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

Jeff Stiff smee.heee at gmail.com
Tue Jan 5 02:34:30 MST 2010

2010/1/5 steve jenkin <sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au>

> 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]
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cray-1>
> 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
> use/environment.
> <Snipped>
> 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).
> G'Day Steve,

Agree that none of the components are designed for this, but the mob at the
link I posted earlier have had the machine running for more than a year.  If
I get another year out of this troublesome hardware, I'll be happy.  Only
components that are essentially end of life are going into the oil bath,
with the exception of the TV cards.  I am hessitant about putting those in,
but I guess if I get a year out of the system then pci-express cards might
be working "correctly" by then.
The issue of fire, hopefully is low.  I believe that the white oil has a
very high ignition level, but of course maybe a stray spark could be a
problem.  I will be watching the temp of the components and the oil for the
first few weeks very closely.

I might start with just 1 capture card in the machine, so if it all fails I
still have the other 3 to put in the new hardware.

The machine is almost useless as it is now, on any hot day, if you ask it to
do something, like watch a video etc, the CPU temp spikes to above 100c,
according to gKrellm, and the machine shuts down.  Winter is not too bad, as
it can do a couple of things, but you still need to watch it.  Sitting idle
the machine runs at about 70c, all other machines in the house seem to sit
around 30-40.

So, I agree with the caution, but as above, with the exception of the tv
cards, all the hardware is destined for the scrap draw anyway.

The system will be in a 40 litre glass fish tank, which may live for a few
weeks inside a plastic tub just in case of failure, as clean-up will not be

Will keep the list posted of progress once it starts.  (Might even run the
backend in the garage for a few weeks, as an oil spill out there will not be
as bad as in the lounge on the carpet.)

Thanks all for the feedback, and the links.


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