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Build Log: Project Askew

Last response: in Overclocking
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 17, 2011 7:48:45 PM

I've been talking about it for a while and finally got started on the planning and initial build of my new test bench/display project called 'Askew'. I really didn't know what to call it (and hadn't even considered naming it anything), but during the very first few steps of the frame, I realized that lightweight wood has a tendency to have a mind of it's own until you get it reinforced...crooked...aka...'Askew'. This caused some moments of rethinking how I actually should progress and actually caused a slight alteration in design. However, the new design is much better to look at than all the sketches that I initially came up with.

The case is designed to be a functional test bench as well as a semi-viable artistic showpiece. I spent a couple weeks actually detailing out a plan for a traditional test bench only to come up disappointed that it wouldn't look nearly as cool as some of the $200 benches out there. So, I scrapped those plans and went with the Askew, dual-box offset design.

I have a basic blueprint that I threw together via Visio that I will attach later that was my main design template. A little has changed since I started, but all is coming along very well. I have a couple of ideas I want to try out and test (one of which is already proving to be kind of cool) so I'm taking my time to do this the right way.


Using my current rig, so nothing spectacular.
Q6600 @3.4ghz
4gb Patriot Viper DDR3
SLI EVGA GTX 260 Core 216's
WD 1TB Black
WD 250GB
BFG 1200w


Hardware Upgrade 2.10.12

ASUS Sabertooth P67
8GB RipJaws DDR3
OCZ Vertex 3 120GB SSD

WD 1TB Black
BFG 1200w
DVD burner
Scythe KazeMaster Fan Controller


Watercooling Components:

MCP655 Vario
D-tek Fuzion v2 CPU block
MCW60 GPU blocks x2
MCR320 x2
Bitspower Z-multi 80 res
Tubing/fittings (TBD)

As promised, the quick blueprints I threw together for reference as I work on this build. This should help give everyone an idea of the direction I'm going in. As you can see, the offset of the upright tower is evident in the actual frame build and isn't in the drawing.

The frame itself is incredibly strong and pretty lightweight. I used simple pine 1x's and the side panels are dense fiberboard.


Just wanted to add some updates:

Got the vast majority of the case build completed. There were some additions to the frame as seen above such as the PSU cage and the HDD/DVD/Fan controller cage. These are pretty simple and I'll try to get some shots as I get everything put together.

Here are a couple pics after 3x coats of paint today:

One thing I've encountered during this build is that while you are working on fabricating one or two components, you really have to think 5-6 moves ahead and plan for how they will all fit and work together, in three dimensions. This meant I had to take a lot of time planning how I wanted the motherboard 'tray' panel to fit (my first idea got trashed when I figured out how to do it how I did), where to place hole spacing so I wouldn't end up with blocked ports or screw/bolt locations as well as trying to take advantage of space. As I mock up the rads, MB, pump, etc, I quickly find that had I not carefully planned locations, I would have built the original frame too small. As it is, I could have benefited from a little different case dimensions, but I'm pretty happy with how it is coming so far. I plan on mounting up the rads, res, MB and the card slot hold-downs. I spent a lot of time at Home Depot and ACE Hardware stores looking through nuts, bolts, screws, standoffs, threaded inserts, etc to find the best way to mount and incorporate components with the resources I had.

More to come.
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 17, 2011 7:49:01 PM

Wanted to post some more pics- getting closer to this project being done. Need to start wiring up all the components to the PSU as well as get the power/reset switches wired in. Also need to order my tubing and some fittings in, as well. Picked up some new fans on Thursday after eating turkey day goodness...some Scythe Ultra Kaze 3000's. I have a couple 2000's, so I wanted to round out the rad fans and utilize the fan controller to keep those monsters under control. I'll update when I get the fans mounted and the tubing routed. I'm still not 100% sure how the lines will go, but I'm at least 99.75% sure how I want it to go. Outside of that, it's really shaped up well over the long weekend.

Front/Motherboard side:

Same side, but sans flash to see the lit EL wiring 'neon' signage

Rad/res/pump side:

Close up of the EL wiring for the logo (sorry for the blurriness- my phone had trouble focusing due to the light it was making):



Added fans this past weekend, as well as thermal sensors (not visible) on the 2 rads- one on the IN tank (by inlet fitting) for the first rad, and the second on the OUT tank for the other (next to outlet fitting). Also got the front panel switches wired up and the LEDs and switches mounted (no photo yet).

Photo here doesn't do justice to how big the Scythe Ultra Kaze's really are...they are massive compared to normal 25mm case fans. Also to note: the 3000's are at least 75% heavier than my existing 2000's. I'm not sure if this is due to changes over the past year or 2 in design, or if the 3000's simply are that much more powerful and require more copper windings in the motor and heaver magnets, brushes, etc. All I know is Day-um!

a c 324 K Overclocking
November 17, 2011 7:49:14 PM


Little more work today- very close to being done. Just waiting on my Jab-Tech order to arrive Mon/Tues with tubing and I should be all set. I mainly worked on getting the GPU retention components in place which can be seen in the photos below. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to do this since I didn't have the usual mounting cage and backplate you get in a normal case. I had built in a mounted thread insert for the all-thread using the thumbscrew to help keep the cards mounted in the PCI-e slots, but they are still a little heavy and would sag when left hanging. I had known since the beginning that I would need a support structure, but unsure how I would do it...I used some legs I put together of 4-40, 6" all-thread pieces with a joint in each, some 4-40 nuts and nylon washers (duh). Almost forgot that I got the back panel completely fabbed today, including paint, PSU cutout and fan cutout. The last panel piece seemed to be one of the best of the entire build- went very smoothly and turned out better than I actually envisioned.

Also, worked on getting paint on the 3/16" rod that I mounted on both front corners. There will also be 2 sections on both back vertical corners once I have everything completely up and running...the last bit of pizazz. Also got my old UV cathodes out of the old case and mounted them under the case focusing up...I'm going for moderate glow under the case as there is a 3/4" gap around much of the bottom...if I don't like it, I have an easy way to disconnect.

Forgive the image quality- I'll get some better images once this is completed. I really think the blue tubing on the white/black is really going to work well. My oldest son noted that the color scheme is straight out of Portal 2; and he is correct. Nothing like a little GLaDOS/Wheatley color theme since my avatar has been the original Portal image for a few years now.

Build is really coming together...almost there. Found out that my 24-pin ATX plug is just a bit short. Time to pick up an extension. Also, my 4+4/8pin ATX plug is a tad short as well. (can be seen in 3rd image down) (Damn- looking at these pics, I'm embarrassed with the sucky phone pics. I'll make sure my Canon Rebel XS and flash are ready to go by the time I'm ready for the good pics.)

View of the front/left side to show the colors working together...can't wait for the blue tubing.

Finished up the back panel and some view of the GPU support structure. Video cards are very solid and don't budge at all. Also- the 4+4/8pin plug being short, as mentioned above.



Tubing arrived today, and got it run:

Little disappointed as the Primochill LRT is more of a purple than it is a blue. Either way, I'll live. For now. I ordered 10ft and only have about 1.5 ft left over...and I didn't leave any scrap. However, I really like how the tubing works on this box. Going to pickup some distilled tomorrow and try to start filling the loop. Still waiting on a 4+4/8pin extension and a 24pin ATX extension from FrozenCPU. I'm waiting until I get the loop full before I weigh it. :) 
Related resources
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 17, 2011 7:49:21 PM

a c 324 K Overclocking
November 17, 2011 7:49:31 PM

a b K Overclocking
November 17, 2011 8:30:42 PM

Very nice Rubix. Looking forward to this.
November 17, 2011 8:56:41 PM

Looks like a very solid build. I'm curious though, where do you plan to put components?
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 18, 2011 12:33:54 AM

You'll see. :) 

Edit- Posted the design blueprint.
a b K Overclocking
November 18, 2011 12:38:44 AM

posting so I get updates on thread.

This i have to see.... :) 
November 18, 2011 1:40:20 AM

I'll laugh if this becomes a dual 1080 Rad setup. Or even more for that matter. Beastly overclocks?
a b K Overclocking
November 18, 2011 1:07:24 PM

I thought we were gonna see some new hardware too... ;) 
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 18, 2011 1:11:05 PM

Not yet, maybe sometime. Would be a cakewalk to upgrade hardware with this, though. I just wanted to get the case build done for now...I'm in no rush to upgrade hardware just yet...especially with new stuff due to be out Q1 2012.
November 18, 2011 6:38:48 PM

Ivy Bridge and 7000 Series AMD cards. Exciting. But I'm more of an Nvidia Guy.
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 18, 2011 6:44:14 PM

Same here, I was meaning Intel.
November 18, 2011 6:47:15 PM

I know Ivy Bridge is an LGA 1155 socket, but, will it fit in regular Sandy Bridge motherboards? Or be compatible for that matter.
a b K Overclocking
November 18, 2011 8:32:50 PM

SushiDragon said:
I know Ivy Bridge is an LGA 1155 socket, but, will it fit in regular Sandy Bridge motherboards? Or be compatible for that matter.

It's supposed to be; it's the same socket, and should just require a BIOS flash to work on the P67/Z68 boards. The Sandy Bridge-E is the one running on the new socket (LGA 2011/X79)
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 22, 2011 10:28:51 PM

Just some random thoughts:

Using my KazeMaster Pro fan controller (it was a gift) I'm seeing some good things on some Phobya fans I received from

All 12 fans in the shipment are 1500rpm fans. All are very quiet and either run at just under the rated 1500rpms (1460 seems to be the lowest) to almost 1600rpms.

Putting the fans in direct push/pull to one another (fans back to back) fan 1 (intake) speeds up almost 100rpms while fan 2 (exhaust) speeds up as much as 250-300rpm. Running push or pull through my MCR320's, I see speeds drop from 1500 down to 1440rpms. If I run push/pull on the rads, I see almost the same speeds as the fan-only push/pull. Airflow with push/pull through the rad seems almost double with the 2 fans vs. 1. (you're welcome, courtesy of Cpt. Obvious)
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 27, 2011 10:28:41 PM

One downside to this case; it's becoming damn heavy.
November 27, 2011 10:54:47 PM

Damn this is looking cool already
November 27, 2011 10:56:18 PM

Neon wiring looks fantastic.

How heavy is it at the moment?
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 27, 2011 11:11:51 PM

Not really sure- I'm better well over 40 lbs so far. The frame was very lightweight, but the paneling is very dense and heavy for only being 3/16" thick. Also, adding the rads, HDD, fan controller, DVD drive, motherboard and PSU added significant mass as well. I'll be curious what this weights once I get the 2x GTX 260's and waterblocks on here as well as the tubing and the actual water for the loop. I'm betting close to 60 lbs when it's all said and done. By then, I should have a new battery for my bathroom scale so I can get an actual weight.

Added pic of the EL wiring.
November 28, 2011 1:06:33 AM

Add aluminum paneling and drill holes. (Expensive but its lightweight!)
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 28, 2011 1:16:12 AM

My last case was all aluminum, a Gigabyte Aurora v1. However, I wanted to make something new that I designed and see how well it worked. Yes, if I had the cash and tools, I would go the route of aluminum or other metals. But, this was a way for me to try out something new and see how I liked it. This is my intermediary into an actual test bench like the DimasTech eash/hard, so I wanted to be creative and see what I could come up with in the meantime.
November 28, 2011 1:21:39 AM

Ah, I see. I personally wouldn't have gone with that design (Since I wouldn't want to have heavy motherboards and etc. hanging off a delicate piece of wood; and having to compensate using heavier, denser wood.)

However, I am excited to see what you have planned. Is there any way to use less dense paneling and using a perhaps a sturdy cardboard-like material for the horizontal piece of wood? It wouldn't affect strength, but it'd certainly would decrease the amount of weight.
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 28, 2011 1:32:13 AM

Well, it isn't that heavy- but when you start putting it all together, it adds up. It's actually very, very solid- I could stand on any segment of the case and be supported quite well. The case itself really isn't too bad, but when you start adding everything, it just adds up. I kind of knew this from the beginning and meant for it to be more of a piece of artwork rather than something I'll be toting around to LANs (although, I need to go to more- I haven't been to one in about a year or so). Anyway, I'm just getting antsy for this to be completed since I've been working on it for at least 6 weeks or so; 8-10 weeks if you count the on/off times I worked on design concepts.
November 28, 2011 1:35:49 AM

Well that makes sense. I would think some of the parts would be easy to take. (Assumptions)

Anyway, from an artistic point of view I think it looks great.

(I actually have never been to a LAN party.)
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 28, 2011 1:41:37 AM

I've been to a lot over the years. Been to a couple and played against Fatal1ty (he's from Kansas City; I work in KC and live about 30 minutes away). Nice kid, a little younger than me- but that was 7-8 years ago.

Anyway, I was looking more to making this artwork and something to look at that can be used (and easily upgraded). Depending on how well this ultimately turns out, I might consider making more in the future. Wood and common hardware store materials are easy to work with, but I took 4 years of metal shop in high school, so I'd like to see what I could do with tools and materials of a metallic flavor. It would also be easier to find OEM case parts (HDD cages, brackets, etc) that could be used in fabrication.
November 28, 2011 1:58:26 AM

Really. (I'm actually way too young to go to one. :p  )

I've been starting to do some work with a Dremel. Those are pretty handy.
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 28, 2011 12:22:58 PM

Dremel's are a very versatile tool; a must-have for any modder's toolbox.

How old are you, if you are too young? I've seen kids as young as 10-11 at many.
November 28, 2011 7:17:37 PM

Wow, ten and eleven? Guess I have to go to one sometime. I'm Thirteen. (I wonder if other thirteen year olds use dremels and watercool. )
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 28, 2011 7:25:17 PM

Not as many, but there are some we've helped out on here in the past.
November 28, 2011 8:52:12 PM

Really? Are any of them still around?
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 28, 2011 8:59:25 PM

Shadow used to be very regular around here...he was your average high school kid doing above average stuff with computers until he went to college. He was a regular all day, every day during those years. There were also a few others here and there, but most popped in, got info and haven't been seen since. oldest son just turned 10. I feel old.
a b K Overclocking
November 28, 2011 9:01:48 PM

^I would have probably been one of those kids...if I'd had money to buy computer stuff with many years ago...
November 28, 2011 9:04:20 PM

I dislike people who just come in and get info and get out. Seems like a let-down to me. It'd pretty hard to decode some of their typing language actually. I plan to stay here for as long as I can. Really like the community here. Very good constructive criticism too. (Sometimes)

Haha, after you reach a certain point of age, birthdays are torturous according to my adult friends. Kids make it even worse!
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 28, 2011 9:07:59 PM

I was always a jock in school, but I really loved computers growing up. Did some coding on old Apple II's and Macs and really got into Win 3.1x. O/S2 and DOS. Also was big on console games in the 80's/90's. I'm not really that old (32), but there are days when I feel older...most though, I try to act at least 1/2 my actual age.
November 28, 2011 9:15:06 PM

Wow, Apple II and Windows 3.1. I haven't heard those names in ages. I've loved computers from a very young age, was always intrigued by them. I'm actually quite new to the "computer building" hobby. I've only been in it for a few months.

Many people actually confuse my age and think I'm around twenty.
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 29, 2011 1:25:01 AM

You're very well spoken for your age; in content, context and composure. This is an excellent way to carry yourself as you grow into a young adult. I applaud your maturity for such a young age and ability to carry yourself in a very mature manner.

You're right- I would have pegged you at late teens, early 20's.
November 29, 2011 2:20:52 AM

Thank you very much. I personally think my grammar needs some work.

I actually thought you were around the late 20's and early 30's mark.
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 29, 2011 12:58:43 PM

I'm 32, so you'd have me about right.
a c 205 K Overclocking
November 29, 2011 1:41:05 PM


What is going in the left and right base you don't show any details regarding that in your sketches?

Nice project you've jumped on, I am a carpenter by the way so I can relate to the problems you're having to overcome and how you arrived at Askew for a name. :) 

Wood can be very unpredictable at times especially when the moisture levels are not under control, warped is another name that comes to mind, sometimes overcoming that is a real challenge!
a c 324 K Overclocking
November 29, 2011 1:45:32 PM

The base of the project is basically empty. The PSU resides right on top of the 'base' inside the 'tower' in the back. I incorporated the front panel firewire, audio and USB ports in the lower portion in the front 'tower', but other than that- the base is aesthetic and for support. However, there is plenty of room if I wanted to add anything in the future and would be pretty simple to frame up supports and cut out openings if needed.
December 2, 2011 12:53:16 AM

looks pretty awesome rubix. you have a very fine attention to detail
a c 324 K Overclocking
December 2, 2011 12:03:26 PM

Thanks- I've had to go back and correct some things, and even then it is by no way even close to perfect. Camera shots actually make it look moderately better than it does in person, but I'm pretty happy with it so far (other than it weighing 7 metric tons).
a c 76 K Overclocking
December 9, 2011 1:28:46 AM

hey rubix - nice build :)  how'd you do that EL back-lighting ?

Camera shots actually make it look moderately better than it does in person
than you follow one of the rules of photography :D  but IMHO, that bencher is awesome even in warm color WB.

(other than it weighing 7 metric tons)
hmmm...well if it stays in the house all day like 4ryan6's rig than why move it at all ? :lol: 
December 9, 2011 9:28:16 AM

rubix_1011 said:
Camera shots actually make it look moderately better than it does in person,

People say the same thing about me ;) 

Looking good rubix. Can't wait to see how it turns out.
a c 324 K Overclocking
December 9, 2011 12:32:31 PM

The EL wiring is actually far more simpler than you can imagine. I drew up some plans on how I wanted the image to look and then mapped out locations to drill holes. Given that every line is a straight line, the EL wiring simply goes hole to hole...straight shot. If you were to implement bends and curves, you'd want to use superglue (quick setting unless you are extremely patient) or use some kind of super thin wire (piano wire or even fishing twine) to help make bends...using tiny holes to thread the wiring through and connect on the back side.

Once the hole placement was determined, I simply placed my template over the surface, marked with a nail/hammer to make sure I had the holes exactly correct when I drill (same concept of using a center punch in order to drill on steel). I drilled the holes and then simply threaded the EL wiring like I was sewing the letters. I used a little glue during each segment to secure the EL wiring so I didn't get slack and the wiring stays taut, throughout.

End result, it does look pretty cool- I hope the wiring stays working and doesn't burn out. EL wiring came from Ebay...I think less than $10 and the wire is around 3ft long.
a c 324 K Overclocking
December 13, 2011 1:07:46 PM

Couple new pics and update blurb added last night.
a b K Overclocking
December 13, 2011 1:20:05 PM

Nice. I like the video card support. Minimalistic and functional.
a c 324 K Overclocking
December 13, 2011 1:25:13 PM

I need to get some better photos put up, which I plan to do later this week once the build is closer to completion. My cell phone usually takes pretty good pics, but the lighting in my office seems to mess with the sensor and it doesn't focus or flash well. I'll try to get a little better images of the card supports- they were pretty important as they just kind of hung off the MB without them. They actually look better in person than in the pics; kind of 'mechanical' looking and as you said, minimalistic. I wanted them to pretty much disappear and not retract from the rest of the build, but be clean and visible if you went looking for them.