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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.



They were quite a bit dusty.



The thermal paste was old and dried up.

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.

Finally! Ready to rock, here goes nothing….

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

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

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

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


  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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