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Oil Cooled computer, in a water bath

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  • Water Cooling
  • Computer
  • Overclocking
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March 14, 2012 12:01:32 AM

Hello, I was trying to find the best place for this, and this category seems closest to what I need.

I am a computer instructor at a career college. I am planning a project for my students, and wanted to see if there were any major pitfalls to this that I was not seeing.

I am planning to build an oil cooled computer, in an acrylic enclosure. It will have an external radiator (leaning toward a car radiator) with fan cooling for the radiator. I know that the major concern for most of the people that have built one of these has been the temp of the oil. I am planning to take this project one major step forward from every other design I have seen, and submerge the system case in a 55 Gallon aquarium.

OK, so my main question to you all is, does anyone have any idea how much cooling effect the water will have on the oil. I am using a 48x12x22 in aquarium, so the aquarium has a lot of water surface area, and what I have not been able to figure out is if this will provide substantial cooling effect. I am intending to have fish in the aquarium, and am concerned the oil will still manage to heat the overall aquarium up to an unacceptable level for the fish.

The computer enclosure will be 18x8x12, and will rest on pillars to keep it off the bottom of the tank, and the top well above the water fill line. I am intending to submerge the MB/Proc/Memory,expansion cards, Power Supply (Have not decided if I want to remove it from its enclosure yet, and ideas on that are welcome) and have the entire back plate remain out of the oil (about 1/4 in. gap) I cannot see any good reason to have the oil up higher than that, and it should keep me from having siphoning issues. The Optical and Hard Drives will be located on top of the tank. The oil radiator will be mounted on the tank stand, and I have not decided what size pump I will use for circulation yet.

Any considered input would be welcome. Preferably first hand observation or experience if you have worked with water or oil cooled systems.

Thanks

More about : oil cooled computer water bath

a b K Overclocking
March 14, 2012 12:13:43 AM

The computer will definitely heat the water in the aquarium up. A computer puts out the same amount of waste energy regardless of how it is cooled. Air cooled, water cooled, oil cooled, vapor cooled, liquid nitrogen cooled, etc...

Changes in operating temperature do have an impact on the amount of additional waste energy created but it's not a significant amount and does not change the physics of the system. This means that running a PC at a cooler temperature will cause it to put out slightly less heat overall, but not by much. What's most important to remember is that water has a very high heat capacity, but it is also not very thermally conductive (certainly less so than metal). What this means is that while it may take a while to heat a volume of water up, it will be equally hard to cool it down.

Demonstrating an oil cooled PC is very cool, as would be a heat exchanger between an oil loop and an open water reservoir but after a period of time it will heat up to the point where it poses a danger to your fish
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March 14, 2012 12:16:51 AM

The question would be how do you plan to circulate the water through the oil radiator. I don't believe the convection current created within the radiator fins will be powerful enough to move an adequate amount of water in order to achieve good cooling of the radiator. Water has a high specific heat and will take a long time to get a good transfer from the oil-heated radiator to it. I am afraid you will cook the CPU well before you get to cook the fish in the tank, if you see what I'm saying.
Water-cooled systems use a pump to circulate the coolant within the system; the coolant achieves a stable temperature, with mild variations between the CPU-end (hot end) and the radiator-end (cold end). The larger the amount of water and the radiator exchange surface area, the better, because of the high specific heat of the water. That's why a water-cooled system will stabilize better the temps, but will run a bit warmer than an air-cooled system at idle. Air heats up and cools very quickly, and a large radiator surface is needed along with a good fan to vent enough air in order to cool the water that is in the radiator at any given moment. Oil must have a large specific heat as well, and will not be able to remove enough heat from the radiator in a timely manner, IMO.
Now, the other possibility: the radiator is outside the tank. It uses air to cool down the oil. In that case you can use a pretty good approximation method : measure the temperature of the PC case at equilibrium (after the system has been up and running for a while). Because of the water thermal properties, after immersion of the case in water you will get some drop in the oil temperature, if the water is cold, followed by a gradual rise in temperature in both (the water and the oil), and if you wait long enough, it will eventually reach about the same temp as the case was before the immersion. Adding water around the case will not create additional heat, but will create a zone of warm water adjacent to the case; eventually that will heat up the entire tank, and that will not be able to dissipate heat effectively.
If the fish can take the temperature that you measured, they should be OK. Otherwise, you can create a cooling system for the tank itself; you will still end up with warmer water than in the beginning, but not as much as without cooling.
Anyone else out there with some ideas?
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a b K Overclocking
March 14, 2012 1:34:39 AM

house70 said:
The question would be how do you plan to circulate the water through the oil radiator. I don't believe the convection current created within the radiator fins will be powerful enough to move an adequate amount of water in order to achieve good cooling of the radiator. Water has a high specific heat and will take a long time to get a good transfer from the oil-heated radiator to it. I am afraid you will cook the CPU well before you get to cook the fish in the tank, if you see what I'm saying.
Water-cooled systems use a pump to circulate the coolant within the system; the coolant achieves a stable temperature, with mild variations between the CPU-end (hot end) and the radiator-end (cold end). The larger the amount of water and the radiator exchange surface area, the better, because of the high specific heat of the water. That's why a water-cooled system will stabilize better the temps, but will run a bit warmer than an air-cooled system at idle. Air heats up and cools very quickly, and a large radiator surface is needed along with a good fan to vent enough air in order to cool the water that is in the radiator at any given moment. Oil must have a large specific heat as well, and will not be able to remove enough heat from the radiator in a timely manner, IMO.
Now, the other possibility: the radiator is outside the tank. It uses air to cool down the oil. In that case you can use a pretty good approximation method : measure the temperature of the PC case at equilibrium (after the system has been up and running for a while). Because of the water thermal properties, after immersion of the case in water you will get some drop in the oil temperature, if the water is cold, followed by a gradual rise in temperature in both (the water and the oil), and if you wait long enough, it will eventually reach about the same temp as the case was before the immersion. Adding water around the case will not create additional heat, but will create a zone of warm water adjacent to the case; eventually that will heat up the entire tank, and that will not be able to dissipate heat effectively.
If the fish can take the temperature that you measured, they should be OK. Otherwise, you can create a cooling system for the tank itself; you will still end up with warmer water than in the beginning, but not as much as without cooling.
Anyone else out there with some ideas?


An aquarium that big would have a water pump. If not, the water gets too stagnant and most fish can't live in that
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March 14, 2012 11:18:36 AM

Pinhedd said:
An aquarium that big would have a water pump. If not, the water gets too stagnant and most fish can't live in that

Would it be connected to a radiator, as well? Just circulating the water is good for the fish, but will not do much for the temperature of the water (unless is a thermally regulated aquarium, as well; IDK if these exist and if so, how common they are). Besides, the pump itself creates a small amount of heat that needs to be dissipated. In a fish-only scenario, the heat is dealt with by the water's cooling properties, but if you add a significant water heater like a PC in it, it might not suffice.
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a b K Overclocking
March 14, 2012 11:30:25 AM

house70 said:
Would it be connected to a radiator, as well? Just circulating the water is good for the fish, but will not do much for the temperature of the water (unless is a thermally regulated aquarium, as well; IDK if these exist and if so, how common they are). Besides, the pump itself creates a small amount of heat that needs to be dissipated. In a fish-only scenario, the heat is dealt with by the water's cooling properties, but if you add a significant water heater like a PC in it, it might not suffice.


no it would not. It would be sufficient to dissipate heat from a radiator inside the fishtank but the water would still heat up until the fish are cooked. Even if it did have an external radiator the equilibrium temperature would still be around 35-40 degrees centigrade which is far too hot for any fish
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a b K Overclocking
March 14, 2012 12:03:21 PM

Not bloody likely ^^ a 125W heater (which is essentially what we are talking about) could maybe heat a fishbowl to that kind of temperature but not an aquarium. It would dissipate way too fast.

Does a computer heat your whole room to that temperature? NO. Water takes a lot more energy to heat up than air.

I am not sure I understand why the oil system needs a water bath at all. See THG very own oil cooled machine

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/strip-fans,1203.htm...

Completely passively cooled.
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March 14, 2012 12:57:23 PM

Pinhedd said:
no it would not. It would be sufficient to dissipate heat from a radiator inside the fishtank but the water would still heat up until the fish are cooked. Even if it did have an external radiator the equilibrium temperature would still be around 35-40 degrees centigrade which is far too hot for any fish

That was my message in the first post.
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March 14, 2012 1:00:15 PM

americanbrian said:
Not bloody likely ^^ a 125W heater (which is essentially what we are talking about) could maybe heat a fishbowl to that kind of temperature but not an aquarium. It would dissipate way too fast.

Does a computer heat your whole room to that temperature? NO. Water takes a lot more energy to heat up than air.

I am not sure I understand why the oil system needs a water bath at all. See THG very own oil cooled machine

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/strip-fans,1203.htm...

Completely passively cooled.

Check the temps for that system: about 40 centigrade. Your fish would not like it, for sure.
If the PC is in a small room, you will definitely feel it; in my home little office, if the A/C is turned off I can reach easily 85-90 Fahrenheit. During winter, I don't even need the heater vent open; the PC warms up the room nicely. Besides, you forget that rooms are not air-tight, and that will affect the final temperature.
Finally, you're right about it not needing the water bath, but it is not a matter of need, it is a project he's working on. It should look pretty cool, too, if you read through it and can picture it.
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a c 337 K Overclocking
March 14, 2012 1:21:02 PM

You are talking about dissipating several hundred watts of heat into an aquarium? I don't foresee how your fish are going to like this unless it's a tropical tank and the fish like very warm water temps.

Many people have done oil cooling and it's not as great as they originally thought. Oil isn't a very good medium when trying to cool computer components...specific heat of mineral oil is about 60% lower than that of water. It takes longer to absorb heat and takes longer to dissipate heat, making it a poor conductor or coolant.

Regardless of what you wanted to do, you'd need a radiator or a heat exchanger of some sort...I'm not sure I follow your complete workflow, but trying to submerge an acrylic case into water is just asking for leaks. I'm not sure how good you are with acrylic, but of everyone I've read about who's tried this, the acrylic always finds a way to leak massive amounts of mineral oil...one guy had his apartment floor flooded with it. You can definitely try this, but 2 things are bound to happen, here: 1. the oil leaks out, meaning that medium that is acting as your coolant interface is now gone, or less effective depending on how much is lost. 2. You have the entire enclosure under water, meaning now water is displacing the mineral oil. I doubt you are using 100% distilled or anything that is non-conductive, and even if it was, as soon as the water is exposed to anything, it starts becoming conductive from particles being introduced. This water now finds it's way onto electrically charged component PCB, and causes shorts.

Moving this to the watercooling forum- we've had this kind of discussion a lot over there...mineral oil submersion.
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a b K Overclocking
March 14, 2012 1:40:53 PM

americanbrian said:
Not bloody likely ^^ a 125W heater (which is essentially what we are talking about) could maybe heat a fishbowl to that kind of temperature but not an aquarium. It would dissipate way too fast.

Does a computer heat your whole room to that temperature? NO. Water takes a lot more energy to heat up than air.

I am not sure I understand why the oil system needs a water bath at all. See THG very own oil cooled machine

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/strip-fans,1203.htm...

Completely passively cooled.


Water is a very poor thermal conductor, as is glass. The turbulence induced by a water pump would cause some of the heat to dissipate but how much so is entirely dependent on the construction of the system
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a c 337 K Overclocking
March 14, 2012 2:23:08 PM

Water is a better thermal conductor than mineral oil. It's one of the best liquids you can use that is cheap and easily accessible, especially when using blocks with a high surface area created by pins/matrices.

Turbulence in a water loop actually is beneficial- you want turbulent flow, and do not want laminar flow.
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a b K Overclocking
March 14, 2012 2:54:06 PM

solution: 2 rads.

1 for the mineral oil and 1 for the water
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March 14, 2012 3:09:45 PM

Sorry to give it to you but the whole thing is just big waste of time. As cool as it may seems it is not practical to do oil because it will make upgrades almost impossible and painful for the owner and not to mention smell and maintenance. There is enough work and maintenance to do on simple water cooling loop.

Here is a oil cooled PC from Tom's:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/strip-fans,1203.htm...
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a c 337 K Overclocking
March 14, 2012 3:39:15 PM

I've never understood the appeal of mineral oil submersion...it's very impractical, provides lackluster cooling performance and makes a large mess. I can understand the science project concept, but even then I don't completely follow what the demonstration would help prove. I would really like to know the questions you are trying to answer or disprove with this, but I don't know that right-off I can see any that are relevant.

I've seen a lot of watercooling and a lot of mineral oil submersion on many different forums and when it comes to oil submersion, it is always from people who have found those Puget computers they made or they've just Googled their way onto something similar.

I'm not saying it isn't possible, I just think it's far more work and effort into something that will perform less than a normal watercooling loop on its own.
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March 14, 2012 8:07:12 PM

OK, well I guess this is one of those topics that really gets people going. I did not expect this much response this quickly, so this will be a very long update:

To start, I intend to make this a detailed study of the effect on temperature of introducing a water bath to the oil cooled computer concept. We will be starting with a fully operational system. I am donating my PVR to the cause, and will start by taking temp readings over a week long period, with various system loads, on a stock air-cooled system. We will then set up the oil cooled computer, and perform the same tasks and temp readings on a non-circulating system. We will then set up a radiator circulation system and repeat the tests. Following that, we will set the system in the water tank, without circulation, and repeat. I would have said that last we would then reconnect the radiator and check the temps, but I am now considering a final modification, and adding a water radiator, and measuring the effect of actively cooling the water through a radiator on the overall temps. We will be allowing the system to cool completely between tests, as one of the theories I want to test is whether the water bath, and the resultant Oil-Water and Water-Air heat transfer can arrest the very slow heat curve of the oil at a lower level than without it. I also may go back, and test the effect of submerging the oil cooled system when it is at full operating temp, to see if it stabilizes at a different temp than starting it from cool. This is intended to be an actual study of the effect of the water on the oil as an additional cooling medium. There have been numerous people that have done a straight oil-cooled system, and I am interested in whether this will alleviate some of the heating issues they had. On that note, here are a few of the things that are simply accepted:

- Oil is not going to cool as well as a well set up water rig. That's a given, as water has much beter thermodynamic properties for heat dissipation than oil does. However, I also should not have to flush my system every 6 months.

- Oil is messy: Actually, this isn't a given, just a factor of how much you have to operate in the oil tank. If done properly, you should have tested that your system works before submerging it, in which case, you should not need to remove it from the oil again, and therefore, this is a non-issue.

- This is a lot of work for lackluster cooling. Again, we understand there may be better ways to do cooling, but how do you think we found those? This is an academic exercise first, so a little work is expected.

Now, all of that aside, I would like to respond to some of the specific points raised, and maybe get some additional input:

Pinhedd:
Quote:
Demonstrating an oil cooled PC is very cool, as would be a heat exchanger between an oil loop and an open water reservoir but after a period of time it will heat up to the point where it poses a danger to your fish


The oil cooling itself stabilizes in the 40°C range, which, while a little hot for a computer, actually remains very stable, as the oil heats all of the components on the system equally, which seems to keep it stable in what most of us would consider a high "liquid cooled" running temp. Now, that being said, I am also cognizant of the fact that the water could in fact have absolutely no effect on the temp, and as such, we are planning on having tropical fish in the tank, which are happy with temps of 80-85°F.

Quote:
An aquarium that big would have a water pump. If not, the water gets too stagnant and most fish can't live in that


Also, the tank will be set up as a standard fish tank, including water circulation and air infusion. I am now considering trying an additional radiator on the water to measure its effect. That will be a purely budgetary consideration, as my DOE almost had a conniption when I gave her my first prelim budget. But, as I already own almost everything we will need to try this, I might be able to swing that part as well. I am also considering using an oversize pump for the fish tank even if we don't set up a second rad just to increase the water flow throughout the tank.

House70 -
Quote:
The question would be how do you plan to circulate the water through the oil radiator. I don't believe the convection current created within the radiator fins will be powerful enough to move an adequate amount of water in order to achieve good cooling of the radiator. Water has a high specific heat and will take a long time to get a good transfer from the oil-heated radiator to it. I am afraid you will cook the CPU well before you get to cook the fish in the tank, if you see what I'm saying.


Quote:
Would it be connected to a radiator, as well? Just circulating the water is good for the fish, but will not do much for the temperature of the water (unless is a thermally regulated aquarium, as well; IDK if these exist and if so, how common they are). Besides, the pump itself creates a small amount of heat that needs to be dissipated. In a fish-only scenario, the heat is dealt with by the water's cooling properties, but if you add a significant water heater like a PC in it, it might not suffice.


The radiator is intended for the oil, not the water, although that now has me thinking about a second radiator. Even without a radiator, an oil cooled system stabilizes below the failure threshold of just about all computer components (about 40°C or so), so I am not concerned with frying the system. However, I would like to have the system remain perfectly stable, and hopefully do so while overclocking it to degrees not possible otherwise. That will be one of the things we will test while doing our temp measurements. I am really hoping that the Oil-Water surface area will transfer a great deal of the heat from the oil, and that the Air-Water surface area will be sufficient to draw the majority of that heat back out of the water faster than the oil is dumping it in. I am confident that even if my theory proves incorrect, the addition of the oil radiator will ensure the oil temp remains low enough that if the oil and water stabilize at the same temp, that should only be around the 40°C level, which tropical fish are OK with. I am hoping that I am correct about the amount of thermal transfer I can achieve, however, and that I can get the system to stabilize in the 30-35°C range, which would be more that comfortable for your common goldfish.

Now, I did like your idea of using a separate radiator for the water, and as I stated above, I do intend to explore this as a possible addition. I am also wondering how much affect our AC will have on the results. The setup will be in the hallway of our school, and our students are often complaining that the school is too cold. This should help the water temperature remain lower, and I do not know how much that might skew the results from somewhere the ambient temp fluctuates up more. However, if anything, that would be a question to ponder after we get the results for what we have to work with now. :) 

Rubix_1011 -
Quote:
You are talking about dissipating several hundred watts of heat into an aquarium? I don't foresee how your fish are going to like this unless it's a tropical tank and the fish like very warm water temps.

Many people have done oil cooling and it's not as great as they originally thought. Oil isn't a very good medium when trying to cool computer components...specific heat of mineral oil is about 60% lower than that of water. It takes longer to absorb heat and takes longer to dissipate heat, making it a poor conductor or coolant.


For that reason, we are planning to start with tropical fish, unless our tests show we get a significant drop in the stable temp from what other OCCs have shown. I am actually counting on the long heating curve of the oil to help in keeping the overall temp lower. I am hoping the oil cannot absorb heat faster than the water can remove it and dump it. But, that is why we are trying this. Hopefully I am right, and we will end up with a much lower stable operating temp.

Quote:
I'm not sure I follow your complete workflow, but trying to submerge an acrylic case into water is just asking for leaks. I'm not sure how good you are with acrylic, but of everyone I've read about who's tried this, the acrylic always finds a way to leak massive amounts of mineral oil...one guy had his apartment floor flooded with it. You can definitely try this, but 2 things are bound to happen, here: 1. the oil leaks out, meaning that medium that is acting as your coolant interface is now gone, or less effective depending on how much is lost. 2. You have the entire enclosure under water, meaning now water is displacing the mineral oil. I doubt you are using 100% distilled or anything that is non-conductive, and even if it was, as soon as the water is exposed to anything, it starts becoming conductive from particles being introduced. This water now finds it's way onto electrically charged component PCB, and causes shorts.


If you take the time ans attention to seal your acrylic correctly, there should be no reason you cannot produce a perfectly oil tight case. After all, all of the joints will be sealed with silicone, and neither mineral oil or water is reactive to silicone. That's why they use it to seal fish tanks. Most of the OCC mods I have seen have been built using hand-made Acrylic tanks. Puget has a video showing their tank build, and that system has run for five years without needing to be topped off, and without a leak.

Quote:
I've never understood the appeal of mineral oil submersion...it's very impractical, provides lackluster cooling performance and makes a large mess. I can understand the science project concept, but even then I don't completely follow what the demonstration would help prove. I would really like to know the questions you are trying to answer or disprove with this, but I don't know that right-off I can see any that are relevant.

I've seen a lot of watercooling and a lot of mineral oil submersion on many different forums and when it comes to oil submersion, it is always from people who have found those Puget computers they made or they've just Googled their way onto something similar.

I'm not saying it isn't possible, I just think it's far more work and effort into something that will perform less than a normal watercooling loop on its own


I trust I answered this one above in the beginning. While oil cools less than water, it allows greater stability in a system at higher temps, because it heats the entire system uniformly. Most systems become thermally unstable because one component is dramatically hotter than the components working with it, and therefore it's electrical properties will be significantly different, or it just becomes too hot to perform properly at all. If all components are around the same temp, then their elec. properties should be the same. That being said, I am hoping that the water will introduce a dramatic temp decrease, while maintaining all of the advantages the oil provides.

Maxinexus -
Quote:
Sorry to give it to you but the whole thing is just big waste of time. As cool as it may seems it is not practical to do oil because it will make upgrades almost impossible and painful for the owner and not to mention smell and maintenance. There is enough work and maintenance to do on simple water cooling loop.


OK. a few things. First, Mineral Oil is odorless. Second, there is no water loop. I don't expect to have to maintain the water in any way I would not have to for owning a fish tank. and lastly, I will address the whole "hard to upgrade" argument that always seems to come up in these discussions. Other than the time you need to give the base tray to fully drain when removing it from the oil tank, and the fact that you will have to work on it on an absorbent surface, this system is no harder to upgrade than any other. When is the last time you purchased a faster processor (ONLY) for your computer? 99% of all computer upgrades involve the replacement of the MB/Proc/Memory bundle, because you are usually getting a new MB that won't work with your old processor or memory. Yes, the old stuff will have Min. Oil on it forever probably, but if you are upgrading, then you are probably planning to retire the old ones anyway. And if not, then you can consider the time required to alcohol the whole thing clean in your upgrade considerations. I intend to make the base tray accept a standard ATX size motherboard, and have mounting for a standard power supply. If I really need to upgrade, it will not be "difficult" but rather will mean complete replacement, and probable retirement of the existing parts. Oh, and by the way, I AM the owner, so I am accepting this as a given ahead of time.


I do appreciate all of your input. Please, review the original post, and the replies, and if you have any other insight, it is welcome and appreciated.

Thanks
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a c 337 K Overclocking
March 14, 2012 8:45:11 PM

Also don't forget that mineral oil in a submerged cooling setup tends to deteriorate thermal paste and other interface materials.

I'm very interested, so my replies are simply based on what we've dealt with before, although you have a very specific purpose for doing so- education. Are you going to show a work log and photos of the build and operation?
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March 14, 2012 8:59:35 PM

rubix_1011 said:
Also don't forget that mineral oil in a submerged cooling setup tends to deteriorate thermal paste and other interface materials.

I'm very interested, so my replies are simply based on what we've dealt with before, although you have a very specific purpose for doing so- education. Are you going to show a work log and photos of the build and operation?


Yes. We will be logging this project and photo journaling it as well. I do not know what our ability to video it will be yet, however.
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a c 337 K Overclocking
March 14, 2012 9:25:02 PM

Sounds good, video is always optional but pics and some kind of build log is great for the forum...always good to see DIY ideas in action.
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March 14, 2012 9:43:02 PM

Have you contacted Puget Systems? They are pretty much the main mineral oil cooling people. I think they even sell such systems. As I recall they will happily answer questions.
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March 15, 2012 7:44:50 PM

OK, quick update. As recommended, I did contact Puget, and yes, they were very happy to discuss my concept and their experiences. That being the case, and in conjunction with the fact that I totally screwed up my C/F conversions, the actual goal of the project will be to see if we can "bleed off" enough of the system's heat to allow tropical fish.

Evidently, what I read before was incorrect. Puget let me know their system found stable temp at about 50°C, which I would see as a simple challenge of cutting 10°C from the system temp. Then, I actually started thinking what my system exhaust feels like, and I know my system is running at around 37°C air cooled, and it is WARM. So, I took myself to a temp conversion site, and lo and behold, 40°C is actually 104°F, NOT 85°F, already 20°F too hot for the comfort of the fish. With the new target temp of 50°C, this is 122°F, which means we will need to be able to bring the system to a stable working temperature 45°F/25°C lower than the Puget system while at load, if we want to be able to introduce fish to the water.

Also concerning is the fact that Puget used only seamless acrylic tanks (pre-built fish tank) for their project, as they did not trust the mineral oil would not deteriorate the silicone sealant of a hand built system. I have actually seen enough case mods using acrylic cases that have in fact run OC that I am willing to work with it, but I would REALLY appreciate someone that has done this mod with such a case to let me know what pitfalls you experience, and if you had a failure, whether it was a problem with the oil breaking down the setup, or just a bad seal in the first place. If noone can give me real world experience on this one, I may consider sacrificing a second small tank instead of fabbing my own, or else fab the tank, and measure and record the performance of the tank in containing the oil.

Also, I am beginning to see the need for a second radiator to cool the water as being more and more necessary. What I have not decided, is whether a water-cooling radiator for a liquid cooling rig would be better that doing a second car radiator like the one we will use for the oil, as it will very likely be a larger radiator, and I will have a much larger volume of water to cool than a liquid cooling reservoir. Liquid coolers, your input would be very welcome on that one, especially of you're also a professional, shade tree, or hobby car mechanic.

So, the project continues, but now we have a concrete end goal. Our very own shark tank.
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March 15, 2012 7:59:22 PM

There are all kinds of tricks to reducing heat, like undervolting.

I suppose a water chiller would be cheating?
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a c 337 K Overclocking
March 15, 2012 8:03:36 PM

Depending on your budget for this build, a car radiator might not really be what you want. A large heater core (or 2) from say a 70's Pontiac Bonneville or even oil/transmission coolers from large trucks work relatively well- I've used various models of each and actually have a Chevette heater core with JB Welded 3/8" barbs and an oil cooler for a large truck that I used at one point that fits 1/2" tubing quite well.

For pumps, you can use small pond pumps at pet stores or even on Ebay. Let me know if you need any help with all this...I've looked into pumps of all kinds from all places. Hydor makes some good, cheap pumps that are used for fish tanks and at one point some were modified for PC watercooling as well.

Oil cooler was similar to this, but I think the one I have is a bit larger:
http://www.summitracing.com/parts/DER-15320/


1978 Bonneville heater core:
http://www.summitracing.com/parts/PLI-399078/?rtype=10



At some point you are going to want a heat exchanger, likely a few depending on your final project plan.


4ryan6 also is someone who has done a decent amount of DIY watercooling, be sure to check out his beer cooler project in the watercooling forum. I know it isn't something specific to what you want to do, but he also might have some ideas on something like this.

I'm in- let me know what kind of info you might need. PM me if you need anything specific.

Quote:
There are all kinds of tricks to reducing heat, like undervolting.


This is quite true, it's worth a valid look for this project to reduce overall heat load.

Quote:
I suppose a water chiller would be cheating?


Perhaps, but if you aren't cheating, you aren't trying to win. :D 
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March 15, 2012 11:29:06 PM

also what are the System's spec's? Is it going to be a Core i7 with an Nvidia 580GTX? Or AMD Buldozer with a Radeon 7970? How about gaming? Are you going to see if long gaming trends have an effect on Oil temp. Like Battlefield 3 for like 3 hours or Crysis? What are you going to be running? Benchmarks like 3DMark 11?

One thing that I am concerned with is the Fish and the oil rad. What if the Rad leaks into the tank with the Fish. I'm a person who really dose not like animal testing for like medications as I feel we made the meds, we should test it on bacterium or somthing other than inocent animals.
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a c 337 K Overclocking
March 18, 2012 10:51:48 PM

We have already established that Puget systems was referenced and already contacted for their input.
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March 18, 2012 11:31:45 PM

rubix_1011 said:
We have already established that Puget systems was referenced and already contacted for their input.


sorry for being redundant I was on my Iphone and just quickly thought I would give some help but I see it was already given.

Very interesting thread by the way.

Good Luck with the build
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a c 150 K Overclocking
March 18, 2012 11:47:50 PM

I want to see pics of this!
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March 30, 2012 5:44:01 PM

OK, latest update. I have started getting in the materials to get this started. We have been having an issue with how to automate the temperature collection, as oil takes a long time to reach max temp. I am not planning to spend 5 hours holding a thermometer waiting for that to happen. I ordered 4 TEMPer1 USB thermometers, with the thought that we can then have a laptop monitor and log temperatures constantly. I now get to spend the weekend figuring out how to get more than one of the sensors to read at a time. I am looking for a Linux software solution, as the only Windows software I could find that COULD run more than one of the thermometers, would not run more than one of the v1.1 model I have. So, hopefully, I can find a working solution this weekend.

We are hoping (if I am successful) to begin temperature monitoring on the air cooled system starting Monday. I will be creating the acrylic case this weekend, and my acrylic cement should be her Monday as well, so I can start assembling the case and hopefully have it ready by the following week. We will then move into the second phase, assembling and measuring temperatures of an OCC for a week. After that, I will hopefully have our radiator so we can temp test with the radiator for the following week. After that, we will be submerging the system in it's water bath, and perform a week of temp testing without a radiator, then a week of testing with one. If, at that point, we are able to maintain an 85 degree F temperature, we will be introducing fish to the system, and I will officially consider the project a success. If not, I will still be satisfied if we can hopefully eliminate some of the conjecture around the concept of oil cooled systems.

Now, as there have been a couple of questions about the system specs, I have decided to donate my PVR system. It is not built around high end components, but if the whole project is successful, I may "sacrifice" a AMD Phenom II x4 3GHz system I have at home. I am not starting with that system for two reasons. The first is that right now it is not in a system,a nd I would have to build and load it to start the air test. The second is that the PVR system is already built, fully operational and HERE. So we will start with a lower end system, assess the results, and I may be posting my build of a higher end computer fish tank later.

SPECS: (per Belarc Advisor report)

Motherboard: GigaByte K8M800-8237
Processor: AMD 3400 Sempron
Memory: 2 GB DDR400
Storage: Promise 2x2 RAID controller (2 IDE / 2 SATA drives) 1 TB RAID 10 array
OS: Windows XP Pro SP3
Video: 1 AGP ATI All-in-Wonder RADEON 7500 / 1 nVidia GeForce FX 5200 Dual Head PCI card
Power: RaidMax RX-450YX120 450 Watt Power Supply

I will be submerging the PS, but will not be removing it from the casing (The metallic blue is really nice looking) and will be building a top mount for the 4-drive raid array. This has actually been one of the more annoying parts, as no one makes an 80-wire EIDE extension that I can mount to the case, So I will have to run the IDE and SATA cables from the motherboard to the drives directly. I am hoping that the fact that they are directly above the tank will prevent the oil from creeping up the cables.

In addition to the computer hardware, we will have a 550GPH pump, and whatever lighting effects I can manage to fit into my small budget.

We will attempt to document our entire build, and all of our temperature results. But at the end of the day, there is but one acceptable outcome: I want FISH!



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a c 337 K Overclocking
March 30, 2012 5:57:08 PM

Quote:
In addition to the computer hardware, we will have a 550GPH pump


What pump are you using? 550gph works out to about 9.1gpm...most great watercooling pumps push around 2-6gpm without restriction (depending on model). Not an incredible jump, but just make sure your connections are all very secure.
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May 22, 2012 9:59:03 PM

OK. I realize it has been a while coming, but I have been VERY busy with my class schedule. I was finishing up teaching the class that was building the OCC, and still making sure they were learning the things they were supposed to in class.

To give an update, we have in fact completed our study. I was planning to keep up a running update, but something had to give. As a result, this will be an update in stages, to give some idea of what we were trying to do, what obstacles we faced, and how we dealt with them. At the end, I will let you know what our conclusion with having fish was. By the way Rubix, I do have to revise the specs as the pump we got was a 100gph 12v pump, not 550gph.

OK, Stage 1 - Temperature testing of an Air-Cooled system to create a temperature baseline.

We had a system to use, as detailed earlier in the post. What I failed to realize as I was giving the specs was that this actually was a relatively new motherboard and processor. It is a Socket AM2 mobo, and 64-bit Sempron processor, and DDR2 RAM. So, my thought that we were using a low end system was actually incorrect. I realize there are higher end systems we could have used, but it was not a bad system at all. What threw me was the fact that it is an AM2 mobo with an AGP slot instead of PCI-e.

To get the project started, we needed to be able to measure the temperature around the system in an automated fashion. I found all kinds of very nice thermometers online, that would each have blown my project budget out the window. Then, I happened across someone selling a USB thermometer for $10 each. That sounded perfect, so we ordered 4. they came in, and seemed to be exactly what we were looking for. They even had a very simple to use monitoring and logging app that would read and output the temps as a .csv file. The only problem was that only one of them could be read on a computer at a time. So, I posed the problem to the students, and they immediately came up with the solution of setting up 4 virtual machines on the logging system, and attaching one device to each. Worked like a charm. The thermometer we were using is a TEMPer v1.1 USB thermometer. It is supposed to read both at the USB point and the dongle, but we were only able to get the dongle to read. This was fine since that's where we needed the readings from anyway. So, we set up 4 monitoring points; PS Exhaust, CPU Heatsink, Case Ambient air, and outside ambient air temps, and started recording. We ran the computer through different workloads to get max and normal temp ranges. I downloaded the .csv files to my thumb drive, and imported them into Excel, with the intent to then import them into an Access Database. Everything worked great, until I tried to get a sample graphing from one of the datasets to see how it looked. That's when I found out Excel can't graph more than 40K datapoints on a single graph. 5 days of 2 second interval logging on 4 probes produce about 1.3 million datapoints. We quickly established that 20 second intervals was more than adequate for logging, and adjusted the software for future phases. With that complete, we moved on to phase 2: Oil Cooled Computer - No Radiator
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May 22, 2012 10:52:30 PM

Phase 2 - Oil Cooled Computer, No Radiator

Now, I had a pile of .25" acrylic sheets sitting in my back yard (Yes I'm a pack rat, and my wife swears the stuff I keep has no use, but look up the cost of 8 2'x4'x.25" acrylic sheets and tell me who's right then.) I decided to go the full DIY route, and ordered acrylic glue, as I already have an acrylic cutting blade for my table saw. I trimmed the acrylic sheet edges to get the cleanest, straightest sheets possible, and selected the ones needed to create a 6"x19"x14" tank. The bottom was recessed by 2", so the inside dimensions measured 6"x12"x18" with a 6 Gallon capacity. I routed everything with a straight bit to create the cleanest edges I could and built the tank. I then created an insert that fit perfectly within the tank. This created its own issues I will get to later, but it was a very good fit. I added a solid bottom, and the top is where the connectors and back-plane fit on. I also put a lip around the top so that when the insert was in, it created an acrylic-acrylic seal all the way around the tank top. I tested the tank with water, and had no leaks at all, so, we disassembled the computer from its standard case, and reassembled it in the acrylic tank. Because i made the tank exactly 6" wide, I was about .25" too narrow to mount the PS sideways, so it had to be mounted in front and to the side of the motherboard, with the fan facing the "back" of the tank. This was unfortunate, as it is a very pretty metallic blue PS with a 120mm blue lit LED fan that would have lit up the whole case nicely. Oh, well, but one more lesson learned. Make the case at least 7" wide next time. We were able to get the system completely assembled without any problems, and have a nice video of us putting the mineral oil into the system, and another of us sinking the system into the tank. Another lesson learned was to finish the oil filling prior to dropping the system down. It is much harder to control the oil with everything confined in the big fish tank. We completed this step in the fish tank in case we had a major leak, so we could contain it. Hurray for foresight!

With the system submerged in the oil, we set up the systems hard drives. Yes, I said drives. this was my PVR, and already fully loaded, but it ran from a RAID 10 array off of a PCI RAID card. So, part of my build process was to build a drive rack that would hold 4 3.5" Hard Drives. I actually had a moment of clarity and went into my workshop, and found two drive bays from old cases (see pack rat above) and built an acrylic mounting for the drive bays. This gave me room for 5 3.5" devices, which I figured I might need later if we wanted to put a media reader on the system. OK, so we now had a submerged computer, complete with storage, sitting in the bottom of a 55-Gallon fish tank. We also had the three 19" monitors hooked bak up, sitting on top of the fish tank (this is one of the reasons topping the tank off was sooo confining) We hit the power button, and ... nothing! I then hit the power switch on the PS, and tried again. Success!!

We set up the monitoring of the system then at the PS exhaust, again on the CPU Heatsink, in the oil in front of the CPU fan, and in the fish tank for the ambient air temp.

We let the system run for a whole day, and came back the next day to do a leak check. A few conclusions we reached:

- While the oil does in fact spread the heat more evenly, it is NOT uniform. the video cards on one side and the PS on the other created a "hot zone" in front of the CPU. You could look in the case as see the thermal line where the oil changed temperatures. The oil ambient probe started at the bottom of the tank, and when we noted that line, we raised it up above, and the temp shot up 10 degrees C.

- Despite all of the doomsaying, you can build your own oil-proof case. I did it, and it worked, for a day. But while the case was proof vs. oil, it was not me-proof. While raising the tray out of the case to make an adjustment, I let it slip, and it split the case seam open like a tight pair of pants. interesting note, though. As the case was very close to the glass where is split, I place a hose nipple between the glass and the acrylic, and the simple pressure from that cut the flow of oil off completely. The "fit" of the acrylic was still a perfect seal, as long as the pressure remained. The advantage to that was that I was able to remove all of the oil to a bucket before it leaked all into the fish tank. The oil that did spill into the fish tank was added to the rest when I had another set of hands to help me. This brings up the next conclusion:

- Breaking the tank is a REALLY bad idea. From the moment I broke the tank, I spent more effort repairing it back to it's original leak-proof state than anything else.

- OK, now you might be wondering why I would have been doing something so brilliant as removing the insert in the first place. This goes way back to earlier in the post when I mentioned my design decision to make a form fitting insert. While it looked great, and definitely slid into the tank perfectly, HUGE LESSON LEARNED: where two pieces of acrylic meet continuously, therein shall oil flow! I was having an oil "leak" because the tank was creating a giant siphon all around the edge of the insert and the tank. I was removing the insert to drain the oil, because we were planning to attempt a "fix" for the siphoning. We came up with several ideas, but the two we tried were:
1. Bevel the lip of the tank all the way around, thereby removing the acrylic-acrylic contact at the bevel
2. Route out a groove all the way around the tank, and fill it with silicone. This would create a seal that the oil could not pass, and would also give us a "squeegee" effect that cleared the oil from the insert as we pulled it from the tank. I did mention that this was an academic exercise, right. Experimentation was encouraged.
The conclusions we reached were this. The bevel was a good idea anyway, as the acrylic is sharp, and removing the edges saved many cuts. However, the "squeegee" effect never materialized, as we could not create a smooth enough surface to slide across the acrylic evenly. Also, 18" is a long way for .25" acrylic. The bow in the acrylic would not allow the silicone to make contact either. Last, the lip I had made for the top of the case, was exactly the width of the acrylic tank. As a result, we could not seat the insert completely, because the silicone pushed the tank out of the groove. So, we removed all of the silicone from the groove we had routed around the tank. This, in fact, was the answer to the siphoning. The groove was 1" below the lip, and when the oil hit that groove, it stopped, as the acrylic no longer had surface contact with the other surface.

We ran the OCC for several days, testing the temperature with various loads. We tested start-up from cold oil with no load, as well as with full load (multiple videos running on different apps and a system load tester) and shutdown from max temp to get the delta curves of the oil. During this time, I noted a small leak, and as I needed to build a frame for our radiator anyway, I took the tank back to repair it before moving on to Phase 3: Oil Cooled Computer - With Radiator
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a c 150 K Overclocking
May 22, 2012 11:44:14 PM

Seems like a bunch of time/money used just to cool a sempron.
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May 23, 2012 12:01:13 AM

Phase 3: Oil Cooled Computer - With Radiator

We completed the tests of the OCC without a radiator, and over the weekend, the system did lockup on us once, which I think was it reaching it a critical shutdown temp. As I stated earlier, this was not an old system, but a modern one, with modern power requirements and operation. As such, it did reach 80+ degree C temps.

We purchased a small automotive heater core from Advance Auto. They were kind enough to give us a great deal on it because we are a school, and this was an educational project. The radiator was approximately 6"x8" and 2" thick. I built an acrylic casing to mount it in, which allowed us to mount two 120mm fans on it to draw air through. The fans were set to pull the air through the radiator instead of blowing on it, as this improves the amount of air that will pass over the radiator.

At the same time, I also created a fan mount to mount to 80mm fans in front of the hard drives. The reason is that the hard drives mount above the PS, and the temp monitor was being effected by the heat generated by the drives. It was also affecting the ambient air temp if the probe came within 6" of them. After mounting the fans, the two effected temps dropped dramatically.

I also changed the ambient air temp to be mounted (via scotch tape) to the outside of the oil tank. The reason for this was that I needed to know how much heat was transferring through the acrylic tank. There was approximately 10 degrees C difference between the inside and outside temps.

We set the system up again, with the radiator attached using 5/8"x3/4" tubing on the pump side, and 3/4"x1" tubing on the exhaust. We had different size tubing because the radiator connectors were different sizes, and I did not want to try cutting the tubes.

The first day of testing, we did not have the fans attached, so the temps we recorded were for the system going from cold to full temp under max load. Even without the fans, the differences were pretty impressive. the second day, I attached the fans, and ran the system overnight to see how much the fans could cool the system down. The next night I shut down the system to get the cooling curve of the oil, and to set up for the next day, when I again set the system to max load, to see how hot the system got with the fans running. There was a significant difference in max temp between cooling hot oil, and keeping the cold oil cool. As soon as I can export all of the graphs, I will post all of them with comparisons. I have not figured out the best way to lay them out yet.

When I took the tank back to fix the small leak I had noticed during the last test, I reinforced all of the joints with an overlapping acrylic band, and put a reinforcing rim around the top that removed the bowing, as well as providing a handle to pick the whole system up with. I swore I got that little leak stopped. Of course, that's what I get for swearing. When I brought it back and we started this round of tests, the leak was worse than before. So again, as I concluded earlier, DO NOT break the case! We ran the temp tests with the radiator for the week, even though we knew it had a leak, and at the end of the week, I took the case back for what would hopefully be the last time, in preparation for Phase 4: Oil Cooled Computer with a Radiator, in a Water Bath
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May 23, 2012 12:29:08 AM

Phase 4: Oil Cooled Computer with a Radiator, in a Water Bath

We were considering an additional phase, wherein the radiator would be removed before submerging. Two things changed this. The first was that parts had taken far longer to come in than we anticipated, and as such, my project lead was about to graduate (Congratulations!) The second was that the differences noted between the system with and without a radiator left me unwilling to run the system that hot again, when I did not know what affect the water would have on the overall temperatures.

At this point, I have to reach WAYYYY!! back in the thread to the following:

AmericanBrian stated:

Quote:
I am not sure I understand why the oil system needs a water bath at all. See THG very own oil cooled machine

http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] ,1203.html

Completely passively cooled.


Well, let me answer that very clearly. An oil cooled computer needs a water bath because when we filled the fish tank with water, the ambient oil temp dropped 12 degrees C in under an hour, and the water did not go up more than 5 degrees C at the top of the tank. I state at the top, because the temp at the bottom was 4 degrees C colder. When I shut the system down, let it cool, and restarted it, the temperature differences were way better. I am planning to bring in a pair of air bubblers to get the water to mix better, and average out the temps, and see how much more of an effect it has. The computer is running 49.5 degrees C on the CPU heat sink, and the ambient oil temp is around 46 degrees C. My computer at home runs hotter than that with a stock heatsink/fan. That is at max load. I realized I might need to get a better correlation between HS/Fan temp and internal CPU temp, so I ran speedfan on the system. the CPU is running at 54 degrees C by its internal monitor. The OCC by itself was running more than 30 degrees C hotter than it is now. Based on the response the system had to being submerged, I had to go talk to the pet store owner a couple of doors down from the college to ask if the tropical fish I was planning to have were going to work. After looking at the system, he told me the water would be too cold to have them and I would have to look at something like Koi, which like cold/cool water as their environment.

We have been running the system now for almost a week, and the system at this time has run without issue. We have seen no signs of oil leakage on the water, and the tank has not come anywhere near the temps that would have prevented us having fish. As a result....


I get my Fish !!!!!!


We will be adding a filtration system to the fish tank hopefully tomorrow or Thursday, which should help with the circulation of the water, and adding a base of glass gems, and some aquatic plants for the fish to eat. If all remains the same by the week after next, we will have fish swimming around my CPU. The computer's tank is visible through the glass tank, but because the mineral oil is as clear as the water, you still cannot tell that there is anything other than an computer submerged in the water. It really is a pretty cool effect. I will be getting the video we took of the system setup (we took the whole thing down and cleaned it prior to adding the water, and then rebuilt it) and the graphs of the temperature readings together and putting them up online. If anyone can recommend a good place to put them so they are easy to access, please let me know. Otherwise, I will probably just put the files in my hosting space and create links to them.
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May 23, 2012 12:57:05 AM

As an additional note. The leak in the case was finally stopped by the simple expedient of a silicone seal all the way around the tank. I had noted that the fish tank, also sealed with silicone, was not in any way affected by the mineral oil that sat in the base of the tank (from the leak, as well as from when I cracked the case in the first place) when I leak tested it. Yes, I actually took the fish tank and filled it up completely, just to make sure none of the seals had been compromised. When I saw there was no ill effect, I ran a bead of clear silicone around all of the seams of the oil tank. Not a drop has leaked since.
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a c 78 K Overclocking
May 23, 2012 2:09:31 AM

i know that chiclids like slightly warm waters :)  am a fish lover myself...owner of a tropical fish tank.



@ OP - sorry for hijacking thread with a split second post...though I'd like to see the pics of your setup. Like Rubix mentioned - we've been saying things that were based off of previous knowledge nothing new like you've asserted.
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a c 337 K Overclocking
May 23, 2012 1:42:13 PM

So, if my ADHD allowed me to read and absorb all that correctly (highly questionable) you are going to take previously oil-submerged components and then submerge in water? I think I see...the oil tank is inside the water/fish tank...? Interesting. Hopefully you don't encounter any more oil leaks or your fish aren't going to fare well as a result.

Pretty cool idea- overly elaborate with moderate cooling ability, but still a cool science project nonetheless.

Pics of the setup?
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a c 150 K Overclocking
May 25, 2012 8:06:50 AM

Coolception?
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June 1, 2012 2:50:00 AM

I added one final set of elements to the setup last week, and this is the summary of the impact they had.

First, I added a pond pump to the bottom of the fish tank to get the water to circulate, along with a bubbler bar under the oil tank, since the tank blocked the pump from getting a good circulation moving all the way around. The bubbler at least forced the cool water up, even if at a much slower rate.

The water leveled out at 24.8C, which was about 2 degrees hotter than the bottom, and three degrees cooler than the top of the tank.
The oil leveled out at:
Ambient - 42.5 °C
CPU Heat sink - 44.38 °C. (As stated in an earlier post, actual CPU tends to be +5 °C
PS Exhaust - 34.56 °C

I then added what should have been the most insignificant part of this entire project. Seeing the effect of moving the water around, I added a small bubble stone to the oil, which created a small, steady column of bubbles in the center of the oil tank. The results surprised even me, and I thought I was over being surprised by this project.

Ambient Oil - 31.38 °C
CPU Heat sink - 35.2 °C
PS Exhaust - 27.25 °C

I've looked at a few water cooled systems, and even adding the 5 °C increase between the heat sink and actual CPU, I am still just pushing 40 °C, which is better than the heat average we were getting with air cooling, and better than the temps I have seen some water cooled systems post.

I have been running the system for the past week, with it playing three separate videos, using RealPlayer, WMP, and QuickTime, which has had the CPU at 95-100% for almost a week, and both video cards working at max, and that was the result. I would love to get my system at home to manage those temps.

So, some of the conclusions this project has shown have been surprising, to say the least. While I will be the first to admit that this system is a lot more work to pull off, I am thinking that the addition of the water bath clearly eliminated most of the major drawbacks of the oil cooled computer, while maintaining its strengths. A few:
- The oil allows a system to operate stably at a much higher temperature due to the more consistent spreading of the heat. While it is more consistent, it is not perfect. But a cheap, simple little air bubbler was able to greatly improve the leveling of the oil temp, and therefore the stability of the system.
- By itself, while the oil allows the system to operate at a higher temp, its inability to shed that heat will still make modern hardware exceed even the improved operating temp range. Adding a simple radiator helped to at least allow the system to stay within operating range, and adding fans to the radiator made it a comfortable temp. However, the addition of the water bath took the level temp of the oil down by almost 60%. Now, why might that be significant? Well, if the system is able to operate in an environment where the ambient temp is 2-3 times the current temp, then you should be able to work some serious over-clocking on the system. The greatest problem with over-clocking is the additional heat generated. Direct water cooling to the CPU/GPU, under-voltaging, and similar methods are needed to cool the components most affected. But if the system is able to shed the heat into an environment that has a huge capacity to deal with it, that in turn averages the overall temperature throughout the entire system, you should be able to push the hardware to its limits, without having to concern yourself with the heat generated. Also, I had a self-imposed cap on my water temp because I wanted fish. If I had found myself concerned with that, I could then use methods already employed in water-cooled systems to shed more of the heat from the water, which would then control the heat of the oil. I had already anticipated needing to set up a radiator on the water to shed heat, it just never ended up being a necessity. It is evident from the huge impact simple changes to the water had on the oil that your greatest cooling returns would be from the effects you have on the water, which are in fact cheaper and easier to affect than what you can do to the oil. Now, I am sure that part of that is directly related to the sheer size of the water tank to the oil tank, but I would feel comfortable trying this same experiment with a water tank half the size of the one I used, especially if I was not trying to keep the fish, but just wanted to maximize cooling. This is not because I think I could not keep the water at a good temp, but because the fish would not have enough room to swim.
- This entire project was done with under $200 in parts from Lowes and Advance Auto, and WalMart (That's where I got my oil, $1.48 a pint). Of course, I already had the acrylic and the fish tank, but you can find a decent sized fish tank at a garage sale for a steal. I won't even pretend the acrylic falls in the same category, because the tank I made would have cost almost $100 by itself if I had needed to buy the acrylic. But, you could have done a similar setup using a small acrylic fish tank, which goes back to the garage sale steal. The most daunting part of this whole project is accepting the fact that your system will be covered in oil forever. If you are experienced building computers, this should not even faze you, as the whole upgrade issue was discussed in a previous post. Now if you have a component fail, then you might need to go into the case to work on the system, but otherwise, you really should not have to open the tank. I had to go into my tank several times, simply because I made the stupid mistake of breaking the tank, which necessitated my multiple attempts to fix it again. Also, this project was on a short timeline, and as such, we had to make some of the case modifications after the system was filled with oil. If I were doing this on my own timeline, I would not have filled the tank until I was completely happy with the entire case build. In that case, I could then have eliminated the whole messy part of the drawbacks to this project as well. Now that the system is running and finished, we have not opened the case to do anything to it. I can even pick the whole thing up, along with its radiator, and travel with it (it does have issues with cornering and sudden stops, so it travels suspended over the center of a very large Rubbermaid tub.)
- There is no way to pretend that mineral oil is tidy. But for the gains, and for the cost, this project really is a viable DIY computer build for someone wanting the best environment to build that 5GHz monster machine.

Besides, it really does make the ultimate uber-geek statement.

I will post some pictures of the setup following this.
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June 7, 2012 5:08:08 AM

rubix_1011 said:
So, if my ADHD allowed me to read and absorb all that correctly (highly questionable) you are going to take previously oil-submerged components and then submerge in water? I think I see...the oil tank is inside the water/fish tank...? Interesting. Hopefully you don't encounter any more oil leaks or your fish aren't going to fare well as a result.

Pretty cool idea- overly elaborate with moderate cooling ability, but still a cool science project nonetheless.

Pics of the setup?

ADHD is a scourge to reading and learning things without being able to see and touch what your studying, i feel your pain man haha thats why i had to read the Wc sticky once a day for like 5 days :p 

sorry about the complete subject change, please continue.
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September 5, 2012 2:05:49 PM

I love this thread, and sooooooo want to see the pics of this rig. I have been playing with this idea myself and have some ideas that differ from yours as to the cooling aspects of the oil that I will probably try, but the "tank-in-a-tank" concept is what I was unsure of. My scale is going to be significantly different, as the hardware I am planning on using needs more cooling. I was thinking about using 30gal inside a 100 or 150gal tank, and rather then an external RAD for the cooling of the oil, an idea of using 3/8" copper tubing and laying it out across the entire bottom of the tank, with a low flow pump to circulate the oil. ( What I think is going to work best in this case is the flat condenser coils that is on the back of an old refrigerator that just recently gave up the ghost.) With bubble bars place under the coils, and of course pumps to filter and circulate the water, I think I could keep everything self contained. I am particularly interested in how you minimized the humidity levels around your RAID and optical drives. I am not sure if you built yours into the lid of the tank as I am thinking to do with mine, or you put them somewhere else........
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a c 190 K Overclocking
September 5, 2012 9:50:28 PM

Copper pipe in fishtank?
Enjoy your new upside down floaty fish....
Moto
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September 7, 2012 8:54:49 PM

sorry but I am not sure what your tring to say
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a c 190 K Overclocking
September 7, 2012 9:10:15 PM

:) 
Cheers Proxy, I thought that may have been a little subtle lol

Metal in the fishtank will kill the fish
Moto
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October 25, 2012 11:56:21 PM

OK, everyone, I do apologize for my long absence. I have been having a professional relocation experience ( I was lid off and now have a new job) Unfortunately, the images of this setup were lost in the transition. However, I have retained all of the hardware, and will be rebuilding the system for my home entertainment system. The main difference will be that instead of using the 55-gallon tank, I will be using a 25-gallon instead. I will be interested in seeing how much difference this will be from the larger tank.

As I now have a standard 8-5 job, and I am going to school at the same time, my pace of updating this will be much slower than the original, but I will try to keep the thread up to date as much as possible.

I will also be trying to find out if anyone can find the system that had all of the pictures on it. I have some videos of the setup, but they do not cover the whole build. I will try to get them to a manageable size, and put them up on YouTube with a link here to them. Please have patience, as I have A LOT going on right now.
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a c 190 K Overclocking
November 22, 2012 3:42:17 PM

Awesome, I'd lost the link to this and rediscovered it whilst posting a mineral oil response, sorry to hear you mislaid the pics but look forward to the videos :) 
**Edit, although I should probably add the Meme before someone else does :) 

PICS OR IT DIDN'T HAPPEN!!!
:) 
Moto
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November 2, 2013 10:36:24 PM

It's been over a year since the last post, any updates for us wanting pics?
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!