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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Penguin Palace Mod, Part 2: How to Create a Waterfall Effect

[caption id="attachment_29" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Water flowing through the door panel looks milky from tiny air bubbles."]Penguin Case effects[/caption]

The waterfall effect was created by building up layers of plastic on the side panel with openings to feed the water back and forth. One of my concerns was that the waterfall effect would generate turbulence which would cause additional air bubbles flowing through the system. Air is not as effective conductor of heat as water and is undesirable in cooling systems.

During leak testing, I found another problem. The water level in the reservoir would rise as to the highest point in the system, unless I could somehow restrict the water flow in order to prevent it from reaching that level. You can’t have much of a waterfall effect if the display area is filled with water up to a few inches from the top.

One possible solution would have been to use a valve system to limit the flow to the top; however the catch basin would still get backfill from the rest of the system. The solution I finally chose was to use two different pumps to separate the decorative waterfall system from the functional cooling system. This meant that the waterfall doesn't show the flow activity of the actual cooling system, but as a bonus, it could be turned off if it ever got too annoying.

[caption id="attachment_30" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The waterfall in the door has its own pump, independent of the CPU cooling system."]Penguin case side panel open[/caption]


I used ¼" plastic sheets to cut the various shapes and built them up in layers using "general purpose plastic glue", which is available in the plumbing section of Lowes. This glue has a slightly milky appearance and can contain tiny air bubbles. To avoid this, use spring clamps to compress and force out the air bubbles between layers.

[caption id="attachment_31" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Several layers are built up with a central opening for the lower chamber of the waterfall."]Case panel with icicle effect[/caption]


For most of the pieces, I used a band saw to cut out rough shapes and then further shaped the edges using a flexible shaft with metal burrs. The icicles along the bottom edges and openings in the centers of the shapes were done with a Dremel tool with a high speed rotary cutter bit.

[caption id="attachment_32" align="alignnone" width="236" caption="A Danger Den fill-port reservoir is glued to a plastic panel before it is attached to the top of the case."]Fill-port resevoir attached to panel[/caption]


Building up several layers of ¼" acrylic sheet with irregular scallops and gullies in the edges allowed me to create the icy looking surface that would catch and diffuse the different lighting in the case.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxoF5TdYnCc&version=3]

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