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Case Mod - In Progress Project: Isis Ascendant - October 27th, Crystal indicator lights

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by longwing, 4 Jun 2009.

  1. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    Isis Ascendant IS a submersion-based oil-cooled computer. More to do, but we are officially submerged!

    Shot from current update:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 28 Oct 2009
  2. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    Introduction

    Lets begin with a brief discussion of personal history. I had the basic idea for this system back in 2000, when I (and half the internet) watched OCTools build an immersion cooling test rig using Flourinert. I thought to myself, with the blind enthusiasm of youth: "heck, I can do that."

    I'm sure you're all shocked to learn that I fell short of my goal, though not nearly as short as you might expect:

    [​IMG]
    The Infohazard 3 - Ambitious and horribly flawed. I shelved the project after my fourth attempt to leakproof the main tank failed.

    You never forget the mod that got away. So imagine my glee when along comes Puget systems* with a full kit for building a submersion cooled PC. Their argument is nearly identical to my own: This isn't rocket science anymore, it doesn't have to cost a fortune, and it's not as weird as you think it is. A lot has happened in the intervening years. We've seen quite a few submersion cooled systems created. Indeed, before I've even begun, I've already been outdone.

    So I buy the kit. Why not? I battled this mod, the mod won, why not just use the first commercial product to come along?

    When the kit arrived, I found that it made a number of uncomfortable compromises to cram an entire computer into such an awkward space. The PCI slots are filled by an armature for an SSD, the pump is similarly attached (and to my mind, underpowered). There's no place for an optical drive. The kit as-shipped isn't ready to be a computer, at least not my main gaming/work PC.

    Time to break out the Dremmel.

    * - I have no association with Puget Systems and they have not endorsed this mod. Their kit is the "case" on which this mod is built.
     
    Last edited: 19 Aug 2009
  3. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    Some initial pictures.

    Normally, I'm going to update this weekly, but I'm a new poster with a new mod, you've put a lot of faith in me to read this far. Isis Ascendant is about half-built, but you're taking that on faith. All you've seen is a single picture of a 6-year-old failed mod and a lot of polysyllabic* words. So I'm going to provide something a little more solid:

    [​IMG]
    First, we have the pseudobligatory** pile of parts. I based my selections off of the Ars Technica systems guide, because I am a lazy, lazy man.

    [​IMG]
    Here's the parts all crammed onto the Puget Systems motherboard tray. I have to test the whole system before dipping it in oil, as I can't return it after it's all... well... oiled. This is just due diligence, and has absolutely nothing to do with wanting to finish my game of Fallout 3 with all the settings cranked. Nope... not at all... Next picture.

    [​IMG]
    Actually planing the mod. Like in a real, honest to goodness worklog. This is the drive cage I'll be using for the hard drives and DVDrw. I pulled the cage from a very old case of mine (anyone want to guess the color scheme?). It's already a little hacked up, and it's getting a number of additional hacks before it'll be ready. I'm placing it on the back pannel, so that I can get a good sense for positioning and depth.

    [​IMG]
    Hello everyone, meet my paint booth. Yes, bow before my superior mastery of cardboard and duct tape, truly equipment worthy of this site's illustrious modding history. At present, it's being used to hold newly stained wood. This wood will, in turn, become a structural element of the mod itself.

    [​IMG]
    The first bits of assembly, before much of anything's been affixed.

    That's it for now. I'll soon have a number of questions for those of immanently higher experience than me. In the interim, I welcome any thoughts and criticisms you would care to share.

    * - I didn't make up that word.
    ** - But I did make up that one.
     
    Last edited: 19 Aug 2009
  4. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    June 11th - Paint

    So I'm a day late, cut me some slack, I'm new at actually recording what I'm doing. Lets talk paint.

    I'll be using a radiator to cool the oil, and radiators need fans. The radiator from Puget Systems was designed for four 120mm fans, but I'll be using a single 250mm fan instead. I picked this one up from Xoxide, then sprayed it with hammered copper paint.
    [​IMG]

    The fan and the radiator are both attached to a single backplate, so the position of the screw holes becomes fairly important, as they have to cooperate. I did a number of test fittings before settling on their relative positions. I still got the screw holes slightly wrong, but they work well enough, and they'll be hidden under the fan.
    [​IMG]

    After I was happy enough with the backplate, I cut the fan and screw holes. Then I gave it a few coats of copper paint, which leaves it with a nice metallic sheen.
    [​IMG]

    I mentioned the drive cage earlier. Here's a better shot of the old, dinged up bit of metal. I added the slots when the cage was in another case. They allow me to adjust the forward-back position of each drive without having to rebuild anything. It was an invaluable convenience then, and It'll probably be just as useful now. The cage still has it's old paintjob, which needs a lot of touching up. I've also cut two large holes in the side. It'll be right up against the radiator and I don't want it blocking too much airflow. Those bays will be empty.
    [​IMG]

    This hard drive cage comes from an old Lian Li case. The case went to a friend years ago, but I kept the cage. I didn't really know what I was going to use it for, until now. I'd already cut off the front fan assembly well before even starting this mod.
    [​IMG]

    I cut out excess aluminum from the top and bottom of the cage, to increase airflow. I also cut a hole in one side of the cage for the same reason. Then I painted the cage with red enamel, to match my old drive cage. When painting bare metal parts, I always prime them with self-etching primer, which you can pick up from most auto-parts stores. It helps the paint adhere quite a bit better.
    [​IMG]

    With both cages cut and repainted, I combined them into a single unit. Total drive capacity: Three 3.5" bays and one 5.25" bay. Enough for the hard drives and a DVDrw.
    [​IMG]

    And here's the cage in place. I'll be adding some attachments to the wood blocks, to hold the cage down, but I'm not quite set for that step yet. You can see the general placement of the fluid circuit here as well.
    [​IMG]

    I'll be talking a bit more about paint and and the fluid circuit in the coming weeks.
     
    Last edited: 19 Aug 2009
  5. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    Dear moderator who has to read my multiposts

    Sorry about dropping six or seven copies of the exact same update into your cue. I thought there was something wrong with my login. I checked the FAQ after nothing seemed to be working, and figured out my mistake for myself. Sorry, I'm a part time idiot, and apparently it's my shift.
     
  6. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    June 18th - Construction

    Now we're on to the basic construction of the outer cage. The left and right walls are made from "brass" (really aluminum) ventilation grid which I picked up from my local hardware store.
    [​IMG]

    With the main tank in place, space in the rear of the case suddenly becomes a little tighter.
    [​IMG]

    The fish tank's upper rim holds the lid and the motherboard tray. However, it doesn't fit when the tank is up against the wood frame, so I made a few minor modifications.
    [​IMG]

    With the cuts made to the grid and the upper rim, the tank rim now sits level. It overlaps the grids along the sides, so when the tank rim is in place, the tank is physically attached to the wood frame. Once it's filled with oil, I doubt such a connection would be enough to physically restrain the tank in an emergency. At least it will prevent the tank from sliding around from minor bumps or shifts.
    [​IMG]

    Eventually, this front view will be etched. That's a topic for a far later post.
    [​IMG]

    The right side gives a much better sense of the wood's color and sheen. Eventually, a drive bay will be set in this side. I attached the grid to the wood using furniture tacks, which works quite well and looks a lot better than I expected.
    [​IMG]

    In order to accommodate the radiator, I had to take a fairly large notch out of one of the wooden beams. I later refinished the exposed wood, so that the colors would match.
    [​IMG]

    I'm using wire loom as an anti-crimp mechanism. Also, because it looks good. The loom and the tubing fit each other just-about flawlessly.
    [​IMG]

    And this is the near-complete fluid circuit. One nice advantage of an immersion cooling system is an extremely simple fluid circuit. You might notice that the pump has been repainted an extremely grungy shade of copper. I decided that most of the surfaces in the project were way too clean, and went back over them to grime them up a bit.
    [​IMG]

    I'll be talking about the newer, grungier paint job next week.
     
    Last edited: 19 Aug 2009
  7. DonT-FeaR

    DonT-FeaR I know what a fk'n Dremel is ok.:D

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    nice work man gunna look sweet
     
  8. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    Thanks! I certainly hope it will, though I'm building my project in the shadow of giants.
     
    Last edited: 24 Jun 2009
  9. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    Sorry about that.

    So it seems I've managed to screw up on posting yet again. You'd think I would've learned my lesson the first time. I feel rather horrid about the whopping four screwball posts beneath this one, so I've gone back through and edited them to make a lot more sense. For those few following along at home, I've added a few extra photos and a lot more info about the painting technique.

    We'll be talking about paint.

    I already talked about paint two weeks ago, but I wasn't entirely satisfied with the evolving look of the case, so I've gone back and painted it again. If you loved the clean and shiny look you've seen thus far, then I must apologize for ruining your reading experience: I've covered everything in a thick layer of grime.
     
    Last edited: 27 Jun 2009
  10. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    June 23rd - Adding age and Grime

    I developed this technique practically by accident, when I was cleaning up some accidental over-spray on a completely different project. It's a simple, fast, and extremely effective technique for adding age and grime to an object. It gives a lot of painted surfaces depth, and is especially effective when used with metallic paints, as it makes the metal sheen a lot more convincing.

    You need a few tools:
    [​IMG]

    From right to left:
    Paper towels cut into squares - These will be your "brush" for the acetone. I took standard paper towels, cut them into four squares each, then folded the square twice to make a small sponge a few inches across. You can't use actual brushes or sponges for this, because you need to control the pressure, and because you'll need to dispose of your towels every few swipes (we'll get into that in a bit).
    Black spray-paint - Any black spray-paint will do. I used enamel because it's what I had on hand. The paint you use will affect the look of your grime. My grime looks like oil because the enamel is highly reflective. If I'd used a flat paint, it'd look more like smoke stains or dirt.
    A paint mask - Unless you really like breathing in spray-paint and solvents, you probably want a mask with a good filter. I ignore my own advice here, since my filters consist of water-soaked rags.
    Eye protection - You're using spray-paint and solvents. You want that crap near your eyes? Have fun. I'll stick with my safety glasses or goggles, thanks.
    More paper towels - Keep the role handy, you'll always need more.
    Acetone - Available from most hardware stores. Acetone is instrumental in turning our normal spray-paint into instant grime.
    Gloves - You'll be handling the acetone directly, and you don't want it on your skin, so you should be wearing gloves. Fun fact about latex free gloves: Acetone dissolves them. If you use gloves like mine, you'll need to work quickly and change gloves often. Better than nothing, but I'd welcome suggestions for a superior alternative.
     
    Last edited: 19 Aug 2009
  11. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    Age and grime, the technique.

    Once you have all your parts lined up, it's time to get painting.

    First - You'll need ventilation. No, more ventilation than that. No, that's not enough either. In fact, just give up and trade the ventilation for some spare brain cells. You can never have enough ventilation for this, but anyone reading this forum is probably smarter than they should be. I use a paint hood I've built from cardboard and cloth. It attaches to my stove hood and works quite well. It means I can paint indoors. It also means I can paint when the weather or temperature is bad, and that I can paint while working on other chores. It's really quite convenient.

    Second - Paint your surface or part with a normal metallic paint. Hammered copper, bright brass, chrome, whatever metallic look you're trying for. You'll probably want to prime the part first, for durability (especially on plastic parts). If you prime it, you should wait a day before painting it, to let the primer cure. Either way, you should let the part cure for at least 48 hours after adding the metallic paint. You need your base coat thoroughly attached to your object, so that the acetone has trouble penetrating it.
    [​IMG]

    Third - This part's tricky, and there's no good way to learn it except to do it and get a feel for the effect. First you spray a nice thick layer of black paint over your part. You then immediately wipe the paint off using a paper towel whetted with acetone. Timing, acetone amount, and pressure are all tricks you'll have to learn yourself. You don't want your towel to be soaked, you don't want to use too much pressure, and you don't want to wipe off the part until the paint has had a moment or two to settle down. If you get it right, it looks like this:
    [​IMG]

    There's a lot of art involved in getting it to look right, and you might want to practice on a part you don't care about first. If you have too much acetone, or use too much pressure, then you'll either wipe off all your paint (forcing you to start again) or even worse, you'll wind up attacking your base coat, causing crazing (fine cracks) or even just wiping all the paint off entirely. You don't want to wipe off the black paint too quickly, or too slowly. Too quick, and it's still too liquid, and comes off too easily. Too slow, and it'll harden on the part, making it impossible to remove without also removing some of the base coat.

    I normally take a square of paper towel, cover the mouth of the Acetone can, and tip the can sideways for a split second. This usually gives me the right amount of acetone. Generally, less is better. Keep in mind, your towel will absorb the paint you're wiping up. After two or three swipes, it won't be useful any more because it can't absorb more paint. Flip it over, or start on a new towel.

    SAFETY WARNING - I have a poor sense of personal preservation. This paint hood is all kinds of dangerous, and you shouldn't try it. We're talking about a cardboard box on top of a gas stove. Inside the ALREADY FLAMMABLE box, I'm then using a lot of highly flammable chemicals. Spray-paint will catch on fire if you give it half a chance. Acetone can practically burst into flames on it's own. Not to mention some of the other chemicals I've used. Wood stain? Varnish? They tell you not to smoke, and I use them on top of my stove without bothering to extinguish the pilot lights.

    So why am I, and my whole apartment, not a cinder?
    1 - I never use this paint box when I'm not in the room. If I'm not personally present, the box goes off the stove and away from any potential sources of ignition.
    2 - You can't see it in these photos, but there's two fire extinguishers within an arms reach of this setup. One little bottle-extinguisher, and one big large capacity extinguisher (my father's a firefighter, so I got the "real" extinguisher for free).
    3 - If I'm using the paint hood, I run the fan at max capacity. All the fumes are sucked right out of the area. No buildup of fumes means less chance of something catching fire. In fact, the constant airflow is why I can safely use wood stains and varnish (polyurethane is known for its flammability) the normally flame-happy gasses are all safely expelled from my living space.

    Despite caveats 1 2 and 3, it's still a bad idea. If you get yourself blown up, don't come crying back to me.
     
    Last edited: 19 Aug 2009
  12. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    June 23rd - Age and Grime Results

    If you get it right, it winds up looking like this:
    [​IMG]

    I did the back plate after the fan. It was tough because it's a 2-dimensional surface. This technique works best with 3 dimensional objects.
    [​IMG]

    I liked how the fan and back plate turned out, so I decided to get a little experimental. I hoisted the main case into the paint booth, and masked off a bunch of parts.
    [​IMG]

    Then I painted over the furniture tacks, to give them a solidly aged look:
    [​IMG]

    It was extremely tricky to get right. I had to tear down and re-stain one side, because I used too much acetone. Still the results were worth it. I also took time to cut the holes for the power plug and the fluid circuit.
    [​IMG]

    I also decided to thoroughly decimate my shiny new drive cage. I used too much acetone here, and you can really see the damage to the red-enamel. I decided to leave it like this though, as it made the part look convincingly old and industrial:
    [​IMG]

    The other side of the drive cage was spared quite so brutal a treatment, it'll be right against the radiator, so I didn't spend a lot of time on it. You can see the logic of the ventilation system a little clearer in this shot:
    [​IMG]

    I also applied this technique to the tank hood. I have big plans for the tank hood, but this is a good start:
    [​IMG]

    Finally, I took a few minutes to spray-paint a black project box. I'll be turning this box into a junction box for the AC wiring, which I'll be talking about next week.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 19 Aug 2009
  13. DonT-FeaR

    DonT-FeaR I know what a fk'n Dremel is ok.:D

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    that looks mad as!!!
     
  14. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    Thanks DonT-FeaR. :D I have to admit that it's nice to get some cheerleading. Sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself. I've patched up tuesday's post to eliminate those moronic blank posts I made while trying to upload correctly. There's some more info about the aging technique now.

    I'm working on AC wiring today, so I have quite a bit to talk about on the 30th.
     
  15. WolfandAngel

    WolfandAngel Got fins?

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    i like the 220mm fan
     
  16. GuyInTulsa

    GuyInTulsa Dremel Molester

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    You have really good painting techniques. I also like the blending of unconventional materials into your mod.

    Thank you for sharing.
     
  17. skreenname

    skreenname SFF Forever

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    Acetone you say..
    I think a found a new friend.
    I love the way the Drive cage looks.
    Now I wanna do a mod after I finish my current one that looks aged.
     
  18. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    @WolfandAngel - I picked it up from Xoxide.com. It doesn't move as much air as four 120mm fans would, but it's whisper quiet, and it does look pretty fantastic. I'll probably have to figure out some kind of safety grille for it, but I haven't come up with any ideas yet.

    @GuyInTulsa - Thanks! Though the real benefit of this technique is it's accessibility. You don't have to be an artist to get decent results. It definitely takes some practice, but not as much as any kind of real painting or detailing.

    @skreenname - Just remember the bit about ventilation. Acetone is not your brain's friend. ;) If you do decide to use the technique, be sure to share your results. I'd love to see others run with (and improve) the idea.
     
    Last edited: 30 Jun 2009
  19. longwing

    longwing New Member

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    June 30th - AC Wiring

    Today's post is a little obsessive, which happens when I'm working on a completely unfamiliar technology. I've blown the past two weekends working on Isis Ascendant's AC wiring. I'm sure the simplicity of the setup will make more experienced electricians scoff, but I'm accustomed to the DC side of things.

    I wanted three simple things from my AC wiring:
    1. A single plug for the computer and the pump.
    2. A relay to run the pump when the computer boots.
    3. and a switch to override the relay and run the pump whenever I please.

    So I hacked out a wiring plan.
    [​IMG]

    Then I gathered the bits I'd need.
    [​IMG]

    I stripped the wires, and added holes to my new junction box.
    [​IMG]

    I also drilled a small hole for mounting the finished box.
    [​IMG]

    Here's where the box will mount. The two-sized hole means I can hang it and remove it easily.
    [​IMG]

    Next I got all the bits together and started soldering.
    [​IMG]

    After that I added wire nuts, and a great deal of glue to act as insulation.
    [​IMG]

    Only someone forgot to actually test his wiring before sealing it up in a giant ball of hotglue. :wallbash:
    [​IMG]

    Yeah, I crossed a wire somewhere in that mess. So I decided to come back and fix it later, when I was feeling a bit more competent. I worked on the plug instead.
    [​IMG]

    Here's the plug all soldered and heat-shrunk.
    [​IMG]

    and here it is, in place.
    [​IMG]

    Back to the junction box. It took a lot of time, and a lot more swearing, but I managed to gut the junction box, ready to start fresh. You can see the relay I'm using down in the bottom.
    [​IMG]

    Having clipped the wires to bypass the glue, I needed to extend the main AC wire.
    [​IMG]

    But it comes out alright, you can barely notice the patch, and even that fits the used industrial theme.
    [​IMG]

    Newly extended wires and re-glued feeds! We're ready for a second attempt.
    [​IMG]

    This time, I connected them with a screw strip. If I missed a connection, I can easily adjust.
    The relay will send AC power to the pump when it detects 12v DC on the attached molex.
    [​IMG]

    Then I jam the whole thing down into the box. I haven't tested it all yet, so it only gets two screws.
    [​IMG]

    One AC junction box, in place and ready to go.
    [​IMG]

    I still need to wire up the switch, and actually test the sodding thing. Maybe next week.
     
    Last edited: 19 Aug 2009
  20. Bad_cancer

    Bad_cancer Mauritius? 2nd speck east of africa

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    hmm, nice project there. im really liking that industrial look.
    lol at your paint booth btw.

    keep it up, it looks good!
     

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