PC case modding: a beginner's guide

Getting started on your first mod - painting, cutting and more

Light up your PC chassis by adding a variety of different lighting effects

Lighting up your PC case is a contentious subject among PC users, for the case modder this is an essential part of the modding process and with some trial and error it can yield some striking effects and add to the overall look of a mod project.

There are so many different illumination products to experiment with now and picking a colour scheme for your rig generally helps when considering what kind of lighting to use.

Cathodes come in so many colours and sizes, for example ultraviolet (UV), red, green, white, purple, blue and more! I loves a bit of lighting me! Sizes vary from 10cm up to 30cms in length and generally speaking most lights are supplied with a mounting kit nowadays.

LEDs have come on leaps and bounds in the last few years and are now being used on most new cars for brake and indicator lamps. For the biggest range of LEDs eBay has become the place to go, at least for research.

Follow the links back to the Asian manufacturers websites, and the array of LEDs available is just mind boggling. Most can be purchased pre-wired for 12v or if you are bit handy with a soldering iron, buying loose LEDs and the resistors is far cheaper. Some LEDs that I have purchased lately are so bright they can almost be compared to looking straight at the sun [Ed – this may be a slight exaggeration].

Flash lights

LED fans are another great way to create a cool lighting mood within your chassis. As previously mentioned, cathodes are available in loads of LED colours and fan body types now.

When purchasing fans of any kind, check the Dba noise level, some fans may look really cool and pretty until you plug them up in your rig and experience what it would be like if the Royal Air Force decided to build an air base in your living room!

Shop around and find a fan that has a corresponding colour choice to match your case's paintwork as this tends not wind up the anti-LED brigade as much.

1. [deep breath] DAY-O, day-ay-ay-o

Light 1

Fitting a set of Cathodes is a quick, easy way to add a very cost effective lighting effect to your rig. Most sets available now come with a fitting kit and instructions for installation. One point of note when fitting these is the positioning of the Cathode, try not to make this visible looking square-on against the window.

2. Daylight come and me wan' bling me box

Light 2

Ultraviolet lighting is another great way of showing off the UV reactive parts within a case mod – as the picture shows two 30cm UV Cathodes placed below the bottom window line of the side panel. Adding some live edge Acrylic really turns on the 'bling' and creates an amazing effect for your rig.

3. Day, me say LED? me say LED? me say day!

Light 3

LEDs are another wonderful way of lighting a case mod. They are so versatile in terms of colour size and shape, and changing the hard disk activity and power LED's to match the chosen lighting scheme of the case mod is a nice touch and easy to do, using only a soldering iron and heat shrink.

4. Me say day, me say fan-AN-AN-o!

Light 4

LED fans: some people love them and some, well, don't. Personally if I'm not taking the ultraviolet approach to lighting the inside of my own rig, I usually go for LED fans instead. LEDs coming in a wide range of body colours and you can always find a suitable LED fan to match in with the overall case mod scheme.

5. Daylight come and me WAN' GO HOME!

Light 5

Further uses for LEDs include mounting them in small stainless steel holders (from 3mm, 5mm, 8mm and 10mm). These can be strategically place around the inside of the case in strips or as singles. These offer a bright alternative to project light through a panel, where there's not enough room for a 10cm Cathode.

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First published in PC Format Issue 244

Liked this? Then check out Cover your eyes! 10 ugliest PC mods ever

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