Oooh! Oooh! Look! A case mod involving an actual case!

I'm actually built this last summer (it's spring now) so I may exaggerate a tad as my memories grow dim and cloudy. That, and it's 2am here. Has anyone noticed that half my pages seem to start with an apology for the following content?

     One of the financial people at work has a husband who had recently upgraded to a new server at his place of business. Since her cubicle happens to be in the tech support room (don't ask how that happened), she thought she would bring in the old server case to see if anyone wanted it. Needless to say, at least two of us jumped on it (not quite literally). It eventually ended up in my hands, at my house. First thought on the case: it's beige. Second thought: beige is bad. Third thought: need paint. With those thoughts in mind, I set about planning out what I wanted to do with the case. Obviously it needed a good painting, but it also needed all of the guts and a new power supply. The power supply that came with the case was actually a neat redundant setup with two boxes that were actually hot swapable Sadly, some component in there was not working and I could not continue to use them. That, and the old supplies were AT (all power goes through switch)... Any respectable motherboard would require ATX (only tiny current through switch, main power straight to motherboard). Aside from just painting, I decided the case needed a window and some lights. Always have to have lights.

     With a general idea of what I wanted to do, I headed over to my chair (which I happen to be sitting in now) and did a search for online stores specializing in modding. I ended up at two different sites for the modding components: crazypc.com and case-mod.com. Despite my great satisfaction with cold cathode tubes in the past, I found something even cooler. A liquid neon light... These are kinda hard to describe. It is a glass tube with what looks like a green powder coating the inside surface. When turned on a single thread of current flows from one side of the tube to the other. It writhes as it flows down the tube and seems to move at different speeds with different power supplies. Very neat effect. I also ordered one of the LazerLED arrays like I used in the nightstand. Just for kicks I also threw in a few lengths of electroluminescent cable. I ordered an 'L' shaped window kit and an "high voltage" etching. As far as the working parts, I went over to newegg.com for its supper happy fun deals. I ordered a cheap motherboard, 256MB of PC-133 RAM, Power Supply, rounded cables, AMD Duron 900MHz, black CD-ROM, and a black Floppy drive. HomeDepot provided the paint (which was a metallic black spray paint) and a section of Lucite. I think I managed to do all of this (lights, CPU, paint, and everything) for around $250.

     I even ordered a Netgear network card. To this day I still have that shrink-wrapped and sitting on a shelf. I sort of forgot that the new motherboard had a NIC built in...


Isn't that just a beautiful beige?

     The first thing I did while waiting for parts to arrive, was modify the redundant power supply to accept the new ATX supply. This involved cutting through the pcb in the back of the metal chassis. You'd be amazed how much metal there is in the middle of a circuit board. That was, more or less, the only change I had to make. There was already a hole for the ATX power cables to run through and into the case.

     Next, I decided to dismantle one of the AT power supplies, leaving only the back plate and the pcb at the bottom. This has become a small storage space in the back of the computer. You'd never guess it was there unless you looked very closely.

     I then stripped the chassis down to the frame in preparation for painting. This was probably the easiest part of the process unless you count the half-hour of dust removal. That was some really persistent dust too. I imagine it had settled in most comfortably over the years and was reluctant to leave.

     Before painting the case, I had to cut the hole for the window. Let me tell you, it is not fun to cut a large hole with rounded edges through millimeter thick steel with a rotary tool (i.e.: Dremel). I must have gone through four reinforced cutting wheels and 8 of the not-so-reinforced cutting wheels. I managed to totally coat my arms in a nice, abrasive metal dust. Every minute or so, I had to stop and wipe the sweat from my forehead. I would have opened the garage door and let the cooler air in, but when I tried it I was assaulted by wave after wave of idiot june bugs that seemed intent on ramming the case. I will never understand how they live long enough to procreate. I hate to squish 'em too, they leave one hell of a mess. So I continued on for an hour drenched in metallic dust laden sweat.

     The painting had to be the most interesting part of the process. Again, I had to do this with the garage door closed because the last thing I wanted was a dead bug in my paint. You have all seen the "only use in well ventilated area" labels before, I'm sure. Well, listen to them... By the time I had gone through both bottles of paint, the air was definitely getting a little thick. An so was the fog in my head... I was using a five minutes in, five minutes out strategy and let me tell you, my head was up there in the clouds for awhile after I finished. Come morning, I went out to look at the finished product. The case had a decidedly dull look to it. There was a coating of metallic black dust on all the parts (paint that didn't bond) and the surfaces were rough. While I was feeling pity for myself, someone suggested that I try buffing the paint out. There went another hour of slowly rubbing small circles on the parts. At the end of which, though, I had a bunch of shiny metallic black parts! And there was much rejoicing.

 

A few days pass...

Page Two: The Parts Cometh

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