Lambda Core Mainframe

I wanted this machine to resemble something you'd run into while playing through the original Half-Life. I attempted to capture the ambience of the game, which is a blend of high-tech equipment and a lived-in environment. In case you've never played the game, the brief time your character spends in the Lambda Core is one of the pivotal moments in the game. The Core also represents the most advanced technology available at the Black Mesa facility.

Screenshot from the first level of Half-Life Source

This beast started out in life as a massive Gateway 2000 tower. This is after I finished the surgery to reverse the motherboard tray mounting, and modified the chassis to fit a 120mm intake fan. The offset opening in the plastic bezel is where I notched it to fit an 80mm fan for cooling the original hard drive rack.

A better shot of the original motherboard tray mounted upside down. The tray extends to the front of the chassis, and is riveted to the front, bottom and back of the case. They really don't make 'em like this anymore.

The back of the unit painted with yellow safety stripes over the rear vents and oversprayed with some Rust-Oleum textured paint in "Autumn Brown", which makes very convincing faux rust.

The side panel window, done in the same safety striping and weathering. The casing is a one-piece lift-off type that is a complete pain to remove and install, and that was the motivation for me to purchase removable drive bays.

The mostly-finished chassis. It sat wedged in a corner of my room for about six months.

A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to build a server. One order to NewEgg later, some plexi to finish off the window, and here is the finished product:

The control panel in the top bay is mostly there for looks. The knob controls the speed of the intake and exhaust fans, and the switches aren't hooked up to anything yet, but the amber LED indicators look cool. Below that is the 48x CD-ROM drive and removable IDE bays. Right now only the top one is occupied.

Slightly fuzzy pic with the flash turned off. I need a tripod something fierce.

How it looks in the dark. The only sources of lighting are the front 120mm fan and an 80mm in the back above the power supply. The red light to the left is the surge protector.

The innards. I might try to tidy up the cabling a bit, but the cables are already stretched a bit tight. I left the protective film on the inside of the plexi to give it a bit of a hazy, worn-in look.

My snazzy Message of the Day screen, complete with ASCII art taken from the end credits of Portal. For those of you using Debian, the message of the day file is /etc/motd.


AMD Sempron Mobile 3000+
Foxconn WinFast NF4K8AB nForce4 Socket754
Foxconn GeForce 6200 256 TurboCache
512MB Corsair ValueSelect DDR400
48x CD-ROM
Maxtor 250GB IDE HD
Thermaltake 430W PSU