At this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, iBuyPower showed off a phenomenal case mod inspired by Star Wars: The Old Republic. We were definitely impressed, and iBuyPower sent us hundreds of megabytes of high-resolution images capturing the build. Join us as we go from raw sketches to trade show floor stunner.
The Inspiration: Corellian Defender
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The inspiration for this case mod was the Corellian Defender-Class Light Corvette from Star Wars: The Old Republic. Here's an in-game screen shot.
The Inspiration: Corellian Defender Artist Rendering
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Here is an artist rendering of the Corellian Defender-Class Light Corvette from Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Canvas: The NZXT Phantom 410
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The popular NZXT Phantom 410 served as the canvas for the Defender-Class case mod.
The Design: Initial Sketches
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This is one of the initial design sketches of the Defender 410 case mod.
Material Testing: Etching And Paint
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In order to test the design scheme on actual material, the Corellian hull pattern was laser-etched into a scrap piece of acrylic. The red, white, and black color scheme was then applied to the etched acrylic. Silver accents and weathering details complete the color scheme to create an authentic Star Wars look.
Defender 410: Front Panel
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This build has four major areas of work: the front panel, rear fan, top panel, and side panels. Let's first take a look at how the front panel came together.
Front Panel: Stencil And Layout
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A stencil of the Old Republic insignia was applied to the front of the case for sizing before actually laser-cutting the front panel.
Front Panel: Engraving And Paint
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Satisfied with the placement of the Old Republic insignia, the front panel was removed for laser engraving before getting a coat of primer. After the primer dried, it was taped off to receive the red base coat and then taped again for the white highlights. At this point, the Old Republic color scheme really pulls together, with white highlights standing out against the red and black.
Front Panel: Side Lighting Inserts
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Opaque plastic inserts are glued inside oblong cut-outs that were made along both sides of the front panel.
Front Panel: Old Republic Insignia
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From pattern to acrylic reality. Two of these clear acrylic pieces are glued together for reinforcement. A coat of red paint is applied to the outer piece of acrylic, while the inner side is left clear to capture more light from the LEDs.
Cleaning The Laser Engraving Lens
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All this laser engraving generates a ton of smoke and plastic debris, which wreaks havoc on the lens. It became necessary to clean the lens after cutting each part.
Front Panel: Installing The Insignia
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The finished insignia acrylic is attached to the front panel, with the Old Republic insignia directly over the mesh of front case fan. Four blue LEDs are attached inside the front mesh grille to light the insignia.
Front Panel: Upper Lighting Armor Plating
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“Armor plates” were added to either side of the upper lighting cut-out. The armor was created from black craft foam and styrene sheets, painted red to match the base coat.
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A breadboard was used to quickly arrange and test timing circuit configurations for the custom LED lighting.
Front Panel: Blue LEDs And Wiring
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A timing circuit chase controller is added in order to make the LEDs blink. Here is what the front panel looks like with all the blue LEDs lit up.
Front Panel: Optical Bay Door
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The outer section of the optical bay door was removed so the iBuyPower logo could be lasered out of it. A layer of opaque acrylic was added behind the logo. Reflective tape was applied to the inner section of the optical bay door in order to diffuse and equally spread the LED light across the entire logo.
Completed Front Panel
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With all of the cut-outs finished, paint job complete, LEDs in place, and wiring intact, here is the front panel with functioning alternating lights.
Defender 410: Rear Fan
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One of the most ambitious facets of this case mod is the large engine over the rear exhaust fan.
Rear Fan: Frame And Light Ring
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Up top, we see the blueprints of the rings that make up the conical structure of the engine's frame, next to the actual machined parts. Below are the blueprints and final parts of a large clear ring of acrylic, which will serve to light up the engine.
Rear Fan: Accommodating The I/O Panel
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A vertical slice was made down the side of the rings due to the position of the I/O panel. Here we see the rings come together to create the conical frame.
Rear Fan: Light Ring Plus Frame
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The clear acrylic light ring is attached to the already-assembled frame rings.
Rear Fan: Shell And Primer
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Thin plastic strips are used to create the outer shell of the engine, and all exposed surfaces receive a coat of primer.
Rear Fan: Light Ring Wiring Test
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The light ring is wired and tested before affixing it to the outer shell.
Rear Fan: Assembly And Shell Paint
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The light ring/frame is added to the outer shell, which was taped off to receive strips of red and white paint.
Rear Fan: Additional Plating
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Additional engine ring plating was created in order to cover up bright spots of leaking LED light. We see the additional plates go from diagram to cut, primed pieces.
Rear Fan: Plating And Center Cone
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The additional plating is added to the shell, and a center cone is created out of clear acrylic triangles.
Rear Fan: Finishing Touches
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In order to recreate that whitish-blue hue iconic to Star Wars ship engines, blue LEDs were added to a white LED case fan. With all the pieces painted and assembled, the engine is attached to the fan, completing the rear fan/engine assembly.
Defender 410: Top Panel
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Requiring more than 120 individual cut-outs and controllable lighting, the top of the Defender 410 is perhaps the most complicated aspect of the build.
Top Panel: Cardbord Mock-Ups
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Before any cutting began, a cardboard mock-up was used to get an idea of the overall structure.
Top Panel: Framing The Dome
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Multiple acrylic pieces were used to create the frame of the top dome.
Top Panel: Dome Layout
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Lining up the frame of the dome to make sure it fits properly over the top fan grille.
Top Panel: Dome Rails And Braces
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The rails are added to the dome and the entire top frame begins to take shape. Support braces were also added, connecting the two sides of the frame for more structural integrity.
Top Panel: Side Skirts
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More acrylic is cut for the lower side skirts of the dome. The skirt pieces first receive a coat of primer, then a coat of red paint. The skirt is then assembled and glued to the bottom of the dome.
Top Panel: Window Modules
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The next step is to create lighted "window" modules for the dome. You can see the individual pieces next to a complete, but unpainted dome. Below that are the painted pieces of a single window module next to a competed module. Eight of these are needed to finish the dome.
Top Panel: Chasing Lights And Wiring
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Above, small holes are drilled on both sides of the top panel and then fitted with opaque plastic bits to become chasing lights. Below that, we see the process of wiring the chase lighting and installing the controller board.
Top Panel: Progress And Another Mock-Up
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This is what the top panel looks like so far, fitted with chasing lights, the dome, window modules, rails, and some wiring. Below that, a mock-up of the finished top panel is made by adding paper to the existing structure.
Top Panel: Extending The Structure
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Using the paper mock-ups as a template, more plastic is cut and added to the frame rails, fleshing out the entire structure.
Top Panel: Lighting Switches
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Switches are mounted to either side of the top assembly. One is the master on/off switch for all the case lighting, while the other controls the flicker of the LEDs.
Top Panel: Assembly
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The top panel is fully assembled and ready for final wiring and paint.
Top Panel: Paint
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With all fabrication, assembly, and wiring complete, the entire top panel is masked off for painting. After applying coats of primer, black, and red, only white highlights and detail work remains.
Top Panel: Wiring And Dome Cap
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The dome gets wired with blue LEDs. Black tape is applied to the dome lighting to prevent light from leaking where the various parts connect. Now that the dome wiring is complete, a cover is fabricated, painted, and affixed to the dome.
Top Panel: Finishing Touches
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Next, iBuyPower is painted white on the side of the top panel. The Aurebesh alphabet from the Star Wars universe is used instead of English. Finally, weathering paint is added to complete the top panel.
Defender 410: Left Panel
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Creating the left side panel consists mostly of taping, engraving, and painting.
Left Panel: Paint, Blueprint, And Tape
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First, a primer coat is applied and allowed to dry. Next comes the red base coat. A blueprint of the left side is created and the panel is taped in preparation for laser engraving.
Left Panel: Engraving The Insignia
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Here is a shot of the laser engraver in action as it creates the Old Republic insignia.
Completed Left Panel
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This is the finished left side (windowed) panel, waiting for its right side counterpart.
Defender 410: Right Panel
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Now that the left panel is finished, the right panel is all that remains before we have a fully armed and operational Defender-Class Light Corvette case mod.
Right Panel: Sanding
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The first step is to sand the side panels in preparation for the primer coat, and this is what happens when you take sandpaper to the side panel of a shiny new NZXT Phantom 410.
Right Panel: Blueprint, Engraving, And Paint
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The right panel goes from a blueprint to the engraver, and then from taping to paint.
Completed Right Panel
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And here is the end result of all that sanding, taping, engraving, priming, and painting.
From Stock To Rock!
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There you have it folks: from an already-sweet stock black NZXT Phantom 410 to the custom iBuyPower Defender 410. May the force be with you.