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[Worklog] Custom TV Cabinet with console ventilation and sound dampening


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#1 TheFrunj

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 08:36 PM

Read on if your Xbox 360 Slim or PS3 Slim run a bit warm, or if you just want a fun project

Consoles and my free TV

I am (or at least, used to be, and would like to be again) a serious gamer across PC, console, and handheld. I don't hold fanboyish loyalties to any one company, though I do enjoy specific series more than others (eg Microsoft and Halo/Gears of War, Nintendo with Metroid and Zelda).

I've also had an Xbox 360 since day one of its late launch in Australia, one that got RROD and was repaired, then gave up the ghost and needed replacing. I would rather not have this console die again, and it makes a decent amount of noise when running, so it's the first candidate for cooling and quietening.

I've also recently come into possession of a 250GB PS3 Slim that my parents bought as a Blu-Ray player; it shuts off after an hour or two watching Blu-Rays sitting in the lounge room entertainment unit, which has since been replaced by a stand-alone LG BP620 Blu-Ray player, so I hope to rehabilitate the PS3 in the hopes it's just thermal shutoff. It isn't super loud, though the disc drive does make a bit of sound when spinning.

And a Wii, which I haven't touched since Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime 3, etc. But it might as well be thrown in the mix too.

All this will be run into a Panasonic Viera TH-L32B6A LED LCD TV that I won, and will be stored in my wardrobe so I can chill on my bed and watch tv or play games.

But first, I need a few things...

A Custom TV Stand

Space was a bit tight in my wardrobe, but I found a TV Trolley at a local furniture shop (Lins Bros Furniture) that was almost perfect - and luckily for me, they do custom furniture. So I managed to give them my measurements, and we squeezed the depth of the unit down to 430mm (enough that the wardrobe door slides over the front of it), as well as including a number of circular holes on the sides of the unit at 105mm.

I could've probably done the holes myself, but I lacked a circular saw that diameter, and they were happy to do it for me.

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The cabinet, minutes after arriving. Tofu (my cat) was intensely curious.

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Lins Bros cut 105mm holes in each side for my cooling system. They also cut a 105mm hole in the back, which was a little larger than I intended, but really who cares - cables fit through with ease.

All up it cost me only $209, and though there was a slight delay because of a backlog, the manager of the store delivered it for free on his way home after work which I greatly appreciated.

First Up: Ventilation System

Putting consoles in the bottom of the cabinet might be okay in winter, but Aussie summers aren't so great (especially with a north-facing room), and the potentially overheating PS3 will definitely need a helping hand. To that end, I grabbed a bunch of components to put together a high performing but relatively quiet system to bring in oodles of fresh air.

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Various components, not all are pictured, but all are described below:

2x Scythe Gentle Typhoon 1850RPM 120mm Fans - $43.95 (incl $7 ship)
Might seem a bit counterintuitive, but I don't plan to run these at full speed. I would have chosen 1600RPM or 1350RPM, but they didn't have any in stock at the time. No biggie.

2x 120mm Aluminium Fan Filters - $12
Ain't nobody want dust in their cabinet. If you know what I mean. Winky face.gif
Initially I wanted one exhaust, but after trying it out (bonus non-embedded pic!) it didn't look very good, so I went with two filtered intakes instead.

2x Black 120mm Fan Grille - $9
To stop cables and cats getting in the fan blades on the inside of the cabinet.

4x 120mm Silicone Fan Mounts - $14
No longer shall vibrations transfer entirely to the cabinet!

10x 50mm M4 Bolts & 12 M4 Nuts - $7.35 + $4.76 respectively
For the securing of various fans and controllers to the cabinet. I didn't use all of these, but probably will in later projects.

12v AC/DC plugpack power supply w/ pos neg terminal adapter - $12
To provide power to the fans.

Lian Li Fan Controller stolen from case - potential replacement controller is anything PWM, not voltage based. Like the STW A5 for $17.

PC Fan extension cable - I had one lying around from an old Zalman fan controller, but they're only a few bucks.

Total cost minus cabinet: $120
Total with cabinet: $329

Very reasonable price, I think, for the functionality it will offer.

Mounting the Fans

First I took a 120mm grille and a pencil, and aligned it to the cutouts, then drew a dot at each of the four mounting holes.
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Tofu decided I needed help with such things. He was not a very helpful assistant... (bonus non-embedded pic!)

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I grabbed a drill with a 2.35mm bit for pilot holes, then increased to a 3.97mm bit and wiggled it around to make room for the M4 (4mm) bolts. Then it was time for the components, in this order:

M4 Bolt Head > 120mm Filter > 120mm Silicone > cabinet wall |
| cabinet wall > 120mm Silicone > Scythe fan > 120mm Grille > M4 nut

To mount the fan controller I simply drilled two more holes and mounted it with M4 bolts and nuts. Simple.
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Apologies for the lighting of that last shot, I ran out of juice in my portable LED spotlight so had to use an LED torch.

I hope to have more updates in the next few days or weeks, as I find energy to implement more of my plans. Please let me know what you think below!
"TheFrunj doesn't guess, when he forms words with his lips, the world will Warp and change to do his bidding." - Shikimaru No longer writing for Atomic :( http://forums.atomic...showtopic=49899

#2 Waltish

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 01:04 AM

Sweet work, let us know how the PS3 fares in the cabinet. PS: Good to hear your energy is on the up TheFrunj :-)

Edited by Waltish, 25 August 2013 - 01:10 AM.

? After All This Time ?

 

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#3 gabber

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 06:06 PM

Sweet tutorial. Digging the step by step layout with generous sized pics. It's looking good.

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#4 gunny

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 08:03 PM

Sweet tutorial. Digging the step by step layout with generous sized pics. It's looking good.


tech plus cat = win!

#5 nobody813

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 08:46 PM

Sweeeeet Also good on Tofu :-P

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#6 TheFrunj

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 08:56 PM

Post 2: Installing Acoustic Foam


Another update! I hadn't done anything for a few days after the last update, but progress has been achieved, so let's write about it (or in your case, read about it).

At this point the cabinet has two fans sucking in cool air, which blows the hot air out the back and through the cracks of the front doors. However, the fans themselves and the consoles - particularly the 360 Slim's PSU - make noise, which is amplified by the bare wood internals. I aim to fix that.

Applying the foam in a semi-permanent way

As I'm likely to frequently change my mind on things, or potentially upgrade later on, I decided that I wouldn't go the traditional route of basting the back of some acoustic foam in adhesive and slapping it on the walls. My alternative was more expensive, but also more flexible. I measured the insides of the cabinet, excluding the floor and the front doors.

Here's what I ordered:

6x Acoustic Foam panels, 30cm x 30cm, black - $29.90
Pretty essential for this project. In hindsight I should have ordered 12 at a time, but I had measured the internals and it came to six panels. It's noticeably denser than packing foam, and is easier to work with a sharp blade.

1.5m of 3M Dual Lock Tape (25mm wide) - $35.50
Yes, this is overkill. No, I probably won't ever need to move the panels or adjust things. But I do like this product, it's almost exactly the same as the 3M brand Command Strips I've used in the past to hang up paintings. Super sturdy. It should be noted that this stuff is outdoor-rated and will likely strip paint if you try to remove it from an internal wall.

Digger's Isopropyl Alcohol 125mL (100% Isopropanol) - cost me $8.95 from my local hardware shop and I've had it for ages.

Paper towel. I dunno, two sheets?

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The parts involved in all their glory.

Total cost: $70
Project cost so far: $399

Cramped hands, square tape

As I have six panels of foam, I decided to mount them with four pieces of tape. I cut them into 2.5cm lengths, so I ended up with 48 individual squares of 3M Dual Lock tape (plus 30cm left over for whatever I can use it for in the future).

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Then I pressed the squares against each other, forming 24 pairs, which equates to four tape pairs per foam panel. Just regular scissors used to cut them.

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Next I worked on the two pieces of acoustic foam paneling that were to go on the sides of the cabinet. It was as simple as getting a 120mm fan as a template, centering it, then cutting at the material with a sharp box cutter (i.e. stanley knife). Peeled off the backing on one side of each pair of tape, then applied with pressure for a few seconds.

I wiped down the mating surface of the cabinet with a decent splash of isopropyl alcohol and paper towel, removing the surface dust and other things left from manufacture.

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One of the rear wall foam panels required cutting for the fan controller, again this was done with a box cutter.

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The remaining three panels were super simple to mount, as they required no cutting, and the end result is decently professional. Plus I can remove the panels later. See?!? Totally worth the fancy tape.

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Finally, I gave the outside of the cabinet a polish with Marveer Furniture Polish and more paper towel, it's got Beeswax and other such things in it. I also gave the glass windows a wipe, but some staining material was on one window and I couldn't shift it with window cleaner. Didn't bother with isopropyl, though I may in the future if it bugs me.

Next post I hope to get some cooling systems mounted directly to the consoles, and I've got things in the post that should modify the setup to further reduce vibration noise from the consoles. But that will have to wait until another time :)
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#7 TheFrunj

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 04:18 PM

Post 3: Custom Xbox 360 and Wii cooling

Now that the cabinet has foam and a fresh air intake, I moved on to one of the biggest heat producers I'll be running in there: My Xbox 360 Slim. My experiences with technology have led me to know that better cooling equals longer, more stable life, and this is exactly what I want.

I have, in the past, attempted to use a premade exhaust fan from China (not from this seller), but it would fall off the console constantly, and made an awful lot of noise. I guess I can't expect much for the $10.40 I paid for it last year, though I never used it for long. I can do better.

Supplies!

hehe, supplies.

This time I'm going to strap a good fan to the Xbox, so I chose a 1850RPM Gentle Typhoon for its high static pressure and noise characteristics. These fans have been used in PC watercooling radiators by many enthusiasts, and I'm sure they'll do fine here. Also using these for the cabinet intake for similar reasons.

1x Scythe Gentle Typhoon 120mm 1850RPM fan - $20

1x 120mm Silicone Fan Mount - $4

1x Black 120mm fan grille - $4

A handful of cable ties

Total 360 cooling system cost: $28
Total so far: $427

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I started by grabbing a 2.5mm x 150mm black cable tie, curled the end into a hook shape, and passed it through the top-right corner of the 360 Slim exhaust grille, being careful not to scratch the console with my pliers. This is totally reversible for those concerned about warranty issues (mine's expired, but it really doesn't hurt anything - just snip the cable ties off if you ever want to remove it).

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The bottom-left corner of the exhaust grille was much trickier to thread a cable tie through, as the angle of the slats wasn't conducive to nabbing the tie. I wound up trimming the end of the cable tie up until the treads, just chopped with a pair of scissors. This made it much easier to get it to cooperate.

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For those wondering how I do my cable tie acrobatics and shaping into hooks and other useful forms, here's the secret: twist the crap out of it with a pair of pliers. Yup.

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The cable ties threaded, I secured the fan to the grille and tied them down. The order of components is:

360 Slim Grille > 120mm Silicone > 120mm fan > 120mm fan grille

It's important to note that the back frame of the fan is pointing away from the console; as the 360 slim has a natural exhaust, having it face the other way would blow hot air back into the console and be rather pointless. This way the fan will suck a lot more air through the heatsink of the console, and get hot air away much faster. You can see a more detailed look at the internals of the 360 Slim in iFixit's repair guide.

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I took a sexy shot of the console with fan attached. As a semi-permanent install, it manages to look pretty good! The USB fan power cable is of course optional; the Gentle Typhoon will run at this low voltage, but it will only provide a marginal improvement to temperatures as it isn't enough ergs to run at full speed. I'll hook it up to the cabinet's fan controller once it's closer.

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My final modification to the Xbox 360 Slim is its external power supply, which runs pretty hot unless supplied with tonnes of fresh air and plenty of space. I considered drilling holes in the cabinet for more bolts to suspend it from the roof, but decided against it and instead grabbed two aluminium speaker adapter things that I got years ago with a Sony HTIB set, cut up a bit of Silicone Pot Holder I got from Kmart for two bucks, and cable tied it together. This way no vibrations from its tiny fan will transfer to the cabinet, and it's higher up where the fresh air's at. Since this mod I haven't heard the PSU at all and it's only warm to the touch.

Why not Wii?

Why not indeed? I haven't touched the Wii in a while, as I've said, but I'm in a tying-fans-to-things mood so I'll give this one a go, too. Definitely overkill, but I don't really care.

1x 50mm Sunon 5010 Maglev fan - $10
I spent a while looking for a small fan with a bearing type that wasn't sleeve bearing (otherwise known as horrible quality, loud and vibration-prone). This one seemed to fit the bill, and appears very good quality.

1x 50mm fan grille - $4
It was more like $2, but I had to order two as this was cheaper than ordering a single one. Go figure. Keeps fingers and cables out.

Again, a handful of cable ties.

Total: $14
Total so far: $441

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Here it is, tied to the exhaust of the Wii and powered with a USB fan adapter. I couldn't get it very flush against the console so it's not the highest pressure, but it will still aid cooling. Again the fan's frame is pointed away from the exhaust of the console.

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Another angle showing how the fan is attached. At 5V it runs pretty well, though I later swap it to the cabinet's fan controller to get a bit more oomph out of it. Seems to be good at ~10V. I've also checked to see if the Wii's inbuilt fan will spin with the cable ties there; it does just fine.

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Here's the layout I would use if I only had these two consoles in the cabinet: 360 Slim in horizontal mode on the right, Wii standing upright on the left. The 360 Slim intakes cool air from both its ends, so standing upright isn't necessarily ideal, but if I'm to put a PS3 Slim in here as well I will need to stand it up.

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Speaking of the PS3 Slim, here's a preview of the next post where I get the other console in and move things about a bit! There are flaws with how the consoles are positioned now; namely that the 360 is exhausting hot air directly against a wall, and that the PS3 has no direct cool air intake. So I'll probably swap the two around.
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#8 NukeJockey

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 04:52 PM

I had 5 of those Scythe GT Fans when I was running my WCing, used to run them at 50% and they still did an excellent job, at 100% they were fantastic, if a little noisy, but very good coolers overall. Its turning out awesomely anyway frunjy, can't wait to see it all finished.
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#9 TheFrunj

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 08:45 PM

Post 4: PS3 Slim Cooling and final dampening


Now that I'd successfully strapped a fan to my Xbox, it was the PS3 Slim's turn to get some attention. Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly simple to find a good spot to actually attach anything: the PS3 has an unconventional intake system and an awkwardly-shaped exhaust. Unlike the 360 Slim, which intakes cool air on two flat sides and exhausts on another big flat grille, the PS3 Slim (including the Phat original and newer Super Slim) intake cool air from beneath the console, with thin gaps in the overhanging ledge somewhat similar to a house eave. In this way it doesn't really intake from one place, rather all over the console, and the air is ducted through an internal fan to be exhausted kinda all over the back of the console, passing over the PSU as it goes.

However in running some quick tests in the vertical orientation, most of the heat generated appears to pool at the top rear of the console. The internal fan never seems to kick in, thus the heat can pool here and it is the hottest part of the casing when running. I did my best to attach something here, which required just a few bits:

1x Xilence Red Wing 80mm Hydro Bearing Fan - $8
One of the cheapest 80mm fans I could find that had anything other than a sleeve bearing. I'm using the same kind of fan in another project for my headphone amplifier.

1x 80mm Fan Grille - $1.69

Cable ties

Yup. That's it really.

Total: $9.69
Total so far: $450.69

Moar fans


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As the hottest part of the console was at the top, I decided to strap the fan as seen in this pic, using the cable tie kung fu I detailed earlier in this worklog. This was significantly more frustrating than the 360 Slim as the PS3 Slim's vent slats were closer together, angled, and had dividers every few centimeters.

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Once attached the fan looks pretty smart, sorta. A bit out of place but there's not much I can do about that.

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The fan is pointed in the usual exhaust style, and is mounted high enough to not interfere with the network/ethernet port. Best of all it does appear to improve temperatures in this region - it felt noticeably cooler with the fan running than without it.

A silly idea

Previously, I had purchased one of those USB fans that you whack in the front of the console to supposedly improve its airflow. As the console had been located in an entertainment unit's shelf, this made sense to my brain as it brought in cooler air from outside the shelf, but in practice it was horribly loud and made next to no difference to cooling. The latter is probably still the case, but I had it, so why not use it.

PS3 USB cooling fan - $6

Total so far: $456.69

It cost me six bucks, but even with the acoustic foam and closed cabinet, I could still hear the whirring fan. So, I pulled it apart to tinker.

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I removed the screws and pulled the casing apart, then grabbed a USB to 3-pin fan connector and hooked it up to one of those fan speed resistor adapters that come with Noctua (and other) fans. I removed the male end of the resistor adapter using a straightened paperclip, jamming it into the connector to flatten the pin holding it in place.

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This is what the test setup looked like. To power the fan, I grabbed the red and black wires and simply attached them to the appropriate solder spots on the tiny PCB of the fan unit (yellow is unimportant) - being careful not to touch the bare wires together, or hitting myself with them. It's only 5 volts, but better be careful than get a little zap. Lo and behold, the fan was spinning at this reduced voltage, and it was much quieter.

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Using a sharp knife, I gently stripped the heatshrinking that covered up the resistor. To those asking, yes I could have just bought my own resistors, but this was what I had around at the time I was feeling like doing this, so deal with it :P

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I cut the fan's positive power wire away from the USB PCB connector, stripped it carefully using pliers, and also stripped the resistor cable. In an ideal world I'd have soldered the wires together, but I couldn't be bothered for such a minor thing, so just grabbed some spare heatshrink from my PC build.

It's important to remember to thread the heatshrink over the wires before you tie them together (bonus non-embedded pic!), and also to make sure you twist them together so that they're mechanically strong (you should not be able to pull the wires apart with moderate force). The heatshrink is just an insurance plan to make sure it doesn't move.

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Then it was a simple matter of cramming the wires back into the enclosure, and screwing the sides of the casing back in. I also took this moment to use my pliers to wrench out the blue LED the manufacturer included that is bright enough to read a book with.

I'm quite sure that this fan is totally pointless, and won't really make any difference at all, but I bought it so I'm gonna make use of it!!!

Final acoustic and mechanical dampening, cooling tweaks

At this point in the project, I've strapped one or more fans to each console, and applied acoustic material to almost every surface of the cabinet. However, there was still a large portion that was uncovered, and that absorbs the vibrations of the consoles directly - the floor. The consoles also could have done with some vertical stabilisation; the Wii already came with a stand, the 360 Slim was designed to stand upright but can wobble, and the PS3 Slim isn't supposed to be upright without a stand. So I bought some.

PS3 Slim Vertical Stand - $3.15
A plastic foot that clips onto the console, cheap and it arrived quickly. Helps it stay upright for sure.

Xbox 360 Slim Vertical Stand - $7
A plastic pedestal that the console sits upon, it doesn't really attach to it at all. Took just over a month to arrive.

EPDM Rubber Sheet 12.75in x 30.25in - $29.69
The perfect material to dampen vibration and sound, this feels similar to the material that wetsuits are made of. It's very spongy and is easily workable. The seller offered a custom size that suited my needs perfectly, slightly larger than the space I had, but it's trim-able with scissors for the perfectionists out there (I however am too lazy to bother).

Total: $39.84
Total so far: $496.53

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The Xbox 360 Slim on its new pedestal. Though I felt it was perfectly stable sitting on its base even on the rubber, the air intake was severely impeded when sitting on the rubber mat. This stand allows it to draw in cool air from behind the console, and exhaust it where the 120mm fan sits. The airflow improvement is noticeable when lifting the console away from the mat, and it's just fine sitting on the pedestal.

As it took so long to arrive, I had sat the console on a 120mm fan grille from my Lian Li case to lift it slightly (bonus non-embedded pic!), but this is a better long term solution.

Summary of thoughts thus far

For me, I've achieved almost everything I set out to. The setup has been in use a bit over the past few weeks, and I'm mostly happy with how it wound up. Here's a pic in the final layout:

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All three consoles fit, they're all cooled, and with the doors of the cabinet closed, all I can hear is a gentle hum from the intake fans.

Now for the downsides.

The PS3 Slim exhibited crashes before I inherited it, and even though it's placed with a powerful intake fan directly facing the underbelly of the console (where it intakes air), and has an additional USB fan (that arguably does nothing), with an additional exhaust fan helping move the hot air away.... the thing still crashes. However, the situations in which it crashes are confusing (repeated a couple times each):

3 hours of Blu-Ray playback... no crash
1 hour of idling in a LBP2 level... no crash
50 minutes of watching a DVD... crash.

This makes me wonder if there's not a problem with the Cell processor, as I know it's been used for transcoding and other duties by other companies, so is likely used by Sony in the PS3 to upscale DVDs to 1080P. The GPU is more suited to Blu-Ray playback and games, hence the CPU isn't being used as much and isn't causing the crash. Of course I have no way to verify this, as I don't have any industry contacts to ask, but it's as good a guess as any.

I'll keep using it so long as it plays Blu-Rays properly, but DVD duties will have to go to the 360 for the forseeable (which is a shame, as the 360 doesn't upscale the picture quite as nicely).

On the other hand, the Xbox 360 runs fantastically - it's only warm to the touch, the PSU can't be heard, and its life is hopefully extended as long as possible. It's a pleasure to use the TV setup for films, and I can crank up the fans if I'm planning on gaming.

If I ever wind up getting a next-gen console (eg XB1 or PS4) I'll definitely be strapping a PC fan to them and adding them to the collection, and by that time it's likely the PS3 will have died so there will be room to add them. The new consoles both play Blu-Rays so that's an easy choice. If I so desire I could buy a cheap Blu-Ray player to sit in the small shelf above the cabinet, but I prefer a multipurpose device.

In all I think it was a fun and worthwhile project, one I hope you had fun reading about. If you have any questions, thoughts or comments, please leave them below as I like reading what people think of the stuff I do :)
"TheFrunj doesn't guess, when he forms words with his lips, the world will Warp and change to do his bidding." - Shikimaru No longer writing for Atomic :( http://forums.atomic...showtopic=49899

#10 NukeJockey

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Posted 29 September 2013 - 11:26 PM

<nitpick>Would probably look a fair bit neater if you cut that rubber mat stuff to the correct size</nitpick> Otherwise very cool. I remember trying to hook my PS3, 360, Wii and HTPC up to a 1080p monitor with only 1 HDMI and 1 VGA input, ended up having to spend heaps of money to get it done. Different situation than yours, my consoles were fine, I just hated having to switch HDMI cables all the time.
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#11 AccessDenied

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 11:30 AM

Quite nifty. My 'neat-freak' on electronics projects is having a bit of a spazz. But I appreciate that once it's all tucked away, you won't see it. BTW. Will take you to task about the "You need to twist the joints before soldering". Don't need to. A good solder joint is just as strong without twisting. Infact, NASA high-reliability soldering technique is 'not twisting'. I studied that for a while, but I never went all the way to getting myself NASA certified. I just learnt the technique in a 1 semester soldering workshop. (yes. 1 entire semester devoted to just soldering. twice a week. 2hrs per class. Turning up to class. Soldering components. De-soldering components. Soldering wires. De-soldering wires. All joints inspected under microscope.) AD
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#12 TheFrunj

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 05:19 PM

Yeah I agree I need to tuck the wires away, but I'm still messing with it and the PS3 might not be long for the cabinet anyway, don't wanna have to do it twice. Though messy it doesn't have a big negative effect on cooling. Hm, interesting. I'm not a qualified electrician, but my mum's friend worked in an electronics repair shop and taught me how to solder (basic stuff like installing a car head unit and such). It certainly hasn't let me down thus far. What's the reasoning behind not tying the wires together? Potential stressing of the fibres making it more prone to breakage?
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#13 AccessDenied

AccessDenied

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Posted 30 September 2013 - 07:22 PM

Main reason is "It hides sloppy workmanship". A joint made with 2 pieces of 'metal' in contact is as strong as twisting and soldering. To give you an idea, our assessment at mid-semester was simple. Get a block of wood. About 1' square. Have 1 nail every 1" starting 1" from edge and around the edge. So 10 nails on each edge. Get a piece of wire LONG wire. Wrap it around the first nail and stretch it across to other side, work it around the nail, and then back. And well.. To make it simple, you create a grid of wire. You then solder every nail (Copper nails BTW) and every junction. Once finished you hand it to the teacher. He then puts his fingers through the grid and reefs it backwards and forwards half a dozen times. If a joint breaks, you fail and start again. Noone passed first time. AD
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