Any measurements here are metric, all temperatures are celcius, prices however are in usd. When considering any prices, do take in to account that Finland is an expensive country, just for an example if I'd buy an item of ebay costing 100$ with shipping, I would have to pay 23$ in taxes when picking it up from the post office.
My open frame rig was doing very niceley untill a litter of puppies rolled in around the 15th of march. But after they did the temperatures in the room they and my rig were in started climbing rapidly as I could no longer keep the window open whenever I felt like. The room heated to about 30-35c, which I found rather unpleasant... and worse yet it promised that the coming summer would be intolerable at best. So I started looking in to ways to vent out the heat and when I could not come up with anything viable I proceeded to looking in to alternative locations for my rig, I managed to find some, but none of them felt like the right one, untill the tought of taking the operation outside occured to me. I live in an apartment building so the only way out for me is my balcony, it's open and I live in a windy spot so I would have to deal with rain and snow to some extent. The temperatures my rig would have to face range from -34 to 35 celsius degrees. That is an whopping 69 degree difference. After taking a some days to think about the environmental conditions I deemed the circumstances tolerable and decided to continue planning this enterprise. I believe that I can negotiate my way trough the temperatures by applying different overclocking, undervolting and airflow settigs for different times of year. Hence forth known as seasonal overclocking. I am almost certain that the most challenging circumstaces will be during long periods of hard frost, especially during windy days and the occational snowstorm, to be more exact: preventing fine, light snow from getting in, on and under the rig. That stuff has almost no weight and moves amazingly freely in any direction with the wind.
I quite quickly dismissed building the housing from scratch, mainly because it seemed like the more expensive and slower way to go, also it was likely prove too big a challenge for my limited skillset.
This might be a good point to ramble about me, just as an example and an encouragement to anyone out there considering taking on a project like this. I have, prior to getting in to bitcoin mining, assembled only two compters from scratch, I haven't got the faintest idea on how electricity actually works and my understanding of thermaldynamics is limited at best. Bottom line: if I can do this, anyone can.
My first idea abouth the semi-premade housing was a chest or a wooden box with a lid on hinges. I found quite a few available online but none of them were particularly close to me and shipping something this size and weight would be costly. I felt like burning up to 130$ on the "case" and shipping, shipping seemd to make up 2/3rds of the price in almost every item I found.
So I decided to head out to the local recycling center to see what they had lying around. Turned out there was nothing like the chest or trunk I had envisioned. What however caught my eye was this piece of furniture, I have no idea on what it's intended for nor called, but it would do.
The material is chipboard, it's got wheels at the bottom, the metal bars on the top could be used for cable management and for hanging gpu's, it could be opened sufficiently for my big hands to fit in and it cost me a whopping 7$. The biggest con with it is that it is not large enough to house 2 motherboards whilst having sufficient airflow.
The limitations I need to take in to consideration when deploying the rig are:
- It should not draw attention from my neighbours, so not be too noisy and absoluteley no unnecessary lights and it definetley should not look like a hemp growing operation. Luckily the side of the building my balcony is on is subject to near-constant round the clock traffic noise so an estimated up to 40db would most likely go unnoticed.
- "The wife factor" my rig needs to appear and be safe and somewhat estethically pleasing. The latter I belived would prove challenging with my limited skills.
The rig must at most require two 10 amp fuses.
It must endure indirect rain and snowfall and the wide temperature-range of southern-Finland.
At first I removed the semi openable roofpart, took some measurements of my psu, motherboard and all the bits I intended to squeeze in there. Then I figured out whatkind of airflow I want and what size fans I would use. I also applide some silicone on the inside seams of the box as an additional guard against moisture and to ensure air was only getting in and out from where I wanted.
My intial design was to use three 120mm fans at the bottom and lower parts to push cool air in and another three 80mm fans to the suck air out. Thus, atleast in theory, creating excess pressure within the case. I also planned on having the psu airflow separate from the rig-box, as it almost always is in computers... but ended up dismissing it as 2 fairly large holes would of have been needed and then I'd have to deal with protecting them from rain and such.
I proceeded to remove the unnecessary looking bit of wood from withing the box. Cutting the holes on to the case proved an arguous task with my limited tooldbox and as I did not really want to spend a whole lot on tools and materials to be able to use they money to fill the rig with as many Mhs as possible. So I ended up working with what I had: a small electric sander that could be used as a drill, some sawblades, a metal file and sanding paper. It took me roughly 14 hours to cut, shape and sand four holes. At which point I became concerned with the structural integrity of the box if I cut it up anymore.
The fans I used are:
Arctic Cooling F12, 9$ a piece.
Nexus Real silent case fan 80mm, 9$ a piece.
So I proceeded to fitting and installing only four fans. If need be I will be able to add multiple even smaller fans (im thinking the size cpu fans were roughly a decade ago 60-70mm? ) on the bottom and a single large fan on the top of the case. As the outside temperatures start climbing in the coming months we'll see if this becomes necessary. As I tested the arflow with the four fans I felt confident I was good for my four gpu's and fairly sure adding two more would not pose a problem, I remember thinking this thing can suck in a fullgrown sparrow.
The final step of installing the fans was applying gasket sealant around them. Gasket sealant because I a) had it available and b) knew it will endure the temperature differences. Had I tought of gasket sealant instead of regular silicone-paste when doing up the inside seams of the box I would of most certainly used it there aswell.
I used insulation tape on the edges of the roof, Im fairly sure the kind I used is far from optimal when dealing with moisture and will propably replace it as a better solution catches my eye. In terms of sealing heat and airflow it does seem good tough.
At this point I needed to start dealing with preventing rain from getting in. I fould a nice solution for the outbound air during my first supply run, unfortunateley I only bought one and by the time I decided I want anothe the store I found it in had sold them out, so the protection on the other side became different. This propably will not be a problem as it will be on the side of a wall and thus fairly protected, also having 2 of the storm protected vents, theres a flap in there that closes should the air start flowing the wrong way, would of have clearly been a restriction on airflow. These bit's cost me 5$ and 11$. The protection of the air intakes is simple pvc-plumbing with a 30 degree angle at a cost of 7$ a piece.
Supply run 1
I figured the wheels at the bottom were sinked so low that I needed to somehow lift the enrire rig up to ensure neither the ethernet- or powercable get damaged, so I aqquired a pallet from a a store I frequent. They'll most likely give them to you free of charge, but you might want to look for a senior enough emplyee who can determine if the pallet in question has cost the store a deposit. When you get one or anything like this free from a store be sure to make a purchase. I can tell you it's fairly frustrating having performance-related pay and seeing potential customers, whom you've never seen before nor ever will again walk a way with their random free crap without buying anything after you've taken the time to accomodate their needs.
The pallet also effectiveley prevents water from the balcony floor from getting in the rig and lifts it high enough for me to miss a day or three of shoveling should snowfall reach the balcony-corner for a long enough time to pile up.
I also drilled a small hole for power and ethernet cables at the bottom, I intend to leave the hole as it is atleast for now, I feel it provides a nice additional passive air intake point.
At this time I felt like it was time to get some hardware in the rig and get it running so even tough it had been a long day of assembly and I should of have been heading to bed I ended up installing the psu, mobo and three gpu's.To begin with the cards I wanted in there were and still are 2 x 5870, 5830 and 5770. A total of 1,4Ghs and a thermal load of approximateley 535 watts before undervolting and clocking. I believe the longest period I slept during that night was around 45 minutes... I kept waking up to check on the rig, so anyone going at a project like this might want to figure out when it's time to call it a day. The next day at work sucked donkey balls an d I actually ended up loosing build time as I needed the following evening to recover. The rig did fine appart from my half ass intial configuration which hosted about a dosen typos and several incorrect overclocking values. After I got them ironed out the rig started showing uptimes of 48 hours and succesfull reboots after a hung gpu.
The ennvironmental factors it's so far seen incude temperatures of -5degrees to 18 degrees, light snowfall and rain. These have caused no problems.
Whilst the rig was up and running I painted it, for two reasons: 1. the chipboard will undoubtably suck up moisture if given the chance and 2. It needs to seem less threathening to "the wife". The paint I used is red, intended for brake calipers, once again because I had it lying around. A lighter colour would of have been better when considering the sun heating the rig from outside during the summer. I however am certain that I will be able to provide it shade so I didnt concern myself with this minor detail too much.
After a week of running the rig it became obvious it was accumulating dust within, I had not yet found a suitable solution for a dust guard, so I went out looking for mosquito nets, fishing nets and anything alike. What I eventually found were some sunblockers intended for car windows costing me 4$. I cut one up and tested it with a loose fan, the airflow wasnt quite as good as the filters from my gaming computer's case (Fractial design Define R3), but I figured they were good eonough so I attached them to the air-intakes with rubber bands. I then cleared the dust from within with an airduster and a vacuum cleaner. I will be posting followups on coming dust accumulation. So far it looks good, the improvised airfilters appear to be collecting dust on the outside. I figure I need to clean them on a weekly basis.
The lower seem of the front door I insulated with multiple layers of duct tape. The upper seem and sides will be covered with a thin plastic sheet. Before this I intend to tape it up for a while and make sure the temperatures remain within the ok-range. Also I should be dropping in 1-2 more GPU's later this week so I dont want to attach the sheet of plastic while I constantly have to open the box. To attach it I will be using the same material that is holding the PSU in place.
I've also added a simple digital thermometer to sit on top of the rig and to measure the ambient temperature in and outside the rig. Im also adding a fan control unit when the one I ordered arrives.
With the curent setup temperatures are as follow:
Late at night when traffic entirely stops you can hear the rig's fans up to distance of 10 meters, so I'll gladly announce it silent enough.
Current record uptime is 75h (and counting), if I add up the time it had before I rebooted it were well past 100h.
As I mentioned I will be dropping in atleast 2 more cards this week and finalize sealing the front door seams. I will be posting temperatures and voitages as I do. I also intendo on posting temperatures as the outside temperatures start rising.
I would like to thank:
The crew of the finnish bitcoin irc-channel I frequent for their help, suggestions, answers and mostly for putting up with my endless flood of questions.forrestv
and other p2pool
developers, if you dont mine there you should.Lordcrappo
for he's extensive work on bamt
, if you run dedicated rigs this is the only way to go.
Arctic cooling, their products are quite simply superior, I run 4 of their gpu-coolers and 5 fans atm.
If you have any questions, suggestions or concernes feel free to ask/point them out.
If you find this project helpful and would like to ensure my eagerness on keeping updating it as it proceeds then feel free to make a small donation to: 1F2E2tShUV9VNCzZ25qFU96M6N38WGAZzM
If someone would like to buy adspace on my rig (mainly seen here, the post your rig thread, the upcoming annual rig building contest and at an upcoming finnish btc-site) do contact me via PM, I can accomodate stickers, or make a simple stencil/spraypaint solution.
If someone has a "this sticker adds 5MHS" – sticker I would love to get my hands one.