Best (a.k.a. Worst) DIY PC Case Lighting Strip

Why pay $10+ to light up your computer when LEDs cost a few cents apiece? Maybe because spontaneous computer combustion is such a terrifying prospect…


A few weeks ago, I picked up a Fractal Design Define R4 after letting my roommate pore over review and ads for the best reasonably priced computer case for himself. I was admittedly freeloading on his research, but there really is no better combination of beautiful simplicity and solid mechanical design. The case is well thought out and silent, but the view of my computer’s innards through large plexiglass window seemed a tad underwhelming.

The obvious solution was to throw some lights inside the case, because everyone loves a computer that thinks it’s a nuclear reactor. Using some scrap plywood, I assembled a thin frame that would angle 5 LEDs at the motherboard. A lot of strip lighting, despite using wide angle SMD LEDs, don’t really provide good light coverage from the top of the case. And I didn’t want to mount anything to the removable side panel because that would be one more thing to unplug when opening up my desktop for any sort of surgery.


Using a basic resistor calculator, I determined that I would be putting 5 LEDs in parallel with a 100 Ohm resistor in series with each LED. With a bit of terrible soldering and gobs of Krazy glue, I put everything together.


The LED strip would be connected to the 5V pin on my power supply’s molex connector. In series with the power supply would be a salvaged switch in case I wanted to run dark and silent… or if something caught fire.


It should be noted that I routed all of this inside an eviscerated DVD drive for cleaner cable management. I think it looks both derpy and classy at the same time.




That’s it for now, tomorrow I will start assembling my Shapeoko 2 kit.

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