Pimped Photography Laptop Case, Modified

If you’ve been tuned in for a while, you’re no doubt up to speed on our DIY Pimped Laptop Case. Rumors flew around photography circles that the only thing it didn’t have was missile launchers. Well, that little video just had its one year anniversary last week and it’s still getting tons of traffic, comments and–my favorite part–proposed modifications. The most recent such modification that deserves mention is really simple and very useful and it comes to us from Seattle-based (woot woot!) aerial landscape specialist Tabb Firchau.

Seems that Tabb got tired of bending over to mess with his laptop and so he whipped up a simple little plan to mount this puppy to a tripod without sacrificing the waterproof aspects of the case. $38 bucks for the platform. Add some industrial Velcro and you’re set.

Buy the Manfrotto 3290 platform here. You’re on your own for tracking down the Velcro.

Thanks Tabb – we’re putting this mod to use for sure, and I promise it’s not just because you sent me this cool, navigable Quicktime VR of the park that our Seattle studio overlooks (grab the image below with a click and drag):
BTW, make time to visit Tabb’s site to check out the images and video he can make from his remote control helicopter. I was blown away.

Lastly, as many of you surmised from a snapshot that sneaked into an earlier post, we’re working with another DIY iteration of the case and would love to learn from what you’re doing and thinking. So, if you’ve by chance pimped your laptop case or done some thinking about it, do share in the comments below.

[OR if you don’t have time to make your own silly little case, the smart folks at Tidy Pixels have done a mack daddy version all for you called the Mk7. Indeed it looks very familiar, but unlike the one we pioneered in 2006 this one comes fully loaded, and with some style too. I never would have started an entire company around the the pimped laptop idea, but I’m glad someone did. Who wouldn’t love to have one or two of those!]

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MacGyver says:

Thanks for your help with the questions I had when I was working on the Pelican 1495 case last year for my old 17" Powerbook.

Just upgraded to a 15" MacBook Pro this year and did another Pelican case, with a few minor additions this time. You can see the results here


David Thanh says:

The new MBPs have a built-in battery now so no more carrying spares. I've ordered an external battery from Hypermac which I'm going to fit into the tray below the laptop. Should give me an additional 14 hours or so for the 150WH battery. I'll let you know how it works out.

Fenris says:

One little note: Pelican cases aren’t considered waterproof, at least by the whitewater community anymore. Too many failures of the O-rings or getting crushed. What they use if Watershed bags and if they need hard protection they will put a pelican case inside.

Miss Catwalker says:

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Chase Jarvis says:

@ macgyver: minimize the foam underneath or consider lid mounted drives. We have not had a problem (knock on wood) with them mounted as such.

It was a amazing experience to visit this website and read the articles and contents. http://www.saadepunjab.com

MacGyver says:

Chase, in a previous photo you had posted the hard drives were mounted to the lid of the pelican case as opposed to being mounted beneath the laptop.

Have you and your crew run into any problems running the portable hard drives mounted vertically like that?

I’ve modded a Pelican 1495 case for my 17″ Powerbook and put 2 external drives beneath the laptop. Seems to get very hot because of the surrounding foam. I’m wondering if the drives would stay cooler mounted on the inside of the lid. Just worried if the drives would have problems in that position.

Chase Jarvis says:

@ Me: you can get all the info in the original laptop post here.

Me says:

Where can I get one?

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Fox Williams says:

Looks incredible.. not sure I have any real use for it though!

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Mister Fy says:

hi there, just dropping by to say hello.

nice blog of photography!!

You are pushing me man. You are always there with something new, some fresh look at something…you are inspiring.
I gotta say, I’ve never felt more passionate about what I’m doing and I love it. My wife said to me the other day – “…you are just on fire with the outlook on your photography…”
You are pushing me man. Always challenging me with how you look at things. I don’t want to necessarily do what you do or be a carbon copy of Chase, but seeing what you do…not to mention your willingness to share it with us is monumental! I am making the transition from Packaging Designer to full time professional photographer and I finally feel like I am finding my “Photographic Self”. I thank you for the push!
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Rick Lohre

Me says:

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im gonna get that case

Tabb Firchau says:

Hey guys just thought I would chime in for those of you who were interested in the mast setup. It is a 50ft portable mast I use for some low level aerial work.

Mast comes from:

Remote camera head from:

To attach the camera to the mast I use the top section of a monopod.

Camera head is controlled by remote and I use remote capture on the macbook to review photos as I take them.

thanks for sharing your original pimped laptop case with me!

Chase Jarvis says:

@ raven: Of course! Actually digging around my blog is a good place to pick up some of the tips I have to offer generally.

If you have specific questions, bring em to me offline…

Chase Jarvis says:

@ anon (Juan):

Good tip for those who don’t want to tarnish their MacBook Pro. Personally, its just a nice tool for us, so I don’t mind, but I do understand the desire to keep it neat. On the otherhand the Lacie 160 ruggeds DO have bus powered firewire 800s.

raven says:

hi! good article! would you mind sharing some tips with me.

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Anonymous says:

Well, instead of getting two Lacie Rugged drives, I got two enclosures from http://www.macsales.com, so I get FW800 (instead of 400), USB, I can swap the drives inside (which, for me, is extremely helpful) and it’s cheaper. I also bought a Speck see thru case so I didn’t have to put velcro directly on the MacBook Pro to hold the Compushade. Hope this helps.


Carolyn says:

Congrats on being a Blog of Note.


Zeke says:

I’m with John. What’s up with that lightstand/tripod. What’s it called, how tall can it go, and where can I get one?


hang on, can we talk about the possibilities with a remote control helicopter a bit more??? ;o) Crafty in the city for shooting through peoples windows. Hey, that would make a rockin book. Through the windows. all shot with a remote helicopter… Yup…

John Leonard Photography says:

OK, the case is cool, but I want to know about that pole set-up that is going on. I have a use for something like that.

punto says:


Mina Jade says:

Good pics – I loved the photo of the blond angel on American Photo’s cover.

Great blog – love the pics and your modified stuff, it’s really cool!


Gorgeous photos! Yeah for Blogger’s “Blogs of Note,” or I might never have seen your work.

Brett says:

Great blog, cool to see people modding stuff instead of lining the manufactures pockets

Toddiferous says:

Thanks Chase, great mod. I don’t have the laptop case, but I’m going to do this with my MacBook Pro. Just a little velcro on teh bottom and voila!

Cool aerial QTime btw. Did he do that with a blimp?

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