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    Adding A Custom Case Window
    Author: Mike Kitchenman
    Date Posted: March 29th, 2002
    Pages: 1 2 3 4
    >> Discuss This Article

    Recently I did a write up on a window kit available from FrozenCPU.com and showed one of the ways that a window is available from various net retailers. Well, Window kits are nice, but some people want to be a bit different, for that, you'd be one of the guys who wanted to install a custom window into your case. This isn't all that difficult a process for someone to go thru, and assuming you have any experience cutting metal with either a jigsaw or dremel, you won't have any trouble with doing this yourself the first time out!

    I'm gonna start out with the things you need to know and need to have before you trek out and decide to start doing this project. This is because the worst thing to do is to start a project then have to drop it when your halfway done because you didn't have the means, ability, or skill to handle it.

    Skills you need to have:

    1) Some creativity! While this may seem stupid, it really isn't. Most people who end up installing a window follow one of 3 designs. They're a square-ish design, a circle, or just as big a sheet of plastic as their side panel will take. There isn't any creativity there, so think outside the box a bit. I realize that not all designs can be unique, but don't add a circle, unless you really like them ;)

    2) Common sense. You're going to be cutting a large piece of metal with some pretty powerful hand tools. Don't be stupid. You can lose a finger, hand, or if you're REALLY slick (or unlucky) an eye or your life. The tools do a lot of the work themselves with little force form you behind it. Don't push it.

    3) Some Experience. Your computer case is likely an expensive (relatively, anyways) piece of metal to start your metal practicing on. If you haven't don't it before, when you're at the hardware store buy a sheet of 1/16" steel and practice on THAT before you screw up your 60-200$ case.

    Those will be the main skills you need to have to do this. There isn't really anything you need to know; other than (yes I'm repeating myself here) power tools can be dangerous. Don't be stupid.

    Hardware you need to have:

    1) Metal cutting tool. The most common tools for this are either a dremel with cutting discs or a jigsaw and drill combo. The jigsaw and drill would usually be a faster set to use for this, but it is much more difficult to do turns in a cut with it. The dremel would definitely go slower, but you have a lot more ability to be creative with a cut on it.

    2) Protection. Not to sound lame, but the Trojan man is right; protection is good. Eyeglasses of some form are a must here, no matter how you do it, you will have some metal flakes flying about, and if you're using the dremel, you may have cutting disc fragments flying about as well. Glasses will keep them out of your eyes, which you really want. The other thing that is pretty useful is a set of relatively tight work gloves. A set of gloves that conforms closely to your hands will give you a better feel for what you're working with, but will still cover your hands to keep metal splinters out of them.

    3) Two places to work. You really want 2 places to work on this kind of project, mainly because the plexiglass, lexan, acrylic, or whatever material you happen to be using as a window is generally pretty easy to scratch. You need someplace clean to work once you cut the window.

    That's about all you'll need to worry about for the basics of the window. If you cover those bases well enough, you've got the smarts and the tools to do the work. So, if you're brave enough, lets get into the window prep phases!

    For those of you with the skill and room for this, the next stop will be the hardware store, most likely. Here's what you're going to need to get, well, assuming you don't have them already. (Along with where I was getting the parts from, you can use that as you would.)

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