Ultimate Game Console Cooler

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Intro: Ultimate Game Console Cooler

This Instructable is for the Ultimate Game Console Cooler.  After having my PS3 and Xbox 360 sent in for repairs (repeatedly), I decided that I had to come up with a better way to keep the heat down in these expensive gaming consoles. 

As gaming fans can verify, all consoles create a lot of heat and the add on fans that are available do move more air thru the case.  The problems with fans are that they are NOISY and they do not “cool” the game console at all. 
With that in mind, I created this device that keeps my gaming consoles cool AND whisper quiet all of the time. I can now spend several hours of gaming and my consoles will still be under 80 degrees Farenheit! 
Yes, this is over the top – but I have a reason. I have 2 Xbox 360’s that are out of warranty and no longer work and my PS3 has also been “repaired” and is no longer under warranty. I purchased a new MW2 branded Xbox 360 and want to keep it and the repaired PS3 in the best possible environment so they will last as long as possible. 

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Clarification - I did not connect the Nintendo Wii to the AV Switching unit as the Wii does not support Digital Audio.  The switching unit requires all of the attached devices to use the same connectors - so connecting the Wii was out.  I simply ran the RCA cables for the Wii out the vent and directly to the TV. 
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3/17/2010 Update - cooler runs consistently around 48 to 50 degrees when no game consoles are on, upwards of 80 degrees after several hours of playing XBox 360, 90 degrees watching a Blue Ray movie (2 hours) on the PS3.  Temperature is measured at the inside top of the cooler - it will be colder at the bottom.

Monitoring the moisture closely, no moisture in or on any of the game consoles.  Smal amounts of ice in photos were from the previous 6 months when cooler was running in the garage.  No ice has formed since this was moved into the living room and rice / silica gel was used. 

Step 1: Materials

To make an Ultimate Game Console Cooler, you will need:
·         Game Consoles or other electronics that need to be cooled down
·         A wine chiller that has the removal air vent in the back
·         An AV Switching unit to connect all of the electronics to your TV / Receiver with one set of cables
·         A power strip that has enough slots for the number of devices you have
·         A small network hub or switch
·         Miscellaneous cabling (CAT-5, Audio Video cables, etc)
·         Space near your entertainment center for the wine chiller.

Step 2: Find the Right Wine Chiller


Finding the right wine cooler will save you time with the overall construction and will keep you safe. 

I initially looked at using a smaller 12 bottle wine coolers that are available at Wal-Mart and such – but the issue came up with how to run the cables out of the cooler to the TV. Most of the smaller units have the compressor and coils in the back of the unit, so simply drilling a hole in the back could be dangerous and ruin the cooler. 
 
The model I found actually holds 42 bottles of wine and has a “vent” in the back that was removable. This has a temperature setting and display on the top of the unit. I purchased it at Lowe’s on their floor model clearance for $88. 

Step 3: Reducing the Wires

Since the hole thru the back of the wine chiller is only 1 ½” and I want to make the install as clean as possible, I needed a way to reduce the number of cables that protrude thru the vent hole and go to my entertainment center. 
 
I found this AV Switching unit on clearance at Fry’s for $25. This was created for the Xbox 360 and has a custom cable to connect the switching unit directly to the Xbox 360 that will transmit HD video and Digital Audio. With the supplied component cable, this unit connects to my older plasma TV and will display video in 1080P quality. 
 
NOTE: my TV was pre-HDMI so the switch box does not have an HDMI option. If your TV has multiple HDMI inputs available, you could easily forgo the AV Switch box and simply run individual HDMI cables from each game console directly to your TV. 

Update:  I upgraded my TV and have removed this AV Switching unit from my setup.  I am running HDMI to my new TV directly.

Step 4: Putting It All Together

Assembly is easy enough.
·         Remove the top shelves
·         Remove the vent / drill the hole for the wires in the back of the unit
·         Run your external wires to the TV, Receiver and  Network thru the hole in the back
·         Install the power strip, network hub and AV Switcher in the unit.
o    Placement is up to you. The bottom of my wine cooler also has the compressor - so the shelf does not go all the way to the back and it woudl not hold a full game console – so I put all of the power supplies at the very bottom
o    These add-on devices can be installed higher in the unit as the cooler air will be at the bottom – and you want your consoles as close to the cooler air as possible
o    An option is to add a fan in the unit to create a circular airflow thru the cooler. This would allow you to put your devices anywhere in the cooler and still get the full benefit of the cooler air
·         Insert the highest shelf with the gaming console on it, running the wires along the back of the cooler to the AV Switcher and network hub. This will allow you to remove racks as you need without re-wiring each game console
·         Find the height needed for the next console, insert the rack at the correct height and wire the 2nd console to the AV Switcher / network hub, again, keeping the cables at the back of the cooler and avoid running the wires thru the opening in the wire racks
·         Repeat process until all of your consoles are installed on racks, connected to the AV Switcher / network hub and plugged into the power strip.
 
Once this is done, connect the AV Cables from the cooler to your TV / Receiver, plug the wine cooler in and then the power strip. 
 
NOTE: If possible, connect the wine cooler to a different electrical circuit than the one the power strip for the game consoles. This will help distribute the load and will prevent a tripped breaker.

Step 5: Testing - the Fun Part!

The final setup involves the wine cooler and the temperature you want inside the unit. I have mine set to “Sparkling” – which puts the operating temperature in the 40 – 45 degree range. With the temperature set, turn on each console, adjust the channel on the AV Switcher and enjoy hours of gaming without the fear of overheating your expensive gaming consoles!
 
NOTE 1: As you have a game console on, the internal temperature will increase. If you have 2 or more consoles on, the heat will rise quickly and can overwhelm the cooling abilities of the wine cooler – as I “tested” while watching a Blue Ray movie while the Xbox 360 was inadvertently left on. Having an indoor/outdoor therometer alerted me to the issue and I simply turned the Xbox off and opened the door. The temperature dropped and a lesson was learned!
 
NOTE 2: There is some moisture in this wine cooler.   There are models that will allow you to adjust the humidity as well as the temperature inside the cooler. If possible, find and use one of those models for our project. Adjustable humidity was not an option on the clearance isle when I purchased my unit. To compensate, I have 2 small containers in the cooler: one has uncooked rice and the other has the silicone gel packs that come in most new electronics. Both will absorb moisture and are easily changed out. 
 
Because I was able to purchase both the AV Switcher and Wine Cooler on clearance, the overall cost of this project was around $100 – well worth the money and time to help extend the life of these gaming consoles. 

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    28 Discussions

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    cmollecmolle

    Reply 1 year ago

    Frigidaire wine cooler model FWC425GS0

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    cmolle

    3 years ago on Introduction

    5 year update - everything is still working perfectly. There has been zero maintenance to this unit and it keeps both consoles (Xbox One and Xbox 360) cool when gaming.

    There have been no condensation issues with this unit. I still have the 2 very large dessicant bags in the unit (industrial strength varieties - about 1 foot long each and about 4" in diameter) from a network data center server rack. I have not needed to dry them out since originally installing them. (Thank you valhallas_end for this suggestion!)

    The best part is that I have not had any console failures since building this unit! GAME ON!

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    cmolle

    4 years ago on Introduction

    4 year update (how time flies when you are having fun!)

    This unit is still working perfectly.

    I have replaced the PS3 with a new XBox One console on the release date and have been using the XBox One and the XBox 360 (COD - Modern Warfare 2 edition) since. Absolutely no issues with this system - it just keeps the consoles cool!

    Note: I have not replaced the dessicant bag (for absorbing moisture) in over 2 years. It has not been needed.

    I am planning on picking up Titan Fall this weekend so it will be another +16 hour gaming session weekends for the forseeable future. :-)

    4 years of continous use - this has to prove the project is solid. Pick out your wine cooler carefully and make an Ultimate Game Console Cooler for yourself today!

    Thank you for stopping and reading about this Instructable! Post any comments you have below and I will respond to every post. Have a great day!!!

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    cmollerabriam-stewart

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    No worries. I am posting a 4 year update on this today (spoiler - it is still working great!)

    If you have ever had a console fail due to heat related issues, this is a very easy and effective fix. Have a great day!

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    rabriam-stewart

    4 years ago

    Wouldn't you get moisture and condensation on the lens during long gaming sessions?

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    mrose26

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the tips and encouragement cmolle. I'll probably do what I always do-Call Dad. My husband is not a handy man. He catches bad guys and does it well, but when it comes to building, fixing etc. it falls on me or I hire it out. I'm going to start cooler shopping. Thanks again.

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    cmolle

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Product update - It is getting close to 3 years and the console cooler is still going strong and keeping my XBox 360 cool.

    I finished Borderlands 2 (with 2 characters), Halo 4 and countless hours of Call of Duty Black Ops II and Forza Horizon. With absolutely no console issues, this is easily the best thing that I have built.

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    mrose26

    5 years ago on Introduction

    I would love to do this for my son for Christmas. He pretty much just uses his Xbox any more, but he is constantly trying to find ways to cool things down. Just not sure I'm smart enough to pull it off. Great idea. I'm impressed.

    1 reply
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    cmollemrose26

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi mrose26

    Thank you for the kind words. I am on my Xbox 36- +20 hours a week with games and movies - so this has cooler has made a huge difference.

    This is the perfect time to look for a wine chiller as most places will have sales now and even more drastic sales after Christmas. Do what I did and look for one that already has a hole in the back (to prevent accidentially cutting a coil tube or electrical connection). The hole just needs to be big enough for an electrical plug to fit thru, all of the rest of the cables will fit after the AC Cord is in place. This is never listed in the "Specifications" so you will likely have to go to the stores and look at the back of the unit. (I just looked again online and there are many 12 and 16 bottle units that are very reasonably priced - just no idea what the back of the unit looks like.)

    Good luck with your build!

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    cmolle

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Project update - it has been over 2 years and I am still running the exact same PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles in this unit. No condensation at all in the unit and the air temperature in the unit never gets above 85 degrees even after +6 hours of continous gaming or watching movies.

    I have seen several new model wine chillers that are smaller and in the $70 price range that would potentially work. Amazon and Lowes / Home Depot are good places to find them.

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    lemonie

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Had you thought of (at least partially) removing the console cases to achieve better heat-transfer?

    L

    2 replies
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    cmollelemonie

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I don't want to void the warranty on the new XBox 360. I have the original PS3 and it easily generates 2/3 more heat than the 360. I will look into how it comes apart and see if it is feasible to at least take the top cover off. Its out of warranty - might as well "mod" the case for better ventlation.

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    lemoniecmolle

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction


    These things do have a tendency to overheat so it seems, using the warranty is worth doing.

    L

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    cmolle

    7 years ago on Introduction

    1 year update - I have been running my XBox 360 and PS3 in this system for over a year now without any moisture or condensation inside the unit.

    I have changed from uncooked rice to a retail dessicant bag. I follow the directions on the dessicant and take it out of the unit once every 4 months and heat it in the oven to dry it out.

    I have also removed the component switching box when I upgraded my plasma TV. I am running all HMDI connections now - so the cords coming out the back of the wine cooler are: 2 HDMI cables, 1 surge protector power cable and one CAT-5 network cable.

    Being able to ensure my consoles will never overheat is very reassuring.

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    jessedr

    7 years ago on Step 5

    that will probably burn ur systems out from the condensation.

    1 reply
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    cmollejessedr

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi jessedr

    I have been running this system since March 2010 without any issues. In fact, my new Modern Warfare 2 Xbox 360 console has never gotten over 85 degrees - even after +20 hours of play on both Fallout New Vegas and Modern Warfare Black Ops.

    This is just a smaller version of what is used to cool down server rooms for large companies. I am an IT expert and am very familar with keeping servers running at their optimal temperature. This system is just a smaller version of a "server rack cooler" from companies like APC.

    Any moisture that could develop in the unit is collected by the two commercial grade dessicant bags that are available to large computer server farms. I have monitored these bags closely and they have not needed to be "reset" (by heating them to 150 degrees to dry them out and reactivate them) since they were installed in May 2010.

    There is no heat build up in any of the game consoles as the cooling unit keeps the air below 85 degrees. The dessicants ensure there is no moisture in the air - so the end result is consoles that run much cooler for extended periods of gaming.