Planning and Mock-Up
First things first, where is everything going to slot in? For me there where two main considerations when laying everything out in the case, the first is placement of components to maximise the cooling effect and the second being of practicality. The whole reason I endeavoured on this project was to get better cooling so it would make no sense at this point not to consider where best to place the items to take advantage of the flow. In terms of practicality you still want to be able to access components such as the back of the motherboard to plug things in. I chose to have a side access door (on the side of the submarine facing the wall) as it was the simplest in order to gain access. I sketched some ideas on paper and in the end decided to mount the motherboard vertical, making use of some of the space in the coning tower. The motherboard was going to be mounted on Acrylic, which would be screwed down to the bottom of the hull. The PSU was going to be mounted under the motherboard and simply laid in the hull and secured to the motherboard base using Velcro, which is more than sufficient to hold it in place.
The only compromise I had to make was the placement of the processor cooling system as it wasn’t really practical to mount the system upstream of the motherboard as there was very little room and would have led to a very crowded space so I mounted it down stream and hung the mounting from the top of the hull. In terms of cooling it’s not ideal as the air has already been heated by the motherboard, PSU and graphics card before reaching the processor water cooling system but the effects should be marginal. At a later date I can duct fresh air direct to the processor cooling system to get some marginal gains but that’s an experiment for another day. Alternatively I could just reverse the fans to reverse the flow and see if that makes a difference.
Before I cut and shaped the Acrylic bases and mountings I cut template out of cardboard, bent them into shape and laid into the hull to check clearances, making fine adjustments where required. When happy I had cardboard templates to use in cutting the Acrylic to size.
Forming of Bases and Supports
Using the cardboard templates I cut the required shapes out of the Acrylic sheet using either a Dremel or a jigsaw. I found I could make a cleaner cut with the Dremel as the jigsaw seemed to put too much heat into the Acrylic during the cut, giving a rough edge. The edges were filed down to get rid of any sharp and rough edges. I also had read that you can smooth the edges further using heat but I personally didn’t bother as the edges wouldn’t be readily visible and it seemed to take a fair bit of effort, for little gain. For the submarines intake and exhaust fan mountings I kept it simple and cut out squares with the width being equal to the circumference of the hull at the point the fan will be mounted. The corners were then folded in and shaped directly in the hull to get a tight fit as the fan mountings would simply be held by an interference fit. I used a circular cutting tool on the Dremel to cut a nice neat hole out of the mountings for the fans.
With all the templates cut out of the Acrylic sheets they are ready to be bent into shape. Acrylic can be shaped easily using heat so a heat gun is a must and I used the top of an old PC case to bend some of the 90 degree bends, bending over the top edge of the case to give a good straight edge. The more complex bends and shapes where made bit by bit by hand, using gloves as it obviously will get very hot. Patience is a virtue for this and I found it much better to heat a small section at a time and bending and holding in place until it cools. I shaped it roughly to start getting closer and closer to the required shape on each pass and this was particularly needed for forming some of the more complex curves such as on the fan mountings. The fan mountings I shaped whilst directly mounted in the hull to get the closest shape as possible particularly given the hull is not a straight cylindrical shape. I should have maybe based it the USS Los Angeles submarine.
This is where using Acrylic is worthwhile because it can be shaped and reshaped as much as you want. So once the mountings where shaped I fitted the components and laid them into the submarine to check the fit and clearances. Fine adjustments where then made where required, obviously removing the components before applying more heat.
For me the sound proofing was more a means of covering up my sins on the inside of the submarine. The interior of the hull at this point was by no means a nice smooth finish with strands of the Mod roc gauze everywhere. In hindsight I should have covered the Mod roc model in a mould release agent or wrapped it in tape so that the Mod roc could be removed cleanly but initially I was planning for the Mod roc to remain as part of the structure. However it became so loose after the Fibreglass was laid that I had to pull as much of it out as I could.
I bought some sound proof mat which is used in walls and floor as a soundproofing membrane. I was particularly surprised how dense the matting was given it was only 3 mm thick and it did add considerable weight to the casing and perhaps a flexible foam would have been better but as the case would rarely be moved I was happy enough. I sized up the length and width of the mat whihc would be needed to cover the interior and simply laid within. Given the weight of the mat it had to be glued down a section at a time and I used strong spray adhesive. A point worth noting is spray adhesive would make a good substitute to waxing strips as I got some on the top of my arm and only way to remove it was to pull out the hair! So be warned!
I supplemented the spray adhesive with superglue to help hold it down while it dried, adding weight to firmly hold down each section while it dried.
Cutting and Drilling
With the soundproofing down its worth laying the mounted component in the case to check it all still fits as intended, making fine adjustments if needed.
Once happy it all fits I measured and marked the array of holes which will be used to fix the mountings to the hull. There were two mountings which I mounted directly through the hull, one being the motherboard mounting, which screwed through the bottom of the hull and the other being the processor cooling system which will hang from the top of the hull. Once the holes where marked out on the mountings I made a straight copy of the arrays onto the appropriate points on the hull. To make sure the holes lined up perfectly I drilled out a single hole on both the mounting and the hull and then threaded through a bolt and secured it tightly with a nut. I then drilled straight through the hull and through into the mounting on the other holes holding the mounting in place from within the hull. It’s also worth countersinking the holes in the hull to maintain a nice flush finish.
As the case still needed priming and painting the mountings where removed and set aside.