June 10th, 2005

Two steps forward, one step back

So while I was out getting the couple of odds and ends to complete the new computer case, I also picked up a kit to replace the fan on my video board. I had kludged up a fan on it after the original one died, but it was kinda dorky and didn't even have a heat sink, just a fan blowing on the chip. Still, it worked ok. Still, might as well get something with a real heat sink, cause it's only gonna get hotter here over the next month or so.

I get it home and it's exactly the right size except for one problem... The little plastic knobs to hold the fan on are just *slightly* too small to fit in the holes on the video board. Now, the safe thing to do would have been to whittle down the knobs or replace them with a nut and bolt or something like that. The stupid thing to do is to get out the drill and enlarge the holes just slightly with the next drill bit size up.

Yes, I proceeded to do the stupid thing.

The drilling went very smoothly, and the knobs snapped perfectly into place. I popped the card in the computer and powered it up. Checked that the fan was spinning and it was doing fine. But... nothing came up on the screen. Switched over from the DVI port to the VGA port and finally got some output... except that while half of the screen was fine, random columns of characters were blank, randomized, or shifted to strange colors. Oops.

So back to Guanghua for the 3rd time this week, to pick up a new video card. I'm not much of a gamer, so my needs are modest. I landed on a Elsa FX 534 which is based on the Nvidia GeForce FX5200 chipset. This model uses the 128-bit instead of 64 bit memory, has 128mb video memory, DVI, VGA and TV outputs, and pretty reasonably priced. I'm sure edpark is going to taunt me for getting such a weak-ass card, but it's fine for my needs, and it's better than the Nvidia Ti4200 it replaced.

In other news though, got the extra drive cover, and also a black floppy disk drive, so now the whole front panel is nice and uniformly black. Fortunately my old memory card reader was already black, so I didn't have to replace it. Also I got some IDC10 connectors, male and female, and borrowed some ribbon cable from an obsolete 40-pin IDE cable (current IDE cables are 80-pin for ATA66 and higher). Hooked that up between the front audio connector and the case cable and now the front panel ports work. I didn't see any Firewire cables with IDC connectors on them, so for now I'll just use the rear connectors for the few times I use Firewire.