After purchasing an Antec 300 Case I just needed to do something with it. So I decided to install a window and some handles to add a little awesomeness to my tower. (This is my first PC build BTW)
Window/Door edge trim or "U channel": Available at autozone or mcpctech.com
Scotch heavy duty mounting tape: Available at most hardware stores and mnpctech.com
Painters tape: Available at any hardware store.
Acrylic sheet: I had an orange sheet laying around, but you can find some at most hardware stores
Two small cabinet handles: I got mine at Lowes, you can get them anywhere
Four Washers that fit with the screws that come with your handles: I had some laying around but I bet you can guess where to find some.
A PC Case you are willing to cut up and drill through: I used an Antec 300 although any case will work fine
*optional* Some case lights: I picked up a green LED case light from microcenter with the Antec 300
-Time and Patients-
Paper: for making a template for your window
Cardboard: for making a template for the handles
Pencil/pen: for marking and creating you templates
Ruler or Straight Edge: For measuring and making straight lines
Scissors: for cutting out your templates
Knife: for cutting off any excess tape for the window
Dremel: for making the starting cut for the window (you can use a large drill bit if you do not have a dremel)
Jigsaw: for cutting the window and acrylic.
Metal cutting Jigsaw blade: It's best to use a blade ment for the desired project. (A metal blade will generally cut acrylic fine as well. We want the finest blade possible.)
Drill: for drilling the holes for the handles
Drill bits: We need one small bit for the pilot holes and one bit the same size or slightly larger than the screw
Screw Driver: for attaching the handle to the case
Various Clamps: for clamping the acrylic to the "work station"
Suitable Workspace: My workspace was outside, I used a couple saw horses and a sheet of plywood to serve as a table to cut the window and the acrylic.
*Optional* air duster and Goo-Gone:
Step 1: Make Your Templates
The first thing to do is decide what kind of a window you want on your case. A quick Google Image search will show you that there are many different kind of window designs. I wanted a small simple looking window to place in the back of the case that gives you a clear view of the motherboard. I wanted curved corners so I took out a pice of paper and used the painters tape to make even round corners on the paper. After that, I cut out the corners and was left with a perfect template for my case window.
The next thing to do is make a template for the handles. This is a bit more difficult and depending on the handles you pick, the template will need to be constructed a bit differently.
To start, take a thin sheet of cardboard and cut it so that it fits on top of your case. Then measure the width of the case. (mine was about 20 cm) You want to inspect the inside of your case and find the best place for your handles. Make sure there are no parts that will block access to the handle installation. If you only want one handle, make sure it is placed in a spot where the case is balanced with all the components installed.
Once the cardboard is cut, measure the distance from the back where you want the handle to be. (I chose 2 cm) Then use a ruler (straight edge) and draw a line from that point vertically to the top and bottom endges of the template. This will give you a straight line to place the hole marks. Now measure out the width of the case on the template and mark the template appropriately. Now find the middle of the case width and mark that on the line drawn for the handles. Now measure the length of your handle from the middle of the screw holes. Divide that number by two, and then take that number and measure out from the middle mark on the line. Make a dot with a pen/marker. This should center your handle and space it properly for the screws. Lay the handle next to the dots and make sure they line up. Now take a push-pin and punch a hole through the dots. Now take a small philips screwdriver and make that hole larger. Keep increasing the size of the whole until it fits the handle's screws. Now insert the screws and attach the handle to make sure it fits properly. Your template is complete!
Now take everything out of the case. I recommend either removing or covering any fans. The metal particles from drilling holes can destroy any of your PC components.
Step 2: Prepare Your Window
Now that the window template is finished it's time to put figure out where it is going to go on the panel.
Remove the side panel from your case and set it on the floor or on a desk.
Lay the template on the panel and measure the distances from the back, top, and bottom of the panel. This will help you arrange it later. Now cover the panel in painters tape, this will prevent any of the paint to chip off and the panel to get scratched while cutting out the window. The painters tape also gives us a surface to trace out our template onto the panel with your marker of choice.
Once the panel is covered with tape, place some tape loops on the template and stick it on to the panel in the desired spot.
My window is 5 cm from the back, and 7.25 cm from the top and bottom. This gives me a view of the motherboard without any nasty cables or dive bays in the way.
Step 3: Cut Out Your Window
Once the template is drawn on the window, it's time to cut it out. The easiest way to do this is using a jigsaw. Although you can cut out a window using a dremel and a carbon fiber cut-off disk, It will take much longer and you are more likely to cut off of your line.
Find a suitable workstation and get your hands on a cardboard box slightly smaller than your panel. Then place the panel on top of the box (open the box) and test to make sure the panel will be stable. I find this to be the easiest way to cut out the window, as the box will support the panel from all edges, while giving us an open area to cut out the window. (Pro tip: put something inside the box that will support the window while cutting.)
Now it's time to take out your trusty dremel and start the cut. I recommend using a carbon fiber cut-off disk, but I believe any cut-off disk could work for this trick. Using the dremel cut a a small slot along your line, this will give us a place to put the jigsaw and begin cutting, If you do not own a dremel, I recommend getting one, but in the mean time, you can use a drill with a large bit and drill a hole somewhere along the line (on a curve perhaps) to get you started, (Pro tip: if you don't want any curved corners, make sure to make a starting slot at each side of your window first.)
After the starting slot is cut, take your jigsaw and put in a metal cutting blade. (the finest (smallest) teeth blade) and begin cutting out the window making sure to follow your line. Be carful when cutting out any curves or turns, be patient and in a few minutes your window will fall out perfectly.
Once the window is cut, take a minute to admire your work and before you take off the tape, file down those sharp edges with either a dremel and grinding/sanding bit, or a metal handfile. Now it's time to peel off the tape and marvel at your own skills.
Step 4: Cut Out Your Acrylic
I recommend buying a small sheet of acrylic that is already the right size, but since I had a giant sheet in my garage, I decided to cut off a small piece my self. To make sure you are getting the right size, take your window template and set it on top of the acrylic sheet (or another cardboard sheet to make a acrylic template) and measure out about 1-2 cm on each side. Make sure to look at your case and determine if there is anything that would prevent your panel from fitting back on with acrylic stuck on the back. In my case, I had a fan, that prohibited my from placing my acrylic sheet less than 4 cm from the back of the case. In the end, my acrylic sheet was a bit short, but it worked.
Now that you have the size measured out correctly, use a straight edge and draw out the acrylic window on the big sheet. After that, clamp done the acrylic as much as possible to the work surface and take your jigsaw (with the finest blade you can find (metal cutting blade works)) and begin the two )or more) cuts necessary. It does not take long, but be carful not to shatter the acrylic while cutting.
After the acrylic has been cut, take a cloth and or air duster and get all the little plastic shaving bits off the acrylic. Now clean up your work area and get ready to finish up the window.
Step 5: Making Your Window
Now comes the hard part. Take the U channel (edge trim) and begin slotting it into the edge around the panel. This can be difficult depending on the trim you buy. Be patient and eventually you will get it in.
Once you finish applying the U channel, cut the excess U channel off, and join the two ends together. Glue is not necessary, but depending on the type of U channel you used, it might be. (use superglue)
Now peal off the paper on the acrylic and if necessary use Goo-Gone to remove any stickiness left over. Place the acrylic on the inside of the panel and check to see if it fits correctly. Use a pencil and mark out along the corners or endges where the mounting tape will go.
After that, depending on the U channel, you may need two layers of tape, I did, so all you do is cut the mounting tape and stick it on to where you marked, staking the tape as needed. now peal off the backing and lay the acrylic over the window fitting it against the mounting tape. Press hard against the tape and make sure the acrylic is stuck firmly in place.
Using a knife to cut off any excess tape from the window, after that your done!
Step 6: Prepare the Top of the Case
Just like before with the panel. cover the top of the case with painters tape. Using your template, mark the holes for the handel on the back first. Now take your handle and lay it next to the dots on the tape, do they line up? Yes? Great, now it's time to move on. No? Ok, place a small piece of tape over the dots and remake/retry the template.
If the back dots line up with the handle, All you have to do is slide the template up to the front, keeping it aligned with the case. Most cases have a plastic bezel on the front, so make sure to keep the template on the metal. Mark the dots again and test the handel. You should now have the appropriate marks and prepare to drill out the holes!
Step 7: Drill Your Handle Holes
Take a small pice of cardboard and fit it under the case top lined up with the holes, this should help prevent large amounts of metal particles to fall inside the case.
Start with a pilot hole. (a small hole drilled first before the main one) After the pilot hole is drilled, find a bit that is the same size as the screw (same diameter). Now use the drill and enlarge the hole to fit the screw. After that's done, remove the cardboard from under the case top and try to fit the screw through it. Does it fit? Yes? Great, now get ready to attach the handels. No? Ok use a bit slightly larger than the diameter of the screw and try again. **Avoid drilling through any wires that may still be in the case**
Step 8: Attach the Handles
Okay, your almost done, here is what you have to do to properly attach the handles to your case. First, take the screw and put it through a washer. The washer will help distribute the weight of the case when you lift it up. Then push the screw through one of the holes in the case. Now, screw it into the handle. Repeat until both handles are securely in place. (Pro tip: if the screws are loo long, thread them in to the handle and mark where they stick out. Use that measurement and cut off the screw with a dremel or heavy-duty pliers. File down the tip, and test the screw by threading it into the handle outside the case.)
***Use an air duster and spray the inside of the case to remove any metal particle!***
Step 9: Put the Case Back Together
Now it's time to reattach the side panel and make sure it fits. If it does, it is time to put back your computer components.
Step 10: Assemble Your PC and Admire Your Work
If you have reached this step it means you finished your case mod and rebuilt your machine. Now you get to admire your work and play some sweet games without having to worry about your motherboard disappearing from inside the case ever again. Feel free to post any suggestions, questions, and pictures of your case below.
(Pro tip: You can even make these mods for your friends and give them as "gifts".)