Computer Case Mod - Sonic The Hedgehog 3:

This is a work in progress and is being updated during construction. Sonic The Hedgehog 3 the computer case is being constructed for its debut at Digital Overload 2010. The original goal of the project was to create a large sonic statue with the computer inside of him. Because of problems with sizes of motherboards and weight issues because of the large amount of mass that would be in his head the design was altered. Sonic is still appearing but will be instead sitting on top of a ring box which will house the computer. The ring box is lit by EL wire and the Sonic is constructed from paper mache.

Thanks:

I'd like to say thank you to all of my helpers, Pat (construction assistance), my Mom (Sonic), my Dad (wood working tips), and my sister (paint). I would not have been able to construct the case in such a short period of time without you.

Construction:

The main box is made of wood. EL wire is used to light up the screen. Sonic is made of paper mache, coated in sandable primer and then painted. He is supported via a dowel rod attached to the case.

Water cooling:

PC water cooling is not easy as their are many pieces to consider. The best started guide I've used is featured at Xoxide.com. You will need to spend many hours researching parts before purchases. See my Sonic2 case for a better how-to guide. The CPU is only cooled in this unit for now. The case was originally assembled using the stock air coolers and water cooling was installed after pressure testing the system. The initial test of the system leaked from moving the gear in the testing box.

Lighting:

The computer is lit only by lights on the motherboard. The case is lit using Yellow EL Wire from ELWireOnline.com. The Yellow EL wire outlines the monitor and is sewn in a circle to make a ring for the front. Many of the EL wire tutorials show the connections to the angel wires being made using copper tape. I struggled to find it at first but was able to track it down at the local stained glass supply depot (Wagner stained glass in Allentown, PA). Do find some as it will make the job much easier and comes in a very large roll for around $6.

Case:

The case is constructed from wood. It was constructed in two sections a top and a bottom. The bottom holds the water pump, cd rom, hard disk and part of the radiator. The top holds the motherboard, power supply and wiring for the front EL lights. Construction of the main unit took about a week with 2-3 hours spent each night. Finishing touches such as paint, door creation, filling and sanding the wood took 2-3 additional weeks. The case is held together with glue, screws and finishing nails.

Swinging door:

From the start the goal was to have an opening door that had hidden hinges. I was not able to track down any hinges like this and so I decided to make my own. I found ceramic screw connectors that I used as dowels. I then drilled oversize holes into the top and bottom of the door and into the case. I lined them up by using a metal punch to leave indents of where to drill. The door was sanded smooth and a lock was installed. I used a simple metal bracket as a stop at the top of the door.

Templates

I wish all parts of the PC would come with mounting templates. The case build would have been much easier with them. I had the most trouble with the power supply and the radiator. They are odd shapes and the surfaces are not level. Simply tracing on a piece of paper over them does not work well. I highly recommend purchasing mounting brackets to use as templates. I did not do this and while the case came out okay, I think the lines on the back would be straighter had I purchased the templates.

Power switches

Power switch choices for computers online are rather slim. I'm not sure why other than to assume not many people construct their own cases. I lucked out in that I was able to use a vandal bulgin switch and have it match my case decently. Purchase the switch pre-wired, it will save you much time.

Paint

Painting the case was a multi step process. I first filled in the wood with Elmer's wood putty. After the putty dried the case was sanded with 400 grit sand paper. Gilden wood primer was rolled on in two coats and was sanded between with 400 grit sand paper. The primer ate up a lot of sand paper. Rustoleum Aluminum was used to roll the case (it matches the spray used for the CD rom). 3 coats of Rustoleum were used sanded with 400 on the first coat, 1000 grit on the second and none after the third. I used ultrasmooth foam rollers found at home depot and foam brushes to touch up. The CD rom was sprayed with Rustoleum Aluminum. To find a matching spray I had to match the last few digits of the model number from Rustoleum, the number on the front of the can is close, but the model number digits match. It was a guess, but it turns out that they match perfectly.

Sonic construction:

Sonic the Hedgehog is being modeled in paper mache. Balloons were used to model the feet, hands, body and head. Pipecleaners covered in paper were used for the legs, arms and spikes. Several coats were layered and then the pieces connected with masking tape which was then also covered in paper. The final structure is held together by a dowel running through the center of his body. The dowel has a hole in the bottom which sits on a dowl inserted into the top of the case.

Sonic Hat and Contest

Sonic and I traveled to Digital Overload 2010 in Providence, RI for a weekend LAN Party. Many pictures were taken and someone even made him a neat little hat. He was entered in the case mod competition but did not place as far as I know (we had to leave before the final ceremonies and videos show others with very nice cases accepting awards).

Final Thoughts

While Sonic is very fast, I do wish the case in general was a bit smaller. The ATX motherboard standard is really constraining though. Any decent motherboard is not mini-ATX so the case must accomodate it. My next goal is to build a few lamps and light posts from sonic to work towards a full Sonic themed room. I've happy with the overall outcome, but a little disappointed with the final finish on the case. It's unfortante that due to crappy working conditions and one of the parts suppliers taking extremely long to ship things (~2 months) that I had to rush the final finish a bit. It really does show because I'm overly anal about how it looks. My next case/project will be a large flying Robotnik in vehicle....

Parts:

  • Power switch, reset switch and LED harness
  • Black ICE GT Stealth X-Flow Radiator 1/4" fittings w/ 1/2" barb
  • Petras Tech Shop Pentosin Antifreeze/Dye
  • Petras Tech Shop Anti-fungal drops
  • Distilled water
  • SwiftTech T line fitting for 1/2" ID tubing
  • SwiftTechLine Plug/Fill port
  • tubing (Inner diameter should be big enough to fit over all fittings)
  • Plastic hose clamps for the proper outer diameter
  • Apogee GTZ and AM2/3 mounting Kit for waterblock
  • Swifttech MCP655 12VDC Pump
  • Swift tech Smart Coils 5/8" OD Anti Kink coils
  • Bulgin Power switch
  • 2 x 120MM fan grills
  • Brushed Aluminum case feet
  • Lian Li Removable Motherboard Tray
  • Artic Silver 5 Thermal Compound
  • Micro Reservoir
  • Lite ON DVD burner SATA
  • MSI 790FX-GD70 AM3 Motherboard
  • EVGA GeForce GTX260 Superclocked
  • OCZ GameXStream 850 watt ATX power supply
  • Corsair 8GB memory DDR3 1600
  • AMD Phenom x4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4ghz 125watt

Photos: