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Thread: Building a DAW Desk, need help with Computer Cabinet

  1. #1
    88fingers is offline Dedicated Member
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    Building a DAW Desk, need help with Computer Cabinet

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    Hello,
    I've been having this conversation over at studio-central:

    http://studio-central.com/phpbb/view...p?f=18&t=73085

    I just wanted to get some extra input. Maybe Fitzpatrick or some of the other bigwigs around here will help a brother out!

    I'm building a desk that will have a computer cabinet in it. The Cabinet will be 15"W x 18"H x 20"D, with a door on the front (that I'm going to seal with weather-stripping, I think).

    I need to get air circulation inside the cabinet. My thoughts were to install an intake fan on the outside near the bottom, then an exhaust fan near the top on the back. One guy on that forum told me to put a large intake at the bottom and small exhaust, thus creating more "positive air pressure" as he put it. Then another guy has since been (seemingly?) saying that I don't need an intake fan, just a good exhaust.

    What are you guys' thoughts on it, and how do you usually build cabinets for your computers?

    Thanks!
    We play in another house, what should we fear?

  2. #2
    RICK FITZPATRICK's Avatar
    RICK FITZPATRICK is offline Been Here, Posted That
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    Maybe Fitzpatrick or some of the other bigwigs around here will help a brother out!
    bigwigs? umm, I'm afraid you've mistaken me for someone who speaks with authority...fact is...I'm just an old fart who's read a lot.. There are some people here who vehometly disagree with my views on some of this stuff. But like I keep tellin em..."where were you when I was building my console.

    Ok, well...what can I help you with? The last time I posted stuff about my console a few assholes here tried to tell me I was all wrong about the computer locations. UNTILL....I showed em my TECH testing everything emf my ass. Show me a person that can hear its effects on my mixer when listening to a recording I made and I'll eat my fucking hat. geeezus..some people are so anal about this stuff they can't smell their own shit. anyway.....

    Ok, heres my view. Whats the point of putting a computer in a box to hide the fan and HD noise, if you're gonna mount the same thing on the outside of the box that the computer has.....ie.....FANS

    You have to get the fans WITHIN a PLENUM, with the supply side DUCTS long enough, with enough bends and absorption in FRONT of the intake and after the exhaust to keep the sound of thes fan sound from feeding back into the room via either structural transmission or air transmission...not an easy task even for small computer fans. .....ie..........


    My solutions can be found here, with some negative comments on them from a few other members. Oh well. I'm STILL using it and it kicks ass.

    Keeping the computer quiet

    Anyway, you asked.......thats what I did. To each his own.

    cheers

    bigwhig........NOT!
    alright breaks over, back on your heads!

  3. #3
    88fingers is offline Dedicated Member
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    I should have known that once Rick came along, I'd have to rethink everything I was already planning.

    Rick, a ton of what you said is stuff I had already considered, but the guy on studio-central forums made me think that with a big enough fan, the noise would be lessened by doing a "case within a case" (so to speak).

    So it looks like what you're saying is, I would need to put some "duct work" from the exhaust area of the cabinet, with several "bends" (possibly coming around behind the desk?) to help disperse the sound? Am I reading that right? Also, do you have something similar with the intake? I can't tell from the pictures. Also from the pictures, I have a hard time discerning where the exhaust plenums end up. How far do they go, and where does the air come out? Do you have any schematics anywhere you could share?

    And what did you build those tubes out of anyway? (Sorry if all that is answered in the thread, I just went straight to the pics since I was in a hurry to head out and meet some friends - if it's all answered there, I'll read it fully this evening)

    Thanks a ton!
    We play in another house, what should we fear?

  4. #4
    chugheshc is offline Senior Member
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    you are making it too complicated.
    pay attention to the components in your DAW:
    if you have a quiet drive, and optimize the airflow inside the box, you can probaby get by with one large, slow moving fan, and maybe a nice quiet fan on a high quality power supply.
    Make sure you have a video card that does not use a fan, and if you do use one, disable the fan on the video card and work out the ducting so taht you can use the air in the case to blow by the card on the way out.
    I have one big fan inside the case, and one small squirrel cage fan in the power supply. Air enters my through my CPU cooler and exits via the power supply and the single large fan I have that blows across the video card on its way out of the box. Noise level is below my threshold.
    Putting your cpu in a box will be a royal pain in the ass, cooling wise, access wise, and space wise. Efficient air handling and throughtful selection of components will serve you much better.
    Barring that, relocate the CPU outside of your recording space with long cables.
    cheers
    C.
    home of the cheap
    land of the improvised

  5. #5
    Rich Smith is offline Senior Member
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    Another option (for some studios) is to isolate your PC in a box, and the run a dampened exhaust duct through a wall to another room and put your exhaust fan in the other room. The "other" room could be anything. A garage, attic, closet.... anything that that keeps to fan noise out of the studio.

  6. #6
    RICK FITZPATRICK's Avatar
    RICK FITZPATRICK is offline Been Here, Posted That
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    you are making it too complicated.
    That all depends on what your skills, needs, and plain old vision you have. I WANTED IT this way...so thats what "I" did

    I have a hard time discerning where the exhaust plenums end up. How far do they go, and where does the air come out? Do you have any schematics anywhere you could share?
    Sure. No prob. The first batch are the finished product with sections. The second is parts and construction. However, this was designed to fit my console, so no dimensions are included...although I could furnish them. The point is to illustrate the principles and ideas. Some people will roll their eyes...doesn't bother me....I HAVE IT NOW and it works maaaaaaaaaaarvelous dahling.































    alright breaks over, back on your heads!

  7. #7
    RICK FITZPATRICK's Avatar
    RICK FITZPATRICK is offline Been Here, Posted That
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    And heres the second batch. I kept the parts white for clarity. The real stuff is Black Melamine and other stuff.




















    alright breaks over, back on your heads!

  8. #8
    RICK FITZPATRICK's Avatar
    RICK FITZPATRICK is offline Been Here, Posted That
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    OOOPS!! Forgot the ones showing the EXHAUST Plenum and ducts(The white thingy in the center of the back. Made of 1/8" Art board and has to SLOT FANS to suck out the hot air send it down to the bottom baffle via the middle plenum.











    Well, thats my story and I'm stickin to it.
    alright breaks over, back on your heads!

  9. #9
    88fingers is offline Dedicated Member
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    Wow Rick, that is a SERIOUS system there. I've studied it (and restudied it) and think I've got some ideas figured out for my specific situation, based off yours. A couple questions about the direction of the airflow.

    In this pic (which looks like it's the most completed view of what's going on inside before you put tops and more foam on): http://httpics.com//is.php?i=902&img...mputer_Fix.jpg

    The exhaust is coming off the back of the computers (in what looks to be two custom-cut slots about an inch or two wide by six-ish long?) into the white manifold, which then has two exhaust fans in it, it looks like. These fans then pull the air into the white center section, which sends it into the bottom section. Am I reading that right? And then the bottom section has no more fans, it is just natural air flow based on pressure that releases the air out the bottom.

    For the intake, air is being drawn through the sides, and twists and turns a bit through that brown section, to the two fans (per computer), not connected to the computer.

    So no fans actually connected to the computer (other than the power supply, I assume), all fans are part of the desk system, right? What types of fans are those intake fans, and what kind of material are the "green" boxes around them constructed from? Also what are the brown sections constructed from?

    Finally, I see one mention of the cable chase, but I don't really see how they come out without breaking all the seals you have all over the place.

    Oh, and what program did you use to draw this up? I would like to get some schematics up for mine without hand-drawing everything and scanning.

    Thanks so much! People can roll their eyes all they want, I want a silent, cool system, and I'm not afraid to take extra steps to get it.
    We play in another house, what should we fear?

  10. #10
    RICK FITZPATRICK's Avatar
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    Hello again. Ok, you understand the exhaust. The supply side is exactly the same. It is pulled from the bottom through the vents at each end of the bottom baffle. Airflow twists through this baffle, and then is pulled up into the plenum with the angled divider, and then into the brown plenum, where meets 2 180 degree turns within, and then through the fans.

    Here is the idea. The computer chambers are sealed, except for the supply and return vents in the bottom. The 2 fans in the green decoupling foam, provide a positive pressure within each of the chambers. The computer powersupply fans therefore have a continual supply of pressurized cool air to pull into the computers themself. Actually, there is a fan in the front of the computers as well. The two exhaust fans pull hot air out of the computers and direct them into a plenum, and then down into the baffle.

    The point of all this is DISTANCE and DIRECTION and DECOUPLING. For every doubling of distance from the source of sound, it reduces 6db. I figured if I created a pathway long enough, and with enough 180 bends, and all mechanical connections decoupled from the enclosure, the sound of the fans would be eliminated. And the sealed chambers would eliminate the HD noise as well.

    But here is my disclaimer. This project was an afterthefact modification of the existing case. I built the case the year before, with no plan for this. It sort of evolved. I'm sure there are simpler ways, and with a little forethought, I could have done it better. Hindsight is always 20/20, but you have to work with what you have, right? Thats what I did. No matter, it works. But to what EXACT extent, I couldn't tell you because I've never actually measured the noise floor with, and without the system running. All I can say is...for me, it works.
    Here is another thing too. My setup is primarily ANALOG. Yea, I have most of the digital stuff, but when I track, I record to 2 synched 16 track MSR 16 tape machines. The only time I use the digital stuff is to dump the tracks to Reaper or other, for further processing or dumping to CD etc. I very seldom mix ITB. Frankly, I hate the sound of modern recordings. They all sound like they came from the same box. Can't put my finger on it though. And thats a whole nuther discussion. Suffice to say, I don't need this thing to keep the computer/fans quiet during recording, cause I never use it when I record.

    Ok, all the fans are silent computer fans. They run off 12v from the computer itself, but I ran a wire from the 12v supply to a switch on the console. Really what I want is a computer operated temperature sensor and switching unit, but thats probably overkill. The green stuff is actually a very resiliant 2" thick foam, which I cut rectangle holes in for the fans and glued them with hotglue. Then I hotglued the foam to a piece of 1/8" thick ply, and in turn, applied a strip of 1/4" x 1/2" foam(it has adhesive preapplied on one side) weatherstripping to the back, and then used contact cement to apply it to the brown plenums. The plenums are all made from the same 1/8" ply, but you could make these from 1/8" white Artboard too. You can find it at any art store, maybe even Walmart. Frankly, I got a whole bag for free at my local art store. Its the cutoffs from mounting art for framing.

    As to the cable chases. Well, thats a work in progress. First, I cut rectangle holes in the back to run the cables through, and figured I'd put a 2 piece wood cover around the cables and seal the cable holes with foam or whatever. That turned out to be a PITA. Too many cables. So I modified the case, so I could run the cables out those holes in the bottom, glue some foam to the back, and when I fasten the back on, it sealed the small cable outlets. Much easier. Actually, if you saw the metal plates over the holes in the back, if push came to shove, I'd build a sealed box that all cables from the computers would terminate in, and in turn, the box would have connectors for every one on the computers. However, that is a MASSIVE undertaking, of which I doubt I'll ever do. No need at this point, but thats the idea. The metal plates would actually duplicate all the connections on the computers, thereby completely sealing the case. Talk about overkill.

    So, thats the deal.
    Anyway, hope that helps. Good luck with your project, and don't hesitate to ask questions.

    Oh, yea, the drawing program is Sketchup. Its free from Google. Just download it. But frankly, its pretty easy to learn the basics, but I'm a detailer. So I've learned lots of stuff to make these jpgs come out this way. It won't happen overnight. Theres lots of tutorials on the net and the Sketchup forums. But even then, I have my own tricks. Ask me though, and I'll give you some clues. Btw, don't get in the habit of drawing objects as though they were just planes. Real objects have 3 dimensions. I draw EVERYTHING as if it were real. That means thickness. Thank goodness for one of Sketchups basic tools, which is called Push/Pull. Greatest 3d drawing tool ever invented. Makes modeling sooooooooo easy. But thats not to say it don't take time. Just easier.

    Heres some assembly bics of the brown plenums. Btw, I'm a journey man millwork/cabinetmaker, so woodworking/building is pretty easy for me, and thats another reason I can draw this stuff. I became a detailer because I know how to build. Having a shop helps too.




    Here is the jig I built just for cutting the round holes. Took 3 times as long to build the jig than to machine the parts. But thats the name of the game if you want things to turn out right.


    Here is the assembly in the first few stages. Note the dadoes in the top and bottom to align the dividers.



    With dividers in place.




    Here is one of the parts after routing one hole.



    Here's the part after maching.



    Here's the part ready to glue to the partially finished plenum. Note the piece of OC 703 at the turn, for absorption.



    Here is the decoupling plates for the fans. Machined from the same jig.



    Here's the plates with the weatherstripping foam applied.



    Here's the masking for contact cement to adhere the decoupling plate to the plenum.



    I don't have any pics of the fan/foam assembly other than after installing.



    I know some people will roll their eyes. Too bad. Mines done, and like I said..it works MAHVALOUS DAHLING!

    fitZ
    alright breaks over, back on your heads!

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