reduce ambient system temp, you also reduce the CPU temps. My systems all now only have a quiet PSU and near silent HSFs (Panaflo's) - I even replaced all northbridge and GPU fans to eliminate noise.

    What could work really well is some form of heatpipe arrangement using the case as a massive passive heatsink to draw heat away from the CPUs - I've seen it done before on some high-end cases.

    Ned

  15. #15
    Joined
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Southern Ontario
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    45
    Posts
    13,194

    Re: Time to rethink the farm.

    Quote Originally Posted by thelmores
    h3ll yea, grab a couple twelve pack's, throw in the car....... ROADTRIP!





    imagine that!
    Now we're talkin!

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