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Infinity4 - Page Five

 

June 2005

 

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 of extra-long 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 80 wire 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 acquisition, ATI's 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 3" to 5" bay converters. The latter were actually rather hard to obtain (are 3" 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 need of. 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...

 

 

 

 

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