Quadra 7100 Digital Camouflage
I've painted a few cases since joining Applefritter. Most have been 'experiments', which means: 1) They're done on old PCs that I don't care about, and 2) I wasn't impressed with them enough to move my daily-use motherboards into them.
The Quadra 700 case I started with had been somewhat successful and useful.
It was painted with dark red Krylon Fusion. Fairly soon it chipped, and after resting my camcorder bag on top of it, the paint was damaged from the vinyl of the bag - and this was at least a month after painting. That experiment was a written off as a failure. The remaining Fusion paint my wife put to great use on garden pots.
After seeing tmtomh's excellent Quadra 7100b, I decided to resurrect my 7100-in-700 project.
The Quadra 700 case was sanded with a random orbit sander to remove most of the Fusion paint, then wet-sanded with 150-grit emery cloth to clean up.
Planning on using the 7100's AV card this time, I cut a hole for it using my Dozuki saw, and cleaned up that hole, and the original cuts I'd made in the case, with a combination of the Dremel and files.
I was stuck on how to repaint the case, until I stumbled across a photo of an F-18 jet painted up with a newer 'digital camouflage' pattern. I found the vintage-computer bitmap look quite appealing, and decided that's what the case would get.
The inside and outside of the case was sprayed with matte white Krylon enamel indoor-outdoor paint. It's recommended for just about everything, and dries quickly.
I removed the 'weatherstipping' from the inside of the case that presses against the lid. Anti-vibration? Don't know, but it had red Fusion paint on it, and I wasn't about to re-paint it or clean it.
I removed the metal shielding from the back of the case. After cutting the hole for the 7100's AV card (thanks again for the advice tmtomh!) it was ruined anyway. In retrospect, I should have also cut a hole for the third Nubus card.
The remaining metal shield on the side of the case was removed and painted with a matte black Krylon, as was the speaker housing, the power/operator buttons and the drive/floppy carriage. I removed the top panel from the power supply, and painted it black as well.
I was afraid the matte black would rub off on the matte white of the case, so I painted the fronts of the power buttons with a dab of gloss black enamel, and being extra cautious, gave them a dab of silicon grease to slide on.
On to the camo pattern:
I'm lucky enough to own an airbrush: A Paasche model H. I considered masking and painting the camo pattern with a spray can, but figured the amount of masking involved, and risk of overspray and difficulty of cleanup made airbrushing a better candidate.
I mixed up a medium gray using Liquitex acrylics, thinned with methyl hydrate (rubbing alcohol works as well, so does just water, but it takes far longer to dry). Using acrylics over enamels gave me the ability to wipe up mistakes on the surface without damaging the white undercoat.
I made a printout of a few random shapes created by turning an image into a bitmap in Photoshop, and selecting a very small portion of that image. I blew it up until I had massive, square pixels, then saved it and printed it out from from Quark Xpress. From that, I cut out a few shapes to use as a stencil.
The larger shapes were held onto the case with two-way tape. I airbrushed the gray over the stencil, then carefully pulled the stencil off. This only made it through a couple sprays before the paper became mushy and ripped. I made s smaller stencil, and just rotated it to vary the pattern. I also used low-tack masking tape to create a few panels.
Once that had dried, I added white to the paint, and sprayed another layer of pattern. I kept the spray light, so some of the first coat of gray would show through, creating depth.
I let it dry, then gave the airbrushed areas a coat of an acrylic matte coat to protect them from scuffs and scratches.
The 7100 logic board had its power LED removed, and a white LED put in its place. As you can see from the photo, the LED is a white-ish blue. The hard drive - for now an Apple-branded Quantum 500MB, has no built-in LED, and I have yet to find a connector small enough to attach to the drive's LED interface. If I do, it'll get a white or blue LED.
The moment of truth...
All back together, it boots! The AV card was a bit loose, but once the lid of the case is on, it's held in firmly.
Things to do still:
I've got some clear inkjet decal film onto which I'll print a case badge.
Every Mac needs some feet to rest on. Home Depot carries transparent stick-on rubber buttons for putting under decorations and counter-top appliances. These should do the trick nicely. I figure I'll put four on the bottom, for a micro-tower position, and four on the side for a desktop configuration.
The whole process took two days. I'm impatient when it comes to painting, which has ruined more than one project. To be really safe, I should have waited longer for paint to cure, but I didn't. Now that it's done, I've got to wait until I get the decal and feet done before I can use it, so it should have time for paint curing. Acrylic paint is cured within days, but enamels can take up to two months to be well and truly cured.
I'm happy with how it turned out. The digital camouflage pattern looks just as I'd envisioned, and my hope is it'll be much more durable than the original paint.