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so, you want to get into the modding scene...
GTAV6 
27/10/04 1:58:45 PM
Hero
Guru



Before you go any further, I'd like to make it clear that this tutorial is not entirely my own work- I'm afraid all I've contributed are the mistakes and inaccuracies,
but all the good stuff is a big special thanks to these experienced at0micans-
Ghost Dog
silhouette
Lancer2k
Goth
Quamen
Shplade
Sir_Hsv
GL0Be
HCB

You guys rock :o)
=================

This is not a tutorial on how to mod you computer, but rather an idea of how to come up with an achievable concept of your own- before you start with the hands-on stuff.
Rather than just idly asking for ideas or opinions on dreams, try this instead if you're serious. Dreams are important, but where modding is concerned, there are only two types of dreamer,
- those who are dreaming of modding,
- and those who are dreaming of their next mod...

To begin with, what constitues a 'modded' computer? The answer to that is dead simple- the instant you physically alter something on your computer to suit your own taste, you've modified it from standard, regardless of how minor. While it's more often the outrageous mods that everyone raves about, it's the subtle, but well executed, mods that have a real and lasting impact. But be it outrageous or subtle, it's still a mod.

First of all, you have to ask yourself, who are you hoping to impress with your mods?

Modding is really a very personal thing- everyone has different ideas. If you're comfortable with the fact that not everyone will like what you've done (modding doesn't have to be about impressing people), then you're free to mod to your own tastes and practicalities. However, if you're looking for 'street cred' at a lan, or even competing, then you've got to often put aside what you may like and run with the crowd when it comes to ideas. But, whoever you're trying to please, you've still got to start somewhere...

Usually, you'd have some vague idea of what you'd like to do, but a lot of us have an absolute blank when it comes to a finished picture in our minds- no matter how badly desired a modded machine might be.
That's where a website with a gallery of modded cases is always a good place to start, places like Virtual Hideout, Overclockers Australia, ect.
Now, here's where the first of many shocking truths will strike you- it's almost impossible to have a completely original idea...
Don't just limit yourself to computer related sites, though. Look at comics, modified car and bike magazines, science fiction movies, cover art on fantasy novels. Take notice of the colour combinations from these sources, too, as often professional colour consultants have been used to get the various shades just right and matching. Talk to friends, bounce ideas off them- if they've got similar interests to you, they could well come up with a refinement that suits even better.

Be prepared to spend some time working through these galleries, ect, and whenever you see an idea that appeals, grab a copy of the picture- and don't just stop at the very first one you like. In effect, you want to create a 'scrapbook' with a collection of mods that you'd like to have yourself. Don't be afraid to doodle on a pad, either. Often a drawing can help spot potential clashes, before they occur. You don't have to spend a small fortune on a 'rice-up' job, either (unless that's what you really want). Try to think beneath the surface, if you're wanting a mod that'll knock their socks off rather than have them clawing their eyes out...
Try looking for a theme, keep it mind when considering what mods you'd like and think about whether they'll tie in with it or not. Keeping the overall mod simple will not only will make it easier (and possibly cheaper), but it'll gain a lot more appreciation than a cluttered, incoherent and poorly executed job. It's also more likely to get finished...

The next step is to start identifying what components and materials have been used in the various mods that've caught your fancy. This is a good time to start posting questions (if it's not clear to you what you're looking at), include a link, if you can, to a picture of what you're trying to identify. What is it? Is it an 'off the shelf' item? A lot of these gadgets and finishing materials have a terminology that could be handy to familiarise yourself with (remember, Google won't be able to find something if you don't know what it it's called...)
Another thing to be sure to check- not all components and/or materials will be compatible with one another (unless you really know what you're doing, of course). They may physically interfere with some other vital part of your machine, or possibly not be supported electronically, etc. Also, try dismantling and reassembling the bits you're thinking of modding, it may well be that some things just can't be done, and in any case, you'll gain a better appreciation of just how far you can go before compromising the integrity of a component. Don't be afraid to ask for dimensions (they're nearly always available somewhere), and armed with those, rough out a scale diagram. Don't forget too, that cabling takes up valuable space and has a limited tolerance to bending, stretching, cramming, ect. After all, you'd be pretty gutted if that expensive fancy new lcd display only fits if your hard drives aren't there...
Who do you know that might be able to help with various aspects? Talk to your friends again, you never know who's got an uncle somewhere who's a spraypainter or machinest, ect. (You also never know who've got what tools lying around.)

Then, find out where these bits can be obtained from. PC Casegear is a popular starting place and there are many others similar, but, not everything is readily available from your local computer store. In fact, a lot of stuff that gets used doesn't even come from a computer store! Once again, this can be another good time to post a question- especially if the piece you're interested in is a particularly obscure brand. The chances are extremely high that someone in here will know of somewhere that can get whatever it is. But, you may have to be prepared to entertain the idea of ordering it online- something that not everyone's comfortable with.


Ok, so by now you should a some kind of basic idea of how you'd like your finished case to look like and what bits will be included. About now is the time to start pulling that picture apart again, with three important factors in mind- your abilities, your budget and, to a slightly lesser extent, your time.
- Are you capable of doing these mods yourself?
- Can you afford the bits you'd like to have, along with paying someone else to do the stuff you can't?
- How much time can you pour into the project?

Acknowledging your own limitations can be quite an uncomfortable thing to do, but unfortunately, most of us weren't born with a dremmel in our hands. Most, if not all, of the ideas you have in mind will have tutorials of their own- read them, and decide for yourself if you're capable of doing what others have done. Do you have access to the tools used and do you know how to use them? How are you with electronics? Websites like Bit-Tech, Metku, ect, always have a good number of tutorials and ZenRgy has a good collection of our own links stickied at the top of the modding section also.
Your limitations also include having somewhere to do all this and somewhere the project can be left undisturbed when you're not working on it.
Here's another sad fact which needs important consideration- if you've never modded before, then the chances of you ending up with a work of art like you've been admiring in those case galleries, is probably very remote. Just remember though, all the really good stuff is almost never the result of the owner's first efforts...

The size of your bank account will have a big impact on your finished project, unless you're an absolute wizz at using things already to hand. Add up the retail prices of all the components you've got in mind- this will be the only figure you can be reasonably certain of. If you're comfortable with using second-hand stuff, and you know where to find it, you might be able reduce the cost of your purchases by a third to a half- but you'll have dramatically increased the risk of reliability issues. Be prepared to have to omit a particular part, or subsitute it for a lesser version. One of the hardest things to budget for will be what's known as 'outwork', all the things you have to get done by someone else. The best you can do there is spend some time asking for estimations from the experts, like painters or fabricators, or other people who've had similar work done themselves. If you can, try and anticipate the use of perishables (glue, paint, ect), and buy just a little bit more than what you need, for when you need it (rather than six months in advance and find it's gone off when you come to use it). Another worthwhile thought, is having a little paint left over (safely sealed), for possible touch-up jobs in the future.
Try thinking 'outside the square', wander through places like Bunnings, Jaycar, auto accessory shops, ect, and look for items that can incorporated into your ideas. This can often produce very unique effects, for much less outlay than some expensive, purpose-built kit from a computer outlet. Places like plumbing supply outfits often yield interesting little offcuts- sometimes for free :o)

Time is another variable that can be difficult to account for. As a basic rule of thumb- if you're attempting something new, it'll take twice as long as you'd anticipated, added to which, you'll only have half the time you'd thought. If you can't afford something right away, how long till you've saved sufficiently for it? How much lead time does a supplier need to order in your bits? It also pays handsomely to practice something first and I can't stress this enough- but, practicing can treble the time frame for a finished project. Allow for multiple trial assemblies as you go. Do you have the patience for all this? Your spare time will never be enough, you'll invariably end up having to sacrifice time from other things. A project that takes too long can very easily fall victim to loss of interest and, when that happens, it can be extremely difficult to scratch up some enthusiasm to complete it at a later date. Remember too, unless you have more than one pc, these delays could mean no computer for days and possibly stretching into weeks (or even months, depending the complexity of the project)...

Taking these three factors into mind, try to come up with a rough plan that covers your entire mod from go to whoa. Try to keep everything broken down into manageable chunks- smaller projects that, when each is completed, form a part of the whole picture. The scope of each 'mini project' should be based on those three factors- ability, cost and time. If your budget can cope, try to organize a piece of outwork to coincide with something you're tackling yourself, it's good way to save a little time (although you can't always rely on it working completely in your favor). If you think something is going to take longer than you'd originally anticipated, consider rescheduling it to when you know you'll have more time. Some form of flowchart can be a big help, eg-
size-> shape-> colour scheme-> suitable mods-> available budget & timeframe, dates->
ect.


Once you've got your plan kicked into reasonable shape and you're sufficiently confident it's something to go with, try to stick to it! Projects like this can develop the nasty habit of never being completed because things keep getting changed along the way. Apart from unforeseen circumstances (which will nearly always crop up anyway- Murphy's Law), the two most common reasons a project like this gets changed, are a lack of self discipline and proper planning. Other reasons for change may become apparent as you go, regarding performance and cooling issues. If you're hot-rodding your hardware as well, you might find some of your cosmetic ideas clashing with your performance. However, a combination of determination and little more 'out of the square' thinking, will often turn what seems to be a disaster, into an improvement.
To be fair though, some consider a modded computer to never be finished. Once you've started, there'll always be a newer, better idea pop up as a result of what you're doing. Or, an onlooker's comment will trigger a completely new train of thought. What you then have to decide, is do you continue with what you've already started, or store the ideas away for the next stage? Only you can decide on that...

Finally, a few more little gems to consider:
- you will make mistakes.
- you will spend more time and money than you thought.
- you will skin your knuckles.
- you will get frustrated.
- you will go short on sleep.
- you will find your satisfaction in the finished article short-lived and want to make improvements...


So what are you waiting for? It's all out there, merely awaiting your involvement :o)

A few links to the places mentioned above-
Virtual Hideout - http://www.virtual-hideout.net/ & case gallery (over 500 modded cases!) - http://www.case-galerie.de/
Metku - http://www.metku.net/
Bit Tech - http://www.bit-tech.net/
ZenRgy's thread - http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/forums.asp?s=2&c=18&t=1976
Overclockers Australia - http://pcdb.overclockers.com.au/
PC Casegear - http://www.pccasegear.com.au/ & gallery - http://www.pccasegear.com.au/webcontent18.htm
Jaycar Electronics - http://www1.jaycar.com.au/
also,
Etrix Systems Australia, courtesy of Sir_Hsv – http://www.etrixsystems.com & gallery - http://www.etrixsystems.com/gallery/gallery.html
The Dog Boxes, courtesy of Ghost Dog and Two Dogs - http://users.on.net/blue
at0mic's own Hotbox competions, current - http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/hotbox.asp?CatID=84 & archived - http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/hbarchive.asp?CatID=85


Oh, and grab yourself a copy of a strange magazine called
AT0MIC MAXIMUM POWER COMPUTING
-every issue has something useful in it for this sort of thing :o)







edit- formatted to try and fit the page a bit better.


Edited by GTAV6: 28/10/2004 10:43:44 AM

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they say your mind is like a parachute and only works when it's open.
well, i use mine like a real parachute- it's purely there for emergencies and only used as a last resort.

Goth 
27/10/04 2:36:49 PM
Titan

w00t.

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G0t Head?
http://tinyurl.com/49t8a

milamber_of_the_assembly 
27/10/04 2:41:36 PM
Champion

hmmm, i think this needs a sticky. great stuff GTAV6

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Your life is like Reality TV, Fricken pointless - The_Guy_Who
-------
The Atomic Heroes - Sci-Fi Story http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/forums.asp?s=1&c=1&t=39914&p=345

Full compiled Version at http://villabeata.deep-ice.com
--

Shplade 
27/10/04 4:14:18 PM
Guru

+1 vote for sticky!

awsome work

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AMD Duron 850
256MB Corsair XMS3200C2
ASUS A7V600
Albatron Ti4280P
LiteOn 52x32x52
Seagate 80 GB
Lian Li PC60
Antec SL400

derelict_frog 
27/10/04 4:23:53 PM
Guru

Not to bad!!

Didnt really need to read it, but parts sounded useful.

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Watercooled//Asus A7N8X-E//2400-m//2x512 DDR400 Corsair XMS 2-2-2-11//2x120G Cudas Raid0/Leadtek FX5950 Ultra 256MB@570/950//Antec Plusview1000AMG//Antec TruePower 480W
http://www.derelictfrog.tk

Goth 
27/10/04 4:24:22 PM
Titan

Reported to Zenrgy for inclusion in the main modding sticky.

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G0t Head?
http://tinyurl.com/49t8a

Quamen 
27/10/04 4:31:44 PM
Guru

Quote by Goth
Reported to Zenrgy for inclusion in the main modding sticky.



I think this deserves its very own sticky.

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http://www.garethtownsend.info

Goth 
27/10/04 4:55:24 PM
Titan

Well, yeah, there is a whole stack of great guides that deserve sticky status, i think it deserves it's own sticky too, but it was decided by the *ods that we didn't need a stack of stickies at the top of the page. If they decide to give it an individual sticky, so much the better.

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G0t Head?
http://tinyurl.com/49t8a

raygen 
27/10/04 5:37:45 PM
Overlord

Sticky.

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Location : Brisbane, Logan

silhouette 
27/10/04 5:44:07 PM
Guru

Top stuff :) :)

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my karma ran over your dogma

*confetti*

nitro.vo 
27/10/04 5:45:48 PM
Guru

sticky.

i will read it when i get time... its damn long :D

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I don't know whether I'm alive and dreaming or dead and remembering

[Can't hear ya]
[Time to meet my lord]
[I can't hear ya]
[Talk to 2 x4]

Goth 
27/10/04 6:10:03 PM
Titan

How can you say sticky without reading it? Not that it doesn't deserve sticky status

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G0t Head?
http://tinyurl.com/49t8a

bushi 
27/10/04 7:38:07 PM
Champion

Look at all the stickies in the Overclocking section. Why can't we have more than one in here?

-----
OZ - Watch it. 10.00 Mon on SBS

Quote by bushi
Wait a minute... I never said this.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v281/bushi/MUNCHIES.jpg

hulkster 
27/10/04 7:48:31 PM
Mod
Hero

Guru


Yep, stickied :)

-----
Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer

bushi 
27/10/04 7:51:46 PM
Champion

Nice work hulkster.... OH and GTAV6. :P

-----
OZ - Watch it. 10.00 Mon on SBS

Quote by bushi
Wait a minute... I never said this.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v281/bushi/MUNCHIES.jpg

Quamen 
27/10/04 7:59:19 PM
Guru

Hulkster ams teh 1337!

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http://www.garethtownsend.info

Sir_Hsv 
27/10/04 8:10:13 PM
Champion

Nice job there GTAV6 :)



Sir_Hsv

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Modding Baileys Wheelchair: http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/forums.asp?s=1&c=1&t=45184

"You live in your world, get PWN3D in mine!" ...

Ghost Dog 
27/10/04 9:10:23 PM
Champion

Well I don't know what anyone else contributed but please rest assured that whatever minute and minimal input I did have was way overshadowed by the work that GTAV6 put into this. Way overshadowed. Nice work. Hope it inspires a few ppl to get on with a mod.

In fact I have just been asked to do a mod that I think maybe even original........but you'll have to wait and see on that one :)

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GL0Be 
27/10/04 9:20:01 PM
Hero
Titan


Yup I agree!

GTAV6 did ALL the work.
The only reason I got a mention was he asked my opinion and I told him it was shit and to rewrite it, which he did ..............6 times :P

Hehe top effort!

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PHWOAR!!!
3DMark2001SE: 23039
http://service.futuremark.com/compare?2k1=7564913
AquaMark: 53827
http://arc.aquamark3.com/arc/arc_view.php?run=74387313
How sweet it is ...
http://members.optusnet.com.au/bio2000/electric.jpg

Quamen 
27/10/04 9:38:37 PM
Guru

/me dittos what Ghost Dog and BLOBe said. It's all GTAV6's work.

And hopefully the thread will get used by everyone starting a mod or thinking about starting a mod or even part way through a mod and feeling a little bit lost.

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http://www.garethtownsend.info

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