I decided to spice things up a bit on the electrical side. At the heart of the electrical work is how the switching is handled.
One of the more popular things that people are doing on their cabs these days is to wire up a "one button to rule them all" for powering the cabinet - that is, having one single button on your cabinet that will power on everything: PC, monitor, lights, etc. This is usually done with either with a commercial "sensing" power strip like the Smart Strip from Bits Ltd., or by hacking a power relay onto a regular outlet or powerstrip. You then plug your PC into the "control" outlet, and then splice off wires from the power switch on your PC and run them to the "one button to rule them all" that you have mounted on your cabinet. So when you push this button it will power on your PC, and the PC starting will trigger the other devices (monitor, lights, etc.) to power on too. Neat, huh?
It is a neat idea actually, but just not what I wanted. What I wanted was the direct opposite of this idea: I wanted to be able to control every electrical device in the cabinet individually. So the idea was born to have a bank of switches available for individual control for everything in the cabinet.
I figured that a row of four black SPST Rocker Switches would work nicely (I'm just cutting the "hot" wire with them). I decided on four switches because I wanted to control the fan, the LEDs, the glowire in the trigger stick, and the marquee light. The fan and the glowire in the trigger stick were actually what spawned this whole idea in the first place for me...they were devices that I was pretty sure that I didn't want on all the time, so I knew I'd want an easy way to turn them on and shut them off as needed.
To mount the switches on the cabinet, I used a drive blank that you would normally put into a 5-1/2" drive bay on a PC as the "button panel". I drilled/cut four holes into it, painted it black and glossed it, mounted it onto the cabinet with screws, and then mounted the switches into it.
I guess I should mention the fan since I haven't brought it up yet. Because the TV is wedged into the cabinet so tightly I was concerned about it overheating, so I mounted a 12V PC fan right over where the TV's vents are located to pull hot air out of the top of the cabinet. To be honest though, I almost never have the fan on because I don't think that the TV is heating up that much at all in the cabinet. What makes me think that there aren't any heat problems is the fact that if I do turn the fan on, the air coming out is cool. Sounds scientific enough to me! But hey, it's there if I do need it...
I have a 1/2" hole drilled at the back bottom of the cabinet for the power cord, which connects up to a 2-plug metal outlet box (I chose a metal box so that the box itself can serve as an earth ground). I wanted the power coming in to just be a straight feed and not going through a surge protector or a power strip or anything like that, hence the outlet box. From there I have a six-outlet surge protector plugged into the outlet box, and every device in the cabinet is plugged into the surge protector.
One of the devices plugged into the surge protector is a separate AT-style PC power supply that's being used to power the "auxillary" devices in the cabinet: all LEDs, the glowire in the trigger stick, and the fan. I'm using a separate power supply for a few reasons:
So provided that the main power cord from the cabinet is plugged in, the two-plug outlet box is always on. The six-plug surge protector that plugs into the two-plug outlet box has everything plugged into it, so switching the surge protector off will essentially power everything in the cabinet off (which isn't really done except for maintenance though). Once the six-plug surge protector is on, everything else can be controlled individually:
So my routine for firing the cabinet up is: Boot up the PC, turn on the TV with the remote, turn on the marquee light, turn on the aux/LEDs. And optional: If I'm feeling saucy, I'll kick on the trigger stick glowire at some point. I know that that is the opposite of the whole "one button to rule them all" motif, but it's how I like it set up. What can I say: I'm a dork. I like clicking everything on.
Cable, Ethernet, and power coming into the cabinet.
Inside the back-bottom, where all of the electrical feeds are.
All devices are plugged into the surge protector.