Saturday, June 27, 2009

Butt Paste!

Ok, I'm not one to usually make endorsements, but sometimes the human creature suffers from some awful afflictions. While I'm glad I'm not beset upon by the same malady this guy acquired, I've had a little problem that was just plain bugging me.

Since the weather's been so nice, I've been riding my new aluminum, full-suspension, disc-braked mountain bike hither and yon, plus pushing the mower around the estate, walking two dogs at regular intervals, and generally doing all I can do to forget that the winter doldrums are but a few months away again.

Unfortunately, I forgot about the chafing that can occur down there, especially as the heat and humidity of the season sets in.

Ouch. There's really no delicate way to say it, other than "ouch".

So I'm digging through the medicine cabinet, looking for Desenex, Lotrimin, anything.

No luck, but by Gawd, there is a sample packet of something called Doc Boudreaux's Butt Paste sitting there, with a cartoon of a baby sporting a goofy look on his face. What the heck - I may as well give it a try.

Holy Cow! It cleared up within 24 hours! I mean cleared up, with nothing to show a prior problem.

The results spiked my curiosity, and I start Googling for other mentions of Butt Paste and non-baby applications. It turns out major league baseball and football teams are buying the stuff in one pound tubs, it's just that good.

Something tells me that if my buddy Eddie used Boudreaux's Butt Paste, he wouldn't look so anguished.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Best Budweiser commercial, ever!

Not safe for either broadcast television, or one's work computer, but I'm still laughing!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I saw Roberta's rotary phone...

It does my heart good to know they're still being used.

This is the one on my computer desk, and it's obnoxious as hell when it rings:

Back in my previous, pre-retirement life, it served a different purpose. When it rang, it meant that those of us lucky to be on alert duty had best boogie to the 8-engined jet - posthaste!

Now when it rings, it usually means I'm supposed to pick up something at the store for my wife, etc. That Western Electric ringer, btw, drives the dogs absolutely bonkers!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The traffic lights turn blue tomorrow...

Ok, maybe not the traffic lights, but my office is emitting a lot of blue light right about now.

That's actually a good thing, because the little offspring of Big Blue just got finished, and it's working rather well - considerably better than my expectations.

Lest we forget, I replaced these humongous copper/steel heatsinks and plastic wind tunnel shroud:

With these waterblocks, in an effort to reduce CPU temperatures and the noise associated with the fans trying to maintain temperatures below 140 degrees Fahrenheit:

Once everything was installed, and the system filled, burped, and leak-tested, it was time to go live with the show. I started 4 concurrent examples of "Toast" to get all 4 processors running at 100% utilization, making it as hot as I could possibly get it, and let it run in that configuration for another 12 hours:

The results? CPU temperatures never rose above 38 degrees Celsius the entire time. Considering I had been over 58 degrees Celsius prior to the water cooling upgrade, that's pretty darned spiffy!

Xeon #1's temperature, as displayed by the system's control panel:

In fact, the hottest component measured by the 3 temperature probes attached to the Exos system is the motherboard's air-cooled Northbridge chip, which reports around 41-42 degrees Celsius via Probe #3. Probes #1 and #2 are attached to each Xeon CPU, and they appear to be quite happy living in their new, cooler environment.

I'll call it a success, for now. There are some questions that remain to be answered over time, however, before I commit to calling it an unqualified success.

1. Does the special blue coolant (Which smells a lot like antifreeze) actually prevent galvanic corrosion between the aluminum radiator and copper waterblocks?

2. Do I change that pretty blue coolant at yearly intervals as the manual states, or sooner?

3. Do those tiny millimeter-size bubbles circulating at high speed in the tubing ever really go away?

4. Will the gurgling in the reservoir diminish over time?

5. How often do I blow the dust out of the radiator?

6. If an Exos 2.0 can dissipate 750 watts of heat, does that mean it would behoove me to eventually migrate to an Exos 2.5 with 1000 watt capability to drop Monolith's temps even lower?

7. Should I add Northbridge and video card water cooling? Adding more waterblocks to the current loop will only raise CPU temps...

I'm sure there are more concerns, but for now, the system's working pretty well. It doesn't look too shabby, either. Here it is all buttoned up, sitting on the rack with its CI Design SCSI hard drive tower, keeping my 1948 Tucker company. Note the 41 degree Northbridge temperature, and the Datum/Symmetricom programmable time system master clock for the entire home network:

Now I have 4 other identical workstations scattered about the house to modify accordingly. The fun never ends!

Friday, June 12, 2009

How to plumb an IBM...

Granted, this isn't a StarDrive with a water-cooled Klystron tube in the final output stage, but converting a multi-CPU IBM workstation to liquid cooling does require some planning and attention to details in assembly.

I had to remove the huge copper and stainless steel IBM heatsinks, then remove the metal heatsink mounting brackets from the motherboard. This allowed me to install the new metal waterblock mounting brackets for the conversion. Here's one mounting bracket and waterblock installed, with the remaining processor waiting for bracket replacement and waterblock installation:

Here are both waterblocks mounted sitting on an ultra-thin layer of Arctic Silver 5 with thermocouple probes attached via black wires, ready for plumbing:

The tubing attaches to the external cooling unit and waterblocks by means of well-designed compression fittings. That means no leaks, and no fiddling with hose clamps. I installed a drain valve in the radiator return line, and by cracking it in conjunction with the reservoir's fill plug, I was able to add the blue coolant with less air blocking the lines. Here it is, coolant running through the system for 12 hours as a leak test, using an external power supply to run the pumps:

My external power supply is a Gateway Core2Duo system running Windows Vista that I had sitting around. I knew it would come in useful for something eventually!

So far, so good. No leaks, although when I spilled a wee bit of the blue stuff while filling the reservoir, I could swear it was Prestone or Zerex thanks to the smell. So now I know that Koolance uses ethylene or propylene glycol in their coolant mix...

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Water-cooled IBM workstation update...

All the water-cooling parts and pieces are in my hot little hands right now. Readers will remember that I had previously upgraded my IBM Intellistation M-Pro 6850 with these two hyper-threaded XEON MP 3.0Ghz processors, packing a 4Mb L3 cache, which IBM never intended to have running on their non-server machines. Intel, however, made them pin-compatible with their lesser Xeon DP siblings, so I had to give it a try.

These processors work very nicely, but you don't get extra performance for nothing. They generate a lot more heat than the original 2.2Ghz - 2.4Ghz Xeon DP processors, and force the thermostatically-controlled CPU fans and case fans to go into jet engine mode, just to keep things below 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Even then, they bumped into that temperature way too often for my personal taste.

Here are the two CPU waterblocks and 3/8" ID braided PVC tubing:

These will replace the factory IBM heatsinks and wind tunnel shroud, as seen here:

I've also checked to make sure my power supply can handle the extra draw of the two pumps, radiator fans, and controller circuitry. I attached a loop of 3/8" ID tubing to the output and input of the Koolance Exos 2, filled the reservoir with the blue antifreeze/water mix, and let it run. The loudest thing in the system is the gurgling of the coolant in the reservoir, and if I burp it of air bubbles once or twice again, I'll bet that'll subside, too. It looks pretty good sitting on top of the machine, contrasting nicely with the 1948 Tucker model on the SCSI hard drive tower:

So far, so good. Stay tuned...

My printer is out of cheese!

No wonder it was working kind of slow...