Rig Of The Month: Mike Kohnke's "The Body Electric"

Maximum PC, February 2003, transcribed by pwrwindows

Let it never be said that Maximum PC ignores the interests of its Canadian readers. The beautiful rig you see here is Mike Kohnke's homage to the prog-rock power trio Rush -as Canadian as Mike Meyers, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and bacon. Everything about The Body Electric reflects Mike's passion for the band, and each panel sports art from a different decade of the band's history, all rendered in oil, airbrushing, and decals.

The centerpiece of the case is the fine Dremel work on the right-side window. The cutout of "The Man in the Star" from the 1976 concept album 2112 is stunning, especially when the interior is lit with dark-red cold-cathode tubes. Kohnke provides some Dremeling tips that should benefit all case modders...

"For the window, things got tricky," he says. "I cut a hole in the center of the circle, and attached a flat piece of wood with a screw through it, so it can rotate, like the hands of a clock. I then mounted the Dremel tool to it with twist ties. I slowly rotated the tool around the circle to make the cut. It wasn't 100 percent perfect, but it was the best I could do."

"Next dilemma: How do I cut the star's perfectly straight lines with a Dremel tool? I clamped a piece of wood down just beyond the line that would be cut, so that the blade was directly over the cutting line. I just used the various shaping tools that came with the Dremel to cut the star man. The hardest parts were the hands. Those took about an hour each."

To do the front panel graphics, Mike used water slide decals. He ordered some blank decal sheets online and split the image of the juggler using Macromedia Fireworks. The decals were printed on a normal inkjet printer. "The decal process wound up taking about two weeks because several layers of clear coat must be sprayed onto the decal before it can be applied. Then I applied several more clear-coat treatments afterward to protect it."

The left side panel, featuring the skelton of a sunkin ship, is borrowed from the liner notes of 1997's Test for Echo CD. It's painted with oil over several layers of primer.

The Body Electric features interior lights to illuminate an Athlon 200+. Plain cold-cathode lights were'n't quite the right shade, so Mike wrapped them in red cello-wrap purchased at a party store.

The top of the case features a dragon based on the band's 2002 album Vapor Trails. The image only appeared in the album's tour book, so it's something that only a true Rush fan would recognize.

Kohnke created a homemade baybus to control both the red interio lights and four Vantec Stealth fans.