Zalman Reserator installation

I recently installed a Reserator on Earthquake to get some practice with ultra-silent water cooling. This Zalman is some pretty amazing kit.

Earthquake Current Hardware

I replaced the 60gb IDE Drive with a 10,000 rpm Quantum Atlas 10k II Ultra-160 SCSI drive to boost performance. The drive is a bit noisier, but the seek times and I/O on the thing more than make up for it.

I think the 60gb IDE drive will go into Locust, replacing the 15gb drive, which will go into a test box running FreeBSD. Details to follow (someday).

Current Hardware:

AMD Athlon XP 2000+
Asus A7v266-E Motherboard


ATI RADEON 8500LE 64mb video card
768MB Crucial PC2100 DDR RAM (1x 256 1x 512)
SoundBlaster Live! value sound card
Adaptec AHA-19160 SCSI Controller
2x Quantum Atlas 10000RPM 18GB Ultra-160 SCSI hard drives
Quantum Atlas 10k II Ultra-160 SCSI Hard Drive
Artec WRA-WA48 CD-RW
1.44″ Floppy drive
MIDIman/M-Audio Delta-44 PCI Analog Recording Interface
Custom Pine Full Tower Case
Zalman Copper Cooler HSF
Enermax 365w PSU
HP SureStore 12/24GB SCSI Tape Backup

More Storage for Earthquake

I’ve been running out of room on Earthquake, so I decided to plop in a 60gb ATA hard drive to act as storage. The SCSI drives will now be for production stuff, and the ATA drive will hold my games, MP3s and video clips. Here’s some details of how it went:


Here’s what the case guts looked like before the project.


A close up of the two U-160 10k rpm SCSI drives nestled up next to the exhaust fan.



The drive bracket removed.



The drive bracket with the extenders. These were wood joist straps purchased at Home Depot and cut to size.



The three drives mounted in the bracket. Getting to be quite a tall stack…


The three drives nestled in the case and cabled up.



Earthquake now. Not much difference, but 58gb (formatted) more storage space. Bring on the pr0n!






New motherboard for Earthquake

I recently picked up a new A7v266-E motherboard and an Athlon XP 2000+ processor for very cheap off of ebay, so I decided to throw that processor/mobo combo into the old Locust and upgrade Earthquake slightly from an XP 1600+ to an XP 2000+

Here’s the new processor specs:

 Athlon XP Processor High-end
 Core Thoroughbred-A
 CPU Model 8
 Manufacturing Process 130 nm
 Approximate Transistor Count 37.2 million
 Approximate Die Size 80 sq. mm
 Performance Rating 2000+
 Working frequency 1667 MHz
 Package Type OPGA
 Operating Voltage 1.65 V
 Max Die Temperature 90° C
 L1 Cache Size 128 KB
 L2 Cache Size 256 KB
 Multiplier 12.5x
 FSB Frequency 266 MHz
 Stepping Code AIRDA
 Manufacture Year 2002
 Manufacture Week 22
 Production Batch M
 Batch Production Number 8703

Earthquake Updates

I added another stick of 512MB PC2400 RAM. Just for kicks and so I can add a few more tracks on my Cakewalk recording software.

I ended up ditching the DigiDoc 5 and the PCMods baybus since the case would end up being really, really tall and awkward looking. These two devices will probably end up in Headcrash when it gets modded and rebuilt again.

I also junked the Flowmaster Max water cooling kit after it popped a leak and dripped on a sick of RAM. I swapped it for a Zalman Copper Cooler and found that it runs at about the same temperatures as the water cooling solution and just as quiet. It basically replaced the vibration of the pump motor with a whirring of a 92mm fan. I love this HSF!

I guess I just was never really satisfied by the results of the water cooling solution, although it was fun to put together. I do plan on water cooling my next rig, but, now that I know what I’m doing, I’ll buy better components, like a better copper block and a pump with a better flow rate. I’d definitely build a reservoir into the loop to take water expansion into account. I didn’t do that before, so when the water expanded as it warmed up it leaked out through my fill pipe.

Earthquake’s New Wood Case


Earthquake is my primary machine, and I just can’t keep my hands off of it. Lately, I’ve had a bug to build it a new case, to replace the rather poorly modded HX08 that currently hosts it.

So after building the wood case for Locust I decided to make a new one for Earthquake.

I set about looking at my efforts at building Locust and wanted a case set up along similar lines. I wanted a quiet case that was roomy and matched the rest of my desk furniture.

I gutted Earthquake‘s current HX08 for this project, using the motherboard tray and a 5-1/4″ drive bay from a previously gutted case. This would remove the jury-rigging I had to do with locust and would give a more finished look.

Tools used included a jigsaw, a Dewalt power drill with a 120mm hole saw and various drill bits including a 1″ drill bit. I also increased my skills with a soldering iron.

I used 5/8″ pine laminate which is essentially strips of pine glued and pressed together to form a stripe effect. Thicker slabs of this stuff are found in chopping block tables and counter tops. It makes for a good looking case, and is relatively easy to work with and not all that expensive (about $15 for a 24″ x 48″ piece).

The only problem with the laminate is that it tends to crack along its seams while drilling fan holes, so you must be careful about that. I finished off the look with some cherry-tinted stain.


I was trying to keep the look as clean and as cooling efficient as possible. I used two 120mm fans for intake down low in the front, and another 120mm fan and fans on the Enermax as outflow fans, creating a slight overpressure in the case, keeping dust from getting sucked into cracks and devices.


A close up shot of the fan grilles. The green metal inside the case is actually the light from the green cold cathode reflecting off of the metal hard drive tray inside. The flash reduced the light quite a bit.


Another picture with the lights out, showing the green neon:



Various detail pics of the dual hard drive configuration and and the interior wiring. What you can’t see in the hard drive picture is the two layers of vibration damping rubber matting I mounted under the drive tray to alleviate some of the drive noise caused by the drive platters spinning at 10,000 rpm.



I use five switches: one 12v-5v switch for the 92mm Zalman fan, one 12v-Off-5v for the dual 120mm fans up front, one 12v-Off-5v for the 120mm in the back and two momentary On-(On) switches for Reset and Power. The black switch is the On-Off switch for the Cold Cathode light.

The Four LEDs are for (from left to right) Power, IDE Activity, SCSI HD0 Activity and SCSI HD1 Activity.


For a quiet ride, go Zalman:


Here’s a picture of how it looks before spray painting the bezels. Note the boring beige HX08 that currently hosts Headcrash. It’s days are numbered!


Earthquake’s Old Case

This is a little blurb about Earthquake‘s previous case mods. I’ve since given it a total makeover. Details about this case and the water cooling project it contains can be found here.

– Intake hole in bezel with wire mesh and trim to allow increased airflow into case.
– 2x 80mm fans up top to suck hot air out of case past the SCSI drives up there and to provide ventilation for the upper case.
– Dremel cut in front of case for radiator/120mm fan combo.
– 80mm fan in front bezel above the radiator/fan shroud/fan.
– low-off-high four-switch baybus with pots set for 9v-off-12v to control fan speeds.

Dremel cuts: some notches into the runners along the top and bottom of the case’s side panels. This way I won’t have to slide the panels all the way back to take them off. I also cut notches into the top piece so I don’t have to remove it before removing the sides.

Earthquake notes to self

I wanted to make sure to document what temp probe monitored what in Earthquake so here’s a short list, mostly for my own use:

1. Water temp from radiator
2. Processor temp
3. Ambient room temp
4. Top HD (HD 0) temp
5. Bottom HD (HD 1) temp
6. Case Temp (measured in bottom half)

BayBus switches (from left to right)
1 Off
2. 2x80mm fans in upper rear
3 Bezel 80mm fan
4. Radiator 120mm fan

Water cooling an Earthquake

In the Beginning:

Last Fall I decided to build myself a new workstation and spent some time looking around for parts to build myself a cool-looking and awesome-performing machine. After poking around in various hardware and tech sites, I decided on the specs and parts listed on the Earthquake Page.

What gave me trouble, however was what was to hold all these goodies with attention paid to roominess, cooling capability, and of course mod potential. I eventually stumbled upon this review and then this article and this one over at Virtual Hideout and I made my decision. The Aopen HX08 would be my new house.

Water, water everywhere…

In building this case I also knew that I wanted to make my first foray into the wild, wacky world of water cooling. I had heard all the reasons why water cooling was the way to go, what with increased cooling performance, lower noise and what have you, but in all honesty, I did it because it seemed cool to have a water-cooled PC.

The Victim:

When the case first arrived I was in love. For some reason, this case has some much more je-ne-sais-quois than some of the other cases like some of the Antecs out there.


Yes, I know the photos are crap quality. I took them with a disposable camera, got them developed on matte photo paper and then scanned them at the amazing resolution of 150dpi. Someday I’ll be rich and be able to drop wads of cash on a digital camera that I’ll use to only take photos of my cases. Until then, tough luck.

Dremel Work:

After some planning and figuring out how I was going to layout my case, it was time to put tools to case. The first tasks were to cut a hole in the front for the radiator and to cut away the stamped fan grills in the top rear. I’d be replacing them with chrome grilles that allow more airflow with less noise and would look nicer.

I also cut away some flanges where the lower 3.5″ drive cage sits underneath the 5-1/4″ bays. These flanges got in the way of the shelf I would be building to hold my reservoir to get it out of the way. I also measured and drilled holes in the floor of the 5-1/4″ bay cage to hang some bolts that would be the supports for the shelf.


Adding the water circuit:

Which parts to buy for my cooling loop turned out to be the hardest part of this project. There are as many discussions about cooling methods as there are discussions about Intel v. AMD chips. Since I was (and probably still am) a cooling newbie, I opted for a kit that did most of the choosing for me. I went for a submersible pump and heater core radiator with 1/2″ fittings. I opted for the fan shroud option for my rad to optimize airflow. I never did get around to seeing what the difference was with it or without it, but I had it, so I used it.

If I were to do it again, I would probably pick and chose my components from many different vendors, and probably save a little bit of money, but at the time I wanted to jump into the watercooling game as fast as possible.

The five pictures below show my cooling setup as it comes together. I was originally hoping to put in a 4″ PVC elbow joint over the fan to duct the heated air out through the side of the case, but I ran into space issues. The duct wouldn’t fit between the fan and the tails of the PCI cards once the motherboard was installed. Instead I added an 80mm fan between the rad and the pump shelf, hoping to introduce unheated air into the bottom of the case to minimize the effect of having the heated air from the radiator pass into the case.

Pictures three and four show the red rubber matting I used to dampen vibrations from the pump. I went for rubber sheeting used to pad

linoleum floors and is available at most hardware stores for like 10 cents a square foot. Needless to say I have gads of this stuff now.

The wiring:

The first wiring I’d ever done of cases was for the two switches on the floppy drive cover of Plague. I wanted to do a better job on this case and had all my parts purchased from my local Electronics Plus. However after I’d added up all the parts, I found that I could buy myself a 7v-off-12v baybus from PC Mods for less money and I’d get a higher quality product for far less effort.

I ended up wiring the dual 80mm exhaust fans in front of the upper drive cages, the 80mm intake fan and the 120mm radiator fan to the first three switches. The fourth is currently unused but I’m planning to install a chimney fan on top of the box which will be wired there.

The rest:

The finishing touches were wiring the temperature probes from the DigiDoc to various places and installing the hardware. Nothing really special about that that’s worth mentioning here.

The last two pics are of my system as it looks now. It turns out that the case is just barely big enough for all of my components and appears rather cluttered. At least you can see how all the components fit into the case.

The top pic shows the drive cage with the 80mm fans and two SCSI hard drives, the 5-14″ cage with a CD-ROM, a CD-RW, a 12/24GB SCSI tape backup, black wires from the DigiDoc, the air bleed off tube and power leads out the wazoo.

The bottom pic shows the rat’s nest of 1/2″ tubing, the fan-duct-radiator combo, SCSI and CD-ROM ribbon cables, the pump shelf and the rest of the PC hardware. The bolts have since been trimmed to length but I have yet to wrap my cables.

What a mess, eh?