When I came down the next morning the bottom of the
case was still as dry as a bone, thanks partly to care and attention and
partly to the
excellent design of the Koolance fittings, so it was time to install the
rest of the electronics. This is a fairly routine task by now, and the
only real puzzle was how to arrange the cables neatly. Without the DigiDoc
there was far less spaghetti to manage, but the added complexity of the
water pipes provided their own problems to solve and it was an interesting challenge.
As usual I managed to connect the floppy drive cable upside-down (newbie
error #14) but on the whole everything went smoothly enough - especially
in contrast to the last build, where a faulty hard disk kept me baffled
for a day or more.
Although the water pipes are perfectly clear, the
Koolance fluid mixture is a startlingly intense blue. Moreover, the blue
LEDs in the Turbine fan mounted on the rear panel rear are exactly
the same shade and make the water pipes nearby glow with a light
reminiscent of Cherenkov
radiation. [Aside: The Aggies have a nuclear reactor? Scary!]
The small AC Ryan cathodes at the front edge of the motherboard are a
somewhat colder shade and unfortunately don't provide quite the same
effect, so I will probably try to replace them at some point in the
future. The blue coolant looks green when viewed through the yellow
plastic casing of the water blocks, which coincidently is a very similar
shade to the motherboard itself. I could hardly have arranged for better
matches if I'd used a colour swatch and specified the Pantone numbers!
The huge size of the case meant that I needed a set of
100cm SATA data cables, which I bought ready-sleeved in a rather
elegant carbon colour from the excellent Performance-PCs. My PCP&C power
supply has a couple of SATA power connectors, but those are coiled neatly
under the PSU platform and instead I used a
four-way power loom, also obtained from Performance-PCs. All these
components, incidentally, are made by AC Ryan - not a name I'd heard
before I started this project, but who now seem to be becoming one of the
major manufacturers in the high-end DIY components sector. The
parallel ATA and
floppy drive cables are elegant offerings from Antec, the former being
wrapped in an earthed metal foil to offset the lack of
shielding in a rounded cable.
With so much space to play with I managed to arrange
all the cabling fairly neatly around the water pipes, and the view through
the side window is sufficiently interesting to give an impression of how
complex the PC actually is without being the dense mass of spaghetti I was used to
looking at through the smoked panels of Infinity3.
I was originally intending to replace the half-height window with a full
height mesh panel to match the perforated front bezel, but of course that
would hide the details and I'm having second thoughts at the moment. Watch
this space over the next few months, and we'll see what Phase II brings!
The first live test - after some head scratching caused
by connecting the power switch to the motherboard header at 90°
to the approved arrangement left me with a PC that stubbornly refused to
power on. It was a nasty moment, but fortunately a fairly brief one. After
that little glitch was fixed it
booted straight into Windows without problems, and I fired up a recent
real-time rendering of the Animusic
Pipe Dream sequence, to mildly stress test the CPUs and video
subsystem. I was gradually topping up the reservoir as the air bubbles
were flushed out of the circuit, and a quirk of the arrangement of the two
pumps submersed inside it meant that a proportion of it usually bubbled
right back out again - hence the roll of kitchen towel close at hand!
The DVD drives are hidden behind Lian Li's
"stealth" drive bay covers,
and the floppy drive, Vantec fan controller and memory card reader are
mounted in the matching 3½"
to 5¼" bay converters. The latter were actually rather hard to obtain
(are 3½" devices going out of fashion or something? I'm seeing a fair few
cases without any small bays at all, these days!) but I managed to track
down both at FrozenCPU, another recommended supplier for both pre-sleeved
cabling and the various less common components I usually find myself in
The flash lighting in the photograph highlights the difference in textures
across the front of the PC, but actually they look sufficiently similar in
natural light to give an almost seamless effect.
And finally, some geek porn...