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Project: Open Box—Install a Window in Your Computer Case

One of the quickest and easiest modifications you can make to your computer case is to install a window. The window can be a simple shape, or you can go nuts and cut complex designs in the case.

Let's get to the tools you'll need:

  • Drill

  • Jigsaw, Dremel, or nibbler

  • Utility knife

  • Metal file

  • Masking tape

You'll also need the window supplies:

  • Acrylic or Lexan sheeting (1/8-inch thickness) can be purchased at most local hardware stores. I purchased mine at Home Depot (30 inches by 40 inches for $20; this will easily do multiple windows).

  • You can also buy ready-made kits from suppliers such as PC Modifications or Xoxide.com. Most of these kits are less than $20.

  • If you're creating your own design, you might need some sort of molding. I used DIY molding, which I purchased from PC Modifications. You can also use small colored hose cut lengthwise. It will fit snugly on the panel. Use silicon glue to glue it into place. In this type of application, you might want to glue the window on as well.

It's important to take the proper safety measures when handling power tools, so be sure to use goggles and ear protection. If you've never used these tools before, enlist the assistance of an experienced person. Improper handling and misuse of tools can result in serious injury.

Create the Window

The first step in designing your window is to sketch out what you want. I like to keep a notebook with all my ideas so I can refer to them when I need to.

Once you've figured out what you like, it's time for some handiwork. Put on your protective gear and get to work.

  1. Use masking tape and lay out the design on the case to make sure your sketch will work. See Figure 3.12.

  2. Figure 3.12Figure 3.12 Lay out the design.

  3. Mark the cut lines on the masking tape. I also like to use more tape to protect the surrounding areas of the case.

  4. Drill a pilot hole for the jigsaw/nibbler, so that you have an edge in the middle of your panel from which you can start cutting. See Figure 3.13.

  5. Figure 3.13Figure 3.13 Drill the pilot hole.

  6. Cut out the hole. When using power tools, always use eye and ear protection.

  7. Use the file to remove any burs and also to remove any high spots or uneven cuts. See Figure 3.14.

  8. Figure 3.14Figure 3.14 Make your edges nice and smooth.

  9. Once the case has been cut, use the holes to mark the acrylic, as shown in Figure 3.15. The molding I used requires a gap. The molding comes with a washer to be used as a spacer for tracing the pattern on the window to be cut.

  10. Figure 3.15Figure 3.15 Mark the acrylic.

  11. Cut your molding to fit the window.

  12. Install the window. The molding holds the window in place. See Figure 3.16.

  13. Figure 3.16Figure 3.16 The molding holds the window in place.

  14. If you do not use this type of molding, you have a couple of options for fastening the window to the case. You could glue it in place. If so, allow extra material that will not be seen from the outside for the glue to be applied to. You could also use bolts or rivets. I personally prefer to use glue unless the bolts are part of the exterior visual design of the mod.

  15. Sit back and enjoy. See Figure 3.17.

Figure 3.17Figure 3.17 This mod combined painting and windows for a unique look.

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