(Minihack - I'll be responding to you below, but I have an update on my clipboard that needs to be pasted before I copy something over it
Well, time for a pic update! While I was waiting for my front panel cable to go through customs, my second top cage came in. Now, for those of you considering a Mac Pro mod, you should know that if your case doesn't come with a PSU, it is VERY hard to find one on eBay. They really are incredibly well built, and I have only seen one or two dead PSUs come through eBay in the last 5-6 months. That said, there is a solution to complete the top area, and that's with a second optical drive cage. These go for about $10-20 with shipping, and wil fit with some cutting. I will be documenting that process today!
Here's the second optical cage in brand new condition - it cost me $10:
Now after trying to fit it, I realized that both sides needed to be trimmed. Here's the left hand side marked up for cutting:
As you can see, I just cut the part that slides in to the case but you also have the option to cut all the way up in a straight line so it sits perfectly flush with the first optical cage. I don't trust my dremel skills enough to pull this off well, so I decided to keep the stock lines for aesthetic reasons.
Here you can see it now free to slide in where I made the cut:
I took the piece back up to my case, and roughly marked the cut:
Spoiler alert: it was definitely not perfect first time. Cutting curved metal to fit a flat area is an art that I have not quite mastered. Something tells me that my maths teacher was right when he said I would need the subject one day, but don't tell him that!
The super feint line is my awesomely drawn cutting line:
And it fits! I had to take it back down to the garage and shave off a few pieces with the grinding attachment, but I was pretty pleased overall that it slid in with little effort.
Here you can see what I mean about it not sitting flush on the left hand side with the curve it has:
Honestly, I would prefer the curve being there than a poorly cut straight edge, but for $10 I might just order another and give it a go! Some positive notes: first the weight of the PSU and the way I cut this means that it fits very solidly without any need to fix it down, and secondly the airflow is MUCH improved for the PSU, as the path of least resistance is now straight back over the heatsinks, rather than out the side that is now closed off.
Now that everything fits, it's time to dismount it all and send it over to Anodizing Specialists for a makeover! Final pics are coming very VERY soon - a guy that I shoot weddings with is going to come over for an afternoon to help me
Oh mate, I wish I had taken the time to look at this thread before today. Rude of me not to considering how awesome a job you have done. Brilliant!
As I am about to embark on the Pro myself very soon now (honestly I mean it this time) a few questions.
A long time back I had an old G5 anodised blue and vowed never to do it again because the anodisers here in the UK insisted that the little case nuts themselves didn't look like aluminium. So I actually removed every single one before the process and JB welded each and every one back in afterwards. It would seem though that you did not have to go through the same heartache.....is that though what your guys referred to as a "different" sort of aluminium that didn't anodise so well?
Next question. On my case it was all too obvious where the electrodes for the current were attached and where it was suspended from in the anodising bath as it anodised it darker - did you get that problem?
And now a final question for you re. the board mounting. I see you had difficulty aligning the height of the board to the PCI slots. What is the height of the top of the slots above the actual case floor? Is it not the same as in the G5 and if not, what is the difference? It occurs to me that on my G5 kits my 5mm perspex trays when coupled with 8mm standoffs (and allowing for the 1mm height boost of the threaded inserts) perfectly align the cards for the G5, and on my Mac Pro project I had assumed a similar arrangement would do the job.....so are the heights different between G5 and Pro?
All best with the rest of this project and I am sending you an email too on a related subject....
Minihack (aka laser hive).
Oh yes, one more: I thought to re-anodise something that was already anodised you first had to remove the original anodised layer by bead blasting or similar - did you not have that done?
Thanks for your kind words!!
The anodizing process is super involved, and the people you spoke to were correct - the nuts that hold the two parts of the inner shell together are steel, and will get very hot in the process, dissolve, and probably create hot-spots on the anodizing finish. There are also steel rivets that hold to the two pieces together that need to be removed. I'll be creating a full video tutorial of the ENTIRE process sometime this spring for those daring enough to try it
The good news is that the threads that the nuts go on are aluminum, and survive the process making reassembly entirely possible.
I didn't have any problems with darker anodization around the place that the pieces were held - the shop I used had very thin clamps that they used to submerge the case parts, and though there are tiny marks, they are negligible. I might have pictures of the clamps they used from my trip to the anodizers, I will take a look for you.
As far as the PCI slots, I will have to measure. I do know, however, that with the motherboard screwed directly on to a thin motherboard plate with a plastic sheet to prevent shorts, and I'm at a total height of 2cm. I believe that the piece of rubber I used to screw my PCI slots down is around 9mm thick, so (as a very rough estimate) it looks like the motherboard needs to be at a total height of 1cm to be able to use the PCI slots. I think the idea you emailed me about regarding fixing the motherboard tray without standoffs will be the way to go with the Mac Pro. This is probably something you will have to double check for yourself - I'm far from the best person to measure these things! It does sound like the Mac Pro is a couple of mm's shorter, because the the top of the Mac Pro standoffs are all exactly between 1.5cm and 1.6cm.
As far as I know, the case was put in a caustic bath for about 45 minutes to remove the first anodizing. From what I remember, Tom told me that this was a pretty exact process - too long and you would get down to the grain of the metal, and too short a time would mean the original anodization would not be removed properly. Hope this answers all your questions!
Here's a pic of the case going in the caustic bath. As you can see, there are four contact points on the clamps, and the metal is only about 2mm thick. Like I said, tiny nicks in the finish, but covered when the door is on so it's no big deal to me.