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Modding Oil and Water Cooled Power Supply - Compleated

Discussion in 'Modding' started by Skulldragger, 29 Jun 2007.

  1. Skulldragger

    Skulldragger What's a Dremel?

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    Shortly after building my latest computer I noticed the case was staying quite hot, the power supply was showing around 125F and it seemed that the fans were just not keeping the system cooled off like I wanted. 125F isn’t too hot for operation, but that temp will cause the PS to die much faster than if it were kept at or around room temp (75f-80f).

    I did some research on the internet to determine the most effective way to cool electronic gear like the PS. I soon came across the idea that most large electrical transformers use mineral oil to keep them cool, so I started researching how to accomplish this.


    The Basic Idea

    A power supply has a lot of different components that generate heat while in operation, especially while under a load. The mineral oil doesn’t conduct electricity and therefore will not cause any shorts while at the same time absorbing the heat from all components keeping them at or around the same temp as the oil. After a little more research I find you can buy ready made power supplies that use this technology already, but they are much more expensive.

    The answer… I must build / modify my own.

    :rock:Bit-Tech.net - Truly an inspiring site and group of people!:rock:
     
  2. Skulldragger

    Skulldragger What's a Dremel?

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    The Build

    To start I selected a decent power supply from Enermax a 535W Whisper II.

    Then I started on my box to hold everything.

    The box had to be “oil tight” so nothing would leak out, and yet still allow the wiring to reach the mother board and other computer parts needing it.

    It also had to be strong enough that it would not fall apart if I accidentally knocked the case over or something.

    I started by removing the power from the PS and attaching a PS tester to help drain the power from the caps. (There is enough current left in those to kill you if you do not drain this current!)

    Once no lights were lit on the tester I took the cover off the PS to see what I had to work with.

    [​IMG]

    The first thing I did, so I would not have to use the case and could save a little space in my box, was to solder a ground wire to all the grounding points on the bottom of the PS board and attach it to the grounding pin of the power connector. This will eliminate the risk of short circuit causing more damage than just to the PS. It also helps ground the motherboard in the PC to the wall.

    [​IMG]

    Now with my stripped PS I set about getting the dimensions for my box. I knew I would need enough space that a fan running in the oil would have enough room to circulate the oil around my oil cooling device (“water block”) and still allow the oil to flow around the entire PS board and all. I also need enough room for my Mains Power connector and switch to set with out contacting the (copper pipe and bar) water block. I had my measurements and started cutting angle bracket to hold the plexiglass sides, top, and bottom and the plexiglass to make the box from. These were about 1x1 angle aluminum and 2’x3’ sheets of thin plexiglass all of which can be easily purchased from Home Depot.

    Once I had everything cut out I started gluing everything together with white silicone II…. >.< well I won’t use that stuff again for a project like this! I built the box and glued everything together except for the top and let it dry for about 2 days, the silicone was dry but still very flexible which worried me but I continued on anyway. I cut a hole for the power supply cables to attach to the PC components through and in the top plate 2 holes for the Mains connector plug and the switch.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I knew we would want the fan to be running at top speed so I used a jumper on the speed controller to remove it from the board and keep the fan running at top speed.
     
  3. Skulldragger

    Skulldragger What's a Dremel?

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    Part 2

    Now for the “Custom Water Block” I built to cool the oil. I used ½” copper pipe and several elbows along with a piece of scrap flat bar all of which I purchased at a copper recycling center for $4.00 per pound.

    [​IMG]

    This will sit in the top of the unit just above the fan with about 1” gap to the top to allow the oil to circulate around it. It will also be siliconed to the sides of the box to hold it in place and keep any contact from happening with charged PS components. I presser tested the block before I placed it into the system, also! I then cut 2 holes in the top plate to allow the pipe to come through and put everything in the box.

    [​IMG]

    I started sealing the box by sealing around each wire that came out and sealing it all to the side at the hole. I then let this dry for 2 more days before I started on the top. GOOD THING I DID!

    After the 2 days was up I decided to start on the top and accidentally picked up the PS by these cords which readily came loose from the silicone! I started checking the sides at this point because this junction MUST be much stronger than this if it is to stand up to the install and maintenance of the case. I found that the silicone I used was NOT going to serve this purpose as the sides were easily coming apart with slight pressure.
     
  4. Skulldragger

    Skulldragger What's a Dremel?

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    Part 3

    Ok back to the drawing board, I looked for a better silicone but could not find any and while at Wal-Mart I was in the shoo department and noticed the ShooGoo product. I have used this in the past for crazy projects and remembered that is was a VERY strong silicone which was designed to handle the ware and tare of walking on it. I decided to give it a try. Amazingly It works VERY well. It dried in no time, was manageable in as little as an hour or so and could hold the box together under it’s own strength / weight in about 2. I let it dry overnight and then put everything back in the box like I had it before.

    [​IMG]

    I also wrapped a zip tie around the box to hold everything together while I was working on it incase I got a little overzealous in my arranging of things. Once I seen that everything was going to fit the way I wanted I put a large glob on the bottom of the box to hold the PS board in place and then re did the wires after carefully cleaning each one, one at a time so there would be no leaks between them. I glued the fan in place and the water block where I wanted it and then reattached the top plate and glued it down as well making sure to glue around the back and bottom of the mains connector and switch so no leaks would happen there.

    After letting it dry for a day I cut a hole to use for a fill port in the top and glued the top of a Coke bottle with lid over it so I would have a capable fill port. This worked very well and after filling the box I let it set for a day to see if it would leak.

    Image of finished PS in operation.
    [​IMG]

    No leaks so I soldered the hose barbs on the copper pipes coming out of the top and connected it to the water pump. I turned the pump on and started the water running through with the PS off and unplugged just in case there was a leak. I let this run for a day and then carefully looked at the oil to see if it had any water in it. No water so I plugged it in and connected the PS tester to it and a stack of old hard drives to give it a little bit of a load, the fan cam on and started circulating the oil as I had hopped it would and everything looked like it was working. I turned off the water and let it run with no cooling to let the oil heat up a bit and see how well the water would cool it back down. I let it run for about 2 hours before the sides started feeling hot and then turned on the water, within about 15 min the sides were cold to the touch again so I decided to install it into my PC and see how it ran.
     
  5. Skulldragger

    Skulldragger What's a Dremel?

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    The Conclusion

    Well the hose barbs caused a kink in the hoses no matter how I ran them and I couldn’t reattach the sides of the case. Solution... Build another case!
    By this time I am really wanting my new PC to play games on so I built a plywood box for it in about 2-3 hours.

    Temps on the PS stay about 80F or lower depending on my room temp now and my processor temp (air cooled at the moment) stays about 95-110F which is down from 125-140F before.

    All in all it was a fun mod to do, and interesting to research the oil cooling part esp. It seems that most major power supplies and transformers used by electric companies use some form of oil cooling.

    This is my first "Real" mod, unless you count the random hardware hacks when something doesn't fit or something.
    Let me know what you think.
     
  6. Spacecowboy92

    Spacecowboy92 Gettin' Lazy

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    Nice work and good idea. Like the copper block, has a kind of 'industrial' feel.
     
  7. teamtd11

    teamtd11 *Custom User Title*

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    Very nice idea, and very nicely executed :thumb:
     
  8. knuck

    knuck Hate your face

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    could we have a better 'overview' picture of the power supply ? I am curious to see it completed.
     
  9. Skulldragger

    Skulldragger What's a Dremel?

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    Err... Picture... that means I will have to open my plywood box... lol I will try to get one some time this weekend.

    See, I took several more pictures of it before putting it in the box and screwing down the lid, but :sigh: like a D... A.. I forgot to check the quality of the photos before it was too late.
     
  10. knuck

    knuck Hate your face

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    haha yeah well nevermind :)

    don't waste your time :)
     
  11. saltynay

    saltynay What's a Dremel?

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    I thought you would of done what the companies do when watercooling a psu they make the entire chamber watertight and then fill with non conductive coolant.
     
  12. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Very cool, although I'd like to see it running :) (if possible!) and your temps too :)
     
  13. Skulldragger

    Skulldragger What's a Dremel?

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    Basically that is exactly what I've done, the oil is the non conductive coolant and the water block is used to cool the oil.

    I will get pictures this weekend, I need to do it for my one records anyway. The big problem is that the hoses come out the top of my "case" and are very short to the PSU. Other than that being a PITA I need to get pictures anyway.

    Temps...
    This is the machine it is in and currently speedfan is showing CPU @ 100f / PSU @ 70f / HDD @ 88F and NB@ 79f. These temps are also shown by MSI's Dual Core Center software.

    I have the water cooling going to the HDD and the PSU but that is it at the moment, the water seems cold going in and out of the box so there is not much heat getting picked up as there are no bottle necks in the loop. A 525GPH Garden pond pump with 11' head presser on a 1/2" loop going to a evaporative cooling system. with about a 15 Gal tank.
    I should do a "mod" to show how I built that thing as well, but the draw backs to it are about to make me switch to radiators.:grr:
     
  14. knuck

    knuck Hate your face

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    yikes, fahrenheit :D
     
  15. Butcher9_9

    Butcher9_9 What's a Dremel?

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    one problem that i can foresees is that the fan will stop running after a while because of the extra resistance of the oil

    i would have just removed the fan sealed the psu case and put in the copper pipes where the fan was and then fill with oil

    still i think its a really cool idea ........... nice work
     
  16. hydro_electric_655

    hydro_electric_655 Dremelly Dude

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    Thats a pretty cool idea, I can't imagine how much sealant you used to seal the holes from wires and plugs.
     
  17. Skulldragger

    Skulldragger What's a Dremel?

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    Ok here is my ... thinking ... on that. It seems to me, untested - but why not try, that it will be just fine. Here is why I think it will.
    Normally a fan will burn up if placed under a grater load than it was designed for, we can all accept and understand this as fact as it stands to reason.
    The catch is the WHY it will burn up. Under abnormal stress the fan motor should generate more heat which in turn causes the wiring to become brittle and eventually break down and structurally fail.
    This heat + load is compounded by the friction of the blades pulling the fan apart as it circulates the oil around.
    In this case, however, the Oil not only acts as an added workload, it also keeps the motor coils and wiring cool as well as a constant source of lubricant to the moving parts. Since these are brush-less motors they should simply work at a lower speed and last as long or longer than they were originally designed to.
    Now as I stated I have not tested this theory or seen it tested but the power supply fan is still running so far. In the event that it stops working the PSU will also stop working since this PSU has a fan protection circuit which shuts the psu down if the fan doesn't work or isn't present.
    Either way will be an interesting experiment!:hehe:

    Now for some more pictures:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sorry guys that is the best pictures I could get of the thing!:sigh:
     
  18. Skulldragger

    Skulldragger What's a Dremel?

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    About 1/2 tube of this:
    [​IMG]

    :D
     
  19. capnPedro

    capnPedro Hacker. Maker. Engineer.

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    Damn, that is one ghetto looking rig.

    And I salute you for it, sir!
     
  20. Skulldragger

    Skulldragger What's a Dremel?

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    HAHA you should see the WC tower!!!!
    [​IMG]:rock:

    As for cooling... this thing will cool to room temp from 90C in about 1 hour, it has a pipe for refilling the evaporated water with a float switch and holds about 15 gal.

    By the way i don't recommend these, they cause WAY too much moisture in the air, and if it starts to build up a little alga in the water, DO NOT add a chlorine pool tablet! It will cause EVERY piece of copper in the room to grow green fuzz tarnish. Even connectors of old hard drives laying around unused!:duh:
     

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