[mythtv-users] New Media Center PC...options?

Michael Tiller michael.tiller at gmail.com
Tue Dec 12 16:09:41 UTC 2006

On 12/12/06, Steven Adeff <adeffs.mythtv at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 12/9/06, Brian Wood <beww at beww.org> wrote:
> > On Dec 9, 2006, at 9:28 AM, Michael Tiller wrote:
> > > OK.  I just blew (another!) motherboard and I needed to fix that
> > > computer.  When discussing what to do, my wife asked me what I
> > > "wanted" to do about it.  I cleaned my ears out and said, "you said
> > > 'want'...you understand that 'want' is different than 'need'" and
> > > she said "well just tell me what you want to do about it".
> >
> > How on earth are you "blowing" motherboards? In over 20 years and
> > more mobos than I can remember I have never "blown" one.
> >
> > You should take at least elementary precautions, grounding yourself
> > before touching things. An anti-static wrist strap is not a bad idea
> > (please use a "real" one with a series resistor as fried user is not
> > a very palatable thought). If you don't have an anti-static mat to
> > work on at least use the anti-stat bag the board presumably came in.
> >
> > Unless you figure out why you are "blowing" stuff I suspect you will
> > continue to have problems.
> making sure you turn off the power before fiddling...
> actually, I once accidentally dropped a screw onto the motherboard of
> a running computer which I left he case open for. computer shutdown. I
> had to unplug the power supply for a while, but it came back fine.
> Really, its quite hard to blow a motherboard. The only way I can think
> is to somehow short a capacitor (as they are unprotected by the
> coating used), or supply it with improper voltage.
> I too would like to know what you did to blow *two* motherboards, as

OK, well this thread seems to have degenerated into a discussion on my
incompetence with computer components.  Since I've ditched the idea of a new
case and decided to simply get a new motherboard and CPU (which is the topic
of another thread so I won't bother getting into it here), I'll simply
indulge your curiousity about my mishaps.

First, in my defense, I want to point out one way that it is easy to blow a
motherboard.  I got a case and motherboard about two years ago where the
case manufacturer decided that they didn't need to follow the same
conventions as motherboard manufacturers for the pins to the external audio
and USB connections.  I hooked everything up exactly as you would expect and
the machine would not power on.  I found out later that the case used this
non-standard wiring for the jumpers and and I had to rewire all the jumpers
by hand.  I don't even remember how I figured out what went were because the
case did not come with adequate documentation.  I did not fry the
motherboard in that case but I sure could have.

Now to my recent misadventures.  One of them I think I can explain and one
of them I can't.  The first involved installing a memory module.  Due to
physical constraints related to the case and motherboard layout, I had a
very difficult time access the area where the memory modules were.  It
latched the memory module in and turned the machine on but nothing
happened.  So I fiddled with the memory a bit more and realized that it was
physically possible, despite the keying of the memory, to latch the memory
in (by latch I mean the little levers on the side will snap into place) even
if the memory is put in the wrong way.  The reason was that on the sides of
the memory (at least the memory I had), there were two different places for
the levers to snap into.  I don't know why this was but the "extra" set
allowed the levers to be upright even when the memory was not aligned.  So
my best guess is that I simply could not see the misalignment (due to the
space constraints and obstructions) and something got shorted out.  Should I
have been more careful...sure.  Did I ground myself...definitely.

In the other case, I was swapping CPUs between two socket 478 motherboards.
In this case, I have no idea what went wrong.  Everything went pretty much
according to plan as far as I can tell.  I didn't even handle the
motherboard directly and I also grounded myself to the chassis.  My best
guess here is that I had to lay my tower on its side and then back up a few
times during all this and perhaps a stray screw or other conducting material
managed to get under the motherboard.  If there was junk floating around in
the case, this could have easily happened although I never did identify any
such conductor.  The reason I'm thinking along these lines is that the
machine came up and then immediately shut down (like 1 second later) just as
if it was faced with an overcurrent.  I took it to my local computer repair
place and they couldn't find the source of the problem.

So I hope that satisfies everybody's curiousity.  I'm pretty sure I didn't
do anything extremely stupid but clearly I should have been more careful.
I've just decided that it isn't worth the headache in the future to muck
about with this.  I've got 3 kids and more free money than free time so I'm
just going to stay out of the hardware tinkering aspect from now on.

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