DIY Computer

Posted : 2006-11-30

I've been getting packages in for the past week, and today I finally got the last ones, yuss!

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1 computer tool kit, 2 RAM dust gaurds, 3 Main DVD rom, 4 Secondary (cheaper) DVD rom, 5 CPU-AMD 64x2

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1 Hard drive (500 gigs), 2 GSpot RAM (2 gigs), 3 PSU (700 watts), 4 Graphics card (w dual monitor jacks)

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1 Motherboard (with all the goodies), 2 Windows XP (SP 2)

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1 Keyboard & Mouse, 2 Monitor wall mounts.

After I got everything unpacked I decided to install all the stuff on the motherboard.. and I didn't even get through the first step of installing my CPU. Now that I finally got everything unpacked, I find that I bought the wrong socket type of my CPU for my motherboard. So I hop on newEgg, submit an RMA, buy the right one, and pack up the wrong one to ship. Now I've got about 3 days to wait.

Updated : 2006-12-06

Ok, so I finally got the new CPU, it took longer than expected due to the weekend, and it took them a little bit to process my order.

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The CPU went in without a problem as expected. Time to throw on the heat sink, RAM, graphics card, and get some of those wires connected.

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Alright, got the board all screwed into place onto the case, and all the wires connected. So after the board was installed I just kept going and threw in the PSU, Roms, hard drive, and got everything hooked up. So the big moment had arrived, the first time I turn on my first DIY computer. So I flipped the switch on the back, and hit the power button.. and nothing happened. I sat there for a sec and smelled something and saw a bit of smoke coming from my CPU. So I yanked all power cords, and had a small corinary. I had enough excitement for the day, and went to bed.

Updated : 2006-12-07

I woke up around 6 AM and got online to see if I could find anything about what happened to my computer. There were a number of things that could be wrong, the PSU could be callibrated wrong and could be pumping the wrong amount of juice through my system (but I doubt that's the issue), I could have some of the power cables plugged in wrong, the CPU could be f'd.. any number of things. So I went through the system and tore everything out cuz I wanted to check on the CPU to make sure it wasn't charcoal.

After prying on the heat sinc trying to get it off, I ended up unscrewing the carriage that holds the heat sinc in place. After that I slowly twisted the heat sinc back and forth and it slowly came off. The cooling compound acted as gum on the heat sinc and CPU, that's why I had such a time getting it off. So I got it off, cleaned off the compound and the CPU looked fine (wiped a little sweat off the brow). So the next thing to check on was the PSU. I didn't even know if it was transfering power, luckily I found a forum that told you how to test your PSU.

Basically all I had to do was stick a paper clip into the black & green sockets of the main power cord, and that'd jump the PSU into starting. But I needed to hook something up in order to test if it was pumpin' juice. So I hooked up my system fans. And then tried to find a paper clip.. which after ravaging my house for about 20 minutes I couldn't find. At this point I was getting annoyed. Luckily I came across an old notepad that had a wire binding, so I clipped off a section and used that.

I didn't even bother putting all that crap back into the case all nice like I had it the night before (lesson learned, don't put everything in your case until you're sure it works). You can see the power cable in the bottom left of the image with the wire sticking out.

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And here's a close up of wire in the cable.

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So everything was hooked up, I hit the switch, and there was silence for a couple seconds, and right when I was getting ready to drop an F bomb, she powered up and all the fans lit up.

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You can see she's all lit up, and the fans are spinning. By this time, I'm getting kinda sleepy again, and decide to go back to bed. Later that night I get back on it, and start to re-install everything. One thing I found was that I put the wrong amount of thermal compound on my CPU, I was only supposed to put a grain of rice worth, but I covered the CPU in it (always make sure you read the right instructions, and then after you're sure, double check). So I got the CPU in, and heat sync back on, and everything else back in and hooked up. Another thing I found while installing, is that I may have had one of my power cables reversed due to a mis printed label.

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And the last thing was that there was something up with my RAM, cuz after I had only one of the two sticks I was able to power up, and get to the BIOS. Finally, some kind of progress. Enough for today, time for bed.

Updated : 2006-12-09

Alright, lets get Windows installed, and get all my crap on there. As you can see, Windows starts to install, but everytime it got to a certain point of the install it'd crash to a blue screen. It kept giving me some bullshit errors telling me to turn off options in my BIOS that my BIOS didn't even have. So after a lot of trial and error, I figured out that one stick of RAM was defective, and the other was completely dead. So great, I've got to order some more RAM, so it may be another week of waiting, this is turning out to be a nightmare, just one thing after another.

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After I was done being pissed, I hopped online to get some more RAM, but I didn't buy it through newEgg this time. If it was bad again I'd have to pay to ship it back to them and another re-stocking fee. So I decided to go to the Crucial site, I've dealt with them before, and had a very good experience. So I entered in all my specks for my motherboard, and found a couple options for RAM that'd fit my machine. One was expensive and one wasn't. At this point I didn't want to chance it, and went with the more expensive.

Updated : 2006-12-13

I got my RAM today, threw the sticks in, and Windows got over that hump it kept getting stuck on.

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The new RAM has LEDs on the top, so when data is transfering, you can see it functioning.

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A better shot of the LEDs in the light.

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You see them windows hiding behind the glare on the monitor? I do, and I've let out a sigh of relief that that's finally out of the way. Now I've just got to clean up my old machine, wipe the hard drive, and get it ready to give to my mom.

Completed : 2006-12-17

Finally got everything all set up. Mounted the monitors on the wall, and got all my programs and preferences the way I want them. This thing is officially DONE!

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Here's a shot of the guts of my machine, she's so pretty, think I'll put a bow on 'er.

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Floating monitors, wow, how are they doing that.. WITCHES!!

Updated : 2008-01-02

Ha! I fooled you, this project will never be done mwa ha ha ha. So I took out my old graphics card and replaced it with this one.

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Updated : 2009-10-23

So storm season's coming, and my PSU has been making these crazy loud vibrating sounds, to the point where I've had to beat on the top of my computer to knock what I'm assuming was a stuck ball bearing loose. While I was inside inspecting and trying to clean my PSU I decided to clean and oil all my fans as well. I've had this power supply for a couple years now but I think she's on her last leg so I decided to purchase a new one. After a lot of research I narrowed it down to two modular systems. I wanted a modular one when I first built my computer but they were too expensive at the time. I finally decided to go with the XFX Black Edition XPS-850W. Besides being modular it's SLI ready, CrossFire ready, and 80 Plus Silver certified. Unfortunately when it finally arrived I was so amped to get it in and fire her up I forgot to take pictures, so we'll just have to do with some shots I found on the ol' web. The inside of my case is so empty now, I didn't realize how much space all those unused cables took up until I installed this.

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After I did that I decided (since storm season was coming as I mentioned) that I should also purchase a battery back-up as well. A lot of my more tech savy friends have had one for years and keep saying that I really should get one. Well I finally listened. I wanted one that had a decent battery life, enough outlets, but also small. And when it comes to these things, small is kinda hard to find. After some more research I found the APC - 1500VA.

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Here she is all cozy next to my sub-woofer.

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All the shit I got plugged into it. There are 10 outlets (5 battery backup/surge protection and 5 surge protection-only). This thing'll run all my equipment for half an hour if there's a power outage. More than enough time for me to finish up whatever it was that I was working on and shutdown properly. It's run a couple self-tests while I was working (it does it every 2 weeks). It basically cuts off power from the outlet and just runs on its own power for a couple minutes and switches back. It's kinda strange working on a computer that's not getting power from the outside world.. and is not a laptop.

Updated : 2010-05-15

I've been doing a lot of 3-D work lately and since I'm not ready to build a whole new computer (one with a quad-core for example), I decided to get some more memory. I almost went with the same kit I already have but I decided to get a 4gig kit. So that's a grand total of 6 gigs of RAM, way more than I can even use on a 32-bit system, but I figure if Windows dies on me again at some point I might switch over to a 64-bit OS. For now though I'll just have to be happy with the 3GB switch.

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Updated : 2010-07-22

It's been getting pretty hot around here lately and I had a couple of blue-screen freezes lately. I thought it might be due to my CPU overheating, cuz if I let my system sit for a couple hours and powered back on things seemed to work alright. So I bought a new CPU cooler. Well a couple days after I got the cooler (didn't install it yet) my system crashed a couple more times to the point where I couldn't even start it. I believe that most of my problems were due to me installing SP3 then uninstalling it cuz it was making things glitchy, then running a repair install of XP SP2.

So after pulling out my hard drive cage and backing all my system and user settings up to my server I installed the new fan while I was in there. It wasn't too difficult an install. The cooling hoses are a bit stiff which made getting the whole apparatus in there cumbersome, but that was the only hang up.

After that I started the re-install of XP. But this time I split my original OS partition so that I could install XPx64 after I get my standard 32bit system back up. Everything went like normal on the install and I was able to install the 64bit OS as well. I haven't got to play around with it much yet, like seeing if all my software will run properly, but I got all my hardware/drivers working and I heard that was really the only hang up with 64. Think I'm gonna make a boot cd of 64 with nLite to slipstream SP2, IE, and all my drivers. If all goes well I might be switching over to a 64 bit system for good!

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DIY, Tech

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My name's Trevor Lemon, and this is my blog. I'll try to update it with whatever I'm working on, random thoughts, links to shit I think is cool; whatever I deem worthy I suppose.

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