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Mod of the Month - November 2008

Mineral Oil Submerged Computer

by OilPC
Worklog


We've seen quite a few oil-submerged PCs in our time, but there haven't been many I've seen executed quite as well as this one has so far. Although there have been a lot of oil-submerged PCs, very few have actually fully-submerged every component in the system - this was a task that OilPC was looking to undertake.

OilPC explained that his interest in making a fully submerged computer after becoming fascinated by the cooling technology in 2006. He'd read an article on Tom's Hardware about building your own submerged computer using cooking oil.

Now, there are a lot of problems that one can encounter with such a project and it's great to see some truly balls-to-the-wall modding in our forums . Through his experimentation, there have been a number of hardware failures but if you don't try something, you're never going to find out if your idea is going to work!

Mod of the Month - November 2008 Mineral Oil Submerged Computer by OilPC Mod of the Month - November 2008 Mineral Oil Submerged Computer by OilPC

OilPC started out by working on the top and bottom units, which were made out of wood - the reason he chose wood was because he felt it looked much nicer than other materials and fitted in better with his other furniture. The first task was to cut the wood to the right size - he did this using a table saw in the great outdoors, because it's important to be in a well-ventilated area when cutting wood.

The pieces made two lidless boxes - the difference between the two boxes was that the top one wasn't as deep as the bottom.

Mod of the Month - November 2008 Mineral Oil Submerged Computer by OilPC Mod of the Month - November 2008 Mineral Oil Submerged Computer by OilPC

Following the major cutting, OilPC then started working on some of the finer details of the boxes - cutting out fan holes for the radiators that are required to keep the oil temperature consistent, a hole for a fan controller and also drill holes for some handles on both the top and bottom sections of the construction. The holes in the top piece were there to remove the lid, while the ones in the bottom are there to move the PC around - it's a little on the heavy side to pick up and move around.

There was also another hole cut in the panel opposite the radiators - this would later be covered with modder's mesh and was just designed to encourage airflow through the base. I'd imagine the oil would get pretty warm after a few hours in OilPC's oven if there wasn't proper ventilation to the radiators. After all of the cutting had been completed, OilPC treated the timber before he started attaching fan grills, handles and the radiators into the base.

Mod of the Month - November 2008 Mineral Oil Submerged Computer by OilPC Mod of the Month - November 2008 Mineral Oil Submerged Computer by OilPC

Work then started on the insides of the oil chamber, where OilPC gutted a fairly generic-looking aluminium case to use its motherboard tray and hard drive cage. After gutting the motherboard tray from the system, OilPC then added some barbs that would be used to move oil from the chamber and into the two 120mm radiators that would be located in the base unit.

Mod of the Month - November 2008 Mineral Oil Submerged Computer by OilPC Mod of the Month - November 2008 Mineral Oil Submerged Computer by OilPC

Probably the biggest task of all, and one that makes some unmissable reading, is OilPC's trials and tribulations with the hard drives. Waterproofing them proved to be a bit of a task and there were a few failures along the way. The failures didn't discourage OilPC though - it just meant he got a bit more adventurous when it came to finding a solution to the problem.

The problem was with the ventilation holes - if fluid got inside the hard drives, they would fail (that was the cause of the first failure, reckons OilPC), but if the drive heads didn't get air, they would simply overheat. He got around this by attaching barbs directly above the ventilation holes so that air could get through to them - no doubt an interesting solution to the problem and there's more about this in his worklog.

The thread is progressing at a decent rate and it looks as if OilPC has finished his case already based on the teaser photo right at the start of his worklog. If you think the Mineral Oil Submerged Computer has what it takes to win November's Mod of the Month contest, you know what you need to do next.