Weird dust accumulation problem on Antec Sonata

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davidstone28
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Weird dust accumulation problem on Antec Sonata

Post by davidstone28 » Mon Nov 17, 2003 2:53 pm

Only had this case for a couple of weeks. No mods. Just running the stock PSU and 120mm case fan. PC is kept on 24/7.

The strange this is though, its obviously sucking in alot of air, but there's loads of dust which seems to acculumate on the left and right sides of the outside of the front 5.25inch drive bays.

It collects on the protruding black lugs around the metal levers used to remove the 5.25inch drives. It's obviously sucking in air from the small gaps on the left and right hand edges of the front door.

Never seen a case do that before. Is this a bit of a design flaw?

When you open the front door of the case to get at the drives, it just looks really dirty.

Any solutions?

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Post by chylld » Mon Nov 17, 2003 3:21 pm

Mount a front intake fan (somehow... I think you have to put it behind the HDD drive cage which is stupid) to encourage intake air to pass through there, and not elsewhere. The Sonata in stock form apparently has poor airflow characteristics.

SPCR member Tom Brown has Sonatas but he modified the bezels for better airflow - he should know exactly what to do.

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Post by Seal » Mon Nov 17, 2003 3:32 pm

I think thats the exact reason why many people prefer to have positive air pressure in their cases, so dust is not sucked through (and trapped) in small gaps.
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Post by energy » Mon Nov 17, 2003 5:06 pm

Mine does the same, even after removing a lot of the restriction round the lower part of the front bezel. The solution to the whole airflow problem was to open a square hole 5x10cm right below the hard drive bays, and using some rubber window trim around it to stop cuts. Also made the feet higher so it sits 3 or 4 com from the ground. Cool air comes in (along, unfortunately with dust) very easily now and almost no drop in airflow from the rear 120mm fan when case closed vs. open.

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Post by chylld » Mon Nov 17, 2003 5:12 pm

btw if you want to clean your case out, I read somewhere that a good way to do it is to use a can of compressed air. And when using the compressed air, do not tip the can sideways or upside down or the cooling agents will come out or something like that.

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Re: Weird dust accumulation problem on Antec Sonata

Post by JVM » Mon Nov 17, 2003 6:19 pm

davidstone28 wrote:Only had this case for a couple of weeks. No mods. Just running the stock PSU and 120mm case fan. PC is kept on 24/7.

The strange this is though, its obviously sucking in alot of air, but there's loads of dust which seems to acculumate on the left and right sides of the outside of the front 5.25inch drive bays.

It collects on the protruding black lugs around the metal levers used to remove the 5.25inch drives. It's obviously sucking in air from the small gaps on the left and right hand edges of the front door.

Never seen a case do that before. Is this a bit of a design flaw?

When you open the front door of the case to get at the drives, it just looks really dirty.

Any solutions?
Are you sure it isn't getting in from the side Antec holes?

bob670
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Post by bob670 » Mon Nov 17, 2003 7:54 pm

I noticed the same accumualtion on mine, although it's pretty minor and doesn't seem to get very far in, seems to be clinging to those areas. The inside of my case is still pretty much spotless for about 6 weeks of heavy daily use. Oh well, annoying but only takes a few minutes to clean.

On a positive note, the dust filter does a nice job and cleans up easily.

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Post by canthearyou » Mon Nov 17, 2003 10:35 pm

Naah, don't bother with expensive cans.

If you really want to clean the dust out of your case, try a vacuum cleaner with the host stuck into the blower port (not the vacuum port). The bag should be new and clean.

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Post by chylld » Mon Nov 17, 2003 11:01 pm

I heard that you should never use a vacuum cleaner because they generate huge, dangerous amounts of static electricity -- ?

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Post by Tom Brown » Mon Nov 17, 2003 11:03 pm

Every Sonata I've seen does that.

If you open up the lower part of the bezel to improve airflow it will greatly reduce this accumulation and lower your internal temps too. It will still accumulate dust there, just at a lower rate.

Taking my lead from MikeC and others, I opened up the hole on the bottom of the front bezel. It's a small square hole from the factory but it can be quadroupled in size quite easily. I just cut it out with aviation snips. Don't forget to knock out the top two of the plastic slats behind the front bezel. They are extremely restrictive and add nothing.

The case will retain it's stock appearance after this mod.
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bob670
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Post by bob670 » Tue Nov 18, 2003 7:01 am

"Naah, don't bother with expensive cans."

Considering CompUSA, Office Max and Staples run 2 packs of canned air on sale for a couple of bucks (or frequently nothing after rebate) I don't think expense is a consideration. I would also agree that plopping a huge staticly charged device like that any where near your delicate PC components is a recipe for disaster.

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Post by canthearyou » Tue Nov 18, 2003 10:16 am

Vacuums are run all the time in rooms with computers, living rooms, offices, etc. I doubt operating one near the PC will produce enough EMI to damage components.

Field strength of typical vacuum
http://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/Whatis ... ndex3.html

I was unaware that vacuums generated static. I can see where perhaps the high velocity airflow might be generating a static charge in the plastic tube. I would like to see some evidence this is a hazard. It would depend, I think, on a lot of factors: What material is the tube made of? How much static is generated? Does the tube come in contact with the PC components? Is is close enough to discharge? What is the "tool" end is made of. Is the tube grounded?

I can always learn something new. After a little googling, I see static is a concern.

http://www.mvent.com.ph/tigervac/

I did not find much advice for or against using the vacuum on a computer.

One warning against static
http://www.public.iastate.edu/~jbalvanz/pcmaint.htm

Notice that the problem is with "accidentally touching the tip" I don't intend to touch anything or bring the tip close to any chips. The airflow out my vacuum nozzle is sufficient to just point it into the case. I take the precaution of wearing a filter mask (leftover from painting models with an airbrush) because the dust blows out of the heatsink in great quantities. The tip would mostly likely contact the metal frame of the case, discharging any static safely.

I very much agree with not blowing out your printer. A laser printer is filled with carbon black, which if you look up the OSHA data on is very dangerous. I hate changing my toner cartridge. There is always some fine carbon black that escapes in the process.

http://www.dansdata.com/sbs16.htm

I won't comment about the "sucking loose chips off the board."

A charge 200v can damage a chip according to specs. However, is this the chip in isolation or when connected to other chips and circuits that can absorb the charge? Is this threshold a real world value in a real installation?

Cans of "compressed air" may not contain CFCs that harm the environment anymore, but they do contain chemicals that are harmful to humans. Difluoroethane is HIGHLY FLAMMABLE, perhaps the author should have read the safety data
http://physchem.ox.ac.uk/MSDS/DI/1,1-di ... thane.html

I have sent a note to the owner of this site.

I prefer to breath plain old air.

Quite frankly, if you've ever seen the way techs at the local computer shop treat MB's and CPU's you would think they would all be destroyed by static. Computers are more resistant to static than people think. You have to consider that any sensitive chip is connected to a lot of electrical mass, many other chips and to the metal in the case and the circuit of the power supply, which is going to absorb and spread any static.

I will grant you that perhaps my vacuum is direct drive or generates less static than others, that I generally use the "tool" end to blow through existing vents from the outside away from any components, perhaps I've been lucky, etc. Your mileage may vary. Perhaps next time I will wrap my wrist strap ground cable around the nozzle. I may consider the compressed air if it goes on sale as cheap as you suggest. I used it for years cleaning my SLR cameras (cannot touch the mirror) and it was quite expensive then.

I don't want to sound anal here, I just like evidence when dealing with things like this. I have an interest in preservation of old photographs and this deals with similar anecdotal evidence that is usually completely wrong, much of the conventional wisdom is wrong, many claims by manufacturers are wrong, and only extensive evidence from years of testing in laboratories by experts and massive amounts of real world evidence (such as observing deterioration of photograph types for at least 150 years before being able to come to any reliable conclusion) can truly tell us the longevity of photographs. Many people panic over little things they hear are unsafe, such as scanner light affecting photos (which can possibly affect a few rare types, but not most).

Perhaps the watchword is to use the tool carefully. Maybe the advice should be "do not use an _ungrounded_ vacuum cleaner tool.

Or maybe I should use this ;-)

http://www.seedburo.com/online_cat/categ15/exp1.asp

Of course, that woudn't save any $
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Post by chylld » Tue Nov 18, 2003 1:14 pm

nice research you've done there, canthearyou :)

well then, now that we know that there are a number of ways to clean out the computer, how about concentrate on ways to actually prevent dust from entering the computer? like using filters or running overpressures etc

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Post by Seal » Tue Nov 18, 2003 1:16 pm

yeah i really dont think using ur vacum cleaner on your computer is much of a risk at all, i do it all of the time and i really doubt that the static would electricute anything... that and the fact that the flexible hose on my vacum cleaner is plastic, i cant see it passing any electrical current.
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Post by canthearyou » Tue Nov 18, 2003 2:55 pm

I have the problem discussed here of dust collecting around the edges and in the tray of my CD drives. The conventional wisdom suggests my case is starved for air with more exhaust than there are vents in the front. A case with better front ventilation is probably the best solution.

The Lian Li cases I see have positions for two 80mm fans up from and two in the rear. If I understand what I've read, setting two up front but none in the rear would create a positive pressure (as long as the intake flow was greater the the outflow from vents). And if I reversed that, I would have negative pressure.

For some reason we have a lot of dust in the air compared to where we used to live, which was years ago, but very near to here, just down the street. But we are on the hill instead of down in the valley. Gets into everything.
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Post by rseiler » Sun Dec 28, 2003 1:21 pm

Tom Brown wrote: Taking my lead from MikeC and others, I opened up the hole on the bottom of the front bezel. It's a small square hole from the factory but it can be quadroupled in size quite easily. I just cut it out with aviation snips. Don't forget to knock out the top two of the plastic slats behind the front bezel. They are extremely restrictive and add nothing.

The case will retain it's stock appearance after this mod.
Does anyone know if there's a thread on this or some earlier reference with more detail?

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Post by lenny » Sun Dec 28, 2003 2:13 pm

rseiler wrote:
Tom Brown wrote: Taking my lead from MikeC and others, I opened up the hole on the bottom of the front bezel. It's a small square hole from the factory but it can be quadroupled in size quite easily. I just cut it out with aviation snips. Don't forget to knock out the top two of the plastic slats behind the front bezel. They are extremely restrictive and add nothing.

The case will retain it's stock appearance after this mod.
Does anyone know if there's a thread on this or some earlier reference with more detail?
There are a few, with pictures too. There's even a thread on another site about how to improve airflow. But here's the details.

Put the case on it's side and look at the bottom of the case. You'll see a hole for air intake on the front bezel. You should enlarge this hole.

The front bezel is actually made of two pieces, not including the door. If you remove the front bezel, you'll notice that you can remove another piece of plastic at the lower part of the bezel. It is on this part that the hole is located.

Now, if you remove this lower half front cover (whatever it is called) to enlarge the air intake, you'll notice that on the other piece, there are extra pieces of plastic that you can remove. There are a couple of large pieces of ABS which serves no useful purpose.

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Post by Gooserider » Sun Dec 28, 2003 8:07 pm

A few data points to consider....

1. I frequently use my 'infinite can' of canned air, better known as a shop air compressor 8) at 90 PSI, it works great at removing dust, but caution must be used to avoid blowing loose chips off the boards, etc. It is also a minor nusiance since it means I have to either schlepp the PC out to the garage, or run an airline from the compressor through the living room to the computer room, :cry: but it's cheaper than canned air...

2. Standard vacuums don't ground their hoses and accessories, and with a plastic hose can generate considerable charge on the tools by friction with the air stream. I have a plastic Sears Shop vac w/ a plastic hose, when I try to vacuum up sawdust I get almost as much sticking to the outside of the vacuum as it picks up. Unfortuneately, it isn't possible to effectively cure this with any sort of externally applied ground (The earlier post about wrapping a wrist strap around the nozzle won't help!)

3. The vacuums sold by electronics places for use by electronics service techs are made with specific ESD controlling technology (Copier techs get the same vacuum with a filter intended to deal with toner dust).

4. As mentioned earlier, how much "real world" difference all this makes is debateable. As an electronics test engineer I've seen all the stuff about ESD damage, but my actual hands on experience doesn't convince me that it's as big a problem with modern equipment as it is sometimes made out to be.

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Post by lenny » Sun Dec 28, 2003 9:54 pm

Well, I finally found a use for the Akasa Paxmate I bought a while back. I cut a bit of it into thin strips and used it to line around the door. I had to thin it in a few places so that the door can still close. The hardest part is the hinge side of the door. I used three layers of Paxmate, one on top of another, and thinned the last layer by about half. The door doesn't close as easily, but hopefully it'll act as a seal and keep out most of the dust. Maybe there'll even be some noise reduction benefits.

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Post by Putz » Sun Dec 28, 2003 10:45 pm

There were comments about positive pressure eliminating dust build-up at seams. Wouldn't this just change where the dust gets stopped? Instead of getting stuck on the way IN through the cracks, it will get stuck on the way OUT, through the same cracks most likely.

A perfectly-balanced airflow layout is probably the best idea, as usual.

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Post by chylld » Sun Dec 28, 2003 10:47 pm

Putz wrote:A perfectly-balanced airflow layout is probably the best idea, as usual.
Unless you have an Antec 3700 series, which as Ralf and I have (independently) found out, these cases work best running a negative pressure :)

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Post by Putz » Sun Dec 28, 2003 10:52 pm

What is it about that case in particular that makes it work better with negative pressure?

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Post by chylld » Sun Dec 28, 2003 11:00 pm

In my opinion, it's the front bezel. When you stuff a fan in the front, there isn't enough free space on either side of the fan to get some decent airflow going.

NB: that's my opinion :) Ask Ralf, he's the resident 3700KNG

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Post by Putz » Sun Dec 28, 2003 11:08 pm

But if you "stuff a fan in the front", wouldn't the fan be helping the airflow through that hole? I don't see how adding a fan can be a negative thing in terms of airflow through a given space (the front bezel opening, in this case).

Ralf, what do you think?

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Post by chylld » Sun Dec 28, 2003 11:44 pm

I think it depends on the size of the fan. I put an 80L in there and HDD temps dropped 2-3C but all other temps stayed the same. I put a 120mm in there however and the temps didn't drop at all.

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Post by Putz » Mon Dec 29, 2003 12:01 am

Interesting. Something doesn't add up...

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Post by lenny » Mon Dec 29, 2003 11:31 am

Putz wrote:There were comments about positive pressure eliminating dust build-up at seams. Wouldn't this just change where the dust gets stopped? Instead of getting stuck on the way IN through the cracks, it will get stuck on the way OUT, through the same cracks most likely.
The whole point in positive pressure is to have filters at the intakes that trap the dust before it gets into the case. Well, that's the theory anyway.

In practice, filters are not 100% effective, and reduces airflow. Also, in the case of the Sonata, it's not easy achieving positive pressure, since the front case fan, being mounted quite a distance away from the front bezel, is more useful for stirring up the air than for intake.

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Post by Putz » Tue Dec 30, 2003 12:16 am

Ah, it was the addition of filters that I missed. Thanks for clearing that up -- it makes much more sense now! I imagine that a perfectly-balanced layout would still probably be ideal, though.

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Post by chylld » Tue Dec 30, 2003 12:20 am

Yeh I think so too. The watercooling nuts usually say that the best radiator setup is to have 1 fan on the front of the rad pushing air though, and another behind pulling air through. If you think about it long enough, you'll see how that idea can scale up to become quite appropriate for a whole case.

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Post by Seal » Tue Dec 30, 2003 2:58 am

ehehe i have a 3700bqe but its quite new still so its early days for me, not much of a dust accumilation yet :thanks god:

and as the resident watercooling nut, yep i have watercooling and performance wise it is best to have 2 fans on the radiator however not for a silent computer as you get turbulence from one fan blowing air onto another fan.

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