Adventures in Case Modding

Good evening gentles all. I am coming to you semi-live from that ever so cluttered hole in the ground known as the Gregdome. Tonight we are bringing you coverage of my attempt to step out of the 13th Century and into a much slicker digital age. Tonight we upgrade the case on my computer to something shnazzy that glows in the dark.

Step One: Looking Backwards

Here we have the Original Case. It’s plain, simple and utilitarian. It’s served me faithfully since 1997 and in it’s time has housed: 2 Mobos, 3 Chips, 2 Power supplies, 1 Sound Card, 2 Video Cards, 3 CD/DVD Rom Drives & 6 Hard Drives. Other than the 3.5″ (broken) floppy drive, the case is all that’s left of the original P2-233 that I bought back in ’97(ish).

It’s been a great case. My only complaints would be that it’s a little hard to get into and it has pretty poor air circulation but both are faults of the case’s age more than the case itself. When it was made casemodding was just in it’s infancy and you couldn’t buy a case that didn’t look like this. It’s served me well, but it’s time to move on to…

Step Two: The Heir Apparent

As you can see, it’s a bit of a different look but I just had to have something colourful. This is the beastie after I took it out of the box. I’m happy with it considering I bought it via the internet and only had a small picture to go off. My only complaint is that some of the metal bits seem a little flimsy. Then again, I’m used to the old steel beast and not this new age aluminum toy. Here are a couple more just to give you an idea of the layout.

Step Three: FAN-tastic!

The case only came with two fans out of a possible four and I decided to get the two optional ones at the same time because one of the reasons I’ve wanted to get a new case is because I’ve been concerned about the heat output of my system and wondering if it has been at the root of some of my recent problems.

First I replaced the 120mm fan in the back with one that has shnazzy blue LEDs. Quick and easy. Then I tried to figure out how I was going to mount the two 80mm fans in the front. Sadly it was neither quick or easy.

Basically it took me forever to figure out how to remove the front facing of the case. Needless to say, I unscrewed far to many things accidentally before I found the right set of screws. Then I mounted the fans backwards. Then I had to remember how to put it all back together again afterwards. “Hrrm. Where’d this screw come from? Oh, I know, It’s from the part that I covered up two layers ago. Bugger!” On the bright side though I can probably field strip my comp in under 10 minutes now :).

Step Four: Houston, We have a problem

After I mounted the fans, I transfered over the power supply, grumpily noting that it wasn’t the 500 Watt that I thought it was, but was instead just a 360 Watt version. I’m hoping it’ll be enough for now and I’ll get a bigger and better one once I get paid. I started to transfer the hardware over without screws so as I could get a rough idea of what would be the best setup to use. I also took the time to install my new Soundcard (Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty) and replace the aforementioned 3.5″ floppy that hasn’t worked since I upgraded to this current Mobo. I don’t use it much, but it has been driving me insane ever since I discovered it didn’t work 2 years ago.

Once I was satisfied with the layout and sure I’d have enough room to run cables etc, I started to hook things up. While I was rewiring, I discovered that the plastic on one of the cables is stripped and bare metal is showing. I figure it accidentally got caught on something when I was moving the case around to screw things together and I just hadn’t noticed. I grabbed some electrical tape to cover it up temporarily until I can replace the whole PS. When I start to tape it up though, I realize that the coating over the whole wire is cooked and shiny, like plastic does when it melts type of thing.

Hrrm, I think I’ve discovered the root of my recent problems. Either the bare metal has been grounding out on something or it was plugged in to the video card and when I tried to use the card in certain ways (aka play games) it locked up because it wasn’t getting enough power. It’s been a sporadic and totally random problem. Thankfully it was just the Y splitter off the main power “rope” and I removed it hoping that I’d still have enough plugs, especially with all the LEDs I had running. I’m bloody lucky that it was just that splitter and not the whole comp.

Step Five: The End is Nigh!

Finally, after about 4 hours of fiddling it all comes together. Don’t you love how messy my cable layout is? I ended up being short one plug and so opted for not plugging the side fan in. Now I just have to power it up and hope I didn’t plug something in wrong.

Step Six: We Have Liftoff!

And there it is!

Wheeeeee. It’s tres cool and tres quiet. But as it’s 3am and I have to be up in 4 hours for work, I’ll continue this story later.

EDIT: I managed to re-arrange the plug setup and get the side fan to light up as well but I don’t have pics of that yet.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t overheat again or short out anytime soon.