A 'puter in your shop?

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heat
That's one reason why I like to build my own systems. One of my cases has two 120mm fans (1 front, 1 rear) as they move more air with less noise. The heatsink (ThermalRight SLK-900) has a 92mm fan.
My other case has 2x80mm front, 1x80mm rear, all speed-controlled.

is
That sounds almost like a heatpipe. Heatpipes are becoming more and more common in modern systems as they can transfer the heat better, allowing for a quieter fan. It's a good interim step prior to watercooling.

My systems use Antec power supplies. They throttle the fans down according to temperature, and also have a thermostatically-controlled throttling wire for other fans in the case.

Again, this is becoming more common on modern systems. My motherboard is an Asus A7N8X-Dx and it supports this feature wrt the CPU fan.
It's good to see the oems are finally paying attention to making systems quieter.
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I know what you're saying about noise, but I was very happy to see that this system is VERY quiet. The harddrives make virtually no noise, which a few of my previous systems seemed to be the biggest noise maker. The fans only got noisy one day when SWMBO turned the heat up in the attic where the PC is and never turned it off. It was something like 90 deg. F up there and no ventilation. Other than that, the PC just whispers along.
I tried an experiment to see how much I can utilize the HT functionality, as well as the 2 Gb of DDR400 membory and the 500 Gb SATA RAID 0 hard drive setup, as well as the 8x DVD burner and Radeon 9800 XT vid card. I started burning a full-length DVD at 4x, launched a DVD movie that was saved to my hard drive, started a download of the internet, and opened a powerpoint presentation and started a slide show to run automatically. I figured this would push the CPU through its paces, ramp up the video cards fan speed, and work the harddrives, too. The PC didn't miss a beat, no increase in noise and all the applications ran without any hangups (although there was definitely a bit of delay in some of the functionality, but that's not surprising). This is a long way from the Pentium 1 75 MHz machine that I had in 1996.
I used to build my own systems (I built 3 all together at various times, as well as serious mods to them along the way). Nowadays I can afford to buy it, and having a 3 year warranty on this latest system (which was pretty damn expensive, btw) makes me feel a little better. I had to replace components that failed on the last system I made and it was a royal PITA getting each vendor to give me RMAs and accept the parts and replace them.
I forgot to mention, doing all this while watching it on a 20" LCD with 16 ms response time is a very very nice thing :) (I ain't putting this PC in my shop EVER hehe).
Mike

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I can afford to buy complete systems, but I'm pretty disgusted at some of the ways manufacturers cut corners to save a few pennies. Components are much better these days. I've built a dozen computers over the last year and everything has worked perfectly. If a part fails three years from now, I don't have to worry about proprietary components and drivers when I replace/upgrade parts. One of the big advantages to building your own computer is not just saving money initially, but for years to come. =)
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That's a good point. I planned this system, even though it isn't homebuilt, to be able to use the parts on a customized version in the future. The motherboard is a proprietary design (i.e. it won't fit a standard ATX case), so I would be able to get into a homebuilt box with a case and new motherboard. Everything else should be competitive performance-wise for at least 2 years, IMO. I can always add a few more 250 Gb SATA hard drives (gotta get to a terabyte, right??). The video card get's updated the most. The sound card supports 6.1 THX, so I don't expect to need to update that. I guess I'll just have to see if the PCI bus ever get's upgraded for more bandwidth, as well as the memory pipe, etc.
I've been pretty pleasantly surprised by this off the shelf system. And pricing out the components individually shows me I only spent about $400 more than I would have if I built it myself. To me, that's worth the time savings, warranty, etc.
But, I do miss the fun of really making it my own project.
That's why I'm planning to build a really cool computer desk hehe :) (gotta make more room now that I have 2 (and maybe 3 in the near future) monitors).
Mike

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homebuilt,
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Sound is a pretty subjective thing when it comes to computer systems. For most folks, integrated sound, or a $15 soundcard would suffice. For most of us geeks, a $50 - $200 soundcard would suffice. For the sound engineers, they need a professional soundcard, like Echo, Lynx, Roland, etc. Knowing that it takes a $500 set of computer speakers to match a $100 soundcard, I think you're pretty safe. =)

Yeah. Actually, I can't build a machine to match the price of the cheapest retail machines, unless I lost all my scruples and used the cheapest parts I could find. But I would never do something like that. Even my 'cheap' computers have quality parts.

(gotta
monitors).
KVM switches are getting pretty cheap. You can hook up four computers to one keyboard, mouse and monitor for less than $100: http://tinyurl.com/uthc or http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduct.asp?submit=manufactory&catalog 3&manufactory79&DEPA=1&sortby&order=1
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Actually, I run just one box, but with 2 monitors (a 20" LCD and 19" CRT at the moment). I was thinking of running a third monitor with a second PC for less intensive applications (word processing, email, internet browsing, etc.).
You're right about the low end systems being tough to match cost-wise - that's why I was pretty stoked about the system I bought. Parted out it would run about $3000. Retail normally would put it at about $4500, but I got it for right at $3300, so I feel pretty good about it.
Do you build systems for a living or part-time work? Sounds like fun. Building 12 rigs in a year, if just for yourself or friends, sounds pretty ambitious. Have you tried any cryogenic or other super-cooling equipment?
Mike

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http://tinyurl.com/uthc
http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduct.asp?submit=manufactory&catalog 3&man ufactory79&DEPA=1&sortby&order=1
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I build them just part-time, mostly a hobby. For a typical system (sans KVM), I can order the parts from newegg.com, get them via FedEx in about 4-5 days, put together the system in a few hours, then add software. Adding software takes the longest time. :(
When you build them frequently, it's easier to keep up with what works well together. After building 5 or 10 machines, I usually have enough scrap parts to put together a Frankenstein machine. :-)
The most ambitious I've gotten cooling-wise is building a water-cooled system a coupla years ago. It worked very well, but made it a hassle to move the computer around. Air coolers have advanced enough lately that watercooling only really pays off w/ extreme overclocking (as does cryogenic cooling).
Some decent air coolers available now are the SP97 from ThermalRight http://www.thermalright.com with incorporated heat tubes, and Swiftech's new MCX462-V http://www.swiftnets.com/products/MCX462-V.asp
I'm using a few coolers just a few steps below those. They are ThermalRight's SLK-900 w/ 92mm fan and Alpha's PAL8045T. Vantec Aeroflows make for good cheap coolers, but some of their TMD fans can be noisy.
All of these are plenty good enough to overclock an AMD 1.83Ghz (Barton 2500) at levels equivalent to a P4 3.2Ghz chip. Just gotta up the vcore a little..... :
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I made the case of the machine in the shop. It has a filtered air intake and an extra exhaust fan. If you want to make cases invest in one of those indoor/outdoor thermometers with the probe. I set the unit near the case to get ambient temp and position the probe at various places in the case to measure the temp when it is closed up and running. As long as size isn't a problem an off the shelf case is fine but I like built ins and non-standard shapes for my MP3 players. I also like red oak.
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Charlie Self wrote:

Not really the other way around. I just wasn't quite clear. The power supply got hot enough to fry an egg on. I mean that thing was *hot*. I'd say not much below the temperature at which the paint would have cooked off.
I have no idea if the CPU would have kept going without that fan or not, but I was glad it had one. That box still runs. It's been a diskless workstation for a couple years now. Sort of like that thead about the old tools that just refuse to die. :)

Or a winter day. It's probably hot. My pathetic little ancient 1 GHz puts out enough heat to keep this room about 10-15 F warmer than the rest of the house all year round. I especially notice this in the summer, when the central air just doesn't seem to be doing anything for me out here.
--
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I would bet that you are not more of a computer geek than I am, but that is besides the point.
I put an extra computer located in a room adjacent to my shop and ran extender cables for keyboard, mouse and video through the wall. Even then, dust can be a problem so I use an optical mouse and keep a cover on the keyboard. This is an old PC running Win XP Pro but it sits next to my home server machine and is connected to my 100 MB home network and to a firewall that connects via cable modem to the Internet.
And I often have a PDA in my pocket with a wireless connection.
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Jim, I have had a computer in my shop for years, Yes i do have a separate office but you should see the sawdust creep in ito it and every now and then i take the air hose in the office and Blow the 3" of sawdust out of the Box, and surrounding area, actually i just keep the box cover off of it, what you hear about dust and dirt messing a computer is a bunch of crap What it will mess up is a printer Good luck, George

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Keep in mind that computers like it cold! The colder it is, the better it will run (as long as condensation doesn't come into play). Maybe you could rig up the box outside, or in a remote corner of the shop, then run extended KVM cables to your work area. Or use wireless keyboard/mouse and replace batteries every so often.
If you cover up or enclose the system, make sure it has plenty of ventilation or don't run it for very long. A typical 1Ghz computer can put off almost as much heat as a person. If it's an old 300Mhz or smaller system, I wouldn't worry too much about the heat (except from the monitor).
Put a good computer fan in the lower front of the case, the larger the better (I use 120mm fans). Then put a good filter around the fan inlet to filter dust, etc. to keep it from getting in the computer. You can also put an exhaust fan on the computer, but try to keep positive air pressure in the case. That way, you filter incoming air, and air leaking out of all of the small cracks around the case will tend to take dust out with it, rather than sucking it into the case.
You can probably blow the dust out of the case with some light air pressure, but don't use a vacuum cleaner. Vacuum cleaners tend to create lotsa static electricity that can quickly fry your system.
RJ45 cable is not too expensive, particularly if you 'roll-yer-own'. We've got a computer networked w/ about 100ft. cable, and it surfs just fine. Wireless may be easier, but can be affected by home wiring and other interference. Wireless should also be secured (unless you download mp3 files - that way, when RIAA comes after you, you can blame it on the people in your driveway using your WAN). Another advantage of wireless is that it may be easier/cheaper to connect multiple computers to the internet, depending on your ISP's policies.
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I tried putting a PC in the shop but couldnt figure for the life of me where the hell the dust collector port is on my computer. Also most if not all of my shop made jigs were useless on it. I tried cutting some tenons on my keyboard with a router jig and all I got was "Error #BR549 Joint Not Found".
Jim

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You bet makes a nice addition. I built a PC out of a rack mount server case that measures 1.25"x19"x24" it's designed for front to back air circulation so it's easy to filter the air (old knee high stocking from swmbo) mounted it on it's side in the back of a wall cabinet added a cheap flat screen monitor and a shop built keyboard/mouse tray. Whole thing closes up really nice and out of the way. It looks odd in the shop as I mounted it for a convenient height for my favorite stool. Secured wireless to the house from inside the cabinet degrades the 11 Mbps signal to about 70% ( 100' to the access point in the house) so the network is fine. I'll try to follow up with a photo on the website.
SL
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On Wed, 07 Jan 2004 15:13:34 GMT, "James D Kountz"
<SNIP>

Is that you, Junior? <SNIP> Mike
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Jim Laumann wrote:

Wireless stuff might be cheaper now than the last time I looked at it. If it's still expensive, a 100' pre-made CAT5 (?) cable goes for about $25 locally. If that's enough of a reach, you could just run it through the yard to your shop. Grass will grow over it, and your mower won't pick it up. Replace as needed. Save digging. :)
(No, I haven't tried this. I did power my shop with extension cords laying on the ground for years though. I never managed to cut any of them.)
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On Wed, 07 Jan 2004 06:47:18 GMT, Jim Laumann wrote:

Being in the computer trade myself, I would strongly recommend making a box that the computer would fit in and use a plexiglass front so you could see the monitor. Have only the keyboard and mouse that exits from the box and if you must have access to the drives, create a door that seals shut. Have good ventilation holes with filters on them.
Now I know many of you are thinking that this sounds like a lot to protect a computer that you really don't care about, but this isn't about the computer, it's about protecting what's outside the computer. See a computer processor can get really hot - 80-95 degrees Celsius. That's 176 - 203 degrees Fahrenheit. With all the fine wood dust that could get in there, I'd hate see that computer you don't care about take eveything else you do care about with it.
Shawn
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I guess it all depends on how "older" this machine is.
My P166 class machines don't even have fans on the CPUs, just big heat sinks. They seldom get more than warm to the touch
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Shawn said:

Hmmm.... I've been building computers for 15 years. A PIII 1gHz runs at a steady 122 F when crunching video and ray-tracing. An old P1 75 runs a little warmer. The only CPU's I have ever seen that approach those temps are AMDs, right before they self-destruct. Intel chips have thermal limiter diodes and circuitry internally mounted the to CPU die to control overtemps. Any processor that runs that hot is subject to early failure, lockups, and is nothing I want in MY computer system.
But by the same token, I'm with you on the covers, but they have to be well vented to somewhere - or you end up with a box full of really hot air and dead semiconductors. Fine dust can penetrate into hard drives and cause failure, and a coating of dust can decrease the semiconductors ability to dissipate heat. RAM in particular is subject to overheating - from intermittent lockups to outright failure. FWIW,
Greg G.
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<Greg G.> wrote in message

176
else
AMD's newer chips are starting to run "Cool & Quiet". They have the ability to adjust the multiplier setting to meet the demands of the system. For example, a 2200Mhz chip that runs at 11X200Mhz can be stepped down to 4x200Mhz (800Mhz), and cranked back up depending on needs, and it is all automatic. Just tell your motherboard manufacturers to get on the ball and offer up the utility setting in their BIOS. See http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/20040106/athlon64_3400-02.html
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