Leopard Skin
by Jani 'Japala' Pönkkö

Want to change the appearance of your system completely? Don't like painting and buying more and more expensive toys for it isn't an option? I might have the perfect solution for you my friend. At first it may feel bit girly but bear with me to the end of the article and then give your opinion.

- No animals were harmed while making of this mod and all materials used are synthetic! -



As usual we start by taking something dull looking and turn it to something... unique. Me and my wife decided that we should try to do something about her computer. Don't know if this was just natural because we have modded almost every other piece of hardware in the house already. Originally we thought to do only the TFT display but ended up modding the whole setup. "Give it your finger and it will take the whole hand"... yes, quite true. :)

We stopped by to a draper's shop and got some 100% polyester fabric with leopard textured furr. Idea here is to use it to give the setup more unique and beautiful look. There are tons of different fabrics with different textures to use here and after some thinking we decided to take this leopard textured one because the spots are quite small and are easily visible even if used on smaller areas. Cow, zebra, tiger, snake etc. you decide what suits your room and decoration the best (what decoration?!). ;)


Opening the mouse

Mouse and keyboard here are part of Microsoft's Wireless Optical Desktop Pro. We start by taking off the glide pads under the mouse. Under these pads are the four screws that keep the top part in place. Don't have a mouse that is made by Microsoft? Well, there is a good chance that your mouse is still hiding those screws under the pads so check them first anyway.



Don't try to be too precise here. Take a large enough piece that extends over the edges of the top cover. You can cover the mouse buttons too if you like but you should select the fabric that doesn't have furr because it will come off over the time because of constant touching.


Getting the top off

This is a special feature on these model of mice where you can remove the decorative top from rest of the casing. Just be sure not to cut that thin plastic membrane because it houses some wiring ment for the antenna. By removing this part we can cover only this silvery part of the mouse more easily.



I then used crazy glue to attach the fabric to the mouse cover. After the glue dried I took off all the excess fabric with a Leatherman tool that we reviewed earlier. Knifes on these things are really sharp. You can use a carpet knife or anything that is fairly sharp so that you don't tear off the fabric and get a clean cut.


Receiver/transmitter modded

Both the mouse and the receiver/transmitter modded. RX/TX was easy to mod because I only glued a small shaped piece of fabric on top of it. Who says that you can't have style with low amount of work? ;)


Wrist rest

Wrist rest on the keyboard is integrated. It is easy to remove after you open up the keyboard. These two small screws are holding the rest in place.

I precut a long piece of fabric for the wrist rest. After that I sprayed the rest with a spray glue that I also used in my BreezePad mod. This allowed me to cover a large area fast and because the glue is quite sticky and doesn't run that easily and this gave me more time to place that fabric to the right place. You can use almost any glue that you can find but this spray glue was just perfect for this job.


Keyboard and mouse modded

Keyboard and the mouse ready. I decided to mod only the wrist rest part of the keyboard this time. Covering the top part of the keyboard was quite appealing but cutting holes for all those function buttons didn't sound that great. If you like you can cover the whole keyboard like this but I thought that this was more elegant way to go.


Doing the Samtron's 17" TFT

Start by taking a larger piece of that fabric and place it around the display. Note that it has to be flipped inside out (textured side towards the monitor). Leave some space around the ventilation holes so that the monitor will not fry when the power is left on for a longer period of time.



Idea here is to make a "pouch" that is wrapped around the monitor. Pull that fabric tight and sew the corners. After this you can pull that pouch off the monitor, flip it over and pull it over the monitor again. This kind of mechanish allows you to make several pouches with different colors or textures that you can then change depening on your moods etc.



Finished from the back. Once again, please, remember to leave those ventilation holes open!


Cutted opening

Opening for the screen of the TFT was cutted with scissors. Be carefull not to scratch the screen while you are doing this and it could be wise to take the measurements first and then do the cutting on the table without the display. Just remember that the fabric will be streched a bit when you pull it over the display so make a smaller cut at first. If you end up with too loose edges that doesn't sit flat against the display you can use for example double sided tape or velcro to make it perfect. Maybe another great product idea for some company to rip off from us. ;P


Everything put together again

And there you have it; Project: Leopard skin. This all took around couple of hours to complete. It is not the hardest mod or project around but not the easiest either. All in all it turned out really great and looks perfect. Materials costed around 5 euros so the project is also really cheap to do and this shouldn't stop you from doing it.

I hope that this, bit more alternative approach to case modding gives you new and fresh ideas what you could do for your setup. Covering the case or parts of the hardware with some fabric is easy and cheap. If it material gets damaged in use for some reason it is easy to repare or replace, something that is harder to do with painted surface. Maybe this is the perfect way to show that softer side of you to your girlfriend too. ;) This all said, it is up to you to decide whether this kind of modding is for you. I felt that combining the hard and cold hardware with some furred fabric was a fresh change in pace and hopefully this is something that will get more popular in the future. Maybe a good way to get more girls interested in modding too.

I would like to thank my wife Christina for the sewing she did. Sometimes these things are easier if done in pairs. ;)

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07.08.2003 - ©Japala

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