Hell Hath No Fury...#

...like a wife who's computer is dead because the water pump stopped working.

Not your usual every day computer problem either, is it?

I had the electrician in here on Wednesday, I wanted the circuits for the workstation bays rewired so that they passed through the server closet. Why? I wanted to move the UPSes for the workstation bays into the server closet. This would accomplish two things: reduced noise and more space in the tiny 12U workstation bays.

Since my electrician wired the place during the renovation, he didn't have a problem with what I was doing, why I was doing it and why it had to happen. He's learned that with me, weird is the norm. The whole thing was done in just a few hours.

Of course, while the electrical work was going on, the workstation circuits had to be disconnected, which meant all the workstations were off. My wife and I worked from our laptops for the few hours that the work took. When the work was done, however, there was a casuality - the water pump.

Naturally, my machines both powered up again just fine. But my wife's workstation wouldn't power up at all. I figured it was the power supply, and I always have a spare, so I pulled the machine out, popped the cover and plugged the power supply into just the main power of the board to see if it would start, and it did.

Feeling smug at my immediate diagnosis, I pulled all the power plugs off the gear in the machine, unmounted the power supply and performed the swap out, plugging everything back in. And it didn't work. Doncha love it when that happens?

Fortunately, this had happened to me before, and I am blessed with a pretty good memory when it comes to stupid things happening to me. So I unplugged the pump and turned the machine on. It wouldn't start. I switched the power supply off for a few seconds, then turned it back on again, then tried to power up the machine and it worked. So I plugged the pump in - boom, dead machine again. Unplug the pump, power the machine, no workie. Turn off the power supply, turn it back on, power the machine, and it works. See the pattern?

What's happening is that the controlling circuitry in the pump is causing a dead short in the power supply. The power supply, to protect itself, effectively shuts off and won't power up. Until you cycle the power supply itself, its not going to turn on again.

So, I've fried another pump. How? Beats me, it sucks. I go to my favorite supplier of Innovatek gear and discover there's a shiny NEW version of the pump available, with improved electronics. Hmmm - maybe its not just me? So I order the pump immediately with overnight shipping. Admittedly, it was late at night on Wednesday when I did this, so the order wasn't filled until Thursday.

Lo and behold, on Friday the pump actually showed up! Its a miracle! So now the fun of retrofitting a pump comes into play. And you know what that means - time to drain the system.

Ah, how awful life would be without a bulb pump. You can see I'm using the pump to push air into the system and force the water out into the yogurt container.

After the bulk of the water was drained out, I turned the machine up on its side and removed the side of the case - the only way to extract the pump.

The reservoir is mounted to the pump, which is at the lowest part of the case, normally. Turning it up on its side drains the last bit of water out of it, trying to minimize the mess - I've learned this from experience.

The reservoir is pressure-fit onto the pump and takes some twisting to get off the pump. You can see in the photo that the reservoir is sitting on top of the case, its rubber-gasketed pump mount visible.

Here you can see the pump has been removed, its slide off base still in place. What I had forgotten was that the pump slides off backward (down) into the case. I had to pull the drive assembly out a few inches to get the pump loose.

The new pump dropped into place easily enough, its the updated model of the old pump, hopefully with this short-out problem resolved. I've had two pumps gone this way now, admittedly both were a couple of years old.

Once the pump is reinstalled, the reservoir is pressed into place, and then the hoses are fitted back on.

Just to complicate matters further, I swapped out the old GEForce4 video card for my more advanced ATI Radeon 9800XT with the double-sided water jacket.

With everything hooked back up, it was time to put the case back together and get things running again. These rackmount cases are awesome, but unfortunately no longer available anywhere. They're true workstation cases - no locking face plate, and there's no rivets or welds anywhere, the entire case is assembled with screws, so that every part can be removed.

Add in the lucky coincidence that the standard Innovatek radiator fits in the case along with a 120mm fan and you have, in my opinion, the best darn rack mount water cooled PC case possible. That's why I have three of 'em.

The old pump sitting outside the case now, you can see I have the pump bypass plugged into the power supply to run with pump without powering up the machine. Distilled water and a little Innovatek water conditioner are added, I discard the old water.

After some time tapping and burping lines to get all the bubbles out, the water loop ran steady, so it was time to power up fully. The machine came to life without consequence, recognized the new video card and everything was good to go.

For the moment the machine is back in its workstation bay, cover off while I check temperatures and keep an eye on things in general. Once you've breached a water loop, its worth keeping an eye on it for awhile to make sure its not leaking or anything stupid is happening.

Meantime, I still have to actually take advantage of the electrical changes and shuffle my UPSes around.

Saturday, June 25, 2005 11:35:26 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) #    Comments [3]  |  Tracked by:
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