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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 18th April, 2006, 08:17 PM
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Custom Panels finally finished!!!

After several months and lots of planning, I finished the custom panels on my old computer.
I will present all of this as a tutorial on how to make your own.
But I warn you, custom panels are the hardest mod I have done yet.
It was very difficult to make them fit perfectly and tightly. I am still brainstorming on how to make them air tight.
Otherwise, it is a success and somewhat pleasing to the eye.
I am much happier with the new look than the origional case.

The finished Product

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Here's how I did it...

Started with some sheet metal. Probably too thin, but it all I could find at Home Depot.
I had to measure the side of the case and re-create those measurements on the sheet metal. Then I had to score the metal and bend it to snap it off in a perfect straight line.
Clamps were very important to keep the metal straight.

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I was using a "hack-saw" type of knife made for cutting models and such.
It worked pretty well except it would bend. I ended up getting a nicer one. I would score across the ruler edge without going all the way through the metal and then bend it up and down until it snaps from friction. Works nicely when you don't have a sheet metal cutter.
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Heres how I bent the metal sides to support the panel and match "real" case panels. I had to make perfect measurements and mark it with a sharpie. Next would be more scoring and then hammering it against a 90 degree piece of metal that was clamped on top of it.
Hammering has to be controlled so the whole tabs are bent evenly.
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I also had to cut the corners to make sure the bent tabs wouldn't overlap.
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to be continued.....
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Last edited by booman; 20th July, 2006 at 07:57 PM.
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Old 18th April, 2006, 08:24 PM
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Very nice work! Not often we see panels made from scratch.

I'll put it up on AOA's front page...
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Old 18th April, 2006, 08:24 PM
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Wow! That is hugely impressive!
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Old 18th April, 2006, 08:26 PM
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Here is the finished corner. I had to do each corner that way.
Click image for larger version

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Notches are the crucial aspect to panels because they hold the panel on.
My case has holes where the notches will fit in. so they have to be measured perfectly!
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After measuring and marking it up, I got out the ole knife and sawed away.
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Here is the template I made in Auto CAD of the windows I would cut out.
I'm a huge fan of Gothic Cathedrals and Gothic Art influence, so I decided to do a Clerestory Window look.
All I did was print it out and tape the pieces together.
Then I taped it to the sheet metal and used a sharpie to trace.
Later I ended up rotating the windows 180 degrees because I drew them up-side-down
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After measuring and cutting the plexi-glass with a jigsaw. I also used the same paper template to mark the windows. My plan was to etch the design by hand with an etching needle and scratching into the glass.
I have done this before with printmaking. I created plates by scratching the image into the plate and wiping ink into the scratches and then running it through a press with paper on top. Whamo! A print that looks like a pen drawing.
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Last edited by booman; 20th July, 2006 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 18th April, 2006, 08:37 PM
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Thanks very much guys. I tried looking around for panels, but there is no way I would find some to match this case exactly.
The case was given to me and it didn't come with panels.
I had some pictures of me cutting the sheet metal with a jigsaw but I can't find them. I also had pictures of the etching needle too.
I'll find them and upload them tomarrow.

Here is the rest of the case after painting.
Notice the handles I screwed onto the back.

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The other custom stuff I did to the case was drill some holes in a Gothic Arch in the front bezel so you can see the leds from the front fan.
I also added a fan with blue leds to the top of the case (not in pictures) with a grill I got off an old power supply.
I got this brilliant idea to move most of the power cables behind the motherboard tray to keep them hidden. I know it still looks a little cluttered but it is better than before.
I used a Hammered finish gray paint and also painted the middle of the front bezel black.
I had some problems attaching the plexi-glass by driling holes and using fan screws. I will work more on getting it air-tight.
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Old 18th April, 2006, 10:12 PM
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Very, very, very, very cool.

The green church effect looks amazing.

Kudos to you!
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Old 18th April, 2006, 10:18 PM
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Old 18th April, 2006, 10:21 PM
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Great work! But someone beat me to getting it up front page! ":O}
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Old 18th April, 2006, 11:08 PM
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Thanks very much everyone!
Its great to hear that people respect hard work.
Its funny, the case doesn't rattle even though the panels are not air tight.
I will be adding some more photos because I am installing 2 blue led 80mm fans. One in front behind the bezel, and one in the top panel.
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Old 19th April, 2006, 01:54 AM
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that's a nice side I had a thought, not sure if you have the material and equipment to do it, but something i thought was neat back in my art class when I was learning about the Cathedrals and stuff, but a rose window in your middle window area would be neat to see. Just a thought
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Old 19th April, 2006, 04:14 PM
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Yeah, I origionally thought of that too, but I really wanted a "clear" window so you can see the gear inside.
Origionally I was just going to have 3 windows, but I thought it would be more artistic to etch the side windows and allow the middle to be a real "window".
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Old 19th April, 2006, 04:28 PM
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Here is some pics I found on my home computer of the cutting process.

Starting with a routing tool, I had to cut holes for each corner of the design to allow space for the jigsaw bit.
You can see the routing tool I used and all the corners I had to start with.
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Then just cut-away. I had the sheet metal clamped down, but not to close to the table so I don't cut through it.
I thought the metal would be too flimsy for cutting with a jigsaw, but not to bad. I also had to hold it to keep it from vibrating too much.

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After I cut all the side down to the bottom of each window, I would just score the bottom and bend it back and forth until it snaps in a perfect line. Clamps are very helpful and so it the 90 degree bar.

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Here is the fitting of the plexi-glass window.
I also had to file the corners of the pillars separating each window.
And I filed every edge to make the metal not-so-sharp.

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Then the last step was bending/folding each edge as mentioned above and bending the notches out to match the case.

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Not so bad for working in the extra bedroom. One day I will have a workshop with all the appropriate tools for working on this fabricating stuff.
I will be coming up with more tutorials when that happens.
I have many ideas.
thanks again Everyone
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Old 20th April, 2006, 03:41 AM
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That looks cool and really clean cuts.
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Old 21st April, 2006, 12:57 AM
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That is some very nice work you have done. Nice to see. That comes under Patience is a virtue.

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Old 2nd May, 2006, 06:05 PM
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kick ass, real nice
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Old 2nd May, 2006, 08:47 PM
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OMFG! This is the best custom mod i've seen in a very long time. And that green looks ace with it, it wouldn't be the same with any other colour.
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Old 2nd May, 2006, 09:29 PM
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Wow! Thanks alot!
I wish I could find those pics of me etching the plexi-glass.
I actually added two blue led fans... one to the top of the case and one in the front. They don't take away from the green cathode light, but when I turn it off there is some green/blue reflections throughout the case. I'm pretty satisfied with it. Still wish the panels fit as good as a professionally made panels...
I also wish that I took "before & after" pics of the case. It was pretty lame before.
I have 4 more empty cases to mod. 3 of them are Gateway ATX cases, Full size towers. I have a few ideas allready. One is in my other thread about the Frozen Case
http://www.aoaforums.com/forum/attac...g?d=1146245359
Again, thanks alot for your encouragement.
My wife and I just moved into a new townhouse, and it has a small storage/workshop that I plan to fix up for modding computers.
I'll be sure to take lots of photos.
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Old 20th July, 2006, 07:50 PM
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I found one of my pics with me etching the plexi-glass by hand.
I bought that etching tool and then just scratch away.
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Old 21st July, 2006, 11:52 AM
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The only word that comes to mind is WOW!!!

The sheer amount of effort put into that case demands respect. Once I saw the finished product. Repsect of you and your work was instantaneous. Congratulations!

Any tips for someone about to attempt a custom case? Not modding a case, well sort of, cutting a standard ATX tower case and modding it into an ATX desktop case.
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Old 21st July, 2006, 12:10 PM
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Booman, I hope you don't mind me asking, but how much did this mod cost altogether?
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