This post is not going to be what I teased at the end of my last update, but that will be coming soon. Today I’m going to cover the case lighting.
My original plan for the case lighting was to use a Farbwerk interface along with the Aquasuite software for control. Here’s a picture from a while back when I was mounting all the fan splitters, in the upper far right is where I mounted the Farbwerk which is right next to where the two Aquaeros are.
I was planning to install the lighting after the radiators and fans were installed, partly because getting to the Farbwerk then would have been much easier than it is to get to now. With so much to do early on in the build, I got side tracked onto something else, and after a while I just decided to wait and put the lighting in more towards the end of the build.
That ended up working out to my advantage, because originally I was going to put a light strip behind each top radiator. While that sounded good then, now there is a lot of wiring routed behind the radiators which would have blocked some light, plus the strips just would not have lit up the inside very well from that location.
I hooked up two light strips in the dark, and played around with different locations to mount them that would provide the best lighting. I tried them on top of the case outside of each radiator, but due to the thickness of the radiator and fans together it only really lit up the front of the radiators and straight down, with not much light at all getting onto the motherboard or the back wall on the back side.
It was the same issue mounting them to the front of the case. The best locations I found was at the back of the case right up against the outside corner of the case, and right under the top radiator fans.
Farbwerk with Aquasuite Control or Asus Aura Software Control?
In the early stages of this build there was no info on the Asus Rampage VI Extreme motherboard that I’m using. Since this motherboard actually has two standard RGB headers, and one WS2812B Addressable RGB header, I did some research on using those for the case lighting.
I thought it would be cool to integrate the case lighting into the Asus Aura software. I did a demo of this software awhile back. Here’s a link
to it if you missed it.
CableMod makes a very nice addressable 60cm RGB strip
that has 30 LEDs.
Each LED strip draws .87 amps, and they can be daisy chained together. The nice thing about the addressable LED strips is that you can control each LED individually if you want to through the Aura software.
Unfortunately the Addressable RGB header on the motherboard is only rated for a maximum of 3 amps. So the header can only handle two of the CableMod strips, which is plenty for most cases, but I would need two for each side of the case.
Therefore the only way to make it work for me would be to use two strips on the Addressable header, and then put two more on the regular RGB headers. I’m not sure how well this would work, but I decided to just stick with the original plan to use the Farbwerk for the case lighting.
CaseLabs Lighting Support Rails
When CaseLabs announced their new Magnum SMA8 A Revision case, it comes with “case lighting support rails”. I liked how these lighting rails looked and was planning to get four of the longer ones to use in my case. Here’s a picture from the Magnum SMA8 A Revsion thead.
A friend from work bought one of those cases, and loaned me the support rails that came with his case so I could test fit them on my case. As it turns out the long one is a little too long to fit on the sides, and the short ones are just too short. The long one fits on top, but the rail actually blocks most of the light in the way I would have to mount it to this case. So these are really not compatible with this case. Glad I did not purchase these!
Custom Lighting Support Rails
I decided to make my own lighting support rails for the top light strips. I bought some two foot long 1/16” thick ½” x ½” aluminum angle with sharp corner from metalsdepot.com
Here you can see I have cut the aluminum angle to match the length of the three top radiator pull fans. The holes are laid out, and ready for drilling.
This will attach with the two outside fan screws. The four larger holes in the middle are where the other fan screws are, it will go over the screws, and fit up flat against the fans. This way I can install the light strip while the fans are installed, and if I ever have to remove the strip I won’t have to peel the light strip off of the support piece to get to the middle screws.
I’m starting with four Darkside 19" dimmable rigid RGB LED Strips. For some reason these have been out of stock for some time now on PPCs, but I included these on one of the large orders I put in early on.
The two strips for the rear will stay full length, but the top two strips are too long. Every three LEDs or every two inches there is place where you can cut it shorter.
A Dremel tool with a cut off wheel makes quick work of cutting it to the length I need.
Sleeving the light strips
I’ll be making custom length wire harnesses to each light strip with the platinum MDPC-X sleeving. That is the color I’ve been using for all the LED lights. The next step it to desolder the stock wiring harnesses. The trick to this is to have a very hot soldering iron.
I turn my soldering iron all the way up, and give it at least five minutes to heat up. Then I cut the heat shrink, and just pull the sleeving back. I hold the strip with my right hand that has the soldering iron, and pull on the wire harness with my left hand, put the soldering iron on one terminal at a time. It should take no more than two seconds on each wire before it pulls off. If it takes longer than that, your soldering iron is not hot enough.
Here we go, all the stock wire harnesses are off, and two strips are cut down to the length I need for the top.
I am test fitting the light support rails on each side here. Yes they fit perfectly
These are the Aquacomputer LED cables meant to be used for the Farbwerk. I’ll be cutting two of these down for the top strips.
The Aquacomputer cables are not long enough to reach the light strips in the rear, so I’ll be using these 100cm cables
After soldering the new wires to the strips, take your volt meter, and put it into the continuity test mode so you can check each terminal on the strip, and again at the plug end. There should be no continuity between any of the wire terminals. If there is than you most likely have solder touching between the terminals at the light strip.
I sprayed two coats of self etching primer, and then three coats of Cardinal black paint
on the support rails. This paint dries to a powder coat like finish. It’s the same paint I used for the Aquaero brackets that come silver.
All four strips sleeved. Regular sized heat shrink on the strip end and sata heat shrink on the connector end.
With the support rails.
Before I put the double back tape on the light strips, I must test them out first. I fired up the test bench one last time, and plugged the light strips into the Farbwerk with the strips just laying inside the case. You can see the Farbwwerk tab open in the Aquasuite software. I pulled out the SSD hot swap bay to make it easier to get to the Farbwerk, and route the cables to it.
Here’s all in red. Everything is working good
The Darkside light strips come with four small pieces of double back tape, but in another build, I’ve had them not hold, and the strip falls down. If you have ever had a light strip sag down or fall off, it’s pretty irritating. So I’m using a roll of double back tape to cover most of the back of the top light strips. Between the thickness of the aluminum angle, and the thickness of the double back tape there is enough room for the fan screw heads in the middle.
Now the light strips are secured to the support rails, and there is enough room to lift the cable to get to the screw on the one end. I swapped out the two outside 30mm fan screws with 32mm fan screws that hold the light rail in place.
Rear light strips installed.
All four strips now installed. These aren’t the greatest pictures, but you can see how the top light strips cannot be seen from the outside.
A final shot from down low looking up so you can see all the light strips. I think it will look much better once everything else is back installed.
Besides the case lighting just covered here, the motherboard and RAM lighting will be controlled by the Asus Aura software.
Also one channel of the Aquaero powers, and controls a Splitty9 fan splitter that connects to the six LEDs in each reservoir, the two LEDs in the acrylic pump top, and two LEDs that are going into the CPU block.
The only unknown lighting at this point is what I’ll use on the video card blocks. I plan to use Heatkiller blocks, and I see that they have short LED strips that can go in the end of the blocks now. I can use those and plug them into the motherboard LED headers, or I also still have room on the Splitty9 hub for more single LEDs if I end up going that way.