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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Art Nouveaux Case Mod Completed

Lighting Effects and Wrap Up

Special Lighting:

When I used the bench light to illuminate the glass window from the inside of the case, I realized that just illuminated fans and other LED lighting were not going to show off the case to the best effect. To give a uniform white-light illumination on the system board side, a dual-lamp Cold Cathode Fluorescent kit was installed with one tube at the top and the second along the bottom edge. The CPU block and pump have blue LEDs and the two 120mm fans I have installed on the radiator and in the bottom of the case are lit with green LEDs.

[caption id="attachment_497" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Two white CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps) light up the interior system board, cables and tubing."]completed case, interior[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_498" align="aligncenter" width="293" caption="The white tube illumination lets the subtle blues and greens add interest behind the textured clear glass side window. "]completed case[/caption]

The second side panel and the glass panel in the front bezel get a custom LED treatment. The gap between the side panel and the sheet metal behind the motherboard is not wide enough for a fluorescent tube to fit (at least not while still in its protective plastic tube.) I saw a lighting kit called "The Chameleon" that consists of three potentiometers (variable resistors) that connect to four small multicolor LEDs. The red, green and blue LED in the package each have a single connecting pin, with a common ground. By adjusting the red, green or blue knobs, you can achieve any color illumination you want. To this end, I assembled four LED light bars, each with three red, three green, three blue, and three white LEDs. (I added the white LEDs so I can dial up pure white illumination instead of the rainbow-tint white, and to get washed-out colors like pink, lavender or sky blue.) This many LEDs are going to draw much more current then the four in the Chameleon kit, and rather than build four adjustable voltage circuits, I used a Sunbeam Tech Rheobus fan controller. Each of the LED color clusters on a single bar is connected in series with a 240 ohm resistor to limit the current, and I alternated the colors across the bar to diffuse the light more (red, green, blue, white, red...). Wires from each color group are connected together and then attached to a single output of the fan controller. (I replaced the dual-color LEDs in the fan controller with a single-color red, green, blue, or white LED to indicate the color you are adjusting.) Three of the light bars are placed around the edge of the case behind the second side window and the fourth light bar is behind the front bezel.

There is no lighting in or behind the Thermaltake water reservoir. This makes it difficult to view the fluid level, so I created one more LED bar that connects directly to a 12v Molex disk drive connection. This bar has 12 ultraviolet LEDs that are directed at the rear of the plastic fluid reservoir and create a bright green glow.

[caption id="attachment_501" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Three LEDs connected in series for connection to a 12v DC source (or in this case, a 0-12v adjustable fan controller.)"]wire diagram[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_502" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Multicolor LED light bars attach to the fan controller outputs."]LED parts[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_503" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Three of the light bars are installed behind the second glass window on the left, right and bottom edge."]side panel[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_504" align="aligncenter" width="265" caption="The color tint of the side panel and front bezel are controlled with the Rheobus in the upper drive bay."]front panel[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_506" align="aligncenter" width="182" caption="Front view with door closed"]front panel[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_508" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Two views of the right panel illuminated by the color-selectable LED bars."]side panel with door[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_509" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Top panel with white glass insert."]top panel[/caption]

completed case design

Project summary for Nouveaux Mod: 

TIME: 119+ hours

  • Time carving and constructing shell: about 103 hours

  • Time assembling light bars (4 multi-colors LED, 1 ultraviolet LED
    bar to illuminate reservoir): about 6 hours

  • Time installing, removing, and rearranging components, including air-cool
    solution, water-cool solution, and final installation of lights and
    wiring: about 10 hours


  • Cost of craft materials (wood, glass, etc.): $500

  • Cost of (final) computer components:

  • Motherboard - Gigabyte GA965P-DS3 $125

  • CPU - Intel Core 2 Duo 6300 $180

  • RAM - OCZ DDR2 Gold 6400 2GB kit $229

  • Video - EVGA NVIDIA 8800 GTX $630

  • PSU - Antec TruePower Trio 650 $119

  • HDD - WD 500 GB SATA $160

  • DVD - Samsung PATA LightScribe DVD-RW $35

  • CDR - Sony PATA CD-RW $25

  • FDD - I/O Magic bulk floppy drive $15

  • Atech Flash Card Reader $35

  • Thermaltake BigWater Kit $140

  • Sunbeam Tech Rheobus Fan Controller - (LED Light Bars)

  • 12" White Cold Cathode Light Kit $10

  • Green LED Fans (2 pc) $36

  • FoxConn Diabolic Case [salvage] "Free"

Current computer parts value (as of July 2007): $1761

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