It's the Great Pumpkin PC, Charlie Brown!

Can you really put a fully functioning PC inside a jack-o'-lantern? We may be out of our gourds, but we did it.

PC World and the Great Pumpkin PC

Happy Halloween from your friends at PCWorld! To celebrate, we spent a perfectly good workday carving up a pumpkin PC case, and we made sure to document the process for your viewing pleasure. If you have a few hours this holiday weekend and you'd like to carve your own, click through to see how we did it. (You can also check out this video of our pumpkin PC production process.)

Pick Your Pumpkin

Head down to the local pumpkin patch and pick out the biggest pumpkin you can find, at least a foot in diameter. Your wallet may take a hit, but it's worth the expense to ensure that you'll have a case big enough to hold your components and power supply. Bring it back to the office and clear plenty of space on your desk, workbench, or conference-room table. Take the rest of the day off, because it's time to get carving!

Assemble Your Tools

Before embarking on this kind of quest, it's important to ensure that you have the tools to do the job right--the last thing you want is a leaky pumpkin dripping goop all over your CPU. We used a simple pumpkin-carving kit (thoughtfully provided by all-star PCW editor Melissa Riofrio) that shouldn't cost you more than $10.

Build Your PC

Assemble your components and power them up to make sure everything functions before you try cramming the works into an actual pumpkin. Our setup was spartan and included nothing but stuff we had lying around the PCWorld Labs: a generic 400-watt power supply, a VB series mini-ITX motherboard, a Kingston 128GB solid-state drive, 1GB of RAM, a VIA Nano 1.6GHz CPU, and a wireless mouse and keyboard combo. Our jack-o'-lantern runs the 32-bit version of Windows 7. We didn't get a chance to benchmark it, but it probably wouldn't do well: Microsoft gave it a Windows Experience rating of 1.

Gut Your Gourd

Now that you've picked out your pumpkin, carve a lid around the stem and get your hands dirty disemboweling your new case. Make sure to scrape down the sides thoroughly and clean out all the goop to ensure that you don't get any pumpkin seeds and/or entrails on your components.

Carve a Back Door

Instead of trying to finagle our components through the top, we found it easier to carve a nice, wide hole in the rear to accommodate the single largest component of the pumpkin PC (in our case, the power supply). Slip in a waterproof base (we repurposed some cardboard and wrapped it in plastic), and make sure to leave plenty of space for running your power, display, and Internet cables out. If you're feeling extra crafty, carve the access port in one large, replaceable chunk to keep the pumpkin looking smooth when not in use.

Slide Everything In (Lots of Assembly Required)

Once you have everything squared away, it's time to start building your PC! We divided the project into manageable chunks (in our case, the power supply, motherboard/CPU, and a 200mm case fan) and slid them in one at a time, inserting one hand through the top to steady and assemble everything. We mounted our case fan with a few pieces of high-strength wire inserted into the sides of the pumpkin, but you could achieve the same effect with a little ingenuity and a few bent paper clips. Keep an eye out for detached cables, and make sure that nothing is dangling in the case fan before you power the system up.

Light It Up

Plug in the power supply, hook up a monitor, and boot up your brand-new pumpkin PC. If all goes well, you'll have the spookiest computer on the block--and in a few days, one of the moldiest! (If you want to preserve your work, you might try covering it with shellac.) Happy Halloween!

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