Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

But it’s FREE

Posted by Trixter on August 1, 2007


In sympathy to my financial plight, and possibly as a birthday present (I’m 36 today, whoopidy-doo), a coworker donated an Athlon 64 rig to me so that Sam could have a fast enough machine to run voice recognition software so he could email his family. (Sam has processing delays akin to autism and has trouble typing quickly.) I received a case, power supply, unknown Athlon 64 CPU hidden under a giant Zalman heatsink, motherboard, and RAM — which is more than powerful enough for voice recognition. All I need to do is add some spare hard drives lying around and it’s functional. It was a very generous donation.

It also doesn’t work.

It won’t POST, other than the fans spinning up; that’s it. No beeps, nothing. So, here begins the shopping list I’ve had to purchase in order to troubleshoot the thing:

  • 20-to-24-pin power supply adapter: $4

…because the PSU was 20-pin and the motherboard was 24-pin. No change in operation. Now we test the power supply itself:

  • Power supply tester for ATX 2.0 power supplies: $20

…confirmed that the power supply is functional. Moving on:

  • Motherboard POST code display and PCI power testing board: $26 (cheap!)

…which I’m still waiting to arrive in the mail. This will let me see any POST codes as well as making sure power is going through the motherboard and hitting the PCI slots. If it starts to POST but stops, then probably the CPU is bad. If it never POSTS a single code, the motherboard is bad. Either way, this “free” gift has cost a minimum of $50, with at least another $80 (CPU or motherboard, whichever I find is bad).

Still, the thought was nice. And heck, getting an Athlon 64 rig for free $50 $130 is a great deal.

I’m not down or anything, I just find the situation ironic (and, by proxy, funny).

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2 Responses to “But it’s FREE”

  1. Jeremy said

    Hey happy birthday dude! I can relate to tech problems at the moment. I fried the firewire ports on my video camera and VCR deck due to a misplaced plug — I inserted the cable attaching the port on the back of the PC to the mobo 1 set of pins off to the left. So, yes, user error, but frustrating nontheless. To make matters worse it’s permanently fried the firewire chipset on the mobo, and even affected some USB functionality. No worries — dropped in a PCI card and all is well.

    I had an issue like yours once and it ended up being caused by the internal PC speaker not being properly grounded. Once I detached that from the pins on the mobo it booted up. Another time I had the power button cord inserted onto the mobo facing the opposite direction — be sure all those little cables are facing the right way.

  2. Trixter said

    Thanks for the words of wisdom. My last attempt consisted of the only things being connected as: The power cables… and the power switch. Still no go.

    I noticed something odd: My power supply tester usually produces little blinkenlights and a beep. On the power supply given to me, we have blinkenlights… but no beep. No beep makes me nervous. So I bought a new power supply tonight, and it tests out OK (we have beep).

    Hooked it up… still no go. So tomorrow I buy a motherboard and hope that fixes things. I swear, this thing is turning into stone soup.

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