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Cooling a RiscPC

By Robert Greenfield. Published: 27th Jul 2005, 23:28:50 | Permalink | Printable

Like, chill out, man

Despite it being winter right now in New Zealand, NZ RISC OS dealer Robert Greenfield has a few ideas on how to keep a RiscPC cool in the summer months.

Air flow in a computer is an important factor that, some argue, Acorn overlooked in the RiscPC design. Components in a computer produce heat which needs to be taken away to reduce the chances of overheating and subsequent failure. The easiest and cheapest way of doing this is to get air blowing across the warmer bits and pieces to transfer away the thermal energy. Unfortunately for us, the airflow in a RiscPC is not terribly good, so this article has some ideas to fix this.

The first idea below came from Mal of Australian dealer The Imagefactory, where it can obviously get very hot in the summer. The ARM based processors in our RISC OS powered hardware are efficient and produce little heat, however some peripherals such as hard discs do, especially newer and faster models; if they get too hot, they can fail prematurely.

Airflow in the RiscPC is worse in multi-slice machines. Experiments undertaken in extensive lab facilities (aka Mal's office) at The Imagefactory found that the airflow could be improved by simply sealing the power supply air intake to the case. I was able to do this using draught excluding strips as used on doors and windows. This does makes the bottom slice slightly more difficult to take on and off, but it prevents the case fans from recycling the air inside the computer.

Close up of the insulation foam sealing off the PSU air intake

The RiscPC PSU with foam lining its underside

The next step recommended by The Imagefactory is to fit a fan in the top slice to blow out the hot air that rises. Mal fitted a 3.5" HD300 fan to a podule slot whereas I used a smaller fan for the hole where the rear of the PSU would go, because my top slice is really a bottom slice. These two factors help the air to flow in at the bottom and upwards. Heat rises up through the case, so this is a good thing.

Overhead view of Mal's podule slot fan

External view of Mal's fan, at the back of his RiscPC stack

Finally, to improve air flow, I blocked off the unused side vents in the slice above the PSU in order to promote airflow from the bottom to the top of the case. Currently it is winter here in New Zealand, so I hope these ideas are beneficial to users in the sunny UK.


RiscPC hard discs die in hot weather

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In Winter, in my classroom, it's lovely and snug with twenty RISC PCs and their old CRT VDUs ticking over.

In Summer, well, teachers; we have a third of the year off.

So overheating RISC PCs are not a problem for me.

Ha, ha !

(Hate mail, come hither...)

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 28/7/05 4:47PM
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It's rather strange - I don't know if anyone else has experienced this. I find that when I leave my RPC left switched on for a day or so in my bedroom, when I come back to it, the room is freezing cold! Somehow, my RPC works like an air conditioning unit for my room - very handy in the summer I suppose!

Can anyone explain this?

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 31/7/05 11:42AM
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Another worthwhile benefit is to attach a heat sink to the VIDC chip. This can get warm when running at higher resolutions continually - and of course with some cooling you can usually clock it up a bit more.

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 2/8/05 10:26PM
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Be careful where you put those case fans, because the vibrations can make hard discs fail very quickly.

 is a RISC OS UserClades on 10/8/05 8:26AM
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