Copper Heatsink on the Rocks





Introduction: Copper Heatsink on the Rocks


Just thought that all you overclockers out there might enjoy a new project that I have just recently finished entitled: Copper Heatsink on the Rocks. This play on words makes reference to a computer being passively cooled with a wine chiller.

-Dust free (sealed completely)
-Easy to remove cover
-No moving parts, no fans, all passive (minus the one PSU fan, I couldn't afford a passive PSU)
-Pure copper insulated heatsink that is counter-cooled by a wine chiller at 41 degrees F, allows for much OC'ing
-Currently at 91 degrees F after leaving on for 1 whole day, still counting, with no flubs (heat measured from the copper closest to the CPU itself)

I have not OC'd it yet, but eventually will after viewing how stable it is after 1 week.

For the original article of mine, go here: Copper Heatsink on the Rocks

Hope all of you enjoy! Comments are quite welcome.

Now, onto the details....

Step 1: More of an Overview and Thanks

I have been racking brain about this for the past few months, a new way to cool a computer that has low power consumption, zero dust, makes no noise at all, completely passive (no moving parts in anyway) and enables the end-user to overclock till his heart is content. Well, it seems like I have done it. The project that I have been talking about for sometime now is complete. Before I go any further, it may be best to first view the video down below. Also, I would like to give a great amount of credit to my neighbor, Mr. Castle, for helping me in many ways to accomplish such an endeavor. For the soldering job, supply of copper, the amazing blow torch, handy work, etc. goes to my good friend Matt. Last, but not least, supplying the Dell computer from hell, which still scares me till no end to this very day.

Gordon: Eric, it boot-loops only for you, it must love you!

Eric: *Stares at Gordon*

Step 2: Materials

Alright, onto how this new-fangled invention works, how I did it, materials needed, etc.


  • 1 Blow Torch that can go up to 1,500 degrees F
  • 4 Pennies between 1962-1982*
  • 1 Cylindrical/hollow copper pipe
  • 1 Strip of silver flux
  • 1 Piece of aluminum foil
  • 1 Computer
  • 1 Silicon caulk/gun
  • 1 Tube of pipe insulator
  • 2 Copper joints
  • 1 Emerson wine chiller
  • And a crap load of patience and cutting tools, drills, etc.

Step 3: The Theory Behind It All

Before we began this project, I developed my theory, which of course, as usual, sounded better on paper. My idea was that I could seal off the computer case completely with silicon caulk, and use a copper heatpipe made out of pennies between the years 1962-1982* (I used these years because it contained the highest amount of copper, 95% copper and 5% zinc). Once that was made, I was going to insulate it with a form of Styrofoam so the heat would not be let out into the case, and everything else would remain cool. The pipe would then reach outside the plexi-glass case, and would eventually reach the inside of the wine chiller that cools down to 41 degrees F, thus countering the heat being dispersed from the CPU.

Step 4: What We Actually Did

First thing was to make our magnificent heatpipes. So I took a whole heap of pennies between the desired years over to my friend Matt's house and began to arrange them in the right way for it to represent a thick copper pipe. Once we realized two things after soldering with the 1,500 degree blow torch, that this was going to be harder than we thought. Our idea was to forgo the whole �make everything out of the copper pennies� and to go with simply designing the base out of them arranged in a square-like fashion, and to use his copper pipe that he just so happened to have lying around. This way, the air will travel with the heat much more smoothly through the heatpipe, thus making it cooler. After sanding the base of the pennies so it was a smooth shiny surface (to make contact as solid as possible against the CPU) I then moved onto designing the case (after ordering all the parts, and retrieving the Dell from hell computer from Eric). Next came the sealing-up of the case. After much cleaning of the parts, and mounting it properly, I then took a severe amount of silicon caulk to seal every gap conceivable. Now, I know where every single nook and cranny there is on this forsaken case. Next, I took the case over to my friend Mr. Castle who is quite handy when it comes to, well, everything. After drilling 2 holes in the side of the plexi-glass for the case, (note, if you ever drill in plexi-glass, be sure to use duct tape on the other side so it holds it together so it does not crack) we went to an auto parts store and picked up a few grommets. This way, when the pipe is dangling on the side of the case, it will somewhat be held sturdy. Mind you, we did the same thing when drilling into the Emerson wine chiller as well. Then, we needed to make a copper heatpipe joint so that it could properly reach the wine chiller provided. We went to Home Depot and picked up pipe insulator, a large piece of plywood, and two copper elbows. With the copper elbows in hand, we placed a few measurements, and drilled the two elbows in reverse directions to the extra piece of copper pipe. Now, the heat is successfully being piped out from the CPU, to the outside (while being insulated all this time of course) to the inside of the Emerson wine chiller. To test her out, we let it run for 24 hours to see if any difference would be seen. The temperature had successfully dropped from 80 degrees, to 60 (the heat of the pipe itself on the inside, while the computer was running). Since this was a great success, now all we needed to do was make sure that the computer actually functioned properly somewhat (POST'd or what have you) and to make/paint the plywood to size so the computer and wine chiller would be securely mounted. Once all of that was finished, we were ready to power her on again. Once turned on, there was virtually nothing to be heard. The power supply was the only part of the unit with a fan (come on, I couldn't get a passive power supply, they're too expensive, and Thermaltake didn't really want to donate one...) Absolutely no moving parts/fans (minus the PSU). Its impossible to tell that is on if you cannot see the lights. From what I can tell, after letting it run non-stop for another full day, the inside air of the case appears to be quite stable, a cool 80 degrees. The pipe itself is working quite well, by staying a little bit below 80. Could this be a new way to chill a computer, by using a wine chiller? Well, find out for yourself. This project is covered under a Creative Commons license. I encourage improvement upon my project, and wish to hear what you have accomplished/developed. I do expect credit, though. Anyway, I will keep all of you posted about how well this continues to run. Eventually, I will purchase more advanced/power/heat hungry components to put it to the real test. If you wish to donate parts, you know how to contact me! Below you will find some pictures that I have been able to take, I do not own a digital camera at the moment, so bare with me in terms of uploading more pictures.

Hope you enjoyed it! And remember, the video does it a bit more justice for explaining what we did.



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    Cool Instructable, great idea. Im just wondering, where did you get the wine cooler. it looks like it was a separate unit, and not cannabalized out of an old wine fridge.

    I appreciate the suggestion, but condensation forms whenever other things are within the freezer. If nothing is in there that can produce water, then there will be no condensation. Such as placing meat in there, etc. And even if there were a possibility of that occurring, remember, its a wine chiller, aka, a peltier cooler, so its not like the type of freezer your thinking of. Thanks!

    Thanks! :) It would be even neater though if engadget decided to pick it up. Oh my God, that would be domination, plus, a lot of traffic. :P


    True, but engadget usually doesn't do the how-tos as much as imformative writing. I'd feel sorry for the host site ;)

    You really should make this more step-by-step. After all, that's what Instructables is all about! By the way, what's the techno in the background (artist)

    5 replies

    Yeah, the way I do my tutorials is partially laid out in text form, joint with video. It was difficult for me to document it as well as I had hoped since ideas kept coming and going, being shot down, etc. I'll try to straighten it out if I can. I was hoping that someone could tell me that! (About the song) I got it from a LanWar and it was entitled "Unknown Artist - Track 12." How nice... heh

    Awesome, I'm looking forward to the possible update! And wow, that really stinks, I wanted to download some more of that techno. All that I have is Aphex Twin. He's great and all, but he's a bit too... "jerky," too... odd. I like the more regulated techno, the techno found in videogame soundtracks like HL and HL2

    DUDE! THANKS SO MUCH! Oh man, this techno is AWESOME!

    I like DJ Tiesto and Ferry Corsten. Believe it or not, some of the "techno" in UT2004 is quite good!

    sadly, MOST of your benifit is comming from having a LARGE copper heatsink, and very little from the wine fridge. (yeah, what Zaen said) There's an easier, and I think nicer way to do it. Basically involving setting the fridge on top of the PC, instead of the side, letting convection assist you. cut your copper tube down to about 3 inches long.(measured from where it is soldered onto the pennies. now stuff as much copper wire as you can into it(stiff is good. no bigger than 10 gague) Solder the wire in place.(it'll be ugly, but work well) now bend the wire into a nice birdsnest as wide as big and fun as you want. but not so big the case won't close, and avoid shorting any of the boards, drives, and such. now, run the pc like that, and check your tempatures... you'll most likely find not too great a difference. Case tempature may climb over time, but that'll be addressed in the next step. get a length of PVC pipe. 2-3 inch diameter, 1 foot long. Drill/cut matching 2-3 inch holes. one in the top of the case, between the drive bays, and the PSU. the other hole, in the bottom of the wine cooler. glue/tape/epoxy/caulk the pipe, flush into the bottom of the cooler. arrange the cooler/pipe so it rests on top of the pc, with the pipe protruding halfway down the case and trim off the end, to get proper length (just past the video card, if you can) Finally, tape over that hole in the side. there will be airflow from outside air around the drives, etc... cool air will drop down from the cooler, into the sealed/insulated case. the warmer air that rises to the top(especially from around the CPU cooler) will vent through the power supply, and the gap around the tube. this will be VERY energy inefficient, but should produce simmilar case temps, with lower CPU temps If you were REALLY in a slick mood, you'd gut that fridge, now that it's no good for wine cooling :-) mount the heatsink/tem/heatsink onto the case side(use some foam insulation as a heat barrier and gasket) slap the power supply from the cooler in a project box, and you've just refridgerated your PC :-) since it's an old PC anyhow, now much is risked with condensation.. add to that the relatively low power of the tem(thermo electric module) and the relatively high case tempatures you'll be running. Condesation shouldn't be an issue at all. and as long as you don't over clock, or touch the hot side heatsink, all should be cool :-)

    1 reply

    Interesting concept. I had thought about tinkering with people's suggestions after about a week of letting it run. I almost immediately said allowed as I was reading the fridge part, "Wait, what about condensation?" :P I was really curious about slapping the whole thing in there if it was large enough. I'll be sure to let you guys know if/when I get higher end parts and experiment with other methods. Thanks for the advice!

    Heatsinks rock! I haven't experimented with peltiers yet, and is that a mini fridge? lol that's a hardcore! I tried watercooling once but I almost friend my chip. Back to heatsinks. Also the artist is PPK, I forgot the song title, post it in here when you find out!

    1 reply

    It is a wine chiller. Oh, and thanks for posting the artist, wooooot! :)


    Overall, not too bad, but your approach to this is a bit... off.

    Number one, while the CPU produces the greatest amount of heat, it is not by any means the only one. Several components on the motherboard like the north bridge, etc, need airflow to keep from overheating. Insulating the entire case, and having no airflow is generally just a bad idea.

    Two, although what you did works, it's more of a custom heat sink than a heat pipe (link)

    Nice job overall, and it's quite possible it will turn out just fine anyways. Overheating is more of a problem in high end components, most desktops aren't such an issue.

    1 reply

    Northbridge on a Dell Dimension from the year 2001 does not produce hardly any heat. That is why the CPU is the only thing being cooled. But I know what you mean, I would have altered it dramatically if I were using higher end parts. Notice that originally, I had to copper heatsinks (one for the northbridge and CPU). But thanks for the comment!