Being that I am a hardcore gamer, I often find myself involved in late-night gaming sessions and losing track of time. Almost always I game in my studio with the lights off and thus can't see the pendulum clock atop the hutch of my desk. My initial thought was to buy a digital LED clock and place it nearby, but then I thought, "why not make this another modding project and install the clock inside of my case?"
I decided to go with Timex Indiglo because the pale-blue LCD time display would compliment the custom blue paintjob of my case. Additionally, the Indiglo LCD display is "viewer-friendly" (large numbers, etc.) and with a mere glance I can easily see the time.
OK, here is the pre-Indiglo PC:
I had painted the case myself just days before. The topmost bay (AMD sticker) looks a little "plain", so that's where I set my sights on installing the Indigo.
Let's take a look inside the case:
I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough room for the Indiglo components, as the top bay space is already tight. (Note the clean wiring job and mirrored interior).
While I've got the case open, here are the system specs:
-Processor: AMD Athlon 1800xp
-Motherboard: Asus A7V266-E
-RAM: 512 meg PC2100 DDR
-Graphics: PNY GeForce4 Ti4600
-Monitor: Cornerstone p1600 21-inch CRT
-Sound: Hercules GameTheaterXP
-Speakers: Klipsch ProMedia 4.1
-Power: Antec 400watt PS
-various other upgrades/mods (blowhole, cold cathodes, dust filters, CPU led fan, etc.)
Now let's check out the Timex Indiglo Alarm Clock:
This picture was actually taken after I had already started dismantling pieces off of the PCB, but the picture on the box shows what the clock originally looked like.
My primary goal during this "surgery" was to trim away everything possible and still have the clock operate. For example, I knew I didn't want to actually use the radio feature, so I stripped it off of the PCB. I also stripped off the tuning dial, clipped the internal speaker, etc., but after each "strip", I plugged the clock back in to make sure it was still functioning. I'm a Systems Engineer, not an Electrical Engineer, so my knowledge of what I could remove without damaging the clock was very limited. Luckily, the thing still worked after I had removed everything and basically had a barebones Indiglo LED plate with a stripped-down PCB.
Here is the final product before installation:
As far as cutting the faceplate and drilling the button holes, it just took some common sense (using the original Timex faceplate as a template), a lot of patience, and a very steady hand with the Dremel. The plastic tends to sort of melt away instead of just cut, so I made sure to cut within my lines and just burr away the excess plastic globs (again, using the Dremel).
I had wanted to assemble a chassis upon which everything could be mounted, but the ribbon cables connecting the faceplate to the PCB didn't allow me enough space to twist it around to attach onto the PCB. I even considered lengthening the ribbon cable myself, but as I said, I'm not an Electrical Engineer and didn't want to ruin this project after already having completed so much (and cutting ribbon cable, only to solder the cables back individually, seemed very meticulous).
I decided to just slide it into the empty bay and let the PCB and power supply rest atop the optical drive below it:
Yeah, it does look sort of sloppy, but once inside, the wire mess is unnoticeable. Recall that I was very limited on space. I therefore resulted to using the Dremel to trim off pieces of the PCB and LED plate so it would seat nicely within the confines of 5.25 inches. I was very careful not to accidentally hit any traces while cutting!
Another concern I had was how to power the thing? I wanted to be able to jump power from my Antec PS, but this is DC current. The Indiglo power is AC, so using the Antec power involves converting the current and transforming the load (Indiglo uses 15watts I believe), not to mention modding the Antec such that the clock would continue to receive current even when the PC is powered down. Things can get complicated here, so I chose to not explore the current conversion.
After probing around, I decided to just run the original power cable from the Indiglo through my case and out the back. Drilling a hole for this didn't seem to be a good idea since the hole needs to be large enough for the Indiglo plug, while the actual power cord itself would be much smaller. I didn't want to bother with filling in the excess space with putty, nor did I want to remove the plug and re-attach it (via soldering iron) once I pushed the power cable through.
So here is what I decided on:
I loosened the Antec screws just enough to slide the plug and power cable around the side of it, then tightened it back up. Sure, I could have done something more creative, but no one really sees the back of my case so I wasn't too concerned.