Welcome guest. Before posting on our computer help forum, you must register. Click here it's easy and free.

Author Topic: Network Activity LED - Relocation Mod to Front Panel  (Read 100691 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


    Topic Starter

  • Thanked: 662
  • Certifications: List
  • Computer: Specs
  • Experience: Expert
  • OS: Windows 10
Network Activity LED - Relocation Mod to Front Panel
« on: February 09, 2017, 05:20:13 PM »
Sharing this very simple Network Activity LED Mod where I relocated my LED from a PCI 100mbps NIC to a LED placed into a hole in the front panel of my computer case. I did this mod about 7 years ago. More computers should come with front panel display of Network Activity as for the rear of the computer is a LED thats only useful if you look around the back of the computer.

Years ago I use to have a mirror placed behind my computer on my desk so I could look over and see what the network activity was showing. This was back when I was running XP Pro on this computer and I was downloading lots of free to play games and I was at risk of downloading software to my computer that could have other features that I didnt want bundled in with them like malware or the games turning my system into a bit torrent seed for game updates etc for others which over a slower internet connection meant that my network which was 5/1mpbs download/upload could be crippled by my system using up the 1mbps upload to bit torrent game updates to other unknown users. So I needed to keep an eye on my network activity to see when there was unusual activity and then run wireshark to see what was exactly going on and kill it off from wasting my bandwidth.

I realized the one day that, why have a mirror at the rear of my computer, all I needed to do is a Server type of Mod where the Compaq computer case is drilled at the front for an LED to insert into the hole and hot glue it on the inside of the front panel so it wouldnt fall out and would look like it was meant to have this LED here from factory. I took a old 286 laptop that was dead and removed the LED from the main board to an old Toshiba 286 and  figured out its polarity with a multimeter and took an old floppy drive ribbon cable and cut the ends off the ribbon cable so that I had just ribbon cable with a pair of scissors. I then peeled off 2 conductors off the ribbon and had a length of 2 conductor ribbon cable and soldered the  LED to the one end of the 2 conductor ribbon cable. I then took a Intel Pro 100mbps PCI Network Adapter and removed its activity LED. I then soldered the ribbon cable with correct polarity for the LED at the other end and installed this NIC into the available PCI slot. I disabled my onboard NIC so that all communication would go through this NIC instead and connected the Cat 5 cable to this NIC. With the LED polarity correct, the rear of the computer shows the Uplink LED which is rarely ever used and the front panel now had a small yellow LED that would flash each time there was activity or go solid on if there was a download or a lot of packets being transferred.

These days I use a Windows 7 Network Meter Gadget mostly for keeping an eye on my network activity, but the LED is still there in case I am running a OS other than Windows 7 to keep an eye on network activity. Its currently Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. But I do have a removable drive bay in it to swap over to Linux or Windows 10 which i dont have network monitoring on.

This mod just cost me about an hour of my time to remove the LED from the NIC, and add a LED to a length of ribbon cable, and solder that cable to the NIC, and just drill the front panel and insert the LED and hot glue it on the inside of the front panel so it looks like it came this way from factory, nice and clean looking.

This case was originally the Compaq Presario S6030NX with a Athlon XP 2800+ 2.08Ghz single-core when I bought it in early 2004, mainly for World of Warcraft to be played because my other computers werent powerful enough to play WoW. I left the front of it all original, however it had a Athlon 64 X2 sticker added to it about 8 years ago when I upgraded it to a Dual Core Athlon 64 CPU when the original motherboard died in 2008 and the Pentium 4 I stuffed into it wasnt enough processing power and I got a great deal on d Dual-Core motherboard and CPU combination for $72. It has since over the years been upgraded further and is a Athlon II x4 620 2.6Ghz with 4GB DDR2 800Mhz Corsair XMS2 and a 120GB SATA 3 SSD running at SATA 2. I left the case looking like a 13 year old computer, but guts inside are all unoriginal newer and faster. mATX case though has its limitations due to space limitations. One issue is that long GTX video cards fit very tightly in this case such as the EVGA GeForce GTX 260 superclock 216 core 896MB video card wanted to rest against the front panel USB/Audio/Power Button daughter board. So I had to go with a smaller video card so it has a GT 730 2GB video card in it now.

One other Mod that I almost did to this was to mount a router inside it and add CAT5 jacks to the front of it. The 5 port router would be powered off of the P connector inside off the 12 volts. This mod fell through when the LAN parties dried up so there was no need to set up a local network for gaming in which I was going to have where everyone could connect to my boxes internal 5 port Linksys Router as a cool mod.  ;D

The yellow round small LED lit that is top center of the big blue power button is the Network Activity LED. I took this pic today when downloading a Linux image. The Green LED on the left is the power LED and the Yellow on the right of it is the HDD ( SSD ) activity.

Mod isnt all that impressive as for its dirt simple to perform, but also because its dirt simple to so, there might be others out there that would like to add this mod to their case. I would advise not to make any LED relocation to a onboard NIC however as for if you mess anything up you can damage your motherboard. I would advise using an addon network adapter like I did. This will allow for the NIC to be paired with your case, so that in my case my case can take any mATX motherboard upgrade and this NIC would function fine in any motherboard with a single PCI slot available, whereas if you soldered directly to your motherboard it means that a motherboard replacement or upgrade would require modding and resoldering the LED to it.

I probably should have used a 1000mbps NIC, however 100mbps is still plenty for now since my internet connection is only 25 mbps anyways, but someday if I got a faster than 100mbps connection to the internet, the system would the bottlenecked to 100mbps unless I mod a newer gigabit network adapter to relocate the LED on that card instead. The 100mbps Intel Pro card was what i had available to me for free to complete this mod, pulled out of a box of spare good parts from systems I gut for parts.

[attachment deleted by admin to conserve space]


  • Geek After Dark
  • Thanked: 1026
    • Gekk9pm bnlog
  • Certifications: List
  • Computer: Specs
  • Experience: Expert
  • OS: Windows 10
Re: Network Activity LED - Relocation Mod to Front Panel
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2017, 07:58:42 PM »
Good idea.
There ought to be some options for any user to have more gruffness front panel. I have a coffee pot that gives more status information than my PC front panel  of my PC.


  • Moderator

  • Genius
  • Maud' Dib
  • Thanked: 1769
    • Yes
  • Experience: Beginner
  • OS: Windows 7
Re: Network Activity LED - Relocation Mod to Front Panel
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2017, 08:02:09 PM »
I'll have an expresso double....
" Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined. "