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Modding & Electronics

From OCAU Wiki

Note: This is an amalgation of the OCAU Modding & Electronics Forum Stickies. and SteakTheMooCow's Modification wiki page.


Modification - Introduction

Modification of computers started when a simple case or component did not look or do what the end-user required. Often linked with air-cooling, modification, also known as and fondly called "modding" has become a vital part to many air-cooler's tactics. Modding brought the ability to modify the case to the needs of the user, to add, or remove hard drive bays, fans, grills, slots for Optical drives, floppy drives and various other things. It has allowed for creative minds to add and remove things to cases. For examples of modification, see the Modification section of the OCAU forum.


While it is true, that electronics can be involved in computer modding (ie Fan Controllers, shutdown fan timers, etc). Electronics goes beyond the scale of the aforementioned computer modification. One can even develop their own electronic devices, based on their expertise on the subject.

Major custom electronics projects that are popular on ocau include:

  • Amplifers (headphone, stereo and home cinema amplifiers)

This can be a great way to start in electronics, if you only have basic knowledge. You could build from a kit, or from plans found on many websites, from there, you can perform your own modifications. Amplifiers are a common project, as part of the Electronics Trade Certificate 3 Course in NSW TAFE.

Some amplifiers are VERY simple to make, with devices called "Op Amps", or "Operational amplifiers". These are simple integrated circuits, which, with a few extra components, will amplify a signal such as sound, video, or other signals.

  • Microcontroller Projects

Microcontrollers, are great pieces of equipment, where a chip's functions can be controlled by programming that is uploaded from a PC. Some can also be considered as a "Computer on a chip", because some chips have all the essential devices, such as a CPU, RAM and Storage to name a few, all on the same chip!

Forum Member Bradrogers is beginning with Microcontrollers such as PIC micros, and has a beginners insight guide on this Wiki under this link: Brad_Pic.


See "Case Modding Tools" section for case modding specific safety advice.

Case Modding Tools

SAFETY FIRST -despite being a fun and productive hobby, case modding has various degrees of dangers associated it, and must be understood and dealt with accordingly:

  • ALWAYS wear safety glasses/goggles when using any tools that may release/shoot shrapnel into your eyes (ESPECIALLY when using rotary tools).
  • Wear ear-muffs when doing any cutting etc that is noisy. Exposure to loud noise can permanently damage hearing, cause tinnitus and more.
  • ALWAYS paint and cut plastics in a well-ventilated workspace, and if doing large amounts of painting/plastic cutting, wear an appropriate mask/respirator. Fumes are carcinogenic (cancerous!) and generally not good for you, so wear a mask!
  • If dealing with electricity, cables etc, make sure you 100% know what you are doing and dealing with. DO NOT modify or interfere with 240v.

-If in doubt, ASK first in the appropriate forum or consult a trained professional.

  • The most commonly used, and revered, tool is the Dremel. The Dremel is simply a rotary tool. While there are various other versions (Ozito, Black and Decker etc.) of the tool, but they have all taken on the alias of "Dremel" The rotary tool is a multipurpose tool with a spinning action similar to a drill. It can be used to cut holes, grind, sand, buff, polish and engrave/etch. This swiss-army knife of tools is used by most modders avidly. Reinforced cutting disks are suggested for all cutting tasks as they last a lot longer. Dremel compatible cutting disks can be bought on eBay for prices much lower than general hardware stores.
  • The Jigsaw is another of the common tools. Used on larger cuts than the dremel, it is usually used on a window.
  • The Drill - The drill is a common power tool owned by most households. Its use is simply to put holes in things. Keep in mind that a drill can have attachments such as Hole-saws, that allow 80mm, 92mm and 120mm holes to be put into a case in a single drilling action. They are also important to many modders.
  • The Nibbler - The nibbler is a tool that "nibbles" small chunks of metal away at a time. While it slowly wears out the user, it is useful for places where its not worth pulling out the dremel. There are also nibbler attachments available to use with electric drills for those larger jobs.
  • Hacksaw - For use when a jigsaw isn't worth getting out.
  • Masking Tape - This is VITAL if you are using any tools on a case. Unless you like a scratched up case, think about grabbing some tape. Use plenty of masking tape on any surface that will be cut in anyway, e.g. window mods etc.
  • Bondo and Hardener - Whatever you call it, bondo,bog,spak,filler etc, added with hardener can be used as a strong adhesive for filling large areas (although there should be mesh or some other material (perspex/plexiglass is often favoured) to be bound into place. It can also be used to modify the surface, shape and size of various parts of the case. An example of this is "blowhole" mods on cases, using a large amount of filler.
  • Hot Glue Gun and Glue - Used for seal areas where Bondo isn't used.
  • Araldite - For those bonds that need to stay together
  • 3M Heavy duty double sided adhesive tape part #4010 aka "The tape of Gods!" - This is extremely strong double sided "tape" of sorts that you can use to fix items to each other, but you can also remove the item with a sharp tool on a side angle. This is the preferred adhesive for many modders for case window mods. It costs around $11.50 at Bunnings and is normally found in the mounting section, along with adhesive wall hooks etc, NOT in the tape section. If you can't find it ask the front service desk and quote the part number. Part #4011 is a similar product for outdoor use and is weather resistant and a little more expensive.

Additional tools such as Pliers, Cable Ties, Electrical Tape, Soldering Iron, metal files, heat guns (for shrink wrapping and bending acrylic) and others are also used, but the basics above are what is used on a standard case mod.

A list of OCAU featured modifications can be found here.




Australian Modding Suppliers

  • Altronics- Very similar to Jaycar / Dick Smith / Tandy. Lots of electronic goodies. They also stock nuts and bolts, rubber gromets, and heaps more.
  • Aus PC Market - Extensive range of pretty much anything you can stick in a PC.
  • Below 0 (Zero) - Good array of Water Cooling, Air Cooling and some Vapochill products. Closed 2007
  • Bunnings - Modder's Paradise :)
  • Chilled PC - Lots of cooling goodies in here, especially water cooling stuff.
  • Cool PC - Specialise in mostly PC Cooling gear but stock some cool gadgets and some console equipment (XBox, PS2, Nintendo) :)
  • Custom Cases - A great supply of modding equipment. <--- Site has changed and isnt about computer modding at all
  • David And Karma's Pc Cooling Gear - Alot of cooling equipment for water cooling and air cooling, also a OCAU sponsor! Closed Dec 2006
  • Flabbergast - Provides everything you need to add water cooling to your setup! Closed Jan 2009?
  • GAM Mods - PC Modding Supplies and Watercooling components including the ThermoChill line of radiators.
  • IndustrialPlastics can get basically any colour plexi you require, and the beauty of their service is that they will cut to size, and you are only charged for what you need instead of buying a whole sheet.
  • Jaycar Electronics - Your new best friend... you can get pretty much anything relating to electronics here, just ask Defyant
  • KA Technologies - Exstensive array of modding equipment and general PC gear. <--- Site down
  • l33t Modders Site last up Aug 2006??
  • Lownoise PC - like the Link... they sell quiet cooling :) Site Down
  • Mainline Plastics - Perspex Supplier in Perth
  • Nintek Closed Jan 2008
  • PC Case Gear - Again an Extensive range of most computergear.
  • PC Cooling Australia - Great array of Watercooling Closed Dec 2006
  • Pluscorp - Great for anything PC related inculding Water Cooling & Air Cooling.
  • Radiical - some pretty cool Watercooling stuff including watercooling for HDD!!
  • Webber 4 Technologies - Good Supply of Hardware and if he hasn't got it he can usually get it in and for a great deal. Site Down - Last working Feb 2007

Non-Australian Modding Suppliers

Australian Electronics Suppliers


If you are looking for more specialised, harder to find components, there are a few distributors in Australia.

Warning: They many only ship to commercial entities or in large quantities.

Non-Australian Electronics Suppliers

PCB manufacturers

Semiconductor manufacturers

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