Archive for November 2017

Phanteks p400s Custom Liquid Cooling Loop

I’ve been building computers/servers for roughly 11 years now–first build in 2006 was an Athlon 64 3800+ with a Geforce 6600–and I’ve always only cared about the components themselves, less so what the case or innards look like.

I hit a sort of “midlife crisis” where I wanted to make my home box look really cool. At the time it had 6 hard drives–two mdadm raid1 arrays + 2 SSDs carved using LVM–and I wanted to upgrade to a case with a window, as I was using a windowless Nanoxia Deep Silence 4. The DS4 is a great case but it’s not meant for flashyness. When I built it I hadn’t cared about cable management so it was a mess on the inside.

I opted to go with a Phanteks P400s TG Red Edition as it had a huge tempered glass side panel, LED lights, and room for 8 drives: 2 SSDs behind the motherboard panel, 2 3.5″ slots in the basement, and 4 optional drive slots in the front.

At some point I was convinced to try liquid cooling. I was able to fit a Corsair h80i v2 at the front of the case and it worked really well.

Yet I wanted more. I spent a month researching custom liquid cooling loops, mostly through reading EKWB’s excellent guides and watching Jayz2cents awesome water cooling tutorial videos.

I chose the P400s primarily for the drive capacity; at the time I was still averse to liquid cooling so I didn’t plan for it. The P400s falls short for liquid cooling in that the top can’t fit dual fans + a radiator as the motherboard is too high, and the length of the case doesn’t easily permit a custom loop with a full length graphics card. The basement has–undocumented–pump mounting holes but they aren’t useful when you have a radiator+fans installed.

I opted to go with EKWB parts and a single 240mm rad in the front of the case with the pump+res combo mounted against the rad itself. It all came together quite nicely with a few caveats, after i migrated down from 6 drives to 4 to remove the extras visible in the case taking up radiator space.

The pump+res combo mounted easily to the front of the radiator:

With all of the parts in place, the leak test (distilled water) was uneventful, likely due to using compression fittings:

Here is the finished result:

There are several things I want to make better:

1) The drainage port should be less prominent
2) There isn’t room for a normal-length video card with the pump where it is
3) The CPU specs are a bit outdated and that part of this system is due for an upgrade

Future plans:

– Instead of mounting the pump+res against the radiator, drill holes at the bottom right part of the case so the reservoir tube is just flush against the radiator, to free up lots of room for a full length GFX.

– Get a new mobo/ram, with the i7-8700k when it’s back in stock

– Upgrade to a GTX 1080 with a water block, so I can add that to this loop

– At some point go with rigid tubing, now that I’ve had a good experience with soft tubing

It’s possible I’ll need more radiator space, and I’ll need to decide between adding 120mm radiators in the rear and the top-right part of the case, or going with a different case altogether. I’d like to avoid going with a separate case as alternatives either feel wasteful, look ugly, or are too big.

The Phanteks Enthoo Evolve is pretty much meant for custom liquid cooling loops, but I hate how the front of it looks. The Fractal Design series would work, but they just have window/plastic side panels instead of tempered glass.

Notable EKWB parts used:

EK-CoolStream PE 240 (Dual)
EK-XRES 140 Revo D5 PWM (incl. pump)
EK-Supremacy EVO CPU Water Block (Nickel)
EK-CryoFuel Blood Red Premix 900 mL
EK-AF Ball Valve (10mm) G1/4 – Nickel (for drain port)
EK-AF T-Splitter 3F G1/4 – Nickel (for drain port)
– 2x EK-Vardar EVO 120S (1150rpm)
EK-ACF Fitting 10/16mm – Red (6-pack)
EK-UNI Pump Bracket (120mm FAN) Vertical
EK-DuraClear 9,5/15,9mm 3M

Fixing Bluetooth audio in Ubuntu Xenial

I have a Sony bluetooth speaker I usually use with iPhone and Macbooks. I’ve wanted to use it with my Ubuntu Xenial (4.4.0-93-generic) desktop for a long time but never got around to getting a bluetooth dongle or an RCA cable.

Today I went to Fry’s to get some cables for another project and finally decided to grab a USB Bluetooth dongle. I picked up a Sabrent BT-UB40 as it claims to have Linux support.

The device was immediately recognized and supported in the Unity UI after plugging it in. It also supported pairing to my Sony speaker. However, when trying to “connect” the following messages were dumped to syslog:

Nov  5 14:02:49 machina bluetoothd[26700]: Failed to obtain handles for "Service Changed" characteristic
Nov  5 14:02:49 machina bluetoothd[26700]: Not enough free handles to register service
Nov  5 14:02:49 machina bluetoothd[26700]: Error adding Link Loss service
Nov  5 14:02:49 machina bluetoothd[26700]: Not enough free handles to register service
Nov  5 14:02:49 machina bluetoothd[26700]: message repeated 2 times: [ Not enough free handles to register service]
Nov  5 14:02:49 machina bluetoothd[26700]: Current Time Service could not be registered
Nov  5 14:02:49 machina bluetoothd[26700]: gatt-time-server: Input/output error (5)
Nov  5 14:02:49 machina bluetoothd[26700]: Not enough free handles to register service
Nov  5 14:02:49 machina bluetoothd[26700]: Not enough free handles to register service
Nov  5 14:02:49 machina bluetoothd[26700]: Sap driver initialization failed.

After a bunch of googling and looking at logs, installing the following package and then disconnecting and re-pairing the device makes it usable:
apt-get install pulseaudio-module-bluetooth

Proof:

Linux on the desktop has progressed significantly over the past 10 years in terms of UI to manage hardware, yet some polish is still needed to make things completely JFW out of the box.