The Raptor Pit: Building a Benching Station--Navig Style - The Raptor Pit

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Building a Benching Station--Navig Style

#41 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 01:39 AM

Step 2--Sand the bottom side


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***See Edit*** I use 220 grit sandpaper on a rubber sanding block, and I like to make uniform diagonal passes. This is going to help add a little bit of a brushed look to the stain.
Sometimes if the MDF is real rough, I’ll do the other diagonal (making a sort of cross-hatch pattern), but always finish with the same diagonal.
Also carefully sand the inside edges of all the cutouts and pass thrus. I wrap little piece of sand paper around my finger and just work these edges.

*** Edit ***

For a smoother finish, particularly for the under-layers of polyurethane, I tried (and had better success) with the following sanding technique:

Short strokes, in multiple directions.

I tried short light strokes in one diagonal, then in the other diagonal, then in small circles, and finally in large circles.


Step 3--Clean
Make sure to clean off the surface after sanding. I brush it, vacuum it, and then actually use a tack cloth.



Step 4--Apply pre-stain

Once again, MDF is very absorbent, so I feel like a pre-stain makes the stain come out much more uniform.
Let the pre-stain dry according to instructions.


Step 5--Apply the stain
I use a disposable foam brush and apply the stain.

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I am using a stain called Cordova from Sherwin Williams. It is a very nice deep woody red.
After it has dried several minutes, I run a standard brush very lightly across the surface at the usual diagonal. This is going to add a very faint brushed/wood grain texture.
Let the stain dry according to instructions.
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#42 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 01:13 AM

Step 6--Apply the first coat of high gloss polyurethane
I typically use fast dry oil based Cabot. I also use a disposable foam brush--technically you should use a natural bristle for oil based, but I get good enough results, and with much less hassle. Let the brush soak a little bit to minimize bubbles. Do not over brush as that will also cause bubbles.

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I apply one thin layer, stroking in the same diagonal as the sanding.
Let it dry completely as per instructions.


Step 7--Apply the second layer of high gloss polyurethane
No sanding after the first coat of polyurethane--often the MDF will soak up so much polyurethane, if you were to sand it, you might burn into the stain.
Apply as per step 6.


Step 8--Sand
After 2 coats of polyurethane, you should have enough coating in order to sand it down.
Sand the polyurethane just like Step 2.
It takes a little bit of courage to take a pretty decent looking surface and sand it down, but as soon as you lay the next coat down, you can feel the difference. This is a what a sanded panel looks like:

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Don’t forget to remove the dust after sanding.


Step 9--Apply the third coat of polyurethane
You should notice that the polyurethane goes on really smooth and that you will only need a fraction of the volume compared to the 2 previous coats.


Step 10--Consider more coats then let fully dry
3 coats is usually sufficient--remember this is the underside.
Remove the masking tape and let dry thoroughly until fully cured.


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And here is why you mask (and seal the masking tape)--stain will curl around the edges.

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Now just remove your masking tape and start prepping for painting the top side.





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#43 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 01:28 AM

Step 11--Mask the bottom (just painted side)

Make sure your paint is fully dried and cured!


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This time, be sure to tape-mask the inside edges of the cable pass-thrus.




Step 12--Prep the top side.

As before, sand in a diagonal pattern, 220 grit, and clean thoroughly.

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Step 13--Apply pre-stain and stain

Once again, very lightly brush the wet stain.


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Step 14--First 2 coats of Polyurethane

After the stain has dried according to its instructions, apply the first and second coats of polyurethane:


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#44 User is offline   caintry_boy 

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 11:07 PM

Navig, I just don't know how you do it! it looks to be too easy for you!!
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Isaiah 6 v5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty."
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#45 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 30 March 2017 - 12:56 AM

By no means easy, just trial and error, and a lot of test pieces. For example--see this post here...



Sorry, it has been a while since my last post. Where have I been? Building another benching station, of course. Apparently, this post has drummed up interest, so I’ve been fabricating a new station. My experience with this new station and pictures will get incorporated into this thread.

Station #31, built between the last post and this post:

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Very importantly, finishing the panels on this station did not go well following with my own steps as detailed above.

So I am going to edit myself.

Just goes to show, I am by no means any “authority” on the matter, and I’m still learning all the time.

Sanding the unfinished panels went fine, most likely because any faults were hidden by the application of stain as well as the the “brushing-in grain” technique.

However, when I went to sand the under-layers of polyurethane, the continuous diagonal strokes introduced long gouges that remained after application of the next coat. Could it be the change in weather (affects drying time), could it be the sandpaper, could it be because the customer requested a semi-gloss finish? I don’t know.

If a smooth finish is desired, I would try the following technique.


New Sanding Technique

Short strokes, in multiple directions.

I tried short light strokes in one diagonal, then in the other diagonal, then in small circles, and finally in large circles.

This produced a much better finish.
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#46 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 30 March 2017 - 01:05 AM

Streaky finish:

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Nice finish:


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#47 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 30 March 2017 - 01:38 AM

Step 15--Sand with 220 grit

Recap--I put down the first 2 coats of polyurethane on the top sides of both panels
Now sand with 220 grit, using my short strokes technique.



Step 16--Add the ghost logo

Long time back,I made a stencil with my logo.


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It’s kind of ghetto, I literally cut and taped together stencil letters from the craft store.






I positioned my stencil, masked off the rest of the panel:

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And then with a light touch of spray-can metal flake, add my logo:


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It looks really faded against the sanded background, but it will POP when the final top coats are applied.
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#48 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 30 March 2017 - 01:40 AM

Step 17--Apply the final coats of polyurethane (one or two)

Here are some nice finished pictures.

Glossy coat going down on my personal station:

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Semi-gloss coat on my most recent build:

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And the ghost logo, after the finished coats have been applied.

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#49 User is offline   caintry_boy 

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Posted 31 March 2017 - 01:30 PM

Question Navig, when doing smoothing on polyurethane would steel wool give a better finish?
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Isaiah 6 v5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty."
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#50 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 09:44 PM

I'll be honest! I don't know, haven't tried it yet. Being the simpleton that I am, I've always used 220 grit sandpaper because that's what is actually recommended in the instructions printed on the can of polyurethane.

I have in the past used coarser grit (180) then finished with 220.

I have also occasionally used a finer grit (400), but you've got to be real careful because the polyurethane will clog 400 grit quickly. If it clogs, then the sanded-off particles will accumulate in clumps on the sandpaper surface, which will cause scrapes. To prevent this I frequently clean the sandpaper with a giant sandpaper "eraser" (sold at woodworking stores) or just scrape it off with a scraper. A 400 grit finish is real nice tho!

Haven't tried steel wool. Maybe I will!








Bracketry

Brackets may seem a little boring, but really, what is a benching station besides a bunch a brackets for holding your components in place?


PCI bracket

This is my PCI bracket system. It’s a little elaborate, but I like to have it well supported.

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There are three components:

Actual PCI bracket--made from ½” aluminum angle bracket (1/16” thickness), length is 200mm
Vertical Support--made from ½” bar (1/16” thickness), cut to 65mm
Horizontal Crossbar--made from ½” bar (1/15” thickness), cut to 365mm









To fabricate the PCI bracket component, I started with a stock piece of ½” angle bar cut to 200mm.

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In order to mate properly to the post, this red portion here needs to go away, or as I do--get bent.












First I cut the down the center line with by scrollsaw to the length of ½”.
(Actually, first I put in some mounting holes which you can see--its easier to do this prior to bending)

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Then I scored my bend with my dremel.

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Clamp the piece into my vice, add a little heat, and bend.

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#51 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 01:00 AM

Next step is to mount the bracket.

Seen here from the back, the bracket mounts to the post thru the holes I made earlier.


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If you’ve been following my motherboard measurements for placement of the motherboard mounting holes, then mounting it to the backside of the post should put it in the proper location to interface with PCI cards.

If you are using the standard ½” mobo standoffs, then the bracket should be mounted at a height of 121mm.












It’s always best to actually mock-up mount motherboard and a PCI card to confirm placement.


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At this time, I also marked the location of the first PCI bracket mounting hole (red arrow).






To make the rest of the mounting screw holes, I use a jig.


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The space between each hole is 20.3mm.

The center of the hole is 2.5mm from the edge.

I make the holes in the method I’ve outlined before, with a #36 drill bit and a 6-32 tap.








And here is my nicely crafted final PCI bracket


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After remounting the PCI bracket, the next step is to mount the Vertical Support Bar and the Horizontal Cross Bar.

Be sure to use a square and a level!


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Vertical Support bar mounted with ⅛” rivet.








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Horizontal Crossbar completes the structure.








Top it off with a set of 6-32 thumb screws.


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And that is how I support my PCI cards.



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#52 User is offline   caintry_boy 

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 08:47 PM

L@@king great Navig! Wish I had the patience...
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Isaiah 6 v5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty."
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#53 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 12:34 AM

Bracketry

Hard drive racks



I’ve used a number of different style pre-fabricated hard drive racks, mostly surplus units from actual cases.


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In the middle is the standard--essentially slotted bent sheet metal rack.

On the right is the fan-assembly unit (for conversion of 5.25 bays).

My favorite is on the left--some inexpensive Corsair units, with plastic bracket-mounts that slide into a metal cage.






My DIY Hard Drive Bracket System

However, supplies of these sorts of units has dwindled, so it was time I designed my own DIY unit or system so that I wouldn’t have to rely on outsourcing.

I actually made a whole independent thread when I developed this:

http://www.overclock...drive-rack-ver2








The basic principle is this:

The hard drive mounts to a hard drive caddy, which is essentially a slab of plastic with some properly placed countersunk holes.

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The bracket-mount then slides into a hold-down unit.

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Then the bracket-mount gets locked down with a thumbscrew.

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#54 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 12:41 AM

Let’s go into more detail.


Hard drive caddies


My hard drive caddies are 1 ¼” wide and 7” long and are made of ⅛” acrylic.

In this picture I’ve labeled the holes in each piece and their relative distances.

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The hard drives mount to caddies with 6-32 (3.5” size drives) or M3 (2.5” size drives) screws.

The screw holes are countersunk, that way when the drives are mounted, the caddies can slide around without any screw heads dragging.







Hold down unit

The hold down unit is just another rectangle of plastic, I usually go with ½” wide--the length is variable based on how many hard drives you want--I’ve done as few as 2 and as many as 10.


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There are holes drilled at the exact centers of the spaces between the hard drive caddies (I typically space them at ¼”).




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The holes have screws (6-32) with spacers (in this picture 2 aluminum and 2 rubber) to guide the hard drive caddies into place.






Then to lock the the caddies in place, I use 6-32 thumbscrews. To receive the thumbscrews, I merely install 6-32 brass threaded inserts right into the appropriate location of the panel.

I’ve previously described use and installation of threaded inserts here.








Here you can see I’m planning out the location of everything, and the threaded inserts have been installed:

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And here I’ve gotten everything installed:

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This customer only wanted a 2 drive rack.

If you look closely, I’ve also installed an additional guide post, just helps slide the caddies into place easier.






As I’ve mentioned this system is easily scalable:

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Here is a six drive rack.
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#55 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 11:23 PM

Bracketry

5.25 Bay rack



Once again, when available, I’ve used prefabricated racks.

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However, these days, most people really only want a single unit.

So an easy way to bracket in a 5.25 drive like an optical drive, is to use a pair of ½” aluminum angle bracket, cut to 100mm, with some appropriately placed mounting holes.


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Mounting a 5.25 unit is as simple as sliding it into place, and screwing in the mounting screws (M3 sized):


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If you want more 5.25 bay units, and you can’t find a prefabricated unit, then you can add a pair of simple side brackets, made from 1 ½” aluminum rectangle (1/16” thickness, cut to 100mm), and mount one 5.25 bay unit onto the next, stack-style.


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#56 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 02 June 2017 - 11:07 PM

Bracketry

Power Supply Bracket


Simplest method for constructing a sturdy power supply bracket is to use two strips of ½”, 1/16” thick aluminum bar, mounted at the width of a power supply:



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The locations of the mounting holes are NOT symmetric--2 holes are offset from each axis.
So, in my bracket set, only 3 mounts are used at a time (which is plenty to secure to PSU), and the locations are dependent on which side the power supply is lying on.
So to accommodate a PSU on either, side, you have to make 6 holes.
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Posted 06 June 2017 - 12:53 PM


Bracketry

Switch Panel


I’ve always enjoyed building switch panels for my PC projects. I’m not sure why. It's probably a combination of things:
Not technically difficult.
But details matter a lot.
There is a lot of choice, even down to which buttons you choose.
The end result is easy to appreciate, not only visually, but tactile-wise.



Here are my starting components for a standard switch panel:

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Panel is made from 1 ½” aluminum bar, 1/16” thick, 100mm long
https://www.onlineme...1279&top_cat=60

1 chrome vandal momentary switch, domed--for the Power-On button
http://www.allelectr...omentary/1.html

1 chrome vandal momentary switch, flat--for the Reset button
http://www.allelectr...ary-n.o./1.html

2 LEDs (the client opted from green for power on, white for HD-activity), I’m using T1 (3mm)
http://www.goldmine-...s.asp?dept=1090

2 3mm LED holders
http://www.allelectr...3mm-leds/1.html

2x ½” wide, angle brackets
https://www.mcmaster...556a63/=17y39v2

Switch panel kit, I use this kit from Star Tech
https://www.startech...-Kit~BEZELWRKIT

Some screws and rivets

Your tools and materials for sleeving cables











First step was to mark my layout:

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And then to make my holes.

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The 4 holes on the outer edges are to mount the angle brackets--I will be using ⅛” rivets, so these holes are ⅛”.

The larger holes are for the chrome buttons--they are somewhere shy of ¾”. To make these holes I used a unibit.

The middle holes are 3/16” to fit the LED holders.

At this time, I also put in my brushed finish.











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Next I changed over the stock LEDs to my custom set. Old school soldering!














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Time to hook up all my cables.

The buttons have a thread hole with a screwdown. Since the wires are such thin gauge, I strip the ends, fold them back to double up the thickness, then solder the ends solid.

A single goop of hot-glue holds the LEDs in their holders quite well.















As you can see, this is a real rat’s nest of cables, so a bit of sleeving, and here is the finished product:

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Always important to test the functionality before releasing it to the wild:

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And here it is mounted in its final destination:

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#58 User is offline   Navig 

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 11:15 PM

Bracketry

Miscellaneous Brackets--The Brollocks Fan Bracket


When I was constructing Station #6, the client wanted a bracket that could fans over various parts of the motherboard. So he sketched out a concept. It became so popular that I would say more than half the time clients want it. I give you the Brollocks fan bracket.


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This is a picture from 2008 of the first Brollocks bracket.














First I start with some stock metal bar. It is 1” wide, 1/16” thick, 625mm in length.

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I’ve also laid out my plan. The 3 pink lines are where I will bend the metal. On each end are mounting holes for thumbscrews. And all along the length are locations to mount 120mm fans.

The pink lines/ bends come at 40mm (each measurement is + ~0.5mm to account for the radius of the bend) (and measuring from the left end of the picture above), 370mm and 592mm.
The first segment is the rise up from the PCI bracket (40mm), the next segment is to clear the distance over the motherboard (330mm), the third segments is the drop down to the panel (222mm), and the final segment is the foot to allow for a thumbscrew mount to the panel (30mm).

The fan holes I locate by eye, and I use the fan grill above to get the inter-hole distance spot on.














On the 3 lines where I plan to bend the metal, I will actually take my dremel and make a score. This will help make the bend much easier, more controlled, and more accurate.

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I also take this time to drill out all the mounting holes. You can do this later, but it is easier to do while the piece is still flat.
Also this would be the time to do any sort of finish work such as adding the brushed finish.

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The aluminum trim has the bend lines scored, and the fan holes drilled.














To make each of the 3 bends, I first carefully mount the piece in my vice, with the score line centered, and the piece perfectly perpendicular to the vice.

Then I add a little heat with a butane torch.

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Then I bend the aluminum, with a little “coaxing” with a hammer if necessary:
(use a block of wood with the hammer if you want to preserve a nice brushed finish!).

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Continue bending each of the 3 locations.

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And here is the completed bracket:

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Final mounting will technically have to wait until the station is essentially fully assembled, but this is how it will go:

At this end I add a threaded hole in the PCI bracket crossbar.

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On this end, I added a threaded insert into the deck of the panel.

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Mounts up with 2 thumbscrews.

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Fans can be mounted in any of the positions to get active cooling to whatever part of the motherboard you might need.

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