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Lighting: Show Off All Your Hard Work!

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If, like most people, you are very proud of what you do, and you have put tons of hard work, creativity, and well-spent dollars into the creation of your latest PC, you want people to stand up and take notice. Lights can bring your hard work out into the open for the whole world to appreciate. Let your buddies at the next LAN party sweat with anxiety when they gander at the goods screwed down to your mobo!

With all the manufacturers of aftermarket lighting and modding supplies, there is no end to what's available. It's time to get creative, so let's look at a few of the options.
Case fans come in all sizes and shapes, tricolorand they all do the same job, hopefully, but they don't have to be drab looking chunks of black ABS plastic. Here are a few samples: These are a pair of my own case fans, which were made by Antec. These are 80mm units, with three lights: right, green, and blue. I prefer solid blue fans, but these can be nice in the proper setting.
Having status indicators on the outside of your PC, separate from the screen often makes it easier to see exactly what's sgoing on with the machine and gives you something to look to for information when you know that the machine is really being stressed. A temperature or voltages read from a small LED can provide essential information.LED Temp Most of the small LED scrren available for this purpose can carry an array of information, either by switching to different data views with a button or displaying the information on several scrollable lines. Also, many of these screens can be programmed to display whatever information you like, such as MP3 tags, weather information, game stats, or sports scores, and can even toggel between modes that show this info and the necessary computer stats, too!
albitrosInterior lighting comes in many fashion, and can be accomplished through a number of techniques. The owner of this PC used super-bright bronze colored LEDs and Yellow and red cold cathode lighting to produce a very brightly glowing effect that makes this computer really stand out.

This is one of my machines, and I've never been satidfied with the lighting in it. cathode glow The blue glow of the cold cathode fluoerscent tube at the top of the machine is pretty, but lacks brightness to fill some of the harder-to-get-to spots. This particular case does't have a lot of extra room at the top, so installing a second light there is no easy feat. Clutter at the bottom of the case can be rearranged to implement a couple of shorter tubes and would work apptly to fill the darkened voids. All things in due time, I guess!
Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lights (CCFLs) come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. They range from about 3" in length to 4' or more. The most common are straight, round tubes in red, green, blue, yellow and ultraviolet. cold cathodes But shapes can be anything you're willing to special order, from a circular shape to a star, a spiral or what ever you dream up. This makes them excellent for light mods, because they afford a touch of originality above what comes out of a paint can. With the range of UV reactive paints available, the UV tubebs are great for the imaginative types. There are UV reactive paints now that appear clear until the light hits them. uv meteor lights A creative person may take several colors of these paints to create a scene, or perhaps flames, inside or outside of a case, that may only be viewed in a dark room with the lights from the PC. Some very dramatic effects are possible, creating a look that one would truly expect to see in a Sci-Fi movie. Another little gimmick that adds lots of flash to a case is the "FireFly" Molex connector. These are standard Molex connectors with LEDs inside the plastic that houses the pins and wires. fire fliesSome folks only use these to connect a particular piece of hardware that they want to show off, but I think they look good enough to be shown on their own merits, if they are arranged properly in a case. Because they draw so little current, they won't put a strain on the power supply. Besides, anyone using these probably has a decent PSU anyway. Most modders aren't happy with a 300-watt generic PSU. These also look nice when a single color is used in a case, such as green CCFLs with green FireFlies, etc. But you probably wouldn't want to use these things on cables that have not been properly sleeved. The extra clutter from loose wires just has to detract from the look you're trying to accomplish with modding the case this way in the first place.

tl2I like for everything in my boxes to shine with an eerie, alien glow. But I've grown tired of the Martian green theme. Besides, who said Martians are green? So I've chosen blue as my alien color. Still, as the pictures demonstrate, there are lots of choices, including UV. laser LEDs This picture just shows the glow from one laser LED from Xoxide.It doesn't really look that bright in this picture, but the room is too brightly lit to show this off well. Some of them come with controllers to adjust flash, frequency, and timing, and have multicolored lasers, which can be cool when set to flash individually and in different directions. These are alos available from other manufacturers, but as of this writing, has them for only $3.99 each. Who can complain about a price like that? The fact is, most of the lighting devices used in modding are relatively inexpensive, with the exception of LED screens for secondary information display. But even those can be had for a nominal fee with a little research.
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The electroluminescent tape strips shown here look absolutely beautiful, and many of them produce a quite bright light. tape strips But I have never been able to produce quite the effect I'm looking for with them. It seems that either the tapes are too short or too long, and the ones I've used have not been quite as conveniently mountable as I had hoped for. But I must admit that I'm a bit pickier than most. Also if you decide to use these make certain that you purchase a top-of-the-line brand. Cheaper ones aren't that much cheaper, and neither is that expensive, but the difference can mean the difference between effects that rock and effects that go unnoticed.
Most people take items such as the grill on a fan for granted. But why not give it a nice lighted effect, too? Lighted fan grills come in a variety of colors and designs and sizes. lighted grillThey are easy to install, and they provide quite a nice effect in a darkened room. LAN parties are great for showing off this kind of hardware, and it all makes for a good time with lots of stuff to talk about and ideas to share.

The list of mods possible for standard cases is endless, whether it be unusual lighting, fans, or simply high-class hardware such as the latest video card, processor or motherboard. Everyone likes to have a unique machine that draws looks and comments. The lighted thermolith 1plastic strips on the front bezel of the case shown here are home-made. They were once part of a clear plastic rod that was part of a Star Wars toy that belonged to my grandson. Strips wer cut from the rod on a bandsaw. A Dremel tool was used to cut the slots in the front of the case and the edges of the slots were carefully beveled to the contour of the rounded plastic. The result is a lighting effect that looks as though it was factory molded into the case. Blue LEDs fit into small holes at each end of the rod to give light, and the LEDs recieve their power from a 12 volt Molex plug.

Not everyone can get a clear case, but even if you can afford one, they do have their own problems. For starters, these things are plastic. Though they are glued and screwed together, flashing cases lightsthe screws tend not to hold, and it often doesn't take a lot of bumping around to break a glue joint. Though I must admit that such a case as this one in a very dark room is beautiful, I wouldn't want the task of dusting the thing out almost daily. That which can be seen, must be kept clean. Of course, we all should keep a clean case because the dust helps to insulate parts and makes cooling all that much harder, But there are ways to get a kewl mod going on without having to show EVERYTHING!
Ferrell-PC · ·Franklinton, NC
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