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Computer modding, a discovery of one of the world's greatest subcultures, part 1: "Cultural Diversity" Featured

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WillLyonMaximumSecurityEditor's Note: This article was written by one of our own forum members PM_DMNKLR and was voted on by the community as the best written of the entries for November 2011. The article is reproduced here in the same format as it was originally published in our Readers' Blog Forum. Each month we will host a contest for our Forum members to write an article or a review with the chance of being published on our site (as well as win some cool stuff). So now DecryptedTech is happy to bring you November's Winning article;

Computer modding, a discovery of one of the world's greatest subcultures, part 1: "Cultural Diversity"

The PC modding scene is quite a vast one in present day. At it's humble beginnings, quite a few moons ago, it was merely the idea of painting a case to a more peculiar color, installing a light inside of the case somewhere, adding stickers or other similar-style decals, etc., but rarely was anything so much more. Today, however, we have an industry that thrives on not only customizing our own computer periphery, but also custom creation of many components and accessories as well. Present-day computer modifications range anywhere from your basic, average LED case fan add-on, to full-blown scratch-built cases, made out of wood, plastic, steel, aluminum, fiberglass, resin, you name it and someone's making it. Even cooling has gone to the extremes in today's society, where in times of yesteryear, whilst it maintained a basis of adding an additional cooling fan or two to a much-needed area in the case or on a specific component, ie: adding an additional 1 or 2 fans to the CPU's heatsink for example, today's pc's, or "rigs" as we commonly refer to them now, have upwards of extreme liquid or even a TEC (Thermo-Electric-Cooler), also called a Peltier cooler, which transfers electricity throughout it's internal contacts, to create one side as extremely hot, by means of temperature transfer, enabling the surface of which makes contact with the CPU to remain extremely cold, thus also enabling the user to not only have a very, very low CPU temperature, but also enabling them to commit to serious overclocks, while still maintaining such deeply low temperatures.

I've recently taken it upon myself to speak with a few individuals in the computer modding scene, by means of Facebook chat and private messaging, as well as via e-mail. I asked them about their interest in participating in this article, as well as obtained permission to use some of their imagery, to show some examples of their works. I sent them a short questionnaire, and the remainder of this article will feature derivatives from the information given to me, by them. There is a rather vast arrangement, a cornucopia of sorts, of individuals involved in the modding scene. It's more than a scene, really, any more, it's become more of a sub-culture than anything. We help each other out whenever possible, we don't try to steal ideas, but help each other to progress those ideas instead. We also compete, of course, but aren't afraid to help each other out, even in the midst of battle. Many years ago, at the infancy of this culture, from birth to it's rough and humble beginnings, it was very different. There were those of us who do as we continue today, with being respectful and not afraid to aid one another, whilst many others were far too competitive and created some animosity within the rough sub-culture of the scene at the time. I can honestly say that I've personally witnessed the grand flourishing and massive growth of this industry, both from the sidelines, and as a participant, over the last 10-plus years. It's a true marvel in it's own right, and even now, as we keep forcing the culture to grow, the rest of the computer industry is increasingly embracing us more and more. Some companies provide sponsorships, while some even go so far as to co-host full-blown modding competition events. This year alone, Cooler Master held a major event, as did Thermaltake, who continues to do so.

The individuals of which whom chose to participate in this article are Peter "L3P" Brands, 31, from the Netherlands, Will "SXRguyinMA" Lyon, 27, from Massachusetts in the USA, and Otis "RecknBall" Fatz, 39, from Pennsylvania, also in the USA. These gentlemen began their careers in the modding scene ranging from two to seven years ago, and began much in the same way as nearly all others have. Simple cooling improvement mods, windows, additions of LED's for lighting, the basics I guess you could say really. For at least one of these gentlemen, however, it was a rather fast-paced journey to where they are today. Peter, for example, went through four different mods, and is currently working on a fifth one that he began roughly six months ago. He began with simple air flow improvements for his GPU's, all the way to creating a full-blown custom desk pc, which he has entered into competitions, and has won prizes for as well. Of course, I'm referring to his "L3P D3sk" mod that so many are now familiar with. Otis has two current mods under his belt, but there's nothing novice about this man's skills. His first project, dubbed "War-Hardened" is a Battlefield 3 dedication mod, and believe me, you have to see this thing for yourself (just click the link). He has recently began another mod, called "Overkill", which is quite a sight to behold and the case is being constructed completely from scratch.

Will Lyon's most recent mod, entited "Maximum Security" was also a bit of a learning experience for him, having not used an airbrush much, prior to the project, he did some fairly creative work on the mod, especially for an airbrush novice. He has a decent background in programming and with elecronic circuitry as well, and he definitely went with that in the design and implementation of this particular project. Others that he's completed are a custom acrylic Cribbage board for his wife, "Rockin Case", "Armor Redux" and "Tempest SXR", to name just a few, though that's just a short list. You can find all of his projects currently at, as well as various other forums, however he is currently working on the construction of his own website, which is currently operational, located at Will is currently also an employee for Arctic Cat, working as a Parts Manager, while Peter is an electrician and Otis is a tattoo artist and offset printer. Quite a diversity of cultures here, in this small group alone, I'd have to say. I also spoke with them about their experience with sponsors. Not all have actually had some experience, Otis, for instance is one of these individuals, though I doubt that will last much longer, and I'm sure one could agree, once they've seen the work that he's put into his current roster of mod projects, small as it may be, it's like dynamite really, "big things in small packages". Peter has not only contacted sponsors, and been approved, but has actually had some sponsors contact him themselves. His projects are a great testament to the reasoning behind such occurrences. Will not only had a sponsor for his first mod project, but he currently still works with that first sponsor to this day, on all of his projects. It's a long-term friendship and relationship that's carried him a long way.

Here now are some images of a few mod projects mentioned in this article, enjoy...
Peter "L3P" Brands' "L3P D3sk":

PeterBrandsL3PD3sk_A PeterBrandsL3PD3sk_B PeterBrandsL3PD3sk_C

Photos courtesy of Peter "L3P" Brands

Will "SXRguyinMA" Lyon's "Maximum Security", "Arctic Cat" and "Rockin Case":

WillLyonMaximumSecurity WillLyonArcticCat WillLyonRockinCase

Photos courtesy of Will "SXRguyinMA" Lyon.

Otis "RecknBall" Fatz' "War Hardened":

OtisFatzWarHardened_A OtisFatzWarHardened_B OtisFatzWarHardened_C

Photos courtesy of Otis "RecknBall" Fatz.

Finally, the last bit that I have for you today, is a few words of advice from these fine gentlemen, from their experienced minds to your eyes. I asked each one a simple question, "What's the best piece of advice you can give to all budding modders out there?", and here's what each had to say:

Will "SXRguyinMA" Lyon: "The best piece of advice I can give is to be different. There's so many modders and so many mods out there that chances are what you have an idea for has been done in one way or another at some point in time. Take your ideas and plan them out and find a way to do it a way that you haven't seen before."
Peter "L3P" Brands: "Trial and error Smile"
Otis "RecknBall" Fatz: "Start small and take your time you'll get to the bigger mods soon enough."

If you wish, feel free to peruse the few select links in this article, and please, if you desire to do so, it wouldn't hurt to leave them a few comments either, I'm sure they'll be happy that you did. You can also catch these guys on Facebook, under the groups for WestCoastMods and, as well as a few others. Thank you, and feel free to comment on this article as you please. If you have a Facebook account, feel free to drop by these great folks' modder profile pages as well. Here are the links: Will Lyon, Peter Brands, and Otis Fatz. They often tend to post many more updates on those pages than on their personal websites, so it's a good idea to check them out. Also note that this is only part 1 of this series of articles I'm working on, so stay tuned for more to come!

- Ronald "PM_DMNKLR" Smith

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Last modified on 05 December 2011
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