dslreports logo

    «« DSL Hurdles Share Tool


how-to block ads

3.Modifying the Case

One of the best ways to keep your system running cooler all around is to install a "blow hole." A true blow hole is a fan installed in an opening in the top of a PC case (like the blow hole of a whale or dolphin). But the term has also taken on a much more generic meaning that includes any fan opening cut into a case, side, top, front, or back. Here's how to install a blow hole as easily as possible without destroying your case.

The first step is to figure out where you need to install a blow hole. The top is always a good start since hot air rises. A blow hole set to exhaust air from the top of the case will stop heat from building up. You can also install a blow hole is in the side case panel. A blow hole in the side case panel can be set to blow air on the video card area or the CPU. These are the most common areas to install blow holes, but you can install one anywhere you feel the need for cooling. Make sure you check your case for clearance before removing all electronic parts including the power supply to keep them from being damaged by metal shaving.

Installing a 80mm blow hole in the top of our case. Start by checking for clearance on the inside of the case. The power supply and CD-ROM drive are both very close to the top of the case so make sure you have a clear area in between them. Once you find the general area that you want to use, measure from side to side with a ruler to center the blow hole. If the total width of your case is 8" and the center would be at 4".

After you have marked the center of your case and made the cutout circle it is a best to use a punch or an awl to make an indentation in the sheet metal, this helps keep the drill bit from 'sliding' when it's time to drill. If you don't have an awl you can use a screw or nail to make the indentation instead.

Once you have marked the center of your blow hole you can start to draw the outer circle of the cutout. A drafters compass works best for this job. . Even a inexpensive compass that you can buy at your local drug store will work. Use a ruler to accurately set the compass to half the diameter, this is the radius, of the circle you are going to cut. With a 80mm fan set the compass to 40mm. Then we placed the tip of the compass in the indentation and carefully traced our circle.

With the circle in place we start to drill. We start off with a small drill bit to keep the drill from 'walking' or sliding. Then we use a larger drill bit the enlarge the hole. Once the hole is large enough for the blade of a jigsaw (about 3/8") you can start cutting. First apply masking tape to the area outside of your cut to protect the finish of the case. Also apply the tape to the bottom of the jigsaw's metal foot, don't leave the tape out all together or you will probably end up with scratches all over your case.

To cut the blow hole use a jigsaw. If you don't have a jigsaw you can use a Dremel Moto tool instead. If you use a Dremel tool make sure you use the reinforced cutoff wheels not the regular kind. The idea is to cut out the area inside the circle and leave the rest intact. When you are finished cutting you should have a somewhat rough hole. Use a Dremel with a grinding wheel to get most of the rough edges off. Then use wet/dry sandpaper to finish the edge until it was smooth. If you don't have a Dremel you can do without.

Once the smoothed out blow hole is almost finished, use a 80mm fan grill as a template to mark the corner holes for the fan. Then drill the hole out to 1/4" so that you can use grommets in the four holes. Once the holes are drilled, squeeze rubber grommets into each hole and mount the 80mm fan and fan grill in place using long fan screws. The fan is set to exhaust air from the case though the blow hole.

The finished blow hole not only helps keep our system cool, but it looks very high tech too. We all know that performance is nothing without style, but with a blowhole you can have both.

by FastEddie See Profile


1. Disconnect your computer from the power source and remove the case side that best shows the insides of your computer. On most cases when looking directly at the front panel with your CD ROM it is the left side.

2. Decide where on the side panel you would like your window. Be creative and picture what will actually be behind the window once it is installed. Also remember that you'll need about 1\4" - 1\2" clearance between the window edge and inside edge of the case. This clearance is needed for the rubber molding.

3. Remove the side of the case and place it on a flat surface, like a table or the floor. Place it so the outside surface is facing you and inside surface in contact with table.

4. Cover your case door completely with masking tape, then turn the door around and do the same thing for the other side. If you are experienced at cutting metal you do not need to cover your door with masking tape. It is recommend that less experienced users should use it.

5. Place the tip of your pencil inside a washer that will leave the required space between the case hole and your Plexiglas window. Read your instructions for the correct spacing measurement. Hold your window firmly in place and draw a line on the masking tape and around your window, always keeping the washer in flat contact with your side panel and the windows edge. This will create a line that is a little wider than your window. Make sure you get this right. If the line is too close to the window it'll be harder to fit the rubber mold. If it is too far out the window will be too loose.

6. First drill a starter hole for your cutting tool. Now cut the side panel along the line drawn in step 5 using your nibbler, jigsaw or dremel. If you intend on using a jigsaw make sure the speed setting is correct. If there is too much upward/downward force you risk warping your case metal badly.

7. Using a file or deburring tool and smooth out the rough edges.

8. Install the narrow edge of the rubber molding in contact with the case and the wider edge in contact with the window. If the molding is too long trim it to fit.

9. Work your way around the edge of the window and case, pushing the window into it's groove and making sure it doesn't slip out of the case. This is a fairly tight fit so take your time. If you have cut the window too wide you're facing a problem. You will need to find a wider rubber mold somewhere or you can try adding in some sort of silicone filler.

10. Once the window is installed, make sure there are no metal shavings by vacuuming the side panel and place the side panel back on your computer.

by FastEddie See Profile

Install a 10" neon light. Since neon tubes come in different length's choose the right length of neon tube for your case. The tube and power supply have been covered with black plastic end caps for safety. The kit will come with a switch that you can install in your case to turn the light on and off. There are many places you can mount it, but the easiest place is in a spare 3 1/2" drive bay cover. In order to make cutting the whole for the switch much easier, the kit may come with a sticker template. There is an option of either drilling holes in your case and screwing the neon in or sticking it in place with double sided tape. If you add and change parts often, decide on a more temporary placement and use the double sided tape provided or if the kit didn't come with double sided tape use Velcro that has a adhesive backing. A disadvantage of having a neon light is that they give off heat that can lead to an increase in case temperatures. I found the case temperature to only rise 1-2 degrees Celsius after prolonged use of the neon. This is hardly anything to worry about but may become a problem for those of you who need the coolest case possible. It also only uses on average 3 watts of power which is less than what a hard drive uses.

Installation of Switch

1. Turn off your computer and disconnect from power source before you start.

2. Remove your case cover. Decide on a location for the neon switch. Avoid any obstructions inside your case.

3. Mark the center on your cover for the switch and apply switch cut out template.

4. Using a nibbler, jigsaw, dremel or drill, cut along the line on the cutout label and file any sharp edges.

5. Deburr the edges using a deburring tool or file.

6. Install the switch in its opening.

Mounting Your Neon

1. Decide on a location for your neon.

2. Mount the light using the double sided tape provided. Or the achieved back Velcro you can buy at a drug store.

3. Connect the two terminals to the switch.

4. Connect the molex connector to your PSU.

5. And reconnect your computer to its power source and turn the computer on. Your neon light may automatically come on if the switch was in the on position, if not flip the switch to see your new neon light in action.

by FastEddie See Profile

You've made your PC go faster and installed bigger and more powerful fans in order to keep all that stressed hardware run cool enough to be stable. But, what everyone fails to point out is that the more fans you add, the noisier your PC becomes.

You finally realize this after adding a 120mm side blow-hole and the awesome 60mm black-labeled Delta CPU fan. Upon starting the computer up, you think to yourself "Boy is that is LOUD!" Sitting next to it for more than half-an-hour became really annoying. Blasting your way through a Quake III or UT frag-fest isn't so bad because of the game sound is usually turned up a bit, but doing general work really was too loud.

There's a product out called DYNAMAT, an acoustic audio sound-dampening self-adhesive material used in car audio installations. I searched the web and found a supplier for Dynamat.

What you do is measure and cut the Dynamat to cover the slide-on side panel of your full-tower case. Allow roughly 1 inch all around for the cover to actually slide on otherwise you'll never get it back on again. Heat the matting with a hair-dryer to allow easier fitting and better adhesion. Stick the Dynamat on and either use a large flat piece of wood or a wide roller to flatten it down, ensuring there are no air bubbles.

With the matting stuck in place, trim any sides that look rough for a nice square finish. Once DYNAMAT is stuck, the adhesive holds it very securely. You can apply this stuff to anywhere that it fits, use it on both side panels and the inside top panel of the case.

It is very easy to install and work with, so most people shouldn't have any problems with Dynamat. All you need is a stanley knife or any suitably sharp implement and a hair-dryer for making the matting more pliable and stickier. A lot of vibration from spinning fans is cut out too, an additional benefit.

Before anyone asks about heat retention, don't. The matting causes no extra heat to be retained within the case. The coldness of the steel panels is actually transferred onto the matting which makes it cool to touch at all times.

After installing the Dynamat there is a definite reduction in noise. The case sounds and feels more solid too. The matting adds some weight to your case, but nothing worth worrying about. It is worthwhile to try if your case fans are bothering you.

by FastEddie See Profile

Take your 40 conductor IDE cable and count five of the little wires and place your thumbnail between conductors 5 and 6. Place your other thumbnail in the corresponding groove underneath the ribbon and using opposing pressure, pull the fifth and sixth conductors away from each other. After you get a good tear going it is easy to separate the conductors all the way from connector to connector. Do this slowly. Repeat this every five conductors until you have eight five conductor ribbons. Now carefully twist and stack the mini-ribbons on top of each other until you have a square bundle and using premium electrical tape wrap the bundle leaving an equal distant from each connector. Wrap every two inches until the point where the wires spread and make it impossible to continue. You will notice that the bundle wants to lump up because the middle ribbons are not being turned and twisted as much as the outside ones.

You can safely do this to floppy cables also, but I am unsure about ultra wide, and the new 80 wire IDE.

Of course the price of ready made IDE cables are low enough that anyone can afford them. And they will look a lot better too.

by FastEddie See Profile

If you know how to use a screwdriver and a soldering iron then you will have no problem doing this little modification.

First unplug your computer from its power source, open the case and remove the floppy drive.

Next plug your soldering iron in and let it heat up while you un-screw the 4 cover retaining screws.

The drive plate is attached by a small ribbon cable so don't try to pull it away completely or you will ruin the drive! Slowly fold it over on itself. Now carefully note which way the existing LED is positioned so you can get the correct polarity for the new LED's anode and cathode. Snip off the old LED just where it straightens out after the kink in the legs.

Applying a very small amount of solder to the legs, trim the new blue LED to the same length as the old one and solder to the cut-off legs that are sticking from the circuit board. It doesn't matter if it's slightly longer or shorter as long as it fits behind the front plate of the floppy drive where the original LED was situated.

Gently put the drive plate back over to its original position and then screw the 4 retaining screws back in and you're done! Now once you reinstall your floppy drive and you have activity you will see blue LED action instead of the old standard green.

by FastEddie See Profile

You will need standard screwdrivers to take apart your computer. Make sure that they have the correct size so you wont damage the screws. It's recommended that you get an anti-static wristband. This should be used every time open your computer to change the components inside. It's also a good idea to take apart your computer in a room with as little dust as possible.

For the painting you will need some plastic-primer and one or two cans of the color of your choice. You will also need Acetone to clean of the surface before you begin painting. I also recommend to get a mask for protection and do this in a garage or well ventilated room. Also check the spray paint cans instructions for the correct temperature you should paint at. Some spray paints don't work well below 60 degrees.

How To Do It

First you need to take your computer apart. Start by removing everything that is inside the computer case. Computer parts can be damaged by the "over spray" from spray painting your case. So remove everything from the case.

Clean off the places where you need to paint with the Acetone. Again, this is toxic and you should do this outdoors.

When the plastic is dry you can spray with the plastic-primer. You'll have to do this several times with approximately 30 minutes in between coats. When you are done with the prime coats let it stand overnight, about 12 hours.

When this is done you can start painting with the color you have chosen . Spray a light coat of paint over the entire case from all possible angles. Do this several time, it's important that you don't rush this part since it's essential for the final result. Paint with intervals of 1 hour. When finished let it dry for at least 24 hours in a dry preferably warm room. The longer ( 2-3 days ) you can let the case dry the better.

Assemble your computer again and enjoy the result. No more beige computer!
If you decide to paint other computer parts remember this. Take out all the electronics. They may get damaged from the spray paint. Also remember that some vendors will not uphold their guarantee when the product has been taken apart.

by FastEddie See Profile

Attempting to paint the front of your CD-ROM drive can be a pain, especially if it's a shiny new drive or you simply aren't willing to risk damaging it for the sake of aesthetics. Painting the front of your drives isn't all that difficult a task and with some perseverance and patience, you can finish your case mod and display it proudly and just feel good about having been able to do the job from start to finish.

The drive is just a simple CD-ROM drive. It has a retracting tray which is what you need, I have noticed allot of new drives these days are being made with slot loaders. You simply push the disk into the hole and the drive does the rest.

Before you start let me tell you to be very careful! Always take care in what you are doing.

The first thing you will need to do is going to be the hardest part and that is taking the front plastic bezel plate off the actual drive. Most plastic fronts simply clip onto the front of the drive itself and popping it off is relatively easy.

If, however you have a tray-loading drive, you will have to pop the plastic front off the tray first before removing the front plastic bezel. Eject the tray, most CD-ROM drives have a hole you can stick a pin or similar object in to eject the drive when there is no power, and set the drive upside down. Pull the tray right out. See where the cover clips onto the tray itself? tilt the drive so the end of the tray is resting on the surface of your work area and stick a little flat screwdriver in the gap there and gently free the clips.

The cover should simply slide off once you free the clips holding them together. Again be very careful, it's easy to do, but if you force it or apply too much pressure you could break something. Once you have that piece off, you can take the rest off. Most CD-ROM drives simply use clips to hold the plastic bezel plate on and it is simply a matter of very carefully popping the clips out. Generally you will have a clip on the top and bottom and one on each side, sometimes two on each side. Be careful here, the clip on the top will probably have the warranty sticker covering it. If you don't care about the warranty, just peel it off otherwise you can very carefully try removing the clip from underneath by sticking your screwdriver into the drive and pulling the clip down from inside. If you look into the drive from the bottom side, you should see the top clip.

Gently push the clips in with your screwdriver giving the plastic bezel plate a little wiggle to make sure they don't pop back in. Try popping the side clips first then the top and bottom may make for easier removal. Just gently wiggle the plastic bezel plate off once all the clips are out and your ready to get started on the real work.

Before painting it you need to get it ready. You will need a little 1000-1200 grit wet & dry sandpaper to get the surface ready. The primer will stick better to the plastic so you wont have to worry about it chipping off easily. You only need to give them a light sanding, if you use the paper wet have a glass of water handy to dip into, make sure you go around the edges as well. Cover as much area as you can, pay particular attention to the eject button as this will be the most touched area.

Once you are done with the sanding job, give the parts a rinse under the tap and dry them off with a cloth then leave them for a while to air dry. You will be priming these parts first as the final color will stick better and last longer on the primer than if you just painted it straight onto the plastic. Use a simple enamel paint for drives.

Lay some newspaper in a well ventilated area like a garage with the door open. You don't want a thick coat of primer, hold the can 10" to 12" inches from the parts and spray a light even stroke from one side to the other then stopping. The next part is a bit tricky, you have to aim the spray so you cover the sides and gaps and holes in the drive cover. The way to do it is to hold the can at approximately 45 degrees and spray in a semi-circle covering the left side, arcing out towards yourself then twisting around to the right. Take the newspaper and carefully turn the whole thing around 180 degrees and do the same thing from the other side. Don't worry too much if you missed a couple of spots on the the first coat, as long as the coat was nice and light you can leave it and hour or so to dry then apply another thin coat focusing on the areas you missed the first time.

You can't rush this job, it takes time but if done right your end result will be very nice.

Once you have finished priming it will need a couple of hours to dry. If you want it to look really professional get a piece of 1400 to 1600 wet & dry sand paper and give it a very light sanding, clean it up and then start the first coat of color. As with the priming, you want 2 or 3 light coats. If you have plenty of time and are using enamel paint you can apply the first coat, leave it for 24 hours, give it a light sanding, apply the second coat etc. If you want the quick method you can simply forego the sanding and each new coat can be applied after a couple of hours. Apply the paint in the same method you did the primer, don't overdo it or you will ruin your job and it won't look good.

Once you have finished applying your coats of paint, put it all in a safe spot and leave it to dry. Enamel paint being oil based really needs 4-5 days to dry properly but after 24 hours in a warm area it's generally all right to handle. If you want a nice glossy finish, you can apply all the previous methods again this time using a clear top-coat spray that will add to the protection of the paint and give you a nice finish.

There is a little trick used to enhance the front of the drive. There are several little raised parts of most CD drives used to indicate volume, headphones, activity etc, not to mention the "Compact disc" logo found on nearly all CD drives. For that little extra bit of detail get a fine tipped permanent marker and very carefully run the tip of the marker over the raised parts of the front. Be very light handed when doing this, if you miss and hit the flat, the icon will look bad and you will have marks where you don't want them.

If you do this little extra detailing you might consider spraying a coat or two of clear over the top. Then there's the volume control. They can be real difficult as most of them are fixed to the circuit board and won't come off. You could do the black marker thing with them, or if your a hobbyist and have some of those little jars of paint you use for your models you could use a little brush and paint them that way, but most people leave the knobs alone.

Once your finished and are satisfies with your work, it's simply a matter of popping the plastic bezel back on the drive, slipping on the tray door and installing your newly painted drive.

Painting your CD-ROM drives and even your floppy drive isn't all that difficult a task, but it is time consuming. If you are contemplating painting your case I can recommend you do your drive front's etc at the same time. It does work out a little easier this way as you spend the same amount of time painting everything at the same time and in the end it's all ready to put together.

by FastEddie See Profile

Make a glowing keyboard

ELF is electroluminescent fiber. it's available from street glow. The kit you want is the 15 foot kit. Everything you need is in the kit (ELF, Transformer), except a power supply. I used an old cordless phone power supply for my 12 volt needs. I cut the jack off and wired it to the transformer. use a multimeter to make sure you get + and - correct, or it won't light. as a matter of fact, you might want to check the kit to see if it works before installing it!!!

The tools you need are as follows:
1) phillips head screwdriver
2) drill and 3/16" bit.
3) glue of your choice
4) lots of patience

by Sc0tt See Profile edited by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2002-03-30 18:53:52

If you want to put a widow in your mouse the instructions can be found here

by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2002-08-06 12:09:39

If you want to make the mouse wheel light up the instructions can be found here

by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2002-08-10 13:03:30

Here is a great link for those of you that want to install a Window on your case. It has pictures for every step and a list of the tools needed. HAPPY MODDING!

How to install a window step-by-step

by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2002-08-08 21:27:44

This LED calculator is for finding the current limiting resistor value that will be needed to make the LED shine.

by seqrets See Profile edited by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2002-10-09 13:42:24

Form Factors

case, motherboard, psu, etc

For information and specifications please see the following pages

by FastEddie See Profile

For a case mod freak, the Dremel is a very valuable tool to have. It lets you mutilate..... errr.......I mean modify your PC case in ways you have never dreamed possible. It is very easy to handle and it carries out it's intended purpose without much hassle. I know this, not only because I'm a mod freak, but also because I own one!!! I knew from the very moment I laid my eyes on this baby that I got to have it!!

Read more

by Exit See Profile edited by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2004-02-05 12:50:14

Are you looking for that one more thing you can mod? Maybe some interior tidying up is what you're looking for.

Read more

by Exit See Profile edited by FastEddie See Profile
last modified: 2004-02-07 12:48:34