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Method for autonomically managing dust levels in a PC . Disclosure Number: IPCOM000022449D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Mar-15
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Mar-15
Document File: 1 page(s) / 5K

Publishing Venue



One well known problem that can cause premature failure of various components within a PC is the build up of dust/small debris over time. Since high volumes of unfiltered air are constantly being moved through the chassis of a PC, it is inevitable that eventually small foreign particles and dust will build up at various places within the chassis. The most likely area of buildup is around fans and heatsinks, but it can also occur near ventilation holes in the sheet metal of the chassis. There really are no solutions for this problem other than opening up the PC, and using compressed canned air to physically blow the dust around and hopefully out of the chassis. Another soltion could be vacuum cleaners, however this presents major issues with static electricity buildup and static discharge. All of these solutions would require the user to open their system and physically try to remove the dust. Our solution to this problem starts out with a dust monitoring system. The idea is to place a number of sensors inside the PC near areas where dust commonly builds up. Some obvious locations for these sensors would be at/near the CPU heatsink, system fans, power supply fan/vents, and chassis vents. All the sensors would be tied to GPIO's and act as active hardware monitors. When a sensor starts returning a high level of dust or contamination, it reports that via the GPIO back to system monitoring hardware. When several or all of the sensors return high dust level readings, the PC will notify the user that their system is excessively dusty/dirty and that actions should be taken. Beyond this, given the correct type of fans within the system, the system monitoring hardware could instruct these fans to temporarily reverse their direction of spin, effectively reversing airflow with the hopes that the reversed airflow will disperse or dislodge some of the dust.

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Method for autonomically managing dust levels in a PC .

The core of this invention is really based on the performance of the dust sensors within the system. There do seem to be some commercially available 'dust sensors' and some of these might be able to be utilized within this method, however these sensors are rather expensive and are being 'retro-fitted' to this purpose. One of our ideas was to use small infra-red (IR) beams pointing at reflective areas near common dust buildup areas in the PC. The idea is to shoot the IR beam at an area that would normally reflect the beam back to a receiving sensor when the reflecting area is clean. This would signal no/low dust in this area. When the area becomes very dusty, the idea is that the beam would not be reflected back to the sensor very well if at all, signaling a very dusty environment around this sensor. Another method is to not use reflection, however setup a simple direct beam/receiver system. As long as the beam is hitting the receiver, the area is clean. But if a 'dust bunny' gets in the way and breaks the beam, the sensor system returns a high dust level. Each of these IR beam systems have certain limitations (size, space, sensitivity), but with some careful planning, the system could be built to utilize parts that will perform adequately for this situation. Some likely areas for beam/sensor placement would be at the CPU fansink, through the fins of the heatsink, near the vent holes for the power supply, nea...