Starting point:

Raidmax ATX-228S mini tower case

Honestly, I wish I had picked something made out of thicker material. Working with such thin sheeting proved to be a challenge. I had to change my design plans for attachment of the Hello Kitty on the side panel...will explain later.
First thing needing attention was to cover the existing vent holes. This will provide an adequate area for the Head. Venting will be provided at another location.

Coat of Bondo and some sanding...

Another application and more sanding. When it starts to look "smooth" apply a coat of primer. It will show all existing imperfections otherwise you may not be able to see. I think it took about 5 cycles between Bondo and primer before I was satisfied with the results.

Now we're getting closer to a smooth finish. Notice that during the sanding a lot of the existing paint came off. That's perfectly OK. Just use self-etching primer (or another good quality primer) when ready. The imperfections in the center are of no concern as these will be covered by the Head. It was a result of something I tried and it did not work as expected ;)

It's a good idea to provide some support in the back. Otherwise, your filler will just come through like cheese through a grader.
Ensure that you have proper support underneath before you start working on the panels. This becomes even more critical when these are made of thinner material. You do not want to warp these, trust me.

Ok, this looks rather good :) Now the surface is ready for attaching of the Head. (The next steps I ended up altering completely due to the difficulties in working with thin panels)

Making of the characters Using Super Sculpey, I formed the Head of the Kitty, a whole body for the other panel, and some additional characters for the front.

The Head! I used a template to cut out a shape which then I rolled flat on an upside down cookie sheet. I also used this sheet to bake the characters as per Super Sculpey instructions.

Badtz-Maru taking shape....

Ready for baking and sanding...

Badtz-Maru, Chococat, and Keroppi primed and ready for painting

Another Hello Kitty for the opposite panel

Some detail that will later help in painting

Big problems; design change...

I decided to bolt the Hello Kitty head to the panel. This way there's no way it can get "accidentally" knocked off. You know how kids are! ;) I was planning on finishing the joint around it with Bondo. But as hard I as tried, I kept on running into a nasty problem. See the 4th pic down:

Frankeinstein Hello Kity :)

Countersinking the holes. This will ensure that the screws can be covered over once the head is bolted on.

On the inside of the panel, smoothing some metal shards from drilling.

As you can see, my thin Bondo joint kept on cracking during sanding. There are two possible solutions to this, both a bit too late for me.

1. Use a thicker material PC case that does not flex (definitely too late now)
2. Use something like short fiber reinforced fiberglass filler by Everlast rather than Bondo. It will flex with the material rather than crack or chip (found out too late about it). This product is more expensive than Bondo, but if you are going to work with thin sheet metal or plastic, you really should consider it.

I decided to take the head off, and finish the panels independently w/o the characters. Both Hello Kitty and it's head will be completed separately and then either bolted or glued to the finished panel. Not sure yet which method will work best and not cause any damage to the finish. I'll have to look into this a bit more before deciding.

New Updates on next page... (click on Older Posts link)

Badtz-Maru getting fitted with a ON button and LEDs. I thought it would be appropriate to have such a mischievous character controlling the power to the PC :)

View from the back

This character will sit directly over the power switch, however, that created a problem - the original switch was now too deep to comfortably reach it. I decided to fabricate a button/tummy that now sit at the proper level. Just press his tummy to power up :)

Today's work - Chococat and Badtz-Maru

Chococat and Badtz-Maru

The hollowed eye sockets are for LEDs. Batz-Maru will be placed over the ON button. His white tummy will actually be the power button. I had to fabricate it since the actual button sits too deep inside the original casing. The eyes will become the power lights. Chococat is going to be connected to the hard drive LED plug on the motherboard. His eyes will light up amber (or green, haven't decided yet) when the drive is active. I also have fabricated Keroppi, the frog. His eyes will light up green when the DVD is in use. Keroppi is still being painted.

Keroppi almost completed. Just needs a clear-coat and LEDs.
Bezel Modifications

I used some simple designs that I found on the web. I then used a tracing paper to transfer outlines of the shapes onto the plastic bezel.

Traced outline of the flowers and hearts.

Since I did not have any air cooling, I turned the RPMs down in order to avoid getting the plastic melted around the burr.

Going shallow passes - one at a time...

Keeping the lines as close as possible to the original

Carefully progressing while avoiding overheating the plastic. You can ruin your entire design if a blob of melted plastic suddenly sticks to the burr and wipes a chunk out of the bezel.

Flower design

Rough cut-out. All of these were later smoothed out with a hand file

Another flower design

Closeup from the back. I had to take out some of the material, otherwise, the copper mesh would not follow the contours of a thicker material.

Bezel Modifications - Part 2

This is what the final design looks like. The copper mesh got munched a bit, but that's OK as all of these will come out for painting.

View from the inside of the bezel. The copper mesh is just hot-glued to the back.

Front view - with and without the mesh


This is where the extra pair of "hands" came in handy :) In this step, a resistor is being soldered to the LED in order to limit the voltage flow. Most common LEDs work with a max of 3V. The supplied 5V from the PC is way to much. Within few seconds the LED would smoke and melt. Done that too.

Attaching wires...

Heat-shrinking all bare wires in order to avoid short circuit once installed in the metal case. Not sure why I did not have the revelation at that time, but green heat-shrink just does not go with the Hello Kitty theme ;) If I have time, I may redo these...

Final assembly: spaced according to the holes in the case. I used solid core wire - that's why the whole thing stands vertically like this. Now, if it only was red/pink and white, with no black or green... ;)

Lights installation and testing

Drilling holes using the stepping drill bit.

LED fitted inside a plastic LED holder. This helps in keeping the LEDs firmly attached to the case.

View of the assembly from the back

Quick test to ensure all LEDs are working
Due to ambient lighting the LEDs seem a bit on the purple side.

Test with the bezel in place. Notice - the buttons module is now flipped upside down. The large power button is where Badtz-Maru will be placed. I have omitted one LED over the lower flower, the one between two hearts on the left. A defuser will be placed over the two LEDs, which will ensure even illumination.

White components

Front Bezel components

Sanded and ready for painting...

Prior to priming, the plastic pieces were coated with paint adhesive. It's a product that will prevent the paint from chipping off the flexible pieces.

Drive bay blanks and USB lid.

Front bezel painted with two coats of paint. The picture was taken at sunset, so the color looks a bit darker than what it really is.

Today (9/17/09) I finished painting all of the pink components and applied the perl/gold layer. It looks great, but it was too dark to take any pictures.