Chopper PC Worklog
After a lot of hunting I couldn't find any kind of clear that would apply with an airbrush. So what you see here is a satin finish clear that I used only as a fixative for the paint. It's important to note that AutoAir paints are not complete until they have been cleared. The
slightest tap will mess up the whole paintjob so you need to be careful with these paints and get them cleared as soon as possible and keep the painted surface safe and protected until you do. The above picture shows the paintjob with 5 coats of satin clear. I wouldn't even have dreamed of putting the airbrush and paint can on that thing if it
hadn't had at least a few layers of clear on it first.
While the paint was being done here at my place, the rest of the machine was transported to my sister Carol's place where my brother-in-law Steve helped a lot with the wiring and sleeving and some cutting work. Here's a photo of the guts of the Chopper before we got
down to doing much of anything about the rat's nest. In this photo you see the original motherboard with the Thermaltake Tower 112 HSF heatpipe cooling. A word of warning, this Thermaltake HSF is really nice in some regards but it does NOT work with the Elitegroup motherboards. It will not attach in proper orientation. What you see
here is the HSF installed sideways. It did NOT work. Furthermore the motherboard fried and had to be replaced. The current HSF on the rig is the stock Intel with the breather you see on the Tower 112 here. I had hoped to use the Tower and other copper components in the mod but had to scrap the whole idea not long after this. Also as you can see here,
the original GPUs are not installed. The reason? The GeForce 6800 Ultra SLI boards I purchased from EBay turned out to be dead on arrival. I'm still trying to recover the money from that $1000+ fiasco through PayPal and Ebay. The seller claims they worked when he sent them out but they were tested in a machine that works perfectly and were dead.
What's seen here is the replacement GeForce 6800 GT. The plan is to replace this with a 7800 GTX in the future.
Another shot of the interior of the Chopper shows the door open, this was taken at the same time as the above. As you can see, this is also prior to the chopping of the front door for the inclusion of the LCD display. The wiring is still a rats nest here and the 1947 Indian Chief is just resting on the case here but the Indian Fender Light is mounted
and lighting up like a champ. The only problem is that it's very bright. Initially these fender lights were meant to work with a 6v system and it's being given a 12v power plant here. I'm sure this is going to shorten the life of the bulb, but that's okay, I have replacements thankfully. The light acts as the power indicator for the rig. Of course the interior lights would have done that just fine but, when I had the oppertunity to get my hands on not one but two original 1947 fender lights for $100 I had to jump on it. The guy who sold them
to me threw in some original Indian licence plate screws as well. Bonus!
Back into the paint shop again. Boy do I wish I'd had my camera to take pics of this whole thing as I did it. I was not even the least little bit sure that this would work out the way I'd hoped. The process of painting this is outlined in the History section of the worklog. To
give a short version, basically by applying the base coat, aluminum coat (as with the other panel) and then multiple colors of vibrant badger paints then painting over those with two light coats of matte black I was able to achieve a wild see-through effect that actually
causes the colors to come through in a manner that's similar to what antifreeze spilled on the highway looks like. By putting another dusting of the coarse aluminum paint over that I had that asphalt look I was going for.
I shot this pic to show how the colors actually do shift depending on the direction of the light. For both side panels, the final clear coat was a pour-on Envirotex which is equal to 50 coats of varnish. It's amazingly deep and glossy. You'd have to pay a large chunk of change to get a clear finish like this at an autobody shop. On the down side,
because this is a pour-on finish I couldn't use it for the top of the case or the front door, it just wouldn't have worked.
I should note here, as we see this photo, that the etching for the case's window was done a long time before any of the painting. In fact, the first thing done on the Chopper PC was the right panel window cut. Initially we cut Indian Larry's shop logo in the right panel but
because it was very flimsy once it was cut into the aluminum we had to scrap the idea. It would have looked really nice but structurally it would have been a disaster. So we opted for a traditional rectangular cut window and it afforded me an oppertunity to do some etching. If you've seen "The Titan" project then you've seen some of my etching before. This "Indian Chief" head took about 6 hours to complete along with the lettering. I started by doing a sketch on watercolor paper in pencil and charcoal and scanned that into my father's computer so it could be printed. At the time I did not have a wide carriage printer but he did so that made it possible for me to print out a large scale template for this etch. When I etch I usually work with a pattern to get the basic lines in and then remove the pattern and place it near at hand then work freehand.
One of the difficulties of working with a template while etching is that the plexi refracts the image so that you've got to compensate for the offset caused by the refraction. I have found that one way to help cut down on refraction is to use direct overhead diffused lighting. It'll make refraction less of a problem and the diffusion cuts down on
reflections on the plexi.
Etching plexi presents a few challenges. If you've ever etched glass it's not dissimilar but you need to be mindful of a few differences. For one, plexi melts a lot easier. It's unlikely you'll get enough heat with a rotary tool to melt glass but plexi will melt quickly. So I keep
a wet sponge in a small dish of water handy to wipe the tip off onto every minute or so. I also take breaks every couple of minutes to let the tool cool off. This will cut down on pitting in the plexi considerably. It also helps to work with the plexi on a dark
(preferably black surface.
The above pic is more an attempt to show the guts than it is to show the etch. You can see the Edelbrock breather on the HSF here and some of the chrome split loom sleeving. Also you can see one of the chunky 120mm fans in the back of the rig. Lighting in here is provided by two Hyperlights (blue-white) and one green CCFL snatched off of an 80mm
Here's a photo of the 1947 Indian Chief die cast model I built for the top of the rig, LEDs in the headlights and turnsignals act as the HDD indicator lights. Wiring goes through the base which is mounted to the top of the case and is run through to take the place of the brake cables on the model.
This is what's "Behind the door" of the Chopper PC. The top bay device is a Thermaltake X-View, it's temporary. A BenQ Lightscribe goes in that bay but I thought, while it's empty, might as well through something of interest in there.
Second bay contains a Matrix Orbital MX2 red VFD. Redundant as hell since there's an LCD display in the door but again, open bay, had to put something in there. A multifunction flash reader will occupy this soon. I have these parts but just haven't had a chance to pop them in yet.
Bay 3 is nothing but a blank with a hole drilled in it to accomodate the wiring for the LCD. Optionally I could have run the wiring through the side of the front there but the drive cage would most likely have interfered and I didn't want to chance it, at least not yet, so this
works fine. Most of the time the door is going to be closed anyway so this will do the trick.
Next we've got your basic Musketeer II. I dig the retro guages, they fit this mod to a tee. The device displays audio output (left and right, sorry, no surround sound guages, everybody say "Awww!") with a HDD activity indicator in the center. Pure eye candy, none of this is at all necessary but I hadda have it.
In the next bay is the boot drive. In this case a WD Raptor 10,000 RPM SATA drive. I wanted something hot-swappable for the boot drive so that I could run multiple OS's without dual booting and be able to take that puppy on the go. It also keeps the drive nice and cool. To protect the guilty here I won't mention the name of the manufacturer of this bay device but I have got to say,whoever decided that this thing's fan default state should be "OFF" was goofy. You have to turn the fan on with each boot up. That's pretty sad. Luckily I do have another HDD hot swapper that I may replace this with.
Next on Your Hit Parade we have the Sony DRU-710A DVD +/- RW Dual Layer
optical drive. Maximum PC picked this baby as their uber-drive at the time I bought it. They gave it the highest possible review. Ain't done me wrong yet, I've got two of them. It's a nice drive.
Lastly, the 3.5" bay (actually a converted 5 1/4" bay) contains the switch that controls the color display for the Musketeer II.
Ok, I'll admit it, this picture serves almost no purpose, doesn't show much but I thought it was a neat shot. This is the current PSU in the Chopper as well as the two 80mm fans. The PSU also has a blue lighted fan in it. You can see some of the split loom and oh, hey, that's my dining room window in the reflection. Heh.
Another eye-candy shot, this pic shows the paintjob off. See the history of the project for more details on the painting process here.
Right panel, tailpipe shot here. Chromey goodness. Obviously real motorcycle tailpipes just wouldn't have fit on a computer, so I had to think of some way to do this that'd look like a tailpipe. Finding the right bend joints was almost as difficult as finding scaled down
motorcycle piping. That is, it was almost impossible. I think I must have spent a grand total of a months time in Home Depots hunting for the parts to make the tailpipe attach to the case. Check the history for the story of how we were lucky enough to be able to make the case cut to fit the piping.
I want to address the issue of the use of decals here. It was a serious concern. Use them or don't use them? The Chopper is about the way Indian Larry thought about building bikes. He wanted to make use of showing off what makes a chopper a chopper. He wasn't afraid to let the guts show and let the bike look rough. But he also added style, flare
and artistic oomph ot everything he built. So the left side of the Chopper PC shows that artistic flare while the right showcases the "parts" appeal.
Using various decals from vendors who produce motor parts just seemed like the right way to go. Having one side be more elegant and the other let it all hang out just seemed, to me, to capture Larry's style the way I thought it might work on a computer.
I got some grief about this whole project NOT being some stupid computer built into the shape of a motorcycle, or sticking a PC in a motorcycle tank. To my thinking, that's not what Larry would have done if he built computers. When he built a bike, he made sure it was a bike and you knew it. He didn't try to build motorcycles that looked like
something else, he built motorcycles that looked like motorcycles but may have elements of other things. Like Larry's last ride, the Rat Fink bike, which paid tribute to another artist, it portrayed that art but it was still ALL chopper. The Chopper PC is a computer and I in no way wanted to disguise it inside something else. I was never attempting to create something that looked like a motorcycle. I was attempting to create a computer that pays homage to a great motorcycle builder. So the Chopper PC contains elements of a Chopper but is without a doubt a computer.
This is just another view of the right side, showing more of the decals, the tailpipe, a bit of the lighting/etching and guts.
This is just a glory shot, to show off just how deep and glossy the clearcoat is on the case. That's a Saitek Eclipse keyboard there. I have way too many keyboards and mice. :) Unfortunately, if you look carefully you can probably see last night's dinner dishes also sitting on the table.
The "NoS" bottle. Ugh, what a pain in the rear end this part of the project was. First, finding a bottle to use. Real NoS bottles are a bit prohibativly expensive. So what I wound up with was a 2lb class E oxygen tank from an EBay auction. Painted a combination of candy red and pearl red and spray-clear coated a satin finish. I had to paint and
repaint this bottle 8 seperate times. Every time I'd paint it, something would screw up the paint. First it was a mosquito, then dog hair, then a scratch on the paint... Ugh! Eventually I dragged my butt out of bed early one morning, hung the bottle from a post on the back
deck and started painting. I parked myself in a chair next to it through the whole process until the final clear coat was dry. At that point I'd reached the decision that if this paint job didn't work out I was giving up on this part of the project.
Those NoS decals on the bottle, damned expensive, $10 each! Man that's expensive for decals. But they're so cool looking. The mounting brackets are actually what you'd use to hold up drain pipes to your house, painted to match. They're attached using big ol' brass bolts and wingnuts on the inside. The tank weighs quite a few pounds so they had to clamp down real tightly.
The most difficult part here was mounting the high pressure hose. Steve tried to talk me into using a bit of the chrome split loom but I wanted that real high pressure hose on there. Bill Fosgrave (From our hosting company, Giggle Hosting) came up with the final solution to get the high pressure hose to attach. After trying a million combinations of
reducers to get the screw ends to attach to the bottle, he suggested hose clamps. DUH! Talk about a stroke of genius. So I snipped off the ends of the hose and used hose clamps to hold the hose to the tank and a bolt put through from the inside of the case gave us a place to put the hose clamp on to attach it to the panel. Whew!
A pic to show the Indian Fender light (unlit) on the top of the case.
And lastly, the fender light, on...
So, what's next for the Chopper PC project? Depending on how things go with some contests there's DDR2 memory to be thrown in, a GeForce 7800GTX SLI Board and so forth but as for the modding aspects of it, read more for details...
The Chopper PC isn't ever really going to be finished. What initially started out as a project being done for the cover of PC Modder Issue #3 has become something I'm going to have to use myself and probably for a very long time. I have other plans for the mod, the first of which will include a how-to on using polymer clay in case modding. If you're familiar with my previous rig "The Necronomicase" then you've seen an extreme example of using polymer clay in modding. That rig is entirely shrouded in the stuff. For the Chopper, I'll be using the clay to make a more realistic highway for the Indian Chief to be driving down. I'll go over how to mould the clay and make it do what you want and airbrushing the details in. The highway will include some grass on the edges of the sidewalk and a curb. I might opt for something totally old school, in the way of a cobblestone street. It's also most likely going to cover the top-front portion of the rig where I have the Indian stickers. I'm not at all happy with that there, it doesn't look completed.
Next project involves a bit of tailpipe I snatched at a local automotive specialty store, a 1 into 2 flared pipe. It's considerably larger (diameter) than the current pipe so I'll need to find some way to reduce it and make it fit.I don't know if such a thing even exists, if not it'll have to be something I can make myself.
The interior lighting on the rig isn't what I initially wanted, so when the new PSU arrives that'll take out the blue light that exists in the current PSU and I'll replace the lighted 80mm fans with (if I can find them) white lighted fans. If I can't find them then I'll rewire the existing chrome 80mm's with white LED's. The green CCFL and blue Hyperlights will be going out and white CCFL's will replace them. This mod isn't about bling bling, it's about old school. I want the interior to be visible but not like a discoteque. I think plain white lighting is the appropriate way to go there. If not that then perhaps red light but no multi-colors. It just doesn't get the look I want for this mod.
I'd like to encourage all of you who read this to visit the forums and give your suggestions on future ideas for this mod in the new Chopper PC Worklog forum. Keep in mind when you make suggestions that there's no budget left for this, it'll have to be cheap or stuff I can get that I have on hand and also that the philosophy here is to NEVER put down another modder's work. Constructive criticism only please, for everyone's work.
Note for this bit-tech worklog: This is a mirror of the worklog on my own site,
so some of the references in it pertain to my own website, you can visit there if you'd like to or just ignore those references. Redoing the whole log just seemed like a huge task. But I'd still like to hear from folks here about what I might do to move forward with this project.
Thanks for reading my worklog folks! I've entered it into the AC Ryan Great Worklog contest and they suggested that I take the log "on the road" one of the places they recommended I take it to was a Bit Tech, but for some reason their moderator slapped it to the curb. I hope that doesn't happen here. I've been a user of this site for a long time, though not often a poster in the forums. Hope you liked the log so far, more to come! Lemmy know yer thoughts and ideas!
Iím a Great Worklog Contestant and so are you...
October 10th Update - The Pipe
After a short stay in the hospital (Yes again), and a bit of time recovering, I've gotten the exhaust pipe finished. It now sports a 1 into 2 split that takes the exhaust the length of the case, A small smoke package sits inside the case (not pictured) that'll throw small puffs of smoke out of the exhaust.
Click for larger pics
Click pics for larger versions!
I did the pipe first, which required that I find a way to make a 1 1/2" plumbing pipe fit with a 2 1/2" exhaust tip from Pep Boys. I hunted for something that would do the trick but as you might expect, nobody could imagine why on earth someone would want to mate plumbing pipe with exhaust pipes. Oh well, that's the way it goes, time to improvise. Since I've used polymer clay in other mods with success, I decided to go that route again. Moulding a mount out of clay until the fit was just right and I was sure there'd be a way for the smoke and light to pass through and out the rear of the pipes I eventually got the thing looking somewhat decent and fired it. I was concerned that the chrome might discolor in the heat but, it didn't. I wasn't so much worried about the tailpipe, that stuff is used to heat but the plumbing pipe I wasn't so sure about. But it made it through without any problems.
I hand painted the polyclay flat blackso it didn't look goofy (Terra cotta would have just been so wrong) and let that dry and then mounted it to the case... Then over the course of about 20 minutes the whole assembly sagged to the ground. I didn't expect it but, after whipping out a monster sized pipe wrench and tightening up the pipe on the case it's been steady ever since.
I then had to extend the 6" red CCFL's with some extra wire so they'd reach the twin pipes and fit the smoke package so it didn't pour smoke inside the case. That was just a matter of using the universal fixer, Duct Tape (Yeahh for Duct Tape!). :) The pipe is finished!
Harder than doing that was actually getting the decals off the side that I didn't like. If you've ever tried using that Goo Gone stuff, don't bother, it doesn't work worth a damn. Some cooking oil or baby oil has the same effect. Took me 3 hours a day for 3 days to get those $*$#ing stickers off. UGH! A whole bottle of that worthless Goo Gone and a half bottle of cooking oil later I got all the worst ones off. I think I'll keep the Harley and Hell on Wheels on there, they look a lot nicer than the others. On top of which, the Harley one was $15. Expensive damned decal huh?
Next Step: The highway on the top... I haven't yet decided whether it should be an asphalt highway or a rough looking dirt/gravel road. Both of them would be fun to do, the dirt/gravel would be a little more complicated and might be more of a fun challenge.
As always, this log is mirrored other places, including my site, [H]ardOCP Forums and BitTech Forums.
WM all the way man :D...
Sick mod... i wish i had that sorta money :D
Ha, me too! As in I wish I had the money I put into this to start all over from scratch with newer technology and the knowledge and experience I got from doing this one. It'd be ten times better, hell 100 times better. :)
lol, never forget "Any mod worth doing is worth overdoing."
Yeah, but I don't have the scratch anymore. Wanna buy the Chopper PC? $14,000.00 (US), then I can start all over.
ummm i believe i said before... i cant even afford a LCD, how could i afford 3 ok condition cars, let alone the Chopper PC
You also said you didn't have any money problems, so which is it? And if you're really that desperate for an LCD screen, email me your address, I think I've got an old LCD watch around here you can have.
i am talking bout a 17" LCD Which uses a TFT Matrix :P and 16 million colours
Yes i haven't got much money (20 bucks to be exact)
$20 AU? Ouch, dude, that sucks... Well at least you can buy a pack of gum, right? :)
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