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Na'ir al Saif by Attila Lukacs

Na'ir al Saif by Attila Lukacs (Oldnewby / Attila)

Original Project Log: Here
Foreword by Antony Leather

Attila's Cygnus X1 project, which won bit-tech's 2009 Mod of the Year competition, was nothing short of mesmerizing. A year later, it remains one of the most beautiful PCs we've ever seen. Scratch-built from the ground up with hand tools, anyone would think Attila had been some kind of godlike craftsman with years of training behind him. However, the fact is the fantastic skills he posses in metalwork, carpentry and general PC building are all self-taught.

The question is, how do you follow-up a project which beat dozens of others to win the 2009 Mod of the Year crown? Well, in February this year we got our answer, when Attila posted the beginnings of his new project, Na'ir al Saif, in our forums. Perhaps the biggest difference between Cygnus X1 and Na'ir al Saif is the way they were planned and built. Cygnus X1 was build on the fly while Attila learnt from this and planned Na'ir al Saif in much more detail beforehand.

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Cygnus X1 on the left, Na'ir al Saif on the right
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Sticking with the astronomical naming scheme, (Na'ir al Saif, translated as 'the bright one in the sword', is the Arabic name for Iota Orionis - the brightest star in Orion's sword). Whatever the origin of the name, Na'ir al Saif is quite simply a work of art. It wouldn't look out of place on the desk of the head of NASA or in a Rolls Royce aero engine testing facility. In any event, we were pretty keen to hear Attila's take on his stunning new project. Over to Attila...


The design for this project had its genesis just after work on my previous project, Cygnus X1, began. As work on that project progressed, I could see how things could have been done differently, and in some cases, perhaps a little better too. More importantly, the internal structure, begged to be part of the overall look.


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Cygnus X1 had its interior covered by the wooden shell, with Na'ir al Saif, I wanted the insides to be visible at all times. This also meant making the insides a little more interesting than would normally be the case. I started off by making some drawings with SketchUp.


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Unfortunately, the first drawings I made ignored things such as hardware. So the final outcome was modified to accept the hardware I planned to use. I also didn’t have all the gear that was going inside, most of which I'd won in bit-tech's 2009 Mod of the Year competition and was still on its way in the post. While I waited, I began working on the fans and a caddy for the SSD which would sit in a spare expansion slot on the motherboard.


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Initially, the fans were going down the wrong track in terms of the look I wanted to achieve. The SSD caddy was threatening to clutter up the motherboard too, so seeing as things weren't quite going according to plan, I started working on the motherboard support instead. I envisioned this to be what I can only describe as floating, and being visible it had to be more than just a lump of metal.


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*Na'ir al Saif by Attila Lukacs  Na'ir al Saif by Attila LukacsThe motherboard support was cut from a piece of 4mm aluminium sheet, this thickness being arrived at by taking into consideration the likely stresses it would be under, especially as it would be attached to the case at its centre point only.

The next part to be made was the rear main support. This part ties the rear PSU/expansion slot support and the front fan mount together, as well as propping up the motherboard support. Again the thickness of the material was arrived at by looking at the size of the join that was needed and the load it would carry.

This part was cut from 8mm aluminium with a jigsaw and finished with hand files. The holes were bored with some bi-metal hole saws. The part was first made in line with the original design, but it just didn’t look right. So a minor modification was carried out and (to my eyes at least) it looked a lot better.