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DIY Computer Isolation Box

 
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nick reed
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2005 8:44 pm    Post subject: DIY Computer Isolation Box Reply with quote

I have decided that I need to build an isolation box for my CPU. Has anyone else done this? If so, do you have any tips or cautions?

Even if you haven't built one of these, you may have some ideas or tell me where I may be making a mistake.

Currently, I am planning on using 1/2" or 3/4" sheet stock, probably MDF or Oak-faced plywood. The unit will be fairly tall because I do not want to have to get on my knees to change cables. I am thinking that it will be between 24" and 30" tall. My computer will be in the top portion with additional storage below it. I am considering an adjustable shelf so that I could use it with a taller CPU in the future. It will roll about on four ball-type casters.

I would like to line the interior with 1/4" to 1/2" thick felt, if I can find it for a reasonable price, otherwise I may use acoustic foam.

I want to use a magnetic latch on the front and rear door. Do you think that magnets will pose any kind of problem with the CPU? I wouldn't think so because the fans have magnets. I may opt for a decorative mechanical latch.

Do you think that 1" of air space around the top, front and sides is enough for decent air circulation? Cables extend 3" from the back of the CPU so at least that much space is a given in the rear.

I do not plan to use fans in the isolation box (that's just more noise). Instead, there will be a vent hole, filled with open-cell foam on the rear of the unit, very near the bottom. The power supply fan is at the top and the case fan is at the center, so you could kinda call it a baffled vent.

I don't know, perhaps I am baffled! Any input is appreciated.

Nick
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donrandall
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2005 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another possibility would be to check with a boutique type computer store and see about having them transfer your components into a quiet case. There are some very, very good ones out there.

It is also possible that you can change out the case fan and the power supply. The original case fan is probably the cheapest thing they could find, and noise was not a factor in their consideration - the same is probably true of the power supply, which probably has a very noisy fan.

Here is an address that will get you to a company that can do the work or sell you the stuff to do it yourself, if yer feelin' spunky.

http://www.pcclub.com/product_browse.cfm?cat=Cases
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Andy
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 4:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don, my father trained me to be a cabinet maker back when I was still a tenor. I built my own silence case. It all depends on how fancy you want to get. I used stock I had sitting around my wood shop. I used 3/4 standard ply and some oak I had for the face frames. Home Depot supplied the door hinges and hardware. I bought the foam liner material in the craft section at Wal-Mart. Any decent fabric store carries it. I also cut a small hole in the side for a small fan that I run off of a toy train transformer. Most computer fans run off of 12V DC current. The train transformer was perfect. That way I can adjust the speed of the fan to run air in the box w/o making a lot of noise.

Since I already had the stock, the total came to around $50.


Last edited by Andy on Mon Aug 22, 2005 7:04 am; edited 1 time in total
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Dan-O
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Joined: 17 Jan 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nick,

Like Andy, I built mine, too. I purchased all the materials and it come to about $100. I used these images http://www.silencecases.com/page3.html to use as my blue print. You will need a fan. I tried it with out at first and the computer created a whine I thought was only possible by F-16's. I use a SilenX fan, only 14db, with a 3 prong extstenion cord I bought at CompUSA.

Best of luck!

Dan
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kgenus
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Joined: 01 Dec 2004
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Buy a Mac Mini and if that's not quiet enough, throw a pillow on top of it, seriously.
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Deirdre
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Joined: 10 Nov 2004
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just take the pillow off when your session is done, partner.
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donrandall
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy and Dan are obviously talented craftsmen! I envy you guys - I would have no idea how to go about building one that would look decent. My attempts at anything like that have usually resulted in some rather embarrassing failures!

I have looked at a couple of websites for insulated boxes built for the purpose, and the prices they are asking scare me - and I thought I was fearless!

For those of us with lesser skills and even lesser funds - a computer case that is made specifically for silent operation is a good way to go. Using a quiet power supply is always a good idea, and so is a quiet case fan -- none of which is going to add up to the price of one of those high priced insulated boxes I've seen advertised.

Someone around here mentioned the small footprint computer that does not use a fan and is silent. If I were going to buy a new computer, I think I would have to give that some consideration. Quiet is good, and so is small. I would be interested in knowing more about that one!
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nick reed
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 12:02 am    Post subject: Quiet Computers Reply with quote

Thanks to everyone, for your suggestions.

My current computer is only a year old, so I am not willing to buy a new computer to have a quieter environment. For those people who are currently in the market for a new computer, it makes great sense to buy a quiet one. I guess there are several options for a quiet computer at this point in 2005: a laptop would be one, a Mac Mini would be another and a Shuttle is another. For those of you who prefer a PC to a Mac but don't want a laptop, here is a link to Shuttle...

http://us.shuttle.com/

For those of us who do not have a new computer in our near future, the options for noise reduction are: move the CPU to another room and use long (expensive) cable runs (or cut a hole in a wall), modify the computer with quieter fans (and/or add insulation to the computer case itself) or use an isolation box.

I am looking for the greatest noise reduction at the least expense.

I have no evidence to support my belief that an isolation box will result in greater noise reduction than using quieter fans... but that is what I believe. The loudest fan in my computer seems to be the cpu fan, not the power supply fan or the case fan. If they even make a quieter cpu fan, I don't know. So, if I changed all three fans and the computer was half as loud as it is now, that may not be quiet enough. Who knows? Whereas, many people report that an isolation box, absolutely works.

Honestly, I would prefer to change the fans as a solution. It is less work and I would not have to worry about cooling or computer accessibility. However, I don't want to spend the money on this, only to discover it is ineffective. I will look into it a little further before I make a decision.

Nick
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Deirdre
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 4:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I modded the case of my Mac Quicksilver G4 Tower. It's got a dual-G4 processor and came with the loudest darned fans you ever heard, unless you got a Mirrored-Drive door G4. I replaced three fans: the power supply, the case and the CPU fans.

Quieter, to be sure.
But I bought a Powerbook last summer. "Silent" trumps "quieter".
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Mike
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deirdre wrote:
I modded the case of my Mac Quicksilver G4 Tower. It's got a dual-G4 processor and came with the loudest darned fans you ever heard, unless you got a Mirrored-Drive door G4.


I have the Mirrored-Drive door G4 and you say the Quicksilver is even LOUDER? Ouch.

How about the iMacs these days. The original version (I'm typing on one now) was a fanless design. are the new ones the same?

Maiku
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Deirdre
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Maiku!! Love my YuYuu.

The Mirrored-Door Drive G4's were the ones that Apple admitted were loud, so there was a fan fix available. The Quicksilvers were pretty darned close, but mine really "blows", as it were, because of the dual processor heat.


The G5 iMacs have fans-- they have to. I wouldn't want to rely on one for recording-- but I think others are using them. The one in my house cycles its fan up and down depending on the load and it's quiet, but noticeable. It's a smooth sound-- not like the little sawtooth PowerBook fans.
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Bruce
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't speak to the new iMacs, but the ones two genereations back (all in one with bright colored housings) had no fan but a whiny hard drive right up front. I had to use a sound block made with a towel and some books to cut the noise but keep the monitor visible and the air flowing.

B
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