Beta Orionis – Part IX

Build Log:

Courtesy of a train that was going through the western district of KC that includes Kemper Arena, I barely made it to UPS on time to pick up the package. When I got home, I did the obligatory inventory confirmation (everything correct) and started to work. This order was the 3xKoolance 90-degree fittings, 2xBitspower 30mm extensions, 1xKoolance male-to-male rotary fitting, 1xKoolance 4-way splitter, and a pair of EK 16mm hardline fittings.

In the background are the two GTX 680 water blocks for the graphics cards.

One thing I should point out: I decided to turn the top radiator back around so the fittings were on the front. The flow of the loop will go from the pump to the front reservoir, then to the top reservoir through one of the bulkhead fittings. From the top radiator it’ll go the the memory, then the CPU, to the graphics cards (in parallel), to the bottom radiator, then back up to the reservoir.

Adding a few more drains

Part of building the loop is figuring out how to drain it, and draining it requires figuring out where all the various catches could be. In the loop design for Absinthe, there are in actuality two places where drains should be: the front radiator and the pump. Currently there is only one on the pump, which is why trying to drain it is a pain – something that will be resolved with future upgrades.

With β Ori. there are actually three places where drains are needed: on the bottom radiator, on the front radiator, and on the pump – alternatively there can also be two drains on the front radiator instead of one on the pump. The idea is to allow gravity to take the fluid out of the system as best as possible, preferably without having to tilt the case into all kinds of weird angles to accomplish it, or going nearly faint trying to blow tons of air through the loop. In β Ori., the front radiator is tanks down, meaning the fittings are on the bottom. Vertical radiators are always going to be a pain to drain, so having a drain on both sides of the radiator should help that – and with tanks down I don’t have to fight gravity to get the liquid out.

So I placed another order that arrived ahead of Halloween for fittings to construct the drains. The first drain on the lower radiator had already been built using two male-to-male rotary fittings, a Bitspower tap, and the Koolance 4-way splitter block I mentioned earlier. It’s the others that needed built.

The drain on the lower radiator will drain most of the top radiator, memory, CPU, and graphics card blocks along with the bottom radiator and reservoir. The drain on the front radiator nearest the window will take care of half the front radiator, pump, and whatever is left in the reservoir. And the other drain on the front radiator will get the rest of the top and front radiators. There will still be fluid trapped in pockets in the memory and graphics card water blocks, along with the bottom radiator, so this won’t be able to get everything, but it’ll come pretty close. Draining the bottom radiator completely is also going to be a little involved.

The taps in the first picture are looking a little “drunk” due to the rotary fittings not being secured by anything.

Time to drill

I bought a 3/4″ step bit from Harbor Freight. I actually already had one but couldn’t find it, so I decided to lay down the $6 to buy another, especially since there were a couple other small tools I needed, such as a small hacksaw. I still need to get a miter box (without the saw) from Home Depot or Lowes for cutting the tubing, along with some sandpaper.

Unfortunately in trying to drill the holes, the drill ran out of juice, so I could only get one drilled initially and had to wait to get the second one. And after getting them both drilled out, trying to test fit the bulkhead fitting through, it wouldn’t fit. Not entirely shocked there: the fitting is an M20 thread, and 3/4″ is about 19mm. So I went back to Harbor Freight to pick up a 2-bit set since the smaller one in that set goes up to 7/8″ with a 13/16″ step (just a little north of 20mm) above the 3/4″ step.

After opening up the holes to 13/16″, I used my trusty Dremel to clean them up. The step bit pushed through the metal and left a crater of sorts on the other side – pictures of what metal looks like after having a bullet through it will show about what this looked like. After cleaning it up, I was able to get the bulkhead fittings seated without a problem.

Yes, I have two bulkhead fittings set even though only one will be used. Now these aren’t directly under the inlet and outlet for the radiator. But I did discover that a Swiftech dual-rotary fitting can take care of the offset. The only downside is that it’ll be a very short piece of tubing going between the two. In hindsight, I wonder if an SLI fitting would fit without having to use tubing at all here.

I’ll probably try to do tubing anyway, but I might hand-bend some copper to fit into that area so I don’t have to use the dual-rotary fitting. We’ll see.

Playing the waiting game

The tubing straightener I ordered through eBay finally shipped on October 31, almost three weeks after ordering it. It was shipped via Royal Mail International Tracked and Signed, which claims to have a delivery speed of 5 to 7 working days, or about 7 to 10 calendar days – expected delivery of November 7 to November 12 – November 11 is a Federal holiday in the US, so no postal services that day. So if you’re planning to order this straightener, make sure to take that into consideration.

And the seller also didn’t respond to any of my messages through eBay prior to shipment.

I was really hoping to have it by now. I’m putting off tearing down my computer until I have the straightener, otherwise I’d be tearing it down only to wait about two weeks to have it back up and running again. And there’s not really anything left for me to do at this point except wait for the tubing straightener to come in. Sure I could start pulling and cutting tubing using the same technique I did for Absinthe, but I’d rather not do that. For one it’s a bit painful, given you’re slamming vice grips with a mallet while you’re holding them. Second it’s loud – again, you’re slamming vice grips with a mallet that are holding a length of copper clamped by a bench vice that is clamped onto a counter or bench.

And with 1/2″ OD tubing, it’s also not the greatest option at getting tubing straight. It gets very nearly straight, straight enough that it’s not immediately perceivable, but I’d rather go for straight this time. It works better in the bender when it is completely straight.