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Log The Spirit of Radio - My 14L, Industrialized, 1980's Themed, Vintage Radio Hotrod PC

FreshGnar

Average Stuffer
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
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After months of building and research I have finally finished my dream PC the way I always envisioned it. An industrialized, 80s themed, Fallout inspired gaming PC built inside (and outside) of a Soundesign Six Band 2660B vintage radio.





























This build is essentially a continuation of my previous build. While I was generally satisfied with that build overall, back in early February this year I stumbled upon this Soundesign unit and absolutely fell in love. I knew right then that I had to rebuild.

The things I knew I wanted to accomplish with this build were:
-Keep with the hotrod design (custom loop with exposed radiator)
-Create a unique cooling loop design
-Integrate as many of the existing radio knobs as possible while remaining practical
-Make it BLACK

Here is a refresher of the parts used for this build:
Ryzen 5 5600x
X570i Pro Wifi
16 gb Ripjaws V 3200mhz
EVGA Gaming GTX 1080 ti
Enhance ENP 7660B Pro (Limited Edition)
PCParkPicker full build list


BUILD PROCESS:

Before pulling the trigger on the radio I made sure it would be able to accommodate everything I wanted to incorporate. With the help of sites like RadioMuseum
and some good photos by the seller on Ebay, I was able to plan my build pretty well before I even saw it in person.

Here is a look at the radio when I first received it:










First thing to do was gut it and figure out how much exact internal volume I had to work with:


Before anyone cusses me out for destroying a vintage radio, I bought this unit as I always do, in non-working condition so I wasn't executing a perfectly good radio. Even If I was, I wouldn't personally care, but I've realized since I started these builds using vintage electronics that alot of people do, so I try to respect those that share my interest by keeping my grubby hands off of perfectly good, working units. Now that we've got that out of the way, lets move on... :)

In order to properly support everything for this build, this inner shell made of particle board just wouldn't cut it. It was flimsy and the gussets (providing 90% of the structural rigidity) would be in the way of mounting anything in the corners, further lessening my already confined space.


I came up with the idea to recreate the shell using a sheet of steel and bending it into a box. This way it would be sturdy enough to support the weight of all the components + coolant. Since this radio is designed so that all the panels individually mount to the inner shell it would be the best way to directly transfer the mounting points and seamlessly replace the old shell.



I chose 16 gauge steel for being rigid enough to support everything but flexible enough to bend using the tools at my disposal.



It took me a couple of attempts and 2 different designs to make a chassis I was happy with. Here it is ready to be transformed:


This was a very tedious process due to lack of proper tools.
Here is a look at my crude sheet metal bender:



With that done I began mocking up the layout and locating all the mounting points for the internal hardware and exterior panels:


I used the location of the center point of the two antenna ports on the motherboard to dial in the location for the motherboard:



For standoffs i went with some brass threaded inserts attached from the front side of the chassis.

I came up with the idea for the reservoir early in the design process when I found out that vintage cans fit perfectly over the EK X3 100 reservoir:







After this I assembled the motherboard and began my initial mock up of the custom loop. In order to maximize the internal space I had to work with I went with the Nouvolo Aquanaut CPU waterblock/pump mount combo.



I wanted the design of the cooling loop to be unique and fit the industrialized, hotrod theme.
So my idea was to use Festo pneumatic fittings in g1/4 thread in combination with Festo tubing (12mm od/8mm id) and wrap the tubing in corrugated conduit to really complete the look.

Here are the part #s along with links to what I used:
-NPQH-L-G14-Q12-P10
-PUN-H-12X2-BL
-Corrugated Conduit

If the Festo fittings look familiar its because I got the idea from petricor and his insane S4M build. So, shoutout to him for inspiring me and for doing God's work on his sick build. If you're reading this, best of luck with the future of your build!

Back to the build. Here is my initial plan for routing which included incorporating a second, 100x50mm radiator inside the enclosure:










I ended up scrapping this idea for three reasons.
1. I misinterpreted the flow direction for the aquanaut pump mount so the loop was essential backwards from what was desired
2. I thought of a way of incorporating the front tuning knob and this design wouldn't allow for enough room.
3. The added theoretical cooling capacity of the extra rad didn't really justify all the extra work and really you could argue it could have theoretically created more hot air within the enclosure.

My idea to incorporate the front tuning knob involved fixing it to a Noctua NA-FC1 fan controller, to be able to manually adjust the curve of the radiator fans. Not incredibly practical but not pointless either. Neat enough of an idea to justify its addition.


The general routing of the tubing would remain basically the same but without the small radiator. Flow: RES -> CPU/PUMP -> GPU -> 240 RAD ->

With the plan for the cooling loop dialed in it was time to work on fitting the panels to the chassis:




In this photo you can see a combobulation of screws near the bottom of the chassis. I'll explain those a little later.










cleaned the edges up with some tape:




I cut out some craft foam and glued it over the edges to hide the tape:




Glued in a led strip at the top of the front panel to illuminate the tuning readings with the system turned on:



At this point the chassis was ready for paint:



While the primer dried, I couldn't stop thinking about how difficult and frustrating it was to mount the radiator to the chassis, basically having to reach behind and blindly tighten screws with an allen key. So I took a break for a couple days and began thinking of ideas to make the radiator easily removable.

This is the idea I came up with:

It utilizes two long hinges on top and underneath supported by the hinge pins. Once the pins are pushed out with a small screwdriver, the mounting bracket can disconnect from the chassis, reinstallation simply involves lining up the hinge knuckles and slipping the pins back through. It also can operate the way a hinge is intended by just removing the lower pin:









With the removable bracket added the chassis preperation was now complete and I could hit it with a final coat of primer and finish it off with several coats of black semi-gloss spray paint:





Before I could begin assembly it was time to turn my attention to the radio panels, restoring them the best I could and converting them from brown to BLACK.
I know I said I fell in love with this thing when I first saw it which is true but I thought it would look better and fit the overall aesthetic I wanted to accomplish if it was black. When I discovered the panels were all independently mounted I knew it would make the task of color converting them much easier. I was even pleasantly surprised to find out even the front and side panels could be disassembled making it easier to paint without fear of overspray.


I touched up the detailed lettering with some brushed aluminum acryllic paint:






Here is a look at the finished panels:

and a look back at the originals to contrast the changes:


another shot of the finished panels with less light to show off the BLACK:


Its worth noting that the Dial-O-Map flip-up panel is not pictured. That's because the paper itself that the map and text are printed on is brown and I wouldn't have been able to paint it to match so I left it out for now. Recreating that is something that is in my future plans which I will discuss later.


With the panel resto-mod complete, up next was assembling everything together:

Standoffs and fan controller went on first




Next, the top panel and handle:


After that, mouting the usb 3.0 ports:


Next, time for the panels to go on:







a closer look at the gpu mounting bracket:




It was at this point I could finally see the radio come together and it was a very excited moment for me to see the radio how I envisioned it. It was everything I had hoped for and then some!

The build was now ready for me to begin assembly of the internal parts and hardware:

This is as good a time as any to go over my solution for integrating the existing power/volume knob here:


The idea was to use the radial motion of the knob to exert a linear force on a momentary power switch.
The solution is a bit crude, but does the job perfectly imo.
It's a bit difficult to describe but I basically used an m4 screw with nuts tightened against each other on opposite sides of the steel so that it "floats" in the middle. I also threaded an m2 screw into one of the nuts and inserted a threaded insert into the knob so turning the knob would rotate the m2 screw. Then I glued the switch into place so that it could be pressed by the m2 screw when turned with enough force.







Then i took a small strip of craft foam and glued it into place as a shield from any cables potentially obstructing its swing radius:




Then finished the job by trimming the excess cable and sleeving it for a clean, black look:







Here is a look at the motherboard and psu installed to get a feel for how I could plan the cable management:




With this done, what I wanted to do next was fill and test the loop outside of the "case". But before I could do that, my gpu waterblock was due for some long overdue cleaning.

I've used EK Cryofuel Clear Premix for this block's entire lifespan and it has worked great. The buildup that you're seeing here is mostly due to the card sitting in storage for months before being properly cleaned, exposing it to air resulting in some oxidation. Note to self - thoroughly clean waterblocks BEFORE storing them for extended periods of time XD




After scrubbing with a soft brush and a small amount of dish soap, and rinsed thoroughly with distilled water:




Assembled back together (still looks a little cloudy but that will go away once filled with coolant):



At this point I made the bone headed mistake of note taking any photos of me testing the loop (mostly due to me focusing on leaks, not spilling coolant all over our dining room, etc.
During this testing I made some notable observations.
-In this layout, the Swiftech MCP50X DDC pump was louder than I remember it being, maybe do to the application with the Aquanaut.
-It was tricky to create a vacuum and bleed the system with this pump as well
-Flow rate was less than expected

It's worth noting that this particular pump is not listed on the official compatibility list for the Aquanaut, only that its mounting points are compatible. It was also tricky to create a vacuum and bleed the system with this pump. With that in mind I decided it was time to do some digging, so I disassembled the pump from the Aquanaut.

Something I noticed on the Aquanaut that I failed to notice when assembling it the first time was its seemingly small pump discharge port which I assumed may have been the culprit of the less than expected flow rate:


So I did what any rational, methodical person would do, I fired up my dremel without thinking twice and opened that baby up!



At this point, I also decided to try my Laing DDC pump which I already had in storage from another previous build and is actually the pump Nouvolo lists as their recommended pump and probably the one I should have tried first anyway.....Don't give me that look.

I posted a thread here in the mods forum summarizing my findings with pump compatibility and the aquanaut.

Problem was, the Laing pump comes with unsleeved cables and a boring flat finish on the bottom, so I decided to spruce it up with some cable sleeving.
Tadaaaa! I added some black heatsinks to the pump with some double sided thermal tape to spruce it up a bit while providing (if it even needs it) a bit of heat transference.


All reassembled and back on the motherboard in its final form:

A rather aesthetically pleasing setup if i do say so myself :D


Next I needed to add some final touches to the build.
I made a cover for the bottom of the reservoir made of acrylic and painted to look like brushed aluminum for a bit more realistic "bottom of a can" look:




You may notice that this is a different can than the one in the finished build photos. This one wasn't exactly 1980s period correct and I wanted to do some more research on ones that would be period correct and fit the build aesthetic a little better. I was probably being a bit to picky at this point but with this being one of the focal points of the build, I wanted it to look perfect.

After some extensive research on CanMuseum I found the National Bohemian bock beer can you see in the finished build photos. No, I'm not from Baltimore, and no, I've never actually tried it (its on my list!). I just was really drawn to the aesthetic and it fit the color scheme perfectly.



*The Final Coundown begins playing in the background*

THE FINAL ASSEMBLY:


With the motherboard buttoned up it was time to mount it in the chassis and do up all the connectors and tidy all the cables one final time:


A look at all the components laid out:


Started by fitting the tube from the cpu to the gpu, since it will be inaccessible once the gpu is installed:


Next up, the gpu:


After that, I connected the reservoir and pump inlet tubing to the fitting and then align the reservoir over its mounting holes and screw into position from the bottom:


Finally, the radiator and the most difficult part of this entire build....filling the loop.


With only one fill port at the reservoir and no drain ports, it was tricky at first to get the loop to maintain a vacuum.

After about 30 min of filling and capping the res, then rotating the build around to try and move the air pockets around, then propping up and venting, I had no luck at getting the pump to move coolant.

So I had an idea. I pulled the tubing out from one of the fittings at the radiator carefully to ensure no drips got on any hardware and I filled the radiator with as much coolant as it could handle without overflowing out of the fitting. This next part I would not recommend but then sucked on the discharge tube slightly to pull all the air (and a little bit of coolant, mmm yummy) out of the pump. I reattached the tubing to the radiator, propped it up, turned it on and.....BAM, pump immediately started pushing coolant through the loop. What a satisfying feeling! I rinsed and repeated the filling and rotating part until I was confident I got all the air I could out and was able to fill the res completely full.

Thermal readings and benchmarks were extremely promising:
Initial idle temps were:
CPU - 28 C
GPU - 24 C
NVME - 35 C

I immediately through some full workloads at the cpu and gpu, running Cinebench r20 with heaven 4.0 going in the background.
Resulting temps were:
CPU - 62 C max
GPU - 38 C max (52 C on hotspot)
NVME - 44 C max

Then after running Heaven 4.0 for an hour straight.
Resulting temps were:
CPU - 74 C max
GPU - 57 C max (71 C on hotspot)
NVME - 62 C max

Since then I've actually been able to bring temps down by ~5 C by switching the radiator fans to pull air through and away from the chassis. The hot air exhaust pointed directly at the case from the radiator was probably saturating the entire enclosure with heat. Even the fittings seem to be a lot cooler at full load now indicating that even coolant temps are down! A pleasant surprise to say the least!


FUTURE PLANS:

This pretty much brings us to the end of this long post. If you read this far I sincerely thank you for putting in the time to follow along the process of a build that's been almost 8 months in the making. It's been hard for me to hide how proud I am of completing my dream build. :D

Given the fact that this build is still rocking my trusty 1080ti some are probably wondering if I plan to upgrade to a current gen video card and the answer is yes! The card I'm currently on the lookout for is a Gigabyte 3070 Gaming OC. This card fits all the dimensional requirements to fit in this build (watercooled) and still comes in under the 600w threshold offered by my power supply.
Another thing I'm currently working on is getting the Dial-O-Map converted to black so I can add that back on to stay true to the original look.
I have recreated the map and text in AutoCAD and just need to print it out on some suitable black paper, and glue it on after painting and prepping the flip-up cover.
 
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ignsvn

By Toutatis!
SFFn Staff
Apr 4, 2016
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Great build as always.

What did you do with the previous build's radio enclosure?
 

Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
2,197
2,204
Loved the original, love this. And great to see someone more skilled than me attempt the flow path optimizations I thought of when assembling my own Aquanaut. Its simple cnc work is no doubt a weakness. Anyhow, love the dedication and attention to detail on show here. Great job!
 

FreshGnar

Average Stuffer
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
85
198
Loved the original, love this. And great to see someone more skilled than me attempt the flow path optimizations I thought of when assembling my own Aquanaut. Its simple cnc work is no doubt a weakness. Anyhow, love the dedication and attention to detail on show here. Great job!
Thanks for the kind words! I think with a couple tweaks it could be a really nice block. Its low profile is definitely a game changer.
 

FreshGnar

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Sep 23, 2020
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This week I was finally able to get my hands on the card I've been wanting! Gigabyte RTX 3070 Gaming OC.









As mentioned before I've had my eye on this card as the 3070 works within my psu's limitations and is dimensionally compatible with the inside of the chassis. I took everything into consideration, including pcb dimensions, water block dimensions/port locations, and power connector location.

After testing the gpu to make sure everything worked properly, I was ready to begin the process of installing the water block.



Really the only compatible water block for this model of 3070 was this one from Bykski. I took a risk and actually bought the block a few months ago, hoping I would one day be able to obtain this 3070. I made sure before buying however, that it would be compatible with the build.

I forgot to take a picture of the contact side of the block but here it is fresh out of the box. It came with an rgb lighting strip which I removed and I wasn't too fond of the clear distribution block so you'll see in later photos I removed and painted this piece black to match the build's aesthetic a little better.



First things first, I needed to remove the stock cooler.


The cooler removal process was very straightforward on this card.

Here it is all cleaned up and ready for fresh heat pads and thermal paste.


Here it is with the block installed.


My photo documentation for this process was pretty lackluster, but I just cut out the provided heat pads to cover the main contact areas on the block. These areas are easy to see on the contact side of the block so installation of these was also pretty straightforward. Also here you can see the freshly painted distribution block.

Next up was installing the backplate.


I double stacked some heat pads on the backside of the die and vrms to ensure good contact with the backplate for proper heat distribution.
At this point you'll also probably notice the unique power connectors on this particular card. This card utilizes 2 flat 8-pin connectors with a regular pcie 8+6pin adapter.

Here is the card in place inside the chassis. It's worth mentioning that I had to replace the two-slot i/o mounting bracket that originally came on the 3070 with the single slot bracket that came with the EK block for my 1080ti as that was bracket used in the case design and is the only one compatible. Luckily it fit on the 3070 just fine with the only difference being a different order in the DP and HDMI terminals but this didn't end up being and issue. (I forgot to take photos of this so I will try to add some later).



Here it is with the reservoir back in place


The port locations shifted to the right slightly from where they were with the 1080ti so to accommodate this I trimmed the tubing slightly to shorten up the runs.

And here is everything back in situ




After this i bled and refilled the loop keeping a close eye on temps and everything ran perfectly.

I haven't had a chance to do much testing and benchmarking yet but I plan to do some soon so stay tuned.

Some important final notes of this installation:
- The flow direction of this bykski block is reversed from the EK 1080ti block so in order to keep the same tubing routing the flow through the block is reversed. On initial observations this hasn't affected temps in the slightest but I will continue to monitor things as I run through some benchmarks to see if it will pose an issue. Not an issue. Despite different flow direction called out on this particular waterblock, temps were unaffected by reverse flow.
- The cables aren't as clean as I want them to be with the dual flat 8pin to 8+6pin pcie adapter so I will be looking at ways of cleaning that up, probably will need to handmake some custom cable extensions. done!

Apologies for the lack of proper documentation on this upgrade, I just had to post an update out of pure excitement!

I will update more soon with more photos and benchmarks soon, thanks for reading!
 
Last edited:

msystems

Master of Cramming
Apr 28, 2017
587
1,017
I don't know if there is some kind of contest you could enter this in? I think it should win something. There was obviously a lot of planning the steps in advance to have the end result turn out so clean. The re-purposing of the radio dials into usable functions really elevates it.
 
Last edited:
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FreshGnar

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Sep 23, 2020
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I don't know if there is some kind of contest you could enter this in? I think it should win something. There was obviously a lot of planning the steps in advance to have the end result turn out so clean. The re-purposing of the radio dials into usable functions really elevates it.

Thanks for the kind words!
 

FreshGnar

Average Stuffer
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
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This week I had some time to spruce up the cables a bit. With the gpu power cables utilizing a flat 8-pin connector instead of a traditional 8-pin, It was basically impossible to find any cables online.

Since the waterblock did come with some 8-pin pcie to flat 8-pin adapters, I decided to use the connectors to create some custom cables of my own.


The wire in these cable extensions was too stiff for what I wanted so I decided to use some softer, more flexible wires instead.

The flat 8-pin has smaller pins than standard atx and I was unable to depin the connector for a nice clean look so I had to solder the new wires instead. Not as clean, but doesn't detract too much from the finished product.


Here they are plugged into the GPU



And here is a before and after of the backside fully assembled:




This is an aesthetic improvement I've been wanting to make for a long time but I just didn't know exactly what I wanted to do.
The cables may not look professionally done, but I'm really happy with the overall look now and I think its a nice little detail.

Oh and the best part is: they work! and I didnt fry my gpu :)
 

FreshGnar

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Sep 23, 2020
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An update on the thermal benchmarks for the build.

I tried to use the same method of testing that I used previously, booting up the pc and immediately running heaven 4.0 and cinebench simultaneously, then running heaven 4.0 for one hour to really push the thermal load on the system.

It is worth mentioning that I switched the radiator in this build from an EK Coolstream 240 SE to a 240 PE since I ran those last benchmarks and never documented the change in this thread. It was a minor change and didn't change the look of the build so I didn't even want to bother. Just adding this as a disclosure for temp comparison's sake. Now on to some temps.

These were done using the same mild fan curve as before and PBO on the 5600x. Also, I added a slight undervolt to the 3070 just to be on the safe side with the 600w power supply.

First after one run of cinebench r20 with heaven 4.0 running in the background:

CPU: ~60c max
NVME: ~ 52c max
GPU: ~ 51c max (64c hotspot)

Next, as a bonus since the initial cpu temps seemed surprisingly low, 3 consecutive cinebench runs with heaven 4.0 still running:

CPU: ~66c max
NVME: ~56c max
GPU: ~57c max (70c hotspot)

Finally, instead of running heaven 4.0 for an hour I only ran it for 15 minutes because I only saw a ~1c increase in temp on the CPU and GPU:

CPU: ~67.5c max
NVME: ~58c max
GPU: ~57.5c max (70c hotspot)

Overall I couldn't be happier with the way this build has turned out from a practical standpoint. I wont lie, this build has always been an 'aesthetics first' kind of build but to see these kind of results on new gen (for now 😅) hardware with only a 240mm radiator cooled custom loop, is truly satisfying.

These results also nullify any potential negative effects I assumed could be possible when reverting the flow through this GPU block. I won't say this makes a case for every GPU block without testing first but anyone using this particular 3070 waterblock from Bykski, feel free to route the flow through it either way you choose.

For anyone wanting to cool their 5600x and 3070 with a custom loop, a single 240mm radiator is definitely viable assuming the case has proper airflow and ventilation. Thanks for reading!
 

FreshGnar

Average Stuffer
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
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The build recently passed the all-important "LAN party test"!



Last month my friend decided he wanted to host a good ol' fashioned LAN party for his sort of "last hoorah" for a while before his wife gave birth to their first born. Three of us played a mix of some Division 2, Destiny 2, Deeprock Galactic, and Payday 2 and had an absolute blast.

The build held up extremely well and dare I say, even thrived. The built-in handle made transporting it easy, the small desk footprint allowed me to maximize the available space, and the open air design made for some great temps (lets be honest, the low ambient temp of a concrete basement and an obvious monitor bottleneck were the real reason).

My LAN setup, for anyone interested, includes:

-Acer V227Q monitor - 21.5" - 1920 x 1080 @ 75 Hz (secondary monitor from main setup)
-BenQ Zowie G-SR gaming mousepad - large
-Sony WH-CH710N headphones
-Keychron K2 v2 (daily driver) - lubed silent reds w/ blank black keycaps
-Pwnage Ultra Custom Symm (daily driver)
-Bayside black mesh budget office chair (daily driver)
-12er of Coors Light (I know, I know, unfortunately they don't sell Natty Boh in KCMO)

Here is a bonus shot of the build nice and snug back home after reassembling my setup, as it's occurred to me I've never actually shared my home office in this thread:
 

ignsvn

By Toutatis!
SFFn Staff
Apr 4, 2016
1,566
1,454
The build recently passed the all-important "LAN party test"!



Last month my friend decided he wanted to host a good ol' fashioned LAN party for his sort of "last hoorah" for a while before his wife gave birth to their first born. Three of us played a mix of some Division 2, Destiny 2, Deeprock Galactic, and Payday 2 and had an absolute blast.

The build held up extremely well and dare I say, even thrived. The built-in handle made transporting it easy, the small desk footprint allowed me to maximize the available space, and the open air design made for some great temps (lets be honest, the low ambient temp of a concrete basement and an obvious monitor bottleneck were the real reason).

My LAN setup, for anyone interested, includes:

-Acer V227Q monitor - 21.5" - 1920 x 1080 @ 75 Hz (secondary monitor from main setup)
-BenQ Zowie G-SR gaming mousepad - large
-Sony WH-CH710N headphones
-Keychron K2 v2 (daily driver) - lubed silent reds w/ blank black keycaps
-Pwnage Ultra Custom Symm (daily driver)
-Bayside black mesh budget office chair (daily driver)
-12er of Coors Light (I know, I know, unfortunately they don't sell Natty Boh in KCMO)

Here is a bonus shot of the build nice and snug back home after reassembling my setup, as it's occurred to me I've never actually shared my home office in this thread:

Man, imagine the bragging right.. (although probably not everyone can appreciate such small builds)

Anw, your home office setup seems fun :)
 

FreshGnar

Average Stuffer
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
85
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Man, imagine the bragging right.. (although probably not everyone can appreciate such small builds)

Anw, your home office setup seems fun :)
It was a pretty proud moment seeing how compact the final setup was.

Thanks, it is a constant WIP :)