Modding & Electronics
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.
- To all people thinking of playing with 240V
- Where to get help with electrical safety
- Information about electric shocks
Case Modding Tools
- 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.
- 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.
- Bondo and Hardener - The Bondo and 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.
- Hot Glue Gun and Glue - Used for seal areas where Bondo isn't used.
- Araldite - For those bonds that need to stay together
Additional tools such as Pliers, Cable Ties, Electrical Tape, Soldering Iron 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
- Lownoise PC - like the Link... they sell quiet cooling :)
- Mainline Plastics - Perspex Supplier in Perth
NintekClosed Jan 2008
- PC Case Gear - Again an Extensive range of most computergear.
PC Cooling Australia - Great array of WatercoolingClosed 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.
Non-Australian Modding Suppliers
- Alpha Cool
- Danger Den - Great array of waterblocks and other watercooling equipment.
- CPU - Although not in Australia a great array of cooling gear some of which is not available from our stores but can still be ordered!
Australian Electronics Suppliers
Note: "It is easy (to find Farnell components) just look on Newark InOne find the part you require, we will advise the AU price. We do require a hard copy of the order with the $30.00 delivery charge but if the parts are in stock it is 3 to 5 working days delivery. If you have an account or a credit card either is accepted."
- Futurlec Australia - shipping is cheap, but can take a while as I think it comes from Thailand.
- JED Microprocessors
- MicroGram Computer
- Oatley Electronics
- Primer Electronics
- Radio Parts Online
- Rockby Electronic Components
- RS Components
- WES Components
- Worldwide Electronic Components - located in Bentley (Perth), and open from 7am to 3pm weekdays. Has a much wider range of electronic bits than Jaycar/Altronics, (cheaper than them for most stuff too), and can do BIOS/microcontroller flashing as well.
- X-On Electronics
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.
- Adilam Electronics - Line Card
- Arrow Asia - Line Card
- AvNet (formely Memec/Insight) - Line Card
- Braemac - Line Card
- Richardson Electronics - Line Card
- SoanarPlus - Line Card
Non-Australian Electronics Suppliers
- Digi-Key.com - probably the biggest distributor in the US
- Elane Electronics - Load Cells
- Michael Percy Audio - diy audio
- Mouser Electronics- has alternative parts to digikey, great range
- Newark InOne - part of the Farnell network, not very easy to deal with in Australia
- parts conneXion - biggest range of diy hifi audio electronics
- Parts Express - diy audio
- Sure Electronics - Good Range, Nice LCDs, fairly cheap
- Spark Fun Electronics - Good range of random electronics
- Tang Hill Ltd Audio - diy audio electronics from taiwan, very good range
- Analog Devices - analog audio and video, switches, opamps, etc.
- Atmel - microcontrollers
- Cirrus Logic - audio codec's
- Fairchild Corp
- Maxim - power, audio, video, microcontrollers,
- Microchip Technology - microcontrollers & eeprom
- National Semiconductor - power, audio, video,
- ON Semiconducter - fets and transistors
- STMicroelectronics - fets and transistors
- TI Semiconductors - power, audio, video, microcontrollers, opamps, dsp