Production SENTRY 2.0: Evolution of console-sized gaming PC case

ZombiPL

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
DR ZĄBER
Apr 13, 2016
211
652



Hello again guys. It's been over a year since the end of our indiegogo campaign and over 2 months since our last pre-order sale. Many of you are wondering why we still did not start retail sale of Sentry. Now is the time for explanation. You probably remember, that DR ZĄBER is a company established a long time before we even thought about this hobby project and its main business is far away from computer cases industry (we do not make Sentry cases for a living). Because of that we could take a different approach than other pc hardware companies, take our time, gather all the feedback you were giving us for the last year, talk about possible improvements and make better pc case.

After encountering issues with production and deliveries we have decided to take a step back and figure out how to resolve them before continuing with the production. We have launched a limited pre-order sale at the end of January to test out few improvements including fast worldwide courier shipments by DHL and few small organisational improvements in the manufacturing/assembling process. While DHL shipping seems like a correct solution for the shipping issues, we still are not happy with the production process to the point where we believe that design updates are necessary. With that said, if we are to update the designs and go over those updates with our subcontractor, we might as well improve the functionality of the case where we can. Thus we think now is the time to start designing SENTRY 2.0.

Like you all know (we are repeating this over and over again) this is a community project. We designed Sentry basing on community feedback and without it we would not succeeded. Because of that we don't see any reason why we should change this approach. Next version of Sentry will be also designed basing on the feedback we did/will receive from you.


PLANNED CHANGES:

We will increase the ventilation area up to 65% bigger surface than in rev 1.1 to allow native support of more power hungry graphics cards.
We will try to reduce the number of screws needed to screw the top cover from 8 to 4, just like in most of mainstream pc cases.
We will reduce the number of types/sizes of screws used in Sentry from 6 to 3.
If we will be able to find a supplier for black m3x6 screws with torx socket, we will switch currently used hex screws with them. Some people reported that with bigger force they were able to damage the socket and they had problems with unscrewing the screw. Torx socket allows to use a bigger force/torque to screw/unscrew the screw. If we will have the possibility to get those screws, we will.
As you know, Sentry has its own, unique method of riser installation. We were very satisfied with it when we ordered a first batch of 25 prototypes (rev.1.0-1.1), but when we manufactured over 1000 units it turned out this element has some problems with repeatability and with some units our backers had to use a little bit of force to insert riser properly. The installation procedure was also not clear for quite a lot of users. In revision 2.0 we want to solve this problem and use separate element to mount the riser, so the installation will be more straightforward and also improved design will allow us to eliminate one type of screw
We received some photos from our supporters that the current design of top hdd bracket sometimes collides with USB 3.0 cable or even reduces the maximum height of some types of RAM modules. To solve this problem in new version we want to remove two problematic bendings and move the whole element a little bit towards the back of the case, away from the RAM/USB socket area.
If you have a PC case so small that it can be transported in a laptop bag, then we think that having this theft-prevention feature will be a good idea.
In the past we added those WIFI antennas holes because it was commonly requested feature in various case design threads. After using those for some time we have realised that you need to tighten the antenna connectors really hard from both sides if you don’t want them to get loose when re-attaching antennas multiple times. This means using two wrenches, one of which is in especially cumbersome position on the inside of the case. Because of that we decided we need to improve the shape of those holes to lock connector rotation.
During assembling process of vertical stand we were using strong industrial glue to attach rubber feet. However we received a feedback from our backers that in some hot environments this glue doesn’t do its job and they had to glue those feet again. Firstly we thought about just switching the glue to some other one, but then we received many questions about possibility of fully detaching those rubber feet to clean them or install some others, for example with different colour. Because of that we decided we need to design them and the stand in the way which will allow an installation without glue.
It’s a simple improvement to make life easier.
We analysed the feedback from our backers and it turns out that only small fraction of them used 2.5’’ hdd mounting points inside GPU compartment, but also most owners of ITX GPUs would like to install 3.5’’ drive there, if it was possible. Because of that and because we already have a support for two 2.5’’ drives, as well as the fact that M.2 became a standard in itx boards, we decided to drop support of 2.5’’ HDDs inside GPU section, and instead we will allow installation of 3.5’’ drives.
Another request from ITX GPU users. We understand we raised such expectations after showing photos of our rev 1.1 prototype packed with a R9-Nano and CPU AIO watercooler. After that we received many questions if we will make a native support for that. Yes. We will try to do that, and Yes, we will allow 120mm coolers!
Sentry was designed to be futureproof. It means not only the case should be durable but also peripherals should be easily accessible. When we decided that we will add a native support for 120mm AIO, then we needed to do something with the vandal power switch, because it would collide with it. We do not want to design a non-standard switch, because it would disrupt “future-proof” philosophy, so we moved the current switch to the exact center of the case’s front which solved the problem with AIO, but also made another problem with the cables of SFX-L power supply. We needed to make a decision. After the market analysis we decided we can drop the support of SFX-L PSUs, because there are many standard SFX power supplies which can handle almost everything what you can install into Sentry (there are many 500W+ PSUs with even 650W options). For a price of leaving bigger power supplies we are getting a support for 120mm water cooling. We think this is a good deal in such small volume.
We wanted the case itself to be lighter for both personal-transportation purposes and because of the cost of shipment to clients. To do that we want to reduce the number of some internal structure elements and with others we want to change their shape to make them lighter while keeping their stiffness. Also the denser ventilation will help us in that matter. We expect to get up to 0.5 kg of mass reduction which we think would be a great result (at this point we can’t say exactly how much lighter the Sentry 2.0 will be, because we are just at the beginning of designing stage and a lot of things are still changing.
We designed the whole new packaging to lower the cost of the transport. Since we picked a DHL as our main transport company, the quality of service and its speed increased, but so the prices did. With the new packaging we predict we should get a 10-15% of shipping cost reduction.
After the campaign we were many times asked to add such mounting points to improve the cable management. We will try to do it where it will be possible.
Some of our backers informed us that they had problems with installation of motherboard’s aluminium backplate and they needed to use more force than usually to attach it. Since Sentry was made without forms or automatic assembling machines, but with human hands assist, there might be some small misalignments in some of the units. We want to make sure that does not happen anymore.
Some of the power supplies released after we were designing this PSU mount had their IEC socket installed in a place which did not allow proper installation in Sentry (Users had to shave off a little bit material in front of PSU or the external part of plastic IEC connector). We will improve the PSU mounting bracket by shaving off some unnecessary material to the point where such situations shouldn’t occur anymore.
We noticed that many users when they have a problem with assembly they do not check the online manual (which is the most up-to-date document), but they prefer to either use bigger force to solve the problem or to modify some elements. We added a simplified quick-start paper manual to help our clients with assembly, but it turns out it made even more problems. Many people asked for help in solving the issues with installation procedures that were already thoroughly explained in the updated online manual. They didn’t know that there is a full, more detailed version of the manual available online, regardless of the link provided in two forms on top of the quick-start manual page. We want to make sure users will know about and read full and most recent version of the manual online. Right now we are thinking about giving our clients only online manual, forcing them to read the newest version of manual on our site, to help them get their answers faster. This is still a thing to debate about.
White colour paint is one of the most difficult to get the equal results from the paints we were working with. It would be easier if it would be applied with automatic machines, but with small scale production it is very hard to find a company who would do that for a reasonable price. Our current steel-elements manufacturer (who is also painting Sentry) still does not have robotic painting arms which would guarantee the quality and repeatability of achieving a white colour surface. Because of that during the indiegogo campaign we used separate paintshop which did a good job, but also we had to reserve a special time for us even before we knew how big the order will be, and even then we had to wait in the line to get our cases painted there. It took us a lot of time and nerves, so we decided we will not be making white Sentry cases until our metal parts manufacturer will get a better painting method for this colour than he has now.
From the feedback we received and many, many photos of your cases we noticed that less than 1% of backers used those brackets. Most of Sentry users did not even try to install anything different than GPU in the GPU section. Because we are trying to reduce the weight of the case everywhere we can for the purpose of reducing the shipping price, we decided this is a good thing to stop adding those elements to the package. Another reason (than the weight) was leaving the native support for 2.5’’ HDDs in the GPU compartment to support there only 3.5 drives and AIO coolers.
Most of Sentry users simply do not use those elements and when the shipping price is very high (partly because of the weight), then not adding such redundant elements is an opportunity to reduce it.
As you know, we did a special test-batch of cases to check how good will be our new shipping company. Cost of the shipping with the economical courier was almost 60% lower than express DHL shipment, but at the same time the time of delivery was significantly shorter. For example, economical packages from EU to USA were delivered in around 2 months while some of those more expensive express packages were delivered even on the next day, and the rest our backers received them within 7 days. This convinced us that is a right way.
Since we are aiming to support 120mm AIO inside the GPU compartment, we also have to figure out how to make a balanced build with a reasonably powerful MINI/ITX-sized GPU fitting in the remaining space. In revision 1.1 we could only fit standard ITX-sized GPUs, and within current generation of cards anything above GTX 1060 would not fit. We want to fit at least GTX 1070 or 1080 class MINI/ITX card inside and for that we plan to slightly increase the supported GPU oversize, just by around 2mm. We plan to support Gigabyte Mini ITX and MSI Aero ITX series this way. AIO-induced airflow should also benefit the GPU thermals.
While allowing more powerful graphic cards we need to reduce the free space above the back side of GPU where the hot air could gather in horizontal position.


IDEAS REJECTED:

After many conversations with you guys, we decided it would be good to have this option. Many of our backers had several coolers they wanted to test in Sentry and having a possibility to access to the back of the motherboard without unscrewing it would really help them. We will check the possibility of this feature in the next prototype (we’re still not sure if we have a right solution for this problem).

UPDATE - Feature rejected after poll:
POLL 1: Motherboard backside access panel https://www.strawpoll.me/15507008
For the last week we were analysing different options of the motherboard backside panel installation. Most of them are doable, but all of our ideas have an influence on the external look of the case and also would increase the time of production (longer manufacturing, bigger possibility of errors and longer quality control) which will end in higher cost and longer order realization time.

Because of the above we were wondering if this function is really worth it, and if it is even such a “must-have”. What is more some voices showed up asking if anyone really needs this panel if usually it will be used only once per one PC installation. That still did not convince us if we should leave this feature. This is why we asked you guys to help us with this decision answering to our straw poll. It looks like only ~25% chose the “must-have” option, while almost 2 times more do not want it at all.



We won’t be forcing options or features which you guys do not like while at the same time they would have an influence on price and manufacturing time. Because of that “motherboard backside panel” will not be added in this revision of Sentry. Maybe in the future we will get back to this idea.
Internal dust filters need additional space and some advanced tooling. We decided we do not want to increase the volume and price of Sentry for the sake of mounting such filters.
Sentry is designed to use industry standard components. There is no standardised type-C front panel yet, only custom PCB based solutions. We will revise this issue when there is a “baffle” type cable that includes both type A and C connectors, similar to the one we are using now.
Audio connectors on the PC cases are most frequently criticised about their low quality audio output. Routing cables to such connectors on the front panel of Sentry without signal being affected, and without front aesthetics being spoiled by the connector location, would be really hard to implement and expensive. Especially when considering our design principle of using standardised components. On top of that, at the current price point and market for such cases, most users in our niche tend to have wireless headsets, use dedicated external audio DAC or have USB-connected headsets.
We received some questions about the possibility to replace our current Stand Locking System (SLS) with standard screws or to add an option to screw the stand permanently to the side of the case to make this connection even more sturdy. We think our current tool-less design is more than enough to keep Sentry stable in vertical position. We prefer to use and refine one properly working system than to add another option for the same purpose, which will increase the cost and time of manufacturing, while also not being used by most of people.
There are enough graphic card models on the market to fit inside Sentry and there are already many bigger cases that fit bigger graphic cards. We do not want to increase the case size when that is not a necessity.
Adding a handle for mobility when the case itself is compact enough to fit inside a backpack or many laptop bags isn’t really necessary.
There is no place where we could install a proper window without losing venting capabilities and thermal efficiency.

FEATURE GALLERY:




RENDERS:




As you see there will be more than just few changes. Please let us know what you think about all of this. Maybe we forgot about something which you think it is important to have? We will appreciate your help. Thanks!
 
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ZombiPL

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
DR ZĄBER
Apr 13, 2016
211
652
ACTIVE POLLS ON NEW FEATURES

POLL 1: Motherboard backside access panel https://www.strawpoll.me/15507008




Improvement 7. Motherboard backside access panel
After many conversations with you guys, we decided it would be good to have this option. Many of our backers had several coolers they wanted to test in Sentry and having a possibility to access to the back of the motherboard without unscrewing it would really help them. We will check the possibility of this feature in the next prototype (we’re still not sure if we have a right solution for this problem).
 
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Allhopeforhumanity

Cable-Tie Ninja
May 1, 2017
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V2 looks amazing and really seems to address the majority of criticisms leveled at its progenitor. A few quick questions for you:

1.) What will be the overall thickness supported for the 120mm radiator/fan?

2.) Maybe I missed it, but has the overall volume changed, and if so, what are the new dimensions?

3.) Any chance we will see renders for the internal changes soon?
 
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SaperPL

Airflow Optimizer
DR ZĄBER
Oct 17, 2017
241
436
1.) What will be the overall thickness supported for the 120mm radiator/fan?
~38 mm max for the radiator since it has to go through the hole in central wall, ~50 mm in total for radiator + fan. Deciding factor may be hose thickness however unless you are making a custom loop yourself.

2.) Maybe I missed it, but has the overall volume changed, and if so, what are the new dimensions?
We are not planning to change the external dimensions, we are slightly (by 2 mm) moving the central wall towards the motherboard and PSU and rearranging perforation that includes the mount points for AIO and 3.5" HDDs now.

3.) Any chance we will see renders for the internal changes soon?
We are quite early on with some of the internal parts at this point and we don't want to showcase those just yet.
 

confusis

John Morrison. Founder and Head writer SFF.N
SFF Workshop
Editorial Staff
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Jun 19, 2015
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Woo, evolution! I love the changes and look forward to seeing how the market reacts. I'd love to see a horizontal stand that mimics the vertical stand in design somewhat - using rubber feet just seems a bit... off.. when the vertical stand is so awesome.
 

Rebel640

Caliper Novice
Mar 29, 2018
22
14
Would you consider removing the character line that runs through the vents? IMO it's a superfluous addition that detracts from the looks.
+1 for removing the character line on top vent. Its just adding noise to the otherwise minimalist design.
 
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SaperPL

Airflow Optimizer
DR ZĄBER
Oct 17, 2017
241
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Would you consider removing the character line that runs through the vents? IMO it's a superfluous addition that detracts from the looks.
Well, we've designed that to add some style/character to the otherwise rough and boring vent area and the whole side panel in the first Sentry.

To each their own I guess, I really like the character line.
+1 for removing the character line on top vent. Its just adding noise to the otherwise minimalist design.
Please don't. It's awesome. So subtle yet characteristic.
@Necere I guess that's an element that people either like or don't, looking from other comments :)


Woo, evolution! I love the changes and look forward to seeing how the market reacts. I'd love to see a horizontal stand that mimics the vertical stand in design somewhat - using rubber feet just seems a bit... off.. when the vertical stand is so awesome.
There is one significant reason to use the rubber feet mounted this way - we are intruding motherboard clearance area with their mounting, which means anything conductive in that area would be no go. If we were to do a standoff for screwed in feet, then some motherboard may have some components standing out in that area that could be short-circuited when touching the standoff or could be simply blocked. Also this is something minimalistic that works and I don't think adding complexity to it just to make it look cool is worth our time.
 
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ZombiPL

Cable-Tie Ninja
Original poster
DR ZĄBER
Apr 13, 2016
211
652
Would you consider removing the character line that runs through the vents? IMO it's a superfluous addition that detracts from the looks.
We will try to make a side-by-side render to compare both ideas. We'll see how people will react to this.
 

theGryphon

Cable-Tie Ninja
Jun 15, 2015
230
189
Looking good, nice improvements! :thumb:
I presume the motherboard back access panel will be magnetically attaching? How is it going to come off when needed? Fine balance between ease of use and reliability there, huh?...
 

volopasse

Case Bender
Apr 2, 2018
2
3
Great to see the project continuing on, and with improvements as well!

Some comments if I may
1. Changes to screws. Fewer screws and fewer types are great. Although given the human-assisted manufacturing, having 8 screws to hold the top cover helped tighten up some of the minor misalignment I have on my unit. On p.4, in v.1 you provided an Allen key in the package.. it's worth considering throwing in an appropriate torx head - I can imagine the frustration of receiving the case and not being able to put it together because you don't have one!
2. Motherboard access panel. To each their own re aesthetics I suppose, but to me it really breaks up the case surface visually. I have my Sentry on the right hand side of the desk, and having that square cutout visible doesn't look nice to my eyes. Maybe have the cutout as an option, if you're willing to go that route
3. Changes to GPU compartment. Point 1 is not obvious without side by side renders, but we'll have to wait until you're ready to show internals. HDD and AIO options are awesome, increases the flexibility of the case by a lot! Also, it would be awesome if the air pocket was removable. For a vertical build, allowing the air to freely escape via the top vents should make temperature situation better. That part can be attachable via slide-in latches for example
 

SaperPL

Airflow Optimizer
DR ZĄBER
Oct 17, 2017
241
436
Looking good, nice improvements! :thumb:
I presume the motherboard back access panel will be magnetically attaching? How is it going to come off when needed? Fine balance between ease of use and reliability there, huh?...
The plan is to make it slide into position with an internal lock. So you will have to open the case cover to unlock the access panel.

Any magnetic or spring tension mounting mechanisms are out of the question for us, I think. We also don't want it to be simply screwed in from the outside for obvious reasons.

1. Changes to screws. Fewer screws and fewer types are great. Although given the human-assisted manufacturing, having 8 screws to hold the top cover helped tighten up some of the minor misalignment I have on my unit. On p.4, in v.1 you provided an Allen key in the package.. it's worth considering throwing in an appropriate torx head - I can imagine the frustration of receiving the case and not being able to put it together because you don't have one!
Obviously we are going to include the torx screw instead if we are going to change the outer screws from hex to torx heads.

2. Motherboard access panel. To each their own re aesthetics I suppose, but to me it really breaks up the case surface visually. I have my Sentry on the right hand side of the desk, and having that square cutout visible doesn't look nice to my eyes. Maybe have the cutout as an option, if you're willing to go that route
We don't want to make any configuration options. It will either be there or not. If most of the interested people will not want this because of aesthetics or there's some major technical issue with that, then we will consider not including this feature.

3. Changes to GPU compartment. Point 1 is not obvious without side by side renders, but we'll have to wait until you're ready to show internals. HDD and AIO options are awesome, increases the flexibility of the case by a lot! Also, it would be awesome if the air pocket was removable. For a vertical build, allowing the air to freely escape via the top vents should make temperature situation better. That part can be attachable via slide-in latches for example
Making the air pocket detachable would increase the cover complexity significantly. For example we could easily add stand-offs to the cover, but from what we've tested with our subcontractor, the stand-offs are visible from the outside. To solve that, we would need to weld additional metal pieces holding those stand-offs. With that you still have to place those standoffs in a spot that won't collide with exactly what you'd like to place there. The opposite approach would be to put stand-offs in the air pocket and screw them from the outside, but that's not a clean solution.

By the way please note that removing the air pocket will not increase the space for the AIO - it is limited by the rail holding the 2.5" drives and that is slightly lower than the air pocket.