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A NEW CASE
Having all but destroyed the original case while "improving" the airflow through it, I decided to make a wooden sleeve case to take the chassis. The case is made from a few off-cuts of birch ply that I had in the workshop (hence the size and weight!). A couple of pieces of 30mm thick for the sides and three pieces of 25mm thick for the top, front and bottom panels. The power and reset switches are made from a dome screw heads and a couple of M3 spacers. [Editor's Note: Bill refers here to a very specific type of plywood, usually originating from the Baltic countries, that have many more "plies" than the usual plywood, made entirely from birch wood, and with minimal voids in the plies. It was the preferred material for English hi-fi speaker cabinets for its high density and rigidity before lower cost MDF wood sheets came along. You can see the unusually high number of layers at the plywood edges in the photo on the first page.]
The PC simply slides in through the open rear of the wood sleeve. A couple of wheels from an old scooter and a pair of casters make moving the heavy PC easier. Zinc plated perforated sheet wrapped over the top and forming a vent at the bottom of the case finished the job nicely.
The replacement Seagate drive improved this machine immensely, the drive head seek clicks are inaudible and the quiet hum produced by the old drive has disappeared completely. It is now quieter than the backlight inverter in my Viewsonic TFT LCD panel monitor (which squeals like a hungry mosquito). It's certainly a much nicer experience to browse the web without the constant roar of a PC.
I'm not sure if it would be possible to passively cool a more power hungry CPU without resorting to exotic heat-pipes or water-cooling, the CPU heat sink would have to be too big to mount near the chip, but since many of the newer processors are far more energy efficient, it would be possible to use the same techniques to build a faster SilentPC.
After using the system for 19 months without opening it up, prompted by Mike Chin of SilentPCReview, I took the SilentPC back into the workshop to take some more pictures. While it was open, I decided to check the HDD Box for leaks.
Just as well
On opening the HDD box I was presented by a sad sight: There were obvious signs of corrosion on the lid and a large amount of powder sitting on top of the small gel-pack. The stuff sitting on the gel bag is powdered 'corrosion' (aluminum and zinc oxides presumably, with some remains from the wall-paper paste). I suspect that the moisture/paste reacted chemically with the die-cast aluminum, quickly forming the oxide powder and never forming droplets.
A leak in one of the bags and corrosion but no damage to the drive.
Removing the drive, it's clear that only the smaller single-bagged gel-pack has lost some water, the cause of the corrosion, although it hasn't dried completely. The large double-bagged pack has survived quite well, no obvious sign of leaks.
The HDD itself seems fine. I suspect that, by corroding, the metal of box has absorbed the moisture lost by the gel pack. I'll have to pack some silica gel moisture absorbing crystals into the box and double bag the smaller gel-pack before sealing it up this time.
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Articles of Related Interest
Jani's Big Quiet Wood Case PC
Doug's Quiet Wood Case PC
Fanless Power Supply: Marko's Homebrew
Fanless Heatpipe CPU Cooling System by FMAH
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