Lighting is a key element in case modding, and LEDs may be the most common way to light up the inside and outside of a case. Individual LEDs can be purchased from electronics stores and wired together to create a unique array of color, intensity, and effects. Typical LEDs are rated with voltages and currents less than what a computer power supply might provide, and an LED calculator is a useful application for determining what combination of LEDs and resistors might work best.
For those who want their LEDs pre-configured, at this point I think just about every component may be available with LEDs in them. LEDs are like magnets to computer geeks because they can’t help but be drawn to them. Some common items that feature LEDs include cooling fans, fan controllers, power supplies, mice, and other random odds and ends.
CCFLs may be the next main form of case lighting. Cold Cathode Florescent Lamp (CCFL) lighting is similar to typical florescent lighting in that it uses electricity to excite a gas that produces the visible light. The "cold" portion implies that minimal heat is generated while still producing particularly bright light. CCFLs can output multitudes of colored light, including UV light, and generally come in tubes or coiled, like on this fan. The Sunbeam Transformer case includes a green CCFL tube to give the front grill its eerie glow.
Want one more type of lighting that can be used to mod a case? Good. EL, or Electro Luminescent lighting, can be found in a variety of products, and it is distinguished by its even glow, long life, and low power consumption. Products such as keyboards and case badges are just two products that take advantage of the cool lighting effect provided by this high tech, thin material.
UV (Ultra Violet) is a term that people may usually associate with harmful sun rays, but to a modded case, it is the special effect for when the lights go down. UV reactive computer components, like those old Led Zeppelin posters in college, give off that freaky neon glow when subjected to a black light. Fans, various cables, and other items are available to be used in conjunction with black light case lighting.
What was once only available to those with the skills and tools to make it happen is now readily available to anyone. Granted, pre-modded items aren’t as extreme or as personalized as something undertaken from scratch, but they are more interesting than the boring beige box we all had at one time. Clear cases or themed cases may be a good point to start a modding project from, or it may be good enough for some as is. It is all up to personal taste, and the personal commitment to actually caring what your computer case looks like (if you care at all).
Serious enthusiasts may look at the pre-modded items as being posers, but they can not deny that the popularity of these items spawned from the early days when a modded case was exactly that.
Modding is all about individuality and having fun with what used to be a boring object. There is no right or wrong way to do it, and the possibilities are only limited by a person's creativity (and perhaps creative skills).
Whether taking the approach of purchasing pre-modded items or starting from scratch with your power tools in hand, sources of inspiration can be found online at places such as the Gruntville Case Mod Gallery, The Best Case Scenario, or Mini-ITX.com for the small form factor enthusiasts. If you prefer your information in print rather than online, there are such much modding guides, like "Going Mod: 9 Cool Case Mod Projects".
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