Case Modding: Making a Glowing UV Panel

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Very nice case mod – Ty Hiither

This is my own idea and I have yet to see someone else do it. I was extremely pleased with how mine turned out, so I’m writing this for others to follow as a guide. For my particular case, the Thermaltake Xaser 6000a it was a perfect mod. You may not use this in the same area as I did, but I figure this has endless possibilities.

For instance, you could do one of these light panels in the bottom of your case, or replace drive bays with one, or line some other part of the case with these, they look absolutely amazing when you’re done so I promise it’s worth the effort. This is what my finished product looks like:

Done

To make this panel, you’ll need the following:

  • 3/8″ to 1/4″ plexiglass: I highly recommend using 1/4″ because this will give you the perfect depth for this project and for the cathode tube.
  • 4″ cathode tube: I recommend the one that is sold by pcmods.com – it’s only $14.99 and it’s the one I modified, so I know it will work with theirs. It must be the UV cathode to work correctly.
  • UV reactive paint: I recommend PCToys Maxx spray paint. You can buy some here. The paint I bought came in blue, orange, green and red. I used blue and found it to be very nice. I wasn’t really impressed with the orange – I found it to look very pink.
  • Marker
  • Dremel (the Dremel will require fiberglas reinforced cuttoff discs that you can purchase at most hardware stores) and a cutting tool, such as those used for tile are really good for this one.
  • Some medium and fine grit sand paper
  • Clear coat spray paint

Really – I’m pretty new to this modding stuff and I bought my first case to setup, a slightly pre-modded Thermaltake Xaser 6000a. It’s a really beautiful case but I wasn’t too fond of the red aluminum plate on the front, mainly because I hate red and I was planning on putting in a top window and such with blue and black lights. Luckily removal only required removing four screws and the silver “X” aluminum plate on the front is a separate part.

As I said, you could use this in many, many other places. I was actually thinking of lining the bottom of my case with one. All I need to do is figure out what to put over the cathode tube. I was thinking maybe of taking part of the aluminum that I cut out for making a window and making a sort of plate with a design on it to place over the cathode. Anyway I’m just throwing some ideas out.

Case

For my case, I needed a template for the size and shape of the light panel, so I just traced it. If you’re doing the bottom of your case, just measure it out and mark off your cuts on the plexiglass. Leave the protective covering on it for now.

Template

I’m going to assume that if you’re taking on this project, you’ve used a Dremel before and that you’ve most likely cut plexiglass alos. I highly recommend taking paper tape and covering the piece of plexi that you want to use, removing the tape around it with an exacto knife and then cutting it with the Dremel. This will avoid slips and scuffs being made to the piece that you want to keep, double or triple the paper tape so there is plenty of protection, just as you would if you were doing a window in you computer.

After your done cutting, you should have something that looks like this (except most likely a different shape of course) Measure it if you don’t have a template and make sure it fits in the area you plan on putting it. You don’t want to put further effort in this and find out it’s too big.

Plexi

Put this all aside and pull out your 4″ cold cathode tube, a pair of pliers and an Xacto knife. Here is a diagram of the cold cathode tube:

Diag

The reason I say to buy a PCMODS.com brand is that they all seem to be made a little differently and I’ve done it with this one, so I know it’s not that difficult to take apart.

First take the pliers and pry off the end cap without the wires in it. It’s best to try and turn it back and forth because you don’t want to snap it off or you could damage the cathode inside. Once this is off, you will see that they have squirted some sort of clear sealant inside in the end caps to hold the cathode in place and the caps on.

With the Xacto knife, VERY carefully cut around the inside edge of the plexiglass tube, making sure not to cut into the cathode or the wire soldered to its end. You don’t have to remove the sealant, just break its seal from the tube.

Next twist off the other end cap. You can’t actually remove it all the way because it’s around the wires, so just push it along the wire to get it out of the way. Then do the same with the sealant on this end. At some point, carefully twist the wires and try to pull them out, you should be able to remove the cold cathode and its wires intact.

Now to the next step, prepping your plexiglass panel:
{mospagebreak}

Ty Hiither

This step will require a little planning on your part. As you can see from my case, I have a panel that is shaped like an “X” to put over my light panel. This will allow me to hide the cold cathode from view. You will have to figure out what you will use. Some ideas that have come to mind are an aluminum plate with a design or sticker on it, some sort of medal or a sticker with a plate under it. You could even technically use another piece of plexiglass and make it two tiered, though I’m not sure how this would turn out.

It’s probably best to make sure it’s just covered and that the wires get covered. In the following picture, you can see that I’ve marked off with permanent marker the area I want to cut out. I also decided to use my handy Dremel drill press (only about $50 and well worth every penny); though you can do it by hand, it’s just more of a pain.

With this setup, I can cut to a set depth so that I don’t cut all of the way through the plexiglass. If you accidentally do so it shouldn’t really matter, being that we are planning on having that part covered up anyway.

Drill

As you can see from this next shot,

CC

I’ve routed out all of the plexiglass and testing it for a good fit. This is the cold cathode removed from its tube and sitting in its new home, the panel.

Once you’re sure you have a good fit, remove the cold cathode tube from the plexiglass and place it aside. Get out the UV paint and paint a clear coat. Make sure you shake the hell out of them or it will look spotty. The UV paint dries quickly, which is good. It’s also clear when the UV light is off. I recommend painting whichever side will be facing down so that it doesn’t get scratched up.

Tape off the other side to protect it. Make sure you do three coats, with ten minutes between coats. If you have a UV light or can hookup your cold cathode, do it and run it over the plexiglass to make sure you haven’t missed any spots and that it looks good.

Once this is done, you will need to put a nice even coat of clear coat over it. The UV paint is water soluble so it will wash off with soap and water and will chip if you don’t coat it, so be careful with it, at least until you clear coat it. You should let that clear coat dry for a good hour before proceeding.

Paint

When you’re finished painting you can put your cc tube back in the plexiglass panel. Turn it on and it should now look something like this:

On

You should note that these pictures do not nearly do it justice – my camera is horrible. It’s much brighter and more even looking in person.

Glow

Here is a picture of it mounted on my case without it turned on:

Off

And here turned on:

On

You can more clearly see here what I was going for as far as making sure the cathode and its wire aren’t showing. I suppose you could let the wires show if need be, but if you can have them not showing, it will look all the much more impressive. As I said, make a panel or design out of meta or aluminum sheeting, make it original and it will look really nice. This mod is sure to impress many people.

Please feel free to email me should you have any questions or comments about this mod.

Ty Hiither

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