The Emperor’s New Computer

You walk into a home office and see an attractive standing desk that appears bare. Where’s the computer? Well, if it is [DIY Perk]’s office, the desk is the computer. Like a transformer robot, the desk transforms into a good-looking PC.

He starts with a commercial desk and creates a replacement desktop out of some aluminum sheets and extrusions. The motion uses some V-slot profiles and linear rails. The monitor and keyboard shelf pop up on invisible hinges. When closed, there’s no trace of a computer.

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Upgrading PC Cooling With Software

As computing power increases with each new iteration of processors, actual power consumption tends to increase as well. All that waste heat has to go somewhere, and while plenty of us are content to add fans and heat sinks for a passable air-cooled system there are others who prefer a liquid cooling solution of some sort. [Cal] uses a liquid cooler on his system, but when he upgraded his AMD chip to one with double the number of cores he noticed the cooling fans on the radiator were ramping quickly and often. To solve this problem he turned to Python instead of building a new cooling system.

The reason for the rapid and frequent fan cycling was that the only trigger for the cooling fans available on his particular motherboard is CPU temperature. For an air cooled system this might be fine, but a water cooled system with much more thermal mass should be better able to absorb these quick changes in CPU temperature without constantly adjusting fan speed. Using a python script set up to run as a systemd service, the control loop monitors not only the CPU temperature but also the case temperature and the temperature of the coolant, and then preferentially tries to dump heat from the CPU into the thermal mass of the water cooler before much ramping of cooling fans happens.

An additional improvement here is that the fans can run at a much lower speed, reducing dust in the computer case and also reducing noise compared to before the optimizations. The computer now reportedly runs almost silently unless it has been under load for several minutes. The script is specific to this setup but easily could be modified for other computers using liquid cooling, and using Grafana to monitor the changes can easily be done as [Cal] also demonstrates when calibrating and testing the system. On the other hand, if you prefer a more flashy cooling system as a living room centerpiece, we have you covered there as well.

ADATA SSD Gets Liquid Cooling, But Not Everyone’s Convinced

Solid-state drives (SSDs) were a step change in performance when it came to computer storage. They offered incredibly fast seek times by virtue of dispensing with solid rust for silicon instead. Now, some companies have started pushing the limits to the extent that their drives supposedly need liquid cooling, as reported by The Register.

The device in question is the ADATA Project NeonStorm, which pairs a PCIe 5.0 SSD with RGB LEDs, a liquid cooling reservoir and radiator, and a cooling fan. The company is light on details, but it’s clearly excited about its storage products becoming the latest piece of high-end gamer jewelry.

Notably though, not everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon. Speaking to The Register, Jon Tanguy from Crucial indicated that while the company has noted modern SSDs running hotter, it doesn’t yet see a need for active cooling. In their case, heatsinks have proven enough. He notes that NAND flash used in SSDs actually operates best at 60 to 70 C. However, going beyond 80 C risks damage and most drives will shutdown or throttle access at this point.

Realistically, you probably don’t need to liquid cool your SSDs, even if you’ve got the latest and greatest models. However, if you want the most tricked out gaming machine on Twitch, there’s plenty of products out there that will happily separate you from your money.

The Weird World Of Liquid Cooling For Datacenters

When it comes to high-performance desktop PCs, particularly in the world of gaming, water cooling is popular and effective. However, in the world of datacenters, servers rely on traditional air cooling more often than not, in combination with huge AC systems that keep server rooms at the appropriate temperature.

However, datacenters can use water cooling, too! It just doesn’t always look quite how you’d expect.

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Art of 3D printer in the middle of printing a Hackaday Jolly Wrencher logo

3D Printering: Water-Cooled Hotends

There’s an old joke about the Thermos bottle that keeps things hot and cold, so someone loaded it with soup and ice cream. That joke is a little close to home when it comes to FDM 3D printers.

You want to melt plastic, of course, or things won’t print, so you need heat. But if the plastic filament gets hot too early, it will get soft, expand, and jam. Heat crawling up the hot end like this is known as heat creep and there are a variety of ways that hot ends try to cope with the need to be hot and cold at the same time. Most hotends today are air-cooled with a small fan. But water-cooled hotends have been around for a while and are showing up more and more. Is it a gimmick? Are you using, planning to use, or have used (and abandoned) water cooling on your hot end?

Heat Break

The most common method is to use a heat-break between the heating block and the rest of the filament path. The heat-break is designed to transfer as little heat as necessary, and it usually screws into a large heat sink that has a fan running over it. What heat makes it across the break should blow away with the fan cooling.

From Thomas Sanladerer’s review of the Copperhead hotend. Heat break in the middle.

High tech solutions include making heat-breaks out of titanium or even two dissimilar metals, all with the aim of transferring less heat into the cooler part of the hot end. More modern hot ends use support structures so the heatbreak doesn’t need mechanical rigidity, and they can make very thin-walled heatbreaks that don’t transmit much heat. Surely, then, this is case closed, right? Maybe not.

While it is true that a standard heat-break and a fan can do the job for common 3D printing tasks, there can be problems. First, if you want to print fast — time is money, after all — you need more power to melt more filament per second. If a heatbreak transfers 10% of the heat, this increases demands on the upstream cooling. Some engineering materials want to print at higher temperatures, so you can have the same problem there as well. If you want to heat the entire print chamber, which can help with certain printing materials, that can also cause problems since the ambient air is now hotter. Blowing hot air around isn’t going to cool as effectively. Not to mention, fans that can operate at high temperatures are notoriously expensive.

There are other downsides to fans. Over a long print, a marginal system might eventually let enough heat creep up. Then there’s the noise of a fan blowing during operation. True, you probably have other fans and noisy parts, but it is still one more noise source. With water cooling, you can move the radiator outside a heated enclosure and use larger, slower, and quieter fans while getting more cooling right where you want it. Continue reading “3D Printering: Water-Cooled Hotends”

High temperature 3D printer

Extreme Thermal Mods For 3D Printing Exotic Materials

For general everyday use, there’s nothing wrong with the standard selection of plastics that most 3D printer filaments are available in. PLA, ABS, PETG — they’ve all got their place, and they’re all pretty easy to work with. But if you need to work with more exotic materials, you might need to go to extremes and modify an off-the-shelf printer for high-temperature work.

For the team led by [Andreas Hagerup Birkelid] at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the standard menu of printer chow wasn’t up to the jobs they had in mind. They wanted to print using polyether ether ketone, or PEEK, a high-performance thermoplastic with useful mechanical and thermal properties, in addition to chemical resistance. Trouble is, the melting point of PEEK is a whopping 343°C (649°F), making it necessary to turn up the heat — a lot. A standard Creality CR-10 printer was upgraded to withstand not only the 500°C max temperature of the new hot end and 200° printed bed, but also to survive operating in what amounts to an oven — a balmy 135° in a chamber made from IKEA cabinets. That entailed replacing plastic parts with metal ones, upgrading belts, pulleys, and wires, and moving all the electronics outside the enclosure. Even the steppers got special treatment, with water cooling to keep their magnets from reaching the Curie point.

The mods seemed to do the trick, because a Benchy printed in a carbon-fiber PEEK filament came out pretty good. It seems like a long way to go and kind of pricey — $1,700 for the printer and all the mods — but if you have a need to print exotic materials, it’s way cheaper than a commercial high-temp printer.

[via 3D Printing Industry]

CNC Saves Water Cooling Setup

A classic problem. You have a new CPU and a 15-year old water cooling system. Of course, the bracket doesn’t fit. Time to buy a new cooler? Not if you are [der8auer]. You design a new bracket and mill it out of aluminum.

Honestly, it might seem overkill, but it makes sense. After all, no matter how new the CPU is, using water to cool it still works the same way, in principle.

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