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The Silent Oil PC

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  • Power Supplies
  • Do It Yourself
  • Optical Media
  • Components
Last response: in Components
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January 9, 2006 3:54:24 PM

Hey, I thought that was an awesome DIY project. Very innovative!! I have a few questions concerning it tho. One, why didn't you try baby oil? It's cheap, petroleum based and it's clear. The other question is how do you use an optical drive, PS2 connectors or USB connectors? Thanx for any feedback. THG rules for PC Tech!!

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January 9, 2006 4:03:38 PM

Details regarding everything are in the article, I'm pretty sure.
January 9, 2006 4:12:26 PM

Well, I read and re-read the article and it mentioned nothing of either issue. Thanx for the feedback tho.
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January 9, 2006 5:09:44 PM

I haven't read that article, but here's my thoughts:

Don't know why not baby oil - maybe it conducts electricity or maybe no one thought to try it.

But... For the other stuff: Have your CD/DVD & floppy drives hanging outside the box - on top, beside it, whatever. PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse just run the cable out the top. USB - good question - probably a series of extensions or a hub or 3 so the connector ends are outside the oil.

Mike.
Anonymous
a b ) Power supply
January 9, 2006 5:15:30 PM

Submersed electricla connections like USB connectors will work fine, plugging and unplugging will be fine other than the mess.

I'm thinking any device with moving parts which are not in a sealed enclosure will not like the oil bath. Optical drives will surely not like the oil bath.
January 9, 2006 5:16:59 PM

I did the same thing as THG just not in such a clean fashion. After a few weeks the vegetable oil was starting to decompose. As would any oil that is organic. In my next oil cooled pc I plan on using mineral oil. Although it is flammable, flash point isn't reached until 370'F. It is also non-conductive. So it should work well. :) 
January 9, 2006 5:47:04 PM

Quote:
I did the same thing as THG just not in such a clean fashion. After a few weeks the vegetable oil was starting to decompose. As would any oil that is organic. In my next oil cooled pc I plan on using mineral oil. Although it is flammable, flash point isn't reached until 370'F. It is also non-conductive. So it should work well. :) 


Post some pics of this when you do it. I would like to see this fire ball, I mean computer.

So how long is it before the scheduled oil change?
January 9, 2006 6:07:02 PM

I believe it is possible to use water for a cooling medium. The problem that the THG team encountered was due to the use of standard distilled/deionized water. Most of the deionized water that is available over the counter has too high a conductivity rating.

I worked for many years in the Power Generation industry where low conductivity water was used in the boilers in order to prevent corrosion. The Conductivity of the water was less than .2 uMhos (.2 Micro Mhos). This value was achieved through a series of stepped demineralizers.

A portion of the water that had been processed to the .2 uMho value was siphoned off and run through another stage of demeneralization to acheive a Conductivity of less than .1 uMho. This basically electrical neutral water was then used to cool the stator of the running Generators.

My guess is that water that has been processed to this degree could be used to cool a Silent PC.
January 9, 2006 8:30:06 PM

What about the Power Supply?
Is this stupid? I want all the fans gone. I want it to be totaly silent. could i pull open the PS to get good flow over it and drop it in too without the fan?
What about the Hard Drive? there sealed arent they? that would muffel HD noise too. that would be sweet. totaly silent box with a few wires coming out.
Comments?
January 9, 2006 8:32:19 PM

Where can i get this super low conductivity water? will its conductivity increase over time because of contaminents getting to it through the air? or minerals coming off of coponents in the water?
January 9, 2006 8:39:58 PM

Yeah, that was my basic thinking too about the vegetable based oil. It will break down eventually with heating/cooling cycles. I think babyoil would work great. It is a mineral based oil you know. I didn't know water could be made electrically "neutral". Where can you get this type of water and is it expensive? If it's expensive, I say give the babyoil a shot.
January 9, 2006 8:48:46 PM

Drop the PSU in the oil too. Same with HDD. You can leave the fan in the PSU - it won't hurt anything and it will move the oil around - and you won't hear it because it's muffled by the oil. :) 

Mike.
January 9, 2006 8:58:09 PM

100% pure water is meant to be electrically neutral, but its almost impossible to get due to stuff in the air dissolving in it. Like neruoman-case said, getting it below 0.1 Siemens (incidentally the new official SI unit taken over from mho) is quite a feat. Also a computer like this would ideally be silicone sealed in a nitrogen atmosphere or something similar.

What about heavy water D2O? Its used in many chemistry analytical techniques because it behaves differently to normal water H2O on a chemical level.

(PS I'm an inorganic chemist, not an analytical one. I get my computer to do my work for me =D)
January 9, 2006 9:48:14 PM

Quote:
Drop the PSU in the oil too. Same with HDD. You can leave the fan in the PSU - it won't hurt anything and it will move the oil around - and you won't hear it because it's muffled by the oil. :) 

Mike.


Why didnt Toms submerge the Power Supply?
January 9, 2006 9:57:47 PM

I've been thinking for sometime about using some oil in water cooling and running it right over the die. Am I stupid or would this work, no heat spreader or base to lose contact. Oil or alcohol moving right over the chip.
It seems like you could get same results [or better] running some big tubes from the main parts into an aluminum reservoir on top. No pump, just let the hot oil rise like in a lava lamp. aluminum sides on case would lose heat faster too.

PS. I have the same case they used.
January 9, 2006 10:05:48 PM

You might want to be careful using mineral oils in lieu of vegetable oils. Mineral oils are known to severely degrade certain plastics. Though a petroleum-based oil would certainly not degrade like a vegetable oil, you might wreck the cables, etc. in short order. Engine gaskets in cars, for example, are specially formulated so that they don't degrade from contact with motor oil.

The biggest problems with using vegetable oil would likely be oxidation and impurities. The impurities you could probably fix by purchasing reagent grade organics from a company like Sigma-Aldrich. Oxidation could probably be controlled for a while if you degassed the oil and kept a layer of inert gas over the oil bath. Argon would probably work better than nitrogen since it's heavier and would stick around longer. You can get it for cheap from a welding supply company.
January 9, 2006 11:21:57 PM

Hey unsmart,
Are you talking about putting oil in a water pump? That won't work for lots of reasons. First, the oil would wear through your tubing really quickly. Second, there is no advantage to using oil. Water's heat capacity (it's ability to absorb heat) is as high as most oils, but it is much less viscous and easier to pump.
Most cheap alcohols have a heat capacity that's too low to be used as a coolant.
Anyway, just FYI.
January 9, 2006 11:56:06 PM

Quote:
Drop the PSU in the oil too. Same with HDD. You can leave the fan in the PSU - it won't hurt anything and it will move the oil around - and you won't hear it because it's muffled by the oil. :) 

Mike.


Why didnt Toms submerge the Power Supply?
Don't know - possibly because the PSU would be hard as heck to clean afterwards? :D 

Mike.
January 10, 2006 2:56:10 AM

Quote:
Drop the PSU in the oil too. Same with HDD. You can leave the fan in the PSU - it won't hurt anything and it will move the oil around - and you won't hear it because it's muffled by the oil. :) 

Mike.


Why didnt Toms submerge the Power Supply?

I don't know that it would actually make a difference in oil, but 120 volts will overcome a lot more Resistance than 12 volts... as for the cooling fan, Toms tried a slot cooler and said the fans stopped working, so they took it out. I'm sure the PSU fan would do the same, not that you'd need it... Any moving parts are likely to get gummed up unless you use a really viscous oil, and I'd be afraid of any viscous oil degrading the plastics.

I would love to see one with brake fluid or transmission oil, or some other brightly coloured oil though. Put a couple of LED's in with it and it would glow beautifully! As an added bonus, I think most synthetic auto oils are formulated to prevent gasket wear (and thus other plastic wear).

Got a couple of thoughts about the wiring too. I don't see any reason you couldn't seal the front and flip the case onto its front. Any removable media drives are going to be outside the oil anyways, so just have all the connectors poke a cm or two out the top of the oil. It might need more dusting, but well worth it to avoid the mess.
January 10, 2006 3:19:03 AM

Having the connectors exit the top (tilting case onto its 'front') seems like the way to manage leaks, especially if you ever want any additional connectors or cards.

Worse than just chemical oxidation, it seems like vegetable oil would be a viable growth medium for molds or bacteria or the like, so I'd think a mineral oil of some kind would be better. Of course, there are very few oils that can be purchased for $4/gallon like vegetable oil.

If you could get the primary heat sources (P/S, proc, etc.) to the bottom of the case, you should be able to make a hellacious lava lamp. A lot of little ones run on 20 or 30 watts, so 400 should be plenty for an 8 gallon version. Red transmission fluid with a white or dark purple parafin 'lava' would be pretty spectacular. I bet perchloroethylene is hard on plastics and might increase conductivity though...
January 10, 2006 4:32:27 AM

Thanx for the info Human1, I thought lower bioling piont meant better heat transfer, I'm not to bright you know.
To get back to the original post. like I said. I own the case they used and it's not that sturdy. I think it would'nt last to long at the high temps and wieght. I did buy some plexiglass to mod it with, 18" by 24" and .22" thick for $13. I may have too much fiath in you guys, but I think most people here could do a better job making it from scratch. It would be built for the task and you would'nt have all the wasted space in front. If your going to do this custom is the way to go imo. It would have to look cleaner then all that junk they used to cover the holes and cheaper.
January 10, 2006 11:45:51 AM

I also wondered why they didn't turn the case on it's front, but oh well.
Can the hard disks be submerged? I thought they had a little hole on top that says Do Not Cover, but maybe I'm just imagining things.
To avoid problems with the PSU you should probably just leave the cover off to allow for more fluid flow across it. I don't know if 120V is enough to overcome the oil resistence, are there any EE's reading this with us?
Water really is the best cheap coolant, too bad it conducts so well with minimal impurities...
Anyway, could you just use a good fishtank? More sturdy than plexiglass and then scratches and buffs wouldn't be a big problem.
January 10, 2006 1:52:46 PM

I don't know anything about this at all, but would it be cool if it was suspended in a vacuum? Or would it just overheat and explode...
at least it'd do it quietly :?
January 10, 2006 2:22:02 PM

If only mercury wasn't conductive and bromine wasn't a carcinogen, that would look sweet. You should keep the fans in, just cause it is liquid does not mean it must not move. If you truly want a silent fanless cas look on google you can find a 25kg (I think) biiig case the needs no fans, it is basically a big heat sink.
January 10, 2006 2:28:28 PM

Hasn't anyone thought of Car Coolant, that radioactive green anti-freezing, anti-bacteria, anti-algae and low conductivity?
I use that in my watercooling and it is defeniteley better than water...
January 10, 2006 2:33:04 PM

AFAIK water has the highest heat capacity of anything in the universe, that is why earth supports life ~4180Kj/C. So distilled, deionised water would be your best bet, but air is still by any means the safest, and of course easiest. Personally my computer can make as much noise as it wants, my sound covers it up just fine.
January 10, 2006 2:39:35 PM

The little 'do not cover' hole on HDD's is a hole in the metal casing and it's a rubber plug (might be what shows from a full rubber coating - not sure) that needs to be able to flex to account for changes in air pressure. The drive is sealed because the heads & platters can't handle any dust at all.

Mike.
January 10, 2006 2:41:33 PM

It would be cool to have a pc that could support fish... :D 
January 10, 2006 2:49:02 PM

A truck is to a brick wall
as a read head is to a speck of dust. (and God FORBID a finger print which is like an entire mall.)
January 10, 2006 2:49:03 PM

Quote:
I don't know anything about this at all, but would it be cool if it was suspended in a vacuum? Or would it just overheat and explode...
at least it'd do it quietly :?


Immensly cool if it was. Or suspended in zero grav.

Unfortunately a vacuum would be the anti-christ of cooling (except coving with lighter fluid and lighting it). Energy transfer works by warm particles hitting cold particles (fast particles hitting slow ones). With a vacuum, you'd have energy going in from the PSU, but no way for the CPU to get rid of energy, except if it emitted a high amount of infra-red radiation (this is commonly known as heat). i.e. it would get very hot!

I reckon THG should try liquid helium - though its expensive! Liquid nitrogen is about £1 a pint, and liquid helium is £50+
January 10, 2006 2:51:16 PM

Who actually WANTS to freeze to their computer case? It is cool but it is still a bit gimmiky.
January 10, 2006 2:54:37 PM

I repeat: why not use Super-Versatile Car Coolant to fill up the case??
January 10, 2006 5:19:18 PM

Vacuum is a really bad idea. Your computer would overheat. Heat transfer requires something to transfer the heat to, usually air or a liquid. I guess it could radiate really well once the CPU got white hot... :) 
January 10, 2006 7:02:35 PM

Uuuum because all the additives in that just stop it from freezing, they dont really imrove water so pure h2o should be better. And the more types of molecules you have in something increase the chance of a reaction due to heat from say a CPU maybe? If anyone knows beyond the shadow of a doubt if i am wrong, please correct me, but only if you have facts. I would like to find a better coolant than water, the stuff in antifreeze amy make it a better heat conduit, ie loses and gains heat more easily than water, i think surface tension may have something to do with it.
January 10, 2006 8:37:14 PM

That is quite ironic eh, coolants causing global warming.
January 10, 2006 8:53:18 PM

Would not be more practice to make fat heat pipes (just fat pieces of aluminum) and connect crucial components (CPU, Graphic Cards) to the metal case, which is specially made (thicker and may be with some fins) to be a radiator to disperse hit into air due to its large aria?

There is only a question of the power supply, I do not know if you can do it similar thing with the standard PSU.
January 10, 2006 10:24:31 PM

I really liked the idea of this cooling solution (though I won't be able to try it until I have my own house :p ), but... Does this oil works (well at least) forever??
January 10, 2006 10:48:40 PM

Sadly oil doesn't last forever. Depending on the type of oil, it will degrade in a matter of several months, I'd guess. Motor oils should last longer though, I think.
January 11, 2006 1:04:07 AM

MXM, you should check out the zalman tnn systems, they're what you are thinking of.
A heat pipe isn't just a piece of metal,. It's a tube with a wick of sorts. the tube is filled with a water, alcohol mix in a vacuum to lower the boiling point. When the liquid evaporates it moves the heat to the other end of the tube and away from the heat source, where the heat sink is. Once there it condenses and is wicked back to the base.
One guy I saw [when I googled oil filled pc's claims he has one with soy bean oil thats been running for over a year. He has pics on his site too.
I also found what I was talking about in my first post, direct die cooling and using alcohol in water cooling. They both have good result form what I've
seen. phase change is what I was thinking of, vaporizing alcohol off the die [they use freon which has even lower boiling point] and is the best cooling around. it's more complicated then I thought, with compressors and stuff.
January 11, 2006 6:04:54 PM

Quote:
MXM, you should check out the zalman tnn systems, they're what you are thinking of.

Yep, that is very close. Only I was indeed thinking about just a thick piece of metal, as oppose to the actual heat pipe. I think it will be still more practical or even lighter than oil cooling.
Of cause if you use the actual heat pipes, then it is even better!
So, is the purpose of this oil exercise "We do it because we can!" or there is some benefit of oil cooling?
January 11, 2006 8:30:01 PM

if you can get hold of a non ioonic non polar antibacterial agent the oild could last forever if you seal the case thoroughly.
January 12, 2006 5:27:19 AM

Quote:
if you can get hold of a non ioonic non polar antibacterial agent the oild could last forever if you seal the case thoroughly.


Couldnt that be solved with a pair of UV lights?
UV kills everything.
January 12, 2006 6:41:22 AM

That would work, but it could photo-oxidise the oil too. VERY good idea though! what i would do is leave everything in a room under intense uv, then sterilise my work surfaces, leave a rain coat or somethng under the uv, put that on and seal the arms, and get one of those white masks, dress up bio hazard style, and then assemble everything under the uv light, nothing will survive and once you have sealed the pc leave it under uv for a while longer and you theoretically could have ever lasting oil. (wear protective eyewear of course.) Do this in a clean,dry bathroom. You could always take it down to your nearest food plant and have them radiate it for you :wink:
January 12, 2006 8:13:44 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it you have a farm of peltier coolers on the top of th pc somehow interfaced with the oil, couldn't you bring the temp of the whole system well below freezing? There wouldn't be any issue with condensation on the processor as it would be insulated by the oil, and the tiny gap of air in between it and the mobo wouldn't have enough humidity to form harmful ice crystals.

I think it'd be pretty badass, having condensation forming on the case, frosting the outside like the inside of a freezer, but the top is almost at the boiling point. ^_^ You could even set up a fan that blows the excess heat at you during cooler weather....
January 12, 2006 10:42:21 AM

That will work, just hope it does not turn into a grease computer from going too low.
January 12, 2006 4:42:02 PM

Sorry, MxM I misunderstood your post. I think using more,smaller pipes would be better then one big one. I may be wrong. I think this is a usefull mod for servers and media pc, especially if wireless. You could boot from mem stick and run off of the network, you would olny need ports for vid and aud. Wireless keyboard and mouse receiver, wifi card would be in the case.

I think mr_fnord is on to something with his lava lamp idea. It would look good but also move heat when the heaver oil moved up and cooled off.

Could'nt you put a thin layer of oil ontop of water and hang the board so the heat sinks where in the water?

Has anyone considerd using one of those wave motion lamp things or fake fish tanks as the case?

I realy need to go back to work and stop thinking about this crap!!
January 12, 2006 5:28:51 PM

Well I think we need a new case format.

I propose CTX for Chilled To Extreme.

It would have all the motherboard components at the bottom so they can be submerged in whichever cooling liquid is best, and at the top all the drives and external connectors which could remain in air.

I like the lava lamp idea but I fear that fish would not survive in de-ionised water; which is a pity. Perhaps we need new fish.
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