Ion Wind Cooled 0dB Computer
I have wanted to do this project for a few years now. While it’s was a relatively quick build, the time from the photo shoot to publish has been an extremely long and rocky road. Regardless in the end we have produced the first ionic cooling system for your high end gaming system. This system produces absolutely no noise and in fact has no moving parts at all. While this is a proof of concept it proves that you can get the CFM you need to cool a system efficiently with no moving parts and no increase in power consumption.
When I decided to do this project I never expected that it would end up being a litmus test for my resolve and goals for InventGeek. When I finished this project and started the testing period I never expected the results to be as good as they actually turned out to be. Of course I expected that it would perform the task given, and I realized that no one had done something like this yet.Nevertheless when the testing was rolling along I realized that this was a really viable solution. Before long I had investors and patents and resale rights deals all whirling around my head like a swarm of bees with lasers in there mouths. Yah sure it sounds real tempting to play with a bunch of laser bees to sell the rights to an idea or patent and basically be able to retire at a ripe young age, nevertheless the comforts that it could bring to my family.
About the same time I was interviewed by a local news reporter about the site. That event triggered something inside of me. I found in preparation for the interview that I had take some introspective time and ultimately I had to curb all my projects and priorities in life to bring closure to my perspective on the site.
What is the purpose of InventGeek? Nothing more complex than to provide ideas and solutions to a community with the intent that they will be experimented with and developed further. I am happy to say that that is how it will stay.
So why did I decide to put this project together? It has not been done yet for starters. It’s a somewhat radical way of looking at a cooling solution and I think of myself as a slightly eccentric radical. But more over there are some real benefits from a silent system or even a system that cleans the air before it enters the case.While products like this produce more negative ion than positive and thus impart a overall negative charge to whatever they blow on, its is possible to buy a neutral ion generating power supply from Amazing1.com for instance. These types of ion generators are used in server rooms and clean rooms all over the world as they are designed to remove pollutants from the air as well as neutralize any static buildup at all on any surface. With our ionic filter system, we need to just remove a single diode to remove the negative ion production.
The Electrostatic Precipitator (or ion wind generator):
The electrostatic precipitator, or in other words the ion wind generator that we will be using for this project is an off the shelf part. We picked up our “ionic air cleaner” off of eBay for about 65.00 as it is a knock off of a more reknowned brand, but gets the job done. One thing to watch out for is the wiring in the unit it’s self. If we had plugged this in prior to the tear apart we might have burned our house down. Look for shorts or missing insulation on wires inside the unit and use hot glue to insulate and protect them if needed.
The case we chose to use for this project is the Thermaltake Armor case. We chose this case for a few reasons. First off it is a full sized tower and an amazing case that I have tremendous experience with. Secondly it has a good amount of useful space in it for all the modifications we will need to do for this to work out. Thirdly its thermal characteristics and airflow design are ideal for this project. Now one thing to point out here is we chose to do this project with this case prior to Thermaltake sponsoring us and in fact ordered the case from newegg. It just so happened that they offered us this case with the sponsorship. So I suppose a free armor case was the icing on the cake… but it was not what made us choose this product.
The Power Supply:
One of the items we had to overcome with this project was the removal of all moving parts. Some moving parts are hard to remove as alternatives don’t exist. The power supply is often the make or break items in a computer as far as stability is concerned. There are several fanless power supplies out on the market with nearly identical specs. But we chose to use this Thermaltake power supply in our project because Thermaltake was kind enough to donate it. The reason we are able to get away with a 350 watt power supply is the fact we have no moving parts. No motors to spin up. The lack of internal harddrives really helped in power conservation.
The CPU Cooler:
One Challenge to overcome in a fanless system is the CPU’s heat output. In traditional CPU heatsinks large blocks of metal are combined with high RPM fans to keep the CPU happy and cool. The new breed of fanless heatsinks and even the newer high performance heatsinks use a technology that has become more popular in recent years. Heat pipes use hollow tubes filled with a blend of unique chemicals to help pull away and dissipate heat from the CPU. A fanless heatsink uses several heat pipes and a large heat spreader to help pull heat away from the CPU and dissipate it in the case either through alternate airflow or from convection.
The VGA Cooler :
All mid to high end video cards have GPU fans and often employ non-standard materials like copper that help in the dissipation of heat. When we started this project we were just going to use a NVIDIA 5200 video card by EVGA that has a large pancake heatsink on it. Thermaltake to the rescue again. With Thermaltake’s offer we were able to upgrade to a much better card, the NVIDIA 7800 GTX and thus rounding out our zero moving part system.
The System Core :
For this project we opted for some lower high end components for the system core. We chose to go with an ASUS motherboard, an Intel Pentium D dual core 3.2 GHZ CPU and some Kingston ram. The main reason we chose the Intel CPU is if for some reason there was a thermal issue it will self-protect the CPU unlike AMD’s. Granted the AMD may be cheaper and faster for a comparable system in some cases with some vendors. But I really don’t like the smell of burnt CPU in the morning. My K7 back in the day cured me of that. But if you really wanted a kick ass system I recommend the Intel Core 2 CPU’s and a good Abit or Asus Board. You should be able to get greater performance and less heat and power consumption.
For the ram to keep the system stable we felt some ram sinks would be a good idea. We didn’t want to nuke our 1 GB 50.00 stick of “Value Ram”…. Thermaltake also just so happened to have a solution for the system ram. The only down side is you can only run 2 sticks in dual channel with these babies due to their size. But 2 gig of ram for most people is a great amount. You could even use 2 Gig sticks if you needed it.
For our motherboard we needed to pick up a 20 to 24 pin power adapter and a 4 pin to 8 pin adapter as well. Now I actually bought this myself…. it turns out that ThermalTake makes some rocking products as this was the best and one of the cheapest packages I was able to find for both.
The hippocampus? or Memory storage solution of our project. For this project we opted to use 2 v1.2 Gigabyte I-Ram ram drive cards. Each card acts as a single 4 GB SATA Drive. We will be using 2 of these as our intention is to create a single 8 Gig raid 0 (striped) Array for not only drive volume considerations. But we really want to make our friends jealous with our system’s load times! These things are sick fast! You could compromise and do 2 SATA laptop hard drives in raid if you wanted to do a near no noise solution and save some money.
As our project will be using some high voltages in a potentially sensitive place we will be using some aluminum screen as grounding and shielding mesh around the ion cooler. This stuff is really easy to work with and all you need is a pair of scissors to cut and work with this material. 6.00 At big box mart.
I chose to use plexy in this project because it’s easy to work with and has good thermal and dielectric characteristics. Any noob to modding should learn how to both manipulate and shape plexy or at least order it from a plastics supplier cut to size. If you wanted you could use a couple blue LEDs and light the thing up like a Christmas tree!
The Operation Begins…
Our first step in this project is to free the ionic filter system form its skin. This is a simple and straight forward process. All that is needed is a medium sized Phillips screw driver and some time. Before we start: it is extremely important that you do not do any disassembly with the unit plugged in. This product uses very high voltages that can pose as a health hazard to the novice or expert geek / maker alike. Our first step in disassembly is to remove the foot from the filter. There are 4 screws in the bottom of the foot. With a tug it slides off as easy as that.
With the foot removed we will next be removing the filter blades from the filter. To do so grasp the handle in the top of the unit securely, pull in an upward motion until the blade unit is completely separated from the base unit. Set the blades aside for disassembly later. If you have difficulty with this step please close your browser and shut your computer off. Once the shutdown is complete slowly walk away from your computer and find a nice comfy place on your couch. Find any episode of Will and Grace or Friends and enjoy.
The next step is to remove the top. Inside the unit hidden under the filter blades handle are 4 screws holding the top of the unit on. Remove the screws and the top unit will slide off. There will be some extra lengths of wire as shown and a small circuit board screwed to top of the filter chamber under the controls. Remove the screws holding the board in place.
With the above steps complete remove the 4 screws (2 per side) on the sides of the unit. This will allow you to open the unit. The top and bottoms of the filter and electrode section are merely seated in a slot in the side of the body of the filter. There are 2 thin wires under tension via springs, use caution as you don’t want to break them or the top portion to pop out under tension.
Carefully remove the upper and lower portions of the ionic cooler and discard the body of the filter. There will be a long red medium gauge wire running the length of the body and attaching to the bottom of the top portion. Remove the single screw that attaches the pressure switch the wire is attached to. This is a sensor that activated the unit if the filter is seated. You will want to cut and splice these wires together with as little extra as possible.
The final step in the disassembly will be removing all the plastic body components from the electronics. There will be a single button on the top of the unit that can be removed with a couple screws. The controller logic board on the middle of the upper housing. The transformers, driver and fly back transformer in the lower section, all of which can be removed with a screw driver.