Fail Of The Week: How Not To Watercool A PC

To those who choose to overclock their PCs, it’s often a “no expense spared” deal. Fancy heat sinks, complicated liquid cooling setups, and cool clear cases to show off all the expensive guts are all part of the charm. But not everyone’s pockets are deep enough for off-the-shelf parts, so experimentation with cheaper, alternatives, like using an automotive fuel pump to move the cooling liquid, seems like a good idea. In practice — not so much.

The first thing we thought of when we saw the title of [BoltzBrain]’s video was a long-ago warning from a mechanic to never run out of gas in a fuel-injected car. It turns out that the gasoline acts as a coolant and lubricant for the electric pump, and running the tank dry with the power still applied to the pump quickly burns it out. So while [BoltzBrain] expected to see corrosion on the brushes from his use of water as a working fluid, we expected to see seized bearings as the root cause failure. Looks like we were wrong: at about the 6:30 mark, you can see clear signs of corrosion on the copper wires connecting to the brushes. It almost looks like the Dremel tool cut the wire, but that green copper oxide is the giveaway. We suspect the bearings aren’t in great shape, either, but that’s probably secondary to the wires corroding.

Whatever the root cause, it’s an interesting tour inside a common part, and the level of engineering needed to build a brushed motor that runs bathed in a highly flammable fluid is pretty impressive. We liked the axial arrangement of the brushes and commutator especially. We wonder if fuel pumps could still serve as a PC cooler — perhaps changing to a dielectric fluid would do the trick.

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Custom Machined Pump Keeps CNC Lubrication Under Control

Rub two pieces of metal against each other hard enough, and it won’t be long before they heat up sufficiently to cause problems. That’s especially true when one is a workpiece and one is a tool edge, and the problems that arise from failing to manage the heat produced by friction can cost you dearly.

The traditional way of dealing with this is by pumping heavy streams of liquid coolant at the workpiece, but while that works, it creates problems of its own. That’s where minimum quantity lubrication comes in. MQL uses a fine mist of lubricant atomized in a stream of compressed air, which saves on lube and keeps swarf cleaner for easier recycling. The gear needed for MQL can be pricey though, so [brockard] decided to add homebrew MQL to his CNC router, with great results.

The video below shows the whole process, from raw metal to finished system – skip ahead to about 12 minutes if you just want to see final testing, but be warned that you’ll be missing some high-quality machining. The finished pump is a double-piston design, with each side driven by a cam rotated by a servo. An Arduino controls the speed of the motor based on the current settings; the pump is turned on and off through G-code control of a relay.

The lubricant stream is barely visible in the video, as opposed to the sloshing mess of traditional flood coolants, and seems much more suitable for a hobbyist-grade CNC setup. Need to build a CNC router before you build this? You can do much worse than this one.

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Heat Your House With Propane (but Not In The Way You’re Thinking)


[Ralph Doncaster] has a geothermal heat pump which is responsible for providing heat for his home. He’s been looking into some hacks that would make it more efficient and decided that the freon (R-22) needed to be tweaked. Some would say the stuff is bad for the environment, so he decided to go a different route. He replaced the¬†Freon¬†with propane, using this rig to make the fuel-grade propane more like cooling-grade propane called r-290.

He purchased the gauge set which is used whenever a technician services an A/C system (but you can also see it in this other A/C propane hack). That’s important because it’s responsible for making sure the old coolant is recaptured (his hose failure nixed this part of the plan) and the new coolant goes where it should at the correct pressure. But before dumping in propane from the local hardware store he needs to dry it out. Fuel-grade propane can have moisture in it, which can be bad for the cooling system. He bought a drier device, the grey bulb seen above, and soldered it on one end to a propane torch fitting and to a valve connection on the other. Now he could remove moisture as he pressurized the system.

Everything is working again, and the cooling side of the system gets much colder. He plans to do more testing as time goes by.