Help me gel this idea up...

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by mbabauer, May 31, 2006.

  1. mbabauer macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    #1
    Ok, I am planning my new home office, and trying to gel up some of the ideas I had.

    One thing I know for certain is that I am going to try my hand at building a custom concrete desktop surface. I have studied up on how to do this, and I am pretty handy, so I figure what the heck, right?

    Well, ever since the purchase of my MBP (I was in the first wave of buyers), heat has been a concern. The MBP is my MAIN machine now. I develop on it, do email and such, cut home videos, etc. It stays on 24x7, and I am pretty much on it all the time. For the most part, it sits plugged into my 20" cinema display on a wooden desk surface.

    Now, back to the plan. Right now the room is carpet. I plan on tearing that out. I have a friend that owns a contractors surplus place, and will totally hook up a great deal on wood flooring when she gets some in...thats locked.

    The next piece is the server farm. I currently have 9 computers in this room (1 MBP, 1 PB for my wife, my work laptop, 1 IBM T23 Windows laptop, 1 linux desktop, 3 linux servers, 1 linux IPCop firewall), and 2 more that need to be built. Thats a lot of heat. I want to put the servers in the closet, drop a vent down the wall for AC, and put a Temp Controlled exhaust at the top to exhaust the hot air...this is pretty set too.

    The final piece is the work surface. My tiny 'L' shapped desk currently has a 20" cinema and MBP, plus a 20" IBM P200 monitor, Dell 610, IBM T23, and KVM on it. Needless to say there is no room.

    Now, to the plan for the desk. I know I want to do a concrete desktop. I have envisioned it having holes and moldings made for various things. One thing I thought of was some place to sit the MBP to help cool it. The thought is I could put a copper plate, probably just slightly smaller (perhaps 1") than the size of the MBP, in a possition that suits. The plate would be placed into an indentioned area, meant to fit the MBP, and designed in such a way that the rubber feet on the MBP would allow the plate to sit directly on the bottom of the laptop.

    Now, here is where it gets fuzzy. One thought would be to design a "heat pipe", using one or more solid copper bars to pipe the heat off the plate and away from the lappy, maybe into a finned radiator or something. The other would have a spot molded into the bottom of the plate so that one or more fans could draw the heat off; this has the downside of noise.

    First thougt is along the adverse effects a conductive metal like copper would have on the MBP. I wouldn't think that it would matter, but I may be wrong. Second issue is finding a place that can provide me a custom sized copper plate, possible with a solid curved copper pipe on the bottom. I do not have much in the way of metal milling equipment, nor do I know how to weld copper, so doing this myself may be a problem.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. liketom macrumors 601

    liketom

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2004
    Location:
    Lincoln,UK
    #2
    Your mad :D

    sounds kinda funky though maybe a desktop surface made of copper ?

    got any designs on computer on what it would look like

    EDIT : or ... lol you could have a plasic case as a worktop filled with a water like water cooling
     
  3. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #3
    If you're not terribly experienced at welding, don't make your first project one that will be visible. Go ahead, ask me how I know that! :p

    Also, if you are using laptops on your desk a lot I can suggest a nice flip-up power supply/ethernet/phone connector. Unfortunately I don't have the product name at my fingertips, so I'll have to get home before I can show it to you, but essentially it is a box that is recessed into a desk surface so that it is flat when closed, but when you need a power supply, or internet connection you can flip it up and plug the laptop (or extra laptop or whatever) in right on the top of the desk. Handy if you move your laptop a lot, or find yourself frequently transferring files that are too big for your wireless connection to handle easily.

    Also, if you're a handy guy, look here under 'Computer Hardware' for some very nice accessories including vents and all the inserts and grommets you'll need to pull wires through your desk cleanly.
     
  4. mbabauer thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    #4
    Hahahaha, that much copper would probably get me struck by lightning.

    I don't have any scetches or anything yet. I suck at CAD, and I haven't really found anything on the net other than people that did kitchens and such. The main inspiration is a book called "Concrete Countertops" by Fu-Tung Cheng. This guy does AMAZING things with concrete, and the book is awesome. His two websites are here and here. Tons of great info there, and lots ideas to look at.

    For the most part, I am going for a light top, probably beige or tan, with dark agregate, most likely dark cobalt blue and white. The layout will come latter, but I want to start putting together a list of design requirements, the cooling of the laptop being one of them. The concrete top "should" help with heat on its own over the wood surface I use now.

    Anyway, if I ever do get some designs together or something, I'll post them.
     
  5. liketom macrumors 601

    liketom

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2004
    Location:
    Lincoln,UK
    #5
    them sites have some real nice designs on them , i can see why you are looking to do it now :) for a minute i had a visions of concrete carparks :rolleyes:

    keep us posted on what you come up with :cool:
     
  6. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #6
    Up to a point. Concrete will absorb heat for a while, but if it's not given sufficient time to cool it will cease to be an effective heat sink.

    In building design we take advantage of concrete's heat capacity by designing walls thick enough that they are only reaching heat capacity by the end of the day, then they cool enough overnight that the next day they are ready to absorb heat again.

    If you use your computer constantly you run the risk of exceeding your surface's heat capacity without sufficient mass.
     
  7. Xander562 macrumors 68000

    Xander562

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    #7
    i was thinking about something like this, you could have a massive water cooling apparatus underneath the copper plate. having cool water continuously runing onthe undersurface of the plate would keep it plenty cool. i am interested in seeing how this looks when it's done. Work on this. Try some different designs and practice a bit before you make the real thing. good luck!
     
  8. Les Kern macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2002
    Location:
    Alabama
    #8
    I bought two $59.00 L-shaped desks from Staples. Handy or not, that's a crazy amount of work to do for a work surface. Concrete? Why not hand-carve it out of a block of solid carborundum? Aren't there more urgent needs in your life?
     
  9. mbabauer thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    #9
    Well, first of all I work from home, which means I spend a LOT of time in my office...all day for the most part. Secondly, I just like doing stuff like this. For instance, I renovated a 100yr old 2 story house (really 3 story since I renovated the attic, which had 10' ceilinf line) in Jacksonville which had a flat 13'x15' roof, often called a "widows walk", with a trap door. The roof then pitched off to a metal roof at ~45deg. When I got the house, the flat roof was rolled asfault roofing material, but I saw the potential of making it a nice deck. I did some research, got an architect friend to come take a look, and after beefing up the bracing in the joists, I laid down hardi backer board and 25 cases of outdoor tile, all carried up 2 very tight flight of stairs and a temporary 2x4 ladder. I then put up an aluminum rail around (looked like rod iron), and put a skylight hatch in place of the piece of plexy glass the previous owner put up there. The result was one of the BEST views of downtown Jacksonville. I could see the fireworks, blimp, whatever. It was the crowning feature of the house.

    So, yeah, I probably have better things to do, but hey, its fun to try to build stuff. Plus, when your done, and you see your work, its an awesome feeling.

    To put it another way...some people just hire a tile guy...I get a book, figure out how to do it, spend months planning it all out, then do it myself. My motto...there is NOTHING I can't learn from a book. From my readying, the majority of the hardest work of a concrete countertop is in the making of the form. I am pretty decent at wood working, and I think really good at "shooting from the hips", so I think I will survive that part. The second hardest part is in the mixing and pouring of the concrete, both of which I have done WAY more times that I care to imaging. Other than a back ache, nothing much too it.
     
  10. mbabauer thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    #10
    I was hoping to find someone else more experienced to do the welding part, if necessary. Also, in my mind, only the plate surface would be exposed up top. The rest of the cooling mechinisms will be in the concrete itself. Picture a flat, ground concrete surface that has a copper plate inlaid into it.

    Also, thanks for suggesting Lee Valley. I didn't even think about checking there. I have checked out Rockler, as I get their magazine, and saw the laptop plug you speak of, as well as MANY cable knockouts. I planned to have all the bells and whistles placed into the form at pour time. I will definately compare prices between Lee and Rockler though. The trick is going to be planning the internal support, usually in the form of rebar and wire, to support the weight of the concrete and how it fits around those special cutouts.
     
  11. mbabauer thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    #11
    Anyone know where one would go about getting the copper parts? I mean, what do I look for under the Yellow Pages, "Crazy Ideas Involving Copper"?
     
  12. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Location:
    Colly-fornia
    #12
    What size rebar are you planning to use? #3 is the thinnest I've used. Can you get it in smaller sizes?

    And I'm sure you know this already, but if you're using wire mesh, make sure it's supported pretty regularly so the concrete doesn't push it to the bottom of the form during the pour.

    And are you set on welding the copper? It's pretty soft, shouldn't be too hard to drill and tap the plate to mechanically fasten stuff to it...
     

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