[clug] Submerged PC (White Oil) & TV Capture Cards

steve jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Tue Jan 5 00:12:50 MST 2010

Jeff Stiff wrote on 5/01/10 3:21 PM:
> G'Day List,
> I am looking at trying my MythTV server submerged in White Oil, and have a
> question that hopefully someone on the list may know the answer to.
> I know most of the PC components should be fine submerged, the hard disks
> will remain out of the oil, BUT what about the TV Capture Cards?  I assume
> that since there are no moving parts these should be fine, but it would be a
> bit of an expensive test if I kill the cards.
> All the other hardware is just about dead anyway, so I have nothing to lose
> if it all goes wrong, expect for the capture cards.
> Any advice appreciated.
> Cheers,
> Jeff.

There has to be a good reason that high-end systems don't use this
seemingly simple and expedient scheme...
[Cray-1 used a freon bath, now banned]

Not to say it can't be made work for you and your problem.

I'd be leery of the fire/explosion risk (hot oil + electrical spark).
The Almighty Mess possibility (klutz factor = 100 in my house).
The "How The Heck do you Clean It?" problem.
[Degrease, wash, rinse, dry, repeat, before touching anything.]

But more importantly, none of the components is rated for this

Seriously, did anyone see the "Top Gear" program where they grew a field
of oil-seed and raced a diesel BMW fuelled by it??

Although the engine ran OK, they had a *major* "oops" - the higher than
normal methanol (??) content destroyed the seals on something expensive
and critical (injector pump?). I think that was after they'd preped the
engine to run on the vegie oil too...

Summary: Good fun to try, but I'd treat everything 'in the tank' as
disposable and expect a significant reduction in usable life.

Plus, for *my* peace-of-mind, I'd want a good fire suppressing system
(but my background working with dangerous and/or flammable chemicals
makes me paranoid this way).

Love to hear what you decide to go with!
Definitely an interesting project :-)




"Experienced users should be clear on one thing:
 the large quantity of liquid in the case also involves risks.

"Much damage could occur, for example, in case of an oil leak - water
would be a much lesser evil in this scenario, but due to the free ions
it cannot be used.

"Even the smallest of impurities lead therefore to ionizing, followed by
leak currents.

"When exchanging components, all of the oil might have to be drained and
the hardware cleaned.

"That is why we mounted a rubber stopper on the floor of our case to
aide in emptying.

"The aggressiveness of individual types of oil (above all those with a
high fatty acid content) when it comes to plastics should not be taken

"For simplicity's sake, we decided on vegetable oil - but we recommend
motor oil.

Steve Jenkin, Info Tech, Systems and Design Specialist.
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin

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