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Deep Blue 1

08/21/09






 

 

Welcome to Project Everest, and the creation of Deep Blue 1

 Project Everest was created out of the need to find a replacement for my wife's computer. The previous machine was a bland black Dell that sat at the entry to our house and was the first thing you saw when you came into our home. So when it finally died, I took the opportunity to create something special rather than run down to the nearest big box store and pick up their $399 special....

After much searching I came across the idea of submerging the entire system. Deionized water was the cheapest, but would need meticulous maintenance to ensure it didn't become reionized and short out everything. Next was vegetable oil, and while this was a cheap solution it was not perfectly clear and would eventually go rancid and need to be replaced. Finally, there was mineral oil, though hard to come by in gallon quantities (If you know a veterinarian they may be able to get you gallon containers as it is used with horses and cattle in that quantity). The best thing is Mineral oil is almost completely non conductive and yet conducts heat well and will stay stable for a long time.

So, once I decided on the idea, next was what kind of case to put it in, well this is where
Puget systems comes in, they offer a DIY kit that handles most of the trickier components of a system like this; wonderful lexan motherboard tray, custom power switch and all fitted to the included 6 gallon tank which is a perfect fit for most computer boards.

Next I ordered up some appropriate computer parts including a Gigabyte motherboard, and some LED encrusted components like the power supply Zalman Chip fan and Balistix tracer RAM.
One note
; I did leave the hard drive out of the oil as the jury is still out on rather it is safe to submerge a moving hard drive.
The hardest part of this build was getting everything situated in an aquarium, it is like building a ship in a bottle. As the system is only accessible from the top you need to really position everything, hold it together and then gently lower it into place and then fine tune using chop sticks and patience.
FYI: clean anything you plan to put in with the system as dust or dirt will be picked up by the oil and cloud the system.
Once it is all in place, test, test, test. Once you add the oil consider this a sarcophagus, as extricating the system from the oil is a nasty task. You will probably need some sort of supplemental air cooling (I used a big oscillating fan blowing into it) as without the oil, an aquarium is about the worst case imaginable in terms of airflow.
When you are ready to add the oil, get a small funnel and place it in the included hole in the top of the lexan tray, have the system running and pour slowly till you are just below the top of the aquarium (leave a 1/4 inch so people can see the top of the oil).
So far the system will stay pretty cool for a few hours as the oil is an excellent conductor of heat and will keep the entire board cool, not just where the fans are placed (incidentally the fans are not strictly necessary in this system as it cools via conduction, but they are neat to watch move in the oil and I guess do help to circulate so I left the on my system).
However, after a few hours the oil is saturated with heat and has no where else to conduct to, and so heat spikes quickly. Puget offers a radiator system that dumps the heat out to the air and would keep any system cool but this contains 6 fans and I wanted to keep this a quiet as possible. I did end up getting a hard drive cooler fan as the air in the hood is pretty still and the hard drive got surprisingly hot, but these 2 small fans are very quiet.
 So I just put the system to sleep after 30 minutes of non use and that seems to be keeping it cool enough
(I have had the system up to 50c with no ill effects and others have run these systems all the way up to 80c without crashing).
Finally, I added a bubbler, but this just seems to cloud the oil and probably introduces dust and so I don't run it...

Overall, I am very satisfied with the system and it is stable as a rock and is exactly the conversation piece I was looking for,
not to mention this locks in my platinum geek status for some time now ;)



Here is a video of the oil filling on the system.

And here is a video of the finished system.


If you have any questions or coments feel free to visit my feedback page.

 

This site was last updated 08/21/09