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The Rig is Assembled

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A Quick Note

Last Tuesday one of my best friends died. I made a journal post about it but it unfortunately found its way to a younger audience than I intended (MySpace - DUH!). Due to the graphic nature I was asked to edit it, but I decided instead just to delete it. I'll repost it later.

Now then! It's time I shared the story of what's been keeping me occupied these past few days - besides the funeral and the consoling of friends and all that un-fun stuff - and that was building my new computer. I've been saying for at least a decade now that I would buy the parts and build my own rig. Being the master of procrastination that I am (or the fact that I've just been a poor and cheap bastard until like, last year) it's taken me this long to do it, but it's finally done.

I started on Wednesday night, because I knew I had to a) clean up my room so I would have floor space to assemble things and b) clean up my desk so that I could set up all the new equipment. (Note that from here on out I'm just going to say what I did in the order I did it and not mention dates cause I barely slept so I have no clue what day was what when I did stuff :P) Cleaning the room wasn't so bad - the desk was a bit tougher because I had to clear off all the electronics, all the wires, dust and then wipe it down. But hey it certainly looked cleaner than it has in a long time :P

Once I cleaned and dusted off the surface I placed everything back where it belonged and also put back most of the wires that I would be hooking up later. Yup, quite the mess down there, but I would be cleaning that all up much later.

So the next night one of my old friends, Mike, came over, one who had built many computers himself, and assisted me in getting through the rough first stages. I already had a lot of the stuff unpacked, and so we took apart the case - the two side panels, the motherboard tray and the PSU cover. In trying to get the PSU in Mike helpfully told me that they usually go in with the power rating label beneath the switch right-side up. So, okay - what do I know - we try fitting it in, but there's this little bracket on the side that's not letting it slide all the way in. So my Mike manages to peel off the bracket with his bare hands (I knew I had him there for something) and the PSU fits all the way in. Wheee! Uhm... not? Now we can't seem to line up the plate that goes over the back and screws onto the case to hold in the power supply. Why? Cause it's in upside down!! Yup, let that be a lesson to you, kids. See? Upside down is right side up...

Sooo next step was to take the motherboard tray and screw in my standoffs. You have to screw in the standoffs by hand and Mike forgot his tightener tool so he had me take a Needlenose plier to twist the standoffs down a bit more so that they wouldn't come loose when screwing and un-screwing the motherboard later down the road if need be. Then I screwed down the brackets that would hold my heatsink/fan over the CPU and screwed the ASUS P5H-D motherboard onto the tray.

So next we went to the bathroom to apply the cleaning solvent Mike brought over to the heatsink and CPU core to make sure we got the best transference of heat from the core to the heatsink as possible. After that we came back to my room and dropped the Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz CPU into the socket and tightened down the latch, applied the bb-sized dab of thermal paste, then mounted the huge-ass Zalman on top and ever so carefully screwed it down. Then we connected the heatsink fan and rear case fan to the mobo power slots. Oh and then we also slotted in the two 1GB Corsair memory modules.

The next few steps consisted of sliding the mobo tray back into the case and screwing it down (yey thumbscrews!), slotting in the Sapphire Radeon 1900GT, attaching the power, reset, LEDs and case speaker to the mobo, and plugging in the main mobo power cable, the PCIx power cable for the card and the additional mobo power connector by the rear case fan.

After all that - the moment of truth. We plugged in one of the monitors, plugged in the power supply, crossed our fingers and hit the power button. And PRESTO!!

We had lift off! Once we reached the error screen because there was no OS to load we shut her back down and I gave mike a hearty slap on the back and shook his hand for getting me up and running so quick - less than two hours - I don't even want to guess how long it would have taken me by myself. Just cause I've been reading for years about assembling computers doesn't mean I think I can actually do it without screwing up the first time.

So yea - this is what my room looked like a few hours later, after I had the Sony DVD-ROM drive installed along with the SATA Western Digital 150GB 10kRPM Raptor so that I could install Windows XP Pro. At first the Sony drive was in the top bay, but then I realized that the IDE cable labeled CD-ROM didn't actually fit into the Sony's IDE connector, and I instead had to use the cable labeled HDD. Uh oh. This meant I had to place the DVD drive in the bottom-most bay and pray the slave connection on the cable reached the top-most hard drive bay, since I had planned on installing one of my IDE hard drives. Yeesh. Next I pulled my PS/2 keyboard from the closet and hooked that up along with my USB travel mouse for input. At first I partitioned my Windows install, because I wanted to minimize the damage should Windows crash on me, but Mike told me later that portioning a hard drive like my Raptor wasn't the best thing to do, so I wiped XP and reinstalled - I kinda had to anyways since I made the XP partition too small. Cause I'm retarded like that. Small set back.

So I again loaded XP and then began installing drivers galore, starting of course with my motherboard, then video card. Next I installed the SATA Plextor DVD/CD writer. Thank god I decided at the last moment to get the SATA version - I wouldn't have had an extra IDE connector for my hard drive! After installing those drivers I installed the SoundBlaster X-Fi card and then raided an old PC I had lying around for the audio cable that connects the DVD drive to the sound card. Loaded up those drivers and then installed my second hard drive, an IDE Western Digital 150GB Caviar. I had to tilt the drive up slightly so that the IDE slave connector would reach it but I screwed it down in the front so it's stable.

By this time I had also hooked up the rest of the case fans - one up top to blow air up and out and two in front to suck in air over the hard drives and towards the video card(s). These took regulat molex connectors and didn't plug into the mobo, which kinda sucked because now I can't control them with a fanbus or an application like Speedfan. Oh wells. I also plugged the firewire and USB cables from the front I/O panel to the motherboard, and installed the extra 2 USB ports in the second x16 PCIx slot.

Now here's where I almost had a heart attack. The connectors for the USB cables (there are two) on the mobo are colored blue, as is the color of the cable connector running from the extra 2-port USB panel. From the case's front I/O planel there was a blue and a black connector. Without thinking to check the wiring diagram from the case, I plugged the blue connector from the front I/O shield into the blue USB connection on the mobo along with the one from the rear panel, and the black connector to the firewire connector on the mobo. When the front I/O USB wouldn't work, I tried switching the cables, but the front I/O still wouldn't work. That's when I looked at the cable diagram from the case guide and realized I was plugging the front I/O's firewire cable to the mobo's USB connection - something which in both the case and mobo instructions is labeled as a BIG NO-NO YOU WILL RUIN YOUR CONNECTION ON THE MOBO!!!

Luckily no damage was done, and I plugged the cables into their correct ports and everything was fine... well I still haven't been able to test the front firewire connection. But - oh well, heh. We'll just assume it works (please?).

So of course the next step was to get the WiFi up and running so I could keep installing apps and drivers, oh and I also hooked up my external drive as well since it had all my backups and I had run out of IDE connectors. Bah! :P I plugged in my second monitor and left my case open should I run into any problems. Hooked up the speakers too to test the sound card.

Finally satisfied, I slid the mobo tray all the way back in, tied up some loose case wires and packed the unused power connections up on top of the disc drives to keep the way clear of the two front fans so my video card didn't choke on it's own hot air.

Many hours later, after organizing my cables with velcro-ties (those things are teh shiznit) This was the scene I beheld. Ahhhh... so beautiful.

I had to cut away the back paneling of the cabinet because the tower was too deep, but that's okay because it's easier now to reach behind and fiddle with stiff should I need to. Looks ugly I admit but everything is bundled up so it's quite easy to find stuff. I have my external hard drive, computer and both monitors plugged into the APC battery backup, which should give me at least 6 minutes to back up and shut down. Plus my UPS is connected to my PC via USB to manage shutdown should I not be at my computer.

Here's a shot of the case all badged' out. Yea baby. The external drive is way back partially covering the top fan to help keep it cool.

So that's pretty much that. I have a few kinks to work out still - MaxiVista isn't all I hoped it would be, though I'm hoping I can get the issues resolved. I think it may be the ATI Catalyst panel screwing things up, but everytime MaxiVista loads up the extra display it appears to the right instead of the center where I had it last. And sometimes I can't see anything but the background, sometimes it makes my window placement act funny, and when I log off to secure the computer (user-switch back to the main login screen) it kills the extended desktop, which means when I log back in I have to reconfigure it again. Bah. I'm thinking I might just use Remote Desktop and run some apps from my laptop instead and have it network-drived to the desktop so I don't have to sync up files.

But for now I'm happy, can't wait to get back up to speed with other things enough so that I can fire up some games on this puppy and really kick back! [smile] Wheeeeee!!!

Till next time...
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I can still see deleted posts, so I'll have to offer my best wishes in this thread.

I am unbelievably saddened to hear of your loss. I practiced martial arts for many years, and although the best of research and practice could minimize the risk of any activity, there is always the outside chance of a freak accident.

I have no real way of imagining how it must hurt you now, and I wish you and everyone else involved only the best. Jon sounded like a really great guy and the world is undoubtedly worse off from his loss.

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Last Tuesday one of my best friends died. I made a journal post about it but it unfortunately found its way to a younger audience than I intended (MySpace - DUH!). Due to the graphic nature I was asked to edit it, but I decided instead just to delete it. I'll repost it later.
I know how you feel. One of my friends killed himself about two weeks ago.

Unlike Rav, I have no idea how the story went. Judging by his post I'll assume it was some sort of accident involving martial arts? That's horrible, but at least you know it was an accident.

Good luck man.

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