First off, I’d like to say that I’m extremely cheap…and when you’ve got a family as big as ours, there isn’t much room for those wonderful Xaser cases or the Radeon 9800 XTs.
After searching on the internet for quite a while, I became intrigued with some do-it-yourself modding. Everyone who wrote those tutorials seems to have a completely equipped shop with all the tools and materials any modder would ever need.
That’s about to change 😉
I want to show you how to make a case window for roughly $25 CDN…a lot better than the $100 it costs to get a half-decent windowed case these days.
- Plexiglass measured to fit your side panel: ($8.00 cdn)
- Xacto Knife: (Free… I borrowed it from work)
- Jigsaw: ($10 cdn at a pawn shop)
- Drill: (I had one already)
- Jiffy Marker: (Found one lying around the house)
- Medium Grade Sandpaper: ($1.80 cdn at the store)
- 3″ Hole saw and arbor: (Borrowed from a friend)
- Pencil: (Lying around the house)
- Bic Pen: (Lying around the house)
- Wire Cutters: (Lying around the house)
- Duct Tape: (Lying, once again, around the house)
- Adhesive Caulking and Caulking Gun: ($9.00 cdn)
Total cost for me: $28.80 cdn
Well, here’s my side panel:
It’s a 16″ generic aluminum case and just doesn’t quite cut it for me, as I’m sure would be the case for almost every half-assed serious modder out there. Either that, or a modder might look at it as a gold mine of opportunity. For me, I just got sick of having such a “blah” case.
I started off wanting to cut the Unreal Tournament logo into it, but I balked at the difficulty. Instead, I just drew a squiggly line with a pencil where I wanted my cut to be. The joy of cutting a window yourself is your design being limited only by your imagination.
Here’s my former attempt at cutting a side intake fan with a Dremel…
I’ve seen tutorials on the net telling us we need drill presses and vice clamps and a studio and lasers and satellites and so on… you don’t need anything like that. All you need is a steady surface outside and cardboard to stand on if the ground is full of snow, like out here.
Drill a hole in the case (inside your design) that will fit your jigsaw blade. Fortunately, my previous mod saves me the trouble of doing this.
Who needs clamps and a workbench? No, all you’ll need is the coordination to jigsaw with one hand, steady your panel with the other hand and clamp the panel with your legs.
If your panel “jumps” when you’re cutting, just turn off the saw, re-adjust your body and steadying hand and continue cutting. You’ll have to do this a lot. This will take you about a half-hour to 45 minutes, depending on your design (mine took me about a half-hour).
***Please note that I HIGHLY recommend safety glasses, as my eyes were continually pelted by tiny metal shavings. Luckily for me, everything turned out okay.***
There we have it. You’ve cut your window…
Now grab your sandpaper and start sanding off the burs that the jigsaw left, as those burrs are, at the very least, hazardous. This will take you about 15 minutes. I was surprised by how little effort it took to complete this step. I only used about half a sheet of sandpaper.
Well, well, well…how’s THIS for an incredible lack of foresight? I seem to have cut my window too low! My design extended past where the clips slide into my case chassis. And seeing as the plexiglass has to extend past the opening I’ve cut, I don’t know how I’m going to get my panel back onto my computer.
Time to do some brainstorming.
Ah well…might as well go ahead with my plan.
Line up your plexiglass where you’ll be putting it inside your case and mark it with your jiffy marker. You’ll want to do this, because your intake fan will invariably need to be off-centre and you’ll need to know how to realign your plexiglass afterwards.
Because of my mistake, I have to make some modifications to my plexiglass. I’ve measured, roughly, where the clips to my panel slide into my case so that I have SOMEthing that will hold the bottom of my panel on my computer.
Here, I needed my Xacto blade to score the plexiglass where I’ve made my guidelines. Just cut along the lines using a metal ruler or a piece of wood or something as a guide for your cuts if you need to. After I scored my lines, just snap the plexiglass along those lines. Done.
Measure out where you want your side fan and cover the area with duct tape (or masking tape, or packing tape…whatever you have lying around)
Make a dot with your Jiffy-Marker at the exact centre of your planned fan, grab your drill (with the hole-saw attachment) and drill. Don’t press too hard or try to force the drill, as the risk to cracking your plexiglass will increase tenfold. Just push lightly but firmly and your cut will turn out.
There we have it. A perfectly round hole. Let’s see you do THAT with a Dremel!
Now it’s time to drill your fan screw holes. Line up your fan over your freshly cut hole, grab your Jiffy-Marker and your Bic pen.
Take the core of the pen out, color the open end with your marker and stick it down through your fan screw holes to mark your drilling points.
If you go too fast, I can guarantee that you will crack your plexi, so take your time and don’t force it. If you crack your plexi at this point, everything’s for naught.
After drilling all your holes, you’re ready to take you tape off and reveal…
…your beautifully cut window, complete with fan hole 🙂
Now, go back inside your house and apply some of your Adhesive Caulking around the edges of your window, being very careful that you don’t glob it on so much that the caulking will ooze out onto the visible portions of your window.
Stack some heavy books on top of the whole thing to get everything to stick together and let it dry some.
Now I have to make up for my previous mistake. You can’t really see it in this picture, but I’ve had to cut my chassis with my wire cutters and fold it down so that my window will fit. Fortunately, you won’t have to deal with this step, right? Great.
There you have it – a great looking window! All that’s left for me to do is take some paint thinner and get rid of the last vestiges of the Unreal symbol.
I’m pretty proud of my window, and I sure learned a lot.