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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Borg Cube Case Mod, Part 5

Finishing Touches and Special Effects
I discovered that the Thermaltake water-cooling kit for the CPU has a neat little installation trick. The pump and the small shampoo-bottle style reservoir already had flat steel brackets mounted to them. The water cooling kit includes a number of small, extremely strong magnets that are to be placed between the bracket and the case, holding the pump and reservoir to a steel case without mounting screws. (If you don't have a steel case, there are several thin steel plates and some mounting dots to hold them to aluminum or plastic.)

I liked the concept so much, I took the idea and applied it to holding other things in place. Do you have problems with the little foam mounting-tape pads failing and your lights falling off? Grind a shallow hole in the end block, and epoxy glue small magnets in place. Snap -- and the lights are in place; but they can still easily be removed or adjusted anytime you want.

For the plastic panels and assorted parts inside the case, I just hot glued a number of small magnetic "feet" to the back, and then dropped the whole thing into the chassis. I repeated the process with some plastic drive bay panels by grinding the tabs off and then using hot glue to attach magnets to the back. On the inside of the side panel, an ultraviolet LED was hot glued to a small magnet then positioned to shine on the water flow indicator.

Thermaltake includes some water additive to prevent mold and algae from growing in the tubing and pump; they also recommend adding regular automotive antifreeze 1:10 to the water. This gives it a nice fluorescent yellow-green glow under black light CCFT and UV LEDs.

[caption id="attachment_137" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The green glow of the pump and hoses is from antifreeze mixed to a 1:10 ratio with distilled water."]Borg case lighting[/caption]

I started with a Thermaltake Aquarius II water cooling kit and replaced the CPU block with a newer model that works with the Socket 775 processors and mounting holes. I added a flow indicator and the top-mounted drive bay reservoir — which required hose barb adapters to feed from the large reservoir hoses into the smaller tube size used in the kit.

[caption id="attachment_138" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The Borg logo cover conceals the floppy drive and card reader, top-to-bottom drive bays are behind the cover on the right."]Detail of case panel[/caption]

The front of the case is a hinged plastic cover, with a small door over the floppy bays, and a large door over the row of 5 1/4" bays. Using a spiral cutting bit in a Dremel tool, I cut the front louvers off of the large drive bay door and glued a rounded vent panel down into the opening. I glued some "chrome" pieces from a toy gun over the ends of a Spiral Liquid Cold Cathode Light and recessed the entire thing down one side of the large door.

For the floppy drive door, I created a Borg "logo" from 1/4" Plexiglas and mounted a piece of red electroluminescent film behind it. This is held to the panel with double-stick carpet tape, and the inverter mounted on the inside of the cover. Both the CCFT tube and the EL panel use 12volts with a common cable running inside to the power supply.

[caption id="attachment_139" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Front of case after painting - doors open."]Front case panel detail[/caption]

More panels cover the inside of the door to conceal the chewed-up plastic edges. Toy parts, some wire and an old Cyrix 686 CPU with the pins ground off and the core exposed add some interest to the fan side of the case front vents. I mounted a double-plug USB connector in the plastic block, with the cable threading back through the case front to the system board.

For the green cold cathode tube under the chassis (between the wheels), I attached the inverter to the rear of the case with Velcro, and ran the power plug to a Mutant Mods' 3 Port External LP4 Modding Backplate; the tube is held to the bottom with magnets.

CAUTION: don't use magnets to hold the inverters to the case. A strong magnetic field can interfere with the tiny transformer used in these, and could cause it to overheat or do strange things. (Take my word for it - I'm telling you that you will burn-out the CCFT inverter, and could risk a fire if it overheats in the process. Mine didn't burst into flame, but it did get very hot, and it did fail.)

All of the front drive bays are full: The two 3 1/2" bays hold a floppy drive and flash media card adapter. The 5 1/4" bays hold a DVD±RW drive, a CD-RW drive, two SATA hard drives (in mounting brackets), an Internal 5.25" Bay PC Stereo Speaker, and controllers for the fans and lights: Aerocool Gatewatch 4-fan controller and a SunbeamTech Lightbus controller.

Both controllers were already a silver finish, so - a little silver model paint, and so are the rest of the front panels including the speaker, optical drives and bay covers. Once all of the plastic parts have been attached, some flat black enamel paint helps to assimilate them into a uniform whole. Some gold and silver model paint on select panels and box covers completes the case mod appearance.

Next: The Borg Cube assimilates multiple OS versions

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