Cooling Sleepy: the Sleeper PC case takes shape
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Cooling Sleepy: the Sleeper PC case takes shape

Kevin Hofer
Zurich, on 11.07.2019
Translation: Patrik Stainbrook
I've still got a fair bit of work to do until Sleepy the Sleeper PC will be done and ready for the raffle. In today's update, I will be preparing the fans, water cooling and cable management.

When we last left off, I had just moved Sleepy's power supply. Now there's a big hole slap-bang in the middle of the Sleeper-PC. Time to fill it. As a reminder: a Sleeper PC is a retro case containing the best modern components. And you can win this one. Find out how at the end of this article.

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First the aperture, then the fan

I want to place the outlet fan right where the old power supply notch used to be. This won't be easy, as the fan is taller and thinner than the opening. Which means I'll have to cut away some metal at the top and somehow stuff the remaining space on both sides.

I remove the metal with a specialised metal hole saw, giving the entire affair a rounded look. The holes on the side I close with an attachment of acrylic glass. The material is exactly three millimetres thick. I used two millimetres of acrylic for the power supply panel, however, because I had to bend it. The fan bracket on the other hand will remain straight and must be more stable due to the movement of the fan.

I first measure how big the mount has to be. Then I attach the acrylic glass with painter's tape. This way, I don't have to draw directly on the material and can also protect it from additional damage. I transfer the shape of the fan mount, including the opening, onto the painter's tape. Then I break down the glass to the appropriate size. I mill the hole with a multipurpose spiral cutter attachment for the Dremel.

I fix the finished mount to the back of the case and screw the fan into it. The hole is patched and the fan can blow air out of the case at full power.

There's more metal to shed

After the fan has found its home at the back, preparations for the radiator and the front fans are underway. The easiest way to do this would be to mount the radiator right next to the 5.25-inch drive recess. But since I placed the power supply mount there, it's going to be a tight fit. I'm also afraid that fresh air will be stuck behind the power supply screen, damaging the airflow of the entire PC. That's why I attach the radiator closer to the bottom.

But the radiator also can't be at the very bottom. After all, there is a graphics card in the way. Therefore, I adjust the radiator to the height of the graphics card. This way, the very top of the radiator is just at the height of the 5.25-inch drive recess. A recess of this size is a bit too wide to fully attach the radiator. To mend this, I saw an aluminium crossbar in a way that I can attach the top part of the radiator to it.

Using the Dremel, I mill out the necessary space for the lower part of the radiator. Although the width is perfect in this case, I still saw a cross brace into shape for the fastening. This ensures that the radiator will actually stay where it should be.

I originally planned on adding another fan to the front floor of the case. However, the hole I'd have to mill to accommodate it would seriously unbalance the tower. Instead, I opt to place the third inlet fan under the radiator. I cut out the hole for the fan with a metal hole saw. I have to mill out the fan hole using the Dremel a bit more, as the metal hole saw is only ten centimetres in diameter while the fan is twelve centimetres.

Cable routes and brainstorming the back wall

In order to better hide any stray cables from the power supply out of view, I install a back wall between the mainboard and the power supply mount. The back wall, made from a medium density wood fibre plate, is cut to size for me. When I start to install it, I suddenly realize that I don't have enough room on the sides. If I were to drill holes into the wood on the far outside, they would immediately tear out under the load of the plate and the components are attached onto it. I'll have to think of something else.

That’s it, I'm not risking it anymore. How much space do I have at the back of the case? I use the resulting measurements in all of my ongoing calculations. These also include the Ryzen 7 2700X CPU with an Alphacool water block, the 32 GB Corsair Dominator RAM and the Samsung EVO Plus M.2-SSD. It's a good if tight fit. But that's what the project is all about: modern components in a housing that is not made for them. Of course there'll be some tight spots, and it's my job to look for creative solutions to these problems.

There we go, everything's in place. Time to draw out those templates for the pump/reservoir combo and the distro plate. I want to design and mill them out using the Fusion 360 CAD software. First, I lay the MDF board into the case. I stick paper onto the board, which I've previously cut to the size of the pump/reservoir combo and the distro plate. Then I draw the most important points: the recess for the pump as well as the inlet and outlet ports. Now I've got all the templates I need to edit in Fusion 360. More on this in a later article.

In the end, the solution to my back wall problem is remarkably similar to the one used for the radiator mount: I mount aluminium crossbars along the case and attach the back wall to them. After careful consideration, I use five-millimetre-thick acrylic glass instead of MDF for the back wall. When it comes down to it, this material just looks better.

I mount the glass at a distance of 18 millimetres from the cross struts. I achieve this distance by placing metal tubes between the back of the acrylic and the crossbars. This way, the screws go through the acrylic glass first, then through the metal tubes and finally through the crossbars. The rear panel protrudes into the case and I have enough space for cable management, the fan controller and the SSD behind it.

Now I just spray the scaffold and the mounts with black paint. At long last, we are entering the most exciting phase of the project. I can't hold myself any longer and reinstall everything just to see what it all looks like with the back wall and the paint.

Next time I'll design the distro plate and the pump/reservoir combo. If you don't want to miss that thriller of an event, click on the «Follow author» button below.

You can win like this: Over the coming weeks you can read about the sleeper PC project on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At the end of the articles I'll ask you a question with three possible answers. You can find the correct answer in the article itself. You get one point for every correct answer. Answer as many of the questions as possible correctly and you will make it into the final draw. The draw will decide who wins the PC.

How many inlet fans will Sleepy have?

The competition has ended.

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Kevin Hofer
Kevin Hofer
Editor, Zurich
From big data to big brother, Cyborgs to Sci-Fi. All aspects of technology and society fascinate me.

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