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Watercooling

I started watercooling my computer, because the noise was driving me... Well... even more crazy. (Admit it, you already have to have some screws loose to even THINK about watercooling your PC.)

PSU-cooler

I replaced my PSU-fan by a larger model, to be able to cool it in silence.

Everybody that's been into PC-cooling 10 seconds knows that any fan makes less noise if it turns at a slower rate. So, if you have a 12V fan, and you make it turn at only 7 or even 5V, you have a very quiet fan, but with a lot less airflow. Also, a bigger fan has more airflow than a smaller one. So, why not take a big fan and make it turn slower, so that it has the same airflow as a small fan, but is much more quiet? The problem with a PSU-fan is that it has to fit into a relatively small area. But I fixed that. I moved the components in the top of my PSU-casing to the place where the original fan would be. In fact, it was only a transformer (not the stupid toys from your childhood, but a coil with some iron and stuff), and it was easily moved. I didn't even have to drill any extra holes. Then, I took an ordinary fan, cut off the plastic making the round hole square for installation (that was a tricky bit...) on one side, so that it had a square and a round side. I took my PSU-casing, marked off where the hole had to be to fit the round end of the fan through, and started dremeling away. I then simply took my fan, inserted it, made sure it was in the right place, and started TEC-7-ing the crap out of it. After some drying time, it was solid, and I soldered the wires (via a connector in case I ever have to maintenance it) straight onto the red & black wires of the PSU-print. As we all know, between black and red in a PC-power supply, there is 5V.

I also had to correct some mistakes AOpen had made when making this case. Apparently, they don't want you to tamper with anything they seal. Oh well, warranty schmarranty I always say. Dremel-time!

While I was at it, I also soldered a connector to the wires where the original fan had been: ideal for connecting a relay for my pump!

Now, it's a bit tough to disassemble my PSU, espescially with the radiator on top of it, but hey, if you want your PC to be cool, you've got to be prepared to suffer!

Got Wind?

Another pic of the fan sucking the air straight from the CPU. At least, on my previous mainboard it was exactly above the CPU. Now it's a bit to the side. But that's what the water is there for!

CPU Block

I made a waterblock. Because I didn't have a digital camera yet when I made it, some drawings will have to do. I wanted to make some nice 3D pics in some sort of 3D-CAD program, but I still haven't found one, and the ones I have on a demo CD somewhere, I don't know how to use. I used to play around with the half-life mapeditor WoldCraft, and even made a pretty nice map of my school. Nothing like fragging away in the principal's office. Unfortunatly, the originals are lost somewhere. Backed up beyond belief and beyond retrieval I'm afraid. If I ever come across a working model, or someone has a running version of WorldCraft 3, I might even recompile it. But all of this is a completely other story.

This is my waterblock.


I bought an aluminum housing in an electronics store, drilled holes in it and inserted the fittings. I fastened everything with the liquid steel I used for my radiator and HDD-cooler. It's extremely tough stuff, and not easily removed / broken. Inside, there's a piece of aluminum to force the water to move over the surface where the heat-production, i.e. CPU, will be. I don't have pics of that yet, but here's a drawing!

I made one aluminum divider. There's a hole in it, with the same surface as the holes in the in/outlets. The water is forced over the heat-producing spot, where the CPU is. One fine day, I'll still upgrade to a better model, but my cash flow doesn't allow that right now...

The block is attached using screws with rubber washers. The rubber helps form a buffer against overtightening the screws, and also forms an indication on how tightly the block is attached: is the washers are in their original shape, the contact will not be good. When they are slightly pressed, the pressure should be right.

I cut a hole in the back of my motherboard-plate to be able to reach the screws better...

VGA-Block

This is my VGA-cooler. Nothing much, just a block in the same style as the CPU-block, glued to an aluminum plate, which is glued to the memory chips and GPU. Heat-conducting glue, ofcourse!

I found this system was not very good: my GPU got hotter than it did when it was being aircooled. So I scratched the watercool-bit, and improved the aircool system. Result:

The fan slides into place. It's held down by the standard slot-plate and fits in between the 2 PCI slots. I made a construction with Tie-wraps, plastic profiles and tape to hold it in place. The big advantage is that it can be easily (re)moved or repositioned, and I didn't have to drill holes or put double sided tape anywhere in my case.

The motherboard is an MSI-replacement board I had for about 3 weeks while my EPOX was in for repairs. You have to admit, auto-recognising PC2100 memory as PC1600, sometimes not finding a CPU, finding only 196MB of RAM when 256 is present in one slot (!) and things like that can hardly be blamed on an old BIOS-version... I got a brandnew mobo though, so thanks A LOT, EPOX!

Harddisk Cooler

Because I wanted my system to be as quiet as possible, I made a padded box to put my harddisks in.

An aluminum U-shape holds the disks in place. The copper U it's attached to is just the waterpipe (Duh!) with fittings. I attached them to the pipe with my trusted liquid steel, after drilling the thread out of the fittings, so that they fit nicely over the pipe-ends.

A pic of the 'door' ready to slide in place. The difference in sound is quite worth it. Only problem is you're obliged to use a watercooling, since it wouldn't be soundproof with a big airflow-hole somewhere in the box.

Reservoir

First, I bought a pump, a box, and some fittings, and turned them into a reservoir.

This is my pump. I bought it at Tom & Co (animal-stuffs-shop. No, I don't mean they stuff animals, they just sell stuff for animals. Food and... stuff) in Antwerp. It moves 800 litres of water per hour. I thought that was enough, but still I'm goin to switch to a 1300l/h pump when I have the chance.

The Reservoir. I just went to Carrefour and picked out a nice, transparent box I could use to build my pump into. Then I went to Selfmade to get the fittings (which in dutch are called 'slangpilaar' and are used for gas-installations.) I put them together using a lot of TEC-7 and foam-rubber. Fairly easy job.

Small Box

A small box with a relay controls the power supply to the pump. This way, my pump is activated when the PC is activated. Quite common and logical.

This is what's in the small box. The 12V input is from the original power leads to the PSU-fan.

...and this is what the box looks like. It contains a relay, a fuse (1A / 230V), and lots of wires. It also controls my blue power-LED, so that when my relay or the fuse fails, the power-LED will not light up. Not a very effective protection for overheating, but hey, some is better than none...

Radiator

Most people buy their radiator in a special PC-store that also supplies watercooling-stuff. They pay and arm and a leg for it, and get their system cooled. Some people roam the scrapyards, looking for a radiator which should be as small as possible. I hear some cars have oil-radiators that are small enough to fit on top of a case. Nice.

I, however, don't need a radiator that looks cool or has proven itself by having cooled a Turbo-system in the latest Porsche. In fact, I wanted my radiator to be as inconspicious as possible. It had to be inside my case, do it's job, and cost little. Soon, I realised that the only way I could be satisfied was to just make it myself. And so, I did.

I used 23 pieces of 12mm copper tubing. Each piece is 13cm long, giving a total length of 299cm. They are connected through 180° U-turns, which I made myself out of 2 90° elbow-pieces and an 18mm piece of tube to connect them. For the slanted connections, I used 2 elbows and a 36mm piece of tubing.


Everything is being kept together by 0.5mm thick aluminum plating. I drilled holes in it at equal distances, which was not an easy task, since my 12.5mm drill was a bit of overkill for the poor aluminum. Between the tubes is 6mm in vertical spacing.


The air is being sucked into the radiator through the back of the case, and exits through the top of the case. A 120mm fan helps it in doing so. I plan to replace it by an Enermax 120mm fan with adjustable RPM soon, but haven't had the chance to go to the store yet.

At first the fan was placed in between the tubes of the radiator, which was very compact, but proved inadequate because the wires and tubes between radiator and CD-drives held back too much fresh air.

The 'old' system. Notice the big box with electronics, replaced by one that's a lot smaller now, and the old way of ataching my fan.

My new and improved system of holding down the fan:

Tie-Wraps

A short note on tie wraps:

I tried to fasten my tubing to my fittings using those metal screw-on tighteners, but they caused leaking. Since the tube is pressed together, the excess tube has to go somewhere, and it forms a triangle-shaped hole right under the place where the screw is. Water came through that hole, and I saw that it wasn't all good. So I use 3 tie-wraps, with the 'block' on different sides of the fitting, to prevent leakage.

I'm not saying that tose metal thingies are bad, but I stay as far away from them as possible.

If you do this, however, you have to renew the tie-wraps every time you disconnect your hose. In the testing fase, I used over 100 of those suckers until I was sure the thing was secure and safe to run. Luckily, they cost only 0.025€ a piece...

Power

It's always a good idea to be able to switch your entire setup on or off by one simple switch. Especially when testing and filling your system. I used a 12V power supply (Black Cable) to simulate the 12V the fan would give me, and 220V for the PSU (grey cable), linking the power to the pump through the relay.

Rounding

Most ATA cables are either factory-rounded, of simply flat. The rounded ones are 60 or 90cm long, the flat ones 45cm. I needed a flatcable of 60cm, to reach the box in which I put my HDDs. I searched everywhere, called 20 or so shops, and didn't find it. After 3 weeks of searching, I gave up hope and decided to get a 90cm rounded one, for which i didn't really have space in my box. When I came to the store, it appeared they were out of stock. So I bought a 45cm flatcable, just for experimenting. After some time I'd figured it out: my cable was as good as finished.
But what exactly did I do?

First, I looked at my victim, and measured the space between the two hard drives. It was 30mm.

The victim

Ofcourse, accidents do happen, and some of you may know this image. But, not to worry, there's a perfectly good solution for these little setbacks, and it's called...

Super-Glue!

The cable, cut into groups of 8, with isolation where the IDE-plug used to be.

This is what I used to tie up the cable. I don't know exactly what it's called (cablemesh?), but it's used by prefoessionals for... tying up cables.
You stretch it out, put it round the cable, and it tightens itself, forming a nice and solid shield around the cable.

The result of the special tape around the bits of isolated wire.

My connection-end. The connectors are located at exactly the distance my harddisks' outlets are in my case. There's no extra cable when connecting the drives, and optimal length of the cable can be used.

The finished product. I think it looks rather neat.

Tubes

This is what you need to know about tubes. First, I bought some green tubing in he store where I had bought my pump. It didn't come as cheap as it did in a do-it-yourself store, but I was in a hurry.

I used those tubes for testing my pump and reservoir, but when I had finished my waterblock, I needed more tubes to connect it. So I went to a DIY store and bought some more. Enough even to last me forever (=5m). Or so I thought.

When building my watercooling into my case, I noticed the tubes were very stiff, and difficult to bend the way I needed them. When I got to the final installation, I couldn't even fit them into my case properly. This was unacceptable, and I started searching for an alternative.

First, I wanted to solve it by using 90° plastic angles to 'soften' the curves the tube was making. In my search for those angles, however, I stumbled on to a much more practical solution: New Tubing.

'Twas in 'Euro Stock', a DIY store in Westmalle, which sells everything from gardenlighting to tractorparts, that I found the miracle cure for my suffering watercooling. I was looking for the angles, and in the unability to find them stumbled across some... tubing. (I'll write my old english teacher to find out if that was correct English. For now, I'll go on telling the story not worth being read, let along written...) As I like squeezing anything soft, I touched the tubing and found out it was just as stiff as the tubing I had lying around at home. Disappointed I stopped touching the tougher-than-expected material, and continued my search. A bit further in the store was even more tubing, which I started squeezing as well. Only this time, it was soft and flexible! This was the hose I needed to make those tricky corners! I asked the shopkeeper what it cost, and she said it was very expensive. Much more expensive than the stiffer kind. So, I asked her to look up the right price, and he came back with a number. 0.37€ per meter. I asked for 5 meters, not even bothering to ask how much the cheaper kind was. Finally I had 'The Tube That Could Change The World'. By the way, my tubes are originally fuel-tubes. Probably from some sort of agricultural vehicle...

With compassionate feelings for those of you that actually read this, I offer you this picture. Please notice the way the new tube 'hangs' over the coat-hanger, and the old kind... doesn't.

Pricetag

Pump
14.85
Reservoir
1.71
Waterblock CPU
4.44
Waterblock VGA
5.78
Liquid steel
7.80
Fittings
10
Tubes 5m
1.85
Tie-wraps
2.50
Copper tubing
8
90° copper turns
13
Thin aluminum plate
8.65
Thick aluminum Plate
1.20
Screws, washers, bolts, ...
7.50
Fans, 2*120mm
15.28
Misc. Electronics
20
Foam rubber
5
Water wetter
12
10l Demineralised water
3
   
Total
142.65
euros

 


 

 
 

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