Case Mod Central... Un-used fan header.

Enclosures and acoustic damping to help quiet them.

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Devonavar

Bluefront
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Case Mod Central... Un-used fan header.

Post by Bluefront » Sat Apr 03, 2004 10:33 am

I've done many different case mods over the years....some not related to silence issues. Thought it might prove useful/interesting to post some links/descriptions in one thread. Feel free to add your own to this thread, either with descriptions, or (better) with pictures. Disclaimer: The tips posted by me (bluefront) have all been used and tried by me, so I can vouch for them. All the good tips posted by others may or may not have been tried by me. And as with any info off web pages, observe care when trying anything out.....even stuff with the bluefront seal of approval. :)

ADDING AC OUTLETS TO YOUR CASE

This one is easy (USA parts), providing you can wire up the connections. I got all the parts at HomeDepot (maybe $4). If you're using a MATX board as in the photos, you might have some unused bays at the bottom of an ATX case. You could mount this box anywhere, but doing it like this is a snap. You simply cut the one small section of case, and drill two holes. Some slight trimming of the plastic parts is all that's necessary.

How you power this box is up to you. You could run the cord(use an old PSU cord) out through the bottom of the case, or the back. If you wanted the get fancy, you could tap into the PSU to get the AC current, and run the wires behind the right panel. It's up to you. Wired properly, the outlet will be grounded to the case....like the PSU. Take care you insulate the other two connections so they don't short out. Easy, useful mod. :)

Photos 100-104

Here's a list of the various tips found in this thread:

ADDING AC OUTLETS TO YOUR CASE
SEALING CARD SLOT OPENINGS
CASE FAN RE-LOCATION

ADDING AN EXTERNAL MOLEX CONNECTOR
INTERNAL CASE SOUND SYSTEM
FIXING RATTLING/LOOSE SIDE PANELS WITH FELT

MEASURING TEMPS W/O MB SENSORS
PAINTING AND CLEANING PLASTIC
DEALING WITH SMALL WIRES

PRACTICAL CASE LIGHTING
FAN MOUNTING WITH CABLE TIES
ATTACHMENT TECHNIQUES

SAFETY-MAT FOAM
SUPER NIBBLER
SHEET METAL DRILLING/CUTTING

HOW TO ATTACH AN ATX MOTHERBOARD PORTFACE TO THE MOTHERBOARD

PICKING A CORDLESS DRILL
ROOFER'S TAPE FOR PANEL DAMPENING
SOLID ALUMINUM EXHAUST DUCT

BOTTOM VENT/FILTER COMBO
DIY SPCR DOME CASE STICKERS
UN-USED FAN HEADER
Last edited by Bluefront on Mon Jun 07, 2004 11:26 am, edited 23 times in total.

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Post by maxxymus » Sat Apr 03, 2004 1:47 pm

Bluefront.. you definately need some text to go along with the pictures you have... Would make it easier for us noobs to know what's going on :)

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Post by Bluefront » Sat Apr 03, 2004 3:56 pm

Heh..."Pictures are worth a thousand words". I try to make the photos self-explanatory, but if there's a question about any of my project photos, just ask.

I am in no position to maintain a website, and that Yahoo site is for photos only. So....You can figure this one out, can't you? :D

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Post by Bluefront » Sun Apr 04, 2004 1:31 pm

Here's another easy mod.....the purpose is to help airflow in the upper rear of the case. In this setup the rear 120mm case fan had an overhang that partially blocked flow to the 120mm PSU fan.

By moving the rear fan to the outside of the case, this problem was solved. Also, the slight distance increase between this new location, and the (yet to be installed) CPU heatsink, will make for better airflow.

You have to completely cut out the OEM case grill, add a new grill, and cut a small notch in the left case side cover(only if you're using a 120mm fan). I've done this mod on similar case setups before...it works.

With the rear fan running at low voltage, the noise level increase is not noticeable.....Plus you can always go back if the mod doesn't work for you.

CASE FAN RE-LOCATION

Case Fan Re-location Pictures 110-113
Last edited by Bluefront on Sun Apr 18, 2004 9:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Bluefront » Wed Apr 14, 2004 12:29 pm

Here's an easy mod that keeps the noise in and stops air leaks at the card slot openings. I just cut up a piece of safety-mat foam (Home Depot) to fit the inside of the case. There's no adhesive...it just wedges into place. I put some softer foam at the edges to seal better. Later on if you add a card or two...you pull out your foam slot cover, and make more cuts. It's very easy to work with.

SEALING CARD SLOT OPENINGS

Pictures 200-203
Last edited by Bluefront on Sun Apr 18, 2004 9:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by lenny » Wed Apr 14, 2004 1:30 pm

Bluefront wrote:I am in no position to maintain a website, and that Yahoo site is for photos only. So....You can figure this one out, can't you? :D
You can type the text directly into your image using any number of image editing program.

Thanks for sharing your mod tips.

BTW how effective do you estimate the cover up PCI slot mod to be?

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Post by Bluefront » Wed Apr 14, 2004 1:55 pm

Look at picture 200.....all the air sucked in around the little openings, and with some setups there are quite a few, all this air just goes straight up and out the rear case fan. It never gets a chance to cool anything. Also this air bypasses the filter entirely.

Also this piece of foam adds 1/2" of sound insulation at the slot area. And since it's so easy, might as well do it.

If I were to put text on the photos, it would be almost un-readable because of the size. I used to try to put a long title with text on each photo, but just numbering the photos makes it more readable, and easier to refer to....IMHO.

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Post by Bluefront » Wed Apr 14, 2004 2:19 pm

Got a not-working PSU? Make some use out of it. Cut off the longest Molex connector line. Splice it into your working PSU cabling, route it over to an unused slot opening. Cut an appropriate sized notch in the little metal cover. After insulating the wires with tape or foam, re-attach the slot cover with the Molex connector on the outside. Makes an easy connection for testing fans, drives, etc.

Or you could buy an Antec True-Power PSU. They come with an outside connector like this. :D

ADDING AN EXTERNAL MOLEX CONNECTOR

Pictures 203-204
Last edited by Bluefront on Sun Apr 18, 2004 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Bluefront » Wed Apr 14, 2004 2:51 pm

Internal sound system for your computer? This one works very well. The internal speakers are 3" in diameter...they face up in the box, and the sound comes out the front slots. You wouldn't think it could sound good....get ready to be surprised. It has better sound than any laptop setup I ever heard. There's a headphone port on the front, also an aux input and a volumn control. It's powered by a molex collector (internal). Comes with a long cable to run outside the rear and attach to the sound card output.

Best of all....it comes apart easily for painting. I like it if only for hearing computer sounds. Easy install.....

INTERNAL CASE SOUND SYSTEM

Picture 205
Last edited by Bluefront on Sun Apr 18, 2004 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by IsaacKuo » Wed Apr 14, 2004 3:29 pm

Cool tips! I have spare AT power supplies lying around, though, which are even more convenient for testing fans and stuff. Just click the switch for power!
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Post by Bluefront » Sat Apr 17, 2004 5:47 pm

FIXING RATTLING/LOOSE SIDE PANELS WITH FELT.

This works neat. In addition to preventing rattles, it makes a nearly air-tight seal for the case panels. The sticky-back felt piece came from a hobby store. I cut it into appropriate sized strips.....lined the edges of the case. This stuff compresses down to about 1mm when the cover is back on. You will see a slight difference when the cover is re-attached. And you may have to bend the little attachment catches slightly. But it was easy to do, and worth it. That panel now fits tight.

Pictures 210-214
Last edited by Bluefront on Sun Apr 18, 2004 9:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by PhilgB » Sat Apr 17, 2004 6:03 pm

Nice! I used hockey tape to do the same thing. $1.29 for enough tape to do up 30 cases :D
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Post by Bluefront » Sun Apr 18, 2004 8:01 am

MEASURING TEMPS W/O MB SENSORS.

You need to monitor temperatures, and even more so if you have reduced fan speeds. I've used little external temp displays like this one (Walmart $10) on a number of cases. In this setup I have the external probe on the case fan grill, giving me an indication of overall case temps. The exact temp is less important than the changes....you'll soon get an idea of how the computer is running normally. Any drastic temp rise might indicate a problem.

You can get these things everywhere...some display two temps at once. Very useful device.

Pictures

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Post by Bluefront » Tue Apr 20, 2004 4:11 pm

PAINTING AND CLEANING PLASTIC.

Regular paint doesn't stick very well to plastic.....has a tendency to chip or flake off easily. Not good. :cry:

Here's what I use on bezels or other plastic/vinyl computer parts. I tried similar paints (sometimes called vinyl dye), but settled on this brand. Found the stuff at AutoZone.....$3.50.

The first can, Vinyl Color, leaves a shinier finish than the second can, Trim Black, which dries to a satin finish (a flatter color). I suggest you try each type on a scrap part and let it dry thoroughly before you paint the real thing.

I use that spray can of Acry-Solv to clean things before painting. It doesn't hurt plastic...and removes every type of grease or adhesive on the part you want to paint. Available at Auto Parts stores.....

pictures

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Post by DanceMan » Tue Apr 20, 2004 8:04 pm

I use that spray can of Acry-Solv to clean things before painting. It doesn't hurt plastic...and removes every type of grease or adhesive
I wipe the parts down with alcohol and a clean cloth.

I've used a vinyl paint from Canadian Tire. It's not perfect -- the texture or finish can vary, likely from my spray pattern. I phoned several auto parts distributors for vinyl dye and didn't find any that carried it, or perhaps the clerks just couldn't figure it out. Has anyone found a decent one at a national chain like Wal-Mart?

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Post by Ralf Hutter » Wed Apr 21, 2004 5:36 am

DanceMan wrote:Has anyone found a decent one at a national chain like Wal-Mart?
Even around here, autoparts stores generally stock nothing other than a few basic colors (red, black, white) of vinyl dye. I've found much better selections (and higher quality dye) by shopping at professional autobody paint supply shops. You can also get it online for very reasonable prices. I've bought lots of the SEM colors from both of these places:

http://www.dannys-dealer-supplies.com/dyes.html

Look at their color charts, for both the Vinyl Dye and the "bumper coater" (it's vinyl dye too). If you can't find a color to match your needs, you're just not trying!

This place is a little cheaper, but doesn't have quite as large a selection:

http://vinylpro.safeshopper.com/67/cat67.htm?694

I've posted several times over they years about using vinyl dye. Use the "search" and you can find some of my thoughts and pics of some of my cases.
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Post by Bluefront » Wed Apr 21, 2004 3:32 pm

I might as well add a few more thoughts on this subject. Black-colored cases are easy to match with plastic paint. You basically have a choice between shiny, satin, or totally flat black paint. But the color is the same...black is black (unless you add metal-flakes). You shouldn't have any trouble with the color at all......the brand of paint and your own spraying technique is what will matter.

Now when you try to match silver-colored cases, you'll have trouble. Silver is maybe the most difficult color of all.....just ask an auto-body man. There are numerous shades of silver. Trying to find a plastic paint that is the same shade as the case will drive you nuts.

Here's what I suggest......find a nice contrasting color to your silver case, and use it for your bezels. You'll save a bunch of time, and avoid a re-paint when you get tired of that new paint job that almost matches the case, but not quite. :lol:

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Post by Bluefront » Sat Apr 24, 2004 12:23 pm

DEALING WITH SMALL WIRES.

Well they're a pain....hard to strip and hard to connect. Unless you have the right tools of course. All the stuff in the photos comes from radio shack....a snipper, a stripper, a crimper and small solderless connectors. The little connectors are actually for phone wires, really small. If you want get fancy, you can cover the connection with heat-shrink tubing. An absolute necessity for complete safety, but not 100% necessary. Makes it look neat though. :)

Pictures 31-34
Last edited by Bluefront on Sat Apr 24, 2004 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Bluefront » Sat Apr 24, 2004 12:36 pm

PRACTICAL CASE LIGHTING

Most of the time it's just for showing off, but not always. I like to put a small light in the back lighting the ports. It makes it easy to plug in wires in a dark setting....beats finding a flashlight. At least one light inside the computer helps check connections. A set of LED switches make it easy to tell if something is on....or you could wire the lights to be on all the time. Get the 12v and ground from a spare molex connector(yellow is 12v, ground black). I got the little LED lights and switches from Auto Zone.

Pictures 35-37

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Post by Bluefront » Sat Apr 24, 2004 4:37 pm

FAN MOUNTING WITH CABLE TIES

Here's an easy way to mount fans using cable ties and slices of soft rubber vacuum hose. The neat thing about this technique is that the holes in the case don't have to match the fan holes perfectly. The nylon cable ties will compensate for some offset/mis-alignment. You do need to find really soft rubber hoses to get a good de-couple effect. (available at car parts stores)

Pictures 1-4

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Post by shathal » Sat Apr 24, 2004 4:49 pm

Heh - MikeC, since Bluefront's putting so much effort into this...

... should this not become a sticky? :).
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Post by Bluefront » Sun Apr 25, 2004 10:04 am

ATTACHMENT TECHNIQUES

Most cases are riveted together.....hardly any screws or nuts and bolts. Hand rivet guns are pretty cheap, along with rivets of different sizes and colors. A necessary tool for modders.

Ever strip out a case panel screw hole? Well you might be able to just use a bigger screw.....or you could install a plastic insert. Very easy to do, using a small three-corner file to enlarge the hole. These inserts come in different sizes and colors. Auto parts store carry them.

Drilling a hole without a drill bit? It's possible using self-tapping sheet metal srews. The screw actually has a small drill bit as the pointed end of the screw. Use a slow speed drill motor to install. These things work on steel and aluminum cases. Hardware stores....

Photos 39-41

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Post by Bluefront » Sun May 02, 2004 4:56 pm

SAFETY-MAT FOAM

I use this this stuff for many case projects. It's light, easy to cut, and stiff enough to stand on it's own. I never use adhesive with it, because it will just wedge in place if carefully cut. One side has ridges, which make cutting easy...just follow the lines. The other side is smooth. If cut carefully and wedged together, this foam makes an air-tight seal.

So how does it work for silencing? Pretty well.....not as good as acoustic foam however. It is 1/2" thick, so it fits most places.

I have seen it at three stores...Home Depot, Lowes, and Sams. Normally you'll find it in flooring departments, in a package of four colors. I have also found it in a dark gray color, which I usually use. Eight 2'x2' squares for about $15.

pictures 400-402

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Post by Bluefront » Sat May 08, 2004 2:36 pm

SUPER NIBBLER

There are at least two types of nibblers....a small size (RadioShack $10), and a Super Nibbler (various tool suppliers). I use my Super Nibbler all the time for larger holes. It works easy, and doesn't leave chunks or chips. If you can find a small hole or opening to start the cut, you don't even have to remove anything from the case to cut large holes.

The example in these photos, was cut in a hurry.....if you're careful you can make a perfectly round or square cut. Valuable tool to own.

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Post by al bundy » Sun May 09, 2004 2:39 am

Bluefront,

Thank you very much for taking your time and energy to post all of this interesting information.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: You do really nice work.

8)
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Post by Bluefront » Sun May 09, 2004 4:11 am

Thanks Al.....

SHEET METAL DRILLING/CUTTING

Take a look at this copper hard drive cage I made. Those holes were not cut with a drill bit. It would have been almost impossible to get a nice-looking finished product with normal bits.

I used a set of sheet metal cutters, available from various tool sources, SnapOn, maybe even Sears. These work with air tools or even slow-speed battery drill motors. Cutting thin sheet metal is easy with these cutters.

pictures 11-12

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Post by IsaacKuo » Sun May 09, 2004 6:17 am

Just yesterday I suddenly came up with an idea very helpful for my scratchbuilt cases. Unfortunately, I've lent my digicam to a friend going to E3, so you'll just have to use your imagination...

HOW TO ATTACH AN ATX MOTHERBOARD PORTFACE TO THE MOTHERBOARD

When scratchbuilding a case, it's often convenient to have the portface attached to the motherboard rather than the case. But how?

1. Scrounge up an old AT computer's 25 pin Parallel Port or Serial Port faceplate. Parallel/Serial ports on older AT computers weren't typically attached directly to te motherboard, but were connected to slot backplates instead. You only care about the plate itself--unscrew any ports attached to it.

2. Take this backplate, and use snips or pliers to cut off excess metal around the parallel port hole. Since this is a long thin piece of metal, all that's really required is to clamp down with pliers along the desired cut point and to wiggle the piece back and forth until it snaps off.

3. Snip off any rough corners for a nice look.

.4. On your ATX motherboard, unscrew the parallel port's locking bolt thingies.

5. Place the ATX portface in place, and then overlap that modified AT parallel port backface behind it on the parallel port.

6. Screw the parallel port's locking bolt thingies in place--this will firmly sandwich the ATX portface between the motherboard ports and the modified AT parallel port backface.

Voila! The ATX portface is now firmly attached to the motherboard, in a very aesthetic way. The parallel port is no longer really usable, since the locking bolt thingies are raised a millimeter or so. However, who uses the parallel port?
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Post by Bluefront » Sun May 09, 2004 3:57 pm

PICKING A CORDLESS DRILL

IMHO....they are a must for anyone attempting case mods. And there are many things to consider when buying one. Since I also own 1/2" drills, and several corded drills, I prefer a medium sized 3/8 cordless drill for it's ease of use doing case mods. But you can buy larger, more powerful models...it's up to you.

There are several things to consider here....

Does it come with removable batteries? Two are the minimum for me. One in use, one on the charger.

Does the chuck tighten without a key? For light duty work, and ease of changing bits, this feature is a must.

Are there adjustable torque settings? Keeps from stripping holes.

Are there accessories available? Some of these drills come in a kit with different tools that use the same battery. Useful, but not mandatory.

Finally....there is a feature that some of these drills have, some don't. When you release the trigger on the Makita, the drill stops instantly...it has an electric brake. A very important feature for me, and hard to explain till you use one for awhile. Then you know....

That Makita in the photo is my favorite, but it cost 2x the Ryobi. You get what you pay for... :D

picture

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Post by Putz » Sun May 09, 2004 5:38 pm

My vote: DeWalt

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Post by sthayashi » Sun May 09, 2004 8:01 pm

You use 9.6v drills? Wow, now I'm really impressed at your case mod skills (more than I was before). My experience with drills has shown that a 14.4 DeWalt will cut a hole with much greater ease than a 12v Makita. And my 9.6v Craftsman is just a joke compared to the 12v Makita.

I'm trying to convince my brother to give me his extra 19.2v drill to me at some point in the future.
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