RS: [Beowulf] Cases for DIY boxen

Alan Ward award at
Fri Oct 24 02:25:40 PDT 2008

Nowadays many exposition halls, restaurants etc. in Europe have stratified wood beams. These need to be treated with fire retardants by regulation, in which case they are actually more safe than steel (steel bends and bucles when warmed).

You could take a look at whatever products they use to treat them.

PS: My last DIY box was a TV table on wheels, with a couple of shelves for video casettes underneath beahind glass doors. I took out the shelves and put in 4 motherboards, and there I was with a 70x70x50 cm mobile cluster.


-----Missatge original-----
De: beowulf-bounces at en nom de Dan.Kidger at
Enviat el: dv. 24/10/2008 10:31
Per a: at; rgb at
A/c: Beowulf at
Tema: RE: [Beowulf] Cases for DIY boxen

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 [mailto:beowulf-bounces at] On Behalf Of Peter St. John
Sent: 23 October 2008 18:33
To: Robert G. Brown
Cc: beowulf at
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<mailto:rgb at>> wrote:
On Thu, 23 Oct 2008, Peter St. John wrote:
On the subject of Doug's "A Case for Cases", 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
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
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