Instructables

The Silicon Graphics Refrigerator Project

FeaturedContest Winner
(or: How To Turn a $175.000 High-End SGI Challenge DM Server into a Fridge)

Too much free time will make people do the weirdest things. I've always had a soft spot for obsolete computers, especially when they had once cost a small fortune and were the absolute top-of-the-line in their hey-day but are now hopelessly out-dated. It seems unfair that after only a short time of hard work the reward for their loyalty is to bring them to the junkyard.

When we move away from the boring, low-cost world of ugly WinTel PC's and look at the high-end of the computer market we come across a little computer company called Silicon Graphics Inc. Best known for their powerful workstations like the ever-so-cool Indy, they're the kind of people who don't jerk around when it comes to building a good looking machine. If you look up "Server" in SGI's dictionary it probably says:

Server (n.),
   1. Large, extremely expensive machine that goes "Ping!". Measuring at least 25 cubic feet, heavy, bulky and giving of more heat then a nuclear power plant. It's big, it's bad, it's beautiful and makes it pretty obvious what happened to this year's IT-budget.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: How to get one

It is unlikely you'll find a high-end server at a garage sale. So your best bet is to start working for the IT department of a large internet company and wait until something breaks down... well, that's what I did.

When one of our three Challenge DM servers broke down it was decided to strip the now-deceased monster, Dua it was called, of its vital organs (i.e. memory, cpu's, power supply etc.) and throw it away. So it was carried out the door and put next to the garbage containers only to be hauled back in again just three minutes later by my colleague and me.

At that moment I had a vision. A vision of a world where server and refrigerator could co-exist. The clouds broke and a beam of sunlight hit me. The angels sang and...well, you know, sort of like that scene from The Blues Brothers. "This will be my new project!", I proclaimed and took it home. That evening, an interesting situation occurred when our CEO was standing in the parking lot with a business client. As they talked they saw two guys come out of the front entrance and throw a rather expensive-looking server rather ungently in the back of a Volkswagen and drive off.
This instructable condones destruction of historically significant computers! Oh, the blasphemy against the poor SGI. ;) At least it's not an Onyx.
thijsatteiltje (author)  davidmichaud1 year ago
Guilty as charged,sir. Since this project I have bettered my ways and my shed is now a refugee home for retired SGI. Three working workstation so far and counting. (Maybe an Octane this week... question mark?) Besides my no no-SGI rule when it comes to collection old computers I also have the rule they need to work. No point collecting paper weights (hence the re-purposing of said Challenge ;-)
thijsatteiltje (author) 1 year ago
Thnx. great that you still like it. This was quite an old project but I spend last weekend some glorious hours getting my Indy back to work. The main reason was to proof to a friend that the 3d file browser in Jurrasic Park was the only thing that is real in the movie ;-)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaRHU1XxMJQ
I love this so much. I used to work with the large Challenge and Onyx machines, but I don't think any of them are still online.
thijsatteiltje (author) 1 year ago
That's awesome. Do you have a picture of it somewhere? I'd love to see it. Coincidentally I repaired my Indy last weekend and that brought back some fine memories of building this beast.
ledshed1 year ago
Brilliant! I did something back in the 90's and still have it today. I only used the front door of the machine though, it was a perfect fit for the fridge door.
sisyphus3214 years ago
Heh. It occurs to me that after you hacked the fridge into the Challenge box, you probably would still have enough room for a mini-ITX board and a few SATA drives. That way, in addition to the fridge, you would have also had a server that was about equal to the Challenge in terms of compute capacity.
ah, but do not forget about HUMIDITY, it is still a fridge, which means there will still be liquids in it, and so on
omnibot4 years ago
Oh, that is one geeky sweet fridge! How'd you come by the server?
Did you read the Instructable?
Oh, I see. I tend to skip over anything but the building instructions.
Misac-kun4 years ago
Awsome!!! too bad you can't find a SGI sever on your local Junkyard
laxap4 years ago
Awesome!
You have my vote.
Raikou-san4 years ago
Question: Is it possible to turn something such as this into a fridge and computer in one box?

Also, would it be possible to link the cooling systems in such a way that the computer parts stay cold?
thijsatteiltje (author)  Raikou-san4 years ago
Ah... many have travelled (or at least thought) down this road and without much success. To simply put the pc parts in a fridge you would cause compensation on the electronic bits (not good). And to use a fridge to cool some coolant to then cool a pc is really a waste of effort. After all, you would still have to cool the heat exchanger of the fridge as well. So noise wise it would not make sense, and if your after overclocking performance there are way more efficient and smaller sollutions.
thijsatteiltje (author)  thijsatteiltje4 years ago
Correction: "cause compensation" should be "cause condensation"
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!