Monthly Archives: December 2014

Weekly Report December 20 2014

I have been using my new Aquarium Computer for a week now. It’s performance is great, but that is subjective, because I built it for my own needs and I feel that it meets them perfectly. The circuit I built for it is having problems, I will investigate further.

But I had to take it out of the tank already. I attempted to implement full drive encryption, which required secure boot to be enabled in the UEFI BIOS. Well… long story short, the UEFI BIOS crashed when I tried to save settings and the motherboard stopped booting. The only fix is to use the CMOS reset jumper on the motherboard. So I drained the mineral oil and did exactly that, and I also connected the jumper to some spare wires so if this happens again, I wouldn’t have to drain the oil again.

In the process, I found out that most of the hot glue has come loose. So now I have no fake plants or rocks anymore. I will rebuild the tank again with decorations, but next time I will use epoxy. (although the tank still looks beautiful without any decorations)

I also picked up a Seek Thermal camera. I have some pictures of the Aquarium Computer. Notice that I can see the hot and cold zones of the radiator, and the hot and cold tubing. The tank itself is pretty much one color only, thermal cameras cannot see through the tank, only the temperature on the surface.

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The Seek Thermal is neat, I’d say it’s worth it. Apparently it’s not the best sensor, but it is the only one for Android right now. I don’t have any real professional uses for it, it’s just a toy for me.

Back to the Aquarium Computer. I noticed many things about the mineral oil. First, make sure you understand fluid dynamics a bit, you want to make sure you are not making the pump work harder than it is. What I mean is, place the outlet tubing in a shallow depth. The hot and cold oil don’t mix well, you can clearly see the temperature gradient visually because they have different refraction index. This means that the cold oil sinks extremely fast, instead of dispersing into the hot oil. I mention this because originally, I aimed my outlet tubing deep at the power supply, but now that I know this fact, I can have my outlet tubing much shallower and just let the cold oil fall onto the power supply. This made the pump work better because there is less pressure at the outlet. Also, hot oil flows much quicker, I noticed that running the radiator without fans will make the pump work better because hot oil flows better.

Also to the people who thinks that I don’t actually need so much RAM: i really need ram

Aquarium Computer

My trusty laptop is showing its age. 8 GB of RAM is not enough for the amount of 3D stuff I do now, and it can’t run the latest games at all any more. Since I got a full time job now (instead of a constantly travelling student), it’s time to get a desktop PC (first PC build, yay). But the process of building a PC is pretty boring, it’s just an exercise of picking out compatible parts for the right price. I decided to make it slightly more interesting by submerging the entire computer in a fish tank full of mineral oil.

UPDATE March 2015, I added a funny naked HDD activity indicator

Some pictures from the build process

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Animated Loop

Short Story (long story later, technical details and stuff):

Intel i7 4790S, Nvidia GTX 970, H97M chipset, Corsair CX600M. Built onto a polycarbonate tray that is then dipped into a fish tank full of mineral oil. Fancy features like bubbling treasure chest, NeoPixel LED strip, oil pump+radiator, temperature monitoring, removable SSD.

(part list? fine… here… these are not the prices I paid but here it is http://pcpartpicker.com/user/frank26080115/saved/HFDmP6)

Comments and questions are welcome, I would love to chat with you!

Reddit posts, please upvote: http://www.reddit.com/r/battlestations/comments/2pdd3q/aquarium_computer_mineral_oil_submerged_details/ and http://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc/comments/2pdeak/build_complete_aquarium_computer_mineral_oil/

Hi Hack a Day visitors, small correction: there’s 32 GB of RAM, I just didn’t put the same item twice in the part list.

News/Updates will be posted at the bottom of this page

Long Story… Continue reading