Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pelligro! Geek Project Alert

I swear JimmyB is psychic. This is like, the third time he has pinged me for a post, just before I posted.

I was in the Home Cheapo, buying some final materials for the project described herein. I approached the self-checkout kiosk. There sat the LCD panel, greeting me in Spanish. Nowhere on that screen was a button marked 'Speak English'. Every button I pressed solicited a sultry Spanish voice, from the computer console. At one point, the tower began to flash and the buttons refused to respond. As usual, the single, lone soul, marshalling the troubles of the self-indulging Depot patrons, was preoccupied.

So, I apologize to the poor associate(s) who had to put back that bottle of Mapp Gas, who had to resort and restock those copper elbows, who had to find the drawer, which held those stainless, self-piercing sheet metal screws. Please pass the negative sentiment to the corporate mother. I have absolutely no patience and tolerance for English as a second language, at a store located in this United States. If that HD kiosk software is not capable of instantly converting to the official language of the United States, then I will make it my business to convey my disposable income instantly to Lowes; which I did.

So, here's some home center engineering, for computer buffs.

Recently, I built a new database server for the big project, which I have been spending a good deal of time on. The system sports a 1.2Tbyte RAID Array, a dual processor server motherboard, running two dual-core AMD Opteron processors (second CPU not pictured) and 4G of DDR ram. Needless to say, it creates a great deal of heat, even without a high performance video card, which it will get, after the company business is done with. The large power supply and ample fans provide plenty of cooling. However, they also provide plenty of noise.

I started looking at liquid cooling solutions. I have had my eye on the Zalman Reserator fanless cooling tower for quite some time. It is a nice quiet piece, both efficient in function and artistic in design. I was a little disappointed with some of the comments at newegg, as well as the price.

So, I made it my mission to build a fanless cooler from as many home center parts as I could put together. Here is the prototype:

It has a PVC water fill tank, which doubles as an air purge and filter. It uses an off-the-shelf forced water baseboard heating register from HydroTherm as the heat exchanger. The only non-Lowes/Depot parts were the continuous duty Magnetic drive low pressure pump from McMaster Carr and a generous supply of silicone hose. The whole prototype came out to around $150, with the copper fittings, hose barbs and parts I already had.

I wanted a pump with long term wear properties. This was the most expensive part in the system by far, at just over one hundred dollars. I bet another one could be salvaged, for far less.

Although the unshielded pump has a prominent hum, it is much quieter than the case fans. In fact, fully assembled, the whole unit can fit behind the desk on the floor. It will resemble the heating register from which it is fabricated. If total silence is absolutely required, this pump is capable of forcing water against a head of 14 feet before cutoff. Therefore, it is possible to put it in a basement space below the computer, or another room.

The one thing I did buy for the CPUs are the Zalman water blocks. These are nice parts, with nice engineering built in.

It's too bad you will not see these gold flashed beauties in the case. Insol doesn't believe in the fuzzy dice style flashy computing. It reminds me of those hideous rice rockets that swarm out of Lawrence MA, adorned with every piece of blinking LED flair that you can buy from Pep Boys. I like dark Rovian helicopter style computing, with everything concealed under a flat black, radar proof veneer.

When I get off my butt and build the test gear, consisting of a constant pure heat power source, encased in a styrofoam/picnic cooler calorimeter, I will push the cooler to it's ambient dissipation limit and see just how good it is.

Having Fun.



fmragtops said...

Wow. No wonder you haven't been posting.

The Conservative UAW Guy said...

God, you're such an nerd, Insol.

(I want to be just like you when I grow up...)

Wyatt Earp said...

No comprende!

Dr. Phat Tony said...

So for you building a high end computer is cheaper than buying one already built, but what about a guy whos only skill is good eye hand coordination and the want to play video games seemlessly?

Peakah said...

Think you can toss me a few ideas on home cooling devices?

Now that summer is approaching and Nevada Power has upped it's rates about 85%, I'm going to be broke by August. Especially when my wife runs the 2 AC's for 24/7.

And according to Al Gore, we're all going to melt like the dudes at the end of Raiders of the Lost Arc.

Kewl post!

Insolublog said...

fmragtops - Yeah. I have been spending more time on the software than the hardware.

CUG - That's right-wing wacko nerd, to be specific. ;)

Wyatt - Where's the hell did I put that damn english button?

DPT - You would be surprised how easy it is. Just a screwdriver and a little bit of research, for non-custom parts.

Peakah - My thermodynamics problem is still a downhill problem. Yours is an uphill problem, with an unhappy ambient situation. The only thing I might suggest is doing the ancient Egyptian thing; Build a Mastaba tomb on your property and bask in the cool depths of the earth.

FIAR said...

I don't have even the vaguest idea what it is you're doing, insol, but I hope it is good at exterminating seditious traitors. If so, sign me up to order one.