Water Cooling an 8K Camera with Linus Tech Tips

As part of my work here at SOLIDWORKS, I get to work with tons of interesting users, creators, and influencers. Last year, we wrote a profile piece on Alex Clark of Linus Tech Tips, who finds himself in the unique position of checking all three of those boxes.

Recently at Linus Tech Tips, Alex and the team tackled a project that will be of interest to a broad spectrum of our community. This is a project the team at Linus Tech Tips (>10M subscribers) worked extremely hard on, and one that was powered by our Simulation solutions here at SOLIDWORKS.


Watching their attempts at water-cooling the heat pipes (while trying not to  break certain components during their modifications!) for this 8K camera proves to be an anxious yet fun viewing experience for anyone interested in watching tinkerer projects that combine both: a) engineering curiosity, and b) boundary-pushing in the name of stimulating experimentation!

As you’ll see in the making of this “Water Cooled Edition” 8K Camera, there were quite a few barriers and considerations in getting this thing to work. Ultimately, as you’ll hear Linus mention at the very beginning of the video, the goal was for it to maintain consistent operating temperature. After running it for a long time, you’ll see on the camera’s temperature readout that it appears to sustain the 35°C temperature desired.

In dismantling and modifying the camera, there were some parts that naturally required removal or alteration to get the water cooling system installed. For their first heat sink, the plan was to chop off the fins and screw on the water block for the heat sink in mind. Essentially, the idea being: the new water block and its fittings had to be contained within the space originally occupied by the soon-to-be-departed fins.

Essentially, you’d chop all the fins off, and leave the heat pipes, which would then be water-cooled.

Along the way, the original heat pipes for the camera were compromised. As Alex explains, this was likely an outcome of a phenomenon called “work hardening,” common to materials like Copper (which was the material used to make the heat pipes). As the pipes bend back and forth, they naturally harden and become more brittle. Ultimately, this was the factor that led to their demise, as the pipes cracked.

In replacing these copper heat pipes and getting into the testing of their ideas for their future water cooling system, Alex and the team jumped into SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD. They began by 3D modeling their concept for the heat sinks. Considering optimal operating temperatures for the camera (based on the desired ability to maintain temperature and retain ideal picture quality), they tested for some crucial conditions.

For example: with the sensor, they created a heat sink attached to heat pipes. They needed to check water flow through the heat sink, while guarding against over-cooling of the sensor. The fear in this case was that temperature variations resulted in over-cooling would damage image quality during practical use.

Leveraging SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation, they were able to predict: a) fluid flow through the system was sufficient for the task at hand, b) given their setup, they should not be at risk for over-cooling. Transient fluid flow and cooling studies allowed them to determine these factors prior to implementation in the physical world, which, if it had gone poorly, could have resulted in the damaging of an expensive camera!

Sean O'Neill

Sean O'Neill

As an Industry Process Consultant, Sean's role is to help amplify the 'best of' both our products and our community, via the stories we showcase on our livestreaming programs (like SOLIDWORKS LIVE) and other digital outlets. Sean is also the creator of both the SOLIDWORKS Champions Program and the SOLIDWORKS Influencer Program.