Step 1: Assemble Materials
2x 1.5' by 2 sheets of 1/8" lexan. You can find these at Lowes or hardware stores, they run for about $6. I only actually used two, but you may want to purchase an extra, as they can break if you're not careful. Make sure that what you're purchasing is actually lexan and not acryllic, as acryllic will shatter way too easily. If you look at the edge it should be dark for lexan and almost white for acryllic.
4 feet of 1" by 2" pine or other wood for vertical supports
1 18" by 20" piece of plywood or press-board (which is cheaper)
1 8" by 18" piece of plywood/press-board
1/4 20 bolts and nuts
Punched 1 1/4" aluminum for drive bays; ~10" per 5 1/2" drive
2 31" strips of punched aluminum for drive bay mounts (If you want, you can substitute two more wood verticals, which will save you a lot of bending and having to align the holes in the aluminum)
Punched 1/2" aluminum angle for 3.5" drive bays; 4" per drive
Velcro (lots of it), preferably matching whatever color you want to paint the wooden parts
And the following tools:
Jig saw with fine toothed blade or fine toothed craft (model making) saw
Drill with 1/4" bit and a bit large enough to accommodate your saw blade
Circular saw (to cut plywood)
Dish soap and WD-40 (to lubricate and cool hacksaw blade)
Step 2: Cut and Assemble Wooden Frame
For the back plate I used an additional piece of lexan that I cut from one of the panels I broke along the way, but wood would probably easier. (Especially for cutting expansion slots. In reality, the back plate really isn't even necessary, but regardless It would measure 8" by ~16". The long dimension could vary depending on how you mount your power supply.
Step 3: Assemble Frame
Step 4: Fabricate Drive Bay Frame and Brackets
For the forward of the two, which will support the 3.5" bays, create an additional bend outwards 13" up from the bottom lip, and then back upwards after 1 inch. The aluminum can be bent easily in a vice using a hammer, so long as you clamp the line you wish to bend along firmly. If you want a more accurate bend you can clamp a piece of angle to the protruding piece of aluminum, preventing it from curving.
The Drive bay brackets and Power supply bracket's are made by simply bending a "U" or "L" shape out of the same 1.25" punched aluminum. For the 3.5" bays, I used 3" sections of aluminum angle and simply hot glued foam board platforms between them. Although these could be done the same way as the 5.5" bays, this method is simpler and quicker.
Step 5: Mount Frame and Drive Bay Brackets
To actually mount the pieces, mark the center of the hole in the bottom lip for each one, and drill for a bolt. I used 1/4 20 throughout for simplicity. (1/4" drill bit, #20 thread) Once these are attached you can line the top tab's up against the top of the side piece and repeat the same process.
For each 5.5" bay one bracket should be mounted to the back frame piece. Place whatever drive you will be using into the bracket after bolting and see where the front ends up. Finally, mark the spot for the forward bracket and mount this by drilling and bolting through the wood across from the forward frame. If there is not enough room for the bay between the bolt ends (depending on the length of your bolts), spin a nut down to the end of the bolt first, and then insert it through the frame. In other words, bolt, nut, frame, bracket, nut.
Step 6: Mount 3.5" Drive Bays
Step 7: Mount the Power Supply
Step 8: Cutting the Lexan
First of all, mark out the lines to be cut with a marker. It also helps to score them with a box cutter or razor blade before cutting. The side panel, which should consume one whole sheet, requires only one cut. The wide dimension of the sheets I used fit perfectly, so I had only to cut it down on the bottom. The final sheet should measure 22" by 18" to 20" The Top panel should measure 8" by 18" to 20". The front and top panel can be cut from the same sheet, so don't destroy it too badly.
The lexan can be cut quite well on a table saw for the long cuts, or a jig saw for the short ones.
Before starting your cut, apply some dish soap to the sides of the blade. Otherwise, without lubrication, the lexan can cauterize itself closed again as you cut, making a very ugly edge. Keep the line you are cutting close to the edge of whatever surface you are cutting around to reduce vibrations in the lexan and prevent cracking. Finally, it helps to have someone spray WD-40 or water on the blade as you cut, which helps to further cool it.
Step 9: Cutting the Front Panel
Step 10: Cutting the Holes
Secondly, after re-lubricating the blade, cut between the holes. This is again a delicate and time consuming process. I broke the plate the first time I tried it, and had to start the whole thing over. A metal file can be used to clean and dress the edges. If you need to make a large circular hole (as I did for the keystart), see the last step.
Step 11: Attatching the Lexan
Step 12: Painting
Step 13: Finishing Touches
I also decided to add a light, just to show off the fact that its all clear. I purchased a cheap $5 one off Newegg, and it lights the whole case (and most of my room) up quite nicely.
Step 14: Making Large Circular Holes in Lexan
Unfortunately, spade bits won't cut into the lexan, and end up just cracking it before making a dent. (which I learned a bit too late) A forstner bit yielded the same result. Instead, drill a hole just large enough to accommodate the center point of whatever size spade bit you want your eventual hole to be. (About a quarter inch should do fine) Next, place the piece above a piece of scrap wood and use the spade bit to begin drilling through the hole you already made and into the wood. This should stabilize the center of the bit and allow you to use the outer edges to boar through the lexan. It helps to have a second pair of hands to hold it steady, or at least some clamps.