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Liquid Tower

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FizzledFiend

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
Location
Winston Salem NC
External Liquid Tower

I am not going to bore you with every little detail of this build. Frankly I don’t want to type that much and I suspect you don’t want to read that much either, so I will let pictures do as much talking as possible.

I bought a new house and my PC/lab room was cut to half the size I was use to and was now attached to our bedroom. Noise was being a factor as the door is a simple accordion style door. I was running a space air filter (I am a happy smoker) a mini freezer as a water chiller and a space fan to draw fresh air from outside to help with room conditions. Needless to say the noise level was getting unbearable and the mini freezer was running constantly. I estimated the freezer was consuming near $25 USD a month to operate. Something just had to be done!

The wife allowed me $150 USD for my Christmas as long as it got rid of the mini freezer. Now at first I thought about making a water chiller out of the mini freezer as people on overclockers.com have suggested numerous times, but alas this was more work than I was willing to put into a 3 day period.

So the goals of this project were set.
1. Spend no more than $150 USD on parts
2. Eliminate the power hungry mini freezer
3. Maintain acceptable temps in the conversion
 
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OP
FizzledFiend

FizzledFiend

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
Location
Winston Salem NC
About 5 months or so back I bit into the whole water cooling scene. As I wasn’t comfortable with selecting and buying the individual parts, so I decided to buy a kit.
I purchased the swiftech Quietpower system. It came with a nice fat case and a cooling system for the CPU. I knew I could add the other components later once I got comfortable with water cooling. I had just dropped almost 2K in new hardware and didn’t want the cooling system to be peeing on it thus making it expensive garbage.

The Quietpower kit utilized ¼ inch ID tubing and a very thin and narrow transmission radiator with 2 120mm fans. It was extremely quiet when matched to my Antec Truecontrol 550 PSU.

Thru the course of reading, learning, and experience I came to the realization the ½ id tubing would improve things, and it did (we will get to this later)

After 4 months of perfect operation with a CPU and GPU swiftech water block I made my first real upgrade to the system…not really by choice mind you, but out of necessity. I was running a product from pro-blend that was supposed to facilitate a 20 degree drop in water temps in autos. I can only assume it has to have pressure in order to work. Anyways this coupled with blue water UV dye had a very negative effect. It acted as a strong corrosive and my radiator was eaten thru in 2 months time…ACK wonder what the water blocks looked like?

I trotted down to AutoZone and picked myself up a heater core for an 85 Chevy Caprice classic. Big sucker was actually a tad bit larger than 2 120mm fans side by side…worked great! Now this heater core and the 2 120 fans went inside the mini freezer and kept me at 35 degrees Celsius constantly under load and idle with a variation of maybe 2 degrees on occasions. Case temps were constantly 26 degrees Celsius.

So there we had the parameter for goal 3. Keep temps near 35 idle.

As I said before I had less room than in my previous house so I wanted to get rid of a few things from my room in this mod. The mini freezer, and the air filter had to be replaced in this mod, but how?
 
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FizzledFiend

FizzledFiend

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
Location
Winston Salem NC
It dawned on my like an epiphany in a dream. I would construct a tower roughly from the floor to the top of my computer case for aesthetic purposes. Ok so now how was I supposed to filter the air…we really don’t need the radiator clocking up with dust and stuff. Seal the fan and place an air filter on its intake side. Hmm if I was going this far why not move the pump, and res over too?

So construction began with a sheet of floor laminate board. 15 foot of PVC ½ id tubing, various brass barbs and adapters, and hose clamps. I had just about everything else I needed. I had a squirrel cage fan from an old house air filter system and a large coral reef aquarium pump. The reservoir was going to be placed on a shelf, but that got Xed in construction. Heck while I was at it I might as well place a Backlight and carry my PC’s theme on over to it.

First thing I did was rip the water blocks, pump, and tubing from my system.
HOLY CRAP! Out of curiosity about the corroded radiator I had to replace before, I popped open my water blocks and was in shock!

PICT0001.JPG

PICT0003.JPG


Although a bit blurry you can make out the extensive crusting and corrosion inside the block. BAD BAD!

My father and I own and operate a small engine repair shop
 
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FizzledFiend

FizzledFiend

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
Location
Winston Salem NC
*cheap advertising plug* Bodsford’s Services INC. We have a glass blaster for cleaning parts and this was a prime candidate for a blasting treatment.

Once they were cleaned I had to drill out the existing hose retaining mechanism and epoxy my ½ barbs into them. Once completed they were pressure tested to 15 PSI and PASSED! WOOT!

I started into the wood working phase of the project. I didn’t really have the proper tools to make perfect edges, just a skill saw and a saws all. Here you can see the 3 sides of the tower with the squirrel cage fan installed

PICT0006.JPG


Here we have the location of the radiator

PICT0007.JPG


PICT0008.JPG
 
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FizzledFiend

FizzledFiend

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
Location
Winston Salem NC
As you can see in this next image there is roughly 1 foot from the outlet of the fan to the radiator. The fan had a square plastic piece for directing air. I heated this with a propane torch and persuaded the fins to direct the air evenly across the radiator.

PICT0009.JPG


In this next image you can see where I added my pump and used Styrofoam insulation to quiet down the noise from the pump. This pump ended up not working for me. I guess I should have tested it more extensively before I spent the effort barbing it up to take my new hoses…oh well off to Lowe’s to buy a pond pump. (lets put some real flow to this baby while we are at it? I ended up getting a Little Giant Multi-Purpose Garden Pump this pump does 300 GPH @ 6 foot head pressure)

PICT0011.JPG


I angled a board off the bottom shelf to about 30 degrees towards the back.
I continued on up the length of the tower with an inner wall to direct the exhaust air along the rear of the tower, while still leaving me room for my reservoir.

PICT0012.JPG



In this next shot we are looking down from the top of the tower to the radiator. This gives you an Idea of what this “channel” is doing.

PICT0013.JPG


Now to place an air filter in this baby! First think I did was cut a 4 inch hole into the blower’s housing box directly across from it’s intake. Using some channeling from window screening I made me 2 guide rails to slip my air filter into. The problem I ran into was my air filter was shorter than the depth of my box. The solution was to cut half way down the channel where I wanted the filter to stop and crimp it slightly to stop the filter where I wanted it.

PICT0016.JPG


PICT0014.JPG
 
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FizzledFiend

FizzledFiend

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
Location
Winston Salem NC
The filter I was using can be bought @ Sears for around $25 USD for a 4 pack

PICT0018.JPG



In this photo you see how it worked out. Pretty nicely if I do say so myself!

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Here is a shot of the replacement pump. allot smaller, but it is stronger. In the store the packaging didn’t indicate that it was a submersible pump only, and I know why now!. This little pump gets hot and I don’t mean warm I mean HOT!
The solution I had was to take 2 old pent I heat sinks and epoxy them on using artic silver thermal epoxy. I can now touch them without burning myself.

PICT0020.JPG


Now this next image shows the final product. I built a 2 foot reservoir out of 4 inch PVC piping and used cleanout plugs and various PVC adapters to get my tubes to attach. I can fill the rest from the top cleanout plug. I added a front door with a piano hinge. Added a black light and a power strip, had some issues with kinking, but I resolved that with some clutch springs for MTD riding mowers. I stretched them while turning against there coil till I got a nice snug fit OVER the hoses (they are not stainless steel and I don’t want rust!) This worked like a charm! I also took foam tape and sealed the edges as best possible to help retain noise inside the tower. 3 magnetic clamps hold the door shut.


PICT0021.JPG



There it was ready to head to the house for final hook up and a test run. This time I used water that had been mechanically treated. My parents have an industrial water softener system that also has a 4 phase Reverse Osmosis unit for drinking water. The drinking water is supposedly 99.9% pure H2O. I also added about 10% antifreeze to help slow this corrosion problem.

Got it home hooked it up tested for a few hours for leaks inside case and fired everything up.

System Specs:
1. CPU = AMD Barton 2500 1.8 @ 2.5 12.5X200
2. RAM = Corsair XMS DDR 400 2.3.3.7
3. MOBO = Asus A7N8X Deluxe
4. Video = Radeon 9600 Pro 128 Core 501.75 / RAM 351.00 (702)

Did I reach my goals?
1. Spend no more than $150 USD on parts = Almost total cost was 165.76
2. Eliminate the power hungry mini freezer = You bet it’s thawing out in back yard as I write this.
3. Maintain acceptable temps in the conversion = Idle is now 31 degrees Celsius and load is 42. Case temps are still 26. I will take this as a yes!

There are lots of things left to do, but I wanted to run this to see where things needed to be changed or if this was going to reach my goals before I finished up the project. Also I ran out of money :D

Things that I want to change:

1. Need to add a fan to the pump housing area to facilitate cooling of the water pumps heat sinks, 2 blue UV reactive 120mm fans would be nice.

2. Need to add the window to they tower.

3. Need to paint the insides a nice reactive color. Blue would be preferred (having trouble locating this have any ideas?)

4. Need to build some sort of dampener under the return of the reservoir. I am getting an occasion bubble into the pump that I think is coming from the velocity of the return line.

5. Want to devise a better way to hold the reservoir in place. Plumbers strap looks cheap. Maybe 2 shelves with a 4 inch hole thru them?

6. Upgrade to Tygon or similar tubing.

7. replace current water pumps and add a NB Block

8. Carpet the outside of tower.

9. Replace magnetic door latches with something stronger.

10. 10. mount 250 watt PSU to operate 120mm fans and operate a temp sensor like a digital dock

11. Install a digital dock

12. Scrap this hole Idea and build something really radical!


Thanks for reading this write up and please ask any questions you might have, I know I was a bit vague. Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated to.


I know this is noting really new. Inspiration was obtained from various people on this board that have done similar things. I already have my mind working on another project where my entire computer is inside something like this…lost of prep work to make that idea pay off…plus some more money would be nice
 

Smirabi

Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2003
Location
new olreans by body
SOLID. I wish I could fabricate like that. well, maybe i can and i never tried... anyway, you did well here. i like your future directions and i think you could really mamange to pull off something even much cooler.

the one suggestion i have is to "save space"
see, a lot of the things htat have their own little rooms in the box you made could probably fit together. and if you shifted them down, you could have room for your whole computer and maybe even a flat panel monitor also. ok, so i lied, i have two suggestions. wrap the entire box in sheet metal (of your choice) for a really industrial feel, you could even add some accents and running lines and curves to it. anyway, great job, i hope to see more posts/pics in the future.

mod on

(and merry christmas/happy holidays!)
 

johnny5c

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2002
Location
St. Paul, MN
Looks great, like the way you have the duct running up the back of the tower. A window and a clear reservior would be way cool. Directron.com has blue UV paint, I've used that brand before and it realy glows.
 

kusojiji

Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2003
Location
Japan
Great job!

If you do something like this again, I'd make one change. Since you are using PVC piping for a reservoir, don't restrict the suction to the pump. Use the largest size fittings and hose that the pump can take. They work more efficiently like that. Your set up may not have hindered it too much since your reservoir is so much higher than the pump and the pressure from gravity was on your side. I think your impala heatercore has a 3/4 inlet and 5/8 outlet? (that's what mine has)
 
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FizzledFiend

FizzledFiend

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
Location
Winston Salem NC
not sure if the impala and the caprice use same heater core, but they were different sizes yes...sweat solderd the barb I needed it to be in the 5/8 size. to actually barb up the pump I had to "melt the barrb into the intake then epoxy around it for added security...the base screws on with 3 screws and didn't allow me to tap it so i could screw a thread in......as you saw in the previous pump I made a small resivior for that pump ...was my intentions to do the same with this, but that was unfeasable.
 
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MoreGooder

Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2003
Location
Saint Louis, MO USA
My goodness. It looks great, but have you calculated the pump head spec required for this setup? I'm no expert, but I do understand why pumps specs all mention "head height", and this setup would probably overwhelm a Mag3. Think about the amount of lift the pump will need to get any sort of decent flow to your water blocks. I'd reconsider the design to minimize the distance (especially vertical) that you have to move the water in your system. Perhaps you should think in more of a horizontal design rather than verticle to minimize the impact of gravity on your flow rate.

Three cheers for a great amount of effort however!
 
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FizzledFiend

FizzledFiend

Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
Location
Winston Salem NC
this isn't a mag 3 pump far from it...and I don't think there is that much vertical flow...lets put it this way...there is enough flow to cause bubbles to be produced on impact inside the res and enough pressure to push it all the way to the bottom. think flow is plenty...this are high flow blocks though and the new RBX thats on back order is going to restrict flow alot...we shall see nothing is in stone here...and I only have 11 more months before my new project can begin construction phase :)