Sealed computer (dusty environ)

divenpuke

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Jun 22, 2008
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Hello all,
I'd like to seal my computer air tite and I'd like to get some of your recommendations. First off, anybody ever tried this?

I work in a machine shop doing high end CAD and CAM so I've got a pretty nice rig. It's my livelihood so I need to protect it. Unfortunately, I need it relatively near the machinery and saw dust and metal shaving just find their way into it. (After working in the shop for just a couple days and blowing the computer out with the air compressor it makes a huge cloud).

I could just wrap the computer in a pillow case or something to keep *most* of the crap out of it, but I'd like to keep *ALL* the crap out of it. Watercooling or refrigeration seems like I could acheive this. There would be a stability bonus too (CAD and CAM programs are notoriously unstable, even with top quality components)

To complicate matters further, I need to move the computer fairly often as I do some freelance work in another city. It seems like someone would offer a "sealed" LAN party water cooled style case, but I haven't found one. They all seem to put a radiator on the top of the case with fans on it and pull air through.

I can get industrial grade NEMA enclosures, but they're huge and they're $$$.

Tap plastics sells a mold making RTV-Silicone that I was thinking would probably work to seal the front and back panel of all the features I don't use (extra sound ports, usb, etc).
And I'd probably use weatherstrip adhesive to seal the panels themselves in.

The CD ROM would probably just have to be external and disposable I guess. I could make a gasket/O-ring for it I guess.

The powersupply could be a problem as well. Have to either buy a water cooled setup or figure out how to water/frige cool it.

Anybody ever try watercooling a flat panel monitor? (I should probably seal that too)

One advantage of completely sealing the thing is *especially for you sub-zero guys* is that you could just drop in a huge bag of dessicant (silica gel) for like $8. and there would be like ZERO moisture in the case to condense. Or else, i guess you could even go so far as to pressurize the case, perhaps even use a refrigerator dryer inside the computer to move the dew point to like -40.

Can refrigerator setups be applied to all components in the computer like a water cooled setup?

Also, the machine shop is a steel building where temperatures regularly exeed 105F. (It's miserable)

What other problems would I be likely to encounter?
How about a recommended part list?

Jason.
 

GlobalFear

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How about running dust filters on all intakes and maintaining positive pressure? $20 bucks in filters and fans makes a lot more sense than a wc loop. Isolating even a wc'ed system is generally a bad idea as plenty of other components generate a good deal of heat beyond the cpu and gpu. (Power supply, hard drives, etc)
 

NickS

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I think it could be done, with a metal case that's finned. External WC would be a must, but if it was done it'd be cool!

Watercool the CPU, GPU, Chipset(s), mosfets, hard drive and RAM and it'd stay perfectly fine in there. Put the PSU in an external box or buy that OCZ 1000w or whatever that is external
 

GlobalFear

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Another possibility would be to place the computer in an air conditioned office. with the production area being so hot water cooling wouldn't be all that effective any way. Take a few usb and video baluns, a few runs of cat5e and you should be able to have your machine 100+ feet away with no problems at all.
 

divenpuke

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:re: Global fear - computer in air conditioned office:
No can do. No air conditioned offices around for probably a half mile. Computer needs to be near machinery not due to cable length, but because I need to walk between the machine and computer every 20 seconds to change something.

re: aggiesstudd06.5: "you only need to water cool monitor if you oc it" ... I'm trying to SEAL it air tite to protect the electronics from metal shavings. The internal cooling will not work if it is sealed. If I water cool it, I can seal it and run the cooling lines outside to a heat exchanger.

What about a 2 stage deal?
Anybody run something like a refrigeration unit to a wc type thing? e.g. all the normal wc lines and pump inside the SEALED case going to a port on the case which connects to a refrig unit. I was even thinkin of running a wc line to a big alum/copper plate in the middle of the comp and let the fans run around it to provide an "ambient" cooling to all the other components.

How heavy are those refrig units? Would the comp weigh about the same w/ a mineral oil bath?

I want to be able to take this thing apart in 3 years for an upgrade, blow it out ... and have nothing come out.
 

divenpuke

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Aparantly i've been out of the overclocking loop for long enough i just kinda figured people were actually oc'ing their monitors. DOH!

nowwww i get it.
jm
 

dook43

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I don't think you understood GF's post. With Cat5e extenders for KVM, you can have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse in the dusty area and the PC hundreds of feet away.
 

GlobalFear

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I don't think you understood GF's post. With Cat5e extenders for KVM, you can have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse in the dusty area and the PC hundreds of feet away.

Exactly. How about placing the tower in a storage closet along with a portable ac unit? Its still a hell of a lot cheaper and more portable than a homemade refrigeration setup.
 

calebb

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How about putting the entire PC in a thermoelectric (peltier) cooled enclosure?

This is very common for the data acquisition hardware for NMR Spectrometers:




This is a 1/4 rack enclosure manufactured by tetech ( http://www.tetech.com/Custom-OEM-Cooling-Assemblies.html )

The interior components (including processor fans, PSU fans, etc) just vent into the cabinet which is completely sealed from the exterior. The only part that needs cleaning are the fans/heatsinks for the hot side of the peltiers. (sorry, I don't have a better picture - those grills are on the right side and rear of the cabinet)
 

calebb

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Another vote for a KVM extender.

It might be too laggy for AutoCAD purposes.

Also, since the nearest office is 1/2 mi away, they would need Internet access on-site and a VPN tunnel (or appropriate firewall settings at the office).
 

BrainEater

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If I was gonna do this here's how I would ;

Case from scratch.1/4 " thick copper plate for whole thing.

Motherboard to case with copper screws/etc.......

All major heat producing components custom heatpiped to case wall.

No fans required....

The caveat ;

Yer probably looking at 1500$ if you can't do the machining/fabrication yourself.

Best case : 1/2 " copper plate for entire case that's been milled into proper heatsinks for convection.Now yer lookin at $ 3 grand.

How bad u want it ? :D
 

Cougar.pt

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Zalman has a natural convention cooling case, but i don't know how it would accommodate the setup the OP needs (is seems you can adjust it a bit, but..) or if the cooling would be enough considering the ambient temps mentioned. :s

http://www.zalman.co.kr/ENG/product/Product_Read.asp?idx=116

Or you could get an external wc kit, then you would seal the case and only have to clean the wc kit regularly.
That would be a pain when moving it around, but i guess that after you set it up where you need to work that won't bother, throw in a quick disconnect coupling system in the tubes and you're good.
 

GlobalFear

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It might be too laggy for AutoCAD purposes.

Also, since the nearest office is 1/2 mi away, they would need Internet access on-site and a VPN tunnel (or appropriate firewall settings at the office).

Keep in on site, just out of the production area.
 

BrainEater

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Yep....The zalman case still uses fans tho.Look at the pics on that linky yah posted.It's made for 'quiet' not sealed.

The real problem is all the ancillary parts that can't be watercooled , or , heatpiped , but still generate heat.

A properly made sealed pure copper case , 'should be able' to maintain a low enough internal temp , through external convection , thats it's almost always at ambient.A small internal circulation fan would be all that was required.Might be a mod for that zalman case......

It's all about cost tho.This is near or at Milspec requirements , and ain't cheep.
 

divenpuke

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Thanx for the info. A custom made case would be no problem, but copper would be ... cost prohibitive. I'm still thinking a small phase-change unit coupled to a water cooling setup would be ideal. I'll probably put it off till i've got some more $ rolling in and just deal w/ a pillow case filter for now.

Thanx all.
 

Cougar.pt

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Yep....The zalman case still uses fans tho.Look at the pics on that linky yah posted.It's made for 'quiet' not sealed.

The real problem is all the ancillary parts that can't be watercooled , or , heatpiped , but still generate heat.

A properly made sealed pure copper case , 'should be able' to maintain a low enough internal temp , through external convection , thats it's almost always at ambient.A small internal circulation fan would be all that was required.Might be a mod for that zalman case......

It's all about cost tho.This is near or at Milspec requirements , and ain't cheep.

All the five intakes you see on the pics don't come with any fan pre-installed on it, i guess one would put some fans there if the system needed..

It also has come openings in the front.

Adding some internal circulation to keep motherboard components cooled, as you mention, would also be good to have and not hard to get (even without mods, by using a pci bracket fan).

Still.. that natural convection, with that case (and sealed), could be not enough, although i haven't seen any specs posted?? But i would guess a FireGL/Quadro gfx and a C2D plus the rest.

Other setup could be a WC setup with only the radiator outside the case, like one of those designed to run passively and that you assemble on the side of the case, and maybe some fans on it, plus a wc'ed PSU. (the PSU will add lots of heat)
 

BrainEater

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That would screw with the fact that it needs to be portable and not simply stationary.

Roger that. :D Heavy.Very heavy. hahah

-----

I thought of another method.

Build or modify a case , to run an air-to-air heat exchanger.You can even build the exchanger yourself.

You'd still need to blow out the exchanger itself , but that would be no big deal.
 

daglesj

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I had great success doing the following.

I covered all the internal joins and gaps inside the PC with Ducktape. its amazing how many 'holes' there are around the unused DVD bays and front panels. Same goes for the back of the case. Air can get pulled in through those gaps and that means dust too. Get someone to shine a torch round the outside of the case while you look inside for gaps.

I then replaced the dust filters with pieces of my GF's old pantyhose which were slightly stretched and held tightly round the fan using tape to make a seal around the fan. I've found pantyhose to be far more effective than the foam type filters. To clean them you just pull and 'ping' the material and the dust falls out.

The inside of my case stays pretty darn clean, very little dust.

As mentioned earlier, putting the PC in another rack type case would help too. As it will stop a lot of the dust reaching the PC in the first place.

Shouldnt cost a lot.
 

Ocellaris

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get a toughbook. if this pc and work is your livelyhood, you should have a second pc ready to go anyway since the main pc could fail anytime (just like any pc).
 

Elvis

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Just a thought and I may have missed this somewhere but why not try pieces of fiberglass screen wire??....It comes in various weaves(instead of the pantyhose) but i may have gotten off the subject....:p...
 

ecmaster76

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Simple solution:
1.Sanblasting box (cheap one that still seals well)
2.ducting
3.2x filters
4.high volume fan
5.custom cut plate or grommet
6.something to seal the above with

Run a duct from outside the area to a cheap sand blasting box. On the duct side put a high volume intake fan with a filter. Somewhere else on the box put a filtered exhaust port on it. Get short extension cords for each type of cable you use and make some sort of breakout panel or grommet for them. Seal the panel with silicone or the grommet with that or maybe the cheap expanding foam insulation that come from cans.

I figure this is a far easier way to seal and isolate with positive pressure than doing the computer case itself. Plus you get the ability to easily remove/swap the pc.
 

dcds1

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Ok the water cooling idea is good. Couple of options is an external passive radiator

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835118015

or

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835106071

Or since you do work for a a machine shop, get a piece of aluminum or copper that is about 1.5 inches thick 6 inches by 20 inches. Drill 3/8 holes through it down the length close to one side or the other, when I say side I mean the large front or back face. Then on the opposite side of the holes, Machine grooves to create a large heatsink look. Mount a couple of fans on the face. On the one I had made a few years ago, I had drilled 6 holes through the metal down the length of it. I put an inlet fitting on the top in the first tube and a fitting on the top in the last tube for an outlet. Then I connected all the tubes in series using fittings and 3/8 tubing. You can then mount it on the side of the case.
 

virtualheretic

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If you want it completely sealed I put my vote in for submerging it. Build a custome enclosure that will fit the mobo and have enough room for the gpu and other cards.

An easier option, I don't know how powerfull of a machine you need to build but you could buy a shuttle computer and submerge that. TO make things easier you could get a solid state drive and submerge that. The only problem would be to tidy up how you are going to seal the top of the case to keep debri out, but Im sure you could come up with something. You could also go as far as to pump the oil out of the case through an external radiator mounted to the side of the case to help keep the oil cool.

btw, the purpose of going with the shuttle pc is to keep the components very small so you can build a smaller case to keep the weight of the oil down.

Or you could just go with the "standard" and build a regular pc in a fishtank. Then seal it up and put it on wheels to make it "portable" :D
 

stormy1

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build your own environmental box.
1 20" box fan 2 20" x 1" furnace filters.
1/2 inch mdf board.
some screws
seal the cable exits with duct tape.
A buddy of mine has been using this setup for 6 years in a similar situation the filters last about a month.
 
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If this is for professional work, you need professional equipment. Get the company to purchase you an industrial-designed PC that's designed to work in these environments. Jury-rigging your own solution may be satisfying, but it doesn't teach the company that they need to provide the proper equipment if they want the job to get done. Have them get you a backup rig as well in the event that the first machine dies.

Anything less is unacceptable imo.

edit: Also, if you need portability as well, you aren't going to get the robust protection you're looking for unless you find some kind of enclosure you can put a normal computer into, and remove when you need to travel.
 

sirmonkey1985

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i didnt read all the posts.. but why not just use an external filter and internal filter on each fan.. clean the external ones off.. and clean the internal ones off every once in a while.. then tape any gaps you see in the case.. would be a cheaper then trying to find a way to completely seal off the components in a case..
 

Jakalwarrior

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If you want to make a dust proof filter for the setup, design a setup like an airbox on an ATV or offroad truck etc... Use an oiled foam filter with a prefilter. Both are washable / reusable. I didn't have any dust problems on my banshee even when I ran filters with no airbox, attached right on the carbs. The big 34mm carbs I had sucked a lot of air and I never found any dust or dirt in my motor (except for the metal shavings when I blew it up rofl).

Heck, why not just get an airbox from a junk yard and shoehorn some fans into it? Also, what about putting some neodmyium magnets in the air channel? that would catch all of the steel dust.
 
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(as Stormy1 said) Another option I see is an enclosure with cabling in the back. On the front of the enclosure, drill an hole and install a fan filter that you can easily remove and clean. Attach a suction duct to the box as an outtake at the front or back. That way you can stick your pc inside, get airflow over/through the case and not have to worry about dust entering the box. When you need to travel, just. remove the pc from the enclosure.
 

stainremover

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How about putting the entire PC in a thermoelectric (peltier) cooled enclosure?

This is very common for the data acquisition hardware for NMR Spectrometers:




This is a 1/4 rack enclosure manufactured by tetech ( http://www.tetech.com/Custom-OEM-Cooling-Assemblies.html )

The interior components (including processor fans, PSU fans, etc) just vent into the cabinet which is completely sealed from the exterior. The only part that needs cleaning are the fans/heatsinks for the hot side of the peltiers. (sorry, I don't have a better picture - those grills are on the right side and rear of the cabinet)

i like this idea. but since you don't need to be that precise (i'm assuming you're not doing spectroscopy near pieces of flying metal), just make one yourself:

1) buy fridge
2) get matx build
3) put computer in fridge
4) cut a hole for cables (seal it afterwards)
5) cut a hole for monitor (you can either mount it into the side of the fridge with the insides on the cool end or you can just cut a window i guess)

it'll be cheap and reasonably portable - i'm sure you're strong enough to carry a fridge with a monitor and pc inside. if not, just take them out first. you can even dub it a fridgetop. or a laperator.
 

BrainEater

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Sorry , fridges don't work for computer cooling.You'll just burn it out.

Refrigerators are not designed for continuous heat loads.

:D
 
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