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Old 12th Mar 2007, 02:51   #1
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Erector Set WaterPlant - Aug 17: All operational!

I have been working on an Erector set external cooling system for the last few weeks. Someone gave me a link to the Dark Blade, and that got me here. I decided to share my projects with you to get your feed
I wanted to make an external water cooling system for my computer. It's also been in the back of my mind to make a custom PC case. Looking around the web, most of the unique ideas that are easy to achieve have been done. The Lego case, the shoe box, attaches, aquarium, Amiga, etc. The really unique ones look way beyond my abilities. But as I thought about doing a prototype for the cooling system, the Erector set came to mind. The jump to doing a PC case the same way was a relative short stumble, so, I looked around the web. The only thing I have seen is Frank Clark's working Erector PC , but it's just a rectangular PC case made from Erector set parts. Cool, mind you, but I had different ideas. I figured I'd go for it.

I was given a link to DarkBlade (I'm not EVEN gonna start) and this got me looking at all you do in here. I though I'd share what I've done and then get your comments as I progress further.

Here's a prototype of a stand for the Inovatek radiator:

2272x1704
And here it is with a prototype reservoir tower:

2272x1704

More in a few minutes...
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Old 12th Mar 2007, 03:11   #2
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WaterPlant - Update Mar 11, 2007

Here's what I came up with as of about a week ago.


2272x1704


All the structure is needed except the Operations Shack. I have since gotten it to be straight.

The pump is an Asetek. You can see the LCD display for it above the power supply.

The grey box below the LCD is the power supply and will be changed out for a better one, probably a quiet modular one.

The reservoir is on a tower to keep it the highest part of the loop. It is so tall because the parts just worked out that way, and I think it looks cool.

Despite what it might look like, it is surprisingly sturdy.


2272x1704

Here's a close up showing the mounting system, mostly learned from the prototype. In the center, you can see the quick disconnects for the PC water hoses.


2272x1704

The layout is easier to see from here. The water is all along the back side (this photo is from the right-rear) except for the quick disconnects heading forward. The electrical is all on the front, except for the wires for the pump heading back. Dang that PS looks ugly.

One more update to show the minor changes I made since these photos.
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Old 12th Mar 2007, 03:40   #3
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WaterPlant update Mar 11, 2007

Well, I got ready to try the electrical connections. I turned the power on, heard a "Tonk", saw a green electrical flash, and then silence. Hmmm. Being a bright user-type, I turned the PS off and then tried it again. Same thing. Hmmm, the green flash was actually coming from a green LED on the pump. But then it dawned on me, the PS was shutting off. So, I tried it with an old pump. It worked fine.

Long story, short, I think the pump has a dead short in it.

Since I bought it almost 2 months ago, they won't take it back on return. I went to the Asetek site and put in a trouble ticket. After no response by the next day, I went into their forums. Bummer, several people talking about problems with their pumps, and EVERYONE talking about the poor response time on trouble tickets. I've taken to calling it a "Tonker:mad:" in their forum (they have a red mad imoticon called :mad: )

ANOTHER long story, short (OK I'm lying, it's not short), I have decided to take my lumps on the pump and LCD. If they ever get back to me, and if they replace it, I'll just eBay it. Guess I learned the hard way to do a little more research before buying something. And to not wait so long to test it.

But, I did manage to get a little done on it:


2272x1704

I added a channel to run the power to the pumps. This may not stay, time will tell. I sleeved the fan power. You can also clearly see the quick disconnects from here as well.


2272x1704

Since I will be going with a manual pump, I needed a controller. So I grabbed the Hardcano I bought to use for controlling the fans in the PC and hooked it up (I'll buy a second one for the PC). Even though the PS will be replaced, it'll be run with it in the begining, so I snipped the fan wires in it and wired one fan controller to it, taping a temp sensor to one of the heatsinks. The two Akasa fans were also hooked up, along with two more temp sensors. One will go in the radiator fins. I'll experiment where to put the other.


OK modders, give me some feedback. I know the wire management drill, so I don't need to hear that one.

Here's the plans:
  • UV LEDs. Maybe in shades to look like security lighting for the plant.
  • Blue water
  • Red power sleeves, like on the fans (OK, it's orange, but they SAID it was red. So that's what I'm going to call it. Allow me my delusions.
  • Green sleeves for data (for the WaterPlant, that'll just be the temp sensors).
  • I was originally planning on taking it all back apart and refurbishing all the parts. But now I'm thinking I'm going to leave the parts looking rusty and banged up so it'll look like it's old.

To do (VERY simplified list):
  • Get a new pump.
  • Finish wiring.
  • Plumb.
  • Make hangers and guides for the wiring and tubing to run through.
  • Install the parts for the PC and run!
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WaterPlant worklog - in progress - Bit-Tech article - WaterPlant site - Home Page - PowerPlant PC - Designing
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Old 12th Mar 2007, 03:44   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldoR9
definitely did u buy that aluminum consturction stuff
I bought antique Erector sets off eBay. If anyone wants to see all that stuff, I can post pics.


2272x1704

The sets I bought.


2272x1704

The parts after I organized them. This is what's left over AFTER doing the construction you've already seen. I'll have to buy more before I can do the PC.
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Old 12th Mar 2007, 03:52   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THEkorean
cool stuff, looks like some kind of crazy rube goldberg machine or something
Absolute Rube Goldberg. Funny thing is, I figured I'd need to go add stuff and come up with wild ways to mount things to get that effect, but given the limitations of the Erector set, it just happens naturally.

The holes only match up certain ways, which is why the reservoir tower has those stand-offs, to move the mount points around so they would line up with the base. And since I refuse to cut anything (it will all be able to be taken apart and put back in the boxes un-harmed) the lengths don't always match up. Like the LCD mount over the PS. It's because there weren't any angle pieces the right height to be level with the top, so I just used that space for the LCD.

So far, the ONLY thing added just for looks is the operations shack. It's almost designing itself. Well, not really. I moved the pump location and the quick-disconnects around 4-5 times each to get things where they would work right.
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Old 12th Mar 2007, 04:28   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldoR9
very nice indeed do u plan on polishing that erector stuff or painting defintely look kool if u do so
Not sure if I'll paint or not. I kinda like the old decrepit look. But if I do paint, it'll be the original colors. There are several websites just on Erector sets, and one place a guy tells the paint he's found that matches the factory colors, like the blue is the old 1940's Ford engine blue.

If I need to paint it, I'll just photo the CRAP out of it, every bolt hole, and disassemble it. That should be fun, huh.

I'll see what everyone in here thinks after it's finished.
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Old 12th Mar 2007, 13:30   #7
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Thanks for the input, Dave.

I think you have a good eye. I like the idea of dulling down the bright parts. That's how I'll go. I can actually replace the bright red with some dull un-painted aluminum parts, but the other parts will have to get painted/scrubbed. Originally I was using the red parts around the PS to carry the color scheme for red-power, but now I think I can let the sleeving carry that part. Until your comments I was un-resolved whether to paint everything. But now, dulled down is the plan. I am determined not to damage any parts, but the paint could be removed later, so I am OK with that.

The flying cable runs were already part of the plan, as is a new PS.

Not altering parts Erector makes getting rid of the PCI bracket difficult, but if the design stays as is, I can cut it down, drill some holes and it won't look like a PCI bracket anymore.

The lighting is really going to be the fun part. Probably a dimmed white or yellow in the op shack, a couple of dimmed lights in strategic places, and then mainly UVs to show off all the bright colors of the sleeving. Maybe a flashing red on top of the water tower. Just have to figure how to do that without making it difficult to add water. I wish I could run the water down inside the tower column, then the blue UV coolant would glow from the inside, but I haven't figured that one out, yet. Your idea of lights under the base sounds good as well and will be very easy. I'll probably wait until the end and decide what color would look good. Probably blue. In the beginning I was thinking of raising up the whole thing off the ground, but it's looking pretty good as is, so I'm moving away from that idea.

The mobo don't go here. This is a stand-alone water system. Hoses to the PC case. So, the case is a totally clean slate. Not really any concrete ideas on that at all.

Good comments, all. You mirrored some I had already thought of, and gave me focus as to the final look.

Thanks, Dave.
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Old 12th Mar 2007, 17:21   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkeH
Looking good so far. Had any problems with vibration/noise whilst the pumps been running? Looks a bit noisy to me

Great work though, cant wait to see you attempt a full case build. Keep it up
Hey MarkeH, nice going, thanks for to rubbing it in!!

J/K, MarkeH. Buried in the posts above I tell the story of the pump croaking when I first turned it on. So the sound level is yet to be experienced. If it is too noisy, I may have to come up with a isolation mount for the pump. With Erector parts, it may get elaborate, but then, that seems to be the theme. The PS and rad fans weren't transferring too much noise through the frame, but that's not a pump. But then, the Tonker I have isn't a pump, either.

Any recommendations on a pump? Noise being a factor...

I'll post this evening with my current PC hardware setup and ask for recommendations on needed hardware, mainly CPU and chipset water blocks.
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Old 13th Mar 2007, 02:04   #9
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Recommendations wanted

Component list.

This is what I got currently in my system, and is what I'll hook up to the WaterPlant. When I get around to doing the PowerPlant Erector PC, I'll probably buy all new stuff.

1. Abit KV8 Pro
2. AMD 3400+
3. ATI Radeon X800XL
4. 2x WD 200GB & 2x WD 500GB
2x Geil 1GB

So, for water cooling there, what would you recommend?

1. chipset recommendations?
2. cpu recommendations (I have a Kingwin, but think I need something else)
2. Have Koolance custom cooler, cools RAM and both sides.
4. I want to get the Koolance coolers, 2 coolers for 4 drives
5. Have the Koolance RAM cooler.


The current PC:

2272x1704

The Koolance card for the ATI Radeon X800XL

2272x1704

The Koolance RAM cooler:

2272x1704

The Koolance Disk Drive cooler I want to buy. Each cooler will cool 2 drives, so I'll need 2 of them. (Image blatantly stolen from the Koolance site.)


And, finally, the old fried Kingwin internal cooler with the CPU aand GPU blocks. This will be repaired and go back in the PC if/when I do the PowerStation Erector PC.

2272x1704

Update to follow. New idea from a buddy of mine for the water tower...
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Old 13th Mar 2007, 04:38   #10
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Update Mar 13, 2007

Well, taking Dave's suggestion, I have started getting rid of the shiny parts. The tower was the first to go. Partly because, while talking to a friend of mine, together we came up with a new idea.

First, the old tower comes apart. The two stand-offs on the right are all that will be saved for the new tower. Uh oh, first give-away that I'm an old fart. The earpiece of my glasses show, which I have to take off to do close work or use the camera. Just play like you don't see that, K?

2272x1704

Just to show what goes into this, here is a photo of the parts that made up the original tower.

2272x1704

And here's the new tower. See explanation below.

2272x1704

The main change is that I won't be using the nice pretty reservoir. Instead, there will be a plexi tube running down the column of the tower, UV LED lit. That will be the reservoir and a sight-glass. The water column will glow from out of the structure through all those diamond, triangle and small round holes. I'm going round for the tube because of the bolts and nuts sticking out in the corners (bummer, I could make a square one). I'll also have to run something down the edges on the inside to keep the glow from seeping out the slight gaps in the corners.

The red top can be removed, and that's where the fill tube will be. The incomming tube from the radiator will go in the hole in the side of the tank (towards the bottom of the tank), and the output will go out the bottom to the pump.

Should I have something floating in the water that's red UV reactive to make the top of the water more visible? Little round plastic balls? Gotta float good so they can't possibly get to the bottom and get sucked in. Or I could add a screen in the bottom, just out of sight to keep it off the bottom. They would move around from the flow of the water pouring in from the top. Just one of those random thoughts.

Got some more ideas for the plumbing. Use copper elbows for all turns, and then I'll have nothing but straight runs, making it look more like an industrial plant. Same for the wiring. The elbows can be in Erector structure so they won't show.

I'll be doing a little most evenings, but as I'm spending the weekend on the boat, I probably won't get anything done this weekend.

Next to do, rebuild the PS structure to get rid of the bright red. Since I don't have any more silver panels that size, I'll have to use the ones on the bottom of that frame. So, that means a complete dismantle and rebuild. I can't easily get rid of the red brackets that hold the LCD, but maybe I'll think of something while I'm doing it. That oughta give me something to do until I can order the new pump Friday. Maybe next week I can start plumbing!


Comments and suggestions please?


I'm sure there's SOMEONE in here that doesn't like it. I want YOUR opinion, too.
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Old 13th Mar 2007, 04:46   #11
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Forum Benefits

I figured it would be fun to put this project in the forum to get your input and, well, just to share (OK, maybe also a pathetic attempt to show off).

I didn't really count on the main benefit. Just the fact that I know other people are looking makes me work harder on it and try for more innovation. I wouldn't have gone to the trouble for the plexi tube just on my own.

So thanks for making my project better.
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Old 13th Mar 2007, 14:50   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jokkos
hey man, you shouldn't be irritated that you don't get much feedback, just go along with the project and more people will reply.

I for one like the idea, I like the concept of it looking like an industrial building site. As for the watercooling, I wouldn't put floating balls or anything in the water since imo the risk is too big that something will get sucked in the loop. You could just put in some leds instead?

The elbows for the waterloop and wiring are not necessary but a good idea for this project.
Thanks. I'm not irritated, just excited. I haven't had this much fun on a project in a while. Thanks for everyone putting up with a n00b. First mod and first time in mod forums. I'm learning the culture, so I'll calm down soon.

I have already pretty much decided against the balls. But I'm still just theorizing as to the feasibility of it. I'm thinking, with a 12" tall tube, the limiting factor would be the density of the object floated compared to the water flow (which would depend on the diameter of the tube). When the time comes, if the mood strikes me, I'll play with it.

The LEDs are a definite.
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Old 14th Mar 2007, 04:31   #13
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Short Update - Cool lights

Just a short update for 3 quick things accomplished.

I attached the newly re-built tower. Would have been quicker if I had put the supports on the right side the first time.


2272x1704

Changed the top of the PS structure and swapped a couple of the shiny yellow plates with some groadier ones. (My spell check doesn't work right, or is that not how to spell "groadier"?) This went surprisingly quick, only about an hour.


2272x1704

And built the first prototype for the wire runs. I took a shot of this with normal lighting, but it got corrupted somewhere between the camera and my server. I didn't notice before I had deleted it from the camera. As it's getting late, I don't think I'll take another one right now. But here it is with UV lights.

*** BEGIN EDIT ***

OK, here's the missing photo showing the wiring tray detail in normal lighting.

2272x1704

And here it is under UV:

*** END EDIT ***


2272x1704

The wires and plumbing will all be encased like this. This was the only set of wires ready to be sheathed, so I'm sorry it's buried down in there and harder to see. But you get the idea. The color shines out from inside through the patterns of the girders with the exact effect I figured it would. With red(orange) power, green data and blue water, especially the blue reservoir shining out of the tower column, it oughta look pretty good.

Dave's idea of shining up the silver parts will definitely have to be done. The way the color of the sheathing reflects off the one little spot on the top shiny quick-disconnect makes me want it to do the same off the inside (and outside) of the girders.

Looks like I get to learn how to nickel-plate. One of the Erector sites has a pretty good how-to on that, and it looks fairly simple. My plan is to get the WaterPlant totally finished and operational. Then completely dismantle it, plate, clean and seal parts and then re-assemble.

As far as what I see right now that needs changing is the red and yellow. I think the triangle red supports should stay. I don't want to get rid of all the other color, so I think I'll paint some weathering effects on the red plates that are left. Same for all the yellow. And of course that YOU-gly power supply gotta GO.
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Old 14th Mar 2007, 21:20   #14
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Re: Suggestions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltdown
Dan,

I love that UV lighting picture. That cable looks ALIVE! That's amazing! The flying cable run is purrfect.

The new tower looks good, too. Is that part of an exhaust system? It looks pre-weathered. The theme is starting integrate now.

TapperSwe's suggestion gets my thumbs-up. What do you think?

Dave
Thanks, Dave. The tower is a genuine Erector set part, supposed to be a boiler. It actually has an Erector sticker on one side. And yes, lol, it's definitely pre-weathered.

TapperSwe, I just erased a long disertation on what I was planning to do for the PC, and why I probably wouldn't put it in the base. But as I wrote, I realized I could really do almost everything I want base, with several advantages. So, I'm thinking that's what I'll do. Thanks. After figuring that out, I decided not to spoil the surprises on the PC section.

Oh, as for the coolant color, I could just go drain some oil out of the Prelude. It has been in there a while, probably just the right color/consistancy. Any suggestions on a pump that can handle 50 weight? Anybody wanna put a new front clip on my 88 4WS 'lude?

I may have a very small update this evening. Maybe, just maybe, with a short movie? If not, it'll be next week before I get back to this.
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Old 15th Mar 2007, 00:39   #15
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Movie

OK, I got the movie. I had two, the second one being better, but my laptop thermaled out before getting it over to my desktop. Bummer, but this one shows it good enough.

I shoved some UV tubing down the tower column to simulate water. Now remember, in actuality this will be a 1 1/4" tube with blue UV water in it, instead of two 3/8" and one 1/4" tube. Also, there will be other UV lights on it. The lights I am using can be found here:
12" UV lights

They do different patterns including just solid on. I may use two sets, or I may have external lights shinning in. If I use two sets of the sticks, I'll have one solid on and one in the pattern on the movie. By doing this, it won't go totally black, but just pulsate brighter. With the greater density of water, I'm hoping the individual LEDs won't show as much either, and of course, this is just one light wand, and there will be 4, so the dots may blend together more.

Anyway, here it is:

QT movie (.MOV) 4.03 MB 15 seconds

FYI: I just went back up a few posts to the last place I had photos, and added the missing shot of the wiring tray in normal light.

By the way, for those of you that notice URLs, you may notice the different folder for the movie. For any photo posted here, you can change the "post800" in the URL to "full" and see a full size version. And if you are strange, you could change it to "previews".

Obviously, I'll be experimenting with different way to light it; this is just the first try. But whatcha think?
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Old 16th Mar 2007, 04:28   #16
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Another small update - and some questions

I did the flying run for the water connection from the radiator to the top of the reservoir:


2272x1704


2272x1704

And I got rid of all the yellow. I think this makes enough difference. I'm thinking I can live with the little red that is left.


2272x1704

I discovered that the little red footings are a little UV reactive. That is, some of them are. Checking my goody cases, I find that I don't have enough to have all of them UV or all of them not. So, since none of the ones at the bottom of the tower are, I'm going to make all the others UV.

I just placed an order for:
  • Swiftech MCP350 pump (I'm going to build a little building to hide this in)
  • 2 Koolance HD-55-L06 double HDD coolers (for the 4 drives)
  • Hardcano 12 SE fan controller for the PC
  • And a BUNCH of UV sleeving, heat shrink, spiral wrap, etc.

About the only other thing I have to order is a bunch of LEDs. I have a link at work to get them at .60 ea for UV, so I'll wait and order those tomorrow. And I have to get the plexi tube for the water tower column.

So, questions:
  1. Dave suggested that I dull it all down to make the UV cabling stand out. Is it to the point it needs to be? Or do I need to get rid of those last few red plates next to and above the PSU?
  2. Should I paint the silver on the radiator black? Or find a way to shine it up instead?
  3. I notice a lot of people using resistors when wiring LEDs. According to the site I'm getting them, they say 3.6-4v. Their calculator says 3 LEDs in series doesn't need a resistor. (or any number of sets of 3-series in parallel) They give wiring for 2 LEDs in series with 1 resistor, etc. Is there any reason I see so many modders using a separate resistor for each LED? Don't make much sense to me. But maybe experience has taught you something I don't know.
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Last edited by dacust; 18th May 2007 at 23:21.
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Old 16th Mar 2007, 17:33   #17
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Questions/comments/answers.

@Fozzy - The cost of building out of Erector set parts could get expensive. The 5 sets I got cost me close to $200 on eBay. Even though I have used less than 1/4th of it, the actual parts I need are running low, so I figure it'll take from 5-10 more sets to do the PowerPlant PC.

But having said than, people pay $200 for a single tool. As a tool, the erector set could be VERY useful for prototyping. Then after it's worked out, build the parts out of your chosen material. So, in here I'll bury my real plan, this is just a prototype for me preparing for the real thing.

@jokkos & wbdog206 - Cool, that's what I was thinking about the red. Seemed to me that getting rid of the yellow really did the trick. Doing any more would be making it really to dull.

@jokkos, the link you sent is kinda like the LED circuit designer I was using except this one has 3 different ways to calc + a designed like the one you had. This site also has one you can D/L free. Disclaimer: I have NOT D/Ld that .exe. "Buyer" beware.

<EDIT>: I D/Ld the calculator above. It works. But it's DOS, one input at a time. Very primitive. Basically I'd much prefer the on online version. BUT if you need something simple available offline, it does actually work -dan
</EDIT>
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My programs don't have bugs, they just develop random features.

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Last edited by dacust; 17th Mar 2007 at 01:16. Reason: I tested the LED calculator
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Old 17th Mar 2007, 02:46   #18
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Gotta show greensabbath how to do woodwork

I was going to post this in greensabbath's Yuugou project but thought it'd be a little rude to clutter up his log with my pics, so it's here.

greensabbath, I think someone should show you how to do woodwork. So here's an example of what I can do with wood. I built a Japanese gate a few weeks ago. How ya like THIS joinery?

34" tall x 21" wide x 8" deep


2272x1704

This was built from 5-6 sets of American Logs. I now have a total of 10 sets so the next thing I build will be bigger. But for some reason, I haven't touched them since I started the WaterPlant... ?

<flame invitation>
So, greensabbath, as you can see in the background, I have some of the original instruction sheets. I can send them to you if you think they aren't too advanced for you.
</flame invitation>

(OK, so the ENTIRE POST was a flame invitation. Do I know how to make friends, or what?)

So, now you know. The Erector set is not the ONLY childhood toy I've been revisiting.
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Last edited by dacust; 18th May 2007 at 23:23.
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Old 19th Mar 2007, 14:41   #19
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Response

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meltdown
Speaking as Dave, this reply seems odd, but let's see if I can answer them anyway
  1. This is tricky, as there are conflicting goals: how to make it look good in daylight and likewise at night. I think you've proved it looks best at night if it's shiny because of the way it reflects the light, and the weathering effects aren't so noticable in the dark. So that leaves daylight. Should it be shiny or not? The easiest way would be to make it all shiny. You could do both, but that would be tricky: weather the surfaces you see by day and shine the surfaces you see at night. Hmm... very tricky. I'd be inclined to settle for the easier option, but it's your project. As for the red, small amounts of red go well with large amounts of blue. It definitely looks better without the yellow. The small red angle brackets are staying, but should those large red plates go? I think so, yes, or replace them with something metal-coloured.
  2. I think it would look better black: mean and business-like.
I think I agree about the radiator being all black, but haven't made up my mind.

As to the remaining red plates, I don't know if it's because the flash makes them shine more in photos than they do in RL, or if it's a difference in taste, but I think I'm leaving them. They are definitely shinier then the blue cause they got no rust, but they really do belnd in and aren't obtrusive. I think it needs the color for the day time.

On the other hand, I am still going to nickel-plate the silver. Nickel doesn't look TOO shiny for the daylight, but it reflects nicely at night. So, actually, I AM doing both. Shiny at night, weathered during the day. Seems to work. If making the silver stuff shiny kill the day-look, I can sure change it. Gotta dismantle in once to nickle-plate, if I have to do it again to paint, I'll have had practice.
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My programs don't have bugs, they just develop random features.

WaterPlant worklog - in progress - Bit-Tech article - WaterPlant site - Home Page - PowerPlant PC - Designing
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Last edited by dacust; 19th Mar 2007 at 14:52. Reason: Elucidate
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Old 20th Mar 2007, 02:51   #20
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Quick update - goodies arriving

I got the first package.

The Koolance dual disk cooler (I thought I order two of these, bummer. Ordered the other one today)


2272x1704

Also got in the Swiftech pump.

Photos to follow on pump housing and some hose runs completed.
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My programs don't have bugs, they just develop random features.

WaterPlant worklog - in progress - Bit-Tech article - WaterPlant site - Home Page - PowerPlant PC - Designing
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Last edited by dacust; 18th May 2007 at 23:23.
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