March 4, 2019 | 14:00
In Part 1 of our Battlefield V mod for Nvidia, we went about making the crate that the PC would eventually be fitted into. The chassis itself is a purpose-built, WWII era-inspired ammunition crate, the idea being you lift the lid to find a top spec, water-cooled PC inside beaming back up at you. With that task all polished up, it was time to turn our eyes to the interior.
Since this project was a scratchbuild, it meant going back to basics and trying to think through everything - no primary donor parts for this build, no sir! The first thing that was worth considering was that the chassis was far from perfect. In terms of dimensions the thing was all over the place thanks to the construction methods and materials used, and that meant that simply drawing up the whole build in CAD and trying to get it all cut in one go was likely not very straightforward. Similarly, if you recall back to Part 1, there was a vital community voting aspect that needed to be adhered to as well. That voting element meant that parts of the design would need to be flexible so that they could be quickly adapted to the choices made.
With that in mind, I decided to begin by roughing out some ideas as to how this thing should look. The easy choice would have been to have the motherboard lying flat in the base of the crate, with everything arranged around it. Frankly, though, that sounded like a proper half-arsed job; routing things would be messy and one would have to peer deep into the crate to see anything. To avoid those issues it made sense to raise the motherboard up so that it sits near the lid, making everything very visible whilst also giving space underneath for cabling and the PSU. This, however, raised another point: Where would the GPU go? Even if using a riser cable, the motherboard would have to sit behind the card, sinking it back into the case. The way around this was to angle the motherboard tray at 20°, which meant that the GPU would essentially be sitting at the same elevation as the top of the motherboard. It also had the advantage of presenting the hardware in a pleasing way towards anybody viewing the crate.
With that primary conundrum solved, I set to work designing the motherboard tray itself. Since this build was destined to contain a distro plate of sorts from the outset, it only made sense to have the motherboard tray perform this role. The first community vote was to decide the theme of the distro plate, with the choices being 'RTX' or 'Battlefield V'. As you can imagine, Battlefield V won the vote (but by only a small margin, I might add) so that was worked into the design too. In the end I went with a fairly straightforward design with a reservoir to the right of the motherboard, a few coolant channels, and cable pass-through holes to keep clutter away.
Machining the plate itself was a fairly easy task, although the engraving of the Battlefield V logo was rather exciting. To get a deeper cut, instead of using an engraving bit I opted for a 0.3mm endmill, which is beyond tiny. Amazingly it didn't snap and did quite a fantastic job if I'm honest. In addition to the acrylic work, I cut an aluminium panel to go on top of the plate. I don't usually do this as I really like the appearance of clear distro plates, but this one had a functional aspect too, holding some bulkhead fittings in place along with being able to tie into the next community vote: the interior colour scheme!
For the theme vote, users were given the choice of either having a woodland camo interior (so brown and green) or a navy camo (blue and grey). Rather inexplicably, navy was chosen here, which frankly still baffles me, but c'est la vie. The idea was that the chosen colour scheme would then be applied to the components and structural parts of the interior. The first component to go under the brush was the motherboard. I removed all the plastic shrouds and the heatsinks, then went about air brushing them a combination of royal blue and shadow grey. I had considered trying to add the camo pattern here, but since the pieces are quite small it felt like it would be perhaps too busy. Instead I decided to keep it fairly straightforward, simply adding some mild weathering here and there in order to add a little depth to the pieces.
The cover plate for the reservoir was more complicated, however, as that did require a pattern to be applied. It made sense to stick to using the airbrush for this, so I drew up a set of camo stencils in Illustrator and cut them on the vinyl plotter out of some glossy photo paper. I'm not particularly experienced with an airbrush, having only used one for a bit of model painting and cake decorating (of all things) in the past, so stencils seemed like the wise approach. From there it was simply a matter of layering up the colours and patterns to create a suitable camo effect.
The final element of the interior theme-work was doing a spot of upholstery. For the woodland camo I had planned on using some brown hessian, but since navy was chosen I opted for some navy camouflage fabric instead. A number of areas were going to be covered with wooden panels, these made for perfect candidates to be coated with the material. To do this I first applied a layer of 3M Spray Adhesive, then carefully wrapped the fabric around the parts. I left a fair bit of excess material around the edges so that they could be wrapped around and stapled in place from the other side.
November 22 2019 | 13:00