i am huge in japan

Sunday, November 26, 2006

One of those projects

After work on Thursday I prepared the table to accomodate two computer cases. The old pvr and the new. I took photos of the current motherboard layout for reference later if I was confused, then mentally planned out the order to install the parts.

The first sign of trouble was when I accidentally used the wrong screws to fasten the motherboard down. They looked like the right ones but turned out to be ones for use in the hard drive rack. In my defence the bag with the motherboard poles only had two screws in it and I didn't notice them until later. So they got stuck but otherwise it was ok. Not critical.

Everything was then going smoothly, I had the video and pci cards connected, the front usb and power switch etc were connected. I took a break for dinner and then started up again.

I decided it was time to mount the power supply. This is done unusually. You screw a face plate to it and attach it in the front of the case. A power extension cable runs from a plug at the back of the case to the front. I soon found my standard ATX power supply to be half an inch too wide. Damn. No matter how I twisted and turned it wasn't going in. I swore a few times and rechecked the instruction sheet, I was definitely doing it right. The optical drive bay rack was in the way.

I went to check my the PSU in my other computer and measured it. Looked like it was the length I wanted so I decided to use that one instead. So I pull it all out, having to cut really tight cable ties only to find it's too big too. Damn. That PSU goes back in the case and I decide a new smaller PSU must be bought.

But then I decide that until then, I can do without the optical drives and just have the big power supply mounted ungracefully in the case for a couple of days. I unscrew the rack and put it to one side. I then screw the power supply into place. Suddenly able to slide it underneath the side rim of the case, leaving enough room for the optical drive rack to return! Praise Be. This is a tip that really really should have been in the instruction sheet!.

I then set about mounting my SATA hard drive in the middle of said rack. The case came with mounting...mounts to make it fit. The two IDE drives were put in the racks on the right side of the case.(one in each corner). I installed the dvd rom and cdwriter and began to connect the cables. Throughout all of this I am getting very sick of the screwdriver and screws falling away etc. The IDE cables don't reach to the hard drives very well so one of them has to come out of the rack a bit. This is when not having all the proper screws available wasn't so bad. Finally everything looked good and I took it down to the TV to have a test boot up. Push the power button....power button gets stuck...no go. More swearing. Turns out the PSU extension cable is blocking the spring. It was then about 4 hours since first starting and I was in no mood for failure. The wife calls to say she's on her way home. Earlier in the evening I had claimed I would be finished hours before she got home.

I decided that since I had to take things out of the case anyway I would take the time to put one of IDE drives where the SATA is because the SATA cable is longer and can reach the back corner better. So I fiddle with unscrewing and remounting. Also moving the extension cable to the other side of the PSU so it doesn't block anything. I still fiddle with making the IDE cabels reach and SATA power plugs coming out easily. Once again everything looks good and it's time for another test. Can't see the boot hard drive, can't see the dvd rom. Gah. Check cables and realise the DVD rom is not powered. Easily fixed, push the boot drive cables in to make sure and try again. Just the bood hard drive missing. I wonder if I have the master and slave mixed up or something and disconnect the slave and plug the master into the other part of the IDE. Still wont boot. I then notice the plug is not sitting completely. I was unsuccessful in making it get snug so I removed the hard drive to inspect. There were 8 pins either laying flat or pushed in. Oh shit.

I then painstakingly used long nosed pliers to try to adjust them to acceptable lengths and straightenness. Every time it looked good, an IDE cable test would bend some of them again. So frustrating. In the end I got a working combination and was relieved to see Media Portal appear on the TV screen. I turned it off and went to bed. 5.5 hours after I started.

The PVR performed fine on Friday, but was laying on the carpet all day. Friday night after recording a show for the wife, I decided to move it to the TV cabinet. Removed a shelf that was in the way and took out the DVD player and PS2. Threaded the cables through the back and got everything back in place. Powered on. After a few seconds of boot with no display, it would loop and start again. WTF. I pull everything out and jiggle and replug cable. It starts up.I turn it off and connect the extra case fan, put the lid back on then push it back into the cabinet. Power on again - the loop returns!. I'm looking around for the hidden candid cameras at this point. The wife comes home again and I leave it to go moan to her. I go back and try again, it boots! Just in time to record another show I forgot was on.

It's been fine since. Unbelievable that I had to fight it every step of the way.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Silvery goodness

Today I ordered this home theatre case for my PVR. Now that the concept has been proved and I wouldn't be without it, it's time to lose the beige tower. I should get it in a couple of days then it's the tedious task of transferring all the hardware over.

It took me a while to settline on what case to get because I had particular drive bay and case dimension requirements. It's the same brand as my new desktop tower case so I am confident it will be worth it.

Things have been reasonably quiet in linux land. Flirted a bit with different desktop wallpapers but otherwise surprisingly minimal appearance customising.