Det är drygt en månad kvar till Dreamhack Summer 2018, där du förutom att dra på LAN kan tävla i datormoddning. Förra gången tävlingen hölls under Dreamhack Winter 2017 vann Hans Peder "p0Pe" Sahl med sitt bygge Benchy McBenchface (yes, really), ett helt öppet bygge där inga detaljer förbisetts.
Inför nästa omgång av Dreamhack Casemod Championship tar SweClockers chansen att intervjua vinterns vinnare från andra sidan Öresund. Vad motiverar honom, hur kändes det att vinna och vilka råd har han att ge den som överväger doppa fötterna i moddningsscenen? Det är några av frågorna som besvaras!
Who is Hans Peder "p0Pe" Sahl?
– A nerdy guy from Denmark who enjoys to make stuff. My hobbys have always seemed to be centered around stuff that I could tinker with. My favorite toy as a kid was of course LEGO, and since my parents owned a toy store, I happened to grow quite a stash of that, and spent much of my time building tanks, cranes and other stuff with it.
As I grew older my interest shifted into RC cars, and eventually computers. At around 16 years old I got my first pre-build, and build my first PC a year later. From then it just escalated and I started doing small mods to the PC, and ended up doing a fully watercooled build with whatever sketchy parts I was able to source trough the internet. It of course ended up failing horribly, and almost killing my cat as she drank of the leaked cooling fluid.
What does computer building / modding mean to you, is it more than just a hobby?
– It is a way for me to keep busy. If I do not have any projects I can work on I get incredibly bored. It is also a way to relax as I quite enjoy trying to figure out new ideas to make, or just draw stuff up in 3D. Whenever I do not have a build going on, I always find myself thinking about the next project which sometimes is totally unrelated to computers. At one point I got super into building quadcopters/drones and ended up designing and 3D printing a whole bunch of different versions until I was happy about the design. What I realized is that I actually enjoyed designing and building it way more than I enjoyed flying around with it.
Since I really liked drawing 3D, and making new stuff I also started up a company called HEX-GEAR with a buddy of mine. The company was meant as a hobby project where we would design and manufacture computer chassis. These cases got received really well by the community, and it was super rewarding to see other people build in something you designed from the ground up.
You competed in the Dreamhack Winter 2017 Casemod Championship in Jönköping last winter, and won the first place in the category "Master Class". How did it feel?
– It felt great of course! It is always fantastic that other people enjoy the stuff you create so much that they deem it worthy of entering any form of competition. The best part about these competitions is that you get to hang around with likeminded people who also has crazy ideas going on, and I always enjoy meeting up with some of the names you normally just write or interact with online.
Why do you think the members of the jury chose your mod "Benchy McBenchface" for the first place?
– I like to believe that it is because the mod really stands out. I designed it so that absolutely nothing could be hidden, and every part of the PC was a feature that had to look spot on.
How would you define your modding "style", if you have any?
That is what I enjoy the most – being able to make something people do not expect.
– If I were to mention some key features of my builds, it would probably be distro plates, and very clean cable management. I have an idea that a mod is only as pretty as its ugliest side, so I try my best not to just hide all of the wire clutter on one side. This often shines through in the builds I make where the rear side of the mods, where people would normally cram all the ugly parts into, is the parts I put most work into.
It also has its downsides as I found out that at events, nobody really expects that side to be anything special, so I had a lot of funny moments at Computex 2016 where people would go “wow” over the internals of the mod, and when I pointed out the massive cable/water cooling panel on the back side they would be blown away. That is what I enjoy the most – being able to make something people do not expect.
Can you explain briefly how the process went on when you created "Benchy McBenchface”, from drawing to final product? And what parts of the mod have you created by yourself?
– I started out drooling over the BC1 (Open BenchTable), and knew that I wanted to do some sort of open build as I had not done that before. So I started asking sponsors if they wanted to join the project, and when I had all the hardware I needed I started brainstorming about what I could do.
My initial idea was to make a simple build with a tiny distro plate covering the RAM and motherboard, but it eventually escalated into me designing a huge distro plate with build in pumps that would act as an extension of the actual bench table. It took quite a while before I landed on a design I was happy with, and from that point on I just went to town trying to finalize all the 3D drawings so I could bring the mod to DreamHack.
I ended up being quite late with everything, and spent almost an entire week finishing up all the cables, polishing the distro plate and putting stuff together, running on just red bull and no sleep. As to what I have done myself, it would be everything except machining the acrylic. I spent around 10 hours sanding and polishing the acrylic parts, and another 15 hours (at least) making the cables.
What kinds of software do you use when doing the design and drawing?
– I start out drawing a rough mockup on paper, and I then move to Solidworks to draw it up in 3D.
What kind of tools are used during manufacture, is it just machines or also traditional hand tools?
– I like to try and make as much as possible myself with my mods. If I can do it, I will do it. I have a few videos on my youtube channel where I show stuff like how I make the distro plates and how I make the cables for my builds.
Beyond these, there are a large number of tools I like to use, such as a Dremel, vertical drill and a good set of files.
Is there any part of the mod you feel extra satisfied about and could you describe why?
– I really like how the polishing and finish of the distro block came out. A lot of people think that with CNC machined stuff, you just load a 3D file into the machine, and it comes out as the parts you will see in my mods, but there really is so many steps in between. Programming, setup, sanding and finally polishing.
For this specific mod, I really like how the soft tubing is run from the distro plate to the blocks. I made sure that these where perfectly parallel, and opted for soft black tubing since I had done hard tubing in so many of my previous builds.
Do you have any good advice for those who want to get started with modding or case designing?
– Find your own style. It is way to easy just to buy ideas, or half finished mods from other people, but if you really want to stand out, you will have to find your own way of doing things. I hear a lot of people complaining that it is expensive, and hard to get started, and that you have to be rich to mod and have your own CNC machine park, but those are just bad excuses.
You do not need crazy high-end hardware to make a PC look good, and you do not need expensive CNC machined parts. Some of the most beautiful PC’s ever made was made with outdated hardware and hand tools. As long as you have passion for what you do, and not just do it to get free sponsored stuff, you will be fine.
Some people learn 3D design and fabricate their own cases, other people practices with hand tools. That is the beauty of casemodding, there is no set definition of how it should be made, and how it should end up looking – that is all up to the modder.