The Early Concept
While I like my YY Cube Case a lot, I have always felt the front panel was a little cheezy. Here is my plan to dress it up a bit, and to increase the Cube's tie-in to Star Trek, The Next Generation.
The basic idea is to to take the front panel of the machine from looking like this:
And make it look like a Star Trek Enterprise control panel:
My idea (as yet untested) for doing this, is to fabricate a replacement panel out of acrylic, and use a color transparency of the panel above, backlit, to provide the look. It shouldn't be terribly hard to make a replacement removable panel. The one that came with the YY Cube has snap in fittings attached to the plastic with screws. I can simply screw the same fittings in the same location into a new acrylic front. Basically, I need to build a shallow box (the current front panel is about 1" thick) out of acrylic sheet to do this.
Here is a schematic diagram of how that might work when viewed from above:
The "Slide" is a color transparency of the Star Trek TNG panel. I'm specifying the use of electroluminescent cable to backlight the panel so it glows, and am thinking of painting the back surface of the inside acrylic sheet (i.e. the one marked reflective) in high gloss white to help diffuse the EL light. You could also put a couple cold cathodes to light it. Lately, I've heard on the forums that there is even EL sheets, which would provide the most even lighting of all. Basically, what we're doing is the same as how they make the lighted panel of a coke machine.
Note that this panel front really needs to be two boxes. The one in the diagram is the "light box" on front that displays the panel. I need to be able to open up the case to access the drives. I need to hinge this on the front of the box that attaches to the case, and that provides a nice bezel around the drives so they look good. I'm thinking of covering all of the visible inside area with carbon fiber to get this kind of look:
As a final, now-you've-really-lost-your-mind embellishment, I am thinking of cutting holes in the transparency (actually, I'll just make the artwork so it stays transparent there), to have a VFD (vacuum flourescent display) peek through, making the panel live:
These little guys are progammable to display anything, and I would probably set it up to show various temps in my system, and perhaps my CPU clock speed. I'll also have blue LEDs for power, drive, and LAN activity that shine through the transparency at appropriate places.
Pretty cool, eh? Yeah, I know, I have lost my mind. The good news is I'm not gonna start on this until I do the water cooling. I have ordered some acrylic sheet to make a water reservoir with, so I have a little "learning experience" before I try to make this front panel.
There is some reason to believe this could be successful based on the works and comments of others who've responded to my query about this on [H]ardOCP:
http://www.multiplaycity.com/diy/002/002diy.html: Article on doing almost exactly this mod!
http://www.glowire.com/: Source for EL wire and other EL products.
3M makes an adhesive printable laminate that would work very well for placing on the back of the plexi and backlighting.
LCD Smartie 5: Software to make those VFD's and LCD's come alive.
LC Driver: Still more VFD/LCD software.
www.beingseen.com: EL products, including sheets.
Thanks to my fellow forum posters on [H]ardOCP for making many suggestions!
Making It Happen: A Borg Blog
This section is a stream of consciousness diary about the project. It'll be random, contradictory, and it will jump around a lot because that's how a project goes when you don't have a clue how to get it done!
Basically, the project falls into three major categories, and the following links discuss each one in worklog format.
All material © 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.