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Lighted Rheobus Guide
by Joey Keith 12.20.2002

Looking for a cool way to get more control over your fans? There is no doubt that a rheobus is the way to go. But you are thinking "everyone has a rheobus and I want something that looks different". Good point, well what if it was lighted? That's right, put a light behind it. Lights are coming out standard on just about everything these days, fans, cases, you name it and it has a light in it, except rheobuses. Right now you are thinking "well I know I have seen lights on a rheobus before". You are correct! Usually lights are on the front of the plate, but not inside it. This mod is so simple I can't believe more rheobus makers don't do it standard.

Materials:

You are going to need to get the following parts together before you can start.

Since 3 fans were going to be controlled with this rheobus, 3 rheostats were used. (if you need more then substitute the number of rheostats you need in place of 3, but you can only fit 4 max with these rheostats)

(3) 5 Watt 100ohm Linear Taper Wire Wound Potentiometers (rheostat). These can be found here.

(3) Anodized aluminum knobs.

(1) 4" cold cathode light, and ballast (your choice of color). I purchased mine from a local electronics dealer, but you can find them almost anywhere on computer mod sites.

(1) Piece of scrap aluminum or plexi-glass big enough to cover one of your 5-1/4" blank bay covers.

(1) 5-1/4" blank bay cover from your computer.

All the parts needed

Assembly:

Now that all the parts are gathered, some prep is needed.

First we need to make the aluminum/plexi-glass plate fit on the backside of our 5-1/4" blank cover. Trim the edges to make a nice flush fit and make sure it does not overlap the edge of the cover.

Top View Side View

Now we need to go ahead and drill our holes in the aluminum plate for the rheostats. Center all 3 on the plate and mark them carefully. Drill a small pilot hole through both the aluminum plate and the 5-1/4" blank cover. This way both the cover and the plate will be lined up perfectly. Now that is done go ahead and drill the proper sized hole for the rheostat mount in the aluminum plate.

Result

Go ahead and mount the rheostats on the aluminum plate. Now dig out your knobs and mount them on the stems on the rheostat. They will most likely stick out too far and the stems of the rheostat will need to be cut so the knob sits right off the plate.

Sticks up too far Cut off the end of the stem

Now that we have our knobs mounted to the rheostats we can drill out the 5-1/4" blank cover. Using the pilot holes as a center drill a hole that will be about 1/8" larger than the knob itself. This will leave enough of a gap around the edge of the knob for the light to shine through. These knobs required about a 1" hole in the 5-1/4" cover.

Drilled out Now with the knob

Next we need to mount the cathode tube. The cathode is going to sit between the aluminum plate and the 5-1/4" cover.

Like this

Really all that is needed to hold the cathode tube in place is 2 small holes in the aluminum plate, and use the wires on the cathode to secure it.

Holes drilled Cathode mounted Wires hold it in place

Now that everything is mounted on the aluminum plate, slide the plate and the cover together and make sure it all lines up.

Nice fit!

When the light was originally tested it was so bright that it glowed through the cover and was visible on the outside, to solve this problem and sheet of aluminum foil was glued to the inside of the cover. This accomplished 2 things, first the light was not visible through the outside anymore, and second it made a nice mirror finish inside which reflected the light even better through the opening.

Aluminum foil to the rescue!

Once it was most of the way finished, it had to be tested just to see what it looked like. The results were awesome! The light is extremely bright, but makes almost no heat so there is no need to worry about overheating.

       

Once you have finished staring in awe, get some superglue and glue the aluminum plate to the 5-1/4" cover. Not too much, but enough to hold it in place securely. If you are going to paint your cover, it would be a good idea to do it now before you glue them together. This cover was painted black to match the case and looks even better with the blue light and aluminum knobs.

     

All that is left would be to wire it all up and mount the ballast. This particular case used a small black project box to house the ballast and other control wires, but you can easily mount the ballast to the back of one of the rheostats with some double sided tape. There are numerous sites that offer wiring for rheobuses, but the two best ones are www.fanbus.com and www.7volts.com.

Happy modding and as always be sure to use the proper safety equipment when working with tools of any kind.

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