Ok, small update (well, sort of): I have epoxied something together and am currently waiting for it to
set so that I can then test it afterwards. In the meantime I thought some of you might be interested
in the previous build of which I posted a pic above.
As mentioned it was already done by the time I joined OCN, and I didn't really feel like posting a retroactive
build log, but for those interested I thought I'd post it here.
It is called:Prologue
The purpose of this rig is to serve as our data server for our household (work and multimedia), as our
HTPC in our living room (once HELIOS is up and running, for the time being ZEUS is actually my main rig),
and also do some computing for BOINC (hence the 2600k).Modding
I have replaced the entire back panel of the R4 with a custom one made to accept a 360 radiator.The NameZ
: Why not? Zwieback is a hilarious word, and in English doubly so (I don't know why I think that, I just do.)Main PC Guts
- M/B: MSI Z77A-GD65
- CPU: Intel i7 2600k
- RAM: 4 GB Kinstong HyperX
- GPU: Onboard
- SSD: Intel 335 60 GB
- HDD's: 4 x WD RE4 2 TB
- HDD's: 3 x WD Red 3 TB
- PSU: BeQuiet 550 W
- Case: Fractal Design R4 w/ window side panel
Starting the New Back PanelThe Case
- CPU Block: EK Supreme HF Acetal/Copper
- Pump: Aquacomputer Aquastream Standard
- Res: Aquacomputer Aquainlet blue anodized
- Rad Fans: 3 x SP120 quiet
- Radiator: Alphacool NexXxos UT60 360 mm
The R4 after being stripped of its back panel(click image for full res)Rivets
A few rivets had to be sacrificed for the greater good (click image for full res)Paint Jobs
Ah yes, the happy coincidence of this build
The new back panel is made from the Caselabs SMH10's bottom plate. I have replaced
the stock bottom plate in my SMH10 for HELIOS with a meshed version, so this one is
no longer needed. It has the perfect width for this and is high enough (the unneeded
height will be cut off, naturally).
Besides the good dimensional fit, the Caselabs bottom panel also has a very nice powdercoat
job that matches the R4's very nicely. Not that this will ever be seen (placed in a sideboard),
but it's still nice to have this matching.(click image for full res)Dimensions
As mentioned above, perfect width.(click image for full res)Protection
I taped two layers onto the panel for protection from mechanical damage. The lower layer was
made up from low-adhesion tape, the second one was a rather sturdy painter's tape.(click image for full res)Radiator - Corner Bolts
First I drilled the corner holes for bolting the radiator to the panel.(click image for full res)Mesh Pattern
Instead of simply cutting out the entire radiator section and mounting a mesh onto it I decided
to make my own mesh by drilling lots and lots of holes. It did not come out perfect, but since it's at
the case's back side and will never be seen by anyone again I can live with a few imperfections.
I made a pattern which I printed onto sheets of paper and then taped onto the panel.
This served as a reference for drilling the wholes.
For those interested: Pattern Link
For different spacings you can easily scale the pdf up or down.
Anyway, on to the work:(click image for full res)Red Zone
The red zone denotes where I should not drillDrilling - Start
I soon realized that I would have to overlay the entire paper with a protective sheet of adhesive
tape. It just tore up too easily. Should have used adhesive paper.(click image for full res)Nooo!
Right before the finishing line of phase 1, the drill bit broke! Aaargh!(click image for full res)Phase 1 Complete
After about four hours of drilling (ouch, my wrist
):(click image for full res)Phase 1 Complete - Naked
Clearly it did not turn out perfect, but as said above, it won't be seen anyway. Plus, once it was painted
and mounted the mistakes in the pattern didn't stand out nearly as much as they did here.
Somebody on OC3D actually counted the holes, allegedly it's 1174 IIRC(click image for full res)New Back Panel - Progress
Cutting the panel to size and making the cutout for the I/O shieldOverview
It fit almost perfectly into the R4. I needed to make a few minor adjustments (taking a mm off here
or there), but overall the fit was damn near perfect.(click image for full res)Perfect Width
Not much to say here. Width of the SMH10's bottom panel was perfect.(click image for full res)Overview
To give you an impression of the concept behind all these shenanigans (click image for full res)Radiator
A closer look at how the radiator fits in.(click image for full res)Space Left
The space left between the M/B and the rad.(click image for full res)The PSU MountExternal Shot - No Front Panel
As you can see, there was still some refinement required, but this gives you a pretty good idea
about how everything fits together. Since the front panel hides this anyway, it does not need to
be absolutely perfect.(click image for full res)External Shot - Front Panel Mounted
The 90 degree plug fits just behind the front door, so it does close. (click image for full res)Internal Shot
I had started to sleeve some of the cables to get some practice before actually arriving at my final
concept for the build. Therefore, I was not yet aware at that point that I would be placing the PSU
in a new location, so all the wires were too long. In the end I ended up resleeving everything.(click image for full res)Sleeving - Part OneOpening the PSU
Couldn't really sleeve this properly without opening the PSU.
Feel free to mock me for the terrible hideousness to the left of the PSU.(click image for full res)Cutting Unneeded Wires
Since I will be needing neither the PCI-E auxiliary power cables nor all of the SATA and
Molex power connectors, some of the wires have been cut and their remains kept inside the
PSU. I've left enough wire to have something to solder on to should I ever need to do that
for whichever reason (unlikely, but not impossible). The brownish stuff on the red wires is
just tape residue, not a burned wire, for those worrying.
I've numbered them and written down what connects to what in case of restoration.(click image for full res)Cable Lacing
This is where my fetish for cable lacing (sewing,stitchin) started. I was still
developing my technique at this point, these are a few early experiments.
Front side of my very first try during the process:(click image for full res)
Same try, later stage:(click image for full res)
The back side of that wire group:(click image for full res)24 Pin
Ok then, let's try this on a double layer cable with a bit more wires:(click image for full res)
Notice that the 24 pin is rather short at this point. This makes it a bit tricky to get it neat
and tidy. This is not the end result.(click image for full res)HDD Tower
Since the top of the HDD tower (or however one chooses to call it) is anchored to the 5.25"
bay enclosure in the case's standard config and said enclosure has been discarded in this
build, I've had to devise a new plan to make sure the HDD's stay in place and everything looks
I've decided to anchor the HDD tower's top place directly to the underside of the PSU. So,
let's make a few holes:(click image for full res)HDD Tower - Overview
The tower is pretty much straight now, its top end is 0.5 mm further away from the case front
than its bottom part. It's measurable but not really noticeable.(click image for full res)SATA Power Cable
The PSU is still open at this point because I still need to make a few adjustments to it.(click image for full res)PSU Sleeving - ContinuedSATA Power Cables
While the 90 degree SATA power connectors allow for extremely neat wire routing, they are
not really well suited for sleeving. I am not yet 100 % happy with the result, but it's better
than before (or let's say: I like it better than before). I can always redo it later if I get some
clever idea about how to improve it and make it truly perfect.
To give you an idea of how I went about this problem:(click image for full res)
And the current state of affairs on the HDD tower's back side:(click image for full res)Pump Power Delivery
Obviously the pump can't run without some voltage goodness.
This is not the final cable routing, but it shows the rough idea.(click image for full res)Fan Power Delivery
Remember those clipped wires I mentioned yesterday and how I left some cable to solder
on to in case I ever needed them again? Good thing I did that. Originally I was going to run
the fans off the same cable as the pump, but then I realized that I would have to do double
wires inside the crimp connectors, which I really
don't like. They're almost impossible
to crimp unless you have very thin wires (I don't), and they're an absolute nightmare to
So I decided to to a dedicated fan cable. This is where I soldered the new wires onto
the remains of the old ones:(click image for full res)
Overview:(click image for full res)
And this is how I planned to connect the fans at that point:(click image for full res)Making a Custom Fan Controller
As some of you may know, the SP120's are not exactly all that quiet on 12 V. Now,
I could just use the old 5 V or 7 V wire switcheroo mod, but that would not give
me very good control over the fan speed. Since I don't yet know what the temps
are going to be like, and since I will need this machine to be as quiet as possible,
I have decided to make a custom fan controller.
The idea of this is not so much to constantly change the fan speeds, but to be able
to adjust the fan speed to the optimal level and then leave it at that, possibly
changing it if it gets very hot in summer. But other than that, I won't be tinkering
around with fan speeds all the time on this, it's more of a set-and-forget thing.The Phobya Fan Splitter PCB
First things first: I needed some connectors. So I desoldered this Xigmatek fan splitter.(click image for full res)The New PCB
Then I soldered those connectors onto a new PCB, along with a variable resistor.(click image for full res)Cutting it down to Size
Obviously it couldn't stay like that.(click image for full res)
And another angle:(click image for full res)The Backside
I gotta say: This was one tricky bastard. I'm talking about tweezers and taking more
than an hour to solder these few wires. To be honest I would have required an additional
pair of hands, doing it like this wasn't really an optimal solution. Since my soldering
iron can't be adjusted I ended up melting off some of the insultation on the wires (they
heat up extremely quickly since they're so short and tiny).
The red tape was just for supporte. To give it a bit of extra strength and to compensate
for the melted insulation I've encased the connections with epoxy glue.
If I was to do this more often I would definitely get a proper soldering iron and make
myself some sort of contraption which could hold everything in place so that I could do
some properly precise work.(click image for full res)It Lives!
Yeah, despite the not exactly stellar soldering job it works as planned. And there are
no loose connections or anything like that. I applied some force to the connectors while
it was running, no problem at all. So it might not look very nice, but it's solid,
especially once it has some additional strength from the glue (the 4 pin connector does
wiggle around quite a bit when I take out the plug, so that definitely needs additional
I certainly won't be doing it again just to get the soldering perfect since it's working
without flaw. (click image for full res)Fan Controller - Finished
I strengthened the fan controller with quite a substantial amount of epoxy glue. It might
not be the prettiest, but it won't be visible and it's pretty much bomb proof at this point.PSU - Finished (More or Less)
There's still some very minor finishing touches to be applied, but it's as good as done.24 Pin - Detail
There's a minor mistake in my lacing in the middle lacing section. Ah well, stuff happens...Fan Cable
This cable connects to the fan controller, hence only the 12 V wire. Obviously I couldn't
use the same technique for this as for the 24 pin.Back Panel - ProgressPaint
Since I don't want to repaint the entire panel, I used this to paint each hole individually.
Yes, it was a rather slow process.(click image for full res)Back Panel - Inner Side
This side had not been painted yet. I thought this would provide some good contrast to see
the difference.(click image for full res)Back Panel - Outer Side
The screw holes won't be painted, since they won't be visible (also, they are threaded).(click image for full res)Back Panel - Test Fit
It fits nice and snug, and it's all solid and good.(click image for full res)Back Panel - M/B Test Fit
The M/B fits nicely to the new back panel. The I/O shield lines up perfectly.
You can also see the screws used to mount the panel. As you can see, there's no nuts involved, the threads
are directly in the back panel. It's thick enough for this to work nicely, as long as you're not too brutal there's
no danger of ripping the threads out of the aluminium.(click image for full res)Reservoir ModdingThe Problem
A few years ago (probably ~2007) I bought this nice little reservoir for my Eheim 1046.
It's a very handy little thing, and it's built like a bloody tank (seriously, you could bludgeon
somebody to death with this).
However, back then Aquacomputer had not yet fully jumped on the G1/4" train and was still
using G1/8" in many of their products (as they had since their inception).
This required a rather ugly and unwieldy adapter when wanting to use modern fittings, such
as the lovely blue Monsoon ones I've bought.
The adapter itself looked like this:(click image for full res)
And with a fitting on it:(click image for full res)The Plan
Well, it's quite simple really: Retap the hole to G1/4". However, this would leave me with a
slight problem: Naked aluminium exposed to the coolant. I will be using a corrosion inhibitor
in my loop, but I want to reduce the chance for corrosion to ruin the party by painting over the
naked aluminium and sealing the hole thing against the coolant.Disclaimer
I'm well aware of what galvanic corrosion is and how it works (well, I'm not a chemist, but I have
a better grasp of it than most people I'd say). I'm not saying that what you're about to bear witness
to is a good idea or something you should necessarily try yourself. It's an experiment. If it works,
great, if not, I haven't lost anything since I have no more use for the reservoir anyway. But don't
anybody start panicking about corrosion please. I'm aware of the risks, I've weighed them and
I've made an informed decision to go ahead.Protecting the Insides
Obviously we don't want to crash into the opposing inner wall with our drill.(click image for full res)The Drill and Tap
The 11.80 mm drill bit with the G1/4" tap.(click image for full res)Improvising
The 11.80 didn't fit into the drill bit adapter, so I had to improvise a bit. The adapter actually
belongs to a Bosch pneumatic drill hammer, but that thing is way too powerful for this sort
of thing, so I decided to go with this configuration. It worked surprisingly well.
Naturally I didn't just drill the G1/8" to 11.80 mm, but first to 9 mm, 10 mm and then to
11.80 mm (a 11 mm drill bit would have been handy, 10 to 11.80 is a rather large step).(click image for full res)Lubrication
I didn't have any actual lubricant specifically for this, so I just used some of the gun lubricant I have
laying around (both for drilling and tapping the thread). Since it's made for the high speed movement
of a gun action, it works very well for this.(click image for full res)Tapping Hole
The 11.80 mm hole before threading.(click image for full res)Threading
And after cutting the thread. You can clearly see how thick the walls are on this thing. That's
why you need to lubricate very well. Otherwise the drill just blocks.(click image for full res)Test Fit
As expected, much better. (click image for full res)Protection
Alright then, let's paint that sucker! I did one coat of etch primer and two coats of paint.
Obviously I can't really do proper surface treatment within the thread, or put on too much
paint since it will just get stripped off by the fitting's thread anyway, but this should work
well enough to prevent the coolant from getting to the naked aluminium.(click image for full res)
And on the inside:(click image for full res)Painted
The coat is pretty thick and has bonded nicely to the surface.(click image for full res)Done
The Monsoon fitting hides the paint job very well, and it goes in and out without
strippint the paint off the threads (there were two small patches of paint stripped
off, but I've covered those with the Humbrol enamel paint and things are nice and
As you can see, the reservoir has sustained the occasional scratch over the years.(click image for full res)Complete!
This is the rig in its current state. It got BOTW for June-28 on the LTT forums and was featured on Fractal
Design's NA website, so I'm really very happy with the response it's gotten. Of course it's not perfect, but
few things are, and it's running very well so far. (click image for full res)(click image for full res)(click image for full res)(click image for full res)(click image for full res)Software
I'm running Arch Linux with ZFS via ZFS on Linux. It's pretty awesome (click image for full res)
That's it for today, now if you excuse me, I have 90 pounds of dog making puppy eyes at me because
it's dinner time... Edited by alpenwasser - 9/27/13 at 8:46am