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Case Mod: Anti-Dustbunny
Written by Mojo1340   
Sunday, 04 July 2004 08:14
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Case Mod: Anti-Dustbunny
Final assembly
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Mojo1340 shows the first part of his high performance, high flow anti-dustbunny mod. Designed to protect against the dustbunnies everywhere whilst not compromising on airflow. An unexpected side effect of the mod was the reduction in fan noise from the machine too!

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I live in a house in the former dust bowl region of the United States with my lovely wife, two teenagers and three cats. I keep my computers in the basement as it’s the darkest, coolest place in the house. The basement bathroom also houses the cat boxes with their full compliment of “dustless” litter. This is also where the kids choose to entertain their friends and play video games. If you haven’t figured out where this is going yet, I can sum it up in five words: I have a dust problem!

The combination of airborne kitty litter, hair (both feline and human), shed skin from seven mammals and the other detritus of modern life all seems to end up inside of my computer case. It wasn’t until I installed a Zalman CNPS7000A-CU cooler that I realized just what all this stuff floating around in the air can do. I started to notice that after only a few weeks, the exposed copper fins of the cooler were collecting a liberal coating of this……..stuff. I saw this as a problem, and problems must be solved!

Before we get to the solution, let me give you a little background on the machine I’ll be working on. I built this system about two years ago to replace an aging Emachines that had served me well for several years. I ended up getting an ASPIRE Turbo Case X-Dreamer Black Mid-Tower Case with 350W Power Supply and side window with an 80mm fan that blows air directly on the cpu area of the mobo as well as a top blowhole fan. I personally like this case very much and think it is an excellent value for a pre-modded case. I replaced the PSU with a 400W Antec and have done a few stick-on, bolt-on mods but it’s pretty much like I got it. I’m sure that this mod could be performed on any case with the judicious use of drill, holesaw and Dremel. Here’s the victim.

Victim Machine

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I’ve always been somewhat of a motorhead and tinkerer so when this problem reared its ugly, dusty head I felt that the solution should be well within my grasp. I went out to the garage and removed the air cleaner from one of my bikes but it was just too big. So away I went to the local auto parts store. You can see what I came home with!

It’s a replacement filter element for a custom air cleaner (Mr. Gasket part #1489A, Spectre #4809 $7). With an outside diameter of just under 4 inches, the filter fits nicely behind an 80mm fanguard. At 2 inches thick, the pleated paper element will easily flow enough air for this purpose with minimal restriction. Now all I have to do is figure out how to mount it.

The first order of business was to cover the large opening on one end of the filter to allow the fan to draw air through the paper filter. I chose to use some 0.016 inch aluminum sheet I already had. It’s easily cut with utility shears and can be easily polished or painted. You could use cardboard or plastic but I found the aluminum sheet very easy to work with. I used some dividers (you could use a compass or jar lid etc.) to scribe a circle on the sheet and cut it out with some shears. Be careful, the bits you cut off to make your disk can be very sharp! Remove any burrs with a file or sandpaper and you’re done.

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Next, I went to the hardware store to get some, well, hardware. After measuring all the components, I calculated that I’d need some machine screws about 3.5 inches long. I couldn’t find any that long in the size I wanted so I decided to make my own.

I picked up 2 pieces of 6-32 threaded rod 12 inches long, 8 acorn cap nuts and 8 washers, size 6-32, and a 1 foot piece of 5/16 thin wall aluminum tubing. I also got 2 neoprene O-rings 3.5 inches in diameter with a 1/8 inch cross section. (All this came to less than $7, including a 15x24 inch window air conditioner filter and a roll of aluminum tape. More on this later.)

I then cut the threaded rod with a hacksaw to obtain 4 “screws” 3.5 inches long and dressed the ends with a file so the nuts would thread on easily. Using a tubing cutter, I cut 4 pieces of aluminum tubing 2 inches long and opened up the cut ends with an Xacto knife so the tubing would slide over the “screws” I made earlier. The aluminum tubes are purely cosmetic. This is what I ended up with.

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Now for the final assembly! As you can see in the case picture, I already had a fan, fanguard and a hole to mount the filter. So off came the side panel. After removing the 4 mounting screws I had everything apart and ready for assembly. Mr. Bones approves!

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Place 4 acorn nuts on the threaded rods and place then through the holes in the corners of the fanguard. Turn this assembly upside down and place on a stable, flat surface. Center the disk on the fanguard and put the filter on top of the disk. Lay an O-ring in the groove on the filter. 4 washers then go over the screws. Mr. Bones says you should end up with something like this.

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Next, place the side panel over the 4 screws and stretch the other O-ring over the screws. The filter assembly will be on the outside of the panel and the second O-ring on the inside.

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This O-ring gives a good seal as well as dampening any vibrations that the fan may generate. Speaking of the fan, it goes on next followed by the acorn nuts. Be sure to orient the fan so it blows air into the case. Most have an arrow to indicate air flow. Snug up the nuts, being careful not to break the fan, check the fan to see that it turns freely and you’re done with this phase of the project. It should look like this.

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Here’s a view from the other side. As you can see, I covered the aluminum disk with some carbon fiber vinyl to match what I did to my case front and keyboard.

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Plug the fan in, put the side panel back on and we’re good to go. Here’s a shot of the case with the filter installed. Notice the blowhole fan mod on top of the case. A fan in this location really keeps case temperatures down. I can control top, side and front fan speeds from a 3.5 inch bay bus on the front panel. An interesting side benefit of this mod is that the filter also makes a very good muffler. I now run this fan as fast as it will go and it’s whisper quiet.

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I know, I know. The wiring is a mess. I’m upgrading the processor, memory and graphics card soon and will sleeve and dress the wiring then.

Next, I’ll filter the air coming in the front and rear of the case and then we’ll see how air flow and temperature are affected, if at all.



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