DIY: Cheap wall mounted, water cooled PC for 51$

with LED backlight and and all the good stuff

Posted by Christian Haschek on 2015-09-10
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[UPDATE] Test results are in!

Water cooling solutions are usually very expensive and I wanted to see how cheap I can do it using household parts and objects that were designed for a different purpose.

Parts

I'm gonna divide the parts in two sections: Water cooling and wall mounting.

Water cooling parts

Part Where I got it Image Price
CPU Waterblock ebay (german)
CPU Waterblock
14 €
Radiator Local car repair shop
Radiator
20 €
Fabric enforced 8mm tube Local hardware store
Garden hose
3€
Water pump amazon.com
Water pump
7€
Reservoir (could also use a small bottle) -
Reservoir
0€
Distilled water Local hardware store Link
Distilled water
2€

As you can see I'm using a car radiator since they are very cheap, easy to get and work like charm. Just be sure not to mix aluminium and copper parts.

Water cooling costs: 46€ (51$)


Wall mounting parts

Part Where I got it Price
Backplate (plywood) Local hardware store 3€
Carbon foil (looks better than wood) Amazon.com 4€
Tube holders Local hardware store 1€
LED stripes for backlight conrad.at (german) 7€

Wall mounting costs: 15€ (16$)


Let's build it!

Step 1: put the foil on the backplate

Backplate

Foil over the backplate

Foil on the plate

Step 2: Fitting the board on the plate and fixing it with screws

Mainboard on the plate
In this picture you can also see how professionally I mounted the waterblock on the CPU using perforated tape and two thin M3 screws

Closeup of the waterblock

Screwing it on the board

Step 3: Tube management

For tube management I'm using pipe holders. They helped me before managing my cables on my server rack. I'll probably paint them black later so they don't looks as cheap as they do now.

Working desk

Mounting holders

Step 4: Adding an LED backlight

The power supply for the backlight will be a power supply of an old laptop of mine. It's actually 16V but thanks to 12V voltage regulators this is no problem.

Power Supply

LED stripes
The LED stipes are held in place with some tape and connected to the voltage regulator

LED stripes in action

Backlight in action
Looks good!

Step 5: The reservoir

Reservoir
I picked this one up in the local hardware store but I also could have used a simple bottle.

Hotglued LEDs
I hotglued a few LEDs on it. The LED plate is actually from an old IKEA lamp I disassembled. Fits perfectly and lights up good.

LEDs from the inside
Inside view of the reservoir. Let's add some color.

painted reservoir
I painted it with green polish (sprayplast)

Foil on the base
And put some of the foil on the base to hide the LEDs

Hole in the backplate
I drilled a small hole in the backplate so I can hide the power cables of the LEDs.

Perforated tape holding the reservoir
And then I fixed the reservoir with some more perforated tape. Man I love this metal tape thing

Reservoir lighting up
Getting better and better

Step 6: The radiator

It finally arrived and wow that thing is larger than I thought. Had to relocate the tubes

Radiator fitting on the backplate

fixating it with cable ties

cable tieeeessssss

Step 7: The pump

Since I'm using a submersive pump (because they're the cheapest) I had to come up with an idea on where to put it. I initially wanted the pump in the reservoir but it didn't fit so I had an awesome idea: I put it in a glass jar and put green carbon foil around it

I think the jar was once full of spaghetti.. just FYI.. is anyone even reading these texts?

Jar with some green foil

it holds all the good stuff.. mainly water
Not even leaking (yet)

not leaking

Almost last step: Connecting everything

I connected the reservoir with the "pump jar" and sealed it with some industrial glue.

Connecting reservoir with pump jar

Light test
Light test: Works great

Adding a fan
I added a fan for now like this. Since the radiator is pretty dark and has no good places to put LEDs on them I'll have to pick up some fans with LEDs (maybe)

Filling fun

Filling it

It was... kind of tight.. so, of course it leaked. But there is no leak some more of that industrial glue won't fix

You can see the glue on the lid of the "pump jar". Maybe sometime later I'll paint over that so it doesn't look that shitty

Sealing it again

Testing

For testing I removed the fan from the radiator since it should work passively cooled. Let's see if I'm right.

BIOS booting like a charm. Temperatures are good in idle

BIOS temps 33 degrees celsius
This is just 9°C above room temperature, nice! How about benchmarking it up?

The Benchmark

For CPU benchmarking I use plain old 7zip benchmark (which is included in 7zip)

benchmarking with 7zip

Highest temperature was 40°C which is 16°C above room temperature. This is actually a pretty good temperature for passive cooling.

How loud is it?

Except for the gentle dabble of the water pump there is no sound. Of course not since there is no fan.

What's next?

This monster will become the new face of my webfilter service WEGA (german). I'll hang it one of the schools I work for and it will filter all traffic for inappropriate stuff. The kids will hate it and it'll look great. Should probably protect it with an acrylic glass front.

Will update with pictures asap


Tags: diy | pc | wall mounted | led
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