Tutorial Project Nº2


Post 1


The aim of this tutorial project is to put togueter a series of smaller tutorials/how to on individual things.
Customizing a fan controller, painting a drive, and so on an so forth. All of these mini-tutorials will be posted as seperate threads.
This thread will be the main one focusing more on the whole build.
These are an initiative of the main sponsor, Lamptron.

Other sponsors that have helped out with this project are:

Thank you all, specially Chris @ Lamptron and Teseo @ Benchmark Hardware for their never ending support.

Right, so let´s start!

We will be using a very basic case, the entry level “Isis” by B-Move:

And we strip it down:

Edit (note by Burnout21 over @ Bit Tech):
A good idea is de-rivetting the top side, that way we can trully get all the panels off which will make for a better finish. I didn´t on this particular case as all areas where easily accesible, but this isn´t normally what happens with most cases)

Edit (note by nagyizom over @ Bit Tech): Another good idea is to remove those ugly fan grills at the back and replace them with our own. Obviously this a matter of your own personal taste, it´s easy enough to do and won´t cause you any major troubles). This may or may not give you better noise reduction and airflow (depending on the specific case of course).

The first change I´m going to do is prepare the side for a window. If you feel you want a normal square window, there´s nothing wrong with that, go ahead, you can aply the same steps as I will be doing. Personally, I like something different, so I´m going to be doing a series of triangular shapes.

There´s many ways of doing this, but I´m going to explain the way I do it. I tape out the area to cut, in order to use the tape as a guideline, you can use drawn lines if you like, personally I preffer this way as with a normal line I end up not being able to see it due to the sparks that come when cutting.

Edit (note by nagyizom over @ Bit Tech): If you´ve never used a dremel, you will provably find it easier using a jigsaw, it should also give you a nice straight line. Personally I find tape for guiding and a steady dremel hand is good enough, again, it´s your choice.

Ok remember to ALWAYS use safety gogles when working with any kind of power tool. I use a dremel for this kind of modification, but really any kind of rotatory tool will do as long as it´s the right size.

Edit (note by DeathPrincess over @ [H]ard Forum): Thank you very much for reminding me of this!! I forgot about mentioning it. For this specific job I use the dremel discs line number 420 (Heavy Duty Cut Off wheel), you can get 20 of these for about 7-8€ in your local hardware store.

First section cut off:

And the rest…

Now, it still needs to be cleaned up for smooth edges but I felt like testing it on the rest of the case to get an idea of the look:

Yeah, I quite like that.

Edit (note by RustyTool over @ KustomPCs): RustyTool has a decent point here. Notice how part of the triangle windows are right on top of the bays. Depending on the case and on your intentions for interior design, you may or may not choose to do these as all you can see through them are the bays. On a personal note. If you´re using older cases, make sure that you have enough space between the window and the chasis to fit the plexy.

More soon : )

Post 2

The front is awfully plain in this case, which really is to be expected on a low end case. I do like the start button though so I´ll leave that as it is. I won´t worry about the bays since they will be filled. But I do feel like adding some detail to it, following the rest.

Remember to set your dremel to low speed when cutting plastic, as high speed will just melt it and make a right mess of things.

The bad thing, in my oppinion about most simple cases is that the right side tends to be awfully plain and there´s not that much you can do with aside from a nice paintjob, which won´t be seen much in most cases since the window side is the one facing you in most cases.

Lucky then that this case has a modern chasis design and has the opening under the board, so hey, why not make a window?

I tend to use number 420 on the dremel line of discs (Heavy Duty Cut-Off Disc). And for this thin metal sheeting, it´s like slicing through butter with a hot knive. Regardless, remember not to push the dremel or you´ll burn through discs.

Right so let´s see it all put togueter with all cuts cleaned up (I don´t remember the specfic term in english, but it´s a sanding wheel for the dremel, that´s the way to go, personally I use the same cutting disc on it´s side to cut off all remnants and shave it down, and then I blunt the edges to prevent cutting).

The problem with the front mini-window is that, right behind it there´s a pseudo dual-fan mount, which makes the window look ugly and a bit pointless, so let´s cut it.

And now…

…much better!

Ok, now we´ve got to sand down everything that´s got paint in it, so in this case, all panels, as you can see the interior is bare in this case. Once done, clean it all up. I personally use distilled water, but you can use alcohol or any kind of non-corrosive cleaning product. Now wait for it to dry, specially if you´ve used any kind of chemical to clean it (i´d stay away from that option, just in case).

Now that it´s prepped, it´s painting time. Remember to always use a breather, this stuff is nasty in your lungs! Not to mention a well ventilated place, but not outside as you will get crap on your fresh paint, and you don´t want that.

A couple of notes about paint types. I´ve had quite a few discussions about this in several forums with all sorts of people. Some use x product and works fine for them, others say don´t use x product because of x reason.

Personally, I use acrylic paint, which is water based, it´s dries very quickly, so you don´t have to wait hours between coats, and it´s good for sanding down between coats to get an extra smooth finish. I stay away from sinthetic and plastic paints, for several reasons which I won´t go in to but regardless, if you want to take my advice, go for acrylic paints, be it in spray can or compressor & gun.

Right, down to it. First a coat of primer:

And now a base color as the effect I will be using (pearl) is almost transparent, so it needs a base color first, in this case, white.

And that´s it for today, more tomorrow.

As a small spoiler, no, the case won´t be all white, it´s simply easier doing it all in white and then painting on top as needed.

Post 3

Right so, update:

I sanded down with very fine grit and very gently the first coat of base white, this, while not entirely neccesary will give you a smoother finish on the next coat and it will make the next coat hold on tighter which in turn makes it that much resistant to scratches.

Once done, I aplied the second coat of base white:

I let that to dry for about 15-20 minutes (again this only aplies to acrylic paint due to it´s quick drying properties) and sanded it down again. I then proceeded to aply the third coat, this time, of pearl white effect. It´s an almost transparent coat, like lacquer if you will, but it´s not lacquer and can be aplied to any color (of the same kind of paint). This will give a glossy pearl finish (which, while the photos don´t do it justice, it´s very different to just using glossy white which I used in the AIO AL project).

While it´s drying time is the same, I will now leave it over night to cure as I will be using tape on top of it for the next stage of color.

PS: The case next to it, is another exactly the same model case I´m preparing for a client, but that can go in another mini thread.

Post 4

Now that the paint has cured, it´s safe for us to use tape on it, again go ahead and sand it down if it´s not smooth. I first used decal tape to mark lines (the blue tape) and then extra thick masking tape as filler (the yellow tape).

Let´s aply the first coat, of the second color. As with the white, I´ve gone with a pearl effect blue.

15-20 minutes later, I aplied the second and final coat of the blue. Notice how the light reflects on the pearl efect, making it look like there´s 2 tones.

I let that cure for 4 hours before remove the tape. Now it´s safe for us to remove it (gently please!). I´ve taken several pictures with and without flash, on different possitions to try and show you the pearl effect, though the pictures really don´t do it justice.

And that´s it for today really. There´s not much more to do on the case other than mounting the windows. In the next few days I´ll be posting the mini tutorials on each component and then finish it all in this thread mounting it all in the case.

Thanks for reading/watching!

Post 5

Hi Everyone,

First, I´m going to start with the optical drive.

In this case I will be using an LG CD/DVD rewriter, but most common modern drives have the same mounting system so while there may be some differences, the concept remains the same.

We need to open the bay, for that you can either open it when your pc is on and then leaving it open when you shut down and unmount it or you can put a pin in a small hole on the front of the bay which by pushing it in, it will eject the bay.

We now need to remove the bay mask, in this case it slides off upwards, again there may be some differences in your drive of choice but just be carefull, you don´t want to brake it.

Now we need to remove the frontal, normally there are mounting clips on the sides and underneath which need to be pressed in in order to release it.

We remove the metal casing by taking off the 4-5 screws under the optical drive, once done you can take it apart easily, in most cases it will just slide off.

We proceed to sand down everything and clean it, remember to remove the stickers, normally I use distilled water but you may use other products like alcohol. If you use a different kind of product like window cleaner, make sure it´s not abrasive or you may damage the plastic.

Once done and dry we proceed with the primer. For paint types and techniques please refer to earlier on this thread.

Because I will be using a pearl effect finish, I need to aply a base color on top of the primer, if you´re using a normal, glossy, or metallic color you can ignore this step.

The first coat of pearl blue.

First coat of pearl white on the frontal.

Once dry, we aply a coat of clear lacquer and leave it to cure for 24h

Now it´s all ready to put it back togueter, and here we go, our finished optical drive, ready to be mounted in the tower.

Next post will be the hard drive.

Post 6

Part 2:

Hard Drives.

Hi everyone, before I start there´s two things you need to know; first, some hard drives have ventilation holes on top (mostly WD drives) and some don´t (mostly Seagate drives), this doesn´t mean you can´t paint them but you have to be very carefull, if you use the right paint (acrylic) you won´t cover the hole as it does not create a “coat” if you will, therefore not covering the hole, remember to paint in a sideways manner so paint doesn´t go directly in the hole as a drip could cover the hole. Secondly, i think this is pretty obvious but this WILL invalidate your warrantee.

That said, let´s start.

First we have to remove all stickers, you can if you wish to keep a more retail look, leave them on and just cover them with masking tape and detailing tape, but for the purpose of the tutorial I will be removing them.

Here´s the tricky part, if it´s not a new drive, chances are that it´s dirty so we have to clean it. We also don´t want to use sanding paper as we don´t want to create any sort of electrostatic energy on the surface of the drive, just in case. So what we do is using a bit of cotton with a drop of alcohol, we clean the drive as best as we can.

Really the paint process is the same as when painting the dvd drive, there´s a few changes however. We have to cover certain surfaces that while paint wont go anywhere near it, it´s more for safety and getting clean lines.

For this I use masking tape, not detailing tape as it has to adjust to the surface which isn´t plain or straight so detailing tape isn´t great for it.

Now we aply primer, remember, For paint types and techniques please refer to earlier on this thread.

Give it 20 minutes and we can aply the first coat of the chosen color. Wait another 20-30 minutes and aply the second coat. 40 minutes later you can aply the clear coat lacquer for protection.

Give it 24h so it can cure…

Remove the masking tape and…

…you´re done!

Next post will be a Lamptron FC3 controller, I´ve chosen this one as the design is basic and the guide should aply to most fan controllers.

Post 7

Hi Everyone,

Today we have the fan controller tutorial, in this specific case, a Lamptron FC3, I´ve chosen this one for two reasons, first, because it follows a structure design that most controllers follow, simple controls, mounted on a 5.25″ bay with front plate and pcb so you can use this tutorial for the fan controller of your choice in most cases. Second, because of the build quality of Lamptron´s controllers so I know it´s not going to fall apart when trying to modify it, be it paint wise or deeper modification.

So let´s start, here´s the FC3 by Lamptron.

Because I will only be painting the front in this case as the side is to short to be visible within the top bay of the case, I won´t be taking out the pcb, but just in case you want to do it in yours, most follow the same design, two screws.

If you use a Lamptron fan controller you´ll notice that the bottom part of it is covered for protection, however if you´re carefull enough you can slowly peal it off in order to dismantle it.

Back on track, to remove the front we need to remove all 4 screws that hold the faceplate on.

I quite like the black mesh for contrast so I´m leaving it on for now. I chose the black edition of the FC3 as it´s anodyzed alum which means we can paint it, non anodyzed alum will give you trouble as paint has more trouble staying on and it´s likely that it will peal off eventually.

So we aply a coat of primer, For paint types and techniques please refer to earlier on this thread in which I talk about the types, techniques and ways of aplying paint.

We wait 20 mins and we´re good to go to aply the first coat of color, then wait another 20 mins and aply the second coat (sometimes one coat is enough, but in the case of white you really want to use 2 coats at least to get a nice solid white color. We wait 30 min and we aply the clear coat lacquer and we let it cure for 24h.

Right, let´s mount it and see how it looks.

I like it but… hmm it just doesn´t go with the rest of the look, so I´m going to go ahead an take it apart again and paint the mesh blue. Repeat the paint process on the mesh. Now I´ve put it back togueter and…

…much better.

Next part will be the Graphics card.

Post 8

For the purpose of this tutorial I will be using a 9800 GTX I normally use as a spare. Please have in mind that, as with most of these, following these steps will void your warrantee.

The first thing is taking the gpu apart, we need to remove all the screws in the back. Have in mind that this may vary depending on the brand of the card, there may be other screws, hooks, cables, etc, so do not force it open if it doesnt easily (although if the card is very old and very dirty it may seem as it´s still hold down by another screw when really it´s just the thermal paste).

Once that is done we need to remove all stickers and clean the surface.

This really depends on the card itself, sometime you may get lucky, others… well… let´s just say I spent a few hours cleaning and sanding down this one.

The next step is to paint it, For paint types and techniques please refer to earlier on this thread.

Once ready, we put it all togueter again. Remember to remove the old thermal paste and aply some new one. About the trim, that´s really up to you if you want to change it. In my case it seemed in decent enough shape so didn´t bother changing it.

Up Next,
The Antec 620 H2O CPU Cooler

Post 9

It´s time for the Antec 620 H2O CPU Cooler.

First thing´s first, let´s unpack it as it´s brand new.

Right this is provably the most simple part to prep, what I´ve done here is, using masking tape I´ve covered all the piping and instead of covering the cpu cooler itself, I´ve wrapped a plastic bag around. I know it may sound stupid but check the bag hasn´t got any holes!

I´ve cleaned it even though it´s new, we don´t want any dust particles on the surface. For paint types and techniques please refer to earlier on this thread.. Do feel free to ask if you still have doubts after that though.

Once dry, I´ve removed all the taping and done! Ready to go in!

Next up, the power suply (at the time of writing I´ve bought a more powerfull PSU as the one I had for this project doesn´t cut it for the gpu, so even though I painted it and it works, I´ll be posting a tutorial with the new PSU so the next post will remain “reserved”).

Post 10

Final post before the end result : )

Today we´re going to do the windows. The material you need to use is plexyglass, it´s cheap enough to buy and you can normally find it in any building supplies or DIY store, I payed for a piece big enough to do 3 side windows on this case 12€ Have in mind there are two types, the normal one and the one prepared for exterior which is a lot more expensive and we don´t need so go for the first one.

Do not cut it with any sort of power tool as it will melt like plastic and make an awfull mess and you´ll find you will spend more time cleaning the piece up than if you cut it using a different method. A cutter for example (a decent one) will do the job. I find that to get a straight line, a metallic ruler does the job but of course feel free to use anything you feel comftable with to get a straight line.

So yeah, do a few runs with the cutter until you can see from the plexy border that you´re about at least half way there. Then you can bend it both ways (with care) until it snaps and you will have a clean cut. If need me you can sand the border down.

It goes without saying that you will have to measure the piece before you cut it so you know how big it needs to be. Have in mind to leave a decent space on each side if you´re going for as big a window as possible or you´ll find it prevents the side from closing on the case.

Once we have our piece ready we need to attach it from the inside side of the side panel. There´s several ways of doing this but I find the cleanest way is using decent double sided tape, for example, the 3M one is extremely strong and will do the job just find.

And we´re done, we can repeat the process for any and all windows on our case.

On a final note, if you decide you want to mount a fan if your sidepanel has the grill to do so, I would suggest you fit the window first (without the tape) and then measure where you need to cut to fit the fan. Personally I won´t be fitting a fan, I checked I didn´t need to temps wise and as a personal taste decision, I preffer it without one.

Post 11

And here guys is the final post of the tutorial. I´m sure some of you will have different ways of doing certain parts of such and if they work for you then that´s really what is all about, right?

For the rest of the people I hope this helps you with any doubts you had about doing certain things and for people that have never tried, I hope this entices you to join the fun world of customizing your PC : )

Following you will see a mix of pictures, each of them has a flash and non flash version (camera flash).

I didn´t see any point on making a tutorial on how to put all the parts togueter as I assume that if you attempt pc customizing you know the basics on how to put one togueter.

Thank you for reading and I hope you´ve enjoyed it. Once again I´d like to thank this project´s sponsors; Lamptron, Antec, B-Move & Benchmarkhardware.com

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