Getting started

This whole project started when I accidentally got a leftover Core i7 CPU in my hands and I decided to build a new case mod. Finding an interesting case for basis of this project took forever. Finally I stumbled upon the new C70 Vengeance case from Corsair. The C70 looked amazing and so I went for all-out military theme and more precisely for air force inspired looks.

Some of the parts and tools used in building of the case.

Harvesting parts from here, there and everywhere

Gathering the parts was done piece by piece during the summer. The plan was to make a medium spec desktop machine, good enough for some random gaming. The biggest issue was that the CPU I had was using the old LGA 1156 socket and finding a decent motherboard turned out to be a mess. After several weeks of hunting I found an unused Gigabyte P55A board from a private seller and the deal was sealed. It had USB 3.0 and 6GB SATA 3, which were my minimum requirements. The actual modding materials are not listed here, feel free to send any detailed part inquiries or tips to admin(at)jlmods.com.

Component list:

  • Chassis: Corsair Vengeance C70
  • MB: Gigabyte P55A-UD3
  • CPU: Intel Core i7 860
  • GFX: EVGA Geforce 560gtx
  • Mem: Corsair Vengeance 16gb kit 1600MHz 9-9-9-2
  • SSD: OCZ Vertex 3 120bg
  • Cooler: Antec Kuhler H2O 920
  • PSU: SilverStone Strider Plus 600w Full Modular
  • Fans: 5 x Silverstone Air Penetrator 121 Blue

Stripping the case and fitting in some parts to start with.

Let the modding begin

The Gigabyte mainboard had a blue PCB colour and so it became the leading colour choice for all of the interior parts. Almost every wire and hose was custom wrapped with a UV blue sleeving and sealed with an automotive tubing. Also some effort was spend to make the wirings look tidy this time... The Air Penetrator fans were left in their original shape for now. While being a bit expensive the AP fans seem to perform nicely and the LED effect is cool in comparison to traditional LED fans.

The second main choice was to take carbon fibre vinyl in use where possible. I really love the 3M DI-NOC vinyl and this was the first time I got to use it in a case project. It's like some kind of freaking sci-fi material which can be bend, mangled or abused and it still retains its original form. Okay, it doesn't really look like a real carbon fibre from close-up but applying a varnish coating might fix that. Have to test it at some point. The CPU cooler, the PSU and the GFX card received their own carbon layers and it was also used in some misc. parts like the front panel and the window side strips. In theory it might not be a good idea to wrap the sides of the radiator but in my tests the CPU was running very cool under heavy load and didn't seem to be bothered much about the wrapping.

All of the components fitted in and cables wrapped.

Fighter jet style switches and more carbon vinyl...

To complete the air force theme we had to have fighter jet style switches implemented. The switches had quite sturdy mechanism and reinforced plate was needed to prevent the bay cover from bending. It was a slight mistake to try to wrap also the switches and I am not completely happy with the result. Problem was how to apply the vinyl neatly in every small curve and detail of the switches. Might have to redo them later but they will do for now. At least the wrapping makes them fit better into the front panel. The C70 also has some pre-modded stuff like the awesome lid covered reset switch.

If you didn't guess already, the switches were connected to control all lighting of the case and every switch has also an indicator LED attached. These indicator LEDs were some leftovers I had and actually meant for lighting up a car dashboard so they are quite bright at 12V. The whole front panel area for 5.25" slots was wrapped into one unified layer, makes the front look more serene and who needs an optical drive anyway. Wirings behind the front panel ended up looking a bit chaotic and they needed to be sorted out. The solution was to bend a cover plate from aluminum sheet and to fit in the theme it was covered with DI-NOC.

Assembling the front panel and the fighter jet switches.

Dude, where is the emblem?

Other side of the case looked pretty dull without any modifications, so it was a natural place to fit in the emblem of the Fighter Squadron 21. I made a stencil from clear plastic and painted the grey base colour with a camouflage spray paint. Due to the simple design of the emblem it was pretty easy to hand paint the rest of the stuff. I happen to have tons of miniature paints laying around so I picked matching hues from GW's Citadel series (chaos black, skull white and enchanted blue). Colours in the images seem lighter than in real-life because of the lighting conditions and my poor camera equipment. Btw, it is not an eagle, it is the famous osprey of the Fighter Squadron 21!

The C70 has quite good options for cable management and routing the cables on the backside was almost effortless. Only the sheer number of wires for the lights caused some headache, but in the end the result was ok and the side panel was able to close without any problems.

Side panels ready, still tempted to swap the original window with flat and more tinted one.

Firing up the formation lights

The lighting was designed to have two mood settings: full on blue LEDs and UV cathodes. This was also the first time I used LED strips for illuminating a case. BitFenix has some impressive products in their Alchemy line which are finally outperforming traditional cold cathode tubes (review incoming later). Two 60cm blue LED strips were chosen as the main lights and they were more than able to produce smooth and strong lighting.

Be gone clumsy and fragile cathodes, LED strips are taking over the scene.

Using some UV lights was kind of mandatory because of the chosen cable wrapping. A set of four 30cm cathodes with dual inverters were slapped in (too bad the Alchemy series didn't have UV LEDs yet). However, I was quite happy how these played out, they really bring out some details inside the case. Strangely enough the wider cable wrappings didn't react to UV light very well but the smaller ones were extremely bright. The UV's can also be used in parallel mode with the blue LEDs.

The UV lights in action.

Gentlemen, you may connect the ground power

Overall the final result was quite nice and represents well the original idea. Also the chosen theme was too delicious to leave the modding only to the case. Of course, every military grade rig must have a backup power supply available! Remember to check out the related ammo case PSU mod.

Final shots in different lighting conditions with some additional gear.