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Motorized Front Panel for Non-ALX

Andrew_J994

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Aug 10, 2016
Messages
140
Hey everyone,

a project Ive wanted to under-go for a long time is finding out how to motorize my front panel.

Looking for advice from fellow R1 or ALX owners who have a motorized front or have motorized their stock front.

Basically, need to know: How motor is connected, Mechanism that drives the front panel, How motor is wired, Where I can find a motor or mechanism, Is this even possible?

And one last thing... My ODD Portion of the front panel has some small dents in it, anyway to pop these out?

Looking forward to hearing any suggestions, tips and advice

Thanks, Andrew
 

Cass-Olé

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Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
200
I did two write ups ODD Front Panel Motor Install & ABOVE TOP SECRET (scroll half way down that post to section How-To Part II: A51 ALX ODD MOTOR / SWITCH INSTALL) (grey panel). See photos of a motor & ALX-style MIO board. The motor has two outer black gears that contact plastic panel teeth & drive the panel up/down
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It was difficult to describe how to get the panel apart to take out a motor & put one in & get it back together, you kind of just have to be real careful, go slow & figure it out yourself

You need a motor & switch & ribbon cable out of a new, used, or damaged X504R ALX type panel. Put it in, then get the correct ALX-style MIO board for it which have the motor & switch header connectors

*Tip: I have the correct Alienhead motor switch which can be soldered on & that way you can re-use your current ribbon cable. People without a switch need to remove the one off of the ALX donor panel & transfer it over

I do not think dents can be fixed. If you see attached pic, the outer metal skin is epoxied to a plastic backer, you'd ruin the skin trying to free it from the backer. By that, I mean in a perfect world you'd need to remove the skin to fix the dents then I guess glue it back on, but breaking the epoxy bond would probably result in new dents. Best fix is get a new panel.
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Panels are hard to find these days. I don't know of a US source for a panel other than R841R grey panels on Amazon (the four they have are grey, not black, I already asked but feel free to contact them). I don't know where to get you a motor, an X504R panel or a W558R panel. Try google & play the eBay waiting game

Panel Part #'s: X504R (ALX motorized matte satin black) W558R (Cosmic Black semi-gloss) R841R (Lunar Shadow grey)
MIO ALX part #'s: FWKNT v1.01 | CR1KN V1.01 | 604GC v2.0
 
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Andrew_J994

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Aug 10, 2016
Messages
140
Guess ill have have to keep my eye out for a front panel. And yeah I remember seeing all sorts of panels all the time a couple years ago.

Shame the dents cant be fixed, there's currently a W558R for $100 in the Netherlands, but for that price, Id just look for an ALX panel and live with the dents, only visible in certain light.

Poor Area 51 above, me and a fellow forum member discussed that the other day, poor things been beat to hell and back. I keep finding cases like these destroyed, I wonder why that is. I mean they're definitely heavy, but I never have trouble moving mine and definitely the heaviest case I own. I talked with my dad about it and he said "Ex-Girlfriend" lol, I hope I'd never piss her off if that was the case (Pun Intended)

Been seeing a ton of "ALXs" that never turn out to be ALXs lately on Mercari, OfferUp, FBM, Craigslist, Ect. Most listings don't include pics of the interior of the side panels and I can never really tell based off the finish as pictures are usually terrible, Is there any other way to tell other than Service Tag, Paint, Side Panels?

Thanks, -Andrew
 

Cass-Olé

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Jan 9, 2013
Messages
200
Yeah, the starting price was like $2000 & some configs could fetch $5000 & more, I never understood why so many got that beat up, who wouldn't take care of something that cost thousands

There are some W558R on Taobao but u need a foreign buyer (middleman or service) to help import it. You're welcome to try eBayUK/Europe searches. CPUMedic says they have W558R but when u message them they never message back

I did a post here how to tell ALX (see pics), but it comes down to service tag, paint job & inner doors. If a photo of MIO is available then check for motor/switch wiring or lack of it. ALX won't be shiny or cast a reflection, like *this one is clearly ALX, due to satin finish on front panel (& inner door is open = black). When in doubt, message seller what inner door looks like (& ask for service tag)

*bidding ends tomorrow on that ALX

There was a theory (not mine) that all ALX got the XDJ4C mthrbrd (black accents) while the other two got the J560M (purple/lime green accents), but as u can see in the ALX for sale above, it has J560M & the Bios screenshot says the mthbrd matches the rear service tag = original mthrbrd, so that theory is kind of debunked. However this is the 1st time I've seen J560M in an ALX, 99.9% of the others I've seen had XDJ4C version2/revision2 mthrbrd. I bought into the theory (until this one came up for sale) but have never included the mthrbrd as a way to ID ALX vs non. Highly likely ALX has the XDJ4C though, & likely the Cosmic black version will have J560M (exceptions exist)

I bought this X504R Jan6, a Sunday night. They messaged me back Monday evening that they'd damaged it, refunded my $. I said so what?, I bet the motor is ok, send it anyways. They said they put it in the recycler & it wasn't there anymore. What a waste. Moral of story: play the eBay waiting game. If u see one, get it before I do (=
 
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nitricacid

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Joined
Apr 18, 2020
Messages
8
I bet it'd be possible to make a plastic motor and spindle/axle bracket and a gear with a 3d printer and just find/make the right wire harness to solder to the motor. problem is the measurements. a micrometer and a notepad would be all you need to design it. then build it into an appropriate file format and print. finding a motor would be simple. just needs to have the correct size, voltage, and current draw. I've seen 3d scanners that could make this easier in theory. i also know there are companies that will do the work if they have the plastic parts to scan/measure. unfortunately i do not have a 3d printer yet nor do i have the original hardware to measure..

but some hope to anyone with a 3d printer and skills... i googled and found the original post by Cass-Olé. You can see the number of teeth on the gear and spindle. (see pics below)


#CREDIT TO Cass-Olé .... picture sources with how to with OE parts: Gear/Motor and Spindle/Bracket (about 55% down the page)

there is a motor drive gear and a spindle/axle with a gear (in what appears to be the middle) and gears on either end.

do note that even after the motor is installed there "may or may not" be motor stop sensors in your original area 51 r1 front bezel and the Alienware button still needs a button installed to trigger the motor. (I have not been able to verify if the sensors are there by default)
 

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Andrew_J994

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Aug 10, 2016
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Plans are put on hold for now. This is how my uncles area 51 alx was transported to me...4A6973DA-EC3F-4DBA-8612-1F341D26B143.jpegBBE35244-A584-4846-A8B2-0B40C49BDD7E.jpeg1A32059B-C92E-4218-B633-6F22DAFA6148.jpeg
 

Andrew_J994

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Joined
Aug 10, 2016
Messages
140
Holy hell, is he ok!?

That's really bad luck man.
yeah he wasnt in the car, that was us coming back from fathers day. he was giving me the alx in return for his data on the drives. luckily everyones okay.
 

Andrew_J994

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Aug 10, 2016
Messages
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IMG-2317.JPG

Off topic but I didnt want to start a new thread yet, This thin contact connector on the right came out of some where on the optical bay cover that holds the batteries for the lights and I have no idea where it came from. Any ideas?
 

Andrew_J994

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Joined
Aug 10, 2016
Messages
140
Ordered the new ALX MIO Board and got it for $35 shipped +tax, hoping it will also solve the stupid issue im having again where the fans go 100% on shut down and run at 100% until you reinstall CC. Really hoping for a permanent solution for this soon but i’ll probably never find one.

Other than that, I’ve pulled the motor assembly and head switch from my uncles old alx front bezel that was wrecked in the accident, its now fully repaired if you guys wanna see a thread on that let me know.

So for the next few days ill be waiting on the MIO to ship, then get started on the swap into my front bezel.

The deconstruction of the bezel is a pain, those viewing who may want to do the same i advise you either buy an alx or be prepared for the disaster of working on this thing.

Word of advice for panel dissassemly:

Im sure theres a better way to do this but this is how I found success,

Remember to go slow, be gentle with the alien head ribbon cable, remove any wires necessary.

I started by removing the bottom cover that gets hidden when the ODD Door is in the down position by pressing the 4 retaining tabs on the backside of the bezel.

Then get the ODD Door bottom guides off the tracks and keep the Door in the down position.

Take a philips head screw driver and unscrew the 4 screws holding the top panel with the power button, the bottom screws can be unscrewed at an angle.

Then remove the ODD surround by popping out the top two clips then the bottom two and pull up and out carefully, it will pop out of place by slightly moving the ODD Door forward a bit. Remember the ODD Door must be the furthest down it can go.

You can then push the two top guides on the ODD Door towards eachother gently then remove the ODD Door.

You can then remove the ODD Motor, and Head switch by unscrewing the alien head and pulling off the switch as its just glued to the metal backing.

Again, Im sure theres a better way to do this, I am no means a professional at this and I do not accept responsibility if your break your panel.
 

Cass-Olé

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Jan 9, 2013
Messages
200
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The filament fits between the batteries I assume in case they overheat, such that if things get too hot, the circuit opens & they stop recharging. Whether yes or no, it's held there by a tape or tacky glue

But yes, front panel disassembly should occur at a snail's pace, work slow, work careful, protect your painted parts with blue tape, cardboard/paper/cloths etc. Because it's best to pop the bottom panel out 1st, once that bottom panel is out & u can see inside there, u might take a picture or series of pictures, or maybe a video:
1) Of how the bottom panel 'arms' 'fit' against the top panel & how it lays inside there
2) Of how the ribbon cable lays / mounts in the top panel, since u need to recreate that later
3) Of how the bottom panel 'left arm' lays over the ribbon cable

In short, you start to detach the bottom panel from the rear with four clips, but u have to lift the top panel lid before it can come out; t's right then when you're lifting the top panel up & u can start to see inside there, that's your best look at how the factory assembled it together. So as u lift the top lid up in order to free the bottom panel out of there, u could take pics/video of how the bottom panel comes out of there. It has 'arms' that engage / slide into place, & the left arm has a groove that kind of 'covers' the ribbon cable, guides it I suppose. However u describe it, the bottom panel has to go back in the same way it came out. Putting it back in 'wrong', could damage / bend / wrinkle the ribbon cable after assembly & u don't want or need that, so it's best, then, to photo or video how the bottom panel engages w/top panel before u start to remove it (or separate them)

After reassembly, after u have power, u can shine a flashlight into that crack where the ribbon cable is, push your button, motor the top panel down & check your ribbon cable, make sure it opens/closes with good action & doesn't bind up. If it does bind up or doesn't look right, u have to fix it before it gets damaged etc
 
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