My First PC… Called Plague

This is a machine that I bought about four years ago and have been upgrading steadily ever since. Many of its original components have found their way into my other boxes. I bought my wife a new Dell Inspiron Laptop, making this workstation entirely mine (she got the laptop because I couldn’t stop tweaking our “shared” PC, and she’d get miffed when everything had changed on her yet again.)

Originally purchased from Computer Rage on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley, CA. It was originally a PII 350MHz on an Asus P2B mobo with a Diamond Viper 330 video card, 2GB HD, and 64 megs of RAM.

Been a while…

It’s been a while since I updated this page, as I’ve been too busy playing with my new toy Earthquake. I got the trim for the last mod (heh!) to this machine, some fan duct trim from CaseEtc. Tonight I’m going to cut a rectangle in the front bezel to give better airflow through the radiator and 80mm fan. I’ll give it the trim and some wire screen. I’m thinking the improved airflow will cool the water and the case while making the front look boss.

Tomorrow I’ll get the pics developed and start posting them.

Headcrash Weekend Update

I tore apart Headcrash over the weekend because I was sick of Windows NT and was looking for something new to do. Since I’m planning on getting my Win2k MSCE I decided to make it a Windows 2000 Server. After fighting with it for a while I found out that the Adaptec AAA-133u2 RAID card isn’t on the w2k Hardware compatibility list and the drivers that Adaptec provide on their web site suck ass.

After deliberating for a while I decided to gut Headcrash and sell the RAID card and my two LVD SCSI drives. I’ll take that money and help pay off my credit card that I ran up buying parts for Earthquake.

At any rate I installed Win2k on the Caviar 7200rpm IDE drive instead. I’m debating whether or not to buy another 19160 SCSI card and put in a SCSI solution into the box, but for now I’m going IDE to see how it works out.

Current HX08 mods for Headcash

The mods on the Aopen HX08 are pretty standard, as this was my first case, and consist of the following:

  •  One 120mm chimney fan sucking air out of top.
  •  One 120mm ducted fan in bezel in lower front blowing air into the case and onto the RAID controller.
  •  Two 80mm fans mounted at the top rear, blowing onto the three hard drives.
  •  Two SPDT switches for the two 120mm fans in a 5-off-12 configuration mounted in a 5-1/4″ bay.
  •  Dremel cuts in the top piece of the case to facilitate the removal of the side panels without having to remove the top.

Headcrash Background

I had a file server that had basically outgrown its case and was looking for a bigger, full tower case. I’d recently picked up the case modding bug and was looking for a good solid case with good cooling possibilities, since my server in its mini tower ran hotter than the sun with its dual PIII processors and multiple 10k rpm LVD SCSI drives. I ended up picking the Aopen HX08 as reviewed on Virtual Hideout .

Earthquake Assembly

Set up Earthquake‘s hardware over the weekend, which included stealing components from Plague, my trusty PC for quite a while. Set up scratch installations of Win98 and Win2k Pro on the machine and ended up with a 1 frame-per-second difference using Quake3Arena’s Demo001 (151fps v. 150) so I think I’m going to go with Win2k pro for its OS.
Took lots of pictures over the weekend of my rig. I’ll post them as soon as the roll is used up. I’m still working on tweaking everything to get it just so. It’s like settling into a new apartment, it takes a while to get everything where you want it.

One bummer is that the HX08 is really, really full now that I have the radiator kit installed with the fan shroud as a part of the watercooling loop. I have so much crap jammed in there that it makes working in it a bit rough. I didn’t even have room for the planned radiator duct. Maybe next time I’ll go for a full-on server cube or something.

More parts and wiring modifications for Earthquake

My BayBus arrived today. I decided to order a BayBus from PCmods instead of building my own. After thinking about it for a bit, I realized that each DPDT switch cost 5 bucks and the BayBus cost 20 bucks with four switches. I save no money doing it myself and I get a much higher quality device by purchasing theirs. I guess I’ll be working on my fans today.

For prosperity, here is a diagram of the three position 12v-off-7v trick to undervolt fans for lower noise (and throughput, of course):

 

This is akin to the 7 volt fan modification from overclockers.com. but it uses a three position switch to control it at two speeds.

More Earthquake case design

I’ve been working on the case this week. Working with fresh cut metal minus gloves equals tiny little slashes all over my fingertips.

At any rate, I think I’m going to try a little experiment with my case. My current setup resembles this:

 

There was space enough in the lower front of the case to secure an 80mm fan between the radiator and pump. This way there is fresh air being blown into the case and the intake isn’t limited to merely the hot air being sucked through the radiator.

Although I know that fans cool better when they blow on the object rather than suck away from the object, I’m going to see if this method will suffice for the cooling of the two 10k RPM SCSI hard drives up top in back.

 

 

 

 

 

If I’m not happy, I’ll just reverse the 80’s from suck to blow and install a chimney fan.

Maybe I’ll do that anyway, just to see how effective both methods are. Depends on how motivated I am…

Twilight 2000 to Aftermath conversion

For shitz and giggles we’ve switched game systems from Twilight 2000 to the Aftermath! set of rules by Fantasy Games Unlimited. I’ve always felt that Aftermath was one of the best skills-based RPGs out there and has a combat system that goes into much greater detail than T2K does.

Basically I just got tired of the weird abstractions that T2k did for the intent of simplifying combat (e.g. The M-16 having 10 shots, a 9mm Beretta holding two, etc.). Twilight:2000 has a great set of modules but the game itself is simplistic and has limited opportunity for character advancement or improvement.  Aftermath, on the other hand, has far fewer options for modules set in their post-apocalyptic setting but the system itself is great.