|How to build a simple watercooler|
Are you tired off those big heatsinks - blocking all your DIMM slots, and you don`t have the money for a VapoChill unit. Or are just a extreme overclocker who wants to go into the world off water-cooling. In this little article I will go through the items you need for a watercooler and how to build it. I assume you know the basics of water-cooling - because I wont explain it here. (would probably fill ten pages).
What do you need?
All you need to build a simple, yet very effective Peltier Watercooler is in this picture.
WaterBlock: Copper or aluminium are preferred. Take notice that copper transfers heat best, but aluminium is cheaper and easier to work with. The two easiest ways off making the waterblock is either to make a hollow box with passages. Or to make it out off a solid block, drill holes and tap for hose fittings. The one on the picture is made out off a copper plate which bent and soldered together. Making the waterblock can be difficult, if you don`t have the tools or don`t know how to make it - Get your local machineshop to do it. The price depends off the complexity of the block. But it will cost about 20-40$ if you get someone to do it for you. Below is a drawing off a simple waterblock. The plate is bent and soldered. Two plates is set up so that the water circulates through the whole block.
Radiator: The radiator has one main purpose - to cool down the hot water coming from the waterblock. The longer the inner tubing off the radiator the better. It also helps greatly to attach fan(s) to the radiator. In the picture below a Senfu radiator is shown. A radiator can be bought many places, check your local machine shop, or your car scrapyard. ( Car radiators are perfect ). Or you could buy a Senfu radiator.
Pump and water reservoir: The pumps purpose are to pump ( dhu.. ) the water around in the system. The pump is an important part off the system, so be sure you get a good one. The best pumps can elevate the water so that everything doesn't have to be in level with eachother, also a submersible pump is smart, that way you can put it in you water reservoir. The pump I use and recommend is a 12V submersible water pump that I picked up at Clas Ohlson in Norway. For a water reservoir everything that can hold water can be used. I choosed a cheap Tupperware box. I have drilled 3 holes ( inline water, outline water and power chord for the pump ). The box is then filled with water, closed and sealed with waterproof silicon. If you plan using ice cubes in the water you will also have to insulate the box itself.
Cold Plate: Copper is preferred as coldplate material because it removes heat faster than aluminum. Thickness, 2-4 mm. Make it to fit the Peltier elements size perfect.
Insulation: You need insulation to prevent condensation from forming when using peltier elements. Our choice off insulation is Armaflex ( sold in Norway by Rockwool ). The insulation you need must have closed cell structure (you should not be able to blow air through the insulation). It is also a advantage if you use insulation that is easy to cut and work with.
Misc: Heat transfer compound (HSC), hose fittings, thread seal tape, hoses.......
Fastening system: A good fastening system is essential when making a watercooler. I use a easy system that everyone can make. Take two 2mm plates, drill holes in every corner and tap one off the plates. Now you have a great sandwich fastening system that will last forever. You also have room for all the insulation you will ever need (pic below).
As you can see, making a watercooler costs some money - But it`s certainly a cheap replacement for a Asetek unit. Although it can never match the VapoChill's cooling capacity. With a system like this you should be able to get temperatures around 0 to 3`C under full load - and -7 to 0 when using ice cubes to cool the water. 150$ is a lot off money spent on cooling you might say - Yes it is, but for example a Alpha+peltier solution will cost around 100$ and will not give you as much cooling as this system will.