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Project Blackbird Reborn

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by ginginho, 6 Oct 2019.

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  1. ginginho

    Associate

    Joined: 25 Feb 2011

    Posts: 14

    Background: Former long-time HP employee who had been looking for an HP Blackbird 002 on and off for years (but they just don't come up for sale in the UK very often and, at 70lbs, aren't great shipping candidates!) and who finally got lucky.

    My plan, when I finally got hold of one of these, was to breathe new life into it, giving all the TLC it deserved whilst becoming my first water-cooled build. My Blackbird, however, was an air-cooled model and lacked any easy means of mounting a radiator to the top of a case (thatI suspect was intentionally designed to stop people buying the cheaper spec models and adding their own water cooling). As well as greatly simplifying the upgrade, keeping it air-cooled also means that I (hopefully) won't need to make any alterations to the case and can restore it to its original condition should I ever want to go that route.

    Here is the Blackbird as it stands now. I got *really* lucky with the condition and it having what I think are all of the original parts. It has an Intel Core 2 Q6600, 4x 1GB Corsair Dominator DDR2 800MHz, Asus Striker Extreme mobo and EVGA GeForce 8800GT.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    My plans for it are fluid currently so I am open to suggestions. I'm going to try to find that balance between using quality parts and my marriage ;) I do want to keep the appearance in fitting with an elder statesman of the gaming world (and with the existing external colour scheme) so black and grey primarily. Any LEDs will be keep to a minimum and, where used, white-only to match the few lights that the machine does have. I'd also like it to be as quiet as possible. Current thinking is Intel i7-8700K, Z390 mobo, a couple of M2 disks, 16GB of fast DDR4 and a nice PSU. I'll likely re-use a GTX1070 from another build in the short-term.

    One of my first concerns regards airflow; the Blackbird is fitted only with two exhaust fans on the roof and one that sits mid-chassis between the disk cage and GPU chamber. There is no fan on the front and, although the case has a mesh panel, behind it sits the proprietary SATA disk cage. Air is intended to flow in through vents at the foot of the case as shown in the promo image below although the PSU, GPU and CPU all have separate thermal chambers. Until it reaches the roof fans, the top of case is solid aluminium so, despite the image suggesting otherwise, there ain't no air entering the case that way!

    [​IMG]

    I'll be replacing the fans that the system does have. Although I've previously always used the NP-F12s, I'm thinking of trying the Silent Wings 3 120mm PWM fans in fitting with my desire to keep it as quiet as possible. I am, however, feeling the need to add some additional air flow. There is an obvious location to site an exhaust fan on the rear of the case but a front-facing fan poses some challenges since it is obstructed by the 3.5" disk cage.

    [​IMG]

    Although I won't be using the SATA cage, I don't want to hack the case so the question is whether a 140mm SP fan will be in any effective or how I would mount one there. Any thoughts on that challenge would be welcome :) That's all for now. Let me know if you have any thoughts!
     
    Last edited: 6 Oct 2019
  2. harvey.l12

    Hitman

    Joined: 29 Oct 2014

    Posts: 832

    Location: Chesterfield, UK

    Looks like a fun project mate
     
  3. orbitalwalsh

    Capodecina

    Joined: 1 Dec 2015

    Posts: 18,184

    silent wings have such a high static pressure along with airflow- should easily do the job of drawing in air from tight places, pushing it through obstructions and then with good positive pressure being ejected out of any opening in the case thats not 'intake'
     
  4. ginginho

    Associate

    Joined: 25 Feb 2011

    Posts: 14

    That's good to hear, I haven't had the need to use a static pressure fan before. I've ordered the Noctua NF-P14s redux on the basis that there is a bit more to the surround than the Silent Wings and that it might help now that I need to come up with a fixing solution!
     
  5. ginginho

    Associate

    Joined: 25 Feb 2011

    Posts: 14

    It's been a while; I've been buying bits and pieces although I have finalised the spec:
    • Intel i7-9700K
    • ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero Wi-Fi
    • G.Skill 16GB G.Skill DDR4 TridentZ RGB 4133Mhz
    • Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black
    • Seasonic Prime Ultra SSR-750TR
    • Samsung Evo 970 Plus (512GB) M2 NVMe
    • Sabrent 1TB Rocket M2 NVMe
    I'll be using the GTX1070 from my current setup for now. I've yet to get the motherboard and RAM so have been getting the case ready. My first surprise came switching over the PSUs; I hadn't realised that modular PSUs weren't necessarily wired the same:
    [​IMG]
    I had planned to use the cables from the original PSU until discovering this. I wasn't that impressed by the ribbon cables that cam with the Seasonic PSU and my head was turned by the Cablemod PRO ModMesh RT-series cable kits, particularly the carbon finish - that's one sexy cable! I made the mistake of buying a cable kit that I'll only be using a fraction of but I wasn't really sure what I needed until I sat down with the cables and the case in front of me.

    I've still a PATA > SATA converter to buy to retain use of the original optical drive. I chose to keep it because the cradle backplane has built-in LEDs and the eject button. After removing all of the SATA HDDs, I realised that the internal SATA cage backplane still needs power as the proprietary case lighting is wired into it. Other than that, the backplane no longer serves any purpose. I have fitted a Noctua NF-P14s Redux into the empty drive cage bay. I had originally used anti-vibration screws to pull the fan against the wire mesh at the front of the case but quickly noticed that this was bending the mesh. I ended up dropping a couple of anti-vibration screws down between the disk cage and the front mesh and pulling them through a couple of holes in the disk cage, then used ties where there was no obvious fixing. It was a bit of a hack but good enough for now. I also used some padded foam to prevent the fan vibrating against the cage.

    I still have some challenges getting airflow through the case, especially getting the GPU exhaust vented. I really want to keep the separate chambers (see pic in original post). The NP-P14s will draw air into the disk cage, behind which I've replaced the stock fan with a 120mm Silent Wings 3. I'm even considering fitting a 92mm fan externally behind the PCI slots but think I'll wait to measure internal temps before I do that. In the CPU chamber, I've replaced the stock fans in the roof with Silent Wings 3s and fitted another to the back of the case. My plan is plug the rear fan into the CPU OPT connector and use the Y-cable that comes with the NH-D15 to connect both cooler fans to CPU FAN. I'll also pair the roof fans and also the front fans using Noctua NA-SYC1 chromax cables. So far it's looking like this at the moment:
    [​IMG]

    Just the motherboard and RAM to go, although I've got a few finishing touches that I'm planning. I've got some perspex ordered to hopefully cover the disk cage and some bloke from Etsy making me a custom dust cover! Looking forward to next month :)
     
  6. LePhuronn

    Soldato

    Joined: 26 Sep 2010

    Posts: 5,906

    Location: Stoke-on-Trent

    Drool. I want a Firebird though.

    Subbed!
     
  7. ginginho

    Associate

    Joined: 25 Feb 2011

    Posts: 14

    Started the assembly last weekend and soon discovered that the NH-D15 wasn't going to fit in the case with the shelf in place. It was a good job that the penny dropped before I had gone any further than mounting the cooler backplate. I ordered the Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 4 on a next-day service; it was still a close fit (and, with the benefit of hindsight, would have been much easier with the board removed) but the shelf does fit with a few mm spare. I wondered if it might impact CPU temps but the fans should ensure that the hot air is expelled. The fan needed to be removed to accommodate the height of the RAM.
    [​IMG]
    There isn't much provision for cable tidying and the mesh cables aren't ideally for fitting flush to the side panel but it looks reasonable enough:
    [​IMG]
    So far, so good, you can see how close the cooler is to the shelf:
    [​IMG]
    It wasn't until I fitted the GTX 1070 that I hit the real stumbling block when it became obvious that the newer cards are wider than those of 13 years ago :( This is as far as the side panel door closes:
    [​IMG]
    And this is why:
    [​IMG]
    Given that keeping the case in its original condition was the underlying principle of the build, I'm going to have to come up with something that isn't hacking off the part of the frame that presses in the PCI cards. I'm currently looking at the RTX 2080 cards that have boards <100mm with the intention of fitting the Arctic Accelero Xtreme IV with its 92mm fans. Any thoughts on that one gratefully received! It's going to have to wait until the New Year anyway. My mood was lifted somewhat by the arrival of the perspex filler panel that I had made up to cover the drive cage fan. It's a small tweak but makes a big difference to the appearance:
    [​IMG]
    And, when I do finally get the side panel door back on, the finished case should look something like this. I will make an attempt to continue the grey lines of the vector artwork onto the filling panel with a paint pen at some point!
    [​IMG]
    Scan Computers were also giving away a ROG 30cm RGB light strip with the motherboard so I'm trying it out to see what I think. My lighting scheme is white only and, although there isn't much scope for seeing inside the Blackbird, the strip is very bright and does add a little I think:
    [​IMG]
    I think that is just about it! :)