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Ambitious water cooling project, worth it? If so, how to build it?

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December 12, 2011 8:02:11 PM

A typical PC water cooling system uses an air cooled radiator to dissipate the heat.

However, would it be possible to use a nearby lake's water to dissipate the heat? I live about 10 meters away from a 2-3 meters deep lake and it's right next to my backyard. I plan on using a closed loop system, none of the lake's water would enter the cooling system.

I'm not sure what would be the costs of running two tubes across the backyard, a pump that can handle the extra water and finding/building the radiators.

My main current concern is corrosion if I am going to build it. Copper is expensive, and building a radiator out of copper would burn my wallet. I'm tempted to use old aluminum or steel heating radiators (the heating system parts found in older houses), but I also want to use copper based water blocks. If I use aluminum, steel or copper with each other, they would corrode for sure. What to do?

Another concern is water pressure, but I have yet to decide on the thickness or diameter of the tubing, though it will be rubber or flexible plastic.
a c 324 K Overclocking
December 12, 2011 8:09:57 PM

This would work, but you would definitely want to use a heat exchanger in the lake/pond instead of running lines directly in and out, so you have the right idea there. You would surely need some good pumps to flow your loop water from your house to the lake and back...some pond pumps would likely work...at least 1, anyway. It kind of depends on the radiator/heat exchanger you would use as to the rest of the build. I would really say copper is your best bet for that, but you could easily run PVC out and back for tubing...or even simple garden hose to test this all out. You might even benefit from building a simple copper tube manifold with several segments that re-converge and head back to the main loop.

I like this idea you have...a lot. Where is 4ryan6...he could definitely chime in.
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a b K Overclocking
December 12, 2011 8:30:42 PM

I would not do that you are going to spend more money putting that together than buying a water loop. Your Idea is kinda insane to me no offense.
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a c 324 K Overclocking
December 12, 2011 8:36:47 PM

Quote:
I would not do that you are going to spend more money putting that together than buying a water loop. Your Idea is kinda insane to me no offense.


I agree with some of these, but it's his money- not ours. As for the insanity reason- that's kind of the point, I believe. However, I don't know if this is a frugal attempt to pull this off, or a genuine push to see how spectacular it could turn out. If frugality is key (which he alluded to, somewhat) maybe a normal loop is best until he determines what the next big step is.
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a c 78 K Overclocking
December 12, 2011 9:20:59 PM

^ about using the lake/pond to cool the rig - even as a second heat exhcnahger - already seen it a year ago. The op used his swimming pool to cool the rig in his house which was about...10m away from his window where the rig sat. Temps were always ambient mind you, i don't know how the pool and his cooling ended up during winter. :lol: 

+ 2 to rubix's idea. I can't find the link to the thread but will post it here if i do _though don't count on it :p 
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December 12, 2011 10:03:52 PM

The biggest problem you are going to face is condensation. When the pond get cooler then the temperature inside where the computer is condensation will form on the lines and blocks.
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a b K Overclocking
December 12, 2011 11:02:03 PM

I've seen a few crazy builds using window AC unit radiators before. I bet something like that could be found for cheap on Craigslist or a junk sale.
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December 13, 2011 1:46:49 AM

I planned on using a few old house radiators. My friend's family plans on removing them and throwing them out. All I have to do is figure out what kind of metal are in the radiators. Mixing aluminum with steel would result in a very bad day.
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a c 324 K Overclocking
December 13, 2011 12:47:06 PM

This might work, but you will need to seriously consider pumps as well. Also, you will want to carefully evaluate what kind of water or coolant you will use for your primary, closed loop. I am thinking you will need to run a glycol mixture due to mixed metals and the possibility of freezing temps (depending on where you are, it's winter in the northern hemisphere right now).

Depending on how ambitious your budget allows, this should be something that would offer sub-ambient temps, depending on actual water temperatures. However, in hotter summer months, it might break even on temps since the lake/pond is rather shallow.
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December 14, 2011 7:59:52 AM

Ok so trust me when I say this, you have to be crazy to do this (this being said in the best way possible); if you're not crazy don't even attempt it. I've done modded old AC units water cooling loops (hell it's what I use right now), I've helped a friend do a loop being cooled by his geothermal system (that was the biggest pain in the arse project ever), and yeah I'm a little crazy and I do these things for fun and for something to do.

For you to do a project like this you have to know/remember that this will not yield that good of performance (well probably not) and you have to be doing this mainly for fun, for the challenge, the bragging rights and because you're bored (or a combination of these).

Also be prepared to spend a lot more coins then you previously expected it to cost you, there's always something. Something that goes wrong, something unexpected, something more you need, something cooler, and something to add just because.
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December 14, 2011 8:18:25 AM

The way I figure it, if you're ready to go sub-ambient, you're much better off with a modified ac unit for a chilled water system, or just go to phase change, which will be way more effective than you're planning. And cheaper.

If you're NOT willing to deal with the subambient stuff, you're better off doing what I plan to do: buy a massive case (I'm partial to the caselabs TH-10) and stuff at least 4 quad radiators in there. Your water will stay within one degree of ambient and it won't make much noise. This is also cheaper than the lake thing.

In either case, I really don't see why you would do the lake.

OTOH, here's an interesting idea from the Bitcoin community. This dude modded his bathroom so that his watercooled rig heats up the floor. It appears his wife has now encouraged him to get a second video card lol. No other solution can beat that :D 
https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?PHPSESSID=230b87d17dd...
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a c 324 K Overclocking
December 14, 2011 12:55:02 PM

Yeah, I think this should be approached much more as a fun project than a realistic solution. You will obviously get sub-ambient temps possible in the winter, but you would also get warmer temps in the summer. For the potential costs associated, you might consider going with a water chiller build or DIY phase change. These are choices you'll have to make as part of your project- I'm not trying to discourage you; just be aware there will likely be a lot more to this than you think...regardless which route you go.
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January 10, 2012 10:33:16 PM

I might be moving to a new house with a significantly deeper lake (6+ meters) in a few months. I'm fairly sure the cooling performance would be better than 2-3 meters deep lake.
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January 11, 2012 12:04:02 AM

Sounds like a really cool idea.. if you have the time/money to put it all together :D  Kinda reminds me of the guy that used a toilet as his reservoir (the top part that holds water for the next flush :p ) in his busy apartment.. so every time someone flushed the toilet he got all new water and it sounded like the guy was pleased with the results. I love all these off the way ideas :p 
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a c 324 K Overclocking
January 11, 2012 12:42:06 AM

I've heard of the toilet/reservoir idea and typically isn't the best scenario unless it truly was very, very busy and only with a closed loop using a heat exchanger. Otherwise, you'd get warm water inside a ceramic container that is a very poor heat conductor. If you run an open loop, your loop is exposed and would likely experience mineral buildup.
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a c 190 K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 10:42:43 AM

I like the concept as a 'how do I do this',
but as already discussed the practicalities and benefits of such a set up are, well, lets say 'interesting'
:p 
Moto
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a c 324 K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 12:21:15 PM

The only way this is beneficial is if there truly is a large amount of traffic that lends to the toilet being flushed very often. Otherwise, you run into issues where the heat gets isolated and trapped and will not dissipate as porcelain is a terrible heat conductor.

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...'
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a c 190 K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 12:47:03 PM

I meant the lake idea, not the bogblock heheh
I had a similar idea a while back of a buried container for a desert-dwelling member, (probably didn't go for it though :p )
Moto
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a c 324 K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 12:50:21 PM

If I lived that close to a stream or lake, I'd definitely try that out as a cooling option...I'd just run a pond pump or pick up an Iwaki for that task and run a heat exchanger to keep the loop closed. Would be a very neat project.
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a c 190 K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 2:27:03 PM

Yup, couple of qdc's at the Pc end then you can have a normal rad indoors for winter use if the pond one freezes up without a load of messing around/Pc suddenly dying :p 
Moto
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a b K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 4:34:31 PM

If you could control the condensation and coolant freezing, I'd try for the frozen lake concept :D 
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a c 190 K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 4:47:25 PM

I'm more concerned about the sealed tub/jar/bow freezing overnight and not being able to cool in the morning,
if you left it running 24/7 the flow should keep it from freezing, note I say 'should' :p 
Moto
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a c 324 K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 6:38:39 PM

There would be enough heat dump into the loop to prevent water from freezing in those conditions...even further, moving water does not like to freeze...just check the temps of your local large river when the temps are near zero...the water is still moving quite well. You'd either need to run 24/7 or have a pump that does.
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January 12, 2012 7:53:18 PM

Water is most dense at 3.98 °C (39.16 °F), at 1 atm, and if it gets any colder/warmer than that, it will rise. Unless if it gets crazy cold for more than a month, I doubt the lake and the loop would freeze and burst as long as I keep the radiator(s) deep enough.

Though when I do fire up the computer and pump, I'd raise the radiator(s) close to the water surface to enjoy the below freezing temperature. Seasonal extreme OCing. Heheh.


boiler1990 said:
If you could control the condensation and coolant freezing, I'd try for the frozen lake concept :D 


For the condensation, I can add insulation, sealing and some calcium salt powder to absorb all of the water present in the case.

If I really wanted to see the inside of the computer while gaming, I'll just build a case with two layers of plastic held together with lots of plastic pieces cut from milk carton plastic containers and vacuum pump the middle.


rubix_1011 said:
The only way this is beneficial is if there truly is a large amount of traffic that lends to the toilet being flushed very often. Otherwise, you run into issues where the heat gets isolated and trapped and will not dissipate as porcelain is a terrible heat conductor.

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...'


Or, you can build a toilet with an aluminum container and have the inside and outside covered with ridges to increase surface area.
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a c 324 K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 9:35:20 PM

You could, but I still don't think it would come close to dissipating heat faster than you would be contributing to the total tank volume.
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