Project Hades 3.0 - Rackmounted watercooled eyecandy.

Discussion in 'Modding Worklogs' started by Lucanus, Jul 17, 2005.

  1. Lucanus

    Lucanus Member

    May 30, 2003
    Project Hades 3.0 - Rackmounted & watercooled eyecandy for the geekishly inclined.

    Right then, time for some proper case building. Any 12 year old
    can buy a Li-Li, hack it up and call it a mod.. Resulting in
    something that looks like it fell out of the ugly-tree and landed
    on something hard..
    So, I thought I'd spare you the agony of having to browse through
    yet another CM Stacker or Li-Li V2000 based orgie.

    This is the first time posting my work online, hence subjecting
    myself to the scrutiny of fellow modders.
    I've built several cases from scratch before. From rackmounted
    Fibre SCSI all aluminium cases, acrylic HTPC box, to the random
    external SCSI CD box thingy.. stuff like that..

    So, I need a home for my new server, Hades 3.0. Hades Ver. 1.0,
    a dual PII 400 with a couple of 10k RPM SCSI disks lived a short
    and uneventfull life in a yum-cha midtower before being sold.
    Hades Ver 2.0 was/is an AMD XP 2000+@stock running 2x200 gig IDE
    disks in raid 0. Housed in a mid-tower Dell box, given a new front
    in al and mounted in the rack.
    But after a leaky tank draining the system, almost taking the CPU
    and MB down with it - it's time for an upgrade.


    - Rackmounted, not exceeding a height of 4U (177 mm).
    - Watercooled, dual loops.
    - Silent, willing to live with noise of 10k rpm SCSI disk.
    - Handmade, to the extent possible.
    - Cost not exceeding $600.
    - Easy on the eyes without sacrificing too much prestanda/function.
    - Modular PSU, own construction.
    - Upgradeable without too much reconstruction.


    - Motherboard: Tyan Tiger MP 2460 (slightly modded) - $110 on eBay
    - CPU: 2 AMD MP 1600+ - $70 on eBay
    - Memory: 1 Gig PC2100 Reg ECC - $70 on eBay
    - Video: Generic PCI TNT2 64 - $10 on Ebay
    - NIC: 3COM 10/100 - Free
    - SCSI card: Adaptec 29160N - Free
    - HDD: 9.1 Gig Quantum Atlas 10K II - $10
    - CD Rom: Plextor UltraPLEX 40X SCSI - Free
    - PSU: Enermax EG465P-VE - $100


    - Pumps: 2 Eheim 1046 - $150
    - Waterblocks: 2 homemade crap - Free
    - Tubing: 3/8 ID Automotive fuel hose - $10
    - Tank: Custom made acrylic - Free, random scrap parts
    - Radiator: Heatercore, used, unknown model/make - $15

    Misc. materials:

    - Scrap pieces of Al, nuts, bolts, PCB and the likes - $30

    (Above list was accumilated over an 18 month period.)
    Total: $575.

    Coming upgrades:

    WB's are complete and utter crap, worthy of a one-way trip to
    the city dump. New ones coming in the fall when time/money allows.
    Designed by yours truly and professionally CNC'd for best result.
    (and no, I don't have any pictures of the blueprints/drawings)

    Additional storage space:

    Previously made 3U rackmount case for 10 PATA disks.
    Max storage: 5.0 TB.
    Interface: Firewire (IEEE 1394).
    Now holding:
    2x 200 gig
    2x 120 gig
    2x 60 gig

    Everything you see from this point on is made by hand, using nothing
    but a powerdrill, a dremel and hand tools. I do not own a vice,
    nor do I have a proper workbench to mount it on.

    Enough talking, on with the pics.


    Tyan Tiger MP 2460 modded after this guide:

    And the end result:


    There are no pictures prior to modding, but TBH.. We all know what a
    PSU looks like. I wanted a modular PSU but couldn't find one that didn't
    implement the generic/standard MOLEX connectors.
    IMHO Molex's are not only ugly - they are an eginering abomination that
    should have never left the conceptual stage.

    Anyway.. the PSU mod is basicly a 2 layer sandwitch construction made out
    of 1mm anodized aluminium seperated by 12mm standoffs. First layer holds
    a PCB and second (top) layer holds 8 3pin quick release fittings from FESTO.
    The 9th is a 5 pin fitting for the junction box holding a dual CCFL inverter
    and the relay switch for the 2 pumps and rear 80mm exhaust fan, but more
    on that later on.

    Yet again there are no in-mid-mod pics taken, only pics of the end result.
    After cutting off all molex's I soldered the +5 +12 and GND to the PCB,
    and from the PCB to the back of the quick release fittings.. Easy enough..
    Added 4 red 3mm and 4 blue 3mm leds for looks.
    (The camera has problem picking up the red ones.)




    PSU Junctionbox

    I wanted a somewhat attractive and safe solution to house the CCFL inverter
    and 12v relay for pumps and the fan so this is what I came up with:
    It's basicly 4 30mm standoffs with m3 female thread in one end and m4 female
    in the other. Wrapped in a steelwire mesh and a lid of 1mm anodized aluminium.


    This picture was taken pretty early, about half way through the build.
    The CCFL inverter is mounted on a piece of 1mm anodized aluminium on 2 standoffs.
    0.5mm thick LEXAN with double sided tape on each side is used to insulate
    the bottom of the pcb. And finaly secured with 2 zip-ties.


    Bit of a tight fit in there with all the cables. The junctionbox got the same
    led-treatment as the PSU.


    And here's the end result.

    That's it for now folks.
    Next update will cover some more cable management, a small junctionbox for front
    power led, power button and CCFL switch. As well as the complete log of the
    front face - from conceptual drawins to the finished product..

    Here's a teaser for now:

    Last edited: Jun 18, 2006
  2. OP

    Lucanus Member

    May 30, 2003
    Almost forgot...

    This is what the psu junctionbox looks like when done.


    And I'm sorry about the crappy picture quality in the previous post. One could argue that me + photoshop + 4am = small child + hammer + stick of dynamite :weirdo: .

    I know it looks a bit messy, but the white cables for the ccfl coming out of the box will be re-routed and black in the final build.

    That's it for now.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2006
  3. OP

    Lucanus Member

    May 30, 2003
    Post 2 - Front faceplate and door.

    As it turns out I can't seem to find the original drawings of the front faceplate.
    Either they got eaten by lepricons or I might just have misplaced them.
    Anyway.. The post must go on.

    It's made out of the same 3mm thick aluminium the "sides" of the box.
    Given the royal - "wet&dry 360grit, 380grit and finaly 600grit and finished off with
    steelwool(without soap)" - treatment.
    Start with a 3mm thick al plate measuring 484mm x 177mm and remove everything
    that doesn't look like this:


    The square to the right will become the door hideing power button, CCFL switch,
    power led and CD-Rom. The door is 0.2mm smaller than the corresponding hole in
    the frontface.
    It took for EVER to make it, getting it square was a pain in the rear with the
    tools at my disposal. (powerdrill and a set of needlefiles)

    Next step was to drill the holes neccesary to mount it to the frame.
    Marked & drilled, seen from the back:


    Lineing it up with the frame of the box, using the holes in the faceplate as pilot
    holes for drilling.


    Tapping with m4. For those of you who haven't tried tapping 5+mm aluminium - it's
    a pain. 1/4 turn in, half out (to cut off the shavings). repeat 'till done.

    It looks as if i'm tapping the front plate too but those holes are allready drilled out to 4mm. I was just too lazy to keep screwing in/unscrew the sockethead screws for each hole to check that all the holed matched up.

    Marked and drilled 4 4mm holes, countersunk and mounted 2 handles.
    This is what it looks like when finaly mounted to the frame with black m4
    sockethead screws.


    Left to do is 4 7.5mm holes, 1 in each corner, for mounting the entire
    thing to the 19" rack, but that had to wait untill I was sure everything
    lined up like it was supposed to.

    Next step: The door in the faceplate. First hurdle to overcome was the hinges holding
    the door. I knew I didn't want to mount it directly to the faceplate since that
    involed drilling more holes in something that allready looked like swish cheese.
    There are lots of generic solutions on the market, but none of them appealed to me.
    They were either too big, involved ugly mounting, or were visible from the outside.
    So I had to make some..

    Basicly a small piece of al, 5mm thick 12mm long x 7,5mm high. Drilled and tapped a
    m4 hole for mounting it to the door, and 1 3.6mm hole to fit over a m3 screw with
    a head diameter of 3.5mm - acting as the hinge.
    Drilled and tapped 2 m3 holes in the frame holding the door (which in turn is mounted
    to the caseframe).

    As you can see there's a small gap between the hinge in the door and the surrounding
    frame - this space is to accomodate 2 small rubber grommets (slid over the m3 screws)
    to create the right "feel" when opening it. The grommets also stop any rattling sound
    the door may make in time as the hinges become 'worn in'.

    (Here you can also see the power led (red 3mm in black anodized aluminium led-holder),
    CCFL switch and handmade aluminium powerswitch.. More on that later.)


    Next step is to make some of arrangement to lock the door in place when closed.
    Which I ofcourse had to make myself again, since I couldn't find a generic solution
    small enough to fit my needs.
    (The camera doesn't like really small objects, but I hope you get the basic idea.)
    It's basicly a piece of al, 20 x 10 x 10mm. drilled all the way through with 7mm bit,
    then 7.2mm almost all the way through, leaving about 0.5 of the 7mm hole at the end.
    (This to stop the steelball in place.)
    Tapped the 7.2mm hole about half way through with m8. The 7mm ballbearing steelball is
    then locked in place by a 9mm long m8 steel bolt.
    I don't know if you can make it out in the picture, but the fourth object is a small
    spring. It sits between the bolt and the steelball, allowing the ball to spring back
    about 1.2mm when pushed in.

    Ugh, I have a feeling I just made that sound a lot more complicated than it really is.
    Anyway, the locking mechanism is called a "ball-lock" in swedish
    (crappy direct translation).


    Put together:
    (Calipers for size reference)


    Now to mount it to the door: drilled a 3.3mm hole 3/4 through on the side facing
    the inside of the door, tapped it with m4. Drilled a corresponding hole in the
    door and this is what it looks like when mounted:


    It lines up perfectly with the front..
    (covered the front of the watertank with black electrical tape to protect it from


    That's it for now. As I promised earlier - front junction box and cable
    management coming up.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2006
  4. OP

    Lucanus Member

    May 30, 2003
    Needed a small box to house the cabling and switches for the front.
    It's basicly the same deal as the PSU junction box with 5mm by 18mm
    pieces of aluminium instead of standoffs and the same steelwire mesh as sides.
    A 70mm by 18mm PCB as base, 1mm thick anodized al as top. Nothing special inside,
    a small pizoelectric PC speaker, 4 red 3mm leds for looks and cabling to connect
    the front switches with the 9pin Dsub.
    A 2pin fan-header fitting in the bottom (the 2 black cables grouped with yellow zip
    ties) for the 12 volt line to the switch for the CCFL.


    From another angle:


    I opted to route 5 volt from the PSU junction box to the front power led instead
    of taking it from the mb pwr header.
    Skipped the reset switch, in all honesty - when's the last time you actually used it?
    The power button is hand made from 5mm stock bar. Shaped as a T, held in place by a
    small compression spring put between the front and the PCB of the junction box. Soldered
    a small microswitch to the PCB behind the power button. The button travells just over
    1mm when pushed.

    The multicolored flatcable and the 12 volt line is then routed through rubber grommets
    mounted in the mid section 1mm anodized aluminium sheet
    (thoughts, design and construction in the next post).

    Soldered on contacts for the MB headers:


    Next post will cover the construction of the mid section of the case, including the
    cooling solution for the radiator.

    Stay tuned people
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2006
  5. Cnidus

    Cnidus Member

    Mar 9, 2003
    well done. Glad to see someone building a full fledged rackmount case themselves. Keep it up.
  6. OP

    Lucanus Member

    May 30, 2003
    Post 4 - mid section and radiator cooling fan.

    I didn't want to mount any fans directly to the raditor mainly because of space
    requirements for the 2 pumps & tubing. Instead I opted to mount a single 120mm
    fan @ 7 volts in the mid section of the case - basicly turning the forward
    compartment in to a windtunnel.
    The first problem was how to route cables and watercooling tubing between the aft
    and forward comparments?

    This is what I came up with at first:

    As seen from the back of the case.

    As seen from the front of the case.

    The fan is a Panaflow.. ofcourse.

    2 16mm holes for the wc tubing, 4 holes at the edges for rubber grommets to route
    cabling, and a square hole adjacent to the CD-Rom for the SCSI cable and power.
    All was well in casebuilding-land for a while.. things were looking good.

    But no casebuild is complete without atleast one hiccup, and this is it.

    As it turned out one of the holes for the WC tubing interfered with the ram
    slots on the MB, and the other didn't line up properly with the hose barb in the

    So it was back to the drawing board for a while, after some carefull measuring
    and pondering the finer things of life I started construction on the new mid
    section divider.

    The old one on the right, and somewhere in the left piece of 1mm anodized al
    hides the new mid-section.


    A couple of hours and way too many cigarettes later:


    old one to the left, and new to the right.

    As mentioned earlier I needed a square hole for the scsi cable, Since the
    forward compartment needed to be as airtight as possible for the rad/fan setup to
    work I needed a seal for the scsi flatcable.

    This is what I came up with:


    A simple square piece with slightly rounded corners made from the same anodized 1mm al as the mid section, slapped on some closed cell
    foam using doublesided tape to keep the seal between cables and hole as airtight as possible.
    Mounted on standoffs with a flange on, so not to
    compress the foam too hard, and keeping the al from bending under the force once
    the screws are tighened. Not to mention it looks good too.


    Now for mounting it to the case frame, luckily for me there was already a generic
    solution incorporated in the al profiles holding the case together.
    A slit in the profile holds a 5x1mm piece of steel with pre-drilled & tapped holes running the entire lenght of the profile.

    Like this:


    The holes are m2.6. Not exactly a common size, but those of you that have spent
    time with rack mounted boxes/cases will recognize the standard.

    The fan connects to a small piece of PCB on 10mm standoffs with a standard 2pin
    fan header, a cable is then routed from the fan header through one of the rubber
    grommets in the mid section and into the PSU junction box.

    That's it for now. Hopefully I'll have time to whip up a new post later today
    covering MB tray and rear plate mounting.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2006
  7. OCMunkee

    OCMunkee Member

    Jun 28, 2004
    Melbourne, VIC
    Dude, you rock.
    I'm planning to build a mini-pc case from Aluminium, any tool/method recommendations? (You seem to know what you're doing with aluminium :p)
  8. OP

    Lucanus Member

    May 30, 2003

    Thanks :)

    tool recommendations.. humm.. Let me think.
    Never underestimate the importance of a good set of high quality needlefiles, don't go for the cheap ones - they may look the same but it's so much easier to get a good end result with high quality tools.
    They'r only useful for finishing off the small details - but that's usualy what seperates a successful mod from a mediocer one.

    Wet&dry 360 or 380grit sandpaper works a charm for deburring edges.

    I don't have one - but, erm.. buy a vice. A proper cast iron vice aren't that expensive these days.

    When drilling thin al sheets, even in a drill press, the holes tend to get slightly triangular - this is easily avoided by tightly clamping your workpiece to a thicker (4mm+) piece of al. Drill through your workpiece and into the underlaying scrap piece. - The end result will be a perfectly round hole.. every single time. Also, try to get drill bits for metal, not the wood/metal combo. Proper drill bits for metal have a slightly different angle on the cutting-plane compared to the wood/metal combo. They can be a bit pricey - but if handled correctly they'll last twice as long and give a much better end result.

    And I can't stress this enough - take your time, so what if drilling a single hole takes twice or even three times as long.. let it. Sometimes you only get 1 shot. So if you aren't sure - practice your next step on a scrap piece and see what happens :)

    And the modder chiche' of all times - measure twice, cut once.

    Good luck on your project :)
  9. OP

    Lucanus Member

    May 30, 2003
    MB Tray and Backplate

    Just a small update this time..

    1. Take a piece of 2mm thick aluminium measuring 177mmx482mm.
    2. Remove everything that doesn't look like this:

    (complete with smudges and fingerprints)

    3. Stand still drooling, mindlessly marveling at your own achievement.
    4. Take picture, post on net.

    Scavanged a mb tray and backplate from an old mid tower atx case.
    Slapped it together with some black m3 screws.
    I couldn't be arsed to give the backplate the same surface finish as
    the front and sides.

    The mb is mounted with standoffs and screws to the caseframe like so:

    The tray itself is mounted on a couple of standoffs screwed into the two bottom al profiles.

    Right then.. next update will cover pumps, radiator, tube routing and
    cutting myself in the thumb, through the nail all the way down to the bone.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2006
  10. OP

    Lucanus Member

    May 30, 2003
    Time to get wet.

    I chose to do a dual loop setup mainly because.. Well, I happend to have 2
    spare Eheim 1046's.
    First loop: tank -> pump -> radiator -> tank.
    Second loop: tank -> pump -> CPU1 -> CPU2 -> tank.

    The tank is made out of 5mm thick lexan, I made the front of it 50mm longer than
    the actual tank so it could be mounted to the frame.
    Drilled and countersunk 2 holes at each end, and mounted it on plastic standoffs
    cut to the exact lenght so the tank sits flush with the inside of the front plate.

    (Ignore the condensation in the tank after preliminary leaktest)


    A slightly diffrent angle, gives a feel for what it'll look like when done:


    Other notes:
    Drilled and tapped 4 holes for the hosebarbs, mounted with teflontape.

    I scavanged the heatercore at the local junkyard/car mechanic. It was the perfect
    size for the project (280mm x 100mm x 50mm).
    Soldered on 2 fittings for the 3/8" hosebarbs and mounted it to the same 25x4 mm
    plates as the tank. *Very* carefully drilled a 2.5mm hole in each corner in the
    frame of the rad and tapped them with a m3 tap. I had to be very carefull when
    doing this. If drilling goes bad, paperweight I have *grunt*.


    Used 30mm thick foam-rubber stuff (used as insulation in cars) to create a seal
    between the front of the ratiator and the back of the case front.
    The rubber-foam is compressed about 12 mm once the front is mounted.
    Slapped on a piece of steelwire mesh with double sided tape. (The same mesh used
    for the 2 junction-boxes in previous post.)
    It makes for a great dust-filter, rinse in water for 30 seconds and it's like new

    Other notes:
    The radiator was rather dirty after sitting on a shelf for god knows how many years
    so I gave it the old ketchup-treatment, bringing the copper fins back to their
    original deep red selfs. Out comes the dremel, armed with polishing-wheel, and that
    took care of the oxidation on the outside.
    The tank and radiator is mounted to the box by 2 pieces of 4mm x 25mm stock al sitting between the 2 front al profiles.

    The pumps are mounted on a piece of 1mm anodized aluminium that in turn is mounted
    by 5 rubber grommets to a bigger piece of 2mm aluminium that is bolted to the 2
    bottom al-profiles in the caseframe like this:


    Second, the the 2 pumps rests on 6mm thick neoprene rubber pads.
    Doublesided tape is used to keep the pumps in place.

    Pump 1 in place:


    Hooked it up to the rad and tank and ran a 48 hr leaktest while working on some
    other stuff. It passed - not a single drop :)
    Time to mount the second pump and route some tubing through the mid section to
    the waterblocks.


    Last thing was to run the mains leads from the pumps through rubber grommets in
    the mid section and in to the PSU junctionbox and soldered them to the PCB for
    the relay.

    Speaking of waterblocks, I got these for free, it's some sort of crude homemade
    maze3 ripoff made by a friend of mine. They are butt-ugly but do the job. Both
    CPU's keep below 46 under full load and 40-ish when idle.
    As stated earlier, they will be replaced by 2 brand spanking new WB's this fall.
    Or move the 2 MCW5000's from the workstation and use the new ones there instead.

    Here's a picture of the WB's:


    Metal hacksaws and fingers don't match, proof:


    Saw blade slipped and plowed into my thumb, down through the nail all the way in
    to the tip of the bone. Slapped on a bandaid and kept on modding :)

    That's it for now folks. Next time it's time for some odd bits and pieces and final

    Stay tuned :)
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2006
  11. Kindros

    Kindros Member

    May 8, 2004
    Maitland, NSW
    Ah dont worry, your thumb looks better modded anyways lol
  12. OP

    Lucanus Member

    May 30, 2003
    Thats what I thought too, but then again.. people say I'm 'not all there' :weirdo:
  13. OP

    Lucanus Member

    May 30, 2003


    Last update coming shortly.
  14. King_Geek

    King_Geek Member

    Aug 25, 2005
    Kyogle NSW, Australia
    Hol e $H!T Looks Great. :thumbup: I am looking foward to seeing the finished product
  15. fredhoon

    fredhoon Member

    Jun 27, 2003
    Any updates?

    Keen to see your quality end result!
  16. MrSmith

    MrSmith Member

    Jul 7, 2005
    nor perth
    This is pure gold mate! I cant wait to see the end result!

    I assume your going to use a rack, will you use other pc's on the rack with this one?

  17. OP

    Lucanus Member

    May 30, 2003

    The box is done.. Actually, I finished the work months ago I just haven't had time to compile and post the last post. Been a bit pressed for time lately.
    There used to be a 2U black anodized alu box for my firewall/router.. Named Cerberus.
    But i sold the processor so I had to take it offline.
    Anyway, i'm waiting for my new Tyan s2885 dual opteron mb to get here from the states. Once i get a chance to rebuild my workstation i'll post the last update for this worklog.
  18. OP

    Lucanus Member

    May 30, 2003
    Last update. All done.

    -----I have lost most of the pictures in this update due to losing my old webhosting.-----

    All done!

    Allrighty then... I finished the case months ago and it's been running 24/7.
    All was well in geek-land untill about 2 months ago when one of the pumps
    gave up. Luckily for me I had a spare Eheim 1046. Funny how you tend to keep
    junk laying around.

    So this final post will cover all the bits and pieces that was ment to be
    posted when I finished the case plus the exchange of the broken pump and
    switching tubing from automotive fuel line to 3/8" Tygon R-3603.

    'Nuff chatter, on with the pics damnit!

    It was the pump for the CPU line that had given up (the left one).

    Here's another shot of the same:

    So - out with the old...

    And in with the new..

    I tock this oppurtunity to drain the system and change the tubing to 3/8"
    Tygon R-3603. Also added a few drops of red UV reactive dye - giving the
    water a pink tint. Left to do is to change the red ccfl to a UV blacklight,
    but I think I'll save that upgrade for a rainy day.

    Spent the next hour or so disassembling the PSU junctionbox to solder on
    the main lead from the pump to the relay PCB. I must have been thinking
    with my a$$ when designing that one - it's so cramped the cables barely fit.

    I grew tired of the annoying whine from the 10K rpm SCSI disk after about a
    week - so it got replaced witha 20gig ide disk, the SCSI CD-Rom met a similar
    fate and has been replaces with a CD/DVD RW IDE drive.

    Other notes.

    The HDD-mounting.
    It basicly consists of 2 15x5x85mm pieces of al.
    They are mounted directly to the left side of the box using m4 socket head screws
    And the screws for the HDD have a piece of silicon rubber hose slipped over them
    to reduce vibrations.

    Left to do is mount the top plates and put it back in the rack.

    From this...

    To this...

    And the final money-shot, up 'n running, downloading erm.. well.. umm.. yeah.


    And the obligatory money-shots of finished product:


    (The 2 casehandles are missing in these pictures)

    That's it folks. My very fist worklog right here on one of the very best
    computer geek sites on the planet. A special thanks to Agg is in place
    for putting a link on the frontpage to this worklog a couple of days ago.

    On another note - I've got a spare MSI K7D Master, 2 Atlon MP 1600's and some
    other spare junk collecting dust in a corner - Guess I'll have to build another
    box ... One of these days. I'll see you guys then, and thanks for the feedback.

    Lucanus - Over and Out.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2006
  19. MetalSkin

    MetalSkin Member

    Sep 24, 2002
    Brisbane, Australia
    umm... dont see any pics from here?!?!
  20. OP

    Lucanus Member

    May 30, 2003
    Yeah.. i know..

    There seems to be a slight problem with the webserver i use for the pictures - it'll be fixed shortly.

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