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.

10 thoughts on “Two steps forward, one step back”

  1. I almost bought a Shuttle ST62K last night at Fry’s

    I have all the other hardware – 1 GB in another machine that currently isn’t booting and I am too lazy to figure out why, another DVD-ROM drive, 160 GB drive, external DVD+R USB 2.0/FW 400.

    They are only $10 more ($219 USD) in a store than online. They were originally $350 when they first came out. I have gone laptop and I miss my desktop especially since I wanted to have one good reasonably fast multi-boot machine.

    I decided against it because no AGP port; only built in.
    If I can find that there are good reviews for the ATI Radeon 9100
    with Gentoo, RedHat, and Debian then I will consider it, or maybe it would make just a find Windows Media Center Edition PC.


  2. Oh thanks for the suggestion. That one is about $150 more than the one I looked at, but also supports SATA and is sporting an APG slot amoung other features I can’t recall this moment.

    Well, I was planning on getting one by the end of the year, but with the extra hardware I had, I thought I would go for the low end box which takes a more wide variety of memory (all the way down to PC2100/DDR 266 – because that is super cheap) now instead of waiting till end of year. I like the box you mentioned – I wanted/tried to download the .pdf spec sheet, but Shuttle’s main website (403 error) has been down in multiple geos at the moment (tried .com,, is available, but subpages or most useful of the product info links,, give an error 500. Damn Wintendo servers!

    I haven’t played real video games much in a while. I have been playing Hoyle card games to learn Texas Hold ‘Em. 😉

    I would love to get a PSP on the other hand or a PS3 when they become available (they will run Linux natively with the external drive hop-up).


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