The idea for this mod was to create a scratch built chassis that would showcase the water cooling components in a retro/industrial hydro-electric theme.

I love building mods that have a retro, industrial, semi-steampunk feel to them. Within this design style I wanted the theme for this mod to center around water and electricity, while showcasing the water cooling components. I set out to make something that would not look like a computer, but rather some type of lab equipment that would be right at home in a post-apocalyptic underground laboratory.

EK Water Blocks: Water Cooling Custom Loop
Spartan Liquid Cooling: EKWB Fittings
Kingston Technology: Memory
Fractal Design: Power Supply
Viper Gaming by Patriot: M.2 SSDs
Cooler Master: ControlPad

CPU: Intel i7 9700
Motherboard: ASUS TUF B360M-PLUS Gaming S
Memory: 32GB Kingston HyperX Fury [8GB x 4]
Storage: 500GB Viper M.2 NVMe + 1TB Viper M.2 NVMe
GPU: NVIDIA Titan X Pascal 12GB
Power Supply: Fractal Design Ion+ Platinum 860W
Water Cooling: EKWB - Pump/Reservoir, Radiator, Water Blocks, Flow Indicator, Fittings, ZMT Soft Tubing
Fans: Cooler Master SickleFlow 120 V2 RGB PWM


Constructing the Chassis
The base and top were made out of brand new pieces of wood.
Pieces were measured, cut, and loosely put together to make sure they looked the way I wanted before the stain was applied.

The wood was then stained using an Ebony color wood stain.

Electronics: Switches and Lightning
Part of the theme of this mod is water, so I wanted some industrial items that related to this.
I decided to use water valves to control the Power of the PC, and also various lighting zones throughout the PC.

Brand new valves as I began to take them apart.

After they were dismantled, they were then painted and distressed.

They were then wired with electrical switches that would be activated by rotating the vales.

The top of the base was then wired with amber LEDs, half of them the type the flicker so there would be movement amongst the lights.

After the base was assembled, underlighting was then added to the bottom of the base.

Once assembled, turning the Left Valve will turn on the computer, the Middle Valve will control the underlighting and vacuum tube lighting, and the Right Valve will control the lighting on the top panel.

Computer Components
On the top panel, the Pump/Reservoir Combo and the Radiator will be in the front, while the Motherboard and Video Card will reside in the back. Although the original plan was to have the motherboard in the front, I decided that I wanted to showcase the water cooling components a bit more, and to really try to have the mod not look like a computer at first glance. All of the components were mounted on aluminum sheets that were mounted as platforms on the top wood panel.

Pump/Reservoir Combo and Radiator (Front)


Motherboard Platform and GPU (Rear)
*GPU will be installed on it's own platform, to the left of the one pictured


A hole was cut into the base, so that the Power Supply would sit inside (not on top of) the bottom panel of the wood case.

Rear Custom I/O
Due to the location and position of the motherboard, I did not want to plug anything directly into it when it was time to use the computer. So I used panel mount extension ports for the power from the PSU, Video from the GPU, as well as USB, Network, and Audio from the Motherboard. I fabricated the rear I/O out of the same aluminum that I used for the back cover, and the platforms that all of the components are mounted on the upper panel.

GPU Mount
In order to mount the GPU vertically on the rear of the top panel, I had to build a platform mount using a sheet of aluminum, radiator mounts, and the MNPCTECH Vertical GPU Mount.

Custom PSU Cables
I hand-made all of the wiring in this mod, and about 200 Feet (61 Meters) of wire was used in total. I wanted the wiring to keep with the retro industrial theme, and because of this I chose to use yellow and black striped wire, and expose it in a controlled manner throughout the mod. This being an open-air chassis, wire management was one of the most challenging aspects of this project.

PCIe Riser Cable + The Mesh
One of my favorite things about this mod is the PCIe Riser Cable. I really didn't like how it looked when I first plugged it in, so decided to turn an eye-sore into a focal point.

I know it's a simple thing, but as a modder, this is one of the items I am most proud of in this mod, as I have never seen anyone else mod the PCIe Riser Cable and I feel it makes a huge difference in the look of the components.

I used metal mesh throughout the mod that I purchased from an old farm sale. I wanted to have the materials I used be prevalent throughout the design and the metal mesh was no exception. I wrapped the PCIe Riser Cable in the metal mesh and then shaped it the way that I needed it to fit between the motherboard and the GPU.

I continued to use the mesh in many other places of the mod, which helps to bring the design together.

The Monitor Stand
I had always wanted to try a monitor mod, but I didn't want to simply add decorations around the screen or on the stock monitor stand. I wanted to build something that would not only compliment the custom mod it would be next to, I wanted it to be something of equal complexity and caliber. So I decided to build another chassis, just like the one that was built for the HYDROPOWER Mod that holds up the PC Components, but this one would hold up the monitor, a matching set!

Whenever we build a mod, I tend to buy several different parts for the theme that inspire me, but we seldom end up using them all. With the monitor mod, we were able to take the parts that did not make it into the primary PC mod, and use them on the matching monitor mod.

We started by making a base out of pine, in the same shape as the PC. Stained it black (Ebony), and marked where the holes would be for the LEDs and the vacuum tubes.

We wired single amber color LEDs in each hole that will hold the vacuum tubes, and made a rotary switch that will control the lighting from a water valve.

The water valve was brand new, and I used yellow and black paint to distress it and have it match the valves on the primary PC Mod.

We purchased a set of vintage Voltage and Amperes gauges from 1947, a matching pair, and still functioned perfectly.

The Volts Gauge and the Valve Rotary Switch were mounted on the front panel of the base.

Underlighting was then added to the bottom of the base.

I routed the wires from the underlighting through the main support pipe, and filed a space on the top to allow for the wires to come out and not get pinched.

I added an electrical junction box on the side of the monitor stand, where I will run wires for Front USB Ports, and 3.5mm Ports for the Headset.

Yellow LEDs were added to the inside of the box for a little extra touch.

The top panel in the front will hold the monitor, but on the rear of the panel more retro/industrial goodness was added. It began with a sheet of aluminum, holes were drilled for the Amperes Gauge, and vintage electrical fuses.

In order to return a reading/current on the Amperes Gauge, a small circuit board was added that is intended to be used with battery chargers, as well as LEDs for lighting.

A custom rear I/O plate was created that matches exactly the one used by the HYDROPOWER PC, with panel mounted extensions for the HDMI Video, 3.5mm Headphones and Microphone, USB 3.0, and Power.

Headset Holder was also added to the top panel.

Mesh was used on both sides of the headset, cut to the exact shape of the outside of the ear cups, with the Cooler Master Logo cutout for more visibility.
The Mesh was attached utilizing the built-in magnets that hold the outer earcup covers.

Monitor Stand Completed

The primary input device will be a custom board made of aluminum, and will consist of a Cooler Master ControlPad, and Gaming Mouse. This project began with a 12 inch X 22 inch X .25 inch (30 cm X 55 cm X 6 mm) sheet of solid aluminum.

The sheet was then off to the CNC Shop where an area was carved out the exact shape of the mousepad, .125 inch (3 mm) deep, or about half the thickness of the aluminum sheet.

Both the ControlPad and MM830 Mouse that will reside on the Control Board are wired peripherals, so in order to keep the wire management clean, an electrical junction box was added with a USB 3.0 Hub inside. Both the ControlPad and Mouse will connect to the hub inside the junction box, and a single USB Cable will exit the box through the rear and connect to the PC.

The USB Hub turned out to be a little too large for the box, so the housing of the hub was removed and it then fit perfectly.

Holes were drilled in the top of the aluminum sheet to attach wire clips that will hold the mouse wire.

A mouse bungee was also added to keep the cord from getting snagged while gaming.

Completed Project

Ⓒ 2024 retro PC mods