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[Case Mod] [Build Log] Project Water Works... Another Tower 900 Build

 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-24-2019, 08:42 AM - Thread Starter
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[Case Mod] [Build Log] Project Water Works... Another Tower 900 Build

Hello everyone! Welcome to my build log for Project Water Works! The water cooled workstation built into a Thermaltake The Tower 900!

This project has been a long time coming! For the last past 20 years or so I've been into IT, computer modding, and water cooling. To give you an idea of just how long I've been at this, the original "Thermaltake Big Water" in a Thermaltake Tsunami chassis was my first foray into water cooling! Between that time and now, I've built numerous systems for friends, family, and more recently clients as I'm starting my own IT consulting business. Like most that take part in any kind of hobby that turns into a business, my own personal rigs haven't been the best looking and have generally been all business. As I've never required the latest and greatest to do my job effectively and I've been able to leverage older hardware and my IT knowledge to get the job done just fine! As of late though I've been getting the itch to change that! I figure what better way to homage to my roots than to do so with the company that got me started in this in the first place! After seeing The Tower 900, I knew that it was the one, and so without further ado, Project Water Works!

Just a heads up, I'm old school! My mods are done with hand tools, a lot of patience, and planning. Also this build is in preparation for 3rd Gen Ryzen and Navi, so it will build slowly with the bulk of it being case modding for the water cooling setup until the hardware is released.

As of right now, my plans are to build a dual loop system with dedicated loops for CPU and GPU. All thermal monitoring, fan control, and lighting will be handled with an Aquaero 6XT and other Aquacomputer gear. Plans are to use Heatkiller reservoirs and water blocks(may change depending on availability), Alphacool radiators, BE QUIET! SW3 PWM HS fans, and ID12mm OD16mm tubing...

The parts that I have already are:
Aquacomputer Aquero 6XT
Aquacomputer High Flow Sensor x2
Aquacomputer Quadro
Aquacomputer RGBpx RGB LED Kit
Aquacomputer D5 PWM x2
EK-XTOP Revo D5 x2
Alphacool UT60 420mm x2
Heatkiller Tube 200 w/ long stand x2
ICE Acetal and Glass Flow Meter x2
Phanteks Halo Lux 140
and a bunch of other miscellaneous hardware and modded parts.....



If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to chime in, all feedback is welcomed!
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Last edited by socialite2dot0; 04-24-2019 at 09:26 AM. Reason: Added picture
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-24-2019, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Getting Started

First things first, my canvas...



This build will be accompanied by a custom sit/stand desk build that I'll be starting shortly. I will have a USB hub attached to the desk, for that reason, I have no use for the front I/O, and it's lack of symmetry triggers my OCD. I plan to replace the front I/O with a single power button...



I will be using matte black 1/8" thick acrylic that I got from tap plastics to cover the holes of the other ports... Since the I/O is trapezoid shaped I will have to do a bit of filing...



After filing, a bit of Dremel work, and some CA glue i have this....



With power switch mounted and cable managed...



With top back on...



That's it for now, next update should include mounting of reservoirs, pumps, flow meters, and other items that I plan to affix to the case floor...
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-24-2019, 10:37 AM
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-24-2019, 05:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Measuring, measuring again, and then again...

Quote: Originally Posted by Barefooter View Post
Subbed! I like the power button mod
Thank you! Also your "Big Red Devastator" was the catalyst for me finally getting of my arse and starting this build! You do amazing work!


So update #2.....

My next dilemma was figuring out how to get the following parts together and mounted in the case...











I decided to mount the Monsoon temp sensors in one of the bottom ports of the reservoir and the flow sensors directly to one of the front ports. Even though it probably would have been ok, once I added the stands, I didn't like how the flow sensors just hung off of the reservoirs... In comes my collection of M3 hex nylon standoffs...



I managed to find the right combination to match the height of the distance from the bottom of the flow meter to the case floor..



After getting everything configured and put together this is what I came up with...



Also since the standoffs are threaded they give me another mounting point to affix the entire assembly to the case... In order to get the screw holes drilled right the first time, I made a template....



The thick black crosshair is a fixing point using the thread for the included res mounts. It allows me fix the template to the case to drill the holes for mounting. Since the assemblies are mirror images of each other, I only need to flip my template and drill from the other side to get the mounting points for the opposite side..

This is what both assemblies will look like from above in the case...



From the front...



I have drilled the holes and they came out perfectly aligned. I won't be mounting the assemblies just yet though, as I have to figure out the ideal mounting location for my pumps and some other hardware. I'd like to connect the res assemblies to the pumps with a short bit of tube and have the pumps output directly to the radiators using rigid extenders and right angle fittings if necessary...
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-25-2019, 08:57 AM - Thread Starter
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And it continues...

So after quite a productive start yesterday, I wondered why it's taken me so long to start this project. Now that I have started I seem to be getting things done much more quickly than anticipated. After my morning cup of coffee, I decided to get back to it. Today I was determined to figure out mounting for the Aquacomputer gear, pumps, fill/drain system. Luckily for me my build is mostly symmetrical, so once I've solved an issue for one side, I can simply reverse it for the other.

After stripping down the case, I installed the Aquaero, and aligned it so that it would be flush with the front of the case when all of the panels are back on...



I then moved on to the Quadro. My idea is to mount it under the center console in close proximity to the Aquaero so that all connections can be made easily and so that cable management will be a non-issue. I used the rubber base to mark my holes and drilled accordingly.



With that done, I moved on to my pump, radiator, and fill/drain config. First I needed to assemble the pumps.





With that done, I moved on to the drain ports. Instead of using the usual mini valve, I opted to go with the Darkside push valves. I've had a bit of bad luck with mini valves ranging from broken handles to units that completely seized and wouldn't turn until placed in a vice and lubricated. The Darkside valve is all metal construction and has an outer collar that simply slides back (to close) and forth (to open). I combined it with a T terminal and a rotary so that I could mount it directly to the pump top...





As mentioned before, I wanted to mount my pump assemblies directly to the radiators. For this reason I selected Alphacool's UT60 420s. They should provide more than enough heat dissipation performance while also giving me the space I need to install the pumps underneath.






As seen in the last picture, the config fits with only millimeters to spare.

To make my life easier, I've decided to use the bleed valves of the radiators as fill ports. I had originally thought that I would need to cut holes in the case to accomplish this, but luck struck and I was able to simply use a couple of right angle rotaries and the cable management cutouts instead!





All in all quite a productive morning indeed... Now that I have everything mocked up, I plan to break it all down, clean it up, until my fans come in and I can mount everything permanently.

The few backside connections that are left will be done with soft tube. I plan to replace the lower cable grommet area with more of the matte black acrylic and pass-through fittings. Below is the panel I made this morning, but only after drilling and fitting it did I realize that I wouldn't be able to use it because I didn't allow space for my fittings on the front side. Luckily I ordered multiple. I will finalize the pass-through location once I have my hardware so that I can make my hard tubing runs as simple as possible...







While not really a mod, I decided to replace the bright shiny thumbscrews with knurled black ones. They provide better grip and are more in keeping with the toned down look I'm going for...





I also picked up two of these flow meters. The body is Delrin and the window is actually made of glass! My plans are to install one of them in each loop. My initial thought was to put them on the return port at the top of the reservoirs, but depending on the loop design that may change...





Thanks for tuning in to my short and sweet build log. I'm pretty much at a standstill for now, at least until I get my shipment of fans and other bits! Feel free to chime in with thoughts or any improvements that you think can be made! All feedback is appreciated!
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
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A bit of progress...

In it's empty stock configuration the Tower 900 is a bit over 50 pounds. After fitting water cooling hardware, fluid, and components, I suspect it will be somewhere close to 80, maybe more. You would think that Thermaltake would have included casters for this reason, but since they didn't, in search of them I go! The Tower 900 includes mounting holes and even an indentation for a set of plate casters, which makes the fact they weren't included even more perplexing. After measuring the holes I found that I needed casters with a 1'' x 1'' mounting hole pattern. A quick Ebay search, $10, and a couple of days later and I have these....



The listing page failed to mention the weight capacity of each caster, but I figured the combined capacity should be more than enough for the case. I was wrong, dead wrong. Once mounted and under the weight of the empty case, they barely moved and instead just scraped across the floor.

After this disappointment, my wheels started to turn(no pun intended). I considered removing the casters from an old office chair I have sitting around. I figured if the casters could support my weight, they should have no problem supporting the full weight of the completed build. It was just my luck that the stems on the eBay casters were smaller than the hole on the chair casters and couldn't be used.

I searched eBay and Amazon for a few hours looking for other solutions. While there are no shortage of casters on either site, none had the looks, weight capacity rating, and mounting hole dimensions I was looking for. This last criteria was most important, as I didn't want to drastically change the look and function of the case by drilling holes unnecessarily. It was as this point I turned to old faithful, McMaster-Carr. I used to order rigid tubing and custom screws and fasteners from them in the early days before these items were readily available at water cooling shops.

5 minutes of searching, $18, and 2 days later I have these!



I didn't get any pictures of the eBay casters and these side by side, but for reference just look at the proportion of the casters to the top plate! Each caster supports 100 pounds, and they're smooth as butter on every surface in my place! Below is a picture with my Aquaero, new thumbscrews, and casters fitted!



Perfection!

Also the keen eyed among you may notice that I've removed the TT name plate on the center console. For some reason mine was a bit wonky. The embossed metal plate was askew and scratched, possibly from assembly at the factory. I'm currently mulling over options for a replacement. I have the idea of making a custom lighted name plate with the build name or my company logo, but only time will tell!
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 09:21 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by socialite2dot0 View Post
Thank you! Also your "Big Red Devastator" was the catalyst for me finally getting of my arse and starting this build! You do amazing work!
Snip
Glad I was able to give you some motivation

Those flow indicators look nice with glass windows. Also looking forward to seeing how the drain fittings work out as I've not seen those used before.

Glad you found some good casters, a must have for a big heavy case!

I needed some low profile casters for mine which I picked up here coolcasters.com They have a great collection of different sizes.


.


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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 06:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote: Originally Posted by Barefooter View Post
Glad I was able to give you some motivation

Those flow indicators look nice with glass windows. Also looking forward to seeing how the drain fittings work out as I've not seen those used before.

Glad you found some good casters, a must have for a big heavy case!

I needed some low profile casters for mine which I picked up here coolcasters.com They have a great collection of different sizes.


.
The flow indicators are even more amazing in person! They have a real heft to them!

As for the casters, adding them have made a world of difference! I checked out the site you linked and will definitely be adding it to my bookmarks for future projects!
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 05:58 PM - Thread Starter
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When boredom strikes...

Don't let anyone tell you that taking weeks off work at a time is ever a good idea unless you have definitive plans or multiple projects to occupy your time... You will eventually get restless and before you know it, you're doing things just for the sake of doing them... That happened to me today, and I nearly gave myself a heart attack!

I decided to get a jump start on the wiring for the Aquaero and lighting courtesy of a Quadro and RGBpx kit.



Most of the work was pretty straight forward, as I had already drilled the case and mounted my Quadro beneath the center console in close proximity to the Aquaero. I figured I should next determine placement of the light strips and then proceed with connecting everything!



Above is a picture I snapped after peeling the backing off of the strips and affixing them to the top and side supports of the case. This is where I really have to give Thermaltake kudos, it's as if the uprights were designed specifically with lighting in mind. They are the perfect surface to install light strips but have them tucked away.

As for the part where I mentioned nearly having a heart attack? If you notice, the text on the lighting strips is running in opposite directions. I noticed this, but didn't think it would be an issue as the light strips have connectors that are keyed and are connected by small wiring harnesses of sorts. Big mistake, it matters.... Unbeknownst to me, the light strips, while keyed, are also directional. They are marked with an "IN" and "OUT" on their ends ON THE BACK OF THE STRIPS of all places. So once I used my molex power supply to test the Quadro and light strips, I got nothing! Not even the red flashing described in the manual in the event of an error. I instantly thought the worst! Also since I have been slowly collecting pieces of this build, I didn't know if it was still under warranty or what. I tried to troubleshoot by plugging the cable into the other end of the 4 strip assembly. Still nothing! I then tried to connect a single strip and disconnected all the others. Still nothing! In my frustration, I pulled the entire light strip assembly out and this is when I noticed the "IN" and "OUT" markings. I had the first strip in the series reversed, SMH! I reversed it and voila! Glorious magical RGB goodness! With that sorted, I then moved on to the task of connecting the Aquaero to the Quadro and other pieces of kit. I made all the necessary connections and used cable clips to tidy it all up.



After the scare earlier, I decided to take my victory, stop tinkering, and have a beer!

A couple beers and some planning later I have my finalized plans for my Aquaero connections.

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