Realgar Project by Explore Modding

Hello everyone and welcome on the worklog for my main entry for this year's Case Mod World Series, Realgar Project, based on a Cooler Master SL600M with a mineral stone as theme, the Realgar.

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So let's take a look at the case while I take it apart to start modding

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First thing to do: find a more optimal placement for the PSU, which will be more far into the front, with this custom brackets (after having done the necessary cuts on the case panel)

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Back panel is swapped with a 10mm acrylic panel which will house the 360 radiator. This aluminum profile on the sides will help squaring out the internals and will serve as covers and structure elements for the center panel

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Let's leave it at this huge acrylic panel, about to be sectioned

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First I made some tests for the hardware layout, as I want to find a new way of mounting it, and this is the best option I could find. Obviously it's approximate:

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Then I started to draw and cut the designs for the air vents, single 120 for the PSU fan and 360 for the back radiator.

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First 10mm acrylic panel

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 Second 5mm panel that will go together with the 10mm one

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 And this is the effect with the two panels mounted together. They will have two different colours eventually and should create a very nice effect :D

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Initially, you saw that I kept the PSU at the front with that fancy grill and all, but I realised it took up way too much space. So I realized that the top could easily house the PSU by cutting off some of the plastic structure of the external top panel. So what I have now is the PSU at the top and about 5cm more in the internals.

 

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Next was the rear I/O ports, that have to be rethinked because of the layout I'm going to use for the motherboard: I grabbed some panel extensions and integrated them to the rear foot:

 

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And last but not least, a simple yet very effective mod. The external panels on the SL600M come with a hooking systems that allows you to remove them by reaching the internal hooks and popping them off. This means you have to potentially open the case if you have to remove the external top or front panel, moreover you will have those hooks sticking out into the case, which make custom panels and covers hard to make. What I did was making four brackets with threaded inserts that I could fix the front panel to using four screws. Yeah now I have to use a screwdriver to take it off but at least I will have a flat area internally and I won't have to reach in the case to remove an external panel. Plus this was mandatory for the things I have in mind anyway :D

 

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Made this to replace the previous PSU mounting. It will be a sort of lightbox, it's composed of three layers: a white opale one, and two clear with crystal patterns that will be painted red and in white stone effect.
Can't wait to see this all painted and lit up :D

 

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Adding some crystal patterns to the radiator covers that will also serve as something else other than covers. You'll see as I go on with the fabrications :D

 

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Today we're taking a look at some pieces I've made with the epoxy resin from Resin Pro, which are the center panel that will hold most of the hardware, and the power button.

 

I obviously started by making the mold for the panel

 

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Then I made a couple pours, the final thickness will be about 15mm but I really didn't want the resin to get too hot so I proceded with pours of about 5/6mm each.
The surface changed completely while the resin cured, that's one thing to keep in mind if you want a very specific look

 

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Next up was cutting the panel in the shape I wanted and doing some more creative work on one side and then clear coating with a thin pour. I used aluminum tape to seal the edges

 

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After sanding and doing a bit of polishing I made the mount to the case, using a hollow aluminum tube with a threaded bar inside, which goes from bottom to top of the case, while I made a simple bracket on the back that attaches to the radiator. This way the panel is 100% solid mounted

 

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And now a little bonus I mentioned before, the gem as power button :D

 

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Made a lightbox for the front layered panels, I made it with red LEDs at first but I'll change it to WRGB later

 

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And now doing something that I think could be implemented in a possible "Gaming Version" of the SL600M: a lit trim behind the front panel!

I started cutting an acrylic frame to size and bending it using the original panel as a template

 

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When I put the frame behind the aluminum I had to adjust the bend radius so I heated more and shaped it perfectly

 

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As for the plastic part of the front, I cut off all the pieces that were sticking out, to allow more space for the cables that will run through the front

 

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Here are the lightbox lit and the front trim

 

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I reshaped the two back panels with this characteristic cut I'm bringing along this whole project, to make it smoother and more geometric

 

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Also began working on the front and top panels cutouts, I made this simple design in Silhouette Studio, cut the stencil and went over it with a pen once I applied it to the panel, this way all the sections in both panels will be exactly the same. It would've been hard doing it by hand since they're very irregular shapes. Obviously cut with my trusty scrollsaw

 

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And as anticipated in the previous post, I swapped the red LEDs of the lightbox with WRGB strips

 

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Same treatment for the top panel, again cut with a scrollsaw

 

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And now something pretty unique. Aside from the resin panels, the new technique I couldn't wait to try out for this project was... growing crystals! And what better fitting project than a Realgar project? :D 

What I did was forming a shape in polymer clay, let it dry, then coating it with glue and lay some borax on the surface, so that it could cover it and stay there once the glue dried.

Then I boiled some water and created a saturated solution with borax, adding it until it couldn't dilute anymore. I put the piece in the solution, waited over night and here you go: a nice big geode!

 

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Unfortunately, I tried to dye the solution with red, because I wanted the crystals to be red, but it turned out I had to add sooo much dye in order to obtain a crystal that was red enough. In fact, what I got was more like a pink salt colour

 

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Ready to take on another try (that would've meant buying gallons of dye), I thought YOLO and tried to paint the crystal with a metallic red, which is also a bit translucent, so maybe I wouldn't have lost most of shine from the crystals. And it turned out awesome, even better than I could've imagined!

 

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This is what it was made for

 

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Still for the front panel, I had to make something to fill the other cutouts I made. So I cut a pair of acrylic panels, turned them into a frame and taped the bottom with aluminum tape. It was time for another epoxy pour!

 

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Finally got started with the paintjob! I had a very specific idea for this: balancing a stone colour/effect with shiny red details that resembled the minerals inside the stone. For that purpose, I chose two colours for the stone, an avory white and a golden grey, and helped myself with two different stone effects from Rustoleum. They're simply clear coats with chunks of paint in it, that will simulate a stone-ish look after having dried.

 

I started with the main frame of the chassis, giving it the golden grey

 

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Then I moved on to the two panels from the lightbox, as well as the two back panels (how cool to they look when clear? :D ). This time I went with the avory white

 

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And the internal top and bottom panels are done as well

 

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I also gave a stone look to the radiator, and now it's a true monolith with crystal fins! :D Some will have doubts about painting the fins, but to be honest, for what I want to achieve with this project, I won't need those 2-3 degrees, but I really needed to get rid of most of the black in the build

 

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It's external panels' turn now. I mainly used avory white for these, except for the plastic part of the front panel, for which I used the golden grey

 

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Since the shape of the pipe cleaners was still a bit too visible, and I wanted some bigger crystal, I grabbed some of the single crystals left from the first batch, and super glued them on the new geode

 

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The painted and the result was beautiful imho!

 

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Then I went to finally put the front panel together! This whole panel took a whole lot of work and different techniques applied, but I think it was well worth it.

 

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Also painted the top mesh, after having stripped the black paint off it, so that when going over with the metallic red, which is slightly translucent, some of the shine from the metal would pop up

 

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Bonus pic: I finally finished polishing the resin panel. Man it does take quite a lot of work to get a nice result!

 

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For the little panels that I had made for top and bottom, I also shaped the front end so that I didn't have a straight line (since it appears straight lines are enemies in this project :D), but I didn't like how I could see what was behind, so I made two little red pieces and put them there to close the hole. I really like the contrast there

 

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I gave the GPU a stone look as well. I didn't paint anything red because this GPU has load of RGB lights that will be set to red

 

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And to continue with the crystal treatment, a mod that's been pretty controversial on social media in the last days. Everyone seemed to care a bit too much about VRM thermals in a show build, or let alone in a H370 motherboard that can't even use overclock. Painting VRM is something I've been doing for years and never once it gave me an issue.

As for the red crystals, I glued them in and painted, just like I did for the external piece. Everyone seemed to compare it to jam, ketchup, candy and stuff like that, but I think it will look as it should once in the finished build.

 

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The final assembly goes on, hardware with cables extensions are in.

 

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Now to the tubes. Tubes and fittings will be the big contrast I wanted against the natural and rough look the build has, thanks to the shine from the acrylic tubes and chrome from the fittings.

 

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PSU and all the cables are in as well. What I've been doing in my project for quite some time now, is not handling cable management on the main sides of the case, to allow for more beautiful look all around the build. In this case, I was able to put the PSU hidden in the top section, that is being used, together with the bottom section, as space for cable management. While the hidden front section is being use to route the needed cable to the bottom. This makes cable management way easier and comfortable as opposed to the traditional way, where you have a couple cm of space at max. It may not be pleasing to the eye, but once the build is complete, not a single cable will be visible at all, except for the beautiful extensions, and as for practicity, it has no rivals.

 

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The coolant is in with zero leaks!

 

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OS installed and now struggling with RGB softwares. Geez I hate them!

 

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Topped everything off with a nice little badge with tribute to the 10th anniversary and my signature.

 

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And just before doing the final shooting, it wanted to receive some compliments with his brother Oracle at Milan Games Week 2019 :D

 

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CMWS19 family shot before the shooting, with Sky Three

 

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Realgar is a project inspired and designed following the rules of nature. Initially, the goal was to create a big stone monolith with a red geode inside, and I achieved that. In the end, it came out as what I like to call "controlled chaos": the resin texture, the handmade patterns on the panels, the crystals, were all designs that I didn't or couldn't plan exactly, that's why this build is connected to nature, unpredictable.

Aside from that, Realgar features modifications for the SL600M that could be implemented in future versions, such as the lit trim on the front panel or the unique cable management sections.

To break the naturalistic mood comes the watercooling loop, to which I gave a really modern and shiny look to achieve that contrast between nature and industry.

The two main sides of Realgar feature two very different approaches, one being very minimalistic, and one more crowded, to please most eyes in different ways.

The floating hardware panel inside is what makes this mod really pop, as I think it really looks like it's suspended in the air and it creates a really pleasant sight when looking at the internals.

 

Specs:

 

Case: Cooler Master SL600M

Motherboard: MSI H370 Gaming Plus

CPU: i5-9400F

RAM: XPG D60G 16gb 3000MHz

SSD: XPG Gammix S11 Pro 512gb m.2

PSU: Cooler Master MWE Gold 750W

GPU: MSI GTX 1660 Ti GamingX

Watercooling: Alphacool Custom Loop

PCI-e Riser: EZDIY-Fab

Sleeved extensions: CableMod Pro Cables

 

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