The BioShock Deco Mod

The case mod starts with a very basic steel case. A front bezel frame, top and side panels are cut from MDF and the edges rounded on the router. Layers of rounded MDF are used to create the art deco style panels, and then additional detail will be added using a variety of artistic elements found in the game as one fights through the levels of Rapture.


Side Panels:

One side panel has a circular opening that will have a Mr. Bubbles style porthole attached. The porthole is cut from a piece of 3/4" MDF. First a circle is cut around the outside edge with a straight router bit, then a flat shelf is cut in from the outside, and finally the inside edge cut through with the straight bit. The inside edge is rounded on the router, and the curve smoothed out by hand and sanded smooth. "Bolt" holes are drilled around the outside shelf, and then enlarged by hand using a flexible shaft with a round metal burr to accept some 7/16" ball bearings. To achieve a rough sand-cast appearance, the MDF was not sealed, but was just given a quick coat of spray primer. This was followed by several coats of gold spray paint. Once the paint was dry, the frame was aged by using black, green, and blue-green acrylic paints; dabbing the color on and then wiping the excess off with a paper towel. To create heavy-duty "rivets" ball bearings are glued into the holes with epoxy. The final step before mounting on the side panel is to install a disk of wavy green glass in the opening.


The system board panel has an arched opening cut and sanded smooth. A front door is made with a curved accent of MDF and some ribbed trim detail and glued together. All panels are sealed with several coats of shellac-based primer, until a smooth surface is achieved.


The arched window will have small deco figures on the support "columns". To create the figures, an actual size model is made in oil-based clay, then a rubber mold made. Once the polymer rubber set, the clay is removed and coated with petroleum jelly as a mold release. Epoxy resin mixed with bronzing powder is poured in the mold and reinforced with fiberglass strands.


A clear glass window insert is created using the copper-foil stained glass method and common single-strength window glass. Art Deco detail is added to the central columns by soldering several lengths of round brass rod together, and tacking the sections to the foil seams. The finished statue figures are glued on with a bit of silicone glue/sealer.

Waterfall panel insertDrain port and archesWaterfall channels

The waterfall insert is constructed from a frame of 1/4" acrylic with a layer of 1/8" impact resistant acrylic glued on either side. To reinforce where the 1/8" pipe fittings attach, I cut a small circle of plastic that is centered on the upper arched window, and added three arches in clear acrylic that line up on the columns at the base. A hole is cut and enlarged with a burr until the tapping bit can start to cut the threads for the pipe. To control the flow of water down the panel, a piece of 1/4" plastic is cut to fit inside the upper section, with small grooves cut between the input hole and the open panel. The assembly is glued together with clear model glue and allowed to set for at least a day before attaching the pipes and leak testing. Four brass angles hold the insert centered in the arched panel. A small Swiftech pump is used to drive the waterfall effect, with a section of hose acting as a fill port and reservoir. The panel itself is the primary reservoir, with enough liquid added to cover the bottom and drain hole while the pump is in operation. Three blue LEDs were added to the clear plastic arches for interest, and wired into the 5v pins of the pump's molex connector.


Water cooling of the CPU is with an collection of Swiftech products, including a CPU cooler, heavy duty pump, and 120mm radiator. A Danger Den fill port mounted in the top of the case and the 5.25" drive bay reservoir complete the cooling system. Several elbow connectors help with the tight bends and add a couple of arch-like curves.


Front panel and drive bays:

A 120mm fan grill is made in the fashion of one of the Neptune gates. An image of the gate pattern was scaled to the fan size, and then glued to a piece of brass. The sunburst rays and other open detail were cut using a jeweler's saw, leaving solid areas for the central disk and fish. A dome of nickel silver was shaped and soldered in the center. Fish were cut from copper sheet and soldered to the upper corners. Details such as fins on the fish and waves are cut with burrs, and then the grill was sanded and buffed to a soft polish.


To mount the fan grill in the front bezel, a grid work of foil-edged white glass is created similar to the door openings in the game. On the left side of the grill, I installed the guts of a 4-port USB mini-hub. Power and the USB cable are fed back through openings in the case. The hub has a single blue LED that lights the lower square of white glass when it has power. To balance the illuminated tile, I hot glued another blue LED for HDD access behind the bottom right tile. The pattern is extended into another section that partially covers the bottom drive bay, and left open in the middle of the design. A piece of green leather is installed with a small illuminated contact switch mounted in the center for powering the system on.

In the lower drive bay, I installed the floppy drive card reader unit, after painting the bezel and bay adapter gold. A couple of small brass details are added on either side to give a nice Art Deco appearance. For the middle bay, the DVD-RW drive bezel is also painted gold, and then a rib detail of brass rod is added across the bottom. To conceal the tray, the Deco style wing of the Pneumatic tube was created in brass and glued to the front. And for the top bay, the Danger Den clear acrylic cooling reservoir is installed, but with an open grid work design of the BioShock logo done in brass and nickel.

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The front door is held in place with brass "knife" hinges, mounted to the top and bottom sections. A push-release magnetic catch holds the door closed; push it in to extend the catch and open.