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Components in Oil Computer

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  • Homebuilt
  • Computer
  • Components
  • Motherboards
  • Systems
Last response: in Systems
November 25, 2006 3:05:34 PM

I've been looking around different sites for a few hours now and can't find any help on this topic. I've got an oil-cooled computer, one in which the motherboard and attached components are completely submerged in mineral oil. I need to install a new video card but I am not sure if this is possible. The main concern I have is whether or not the pins on the card will be able to make a good connection in the slot. The current video card was already in the slot before I added the mineral oil, so I didn't have to worry about the oil getting between the pins and the slot on the motherboard. I don't think that draining the oil and adding the new card will really help all that much; its almost impossible to get the mineral oil completely out of the slot on the motherboard.
If anybody has had this problem before, please let me in on what to do. If anybody just has some advice that might help, that'd be great.

More about : components oil computer

November 25, 2006 4:01:19 PM

Hmmm...

Well, I don't have any experience with oil-cooled computers. However, I would think the mechanical resistance of the contacts sliding into the slot would clear enough oil away to make a good connection. To be extra sure you could get a credit card slot cleaner. They're stiff cards that are covered with fuzz and sometimes have alcohol on them. You could slide it in and pull it out along the interior of the slot (don't try and swipe it! >.< Could damage the contacts).
November 25, 2006 4:26:15 PM

I think that you can get all the oil out of the slot...
work with me...here is the idea.

There should not be any oil IN the slot now, as the current card is taking up all the space...

If you remove the MB and take out the card...whatever oil may have seeped in to the slot can be extracted with COMPRESSED AIR.

once you get it out...put in the new VC and tada!

Just my opinion. :) 
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November 25, 2006 4:55:07 PM

OK so I forgot to mention one minor detail. The motherboard can't be removed from the case. The whole thing is in a ten gallon fish tank. After I put the motherboard in the bottom of the tank, I glued 4 case fans to the side of the tank to help circulate the oil. Then above those is a plexiglass ramp stretching from one end of the tank to the other. The oil is pumped to the top of the ramp via several small pumps, and then flows to the other side of the case. This allows the oil to be spread out and cooled. Basically, I can't remove the motherboard. Its stuck in there. There is enough room for me to reach my hand inside to access the motherboard. Removing the motherboard and changing the card outside of the case just isn't an option.

November 25, 2006 4:57:11 PM

Well, then you'll have to empty out the tank and work from there. Still, you should be able to get that new VGA in there.
November 25, 2006 5:01:04 PM

No idea, I've seen pictures of oil submerged comps but never even considered the idea. Sounds interesting though....hmm...:-)

Compressed air seems like the best bet. Although I think that if you put a card in, it might get the contact it needs just by displacement. It's easy to clean off the card contacts, so give it a try?

Oh, and can we find out the specs of your system? I imagine you can't sell this system in parts very easily...:-P Also, I'm not familiar with mineral oil...I don't get constipated much. What's the viscousity of the stuff? Don't your case fans burn out from the resistance of the oil?

Another question, wouldn't a jet over the CPU cool it better than a heatsink? :-P
November 25, 2006 5:23:22 PM

The specs aren't impressive. I built the thing as a visual display for a research project I did on computer cooling. It was originally a Dell PC that I hacked apart. Its all stock components. Ironically, its better equipped than my older desktop and my laptop, so that's why I'm wanting to upgrade the video card. The current card isn't good enough to run Battlefield 2.
As for the heatsink being left in, it absorbs the heat better than the oil. The oil is meant to replace the air in the tank.
The fans don't burn out, surprisingly. I had that concern but decided to take the chance. They are slowed down greatly, but they still rotate enough to create a current within the tank, which is all I really wanted out of them.
November 25, 2006 5:32:49 PM

Interesting. :-D I was gonna say, if you built a top of the line PC in oil you might be a bit dumb. Heh. I've got a P3 chip and a K62 laying around I was thinking about using. You can get an X1300 PCI slot card from Visiontek for about $120 or so. Which, as long as you can get the bios to support the card, you're good to go. No AGP or PCI-E needed. I'm aware the oil is supposed to replace the air, but oil can be "jetted" and I thought it would pick up heat better. I suppose not though. Still, if you could use a couple of aquarium jets (I have 3 aquariums) and hook them up to molex connectors (provided the power usage is right) I'd imagine that jets would work better than fans in oil movement. A circular movement would focus heat in the middle of the tank no? An "8" pattern would work best. Clear plastic inserts and directional jets might work to do that.

I'm thinking though that the best oil cooling would be done with a sealed case tight over the mobo and components, with a radiator outside. Oil in through the bottom under the mobo and out the top. Then you could just have fans blowing over your radiator. I believe I've seen something like that somewhere before.
November 25, 2006 6:02:19 PM

While the idea has definitely intrigued me, can't say as I'd ever actually try it. Too messy, and I'm quite sure I'd spill!

As far as oil getting into your vid slot, as tight as the vid card fits, I'd still think that over time, the oil would still work it's way in. If not, once it's drained, clean the surface around it including the card. Wouldn't think there would be much left to get into the slot that's not already there. One would think that type of question arose when the idea 1st hatched itself. Some of the suggestions above seem as good as anything for cleaning if the oil does get inside.

Good luck with that. Let us know how it turns out.
November 25, 2006 6:04:05 PM

I would think that the mechanical pressure exerted by each of the pins against each of the contacts would be more than enough to make a good contact through the oil. The actual contact patch size for each pin is TINY... like... 0.1mm2, and all of the mechanical pressure is exerted on that tiny area. It'd be like taking a needle and pushing it against an oil covered conductor... You'd definitely get a circuit.

So, even though I've never even seen a oil-cooled PC in the flesh, I would say just put on your rubber gloves and swap it out with the case still full of oil. If it doesn't work... well, then it doesn't work. Then you can empty it and clean it :) 
November 25, 2006 8:55:15 PM

If you can, move it up and down a bit inside the slot once it's in to work out any oil between the contacts. Should be fine. :-)