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DPete27
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Crosley D-25 Case Mod

Sun Feb 14, 2016 12:01 am

I've been planning and working on this project for a few months now and I'm pretty excited to share it with the gerbils. A little background: my HTPC started as an old single core AMD Socket 939 system that was given to me. It was an ATX mobo, PSU, GPU, and hdd and I wanted to fit it into a much smaller space, so I ended up constructing a wood case (14.5"H x 5.5"W x 9.5"D) shown below in 2011 to match my entertainment center. That was my first real attempt at doing any custom case work. I was going for something that blended with the wood of the entertainment center, but really showed off the components and was easy to access.
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Needless to say, the original system was retired pretty quickly and replaced with the HTPC system in my signature. Being mITX, it obviously drowned inside the original case, and that has been a thorn in my side for quite a few years since. We recently got a new [white] entertainment center, so taking away the case's only saving grace of being a chameleon, I had to do something different. I obviously started by looking at "traditional" cases, but I just couldn't shake the desire to have something that also added a decorative element to the living room. I thought about the old staples of NES or PS1 case mods, but that's been done a thousand times. Then I thought about things that might already be in a living room and came up with the idea of a radio. While doing some research, I immediately fell in love with the look of the Crosley D-25 (circa early 1950s). The problem was, fully restored ones are terribly expensive (~$350) and wood radios aren't any cheaper. Plus, I really didn't want to "destroy" a beautiful piece of American history. After months of searching, I finally found a Crosley D-25 that wasn't absolute trash, but also wasn't restored/working, so I pulled the trigger, and here's what I got:
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The first thing was to strip all the insides out and clean the things I wanted to re-use. I wanted to retain all the original functionality of the radio: clock, tuner dial, and volume.
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As you can see in the above pictures, the metal was pretty heavily pitted and tarnished. I got some metal polish and tested it (zero inconspicuous locations) and it seemed to work fine, so I went to work. Unfortunately, once I got to a spot that had faded, I found out the metal is actually plated, and the plating came off, exposing the shiny silver color underneath.....I decided there was nothing to do but continue removing all the gold plating. I'd thought about taking the metal somewhere to be re-plated, but decided that the silver color was more modern and fit the room decor better. Besides, I can always take it in to be re-plated if I change my mind in the future. The polishing took an ETERNITY. It was all done with a sock and metal polish because I was afraid a chemical bath would strip the white paint off the numbering. In the end, the metal still shows minor signs of pitting, but it shined up very nicely. I don't mind the pitting, it gives it character, this is a 65 year old radio after all.

The case was polished with car buffing compound. The paint(?) on the case was very good still, no scratches down to the black/brown bakelite or chips. The finish was a bit dull, but didn't take much with the buffing compound to restore it to a good luster. The front emblem was tarnished brown and had to be sanded with 400 grit sandpaper.

The clock was an AC unit, gear driven, and took up far to much space inside. This seemed like an easy fix. I got a continuous sweep motor (doesn't tick) to match the original. Problem was, the shaft diameter doesn't match today's standards, so the original hands couldn't be re-used. I also couldn't find any hands that were as short as the originals. So I had to cut some down to size. Also the shaft length of the new motor (shortest I could find) was still longer than the original, so the second hand stood out too far and hit the cover (it looks glass, but it's plastic). I had to take the second hand to a jeweler to have the shaft modified because I didn't have tools small enough. Unfortunately, the hands were gold plated also. There was no way I was going to be able to physically polish off the plating like I did on the other pieces, so I turned to paint stripper. 5 days later, silver hands!
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Then I had to figure out how to cram a computer into an enclosure that only measures 7"H x 13"W x 6"D..... Many hours later, I decided that I needed the motherboard to protrude out the back a bit (cooling/expandability/workability/fabrication/etc etc). I then had to fabricate a motherboard tray. First a template was made with folded/cut paper. Then I bent [~22-26Ga] sheet metal to match the template. Edges were folded for added strength and reduced blood spilling. The motherboard tray was connected to the original frame and protrudes 2.25" out the back of the case to house the 4TB hdd (mounted on rubber grommets) and a 250GB SSD. Completely coincidence that the clearance between the two was 1/8" or less.
I actually had to buy a Silverstone 300W SFX power supply to fit the remaining space. This model was chosen because it is the only model with semi-passive fan operation. The panel mount for the PSU was fabricated similar to the mobo tray using a paper template. The triangular bend at the bottom was...a challenge, but it hides the cables from the hdd and SSD. It does fold back under, parallel to the bottom of the case so the cables don't spill out the bottom. It took me about 10 hours to fabricate EACH of the two metal pieces.
I even mounted a USB3.0 port to the side of the case! This hole was originally an auxiliary 2-prong AC output.
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And lastly, here are some pictures of the final product. The "Crosley" letters were re-painted as well as some touch-ups on the clock ring numbers, the fabricated metal was painted black (original frame was not painted because of the neat stamping and stickers), cables were crammed in, and everything was zipped up.
I really wanted to light the clock to the motherboard's power LED header, but my white LED's were a really cold/blue white and I didn't like the look. I'll probably search around for some warm white LEDs.
Also, the power was originally intended to be wired to the volume knob under the clock, but Digikey couldn't find me a rotary switch. For now, it'tl be handled by a standard push botton on the back and/or power on via keyboard. I'm open to suggestions on some sort of rotary-type switch I could use. Ideally it would be a momentary/spring loaded switch to match the behavior of what a standard computer power button delivers. The knob is just attached to the end of the original potentiometer so it still rotates.
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I know this is a long post, but hopefully everyone enjoys it. This really turned into a pièce de résistance for me and I'm really happy with the outcome. Unfortunately I feel like I set the bar pretty high for myself, this is going to be a tough one to beat.
Main: i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-M, MSI RX480 8G, 500GB Crucial BX100, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 16GB 1600MHz G.Skill @1.25V, EVGA 550-G2, Silverstone PS07B
HTPC: A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB Seagate SSHD, 8GB 1866MHz G.Skill, Crosley D-25 Case Mod
 
Chuckaluphagus
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Re: Crosley D-25 Case Mod

Sun Feb 14, 2016 2:53 pm

That is a beautiful custom case. Thanks very much for sharing.
 
The Egg
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Re: Crosley D-25 Case Mod

Sun Feb 14, 2016 3:05 pm

That's some amazing work. Not just on modifications and getting everything to fit, but on the restoration as well. Very cool.
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Deanjo
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Re: Crosley D-25 Case Mod

Sun Feb 14, 2016 3:39 pm

The PC guy in me says cool, nice job.

The classic radio restorer in me goes "BURN IN HELL!" :lol:
 
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Re: Crosley D-25 Case Mod

Sun Feb 14, 2016 4:05 pm

Really nice job with the sheet metal work!
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DPete27
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Re: Crosley D-25 Case Mod

Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:45 am

Deanjo wrote:
The classic radio restorer in me goes "BURN IN HELL!"

I actually did save all the original bits, so technically I could re-assemble the original. Unfortunately, the rat's nest of wires under the metal frame would need to be completely redone since I went to town in there with a side cutter. There are a few extra holes in the original metal frame now, and I drilled one small hole in the bottom of the bakelite, but those are the only things preventing this from being able to be restored to factory condition.
Main: i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-M, MSI RX480 8G, 500GB Crucial BX100, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 16GB 1600MHz G.Skill @1.25V, EVGA 550-G2, Silverstone PS07B
HTPC: A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB Seagate SSHD, 8GB 1866MHz G.Skill, Crosley D-25 Case Mod
 
Chrispy_
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Re: Crosley D-25 Case Mod

Tue Feb 16, 2016 5:30 pm

I loathe Bakelite plastic used in those things but you seem to have salvaged this one quite nicely.
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krazyredboy
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Re: Crosley D-25 Case Mod

Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:51 pm

I had to come here from the news post and say that your custom PC is excellent! Very classy and well done.
 
DPete27
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Re: Crosley D-25 Case Mod

Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:00 pm

IT'S FINALLY FINISHED!!!!
As you can see in the OP, I'd left off with a working system, but it used a traditional push-button power switch dangling loose out the back of the case and I wanted to light the clock.

Clock Lighting:
I bought a "warm" white (still a little higher color temp than I wanted, but this was the best I could manage without going RGB) 5mm LED online and soldered it to a cable. Unfortunately, the opening in the bottom of the clock assembly was 2.75mm thick by 5mm wide. I was able to file both sides of the LED down to the correct shape, even though the required thickness brought the edges of the flat sides dangerously close to the cone/filament of the LED. By leaving the LED just a bit thicker than needed, the clock plates clamped the LED in place when I tightened everything down. The clock isn't lit as well as I wanted, which is mostly due to the limited clearance between the clock plates (approx 1.5mm) where the light can shine. Although the clock isn't well-lit, it does look period-correct, so I'm happy with that. In case you're wondering, the felt pad is to seal a hole in the clock plate to prevent light from escaping into the case.
Sorry for the shoddy picture, this was my first experience taking pictures in our pitch-black basement with only a single 5mm LED and the backlight bleed of the LCD screen on my camera as light sources. >1 second shutter times aren't easy when you don't have a tripod. The picture below is the most accurate representation of what my eyes saw, except the clock hands were more visible than the picture shows.
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Power Switch:
I've combed the internet off and on since my first post for a suitable power switch. This was the driving reason why this project took so long to put the finishing touches on. In the end, the requirements - rotary momentary non-shorting spring-return with a 0.25" x 1.25" flatted shaft left me with only one option. The Electroswitch E3G0603N-2 was more expensive than I really wanted to spend on this part, but it ticked all the right boxes...with some exceptions:
-The shaft was too long and not flatted. A hacksaw, wheel grinder, and file fixed those issues.
-The switch came with two "sections" (contact disks) which allow you to wire up 6 circuits to be controlled by the rotation of the shaft. The disks stuck up about 3/16" too far above the shaft which contacted the radio frame and prevented the switch from being mounted properly, so I removed one of the disks (didn't need it) and cut the top off the other.
-The stock spring was a bit stiff, so I got a replacement at Ace Hardware. Ace didn't have a replacement spring that was the correct length, so I got to learn how to shorten a spring that's about the size of a pencil eraser (Butane lighter and a precision needle-nosed pliers).
-Finally, the 3/8" hole in the radio frame for mounting the switch is elongated for reasons I can't fathom. The original component in this hole was a potentiometer for the volume adjustment, but the added torque from the spring-return power switch made it difficult to keep in place. I fashioned the horseshoe-shaped plate pictured below (shown from inside the radio frame) with a round hole so the switch position wasn't solely reliant on the tightness of the mounting nut. The cutout above the plate is to clear the spring lever when the switch is operated.
The computer turns on with a clockwise rotation of the power knob, and counter-clockwise functions as the reset button.
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Main: i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-M, MSI RX480 8G, 500GB Crucial BX100, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 16GB 1600MHz G.Skill @1.25V, EVGA 550-G2, Silverstone PS07B
HTPC: A8-5600K, MSI FM2-A75IA-E53, 4TB Seagate SSHD, 8GB 1866MHz G.Skill, Crosley D-25 Case Mod

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