Professional Case Modder Interview - Corg8d
Person Interviewed: James Anderson / Corg8d
Company Position: Professional Case Modder
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Click Here to see a Movie of Heavy Metal in action!
James "Corg8d" Anderson is one of the most accomplished modders of today. With years of experience in automotive projects and racing, his design and style is extremely beautiful as you can see from the custom designs on his cases as well as the extreme customizations of his mods. It is very obvious that he has carried his love for anything to do with 4 wheels that has the word "speed" attached to it into his mods. Very rarely do we get a chance to literally get person-to-person in our interviews; I had a chance to sit down over MSN and have an awesome interview with James.
Well I know its been a while, first off let me introduce myself once again. My name is Derek, also known as KoiHoshi, interviewer for TwistedMods.com and self proclaimed professional caffeine addict. Let?s go ahead and begin, would you mind introducing yourself to the readers? Go ahead, go wild and tell us a bit about yourself.
I am James Anderson, 42 (about to be 43 on June 20), have a wonderful wife named Lynn and 2 boys Calvin 14 and Cameron 12. I have been a car nut for quite some time starting with my 65 Buick LaSabre that I cut the top off when I was 15 because I wanted a convertible. My favorite car as a youth though was my 69 Camero Convertible that was fully restored (after I smacked it into a tree) and had a top speed of just over 150mph. My nickname as I was going though high school was crash due to a snowmobile accident when I was a freshman in high school. The snowmobile incident is a little long, so I don?t know if you want me to go into detail on it.
Sounds great, I'm sure your family is excited about your modding and projects! I myself am quite a car nut. Would that be part of the reason for the C3 mod?
Yes. By the time I was 20 I had owned and raced (drag) roughly 20 cars. Fortunately, I only wrecked about 4. The most spectacular was a mid-air flip in an olds 442 convertible. Lucky (amazed actually) to be alive today.
Sounds like an awesome experience! Glad to hear you came out ok through all of that, racing can be quite a dangerous sport, but quite a rush. First thing off though, I gotta ask, how long have you been doing this? Just from looking at your work I can see that you either have very natural talent for modding or you have a lot of experience, maybe both. Would you mind telling us a bit about it?
A lot of the detail that went into, ?Heavy Metal,? is from years of experience working on cars and some hands-on in machine shops. I am a perfectionist which drives me nuts sometimes, but helps to slow me down when working on a project.
Striving for the absolute best on a mod or project sometimes is totally worth it once you see the results, in my opinion Heavy Metal would be on such example. That mod all in its own is extremely impressive did you have any kind of inspiration for it? Now for those that aren't aware of your work, how would you put it in your own words how your work expresses "you" and your modding style?
Heavy Metal began as a taller version of the case I ended up using, and was more of an over clocking project than anything else. I spent the early years working with Gabe over at Swiftech on some monster TEC's for PII's and PIII's. As I became more aware of other mods I started thinking about modding my case. Initially, I was going to use skateboard wheels, but soon realized they would be too small for what I was thinking about. I was over at my cousins for a birthday party when he took into his basement to show me his new toy, a racing go-kart. It hit me right there that go-kart wheels were the answer I was looking for. I made the decision soon after that that the taller case I was using (Enermax 2200) would look that good on wheels, and I really didn?t want to be without my PC for too long so I opted to buy a new case (Enermax 1500). The initial design wasn't powered and had the wheels under the case (as typical casters or the initial skateboard wheels would have gone). The process evolved with 2 main ideas in mind, I wanted it to look as much like a car as possible, but be efficient and functional in its design. Many of the initial ideas formed as I was creating the cad drawings for the first chassis. There were a lot of winded cases out there, but I wanted mine to stand out a bit, so that is why I went with the stainless cap screws with 1 inch spacing. I also didn't want the drive cages within the window (never did like that). The lighting is all LED for durability and the night rider array in the front came as an idea I had seen on another mod, the fact that I already had 8 drive lights mad the adaptation that much easier. The tachometer mod actually came a bit later in the project. I started with the Xoxide tachometer software and my own tach, but found the software to be pretty poor. I wrote my own tach software in vb and soon realized that you can only control a tachometer so much through software alone. I new what it took to drive the tach and I also new how I wanted the software to work (didn't want it taxing the CPU just to drive the tach). Even though I have built circuits in the past, I wanted this interface to be somewhat professional and contacted Mike at custom electronics in the UK. Over the next two months and a few firmware revisions, I had an interface to go with a new driver I had just written. The tach now shows 1% CPU usage as 100 RPM all the way up to 100% or 10000RPM. After finishing the first version, I realized it looked more like a truck than a the car I had envisioned and that was only confirmed by the comments I got back after posting it. Even though there was a lot of praise for the project, I still wasn?t thrilled by the end result. I also received a lot of questions asking if it actually drove on its own which was the inspiration I needed to take Heavy Metal to its next level. Several months went into the design of the powered chassis with the goal being fast, efficient, easy to charge and easy to control. I also wanted to get the chassis down lower and give it a meaner look. I was fortunate to have Team Whyachi (battle bot fame) not to far from where I live, and they turned out to be a great help in the design. The majority of the cost for Heavy Metal (which when all said and done tops a little over $50,0000) is in the custom powered chassis. I have over a hundred hours in the design, and the machining and combat robot parts were not cheap. in fact, what you see today is prototype 2 as the first was scrapped as several improvements were made (one of which was to not have the chassis welded together).
Since I was putting my progress in a work log, I was getting a lot of feedback, and some of it was pretty good. The side pods came in after the first assembly and I realized that it looked goofy without them. The wing (a fender wing for a tractor) was first replaced by a custom one, but after that got booed in the forums, I went with a new mount to move it back and down. Being the picky nut I am, I also designed the charger that stands behind it when it's not moving to incorporate the charger a power strip made using hospital grade outlets. The harness in the charger as well as Heavy Metal was built from scratch and completely soldered from end to end. It was interesting as I was going through the second stage for Heavy Metal that some people criticized me for not being satisfied with the initial result as well as taking modding a little too seriously as well as too far. I was not building this mod for them, however, I was building it for me. If other people got a kick out of it, great, but I realize that my idea of cool wasn't for everybody. If I had one lesson to pass on to budding modders, it would be to go with what you think is cool, and don't build your mod for the community, but for yourself.
That was question 2 wasn't it?
It?s all good?Beautiful, sounds like plenty of work and planning went into the mod and that?s a great point for modders too. I?m amazed that all that work itself went specifically into the tachometer itself, that?s awesome! Well you?ve definitely got a fan of your mod here that loves your idea of cool. So what was the very first thing that got you interested in computer modding? More specifically, what got you interested in computer modding to this extent of doing it at such an extreme level? You don't see too many people making computer towers with go-kart wheels and a case modeled to look like a speeding car that have a custom built tachometer with its own programmed software.
Modding for me was an extension of over clocking. The extreme part I think came from my hot rod days and not having a current hot rod to work on. There was also the self imposed challenge to make the most radical mod ever. Stage 1 didn't quite do that for me, so moving on to stage 2 was a fairly easy choice. I am not sure how many people realize that Heavy Metal was built at my place of employment (lots of sideways looks for sure) and is now my daily work machine. Typing on it now as a matter of fact.
What kind of things do you do to start on a project like the one that you had finished for C3 (Heavy Metal)? No need to bring out the blue prints or anything, but speaking on a high level of experience and extensive modding what would you suggest for the new modders looking to get into this kind of modding and extreme detail and quality in their mods and projects?
First off I would say build off your strengths or passion. As you can see from my mod, a lot of what went into Heavy Metal came from what I love. That doesn?t mean dive right in however, Heavy Metal took months of research and planning before the first cut was even made. Mods at this level are more art than mod though. When you look at mods like Mashie's Y2K bug, Crimson's Matrix mods, or even the christine mod, they are all more art than mod.
That?s half of what makes modding all worth it, is how much you enjoy it and what you put into it along with the final results.
So true. I see a lot of modders today asking others what they should do to their case, and that is the wrong way to approach modding. If you aren?t doing for yourself, you shouldn't be doing it at all.
That?s a good point. I know that we all start out as "newbies" at one point or another, we all have made our mistakes to start somewhere and had our projects that didn't quite turn out the way we wanted. What was your most memorable project? Not necessarily most horrible, and not most embarrassing necessarily but as stating more on the fact of what was the most memorable learning experience in modding, what was your most memorable project?
Most Memorable so far is the powered chassis for Heavy Metal, only due to the enormous amount of research, time and resources that went into it. it was the kind of project that you really don't grasp mentally as becoming a reality until it actually does. The powered chassis was also the most problematic. It ate speed controllers for lunch, and at $400 a pop, per motor per wheel, it wasn't pretty. The controllers that are in Heavy Metal now are custom units made by IFI Robotics. A week before attending the C3, I was in the middle of making some modifications to the chassis to enable the magnetic braking selectively for the front and rear drives. While testing I dropped one of the switches with the system being charged. Of all the places it could of dropped, it landed on the hot side of the main disconnect and instantly blew the 2 rear speed controllers. If you want to talk scramble, 2 new "custom" speed controllers and installation with only a week until the C3... The Screen Savers bit was a little embarrassing also as the burnout attempt didn?t go quite as planned and blew the rear speed controllers (on live TV). It was after that show when I got together with IFI and had the custom speed controllers built. I also killed the night rider circuit late one night while wiring by feeding it 12v (5v circuit) and it only took a second to hear and realize what I had done.
Well it sounds like you've had your fair share of learning experiences. It definitely comes with the territory. What would you say was your most accomplished project so far, Heavy Metal or do you have another that you really like?
The most memorable moment with heavy metal complete was after returning from the C3 and putting on a demonstration for the local high school. I spent a full day tearing around the high school doing demonstrations and explaining the technology that went into heavy metal. Heavy Metal would have to be it so far. I do have several new mods, one started and several in my head , that I think will give HM a run for the money.
I can't wait to see them and I'm sure the readers are excited to hear that, after seeing Heavy Metal and learning even more about it I can't wait to see what you're working on next, I'm sure the readers are just as excited! What kind of mods have really stuck out to you in the community such as techniques, modifications in specific such as light mods or products that seem to really stand out as well as some other interesting mods that have absolutely stuck out and caught your eye?
There are so many really cool mods that have stood out for me, where to begin. But first, that last soda is telling me that I need a bathroom break. Brb.
Haha, no problem. Don't get caught up in a Pepsi mod while you're there or anything, we still gotta be able to do the interview, lol!
Haha! I would like to email you with the mods that have really impressed me so I get the names and links right. Too difficult a question for a live interview.
So tell us James, as an experienced modder, what kind of things would you like to see heading into the modding market for new modders and modders such as yourself as well? Is there anything that you've been looking forward to for a while that you haven't seen hit the market yet?
I have received 48 spam emails during this interview so far, and that is with my spam filter.
I'm sorry to hear that, it?s possible that maybe even the bots enjoy your mods!
Haha. As kooky as it sounds, I rarely use any of the modding products available because they usually don't fit the theme or aren?t really what I am looking for. Lets take a future mod I am beginning to plan out is a boom box mod that will be like a little person with 8" subs for feet, 6" mids for hands, a car amp for a back pack, motherboard for the front, and aquatubes (2) for eyes with the whole thing including the amp being water-cooled. Even though the aquatubes are modding hardware, as I am sure the waterblocks will be, almost everything else will be custom made. I think that is one of the elements that separates these types of mods from the rest. One thing to consider when modding and looking for supplies like wire wrap, you can usually by it at a fraction of what mod stores sell it for by doing a little research on the web and buying it direct. It also frustrates me when companies like Thermaltake plaster their name 10 times on every product they make. I think most modders would prefer the naming removed and the product recognized for what it is as opposed the tackiness of the shameless advertising.
When I do use a modding product however, I am pretty picky about how its looks, constructions and performance. When a manufacture decides to get into the modding business, the end result should not appear to have come straight from someone?s back yard.
So do you think that more companies should make more progress towards the style of the product and appearance on a professional basis in the sense that the names should be smaller and more emphasis put on making the product itself with more of a stealth look in the sense that the first thing you see is the product, not the name?
Definitely. Wouldn't you rather have your product identified on site because it looked as good as it performed, and everyone new it by that reputation, or by how but ugly it is no matter how it performed because they have to advertise 20 times on the product that it's theirs.
I believe that can relate somewhat to cars if you were to compare that to two different sides, imports and domestics. Very rarely do you see a domestic street car with more than a nice look, simple paint job to look clean and simply perform as nice as it sounds. The same story goes for imports but quite often you see them with more labels, stickers and advertising than you see on the paint job.
Same goes with modding in my opinion. But all readers please keep in mind, some people enjoy doing that for the looks and for the fun of it. Just like cars, just like computers. To each his own. Sometimes you'll see a mod with the hardware to perform as awesome as it looks, sometimes its an outstanding mod and a little slower, either way it doesn't matter how it performs as long as you enjoyed making the mod. That?s half the fun, just as James said. So what do you see happening in the future with modding, James?
Modding has moved into the mainstream as did with customizing and hopping up cars. The bulk of the modding community (as it is now) will most likely mod using the products available specifically for modding. But as with cars, there is going to be that small percentage that breaks out of that mold, and chooses to customize almost everything from scratch.
That?s a great point. Its as extensive, customized and interesting as people choose to make it, very good point. It does seem to be getting more and more mainstream. With newer cases coming out all the time to compensate for newer hardware coming out and newer accessories the possibilities are becoming more and more extensive all on their own for the modders that are using new cases coming out from companies like Lian-Li and other top competitors in the market like CoolerMaster as well. What kind of brands do you see as really going to the top in your opinion?
I like the CoolerMaster models, Lian-Li has some nice ones, and the Zalman heatpipe case is just plain cool. There are others, but I can't recall the names off hand. What I don't like however are the cookie cutter cases that just swap out the plastic bezel and whala new case. CoolerMaster has dome a real nice job in my opinion building quality cases with style...up to a 63 spam interview...
Wow, well it definitely seems like your spam is on it's way to the top along with the growing amount of interest in modding. I've gotten hit with some spam and bots myself during the interview. Well I definitely want to thank you for answering our questions, just one more question if you don't mind...
If you could tell the readers anything on your mind, whether it be about modding, cars, weather, anything, what would it be?
Modding should be an expression of yourself and if you enjoy the work you have done, don't let anyone tell you different...and Go Packers!
Haha, there ya go! Well thank you for your time James, I have to say that I have enjoyed this interview, its been fun and I can't wait to see the mods that you are working on in the future and I'm sure the readers are in just as much suspense! Thanks for your time, hope to be seeing your work once again in the modding community and looking forward to it, take care.
Thanks, it?s been fun.
James' List of Impressive Mods
Eugene Sargent's Shiny Aluminum Case
Mashie's Y2k Bug
Paul Capello's Biohazard: Toxic Case
Bschott's Computer with an Identity Crisis *Christine*
Bonzanego's Project Blue Flame
Sheffield Abella's Hellraiser Cube
Qtip42's Spider Case
Piloux's Blackmesa HL2 (In Progress)
Cold Dog's NeXT Cube
CrayzAss1's Project Angel
Michael Balise's AntiM