Light Box Mod

Lightbox in bright light
Lightbox in Low Light

So, I was perusing my computer parts box and I began taking a mental inventory. Low-and-behold, I realized that I had enough parts to build another computer. Granted they're not state-of-the-art parts (they're approximately 3-4 years old). I also found that I had a lot of scrap polycarbonate and acryllic sheets in my garage. It's been a few months since my last computer build, so I decided I'd put together a legacy parts box and see what it can do.

Parts Used
  • ASUS P4V8X-X Motherboard
  • Intel Pentium 4 2.0 GHz 1MB L2 CPU
  • 768 MB PC133 SDRAM
  • Western Digital Caviar 80 GB IDE Hard Drive
  • Nvidia Geforce FX 5700 256 MB Video Card
  • Rosewill 450W ATX Power Supply
  • LG DVD-ROM Optical Drive
  • 2 Logisys 4" Green Cold Cathodes

Like I said, nothing extremely special compared to modern parts. But read on and be surprised!

The first thing I did was measure the scrap polycarbonate and figure out how much of a footprint I could have. I decided to make the case lay horizontal (just to be different, I guess.) After measuring the footprint, the next step was to lay out the parts and put in the standoffs.

Laying out the case
Putting in the mother board standoffs

I'll spare the boring details about cutting the sides out and such. I used a Dremel with a cut-off wheel to cut out the expansion slots on the back panel (which is 0.093" acryllic). The front panel is 0.125" polycarbonate. The remaining four sides are 0.5" thick polycarbonate. I wired a 12V automotive toggle switch (with a bright blue LED) to the cold cathodes' inverter to turn them on and off. The power button and reset switch are just standard momentary pushbutton switches (I've never found a really cool momentary switch...) Overall the dimensions of the case are 17" x 12" x 7.5" (43.4 cm x 30.5 cm x 19 cm).

The finished product looks great in the dark. The toggle switch shows up nicely even with the high intensity of the cold cathodes. If I were a little better at cable management, it would look stellar. I installed Ubuntu Edgy Eft as the OS and Beryl as the window manager. The box runs amazing on the older hardware. Beryl's effects (such as the flame effect and such) are smooth and blazing fast. The alpha effects and transparancy look pristine. The effects that the four-year old hardware render are AMAZING!!!

Lightbox in bright light
Lightbox in Low Light