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Behind the makings of a FrostySink
Behind the makings of a FrostySink
Abstract: While it's always great fun to be able to test out the latest and coolest heatsinks we also like to try and make our own coolers from time to time...

 Manufacturer  Category  Published  Author 
FrostyTech   Editorial   May 05, 2001   Max Page  

Behind the makings of a FrostySink

While it's always great fun to be able to test out the latest and coolest heatsinks we also like to try and make our own coolers from time to time - in fact that's how FrostyTech originally started back in 1999. Since that time we've seen many, many different heatsink designs cross our desk, but somehow there always seems to be one more revolutionary design hiding just around the corner.

With that in mind, what better way to test out a fresh new cooling idea then to bunker down in the workshop over the weekend and build a copper heatsink or two.

If you've been following FrostyTech since we've been online you will have seen most of Frosty's line up of custom one-off heatsinks. In the days of aluminum extrusions, we came out with the massive Frosty Coppersink, the smaller Frosty Copperpins, and the hybrid Aluminum Copper-Pipe Sink for the Slot 1 Athlon. What you haven't seen are the assortment of attempts that either didn't pan out, never left the drawing board, or as we're just about to show you - didn't melt the right way. :-)

A bit of background:

The idea behind this attempt at a heatsink, nicknamed the 'Zinc-Aluminum' was casting one's own heatsink design. Before we attempted what's shown in the photo's below, we set up a mold and tried to cast a heatsink in copper. Who wouldn't want to try and cast their own solid copper heatsinks?

Well, the attempt didn't go as planned and we learned rather quickly why copper is renown for its difficult casting reputation. Just imagine for a moment, an ounce of copper in a crucible with a foot long oxy-propane flame bearing down on it. I swear that crucible came close to melting, but the copper just slumped together like thick porridge.

Since aluminum is equally temperamental to the flame, the only other semi-viable option was zinc. Now zinc doesn't really have the best thermal properties, but at this point the goal was just to try and make the heatsink - performance issues would have to be dealt with later. To make a long story short, the heatsink we were using to form the mold for the Zinc never came out of the plaster. To this day it sits, like a mob-boss in concrete shoes, in a little square of plaster of Paris. Scratch that idea, and onto the next.

That next idea, and the one that brings us up to our current behind the scenes look at the making of a FrostySink was to use some existing aluminum fins, set in a particular way, in a nice little base of zinc.

The Zinc-Aluminum Heatsink

The first step was to prepare the aluminum fins. We had a small pile of fins left over from an Alpha heatsink which had seen some pretty serious modifications by hacksaw. In each of these the goal was to drill a few small holes so that when the base metal was poured the fins would be locked in tightly.

A lot of holes were drilled and the fins were laid up in a frame to get their approximate positions figured out. The fins were in an outward spreading V configuration.

Instruments of destruction. In this case a small bowl, some plaster of Paris and the frame for laying out the fins. After the first attempt at making the mold for the heatsink we should have given up! ;-)

The semi-final product was yogurt container filled to the top with plaster of Paris. The tips of the fins stood out with the idea that a small box of plaster could be poured to frame off the remaining base of the heatsink, and then the zinc poured. A good idea in principle, but it didn't work out too well in the end.

Looking like something out of star wars, this is the end result of an oil and water situation. Not enough zinc was used to form the base, and the fins were at room temp so they cooled the liquid metal in a matter of seconds. The zinc solidified just about everywhere other than where it was supposed to. Oh Well, the performance of a zinc-aluminum heatsink wouldn't have been much to look at anyway's.

In the end we ended up with a big, useless hunk of plaster, aluminum, and zinc. Had we had the tools necessary to form a proper mold, and melt sufficient quantities of copper to fill it, the results would have been quite interesting. Despite all the attempts, it was an interesting exercise, and one that shows you what happens when custom built heatsinks go horribly wrong. Though I think in this case it was more of a blessing then a curse :-)

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