I'm sure that quite a bit of you, (or at least my friends) have heard random rants from me about, "Oh, I am going to build a toaster computer eventually" (as you role your eyes and say, sure dude, that'll happen.) Well, for the first time, I have completed a custom computer with a friend of mine, Tester. The following project was to submerge computer components into an aquarium of mineral oil to hopefully make it run cooler, and just plain look "cool"/weird. Tester and I (glj12) were inspired by a recent project that was published a week ago by the Puget Company. We decided to emulate their fantastic project as close as we could. Then it hit us, maybe some people do not know how to go about creating such a project. So without further adieu, here is the tutorial and video of "The 1337 Fleet." You can also download the higher-res, (well, somewhat higher res) video here.

Alright, so after watching this video you must be thinking either one of two things. 1. Wow, that's really cool! -or- 2. I mean, damn, his typing is so freakin' slow! Explanation: My video capture slowed it down a bit, no idea why. Moving right along, since this is so amazing, let's first go over a few things with pretty pictures. Here are the required materials, (or the things that we just used).

Materials:

  • 5 gallon aquarium
  • 1 piece of justly fit plexi-glass
  • All standard PC components
  • Hacksaw
  • Hot glue gun
  • A lot of minutes on your cellphone (I'll explain why later)
  • 5 gallons of mineral oil (or 40 pints, which is more common to find)

So, your materials are gathered, now to the fun part, modding! (To a certain extent). First, we measured all the dimensions to gain the right aquarium, which just so happened to be a classic 5 gallon one from K-Mart. Tester happened to have a sheet of plexi-glass that was a bit longer than the motherboard, so we used that as the back plate to hold it firmly against the side of the aquarium (plus, it will look like nothing is holding the motherboard at all). We then cut it to size, with the plexi-glass touching the bottom of the aquarium. After that, we took it out and drilled 3 holes in proper holding places so that the motherboard would remain secure. From there, we took the spare plexi glass, and broke it into 4 small 1" X 1" pieces, and glued them together with a bonding liquid that was about the strength between superglue and epoxy. After waiting 10 minutes for it to dry for each layer, we had enough time to take the plastic lid that came with the aquarium to have it serve as a slightly moded bufferzone between air and oil. As shown in the image below, a hacksaw was used to cut the appropriate amount of space for the VGA, RJ-45, keyboard, mouse, etc. to be exposed for connection.

After everything was mounted snug, much cleaning was needed. I had completely forgotten that the PSU, system and CPU fans were completely caked in dust. The most difficult part was cleaning out the heatsink underneath the CPU fan. Since this is a server of mine, it has been on for roughly 2 years straight. The hard drive alone has basically been on 9 years; good old Compaq, wish they were as good as they were back then. Nevermind that, back to the tutorial. The most difficult aspect of this tutorial was, believe or not, gaining the mineral oil. This was beyond hell. Yeah, try asking someone at Walgreens or Walmart that you need 5 GALLONS of mineral oil. Need I remind you what this stuff is. Most people don't seem to realize this, but this is the good "shit" per se. This is a last resort for the laxitive enthusiast. Mineral oil is what people call, a "Fleet Enima," hence the name of this project, The 1337 Fleet. I cannot tell you how many cringes and questions I received when asking this on the phone and in person. Getting back to how to acquire it, your best bet is a tractor supply, or a farm. Though in my region, after making 60 calls between Tester and I, we finally decided to go Walmart and K-Mart hopping. Out of all of the southern region of this state, there is NO MINERAL OIL. We consumed every last bit of it. We had to purchase 40 pints of this liquid gold. 2 Walmarts and 1 K-Mart are leeched. Success. Once we got back to my house, we placed a lot of bags on the ground, hoping not to mess up the hardwood floor. It is a bitch to get that out of the floor. As we poured in this revolting substance, we held our breath praying that it wouldn't explode in our faces for some odd reason. It posted successfully after filling it completely. Luckily, all went well with this monstrosity. After that, we took a hot glue gun and sealed the top to the best of our abilities while resting the 9 year old hard drive on top. You may ask, "Why can't you place that piece of junk hard drive in the aquarium?!" My answer to you, my friend, is that all hard drives have a little hole on the bottom of it that requires air to maintain proper preasure, if that were sealed, it would not function properly.

As of now, it seems to be functioning alright, but keep a couple of things in mind; velcro, as I have found out, does not hold down case fans too well. The one black fan as shown in the images and video started to fall over, but luckily was caught by the other case fan's cord. Phew! One other thing is that the case feels quite hot! Maybe it is because our summers here are pretty warm and humid. I guess certainly no hotter than it was prior in the cirulating air environment. I will certainly keep you posted in the forums about how long this piece of machinery is lasting. I am hoping that if it survives the summer, than it has passed the hardest test on any computer. And by the by, this is one of the heaviest PC's you will ever carry. Since mineral oil is 64 oz. per gallon, and there are 5 gallons plus the weight of the PSU, etc. it should be around 25 pounds. In terms of noise, it would be COMPLETELY silent, if there was no hard drive. Since the hdd is 9 years old, it was not built for silence+performance. Hope you enjoyed this somewhat of a loose tutorial, enjoy the pics and video, and try this on your own if you have computer parts to spare!

Here it is laying flat on the plexi-glass. Click to enlarge each image.

Me getting the mineral oil from Walmart.

So much mineral oil! Colon blow to the max.

Prior to filling...

Making sure that the computer still turns on prior to filling.

Me, nervously pouring the liquid gold.

So far, filling half way up the PSU. Oh look! It's Knoppix's GRUB bootloader choosing which OS to load.

Almost filled, and still churning along.

It loaded! But a bit blurry... But it still loaded Knoppix completely, yay!

Look at all those caps and bottles.

Back view of the beast.

A better picture of the machine loaded with knoppix and the liquid chruning around within it.

Hot glue handy work close-up.

The server was temporarily moved to underneath my Dad's desk. He didn't really appreciate it, so it is now back in my room. Be sure to check out this server and use it to the fullest! I run UT2004 and Counter-Strike:Source, and will soon be loading an IRC for leetupload.com. The address for both games are: css.flanga.net. Have fun, and leave comments in the forum!