Laptop Case Vid Follow-up (aka Pimp Your Laptop Case: the nitty gritty)

Wow. Cool. After solid interest here, and nearly 10,000 views of our Custom Laptop Case Video on YouTube, I’ve received piles of emails, some comments, and a handful of questions such that a follow up post is looking like a good idea. So without further ado, here’s a few still frames pulled from the video, some FAQ’s answered, and a detailed shopping list.

Some still shots from the vid clip, or other more detailed images:

The Pelican 1490

The San Disk Card Reader snugged into the pocket

The Lacie Drives Under the MacBook Pro

The Compact Flash cards lined up in the foam

The notch we cut out of the foam to give access to MacBook Pro ports:

Some FAQ’s Answered:

Q: What do you mean when you say “daisy chain the drives together?”
A: There are two bus-powered fire wire 400 ports on each drive. We just connect the two drives to each other using one fire wire port on each; and then we connect one of the drives using it’s second fire wire port to the MacBook Pro’s fire wire port and both show up on the Desktop. No modification necessary, just a couple of fire wire cables cleverly strung through/under/behind the foamy rubber laptop tray.

Q: Do the drives run the risk of overheating?
A: Typically, our challenge when working in the out of doors on location isn’t keeping things cool, it is keeping things warm enough (hence the Little Hotties adhesive warmers for maximizing charge on batteries). For the record, we ARE aware of potential overheat issues, and we keep an eye on it, but have as of now (after about 8 months using this setup) not had ANY issues with this. Just yesterday while riding in a car downloading cards (for 2 hours straight) the fan in the MacBook Pro came on for the first time ever, but nothing approached notable heat levels. In that instance, and when we work in warm conditions, we’d just tweak the computer off the the side a little for air flow. I think the fact that there’s a fair bit of space around each drive, coupled with NOT an airtight seal and rubber to displace the heat keeps things in a relatively happy state. This answer is obviously in no way suggesting you should ignore temperature concerns, however we have not encountered any issues to date.

Q: Is there a case that accommodates the 17″ MacBook Pro?
A: Apparently there is a version of the Pelican 1490 that works with the 17″ MacBook (Pro). Although I haven’t personally tested it, this link: seems to do the trick with the pluckable foam. It might compromise the CF card storage slots we use on the right side of the computer tray, and I have no idea how the drives will integrate under the computer in the foam, but give it a whirl…and make sure you can return the case if it’s a no go. If anyone picks one up, please post your results here so we can keep this updated, as I’m sure lots of people are in your shoes.

Q: A couple items on your list have sold out at the sources you mentioned, any thoughts on other sources?
A: I didn’t expect so much interest in the case, so indeed some items have sold out at a couple of the vendors I suggested, however, with a little resourcefulness, you should have no problem tracking the stuff down with a simple Google search, and an email or two. Additionally, read the revised ‘source’ section below.

Q: Is the Pelican Case waterproof and does it lock?
A: Pelican claims it is waterproof, although I haven’t held ours under water to find out. We have had it in some pretty nasty conditions and it performed perfectly. Yes, our case comes with locks, however I believe you can specify if you’d like them or not.

Q: I don’t use Mac, will this work for PC laptops?
A: Yes, most likely. You’ll need to specify which kind of laptop tray you need when you order the case. Depending on what model PC you’re using, be sure you can access your PC’s ports on the right side of the computer with a simple notch in the foam, like we’ve done with our MacBook Pro.

Q: Why do you have two drives under the computer?
A: We use one for original (working) files, and the other for backup in case one hard drive fails. I HIGHLY recommend always writing to two drives. We’ve seen drives fail – and to not be backed up could be disastrous. For more comprehensive backup discussions, read my two previous entries 1)about the basics of backup; and 2)the more comprehensive backup for your studio.

Source List:

The original source list posted in the vid is here (I understand some of the vendors have re-stocked items they sold out of…)
-Pelican 1490 with 15″ Laptop Tray, $164,
-Lacie Rugged 160GB Hard Drives, $270,
-SanDisk Card Reader, $19.99,
-Little Hotties Adhesive Warmers, $47.99 for box of 96,
-Computer Screen Shade, $29.99,
-Velcro, $2.69, or buy local if not avail online
-MacBook Pro, $2000+,

And if that’s not enough shopping info for you, my friends over at CreativeTechs have put together a shopping cart from Amazon where you can get most, if not all, of these things in one tidy little package. Check it out here.

Lastly, please feel free to continue to post comments to this entry or the original post if you have questions or (even better) if you have answers or more information.

(RSS readers can click here to go to blog if you’re missing some images from this post.)

Hi Christophe,

We used an x-acto knife to cut the rubber divider. We were pretty conservative, only cutting where necessary. We used the same tool to cut holes in the rubber tray to run cords through.

Christophe says:

Hi there,

I would like to know how you were able to cut the rubber divider to provide access to the ports? What tools did you used etc.?

financially i am not strong so i am not able to buy this kind of case for my laptop. A small little bag is perfectly suitable for my laptop but this is something new and I will think about it in a future.

Depending on what model PC you're using, be sure you can access your PC's ports on the right side of the computer with a simple notch in the foam, like they have done with the MacBook Pro.

scott r. says:

@lachlan: the 149CC bottom insert does appear to be the same one as we have. The center support appears to be covered by the strap on the pelican website.

Chase Jarvis says:

C: It attaches with velcro, so YES you can swap it to other laptops :)

CKegelman says:

How does the laptop cover attach to your MBP? Can you change it to a different laptop?

Chase Jarvis says:

I’m not familiar with any backpack options, but let us know if you come across something. That could be really handy!

Anonymous says:

Is there something equivalent for those photographers who travel using a motorcycle, that can be used similarly to a rugged/protective backpack?

Chase Jarvis says:

No I haven’t thought of that…but it sounds cool (pun intended ;) Do tell…?!

Erik Seo says:

Have you thought about plugging in a usb laptop cooler in between the drives and the laptop?

Chase Jarvis says:

Thurston: Awesome links! Thanks so much. I love it – and I’ve got mad respect for those little cases. So tough.

If you ever want to see how tough a Pelican is, check out those links…

Chase Jarvis says:

Right on, Joseph. Thanks for the follow up. I just checked out that case on and it looks pretty sweet. Your idea with the closed cell foam seems like it’s the best solution, given what you’ve said… Make sure to give a little room around the computer for breathing, and even a little xtra for the drives underneath to combat any heat issues – should be a perfect deal. Thanks for sharing and do send over some shots when you get it wrapped up!

Joseph says:


This case is awesome! I recently purchased a 17″ MacBook Pro and was trying to figure how to do the same thing witha softsided case. I got a Pelican 1495CC1 for my computer, it’s freaking huge! In retrospect if I would have had this as my end goal before buying the computer, I would have gone with the 15″ MBP. The laptop tray that comes with the 1495cc1 dosen’t have the divider that you cut out for the firewire port. So I’m going to build a “shelf” out of closed cell foam for the comp. to set on and make space for the hard drives. I’ll send photos when it’s done.

Another Pelican resource:

pelican 1495cc1 $169.95
( $206)

Thanks for sharing your toy!


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