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Project Jalopy: Part 1, First POST and First Problem —

Whenever I build a PC, whether it is used or new I always like to do a quick bench test before I actually build the system. This way if I do have a part that is totally dead or DOA I can catch it early. Building a system only to find out that you have a bad motherboard is quite a drag. When I perform one of these quick bench tests I place the motherboard on a raised NON CONDUCTIVE (very important) surface such as a card board box. If you place the motherboard on a raised surface you will be able to test with your expansion cards installed, their brackets can just hang off the side of you raised surface. Then I install the CPU, RAM (memory) and any PCI AGP or PCI-E cards I will be using. I also like to use the power supply that will be going inside my case if I can help it. If it’s bad it will get caught now versus later. After everything is installed I turn on the power supply, short the motherboard power switch pins with a pen or screw driver and wait to see if the rig turns on and posts (If you are unfamiliar with what I mean by “posts” this article will clear it up). If it does turn on and posts I like to go into the bios and check a few things. I check the bios to see if all of the memory is detected and if my CPU is running at the right speed. Last but not least I also check the temperature of the CPU.

With project jalopy all of the memory was properly detected. However I did have to change dip switches on the motherboard to get the CPU to run at the right speed. Then I hit the build’s first problem! A problem already? This early? It is no big deal actually, we caught it early and it’s an easy fix.

I will give you all a photo run down of what has happened so far.

Here are all the parts in their recycle heap glory.
00_start

06_case_closed

05_case_open

They were quite a bit dusty.
01_cpu_area_dust

02_ram_area_dust

04_case_dust

The thermal paste was old and dried up.
03_cpu_old_paste

It was actually so dried onto the CPU that it would not come off in places. I had to put a little bit of new paste on anyway, run the system and let it heat up. After that, all the old paste came off and I was left with a clean surface. Then I put the cooler back on after I applied fresh thermal paste.
07_cpu_paste

Finally! Ready to rock, here goes nothing….
08_post

The joy of seeing project jalopy post was quickly killed by the terrible noise the CPU fan was making.
11_post

I had a spare fan that would fit the heat-sink so I swapped it in for the old one.
09_new_fan

The CPU temperature started off OK but after some time the temperature got too high for my comfort.
10_high_temp

That is our snag. It bugged me because I wasn’t even doing anything with the system. I was just sitting in the bios. To make matters worse that was the slower Sempron, not the faster Athlon XP. It became obvious that I needed a better cooler. The stock cooler would simply not cut it. I jumped on Newegg and found just what I needed. They had a bigger copper base cooler for Socket A CPUS! Not only was I excited to see one still in stock, I was even more excited to see that it was only $7.99 with free shipping. Needless to say I bought it right away.

That’s where project jalopy stands right now. So far it’s cost $7.99. I am optimistic though, the new fan looks much nicer than the old stock fan. As I have written this I realize that I am talking to someone who has built a PC before. If you have never built a PC before this video is great to watch. It’s a video from Linus Sebastian’s Linus Tech Tips. The video is about building a new budget system but he does a great job at visually showing you how to build a PC. He actually starts building it on part 3.


Categorised as: Hardware


6 Comments

  1. John M says:

    I am so pleased to find your blog and Project Jalopy! I’m a newcomer to Linux and Linux-on-PPC more specifically. In the last couple of months, I’ve gleefully brought two c.2005 G4 Macs back to useful relevancy with Debian 7 + LXDE (many thanks to the PPCLuddite and zen for the great information on their sites).

    I’m commenting here because my latest project is getting Debian 7 + LXDE going on an eMachines D3024 – a socket-A based desktop with what appears to be similar specs (and similar proposed uses) to the Jalopy: Sempron 3000+, 2GB RAM, Radeon 9200SE instead of the onboard GeForce 4. This is a machine for basic uses, (I’m not making movies and beautiful music on this thing), but I have been VERY pleased so far. Best of luck with the Jalopy – I will be following the project with interest.

    • markelliott says:

      Thanks for the reply John! Jalopy has gone very well. I wound up springing for a newer case for improved air flow. I also scored a better video card off of eBay for ~40 (US)dollars. After the video card minecraft is very playable. I will be posting a “Project Update” post here very soon. How is your project coming along?

  2. David says:

    Hi Mark !
    Keep up the good work. I too am currently working on a Debian project on a pentium 4 and G4 Sawtooth. I heard there were some problems with Linux on pentium 4s. Going to find out soon. And keep writing more about PPC. Greetings from Germany.

    • markelliott says:

      Greetings David! What are the specs on the Pentium 4 system and the Sawtooth? The Sawtooth is an awesome mac to work with. It is incredibly reliable. It can take 2 gigabytes of memory. It’s power supply is also up-gradable should you need more power after upgrades or if the stock one ever goes out. All you need to do is follow ATXG4’s directions to make an adapter http://atxg4.com/sawtooth.html. Then you will be able to use the standard ATX power supplies. Good luck with your projects!

      • David says:

        Hi Mark,

        Pentium has a 2.6Ghz with 1GB ram with a Geforce 6200A 128MB ram, the Sawtooth a 7450 1.42Ghz with 2GB ram and a flashed Geforce 6200 256 WANG card. Tiger runs smoothly on the Sawtooth, the next thing will be installing Wheezy but I heard there are some difficulties installing the new nouveau drivers. Ill probably bypass that problem by installing “squeeze” first, holding the nv drivers and upgrading to wheezy. The Pentium 4 ran slow, I mean crawling slow with Crunchbang last time. Going to try out Debian but after I pimp my Sawtooth 🙂

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