[Beowulf] Cases for DIY boxen

Dan.Kidger at quadrics.com Dan.Kidger at quadrics.com
Fri Oct 24 01:31:56 PDT 2008

I am not so sure that wood is as flammable as you think.
Hard wood needs sustained heat for a reasonably long period of time to get going.

And anyway for a computer system there is no reason why you can't do some fireproofing - get some borates, silicates or other salts to keep the organic matter away from the oxygen. Waterglass (Sodium silicate) is cheap and readily available.

Although I guess the main negative factor for us  is the presence of a high airflow bringing lots of fresh oxygen. So if you could use oxygen-free cooling air (!) or otherwise shut the airfow off triggered by a smoke detector ...


From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org] On Behalf Of Peter St. John
Sent: 23 October 2008 18:33
To: Robert G. Brown
Cc: beowulf at beowulf.org
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Cases for DIY boxen


Yes, the consensus (offline) had seemed to be that humidy, thermal insulation, etc are not issues; and the only issue would be flammability. And yeah, I actually watched a capacitor explode under ideal circumstances (it was shadowed dark behind the box where I was looking, wondering why the prototype game box was behaving badly); it shot a beautiful little jet of flame.

Incidentally, Sebastian Hyde has pictures of a really beautiful black walnut PC. I think the right word is "baroque". Really beautiful. But yeah consideration would have to made for the fire issue.

On 10/23/08, Robert G. Brown <rgb at phy.duke.edu<mailto:rgb at phy.duke.edu>> wrote:
On Thu, 23 Oct 2008, Peter St. John wrote:
On the subject of Doug's "A Case for Cases"
http://www.linux-mag.com/id/7164, I had noticed that the Helmer thing
("bewwulf in an Ikea cabinet") is not
really in a wood cabinet (the steel box can be put inside a cabinet). I'm
assuming it's unreasonable to actually make a wood cabinet? On account of
humidy, or just weight? To me it just sounds easy to build a wooden rack for
a bunch of ATX motherboards. And it could look nice. Thermal and electrical
insulation would be OK, and humidy controlled with a good paint job on the

What about fire?  Anything electrical can in a worst case pop hot/molten
metal before frying and/or blowing a breaker.  Capacitors blow up
(literally).  A wire is badly soldered and pulls free and grounds out,
spattering white hot metal.

Inside a metal shell, odds are you won't get a REAL fire as there isn't
much actively flammable around.  In a wooden box, carefully dried by six
months of 50C heat... it wouldn't take a lot to get real flames,
especially if the box had e.g. a cooling fan mounted to actively fan a
hot coal into flames.



Robert G. Brown                            Phone(cell): 1-919-280-8443
Duke University Physics Dept, Box 90305
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