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Wraith 15-03-15 09:43 PM

OC3D Tools Guide
 
OK boys and girls, I don't like other techy (tacky) sites out doing us, so after reading yet "another" laughable guide detailing what tools you should have at your disposal when modding or working with computers I figured we'd show those cowboys how it's done.

First things first we're not all modders, some of us simply just enjoy clean fresh looking hardware which means giving it a service sometimes, so we still need tools... right? Right!

First and foremost before we delve into the monumental world of tools and cleaning products, I'll be breaking this thread down into Modding & Cleaning I'll try to include as many tools as I can, some tools will easily to fit into your Tool box others not so but I'll try to cover all bases.


Modding Tools.


#1 A Screwdriver, this is probably the one tool your going to use A LOT! so don't scrimp out here, a good driver or "set" will and should last you your entire life. If at all possible always go for a 30+ piece electricians set and be sure there magnetic plus also include precision drivers too.
Tips - Never over tighten screws, threads will only take so much and always use a driver that fits the screw head snuggly there is nothing worse than stripping the head off.

#2 Files, for those little annoying sharp unsightly edges. A good set of files shouldn't cost the earth and you'll be much happier with the end results when a mod looks clean, also handy for making holes that teeny bit wider rather than having to change out drill bits ;). So some nice flat, round & needle files should be all you need.

#3 A Drill, now whether you like it or not you will need one if your going to be modding, especially cases , rivets won't come out by simply swearing at them and hell they are perfect for starting off gaps for cutting or wiring holes. Now either a battery or power drill can be had for very little cash these days and who knows you might even use it for something else later, impress the lady by putting up a shelf (Girls love that stuff).

#4 A Riveter, it's a pretty self explanatory thing, once you've drilled out those pesky rivets you might need to replace some or rivet in something new. Fairly inexpensive and handy to have, alternatively just grab some small self tapping screws and use your screwdriver.

#5 Pliers, these just have to be had and not just for cracking nuts open at Christmas, for a good pliers set you need to have at least some long nosed, snub nosed, pincers & angle cutters for all your pinchy, snippy, twisty needs and pretending your a crab..

#6 The Dremel, or Rotary tool, this has to be by far the most important, can't live without tool you should ever own! It's just that simple. From trimming up edges to sanding to cutting out to boring to engraving this tool just does it all and I have to say I would be lost without mine. There are many variants on the market but they all pretty much do the same thing, but just like the screwdriver try not to scrimp on your rotary tool, always try invest that little bit more money into buying one, it will pay you back. Also always buy the "proper" add-ons like sanding pads and cutting discs inferior quality parts will just break.

Tip - Play with it, get used to it but don't FEAR it, practice makes perfect.

#7 A wire stripper/Crimper, another fine must have to add to your arsenal, before I had one of these wiring a plug was a tricky situation but not anymore, in the blink of an eye it's just snip snip twist done :) they make wiring a dream.

#8 A Soldering Iron, when you masterfully strip those wires and marvel at the ease and cleanliness of the job your going to want to be able to solder them, and a good quality soldering iron will see you well on your way to having the perfect toolkit. Also try to include a nice set of helping hands when purchasing your Iron they will save your fingers and aid you in performing the most complex of soldering tasks.


#9 A Torch, it might not sound like a must but when your working in your rig and you yourself start to cast shadows, even in a well lit room it becomes a problem, not so much with say a white case but in a black case it's a nightmare, there is nothing more frustrating than that lone ninja screw that just wants to escape into the darkest corner and hide. This is where a good torch comes into the modders tool box, now whether that be a simple mag light or a headband style light, they all make life that little bit easier, for me I like the magnetic backed service lights similar to the kind a mechanic would use to see under your car with plus it's hands free. ;)

#10 A Steel Rule, a good quality steel ruler is indeed a handy item to have at hand, you know... for measuring stuff, this has to be Steel too as plastic or wood just gets ruined when your cutting along it's edge and you also run the risk of snagging or blade slip which always results in a day out to the local emergency room. Be sure to try get one of these which includes inches and millimeters just so your internationally covered. :lol: The more advanced modder may also have a vernier gauge in their measuring tools which is excellent for gauging inner/outer diameter of tubing or casing also for finding the depth of a ledge.

#11 Scalpel Set, a nice sharp craft knife set works wonders for dissecting animals in science class and even the odd ex girlfriends... (she started it!), but these can really pay off when modding and delivering those fine trimming cuts or slices and give a much more precise edged cut than conventional scissors. Watch those fingers though.

#12 Cutting Mat, if you already have a craft knife/Scalpel set you'll need one of these, better to have one than the ear bending you'll get for gouging deep cuts into the family dinning table, plus they are self healing so many many many cuts can be made on the same surface with out worry of your media slipping or knife judder from an uneven surface.

#13 Scribes/Markers, These are 2 of the more common forms of marking on metal before cutting, scribes give a nice scraped indentation which also helps when using a saw or cutting disc later but you do need to be fairly accurate when using these as the marks left are permanent, alternatively you can use one of those popular markers like a Sharpie for a semi accurate marking if you mess up alcohol removes the mark and start again simples... just don't write on toilet walls.

#14 Glue Gun, always a sneeky little under rated tool great for temporary fixing or even more permanent jobs, I have myself used one to stop an old case from rattling by applying hot glue to the offending area. While they are great for case modding and little gluey jobs, DO NOT glue your hardware down! We don't work for Dell now do we... :lol:

#15 Electrical Tape/Shrink Wrap, if your going to be doing any soldering or cable modding shrink wrap is essential for that professional finish making your cable ends or joins stronger and so sexy looking that hot models will want to date you.. OK that last bit might not be 100% true, but still your rig loves you and its cables now look the shizznit! As a last resort you could use electrical tape but you should really be aiming for shrink, I find the tape is good for holding cables while routing them or if I have run out of Tie wraps. Tape is also handy for marking out metal work when cutting or drilling it helps cut down on those sharp waste shards caused but cutting or drilling ;)



Cleaning.

When it comes to cleaning our rigs we all have our own special ways and routines, you only have to look at JR23s spotless rigs to know he clearly has some form of OCD and rightly so they are stunning, but none the less it's very important that we carry out these routines to prolong the life of our hardware and gain a level of self kudos that comes with being clean, after all no one should have to see your dirty bits.
In no particular order what so ever here we go.

#1 Paintbrush, yes a rather boring dull object but when used dry for dusting becomes a righteous sword against dirt.. I keep a couple of these in my cleaning bag including a 1" long bristle and a fine artists brush for those awkward spots great for getting into heatsinks. These also go a long way when cleaning out your keyboard or getting the dust from the corners of your monitor bezel.

#2 The Micro fiber cloth, absolutely excellent for wiping down the exterior of your case and getting the dust from panel vents and dusting your monitor.

#3 Pipe cleaners & Q-tips, just like the paint brush these items do a marvelous job of collecting detritus from those really hard to reach places, Q-tips also come in very handy when it comes time to change your Thermal Compound as it collects it from the die very efficiently.

#4 Isopropyl Alcohol, This is a must for those when swapping out your TIM, either in the bottle or as I personally use, the wipes which you can get in boxes of 100 for a little under 5, now you can clean just about every part of your system with this stuff as it just evaporates after a wipe down, but please bare 3 things in mind when using Pure Alcohol, 1. It's flammable. 2. Be sure to use only 99.9% pure Isopropyl Alcohol. 3. Never ever use it on the plastic window on your case. Other than that common sense applies.


#5 Compressed Air, a lot of people swear by this for dusting, me personally I don't, all I ever seem to do is create a cloud of dust which just ends up everywhere and requires more attention to cleaning which is what you should be doing anyway. The choice is yours with this one, if you do decide on this option do it out doors.

#6 Zip Ties/Tie Wraps, so important to know what these are and how to use them and use them you WILL especially if you value air flow and clean looking internals and also to avoid the customary ribbing you'll get from OC3D regulars.. so tie up those cables and be happy.

#7 Thermal Interface Material (TIM), if you don't have any of this to hand you really shouldn't be removing your heat sinks, when ever you do remove your cooler you should always replace the thermal paste or pads with new to ensure correct coverage and to guarantee the proper heat transference between the heat source and the cooling blocks.
Now there are many differing types and manufacturers of Thermal Paste, which will no doubt cause heated debates on any forums including OC3D, such as which is best and also how it's applied.. does it matter? "Which is best" not so much, but how it's applied Yes!, ideally you want a thin even layer of paste covering the die of your CPU heat spreader or GPU die then your golden, there are many many methods to achieve this, some go for the "cross" method others swear by the age old simple grain of rice sized blob in the middle and press the cooling block on squishing the TIM outwards, personally I apply it by wrapping my finger in cling film (seran wrap) and smoothing it out evenly. But each to their own.
Thermal pads, these are more commonly found under heat sinks on motherboards, GPUs and high end RAM, this stuff varies in thickness and is usually sold in sheets which you cut to size, the only rule I have with this stuff is "If it came off, new goes back on" DO NOT substitute pads for paste! Also take care when handling it as grease from your skin will directly transfer to it, attributing to bad heat transfer later.

#8 TIM Cleaner, when cleaning TIM from your chips and blocks it's important to use the correct cleaning material, ensuring you remove every little bit of the old medium and to be sure that the surface is grease free ready for a fresh application of paste (or pads)


Specialty Tools.


These tools I'm going to class as "specialty" sure some have very specific functions and you don't see them often but they are always an option to the avid modder, also some monitoring tools.

#1 The Molex/Pin removal tools, these are a specialty tool indeed, solely used for extracting the male and female pins from Molex connectors without running the risk of damaging anything, before I had a full set I used to use a pair of dress makers pins to wedge in and pull the cables free (not always successful I might add) but with these beauts it's a breeze a very simple tool for all those cable modders amongst us. Be warned they can be quite expensive for what they are so shop around.

#2 Tweezers, when your not plucking your eyebrows take a moment and contemplate the functionality of these seemingly mundane beauty aids.. forget beauty and start thinking about fiddly jumpers and those annoying as hell front panel header pins and how much easier they are to fit with a nice tweezer. ;)

#3 Grabber, you don't see these as much as you used to, I know I was obsessed with them as a child, it's a single long wound spring which contains a sprung loaded 4 fingered grabber, extremely simple in design and even more useful for getting to those tricky dropped screws or flexible enough to pull wires through tight gaps.

#4 Telescopic Magnet, just like the grabber very handy for obtaining those rouge escaped screws, especially if they hit the floor and make a bid for freedom.

#5 Magnetic Bowl, sticking with the magnet theme, the magnetic bowl is a life (screw/fittings) savior, don't just leave your fittings laying around loose on the bench tempting the inevitable, just throw them into the bowl and let physics takes care of the rest.

#6 Heat gun, always a favorite of mine and so many uses, for instance removing hardened glue gun glue, heating vinyl when applying it to corners or tight bends, shrinking heat shrink when cable modding.. even heating up the alloy of a case should a screw become stuck fast.

#7 Infrared Thermometer, a recent addition to my own tool box and a wise one I feel. "Is it hot? Ouch!!!" Sound familiar? well not anymore, just point and click and voila accurate temperature readings, a great tool for checking those hotspots within your rig. Not as expensive as they look and can be had for as little as just 5!

#8 Anti-Static Wrist Band, yes it's in the list. A sour point for many and the cause of many a tech related bar fight, should you wear one while your wrist deep in your baby.. probably, to be on the safe side and rather than run the risk of killing your hardware with electro-static discharge and for general peace of mind, I will say though as long as your not shimmying across a wool pile carpet in a fleece onesie rubbing balloons on your head clutching a Maltese dog, a quick grab of your case or PSU will discharge you sufficiently enough to be safe to get your mod on.

#9 Precision Screw Drivers, I know we covered screwdrivers way back in the beginning and i made a mention of precision drivers, we'll it won't hurt to have a full assorted selection of these including torq and hex heads too, this way you'll have all bases covered ready for any screw related challenges.

#10 Anti-Static Vacuum, Not essential in the least and a rather expensive luxury to own, now before you decide yes my god I simply must own one of these.. there are one or two things to consider.. namely are you loaded, these bad boys can be in the region of 400+ and that is for just a low end model, secondly just how dirty is your rig becoming? If after a month the inside of your rig looks like Dubai after a dust storm then maybe this is a wise investment, but then again you should also be looking at better filtration.


Well I think we can leave this little guide where it's at now, I know there are many more tools that are available and members will no doubt add them to the thread as time goes by which should serve as quite the little knowledge base for future budding or experienced modders to reference. Thanks so much for taking the time to view this thread and visiting OC3D, we look forward to hearing your views and recommendations.


~Wraithguard~

Highlander89 15-03-15 10:04 PM

List looks great Wraith! I'd like to add a tweezer and sleeving tools

http://iskampc.com/images/detailed/44/32134.jpg

very useful when modding cables. Tweezer is great if you want to take apart fans.

Cheers.

Damo666 15-03-15 10:06 PM

I'd like to add a good quality paint brush, used to clean stubborn dust off fans etc...

JR23 15-03-15 10:15 PM

I did read the other total joke of a list earlier, this is better but I still disagree with things, it is something that should be very personal.

A quality metal rule and scalpel should be WAY higher on the list though.

JR

Wraith 15-03-15 10:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Highlander89 (Post 831028)
List looks great Wraith! I'd like to add a tweezer and sleeving tools

http://iskampc.com/images/detailed/44/32134.jpg

very useful when modding cables. Tweezer is great if you want to take apart fans.

Cheers.

These are going in the specialty list ;)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Damo666 (Post 831029)
I'd like to add a good quality paint brush, used to clean stubborn dust off fans etc...

Cleaning list coming momentarily. :cool:

Quote:

Originally Posted by JR23 (Post 831030)
I did read the other total joke of a list earlier, this is better but I still disagree with things, it is something that should be very personal.

A quality metal rule and scalpel should be WAY higher on the list though.

JR

It can be edited later. ;)

Dark NighT 15-03-15 10:34 PM

We cant forget one of these

http://images.xs-pc.com/product_images/large/633767.jpg

Essential for the watercoolers between us.

MrKambo 15-03-15 10:36 PM

Essential for anyone who touches a case :D

http://int.elastoplast.net/~/media/H...?mh=339&mw=452

Wraith 15-03-15 11:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MrKambo (Post 831034)
Essential for anyone who touches a case :D

http://int.elastoplast.net/~/media/H...?mh=339&mw=452

That's awesome :lol:

Some things that do need adding, but where do we draw the line with "essential tools"...

Pin Extractors, Rules, Para Cord/Braid, Heat Shrink, Scalpel/Stanley/Xacto, Heat gun, Grinder, Scroll saw, Jigsaw, Multi meter, Tweezers, Anti-static wrist strap, ect ect ect...

Essential, what you should have for "basic" modding or modding over all? Or damn it you should have all this stuff... some tools can be worked around but can also be a better option in the end. It's tricky to cater for every ones needs I'm finding.

Excalabur50 15-03-15 11:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mrkambo (Post 831034)
essential for anyone who touches a case :d

http://int.elastoplast.net/~/media/h...?mh=339&mw=452

roflmfao

JR23 15-03-15 11:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wraithguard (Post 831040)
That's awesome :lol:

Some things that do need adding, but where do we draw the line with "essential tools"...

Pin Extractors, Rules, Para Cord/Braid, Heat Shrink, Scalpel/Stanley/Xacto, Heat gun, Grinder, Scroll saw, Jigsaw, Multi meter, Tweezers, Anti-static wrist strap, ect ect ect...

Essential, what you should have for "basic" modding or modding over all? Or damn it you should have all this stuff... some tools can be worked around but can also be a better option in the end. It's tricky to cater for every ones needs I'm finding.

Telling someone they 'should' have something, or they 'need' a piece of equipment to do any particular mod well is just wrong and so I think saying essential is really not the right term. There are a few tools on the list i've never used similarly i've never really seen anyone use a lathe to do rigid tubing :p

I think it needs to be a guide, a set of starting points and not necessarily comprehensive, because it never will be.

JR


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