Ionic Wind Heat Sink
Just when I thought I didn’t have another ionic wind cooling project left in me I was more or less overwhelmed with emails from our last version that really let me know there is strong interest in this type of system cooling. So I decided to put one more idea together that would provide far better performance than the 2.0 project and still fall well enough in affordable bracket that it’s still practical for everyday use. After tinkering around one afternoon I came up with the concept for this little project. I have personally been using this in a specialized system I have for over 2 months now and haven’t had a single problem with it. The other added bonus with this system is its really easy to clean the grounding plates as opposed to other versions we had put together.
We picked up the acrylic that we used in this project from our local plastics dealer. We double checked and found several vendors that offer precut materials cost effectively on eBay. The cut list is really simple.
1 – 4″ long 3 1/2 Inner diameter pipe (4.00USD)
5 – 4″ X 4″ 1/4th inch thick acrylic (6.00USD)
We picked up a 1 ft length of copper pipe at our local home improvement store. We used a 3/4″ Dia pipe for this project. 1 inch would work equally well but we didn’t notice any performance difference at all between them. We cut our pipe into 6 – 2″ lengths (1.00USD)
High Performance Heat sink:
We used for this project a arctic cooling freezer 7 heat sink. This has been a good steady mid line heat sink for us for a while now. Its copper core and heat pipes give it the edge we have come to expect from this type of cooler. (20.00USD)
We used about 3 feet of 14Ga stranded copper wire for this project. Using separate colors of wire while nice is not necessary… unless you braid them. Then you have to use more than one color… (1.00USD)
The Corona emitters:
Also known as tacks, pins, or real small nails. These are very small tacks that are about 5/8ths of an inch long. It’s important that the tips come to a sharp point so sanding them with sand paper to make sure there even and sharp will help with the effectiveness of this and drastically cut down on ozone emission. (1.00USD)
The Power Source:
We picked up this high power ion generator from amazing1.com for about 24.00. This is a far cry better cost than the disassembly of an ionic air cleaner for the components. This unit is a 12V native unit so we can run it off the internal power supply without any major issues. This unit puts out several thousands of volts. it can hurt or even kill you. Do not do this project unless you have a firm grasp of electronics.
Step one in our project is to mark up some of the acrylic sheet that we picked up. To do this we simply took the tube and scribed with a marker the inside of the tube. if you get marker on the acrylic sheet or tube its easily removed with a little rubbing alcohol.
Using a band or scroll saw cut around the outside of the black line you scribed. If you use a good course blade at a high speed it tends to not melt the acrylic and create a mess. If the cuts get a little uneven it’s ok. They don’t have to be perfect.
Here are our 4 acrylic disks. You can see that I got a little sloppy with the cuts. This is ok as we will use some hot glue to assemble the ion wind generator and make it air tight.
Next up is to take our disk and scribe on three of them the points for some holes. These will be 1/16th and 3/4″ holes. So make sure your spacing is for the larger size.
Using a 1/16th inch drill bit drill the holes into the first disk. It’s very important that you drill these holes straight.
Using a 3/4th inch drill bit drill the holes into the first disk. Make sure your spacing is right so they don’t overlap.
Using an 18 inch section of the copper wire strip 3 inches of the end of it and separate the strands into 2 separate wires.
Insert the tacks into the holes in the acrylic disk and then wrap the wire around the heads with the wire as shown. With the ends of the wire twist them together and then into one if the wires so you don’t have anything sticking out that could arc. Then push the tacks through the disk.
Using a healthy amount of high heat hot glue applied to the center of the cap disk press the disk into the top one sandwiching the glue between them. Hold it or clamp it until its cool. Watch out for the tacks or have band aids on standby.
If you haven’t cut your pipes yet now is the time. Here we were experimenting with 3 inch pipes. They did work well and we had a small performance gain compared to the 2 inch pipes. But space won out in this design… test fit the pipes into the holes you drilled in the disks.
Here is the grounding plate assembly fully assembled. Use some hot glue to seal any gaps and to hold this together. If you want to light this up with a blue led like we did in the end you will want a cleaner hot glue job than we did here.
Now we get to start assembly of the ionic wind generator. Test fit the disk sandwich with the pins in the end of the tube. Mark with a line of holes around the gap in the top of the cooler ¼ inch below the lid to allow for system to draw in air. Don’t drill extruded acrylic. Most acrylic pipe is extruded and lacks the strength that cast acrylic would for instance. Use a hot soldering iron to melt the holes in the tube and lid.
Next up is to strip 10 inches of our second wire and wrap it around the copper tube assembly. Twist the copper ends together tightly so insure good contact. One thing we found was applying a little solder to the twist and contact points helped maintain a good connection.
Next we need to install our grounding module into the tube. We have two tips here that will help. Notch the outer plate so the wire can escape from inside the housing. Secondly don’t glue it until you read the next step.
This is an important step!!!
Insert your grounding tube into the rear of our cooler. With all due caution that high voltage deserves wire your cooler to a power source. If you look closely in this picture you will see 2 blue white arcs between our corona emitters and the copper tubes. This is bad mmmkay. If this occurs POWER DOWN and back the grounding assembly an 1/8th of an inch out of the tube and try again. Do this until it stops arcing and runs for 5 minutes without arcing. Once this is done feel free to seal the back with hot glue.
Moding the stock heat sink:
This is our arctic cooling heat sink. We will be disassembling this for our project. It’s important to be careful with these types of heat sinks. The aluminum fins can easily be mashed and this will in turn hurt the performance of the heat sink.
Step one is to remove the fan bracket. There are 2 simple clips that will remove the unit from the heat sink.
The fan is held in place with a rather simple but very innovative rubber spacers that more or less let the fan float so it doesn’t contribute too much noise. Just apply a little force (say one finger) and the fan will pop out.
The hole for the fan matches our cooler exactly. To mount it all we did was to insert our cooler module and apply 4 small beads of hot glue. After it cools simple snap it back onto the heat sink. This technique can be used for several other active and passive heat sinks on the market. This type of cooler is best matched with an all copper passive heat sink in my opinion. But as you will see on the next page it can even work to mod a stock Intel heat sink.
So here are our modified heat sinks. The modified Intel heat sink (that few people love) only preformed at about 60% of its capacity compared to the stock fan.
Summary / End Results:
So now we set out to test this rig against the stock fan. We used 2 heat sinks for this project. We had another heat sink that had been mounted on a motherboard in a system we use for about 3 months. As we didn’t want to wait for our thermal compound to fully cure we decided to use this heat sink and clip on and off our mod. First we used the stock cooler as it was installed. The system idled at about 29C and we peaked at 41C as was confirmed by our IR heat reading gun. These are fairly standard measurements for this type of cooler.
Now we swapped out our ion wind generator. As you can see if we used this heat sink in an actual pc we would turn the heat sink around so we were venting through the back of the case. The system idled at about 34C and we peaked at 48C as was confirmed by our IR heat reading gun. While these are warmer than say a gaming enthusiast would prefer this falls well within the standard users system needs.
This is a fun and easy project to experiment with this technology. We have had recently a company express interest in this technology for use in their product line. After talking with them at length about its strengths and weaknesses they decided that it wasn’t where they wanted to go as it didn’t target the gamer market. Silent pc accessories and components are gaining more and more promise and interest in the market. People are sick and tired of listening to their system fans humming. Threes a good market out there for anyone looking to work with quiet products and worst case we can always make our own!