As an adolescent in the mid-80s, I got a see-through Swatch watch (with translucent green trimming) that showed the internal structures and the gears in motion. It was my favorite, and ever since then I’ve been a big fan of clear casings on electronics. I often wonder why they’re not more prevalent — the motors, circuitry, and wiring are so much more interesting to look at than a dull grey plastic cowl.
With that, the new youtube channel Useless Mod is quickly turning into my favorite place to find unexpected see-through variations of popular gadgets. From an iPhone SE 2020, to Airpods (standard and Pro), to a Mavic Mini and a GoPro Hero 8, the channel’s mastermind Dennis is putting very real devices under the knife. No throwaway thrift store goods here, these are legit items getting the “invisible shell” treatment.
His process isn’t for the faint of heart; to get these clear cases, Dennis creates them from scratch, dissecting an item’s electronics entirely to extract just the external plastic shell. He creates a silicone mold of the plastic pieces, adding precise injection points, and uses clear epoxy to make a near-perfect match. He then carefully reassembles the device, and if all goes well, everything powers back up and he demonstrates his new, cool, clear version. But, spoiler — it doesn’t always turn back on, and then Dennis has to troubleshoot to fix the issue.
One of the most impressive of these videos so far is his impact driver rebuild, which shows all the pieces (including snap-in-place battery) clearly, offering a good look at how the hammering aspect of these tools works. It also shows his mold making technique, and some of the advanced equipment he has access to for making his cases.
The channel is still very new — the first video was uploaded on May 21st, and there are only just over 4000 subscribers — so we reached out to find out more about who’s doing it, and why.
My name is POON Chung Yeung, Dennis. Age 26. I am born and raised in Hong Kong. I have a Mechanical Engineering Degree from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. [Editor note: that’s the venue of Maker Faire Hong Kong!]
Make: What type of work do you do specifically?
Dennis: I work in the engineering field, I do mechanical design for moving props, like Xmas and window moving decorations.
What gave you the idea for this youtube channel?
I can list out the specific videos that inspired me, I really want to thank them for their work!
1. This transparent drill video is the video that inspired me the most! I love to “see” things working in real life under transparent case.
2. Jerryrigeverything’s clear phone, he started this clear case trend, and I learned a lot of skills of disassembling electronic stuff from him.
3. This gold AirPod video inspired me to change the materiel of the original case to make it look cool:
I am always amazed by people who can do a lot of amazing stuff on youtube.
The most import part is my achievements today, my Mechanical Engineering Degree and Mechanical Engineering work, are all because of YouTube!
I learned English, Engineering, Handcrafting, Video Editing, etc. all from YouTube. I learned to make silicone molds and resin casting from university, and then I watched a lot of tutorials on YouTube on how to make crystal clear resin casting. I want to be a part of it to contribute back so more people can learn and grow like I have from YouTube.
Is this your first YouTube channel?
Not really, this is my 2nd YouTube channel, I had a Hong Kong YouTube channel aim for making Hong Kong culture model to preserve the local culture that is dying.
But I haven’t update for a while. And sadly since the market of Cantonese (Hongkonger’s Language) is very small, it didn’t get much attention.
I will maintain my 1st YouTube channel when my Useless Mod channel grow big enough that can support me to become a full-time YouTuber. But for now I had to let my Hong Kong Channel sit there.
Luckily, since then I’ve come up with this clear case video idea, so I’ve really started to make videos.
And the very long list of YouTube channels I’ve learned science and engineering from:
Make: (of course!)
The Action Lab
How It’s Made
The list maybe a bit long but I want to thank them all!
My upcoming content will include more mechanical stuff, since I am a mechanical guy.
And I want the videos to have more educational purpose, like my clear impact drive video, so people can learn from my video rather than for them to only look cool.
And the other direction is to make videos like my 10 times larger SD Card, to enlarge things 10 times and add imaginative function to it. Hopefully this can inspire people looking things in different perspective and ignite imagination.