It’s time again for another addition to our ever expanding series Modder in the Spotlight. This time we have a modder that has been hiding down in the depths of the modding scene, but is ready to surface once again. Introducing Mr. Craig “Craigbru” Brugger. Craig is best known for his impressive line of of small form-factor mods such as the L.O.S.I.A.S, Rogue NZXT, and OSIDIAS. His latest case mod was featured on a CPU magazine cover and won the Intel LANFest modding competition in 2013. Tells us a lot about himself, how he got started in the modding community, his thoughts on the different modding styles and his plans for the future.
Below we have the audio interview that was done between Craig Brugger and myself (Joe), for those of you that do not have the bandwidth to listen to the interview, we have also left a summary below.
Who is Craig Brugger and what got you into case modding?
I am a computer modder living in Omaha, Nebraska and self-proclaimed SFF (small form factor) nut. I first got started in modding the same way a lot of us did, and that was I needed a way to improve the thermals with my PC. Of course that was just the tip of the iceberg, wasn’t long after that I knew I was hooked!
Well L.O.S.I.A.S which stands for (Lots Of Shit In A Sugo or Lots Of Stuff In A Space) was my first major project where I took a Silverstone SG01 mATX case and pretty much did a complete case rehaul on it. In the end that mod had, dual GTX8800’s, a high end AMD socket 939 CPU, a TEC cooler which was expanded to support another radiator and a full sized PSU. With that mod I knew each mod that came after it had to top the one before it and shortly after I started working on Rogue SFF and oh boy was that an ever growing project. I fit a full sized ATX board in there along with another dual GPU config, Peltier/watercooling system, full PSU, dual slot load drives, in the end that case had to weigh around 80 pounds if not more! I started work on OSIDIAS but due to some stuff that came up in life I was never able to finish it and went on to start work on MPD-01 which was a completely scratch build case and this began the first project that I built with my new view on modding in mind, but more on that later.
So why SFF over full ATX systems?
Personally I just love that you don’t have to have this massive behemoth of a system anymore to have a PC that is worth a damn. For those of you that have been to a LAN you know all to well the trouble of carrying in your giant tower then stumbling back out of breath to grab your monitor after you have been fighting with your rig for who knows how long. When I saw the EVGA socket 939 SLI board, I knew there was something special about SFF. Ever since that board I have been building pretty much exclusively on the SFF platform. The leaps and bounds the ITX boards and even the mATX boards have made almost make the full sized boards obsolete for most of the market that doesn’t need the buffet of features they offer.
Talk about your work on the NZXT Phantom?
Ahh yes the NZXT Phantom, I worked with Johnny Hou on this project. As far as my contribution, I helped them out by designing the internal structure of the case. At the time NZXT was trying to step up their game and approached me about helping them out to make sure this could be a case tailored for the enthusiast market.
MPD-01 why do you still keep it a secret from us?!
I know I know! Eventually I will post a worklog on it, its only been a few years lol. People keep getting onto me about posting a log on it, but to be honest I did not really take too many pictures of it, since I finished it like a mad man. I started working on it with the idea of getting it ready for the Intel LANfest. Well I got a bit distracted and ended up having to put in some Moddathon sessions (ten to thirteen hours) to get it wrapped up in time for the event. Luckily everything was completed in time and it has actually been the system I have kept together the longest.
Will we see the return of OSIDIAS?
As much as I would love to go back to project OSIDIAS, the project just doesn’t fit what I want in a mod anymore. Don’t get me wrong, OSIDIAS was a crazy undertaking and it would be awesome to finish my vision for the project, but I have a new view on modding, where everything is purpose built. OSIDIAS had too many parts to it, in the end it was going to have three PCs in it, which lets be honest, does anyone really need that? My new outlook is all about what is practical and to only incorporate pieces into the mod that have add relative function to the overall mod. Now what I can say is a project I had designed some time ago named project “Draken” which I had help from Nate George over at E22 bring the concept to life as I did not have the CNC space at the time to make the chassis. Now that I have upgraded to a much larger CNC, from my previous Romaxx CNC do not be surprise if you start seeing some new cases from me later this year.
I believe your last true case mod was Rogue SFF in the NZXT Rogue, since then we have seen you make scratch builds (OSIDIAS and MPD-01) which do you prefer scratch or classic case mods?
Scratch build hands down! For me I love the freedom that comes with a scratch build. Although I like to mod in the classical style, I often feel that I have modded a case so much that it has completely taken away from the original spirit of the case. Like I said before with L.O.S.I.A.S, it really should have been a scratch build with as much as I changed about it. With my scratch builds however I can make my own image a reality without worrying if I took the mod too far.
You see a lot of the if you CNC’d it or lasered it, thats not modding attacks in the community, what is your personal approach on this as someone that not only has succeeded in classic modding, but are now using advance tools such as the CNC?
Yes, I see this all the time, people ranting and raving over the fact that you did not use a jigsaw or a dremel. Lets be straight forward, if you have access to a laser or a CNC machine, would you honestly not take advantage of that? I really hate when people say, “Oh well you are not a real modder or that’s not a mod because you didn’t hand cut anything.” When I did projects like L.O.S.I.A.S and ROGUE SFF, I could design and mod on the go, however with MPD-01 the amount of design work and pre-planning was insane. There were times I would make a panel only to find out a hole was a millimeter off and I had to scrap the entire panel, just because a small oversight like that. I couldn’t imagine that with a full sized tower the amount of “error panels” and materials that could get thrown in the reject pile. There is no magic button when it comes to using a tool like a CNC, if the machine decides it does not like the G-code it may decided to bore a hole dead center of your panel just because it’s Tuesday. I can’t say how many times I have had to go back and redraw my files to a way the machine liked it just because it did not like the way I had a certain path drawn. Personally this mentality needs to stop, the community is about seeing what we can create how how we can teach others, not squabbling over what tools we used.
What is your thought on what makes the mod, is it the parts or the case?
I will put this bluntly, I could give two shits what you put in your case. Hardware does not make the case mod, for example in MPD-01, I had very modest components. There was an Asrock ITX board, NZXT Kraken AIO and a mid range AMD video card, it was enough for what I was planning on using the rig for. I knew out of the gate that none of my components would be visible, what the judges were going to see first and foremost was the case itself. Keep in mind for those of you that are planning on entering modding competitions, the parts play a very small roll in the grading scheme, when it comes down to it, you are being graded on your craftsmanship and how well you executed your mod.
We would like to thank Craig again for sparing some of his time in order to speak with us about his thoughts on modding and sharing a bit of his personal history with us. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled as Craig teased us a bit on some up and coming projects that he will be working on in the near future.