Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

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Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby hominoid » Sun Mar 19, 2017 1:10 am

I liked the paper case and the water cooled system that were presented here and in Odroid Magazine in the recent past. They were both great examples, one of minimalist design and the other of maximum design possibilities. They both inspired me to pursue a design I had in mind, something more practical for my application. A split air flow configuration using a single fan to cool both sides of the PCB. The majority of the airflow would be on the heat sink but some would also go under the bottom of the board. A system wide cooling approach of continuous airflow. Along with some system tuning, and as quiet as the Noctua fan is, I plan on running the fan continuously starting at 25% and upping the rpm quickly to maintain minimal temperatures across a varying spectrum of uses.
pin_case_endview.png
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The Noctua isolation mounts that came with the 40mm fan were used for the fan and as isolation feet in the vertical position. The gold universal northbridge heat sink was rotated for better SOC coverage and the required fin orientation for side mount cooling. A battery and UART holder was integrated under the top as discussed here and as seen above the USB3 ports in the photo below.
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S1260019s.png
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The nut holders double as feet in the horizontal position and help protect surfaces.
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Operationally the case design has performed as expected. It has very similar performance characteristics as a top mounted fan with the additional benefit of bottom side cooling. If run passively, the vertical orientation should help heat rise away from the system and minimize thermal pooling underneath. I have a couple of other tweaks that I would like to try in the future. Adding a raised copper perch of 2-5mm to increase thermal transfer and accommodate airflow under the heat sink. If I can get sufficient airflow under the heat sink it may increase the efficiency of SOC and support chip cooling. I might try some custom duct work to direct airflow better. The OpenSCAD case design file is attached for anyone interested.
Odroid_XU4_Case.scad.txt
(8.52 KiB) Downloaded 7 times

There are different case layouts, sizes and options as explained at the top of the design file. Make sure you have the XU4_Model posted here
here in the same working directory. It has been updated to version 1.1 recently that includes supporting accessories.
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby rooted » Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:30 am

Very cool, I really like the minimalist design. Especially the fan mount feet.
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby phaseshifter » Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:42 am

iv`e seen many of these custom cases and coolers and are great designs
but how does the end user buy these pre made to assemble..???
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby rooted » Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:47 am

phaseshifter wrote:iv`e seen many of these custom cases and coolers and are great designs
but how does the end user buy these pre made to assemble..???

Should be able to print it at shapeways or a similar place.
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby phaseshifter » Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:52 am

ok where is shapeways..sorry i`m down under..do you mean by using a 3D printer to carve it out..????
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby hominoid » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:14 am

phaseshifter wrote:iv`e seen many of these custom cases and coolers and are great designs
but how does the end user buy these pre made to assemble..???

Great question and one I have asked myself in the past. I thought the topic deserved a wider more general response.
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby ChicoDeGoma » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:16 pm

Did you use thermal paste between cooler and CPU or what thermal compound did you use?
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby hominoid » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:27 pm

I used thermal paste, Antec Formula 6. I had it from another project where I needed a hi temp formula. It's non-conductive and good to 250c. When I mount the heat sink I make sure it's not tilted by applying pressure on the heat sink directly above the SOC. You can feel if it's made flat contact. I'll also slide the heat sink around a little to make sure the thermal paste has complete coverage. I even pull the heat sink off perpendicular to the SOC and reset it once or twice because I've notices it's not hard to get small voids that aren't making complete contact on either the SOC or the heat sink. I look for a uniform pattern of peaks when separated. Any area that does not have peaks was not mating properly. I notice this happens if there is too much or not enough paste. Since it's non-conductive I'm not worried about excess but I definitely try and keep the paste to a minimum. I believe having to much is not beneficial. I'm idling between 32-36c, generally runs to the low 40-50's while busy in a 20-21c ambient temp. room. I've notice immediately after exiting Kodi it's usually around 42-44c then drops back down into the 30's.
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby Ameridroid » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:53 am

ameriDroid.com already sells the Noctua 40mm quiet fan and the gold universal northbridge heatsink, and we also sell 3d printed parts for other projects. Therefore, we'd like to create a kit that can be purchased that provides this case plus the fan and heatsink.

We would love to have hominoid's blessing on putting his design together as a kit.
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby deafcat » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:42 am

should swap that top plate for transparent polycarb! would look extra cool. Great looking design and concept, although unfortunately the cooling efficiency of the fan is going to be poor without a shroud to prevent pressure loss in the half inch gap there. even with the heatsink rotated so the fins open side is facing the fan, the sink and components combine to produce a tough wall of resistance to such a low pressure fan. integrate a cowling/shroud into this to maximize results... the most minimal approach would be a printed duct between fan and sink, keeping the rest of it "open"

but hey maybe it works fine enough as is right? if you did want more cooling that would be the way to get it.
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby hominoid » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:28 am

The Case Kit sounds like a great idea! I do agree with @deafcat that further testing is in order first. It's a new design and I have not had all that much time running on it yet. My system load on this design has been very light so far compared to what many others are doing. I have not run it 24/7 or really loaded it hard for a long period of time. Ameridroid would be a great place to stage one and do some testing and it sounds like your in the process of doing just that. With all that said, there is plenty of room for improvements, customization and transparent polycarb tops.

I was concerned about interference of airflow as well. It was one of the reasons I built the XU4 model. The end view above doesn't have the heat sink in place so you can't get a feel for how much of the heat sink is open or blocked.
XU4_endview_2s.png
XU4_endview_2s.png (12.9 KiB) Viewed 73 times

I did consider moving the fan closer but wanted to get a better feel for how much room was needed to get my finger on the boot selector switch. The heat sink slides are another area that needs further testing. I have not had an issue with mine but it is a new idea (ABS Plastic) and I don't know how they will hold up over a long period of time, especially in higher temp environments. I agree that a cowl or duct along with locating the fan as far forward as possible, are early changes that should be considered. A removable cowl/duct might be best. It's not needed for a passive system which would benefit the most from the vertical design. Flexibility is key I think, allow people to set it up the way that is best for there application. My early indications are that this design is going to meet my version 1 expectations and if moving the fan forward helps, or any of the other tweaks I mentions in the post, I'd probably forgo a cowl/duct for aesthetic reasons.
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby phaseshifter » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:50 am

@ameridroid that would be fantastic if you could offer such products pre made to the end user,
users see users want ....but as many users dont have the equipment to manufacture such projects..
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby hominoid » Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:40 pm

I moved the fan to 86mm. The PCB is 83mm, the boot selector switch sticks out 2-3mm. It is as close as it gets until I can print one out to verify everything. The geometric tolerance is tight here. FYI Ameridroid, the Noctua pin opening is 4.5mm, I used a 11/64 bit to clean the holes (didn't have the metric size). 3mm on the rest of the holes. I made an adjustment to the batt_holder() size, mine was a little tight. re-pull the library Odroid_XU4_Model.scad for the update to v1.1a

Here is the updated case design file Odroid_XU4_Case_v1a.scad I'll try a test print as soon as I can, see how everything fits.
Odroid_XU4_Case_v1a.scad.txt
(8.5 KiB) Not downloaded yet

Odroid_XU4_Case_v1a.png
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Last edited by hominoid on Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby deafcat » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:17 pm

a slot from below is a good way to access the boot switch with a tiny screwdriver. if the switch should be finger-operated, and no de-soldering is desired, the most elegant solution would be to integrate a moving part into the case design which flips the switch from the outside ;)
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Re: Split Air Flow Vertical or Horizontal 40mm Case

Unread postby Ameridroid » Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:46 am

We've printed up a first draft of hominoid's case in ABS plastic*. It's a bit of a challenge to find all the correct hardware to get everything to work correctly. Here's a picture of the prototype:

Image

We found we were unable to mount the gold heatsink in the way referenced in the design because of the orientation of the mounting slots on the sides of the heatsink. With it in that orientation, we were unable to get the mounting arms lined up with the holes. Unfortunately, this orientation offers more of a wall to the airflow from the fan.

It would be nice to have beveled holes for the top and bottom plates as we prefer to use beveled fasteners whenever possible as it gives a cleaner look.

In addition, the bottom plate should have 6mm spacers integrated into the design where the XU4 mounting holes are located so that additional hardware/spacers are not needed and to simplify assembly.

The cooling fan/heatsink on the existing XU4 will have to be sacrificed so the connector can be cut off and spliced into the Noctua. The smallest fan connector supplied with the Noctua is too large to connect to the XU4.

* In case you're interested in getting your own 3D printer, ameriDroid.com is the lowest-priced seller of the Creality CR-10 large-format 3D printer in the US. We've recently added a CR-10 to our production build farm. Check here for more details on this printer: http://ameridroid.com/products/creality-cr10-3d-printer
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