need to fabricate some type of insulated computer tower mount

jesusgatos

Explorer
I finished-up the last of the cabinets and all of the woodwork at Davis Cabinets last week, and now I'm working on the electrical and plumbing and all that fun stuff.

One of the things I need to do is design/build some type of insulated mount for my computer, which is going to sit in this cabinet (on the slide-out tray). I'm going to be living AND working out of this vehicle, so I wanted to make room for a fullsize tower.

Here's a picture to help everyone see what I'm working with:



So how would you guys tackle this? I was thinking about sandwiching the tower between two pieces of foam (top & bottom), like we do with radiators on off-road vehicles. I figured that I could make a little sheetmetal top-cap and then use something like tie-down straps to keep things tight. Any better ideas?

Here's a picture of a rig from the outside:
 

bmonday

Adventurer
Honestly, I'd ditch the case entirely. Cases are filled with too much empty space most of the time, and will probably inhibit cooling in an enclosed spot like that. Bolt everything to a sheet of plywood that can slide in there, or screw it directly to the sides of the enclosure and use the leftover space for something else.

Just make sure you ground everything back to the power supply. And if you're feeling adventurous (I'm confident with a rig like that, you're somewhat adventurous), put a small opening in the back of the cabinet so the power supply's fan can vent outside the enclosure.

Beau
 

angusdevil

Adventurer
I would HIGHLY suggest getting more air flow and cooling into that cabinet. I used a lot of towers in road cases when I traveled with a band recording them. After the first two shows, we had to add in 2 6" fans front and back to keep the air moving through there to keep temperatures down.

What's your reasoning for needing insulation? Cold will not be an issue.

I say put your tower in there, and find a way to strap it down, add a couple in and out fans to the side and call it a day. You can even have the fans be powered off the motherboard so you're not having to do any more electrical runs. The goal is to get as much airflow in there that you can.
 

ntsqd

Heretic Car Camper
Water cooled CPU :coffeedrink:

Insulation or Isolation?

If the latter, and I can see that this might be necessary, I'd look into the various vibration isolators on the market. McMaster and Reid Tool are decent starting points.
Tension strap the tower (lacking it's cover?) to a base plate that is then vibe isolation mounted to the tray.

Might see about ducting the heat to someplace beneficial like the enclosure for the water heater or......
 

Cody1771

Explorer
yeah i definatly agree that you should put some fans on the case, nexxtec makes 120V fans and there are tons of 12V fans around. and even 24 for that matter. as far as vibration goes we used these guys to make vibration dampers for the alarm and monitering computers on the ship we work on http://www.barrycontrols.com/ i know for a fact they take one HELL of a beating since we see some pretty hairy weather. im sure they will work great for your applications.

ill get some pictures up in a while. after dinner maybe

Edit managed to dig up the exact model of isolators we are using : http://www.barrycontrols.com/defenseandindustrial/productselectionguide/data/LMountSeries.aspx

 
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jesusgatos

Explorer
What's your reasoning for needing insulation? Cold will not be an issue.
Insulation or Isolation?
Yeah... the second one. I'm concerned about vibration, not regulating temperature.

I guess it might not be a bad idea to ditch the whole case. I'll have to think about that, but I know that some CPU's actually run hotter without their cases because the fans. It's kind of hard to see in that picture, but that cabinet door is cut out (I put a mesh screen over it) and I'm planning on putting an exhaust fan/vent in the outside wall.

Thanks for all the input.
 

Incusus

Adventurer
If you must put it in a cabinet (which I actualy think is a good idea because you can build in air filtration...) add two 120mm case fans from a server, server cabinet, or gaming pc. mount one in front pointing in, one in back venting. This should give a decent enough air exchange to keep the internal temp moderate.

I wonder if you couldn't build a small module on the side of the enclosure with a heat exchanger of some sort where you can direct the liquid from the cooling system and cool it there, further lowering the cabinet temp?

for isolation from vibration, maybe turntable vibration units??

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/Magazine/equipment/1203/isolationshootout.htm


cheers, wonderful vehicle, by the way!
 

RHINO

Expedition Leader
so should i ask the obvious question about why not a laptop?
as for isolation, i dont think you'll have much to worry about, foam pad should be just fine.
this place has some real neat ideas, most cost money but you can get some ideas anyway. http://www.mp3car.com/
 

jesusgatos

Explorer
so should i ask the obvious question about why not a laptop?
as for isolation, i dont think you'll have much to worry about, foam pad should be just fine.
this place has some real neat ideas, most cost money but you can get some ideas anyway. http://www.mp3car.com/
Well, I've got a Macbook Pro that I use most of the time, but it doesn't run SolidWorks as well as my dedicated CAD workstation. And thanks for the link to that forum. Actually just registered there earlier today.
 

R_Lefebvre

Expedition Leader
I did a 4 month internship at DY4 Systems a long time ago. DY4 makes mission-critical computer systems for military and aerospace applications. Missiles, Abrams tanks, etc.

They used many Commercial Off The Shelf components for their lower end products. Standard processors, etc. They didn't employ any fancy shock systems or water cooling, or anything like that. The boards custom, and ruggedized using aluminum frames and spars. Heat was conducted away into the chassis using heavy copper layers in the circuit board. Interesting stuff.
 

jesusgatos

Explorer
I did a 4 month internship at DY4 Systems a long time ago. DY4 makes mission-critical computer systems for military and aerospace applications. Missiles, Abrams tanks, etc.

They used many Commercial Off The Shelf components for their lower end products. Standard processors, etc. They didn't employ any fancy shock systems or water cooling, or anything like that. The boards custom, and ruggedized using aluminum frames and spars. Heat was conducted away into the chassis using heavy copper layers in the circuit board. Interesting stuff.
Cool. Any advice about this particular application?
 

R_Lefebvre

Expedition Leader
Yeah, I don't think you should use a desktop PC. It's just not made for it. I'm not sure you could get the shock system to work long term. Just get a cheap laptop, preferable with a solid state hard drive. I'm running ProE on my laptop, it works fine.

Couple other idea from my experience with electronics in an industrial setting: You should only have fan pushing into the case, and let it free exhaust. The fan should be drawing through a filter. This pressurizes the case with filtered air, so that any inevitable leaks do not allow dust inside.

If you must use a desktop... I'd mount the MB to a rigid aluminum plate, including stiffener ribs or pillars to the center of the board, if possible, to prevent flexing of the board in the center. This is what will kill it over time. Also, all wiring must be rigidly restrained to prevent them from fatiguing as well.
 
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jesusgatos

Explorer
OK. Thanks for the input. I definitely want to incorporate some type of hard-wired, dedicated computer into this vehicle, since it's going to be 'da brains' (music/entertainment, climate control, video monitoring, etc.). And I'd have to spend a ****-ton of money on a laptop to get the performance out of it that I've got in this desktop (not that it's anything special).

What's going to fail? The motherboard? The hard-drives? I didn't think this would be such a big deal, but I can get serious about building a better computer case/mount if I need to.

I'm planning on installing a simple foam filter behind that mesh, but we're going to be running and air filtration/pressurization system like this, so I wasn't TOO worried about air quality. Should I be?

Appreciate all the help.
 

R_Lefebvre

Expedition Leader
Obviously that would help a lot, but I think you'll still get dust in the cab, on your boots, on your pants, etc. A filter on the incoming air for the computer would help too.

I think a desktop hard drive is a complete no-no, they just aren't made to take any vibration. A laptop drive would be better, or a solid state is best.

Yes, the motherboard itself can fail. We studied this in depth, including testing all computer designs on a shaker table. Basically a 50,000 W subwoofer speaker. ;) Viewed with a strobe light, the motherboard flexes about 1" each way, and that's *with* the stiffener ribs. That flexing back and forth eventually causes the pins on the chips to fail. Ditto any wiring.

If you are *going* to go this route, I think you'd need a pretty serious suspension system. I'm thinking 6" of movement in each direction. Basically, suspend the computer within a damping system. Perhaps using oil-filled shock absorbers from hobby-store quality RC cars. Overall, I don't think you'll achieve what you want for anything less than a laptop will cost.

On the other hand, this could be one of those things all the engineers will tell you won't work, and you go and do it, and it works just fine. <shrug> It happens.

All I know is the M1A1 Abrams had a PC inside it for systems, using off the shelf componentry, but they did not just stick a Gateway PC inside a box. Serious money was spent.
 
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