Completed Circle Pro - Solid Alu CNCed mini-itx case - 240mm liquid cooling

CircleTect

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Circle Studio
May 1, 2017
116
482
circlestudio.co
Any updates?

Working on a big update.

I've changed the supported power supply to be a standard SFX unit. This restricts the GPU to a mini-itx form factor, but as the discussion in this thread has helped crystallise, that's perfectly suitable for the goals of this case.

The power supply is mounted in a shroud which will hide cable clutter and hopefully make cable management a breeze.

Also in this update are more refined panel construction details which are taking some time to get right. Will post when I'm happy with the progress!
 

CircleTect

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Circle Studio
May 1, 2017
116
482
circlestudio.co
Actually, before I post a big update, I'd like to share a small thing I'm working on.

Does anyone here have any experience working on custom buttons? Here's my first pass at one. Not pictured are the springs which will fit in between the housings to provide resistance. I'm using a stock switch which can be bought super cheap in large quantities.





 

Aibohphobia

aka James
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
4,956
4,717
how much travel is there?

One problem I kept running into on the CoolerMaster N200 cases is the button was only keyed on one side like your renders, so the button body would tilt slightly when pressed. This would wear down the plastic until eventually it'd cause the button to jam because it could tilt too much within the housing.
 

iFreilicht

FlexATX Authority
Feb 28, 2015
3,241
2,355
freilite.com
Actually, before I post a big update, I'd like to share a small thing I'm working on.

Does anyone here have any experience working on custom buttons? Here's my first pass at one. Not pictured are the springs which will fit in between the housings to provide resistance. I'm using a stock switch which can be bought super cheap in large quantities.






Looks like a decent design to me. Is the ring supposed to light up? Because if so, this might become a little costly to produce.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Biowarejak

owliwar

Master of Cramming
Lazer3D
Silver Supporter
Apr 7, 2017
585
1,080
custom buttons!! It was thinking on making one but I didn't know where to start but you made it more clear to me. I was planning on using normal power switches that are sold pre-wired, that square one? this way you wouldn't need an spring.

that round holes on the base are for the leds? I can see it working. 2 leds on each side... that might work.
rgb leds would be easy to customize
 

CircleTect

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Circle Studio
May 1, 2017
116
482
circlestudio.co
Is the ring supposed to light up?

Hadn't planned on it. I'd prefer to use laser etching, pad printing, or some other technique to put a symbol on it. Undecided on that point so far!

One problem I kept running into on the CoolerMaster N200 cases is the button was only keyed on one side like your renders, so the button body would tilt slightly when pressed.

This is a really good point. I might let the button fully rotate to reduce wracking from the key detail. I might also make the travel distance minimal.

that round holes on the base are for the leds?

Round holes were for springs actually, but I think I'm going to change to use just one spring now.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Biowarejak

CircleTect

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Circle Studio
May 1, 2017
116
482
circlestudio.co


Hey guys, I have a big update to share - but it's late, so I'll just post this for now. Most internal details have been resolved, albeit roughly. Could technically prototype it now, but will probably do a few more detail passes first.

Major design features:

  • No visible screws, anywhere
  • Solid black anodized aluminium case, premium CNC machined
  • Glass panels held to body with magnets
  • Glass panels now have finger groove at base for easy removal
  • Have locked off the power supply to be SFX, best for standardisation and fit
  • PSU is mounted in a shroud that hides cable clutter
  • GPUs supported up to length 215mm
  • Easily removable SSD cradle that accomodates 3 x extra drives above standard M.2 support on the motherboard
  • Simple airflow concept - air flows in through feet, pushed up by 2 x 120mm PWM slim fans (and easily serviceable dust filters with a sliding tray concept) up through all components, and then expelled out the top of the unit through the 240mm radiator mounted with an additional 2 x PWM 120mm fans (which are also encased in a shroud to mount to top panel and hide cable runs)
  • Custom power button, currently on revision 3
  • Completely clean back panel, no visible GPU bracket or screws
  • Assembly concept involves mounting components to the appropriate side panel (4 panels in total), which are then assembled together. No skeleton frame necessary
 

ulhurusurf

Case Bender
New User
Jun 11, 2017
2
0
Hi guys,

I’m super excited to be starting a new project and would love to collaborate with you all to make something great.

I’ve learnt a lot from my last project, Circle One, which you can check out the results from in the HardForum thread HERE or in a photo album HERE.

I’m using this case as my main workstation right now, and it’s fantastic, but there is one thing that really bothers me about it: fan noise under load.

Because SFF cases sit right in front of you on the desk, noise is a critical factor. The limited TDP capacity of slimline coolers like the NH-9Li means that when I do serious work on the Circle One using an i7-7700, the CPU fan ramps up to an annoyingly noticeable level. This isn’t such an issue for gaming, as headphones are in use, but for day-to-day work it is a significant annoyance.

My pitch is this: noise is a problem in this form factor and I think a lot of us struggle with it. I’d like to have a go at solving this in a high performance SFF system, whilst at the same time delivering a beautifully engineered, premium case.

The first part of the solution is obviously to increase cooling performance and to reduce and/or control fan speeds. To that end, the defining component of this design is a 240mm AIO. Everything is defined by this part, including the width and depth of the case. Keeping the fans at a low RPM is important, so choosing an appropriate TDP CPU to maintain steady, low speeds is preferable.

I’ve considered going completely fanless and making the case a passive heatsink with custom heatpipes, but I think that could be a fairly intimidating project. I might consider that for next time. For now, I want to focus on off-the-shelf components.

A focus of this case will be high end manufacturing materials and techniques. Think sand blasted aluminium, rubber mounting grommets, dust filters, CNC machined modular frame parts (instead of sheet metal) and a minimal aesthetic.

Here’s a screenshot of my first pass at a design. One of my friends mentioned that it looks a little similar to the Jonsbo UMX1.



I think the UMX1 is a beautiful case - but I think we can take the concept further and concentrate it into something even better. Below is a mockup of the new concept compared to the UMX1.



Specs:

  • SFX and SFX-L compatible
  • MINI-ITX gpu (maximum card length TBD)
  • 240mm AIO
  • Optional tempered glass side panel
  • Multiple 2.5” drive mounting options
  • More to come

Here is “Project Two” in a lineup with other community developed cases (and a few bigger names as well). I think this helps give perspective on where this concept fits in the family of cases.







Every case has design priorities. This case emphasises:

  1. Low noise
  2. Premium industrial design
  3. Small form factor
  4. Performance

Below are some concept renders. Please note that these renders don’t include important details yet, such as PSU venting holes, case panel parting lines, etc. These renders are just for general concept validation before I go into more detail with the CAD.






What do you guys think? Can anything be clarified or better defined? What would you change in the design brief or in the component choice or layout? Any and all feedback welcome.

Ps. This is my first post on these forums, super glad to be here.
perhaps get an acoustic engineer to employ a sampler and link it with a white noise generator ..using transducers on a small circuit board... this will sample and eliminate fan noise using out of phase reproductions of the fans noise... perhaps..just a thought.
 

ulhurusurf

Case Bender
New User
Jun 11, 2017
2
0
when can i in australia buy this case from you... i am using a LIAN LI pctu 200 aluminium case at the moment for my mini itx build at the moment..
 

Aibohphobia

aka James
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
4,956
4,717
perhaps get an acoustic engineer to employ a sampler and link it with a white noise generator ..using transducers on a small circuit board... this will sample and eliminate fan noise using out of phase reproductions of the fans noise... perhaps..just a thought.

Noctua is working on a Active Noise Cancellation project, except they're vibrating the fan blades themselves to produce the out of phase sound waves. They've found that even with controlled setup using a specific fan and specific heatsink it's difficult to do though, because if it's even just a little off then it contributes to the fan noise instead of cancelling it.
 

Phuncz

Lord of the Boards
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Gold Supporter
May 9, 2015
5,128
4,482
I like this project a lot, I can't wait to see how you managed to hide all the screws !
 
  • Like
Reactions: Biowarejak

CircleTect

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Circle Studio
May 1, 2017
116
482
circlestudio.co
That looks awesome!

Thanks man!

Noctua is working on a Active Noise Cancellation project, except they're vibrating the fan blades themselves to produce the out of phase sound waves. They've found that even with controlled setup using a specific fan and specific heatsink it's difficult to do though, because if it's even just a little off then it contributes to the fan noise instead of cancelling it.

Huh, super interesting. Do you know if they've done anything with asymmetrical fan blades to spread the tonal frequencies?

I like this project a lot, I can't wait to see how you managed to hide all the screws !

Thanks! Mostly with heavily machined internal wall components. This won't be a cheap case, but I'm hoping it will be amazing.

Oh god yes. Count me in for when the prototypes come out!

Glad you're in! Hope you're ready for the pricetag though :p
 

Aibohphobia

aka James
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
4,956
4,717
Do you know if they've done anything with asymmetrical fan blades to spread the tonal frequencies?

Not anything I'm aware of. Apple does it on the blower fans in the MacBooks but I'm not sure if it's as effective on an axial fan.
 

CircleTect

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Original poster
Circle Studio
May 1, 2017
116
482
circlestudio.co
so, are you planning to mass produce or kickstart this or rather sell them on forums?

That all comes down to the economics of demand and volume pricing. I expect with the design being fairly un-optimized at the moment it will be super expensive to make a few dozen cases. If there's a business case for making more than 50, I will spend more time refining the machining details for efficient and fast turn around.

For low volume sales, I would probably consider a massdrop style campaign. For medium or higher volume sales, I would consider kickstarter.

Why do you ask?
 

darksidecookie

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Feb 1, 2016
115
141
That all comes down to the economics of demand and volume pricing. I expect with the design being fairly un-optimized at the moment it will be super expensive to make a few dozen cases. If there's a business case for making more than 50, I will spend more time refining the machining details for efficient and fast turn around.

For low volume sales, I would probably consider a massdrop style campaign. For medium or higher volume sales, I would consider kickstarter.

Why do you ask?
out of curiosity mostly, and because I was wondering if you where planning to start up a brand and produce super highend "lamborgini like" cases.