What is Modding?
Modding is the modification of a computer case or a video game console chassis. Modifying a computer case in any non-standard way is considered a case mod. Modding is done, particularly by hardware enthusiasts, to show off a computer's apparent power by showing off the internal hardware, and also to make it look aesthetically pleasing to the owner. Cases may also be modified to improve a computer's performance; this is usually associated with cooling and involves changes to components as well as the case.
The MSI X99A GODLIKE GAMING motherboard was released by MSI as a high quality motherboard in July this year. I had the opportunity to get my hands on this motherboard and build my very own GODLIKE case mod showcasing this awesome piece of hardware.
Because I am a long time fan of the computer game StarCraft, I felt the urge to build a case mod related to this universe and chose to make a Terran Battlecruiser. This massive flying space craft just fits the GODLIKE theme perfectly. The hardware for this project was kindly provided by MSI HQ, G.SKILL and Silverstone. In addition, Bitspower sponsored an entire set of water cooling parts. I would like to thank all those companies for their trust in my work.
At the beginning, I searched for suitable templates and pictures of the battlecruiser. Unfortunately, many different layouts and designs of the battlecruiser exist within the StarCraft universe. That is why I decided to create my own 3D model in Cinema4D and incorporated all the different parts and details, which fit my taste most. The 3D model provided me with a better feeling for the proportions. I could arrange the hardware and make an exact layout of each part. For storage and transportation purposes, I separated the mod into seven parts: a head, the middle section, the body, two wings and two engine/weapon systems. Here, again, it was beneficial to work with a 3D program which allowed processing of each part individually before merging them.
Based on the 3D model, I made exact drawings with various scale factors of each part and the complete mod in order to determine the precise measurements.
This time, I wanted to build a case from wood. I mainly used plywood because it offers a good compromise between stability and weight. I cut the first components out with a jigsaw and a rotary saw. Right at the beginning, I tried to incorporate all openings required for fans, radiators and cable management. I started with the body and worked my way through each section of the mod.
In addition, I had to adjust the fans, which should be integrated into the bottom of the mod. To perfectly fit them into the given space, I cut off part of the plastic cover. At the end of this stage I came up with a lot of wood and made a first test fitting of all the components, using tape to hold the wooden parts in place.
After finishing the basic shape of the battlecruiser, I focused on the details. Therefore, I worked on each part separately, starting with the head. The wooden components were glued and screwed for holding them in place. Gaps were filled with wood filler and sanded down after drying. This step had been repeated until I obtained a smooth surface. Most of the details attached that give the head a spacecraft-like shape were built from MDF and glued directly to the head.
To give the mod some structural depth, I cut thin lines into the surface using my Dremel. I also introduced a lid into each individual part that can be opened for working inside of the case e.g. for running cables. At this stage, I also planned where the LEDs and cables should be placed later on.
The LEDs should illuminate the windows of the space ship. Thus, I cut rectangular openings into the side panels and adapted acrylic glass to fill them. To hide the transition between the acrylic glass window and the wood, I made small frames from HDF.
The middle section, the body surface and the wings were basically made in the same way. For the top of the wings I designed some circular upper assemblies with small, interrupted windows which should be illuminated later on as well. For the engine/weapon system I cut and sanded acrylic glass into rectangular pieces and inserted blue LEDs. The light will be pulsing in the finished mod to underline the impression of being energy driven.
Before all components were assembled, I applied black carbon foil to the inner surfaces to achieve a clean look of the inside. As a highlight, I attached stripes of red carbon foil. Then, I made a final test fitting of all parts and checked the basic light effects.
To give the mod a more spacecraft-like look and to emphasize the back of the main engine, I built a cover for the radiators integrated into the back panel. Details made from HDF were added as well as a tiny porch roof out of small wooden rods. As a final step of the wood crafting, I constructed a basic mounting system for the water tanks, which were fixed on top of the body.
Then, everything was primed with various layers of spray filler and black dispersion color. While everything was drying, I cut the acrylic glass for the windows and dulled them down with a sanding sponge. Black foil, in which I cut a window pattern, was directly attached to the acrylic glass. Afterwards, I worked on the electronics. I soldered all LEDs, resistors and LED-strips and placed them throughout the entire mod. I constructed also the LED fader for illuminating the engine/weapon part.
As one of the last steps, I painted the outside of the battlecruiser in dark silver and highlighted the edges with pure silver paint. To match the color scheme of the motherboard and to achieve an eye-catching contrast, all cables were sleeved in red and black. After incorporating the hardware, I lastly installed the water cooling for the CPU and GPU and filled them with blue colored distilled water.
Building the MSI Behemoth Battlecruiser roughly took me about 300 hours of work. I hope you enjoy it. I will definitely continue my work in the future and I’m already looking forward to sharing my results with you.
About the Modder
RandomDesign is a creative community founded by the German artist Stefan Ulrich – random2k4 – in 2013. We want to share our passion for art and like to exchange experience in using diverse materials and techniques to celebrate a new age of art design.
I’m Stefan, a 29-year-old artist from Germany. As RandomDesign I realized several creative projects during the last years. I started my work focusing mainly on prop making for cosplay and small film productions. I like to build armor and weaponry, but I’m also designing accessories and stage requisites. Besides prop making, I try to realize projects in other areas and thereby, I gained a lot of experience in working with various materials. In tutorials and workshops I’m always trying to hand this knowledge over to others interested in alternative materials. Since 2014, I am active in case modding which has become a growing focus of my work. Experimenting with diverse materials and techniques broadens my knowledge in the field of crafting. Another priority of my work lays on 3D modeling and animation. I’m continuously looking for new projects challenging and improving my handicraft skills.
1st Place Hardwareluxx Casemod Contest 2014 – Steam Machine
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