Direct-water connection for espresso

For the last 4 years, I’ve owned an ECM Technika IV Profi, and I’ve been loving having it. And the main reason I bought that machine is the ability to plumb it into the water line. It’s just unfortunate that I haven’t been able to do so until now.

So before going further, let’s go into the bill of materials for this project. Your mileage may vary depending on how you decide to do this.

Bill of materials

Here’s the final set of plumbing parts I used:

Tubing/pipe:

  • ½” PEX

Yeah, it’s a little… complicated. And yes, I’m using Sharkbite fittings because I don’t want to buy more tools. Speaking of, you’ll also need (if you use the same materials I did):

  • PVC/PEX pipe cutters
  • Pipe thread tape
  • Water pressure test gauge

And obviously your bill of materials may vary based on your circumstance and espresso maker.

Recommendations

A few things to bear in mind when you select parts for this.

1. Have two water shut-off valves

You’ll notice in the bill of materials above I have two valves. The first comes off the cold water supply under the sink. The other is on the counter.

Don’t rely on just one shut-off valve.

2. You don’t need an expensive pressure regulator

Pressure regulators are available through companies that sell espresso makers and parts. They have the upside of typically having a ⅜” or ¼” inlet and outlet – perfect for espresso makers – but at a significant cost.

My local hardware store had a pressure regulator with an output range of 10psi to 70psi (0.68bar to 4.83 bar), fitting my needs, but with ¾” inlets. I didn’t want that large of inlets since that would require adapters coming off the ½” PEX line under my sink.

But I was able to order in the pressure regulator listed above. Initially I found it through Lowe’s for around $40, but I canceled that order and found it through eBay for a little more. I canceled it because three days after the “estimated pick-up date” it still said “Order Received”. The eBay seller took a few days to actually ship the item, but at least they shipped it.

The downside to the regulator I selected is needing to support its weight so it wasn’t just hanging off the plastic filter housing.

Assembly and Discussion

If you’ve done any plumbing work in the past, this should go together pretty easily. Especially since you’ve got my bill of materials as a starting point for figuring things out. Let your specific circumstance determine what parts you buy, but I don’t think yours will be too far off from mine.

I have two ½” PEX tubes coming into the kitchen under the sink. I recently replaced my dishwasher, and replaced some of the fittings under the sink since they looked corroded from hard water – a water conditioner is in the plans for later. So that guided much of my plans on this.

Now I easily could’ve just bought a long-enough braided hose for going behind the dishwasher. That certainly would’ve been easier than trying to snake PEX behind there, and probably less expensive overall as well in terms of fittings. But I wanted to maintain the larger diameter tube going to the pressure regulator. Every braided hose I found has a thinner inner-diameter.

Unfortunately the clearance behind the dishwasher also meant I needed to do some… fitting voodoo to connect to the pressure regulator. A braided hose definitely would’ve been easier here. PEX is flexible, but not enough to reach how I needed it. Everything’s attached to a 1×4, which is ¾” thick, so something like this would still have been necessary even if the filter and regulator were attached to the back of the cabinet directly.

And yes, I have the pressure regulator sitting on a small shelf to support its weight. I already had the angle brackets and scrap 2×4, so this worked out. “I’ll take ‘Ways to give plumbers heart attacks’ for $400, Alex.” Especially since I used a pair of Sharkbite elbow fittings to connect the incoming PEX line to it.

I also intended to connect the pressure regulator directly to the filter housing. Thankfully I only needed the bushing plus the nipple to do that. Coming off the water filter is a ⅜” MIP to ⅜” compression elbow, making this about the same as the water delivery to my dishwasher.

Through the countertop is a ½” MIP nipple. 4″ long, I believe, which is a bit longer than it needed to be, almost a little too long, but fortunate since I was screwing on the hose from inside the cabinet. So definitely don’t get one that’s just “long enough” to get through the counter. Give yourself plenty of room to make sure you can screw down the ½” FIP end of the hose all the way. Probably should’ve had the hole about 1″ more to the left, though.

And on top of the counter is where the fun really started. Most washing machine valves are NOT certified lead-free, so can’t be used for this. So to get a setup that can, I used ½” FIP to ½” push-to-connect elbow into a ½” push-to-connect washing machine valve. To secure the valve, I have ¼” spacers underneath with #8 screws going into the countertop.

With that in place, it was a matter of calibrating the pressure regulator to about 20psi.

Connecting the espresso machine

Let me just say this up front: finding the right kind of adapters to make this work was a pain in the ass.

The espresso machine comes with a ⅜” BSP compression to ⅛” BSP braided hose, along with a ⅜” BSP compression male to ⅜” flare adapter. So a bit of fitting voodoo: ¾” MHT to ½” FIP, ½” MIP to ⅜” flare, and ⅜” flare swivel coupler. Except for some reason, I couldn’t get a leak-tight seal.

So I thought, “Let’s find an NPT to BSP adapter”. McMaster-Carr to the rescue! Unfortunately finding a ⅜” BSP to NPT adapter in lead-free brass was impossible. So I had to go with 304 stainless steel here. And that combination may be causing you to shout “galvanic corrosion”, except everything I’m finding online said the combination should be perfectly fine. I spent several hours pinning this down before putting in the order.

The adapter, though, is ⅜” BSP to ⅜” MIP. So getting that connected to the valve required two additional fittings: ¾” FHT to ½” FIP, and a ½” MIP to ⅜” FIP bushing. This put things in place for what should’ve been the final conversion. Except I couldn’t find a fitting that could go from ⅜” BSP female to ⅜” BSP compression male. I thought I found one through EspressoParts.com, but it converted to ⅜” NPT compression.

Having overnighted that part in, and realizing the night it shipped that it wouldn’t do what I’d hoped, I had another thought: look at the water inlet on the machine.

I lifted the machine up on a couple short 2x4s. It looked to be an adapter fitting going into a rotary fitting. I figured it was another British thread. And getting it out, I thought its size looked familiar.

It was ¼”-19 BSP, a.k.a. G¼” for those familiar with PC water cooling. Back to McMaster-Carr! Where I found a ⅜” BSP male to ¼” BSP male reducing adapter. Thankfully I didn’t need to pay extra to overnight the part since they’re just up in Omaha. Anyway…

So that adapter along with the ⅜” BSP female to ⅜” NPT compression meant that I could just buy a standard water supply hose from Home Depot. In fact, the same supply hose I have going from the water filter to the ½” MIP nipple going through the counter.

So one last trip to Home Depot, where I bought a ¾” FHT to ½” MIP adapter and another supply hose.

Despite all the expense going with it, the back and forth trying to figure out the right set of adapters, actually worked out for the better in the end. This final setup is simpler compared to… what I could’ve had. And the hose I ended up using in the end is larger in diameter compared to the one supplied by ECM.

But there are two ways this could’ve been simpler still, provided I could’ve sourced these parts:

  1. ¾” FHT to ⅜” NPT compression hose (for potable water) to eliminate the hose adapter on the valve, or
  2. ¼” BSP male to ⅜” NPT compression fitting adapter to eliminate the adapter combination on the water intake.

Which Koolance, a computer and systems water cooling company, used to sell the latter, but I’m sure they would’ve told me it was not suitable for potable water.

Afterward

As of when this article goes live, I’ve had the direct water connection for a few days now. So how does it compare? Not much different from before. But I didn’t expect it to be much different.

The pressure gauge was the first thing I noticed. When operating from the boiler, it’ll typically rest at 0 unless you’re pulling a shot. Now it should reflect the line water pressure. In my case it’s about 1 BAR, or about 14.5psi, which is optimal for my machine.

I also noticed it a little higher for pulling shots. About 9.5 BAR instead of 9 BAR, in my instance. So this means you may need to dial-in your grinder again.

Otherwise I’m glad this project is done as it means I don’t need to be hunched over in one of the lower kitchen cabinets for anything anymore. At least until the next time the dishwasher or garbage disposal need replaced, which hopefully won’t be for another decade as both are pretty new.

Oh wait… I will need to replace the filter in about 6 months. Damn it…

Don’t just abruptly quit

Over on Reddit’s “Am I the Asshole” subreddit, this question came up a couple days ago:

I had a boss who was a real turd. He labored under the delusion he was an excellent boss and couldn’t put together that his behavior and the crappy pay was why he had such a hard time keeping employees. He also thought it was acceptable to call his female employees hun, sweetie, and sugar. He was a condescending asswipe who consistently passed over more qualified women for promotions in favor of promoting less qualified men. I had to stay until I could find a better job because I enjoy eating, and couldn’t afford to leave unless I had something else. I got an interview with a competitor who hired me on making more than I made with him.

I turned in my two weeks and he said “oh sweetie, you know you can’t leave.” I said I absolutely am leaving. He got the smuggest look on his face and said “Well, I’m not accepting this, sugar. Guess you’re here to stay.” I got so furious and decided that was it. I said “well screw this then, I quit. Effective immediately.” Called my new job, explained what happened in front of him as he sat there slack jawed and agreed start the next day. I packed my stuff and left.

A former coworker said it was an asshole thing for me to just up and quit on the spot, but if he refused to accept the resignation he could easily have tried to screw me over when my last day did come. My new boss says he deserved it and I’m not the asshole for quitting like I did. My boyfriend says he can see how other employees might feel like I was an asshole by making them cover my absence, but sees how I’m not the asshole for walking out of that toxic environment. So just because I’m curious, I thought I’d ask here. AITA?

Yes, she’s the asshole here. So is her boss, don’t get me wrong. But her boss being an asshole doesn’t justify her actions.

Your manager can refuse to accept your resignation

This is the main point that needs to be made. Several people have pointed out that your resignation is not “asking permission to quit”, which is true. It is a notice that you will be leaving. But does your manager have an obligation to accept that resignation? No.

Now this doesn’t mean you can’t leave. Unless a contract says otherwise and your employment is “at will”, you can quit at any time for any reason or none. But remember that how you leave has consequences. Consequences the OP obviously didn’t consider when she let her emotions kick her reasoning abilities out the door so they could steal the show.

More on this later.

Never send your resignation to just your manager

Your resignation really needs to be going to three people in the company: your manager, your HR representative, and your manager’s manager. It really isn’t a good idea to send it just to your manager. And if you don’t have a good rapport with your manager, they may not inform HR of your resignation on your behalf, even if they do “accept” it.

Which opens up a whole new can of worms.

The OP is right when she said this: “if he refused to accept the resignation he could easily have tried to screw me over when my last day did come”. If you believe your manager will try to screw you over on your way out the door, sending your resignation to your HR representative directly along with your manager’s manager makes it a lot less likely that can happen. It doesn’t take the risk down to zero, but it drops it substantially.

Don’t just walk off the job

So what can happen if your manager doesn’t accept your resignation?

Again, he/she may not notify HR that you’ve resigned. And that’s why it’s always best to tell them directly. And if HR isn’t notified that you resigned, if you do leave without them knowing, it looks like you quit abruptly and walked off the job. Not the appearance you want to give. Especially if you expect to use them as a possible reference later. Because if a future prospective employer calls them to verify employment, they can and may tell future prospective employer that you walked off the job.

And you won’t be able to refute that.

And in this instance, if OP finds herself in that situation knowing she did walk off the job, it’ll fast look like she’s badmouthing a previous manager, which is a huge recruitment faux pas. It’ll also look like she’s making shit up since she won’t be able to prove anything she claims. Both of which will torpedo any chance she has. So she’d better hope her now-previous employer doesn’t tell any future prospective employers that she just up and quit. Especially since it sounds like she just left without telling HR why. Which would’ve given her a chance to make a statement about her manager, documenting her claims.

The advance notice (two weeks typical, three if you’re a manager, four or more for executives) became standard to allow for transition and continuation of business with as little disruption as possible given the departure. If you leave abruptly, you leave your employer and team in a precarious situation that could’ve been avoided.

As such, I’ve really got to question the idea the new boss said he deserved it since both are obviously ignoring the collateral damage. It’s like bombing a village to kill a single terrorist: the terrorist might have “deserved” to die, but did everyone else in the village also deserve to die?

As such, did her coworkers and anyone else directly affected by her departure deserve to be put in the situation she left them in?

You have to think beyond just yourself when making these kind of decisions.

But… the boss is a sexist, condescending pig!

That largely doesn’t matter in this circumstance. The boss being an asshole doesn’t justify her actions. The coworker and boyfriend are right. It was an asshole move to abruptly quit on the spot given the precarious situation it left her coworkers.

The right move would’ve been to take her resignation to her manager’s manager and HR. Either walking it to them directly, by e-mail, or however. And letting them know at the same time about the move her direct manager tried to make and letting both of them handle it from there. Given her boss is a sexist, condescending pig, she also could’ve used that to file a formal complaint if one had never been filed against the manager. Which, given his continued conduct, is quite likely since he sounds like a sexual harassment suit just waiting to happen.

Instead she let her emotions get the better of her, and she likely forever tarnished her reputation with that employer, something she may not realize until several years down the line if she intends on leaving her now-current employer.

As such, for the reasons stated above – letting emotion get the better of her and completely ignoring the impact her departure would have on her coworkers and anyone else directly affected – the OP is an asshole.

Context matters

When I received the below solicitation, I really couldn’t believe what I was reading.

Dear Kenneth

I hope you are safe & well during this extraordinary moment in history.

I see that you cite USGovernmentSpending.com on Observations… here.

I’m writing because we’ve a launched a tool at [REDACTED] dot com which I think your users may find useful.

It’s an animated world debt clock, covering 40+ of the world’s biggest economies (from the US to Australia). Unlike the page you currently cite, our debt clock is visual, fully responsive & looks great on mobile (as used by 40-50% of your users in 2020!)

You can take a look here:-

[REDACTED]

Do you think the link would make a useful addition to your page on kennethballard.com, perhaps?

Thank you for your time, Kenneth.

Best wishes,

Joel

PS. Our site has been cited by CNBC & The Huffington Post, and I’d be thrilled if we’d be able to add Observations… to that list, too 😉

And I can’t care that you’ve been cited by CNBC and HuffPo. I’ve been quoted by the BBC. It doesn’t really mean all that much.

So some context…

The article they link is my refutation to a 7-point list of Obama’s “accomplishments”. On my refutation to point 4, I link to USGovernmentSpending.com to show the per-year Federal budget deficits for FY 2005-2015. The site has all kinds of other information about Federal government spending, so check it out if you’re interested and don’t get easily overwhelmed by a lot of numbers and charts. I think I’ve linked to them several times on this site.

So Joel comes around and sees that I link to USGovernmentSpending.com on that article, ignores the context for that link, and asks me to link to his “debt clock”. He doesn’t even properly represent the context of how or why I’m linking to USGovernmentSpending.com. He just says “link to my site”. Which the specific resource in his link (redacted for obvious reasons) was a debt clock for… get this… the UK national debt. Wow…

As someone with a business degree who also studied marketing… this is really sad. Beyond sad actually.

If he’d actually read the article to get the full context around why I linked to usgovernmentspending.com, he would’ve seen quite clearly that his request was nonsensical. Again it’s a link to the per-year Federal government budget deficits and the article doesn’t even mention the total accumulated national debt. It would’ve shown him that his e-mail was a complete waste of time, which is why I largely ignored it and his follow-up till now. And I’m only bringing it up so I actually post something while finishing up a few things I still have in draft.

Beyond that…

I’ve mentioned before this site barely hits the triple-digits in views in a single day. There really is no reason anyone should be sending me these kind of solicitations, as they’ll just end up as another article on my blog showcasing how lazy some people can be. It was Joel’s solicitation that led me to add the blurb at right: that if anyone wants me to actually consider any of the ideas that get sent my way for this site, include it as the message to a non-refundable payment to my PayPal, and then I just might give it the light of day.

But at least I can say that Joel’s request isn’t the most… lazy or stupid I’ve received. That one came back in 2017. I’ll post that one at a later time.

Are they all using the same form letter?

In January 2019, I wrote an article called, quite pointedly, “At least read the article before sending a solicitation“. Well this morning I received an e-mail that, on a second glance, I realized looked… familiar.

Dear Editor,

My name is Jo and I’m an Editor at Happy DIY Home. I was doing research on the Alaskan Malamute vs Siberian Husky and just finished reading your wonderful piece: https://www.kennethballard.com/?p=5621

In that article, I noticed that you cited a solid resource that I’ve come across in the past: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaskan_Malamute

We just published an updated, comprehensive guide on the similarities and differences between the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky on our sister site, [REDACTED]. It is completely free and you can find it here: [REDACTED]

If you like the piece we’d be humbled if you cited us in your article. Of course, we will also share your article with our 100k newsletter subscribers and followers across our social platforms.

Either way, keep up the great work!

Warmly,
Jo

So they note an article in which I posted an e-mail solicitation I received, and then use nearly the exact same e-mail template as what the preceding solicitor used. Seriously? This tells me that “Jo” never read the article. Hasn’t even seen my blog, since that article also hasn’t had any hits in all of 2020.

Instead here’s what likely happened.

A search engine crawling service went looking for web sites that mention “Alaskan Malamute” (which the preceding post did) or “Siberian Husky” (something not mentioned on this site at all till now). The searches are likely limited as well to pages that link to another, such as the noted Wikipedia article. Then an automated service blasted out e-mails to domain owners based on a form template (what used to be called “mail merge“) in which the noted person, “Jo”, claims to have read the article (I know that didn’t happen here) to bait the target into adding a link to their article to boost their site’s search engine placement.

To get more clicks.

Meaning more ad impressions.

And more money.

I wasn’t born yesterday. I know quite well how this works.

And yes, that link to the “mail merge” article is intentional, an attempt to bait another automated system as another test of that hypothesis. If I get a solicitation about “mail merge” or something related to it noting this article, I’ll post that here as well.

In the mean time, I’ll just leave you with the reply I sent back – on which I doubt the e-mail it came from is actually a monitored inbox. (Something else I should consider testing by flooding it with replies.)

Ms Miller,

I can tell quite clearly from your message (quoted below) that you didn’t read the article you note, as I would hope it is very obvious just how nonsensical your request is.

Take a good look at that article if you’re confused by this reply. And while you’re there, look to the right-hand side of the page and you’ll see a section called “On Solicitations and Inquiries”.

Thank you, Duracell

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m a hobbyist photographer. Back in December I had a photoshoot with a then-10 year-old girl at a local park under Christmas lights. Knowing I’d be using my flash, I bought an extra set of AA batteries – specifically the Duracell Optimum AA 4-pack.

Didn’t need the batteries during that shoot, so I just held onto them. Fast forward to a couple Fridays ago. I had another night photoshoot with a local graduate. And during the shoot the batteries in my flash kept overheating. So I opted to try to switch them out for the spares, the aforementioned Duracell batteries. But when my wife and I went to open the packet, we discovered the batteries had corroded. An unopened, unused set of batteries.

So a couple nights later, I wrote in to Duracell through the online form. (Unfortunately I didn’t copy off what I sent.) And I attached a few pictures of the batteries and the packaging.

I’ve always believed that what sets a company apart isn’t whether they managed to distribute defective items, since that’s an inescapable reality, but what they do when a customer reports having one. In this instance, Duracell sent me a replacement set of batteries, which I received tonight.

An 8-pack replacement set of AA Duracell Optimum batteries.

Responding to a knife with a firearm

LA Times Letters to the Editor: “Why do police officers keep shooting people armed with knives?

Oh this is a good one…

To the editor: I read with interest Steve Lopez’s column on another police shooting of a man armed with a knife. These shootings first caught my eye in 1979.

At the time, I was in law school when two Los Angeles Police Department officers shot Eula Love multiple times. The 39-year-old Love was holding a steak knife and arguing about why her gas was turned off over a $22 bill.

After reading of these incidents over 40 years, I have picked up a couple of themes. First, officers across the country are permitted to use combat fire, where they empty their guns at the suspect irrespective of opposing risks.

Second, police do not resort to alternative weapons, such as bean bags or even .22-caliber short bullets, often enough. Each LAPD squad car is loaded with special technology; is a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun the only option?

If we agree a solution is needed, and we do, my first suggestion is a requirement to hire only college graduates with a degree in criminology.

Kevin H. Park, Westlake Village

It’s interesting that he’d call out “.22-caliber short bullets”, which I presume he means the .22LR, as if it’s somehow less lethal than a 9mm pistol. Out of the right firearm, it’s actually MORE lethal.

But let’s get to the base question: why do police officers use their firearms against a threat armed with a knife? For much the same reason they will shoot someone carrying a firearm if that person refuses to follow orders. When someone is armed with a deadly weapon, on which I hope we can all agree a knife qualifies, the only logistically-sound way to neutralize that threat is with deadly force. And the best deadly force for neutralizing a threat while still keeping distance from that threat is… a firearm.

How villains use knives in movies is far different from what happens in reality. In reality, a person armed with a knife can close distance and kill or seriously injure a target very quickly. Even in the hands of someone who isn’t all that skilled, a blade weapon can pose a significant threat.

This video is older, but it still shows the reality of how quickly a situation can change when you don’t know the person is armed with a knife. But even if you know they have one and the knife is in plain view, it’s still possible to get surprised and ambushed.

And that is why police officers respond with deadly force.

Police shootings are still very much in the spotlight after several high-profile shootings in recent years. And while it has rightly caused people to question the use of deadly force by police, it has also revealed the ignorance of the general public with these type of circumstances. Since many believe a person armed with a weapon that is not a firearm, or isn’t armed at all, cannot be a deadly threat to a police officer or civilian. And such is evident in the above letter to the editor, and the continual emphasis on “unarmed” with regard to Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin.

A tip for street photographers

I’ve been a photographer for over a year and a half. Hobbyist only. Not really doing anything professional yet.

And I love shooting pictures of strangers, since it’s always different, always new. Indeed a lot of the pictures I’ve taken have been of strangers out in public, with their permission. And when I do that, I tend to also ask if they want the pictures and hand over a business card if they do. But with one little trick.

On the back of the business card I write a 4-digit number. Not just some random 4-digit number, but a number off one of the picture files from the camera. This way when they write back into me, I can easily tell who is writing in if I happen to photograph multiple people when I’m out. Not everyone contacts me. And I didn’t always do this, either.

But it proved fruitful today.

Back on June 14, I took a couple pictures of two women out biking, and gave them a business card with a corresponding 4-digit number on the back. If I don’t hear from someone for at least a week, I presume I’m not going to. So I wrote off ever hearing from them. But one of the two wrote to me today to request the pictures, noting the 4-digit number on the back of the card while also noting they were out biking. My card got buried in her bag, and she found it when cleaning it out. Without the number, I would not have been able to locate the pictures without asking a few more questions.

So moral of the story: if you take pictures of someone in public, don’t just hand them a business card. Write some additional information on the back so you can locate the pictures afterward, such as the 4-digit file number sequence from your camera.

They’re adapting

This one is a little different from the previous ones I’ve received, but still the same pattern. Interestingly this time they’re demanding Ethereum instead of Bitcoin. I actually used to mine Ethereum several years ago, the money from which helped fund the purchase of my house and the move into it.

Hey, some time ago your computer was infected with my private software, RAT (Remote Administration Tool).

My software gave me access to all your accounts, contacts and it was possible to spy on you over your webcam.

That’s why I know that at the time of infection your password was: [REDACTED]

Sometimes I was spying on you and then once I was shocked seeing you started to MASTRUBATE, so I recorded you with the software called: Bandicam, Google it if you want.

I can share the video of you with all your friends, contacts, post it on social networks and everywhere else.

You can stop me, send 500$ with the cryptocurrency Ethereum (ETH).

It’s easy to buy Ethereum (ETH), for example here: bitvavo.com , btcdirect.eu , anycoindirect.eu , binance.com , or Google another exchanger.

My Ethereum (ETH) wallet is: 0x4562B3eEa33b3eb4Ed2e08719A05421e06E452f4

Yes that’s how the wallet looks like, copy and paste it.

After receiving the payment, I will remove everything and you never hear from me again.

You got 2 days time!

Next time update your browser before browsing the web, so you won’t get infected again!

Update 2020-07-16: I received this exact same e-mail again this morning. With the same ETH wallet. Sadly it does appear that one person has paid this fake “ransom”, so spread the word that these type of e-mails are not what they claim to be. They don’t have a video of you “enjoying yourself”, and the scammers blast these e-mails out to thousands of e-mail addresses in an automated fashion hoping someone will pay up.

A more intelligent radiator box

Build Log:

Last I left this series, I mentioned a next step was making the radiator box smarter. The current iteration of the radiator box now includes intelligent control and monitoring of the fans and monitoring of the pump, liquid flow rate, and temperatures. I also removed the DDC pump and figured out how to get the D5 back into the system while also upgrading the power supply. Sounds like a lot went into this, doesn’t it?

First, here’s the current bill of materials (not including fittings, tubing, and wiring):

  • Mountain Mods Pedestal (18″x18″x9″) with 9x120mm side panel1I had to special-request the 9x120mm side panel by placing an order for an 18×18 panel and adding in the order comment that I wanted the 9x120mm panel.
  • 3x XSPC EX-360 triple-120mm radiators
  • 9x Cougar CF-V12HB fans
  • 3x Nanoxia Deep Silence 120mm 1300RPM fans2Appears to have been discontinued, 1500mm PWM is available
  • Koolance PMP-450 D5 Vario pump
    • AlphaCool HF D5 clear acrylic housing3The AlphaCool clear acrylic housing has since been discontinued
    • 13x13mm M4 male-female vibration isolators
  • Koolance INS-FM17N and ADT-FM03 (needed together)
  • XS-PC G¼” temperature sensor plug
  • EKWB EK-RES X3 250mm reservoir
    • Singularity Computers4As of this writing, I continue to support Singularity Computers via their Patreon Ethereal Single (black)
    • Mounting Rail 120
  • Bulkhead fittings – 1x black (outflow), 1x silver (inflow)
  • Koolance QD3-MSG4 (x1) and QD3-MSG4-BK  (x1)
  • NiuGuy Peculiarity 12V 8.5A (100W) power supply
  • EAO Series 82 vandal-resistance switch
  • C14 panel-mount plug
  • Aquacomputer aquaero 6 LT
  • SMAKN 12v to 5V/3A voltage regulator

And obviously you’ll need fittings, tubing, and wire. I used terminal blocks for helping with wiring all this up, so I’d recommend either that or bus bars. It just made things a hell of a lot easier.

Corsair Commander Pro

I mentioned a couple ways to approach this. Initially I went with the Corsair iCUE Commander Pro since it has temperature sensing (standard 10kΩ resistance sensor). The NZXT Grid+ doesn’t have that. Monitoring coolant temperature allows you to set up curves based on that coolant temperature.

I have two temperature sensors: one before the radiators and one after the radiators and before the reservoir. With the iCUE software, I could set up fan curves based on the coolant temperature. The rear fans – Nanoxia Deep Silence 120mm – would run at a near-constant, quiet RPM.

But there was one difficulty that I’d previously mentioned: it appeared to need all three voltages from the SATA power connector.

Or so I thought.

It will function without the 3.3V line. That voltage is likely required only if you’re planning to use LEDs.

Connecting to USB

Connecting this to my system, however, proved interested.

The USB connector on the Commander Pro is a 9-pin motherboard header connector, so I needed an adapter to turn that into two (2) Type A USB plugs, which could then be plugged into a USB hub to give one Type A plug. Which is where this comes in, the modDIY CAB138:

This turned the 9-pin header from the Commander Pro into two USB Type-A plugs. Then I used a USB hub to combine them. Probably could’ve gone with the version that gives a single Type-A plug, but I at least knew before I tried it that this would work.

Proof of concept

Before actually putting this into the radiator box, I needed a proof of concept to ensure it would still operate powered by a separate power supply than the main system. I connected the radiator fans to the first three (3) fan ports, and the rear fan trio to the fourth (4th) fan port. The two temperature sensors I plugged into the first two temperature sensor ports. I left the pump powered by the radiator box power supply. I used a separate power supply to power the Commander Pro.

And it worked beautifully.

But then it is a USB device, and I believe the USB standard requires devices to be able to work with a power supply separate from that of the system it’s plugged into if the entire device isn’t powered directly off the USB port – e.g. keyboard, mouse, and some external storage devices.

Back to the D5

I couldn’t get the PWM DDC to consistently run at full speed, or anything higher than minimum speed, for very long. So I decided to stop trying. The power supply I was using may have been part of the issue, but it was difficult to say for sure. And with having snipped off the plug to screw it into a terminal block, I couldn’t just plug it into another power supply to test.

So back to the D5, which is not PWM.

The vibration isolation mounts I had previously are 10x10mm M4 (from AlphaCool). And I ordered 13x13mm M4 vibration isolators instead. Couldn’t find the original mounts, and didn’t want to wait long for replacements.

Wiring everything up

While waiting for the new vibration isolation mounts to arrive, I drained the loop and tore down the box with the intent of wiring everything up. I did not cut the SATA plug off the Commander Pro – which turned out to be very fortunate.

I retained the terminal block, but cleaned up the wiring. The Commander Pro meant I could remove the voltage regulator I was using to lock the fans at 7V. In its place went another 4-circuit terminal block for wiring up a SATA connector to power the Commander Pro, with a step-down regulator connecting the 12V line to the 5V line.

Along with controlling the fans and watching the pump speed and coolant temperature, I also incorporated a flow monitor: Koolance INS-FM17N and the corresponding frequency adapter ADT-FM03, which converts the flow meter’s signal into an RPM signal. The Commander Pro, D5 pump, and flow meter all mean more power is needed for this as well.

I’d thought the 12V/5A power supply I bought for this was running borderline – though a Kill-A-Watt tells me otherwise – but then the DDC pump also wasn’t running at full speed or anywhere close. But to be on the safe side, I opted to upgrade the power supply to an 8.5A model, which also provided two (2) 12V outputs. This presented a slight challenge to the wiring.

With the previous iteration, the vandal-resistant switch – rated at 5A – was inline with the 12V circuit. And even then that wasn’t a great idea: you should always have headroom with electrical components, such as by not using a 5A rated switch on a circuit that could have 5A current flowing through it. Instead I should have always had it connected on the AC hot line.

And the prospect of current exceeding the switch’s rating left me with no choice this time. The switch is rated at 250VAC/5A, well above the rated current for the power supply, meaning it’s suitable to be used as a DC or AC switch up to the rated current.

Out with the Commander Pro

Not long after I completed the upgrades to the box, the Commander Pro started having… issues. Fan ports were dying off one by one. Port 2 died first, then port 1.

Doing some research, a bunch of forum posts I found said the Commander Pro has issues with fan splitters. Three-way splitters notably, which is how I had the fans connected: 12 fans in four (4) groups of three (3). Nothing in the manual or documentation says to not use splitters, or to not use three-way splitters. Indeed the manual implies they will work: max current per fan channel is 1A, 4.5A combined across all six (6) channels.

I have Cougar CF-V12HB fans on the radiators. The sticker on the back says 0.2A at 12V. The cross-flow fans are Nanoxia Deep Silence 120mm 1300RPM fans, which are rated at 0.16A. So well under 1A per channel – .48A for the Nanoxia group, and .6A for each group of the Cougar fans – and only about 2.3A combined for the fan channels. So what gives?

So out with the Commander Pro. The Grid+ V3 isn’t an option here as well since it supports at most 5W (0.4A) per channel, meaning only 1 or 2 fans. Plus it doesn’t have temperature monitoring.

So back to the drawing board. Along with filing a warranty replacement claim with Corsair.

Aquacomputer aquaero

This was about the only way I could see to get everything working optimally. My choice ultimately was the aquaero 6 LT or the aquaero 5 LT, with or without a Power Adjust 3.

The aquaero 5 and 6 both have only 4 fan channels. The aquaero 5 LT supports up to 1.65A per fan channel, while the aquaero 6 supports up to 2.5A. Either would make a good option for the radiator box. For the aquaero 5, I could split the nine (9) radiator fans between two fan channel. Fan controllers in the aquasuite can be set up for multiple outputs.

But having the fans split would mean a more complicated setup. Using the PowerAdust 3 would also mean a more complicated setup since I’d have to figure out how to run power to it. With the aquaero 6 LT, on the other hand, I could have all radiator fans on one channel using one of the NZXT Grid fan hubs I already have.

So ultimately I went with the aquaero 6 LT. Here’s how I have everything connected:

  • Fan 1: Radiator fans
  • Fan 2: Rear fans
  • Fan 3: RPM sensor from pump
  • Flow 1: Flow meter (calibration = 200 in aquasuite)
  • Temp 1: Radiator out to reservoir
  • Temp 2: Radiator in from system
  • Temp 3: Internal air temperature sensor

Conflicting signals

One… issue with some fan hubs and splitter cables: they don’t isolate the RPM signal to just one connection. The NZXT Grid was one, and the ModMyToys splitters also don’t isolate the fan signal to just one fan. That signal isolation is necessary or the competing signals will confuse whatever is reading it, meaning you won’t get an accurate RPM signal.

The PowerAdust 3 provides for that signal isolation without the need to modify it, meaning it’s the ideal out-of-the-box solution. Modifying one of the Grid hubs, however, was pretty simple: clip off the RPM signal pin from all but one of the plugs.

Rebuilding the radiator box

Rewiring the radiator box wasn’t difficult, though there was quite a bit that needed to be undone. I also took this as a chance to do what I should’ve done: move the power plugs for the fans to the other end of the radiator so they aren’t crowded against the rear fans, which has led to fans being inadvertently disconnected. Plus they reach the Grid while still being able to be tucked out of the way.

The aquaero LT is an aquaero XT without the LCD display. On the back of the device is a pin array that would connect to the screen and control panel – not sold separately from what I can find. The standoffs that are preinstalled allow clearance for those pins, but it complicates mounting it, since I can’t just put double-sided tape on the back of it.

The aquaero is designed to fit into a 5¼ drive bay, so a 5¼ drive bay cover from an old black chassis works out for this quite nicely. Just needed to drill holes for the screws. If you don’t have any of these lying around, you can buy them online for dirt cheap, or just use a strip of aluminum – which I nearly did till I realized this as an option.

I bought a sacrificial LP4 extension cable with a right-angle connector for powering this from the terminal block. The rest of the wiring was pretty straightforward. The pump and flow meter are powered from one of the 12V circuits, and the aquaero is powered from the other with the 12V to 5V regulator providing the 5V line.

Note: I put the aquaero on the radiator box wall before I started in on the power cable. Made it much easier to get near-exact lengths.

All fans are plugged into the fan control ports on the aquaero, with the pump RPM sensor plugged into Fan 3. The flow meter is plugged into the Flow 1 port. The flow rate that is displayed by aquasuite is 10x the actual approximate flow rate, though, as I can’t enter a calibration value high enough to compensate. I’d need to enter 2000 (1000 is the max allowed), so I have it set at 200.

For the time being, I have the USB cable for the aquaero plugged into the USB adapter and hub shown earlier. For the final USB connection, I want something that could be panel mounted so I don’t have a cable dangling out of it. I’ll figure that out later. That would be really the only change to this box that I would make aside from, perhaps, swapping out fans.

Performance

Since the time I finished the radiator box and published this article, I upgraded my system from the i7-5820k to the Ryzen 7 3700X with an X470 mainboard. The mainboard and CPU were the only components to be swapped out. So with the D5 pump back in the box and the fan curves configured, how is the performance?

For reference, the CPU is overclocked to 4.3GHz and the GPU is overclocked to +125 on the core, +500 on the memory through MSI Afterburner.

Running OCCT on “CPU: OCCT”, Test mode: “Small Data Set” with Furmark in the background at 1080p windowed, it took about 30 minutes for the coolant to reach equilibrium with the fan curves I had set, topping out a little north of 32.6°C (about 90.7°F) at the radiator inlet, a little under 31.5°C (about 88.7°F) at the radiator outlet (coolant going back to the reservoir), with the radiator fans at about 836rpm. (Note: the time showed on the OCCT test is after I had to restart it after an error).

Click on the image to see it full-size. Word of caution: it’s a 4K screenshot.

As you can tell, the fans are well under 1000RPM, the general threshold for “silent” for even already-quiet fans, so there was no fan noise and virtually no pump noise as well. Any noise from this setup is coming from the fans in the NZXT H440, which I’ve been meaning to replace for a while and just haven’t gotten around to.

I added in the PowerPanel image to show how much power my entire system (including my dual 4K televisions) is drawing from the wall under load. It peaks at a little over 500W.

References[+]

More of the same

Slightly different from previous e-mails I’ve received, but otherwise still more of the same.

Hi!

I’m a hacker who hacked your operating system a few months ago.

This means that I have full access to your account:
At the time of hacking your account([REDACTED]) had this password: [REDACTED]

You can say: this is my, but old password!
Or: I can change my password at any time!

Of course! You will be right,
but the fact is that when you change the password, my malicious code every time saved a new one!

I’ve been watching you for a few months now.
But the fact is that you were infected with malware through an adult site that you visited.

If you are not familiar with this, I will explain.
Trojan Virus gives me full access and control over a computer or other device.
This means that I can see everything on your screen, turn on the camera and microphone, but you do not know about it.

I also have access to all your contacts and all your correspondence from e-mail and messangers.

Why your antivirus did not detect my malware?
Answer: My malware uses the driver, I update its signatures every 4 hours so that your antivirus is silent.

I made a video showing how you masturbate in the left half of the screen, and in the right half you see the video that you watched.
With one click of the mouse, I can send this video to all your emails and contacts on social networks. I can also post access to all your e-mail correspondence and messengers that you use.

If you want to prevent this, transfer the amount of $950 to my bitcoin address (if you do not know how to do this, write to Google: “Buy Bitcoin”).

My bitcoin address (BTC Wallet) is: 1PNzJwB1CuVnKqKJQnu31E5ckiz9VxTcND

After receiving the payment, I will delete the video and you will never hear me again.
I give you 48 hours to pay.
I have a notice reading this letter, and the timer will work when you see this letter.

Filing a complaint somewhere does not make sense because this email cannot be tracked like my bitcoin address.
I do not make any mistakes.

If I find that you have shared this message with someone else, the video will be immediately distributed.
Bye!