Saturday, January 29, 2011

The building of a new "Monster" PC

In December 2007, I began the project to build a new PC out of the ashes my old Gateway GM5266E which lasted 10 months. I wasted the majority of November trying to find which piece was bad, but after having checked all the parts that are bolted to the motherboard, I came to the conclusion it was time to walk away from the corpse and as start stripping the case for parts because the obvious part that has failed in the motherboard.

The first part of my journey to build a new PC was to determine the cause of the failure. At the time, the obvious culprit was the weak power supply that came with the kit which was not capable of sustaining the operation of the PC after I added a second hard drive and doubled the RAM to 4GB. Also, the heat that was generated by the system could not have been good for the health of the PC. Pretty much, it is obvious that one has a problem when the heat coming out of the back exhaust fan was so hot that it was uncomfortable to hold your hand in front of it for any amount of time. So, I think I had a basis to begin looking for parts.

The foundation of the PC now known as Monster was a new Asus P5K motherboard with the leftover RAM, CPU, hard drives, etc. from my old Gateway. To hold this new MoBo, I selected an Antec Nine Hundred case because it had way too many fans to make sure the computer stayed cool under the most stressful of load. I selected a CoolerMaster 500W power supply for a good level of clean power and modest price. Finally, I tossed a ThermalTake CPU cooler on top of this as I felt this would be best to keep the CPU cool.

As time passed, I added more stuff to the PC including a new ATI 2600 series video card with 512 MB of RAM, a new ATI TV Wonder Tuner, and even a new Core2Quad Q6660 CPU running 2.4 GHz. Eventually, it was upgraded to 8GB of RAM and is sporting 5 TB of hard drive space. In all, a pretty good system that can keep up with the Jones while surfing the web.

Now it is time to move on and build another machine of even better caliber. The goal is to attempt to double every specification (except HD space) that I can with the new system. More of everything is the rule and the goal is to do as much as possible in a single big bang. Plus, I want the cabling to be neat as the always visible parts of Monster looks pretty ratty. I think with the technology offerings that have hit the market in the last 3 years, I can find plenty of gear to generate the amount of performance game that I need to justify the purchase of this much gear. Short of the introduction of Sandy Bridge, the bang for the buck factor never equaled the outlay of cash needed to make the upgrades. So now I have revealed the secret ingredient to the new PC build.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Still Cleaning out 2010 to Prepare for 2011

More times than not, it is common to throw out and clean up the year before the beginning of the new year. I guess this means that I am not normal, but there are more than a few that already know that fact.

I am hoping that the last of my projects associated with implementation of the new system at work have wrapped themselves and I can seal up some other things that are hanging on right now. Then I can clean up the pile of gear in the floor so I can focus on some new projects in February.

My first goal for the year is to attempt to build a DSLR remote from netbook to aid in my HDR photography. I love the controls and capability of my Canon 5D Mark II, but they could work much better and be a bit more user friendly. Then their is the the Promote camera remote, but it is so manual that I might as well be shooting with my AE-1. Actually, the Promote is more backwards than my AE-1 because it does use any of the automatic features such as auto-focus and light metering. As a response, I am going to make my own version of the promote using equipment around the house and either the Canon software or maybe another program. Once I get a direction on this project, I will write up my findings and results.

Until then, it is (looking around the office) time to get back to cleaning up from 2010. It is almost complete and one of my little netbooks is ready to get blown away in the name of photography experiments.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

100% More Blogging in 2011 than 2010

I have decided to keep my goals for 2011 in line with simple expectations as 2010 ended with much more work and much less time for me. With a marathon run of work for December, I have decided to keep my personal goals in check as post implementation work continues to drain time from my personal life.

This year, I hope to blog more about the joys of running Windows 7 64 bit and how to work around all those annoying situations where the system is still not fully compatible with the rest of the world. I want to get more into my photography habit and develop some new ways to shoot HDR and complete all the photos on the Hard drive that need finished. Finally, I would like to find more awesome free applications that can help computer user complete tasks without spending thousands on software.

And all the while, I am going to include observations and other notes of interest. Funny pictures, observations from the places I have visited, and snapshots of day to day life from my cell phone. Hang on... It will be a fun ride in 2011.