Breadboarding

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jsc

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As those who have been following my posts in the Homebuilt System forums, I have been a proponent of breadboarding for a long time because it lets me test components before I install them in a case. I am in a better position than most to do this because I am generally running 2 or 3 systems off a 4 port KVM switch. I always reserve one set of cables for testing (I am real popular with friends with computer problems).

The following picture is an old 680i system I am trying to get running with a Q6600. (Yes I know all about the problems of 680i motherboards with quad core CPU's.)



As you can see from the connected drives, I basically have a caseless system. The cables in back go to my KVM switch. This is more elaborate than necessary. All you really need is a system speaker to hear the BIOS beeps and a way to turn the computer on. The simplest way is to use a small screwdriver on the appropriate pins. In this case, I do not have a problem. The eVGA 680i motherboard has built in power and reset switches and a built in beeper.

Then for testing, I build the PC in stages. I start off with only the CPU and HSF installed, boot, and listen for the long single, "no memory" beeps - also make it easier to check that the HSF is properly installed. Then I add memory, boot, and listen for the one long and two or three short "no video card beeps". Then add the video card and monitor and I should hear the short beep and see the boot messages on the screen. And then, like this example, I usually add the keyboard, mouse, and connect the drives to install the OS. And I know that when I install parts in the case, they work.

I included the old Dysan floppy disk box to show what I normally use. I salvaged case wiring from an old case and replaced the switches with a couple of Rat Shack push button switches. I had problems mounting the original switches in the box. And when I tried to glue them in, I got superglue in the switches. I also have a system speaker in the box. About the only thing out of the ordinary I did was to separate the Power LED leads so I could use them with any motherboard.

I am working in Saudi Arabia right now and my house is known as "The Elephant Graveyard of Computers". And in addition to helping friends, I salvage parts from old computers and build "giveaway" systems.
 

chin311

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I had my rig set up like this before.. freaks everyone out when you tell them it's your computer.. the only difference is I did it when I was 14 years old.. haha.
 
Yup, same thing here. Saves much more time in the long run. I even install OS on this kind of set up (has dedicated 15" CRT for this use). Only thing I don't do is OCing it, as temps change when inside the case.
 

jsc

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Shadow, with the KVM switch, I don't need a dedicated monitor to install the OS. I also do not need to breakdown a working system to use the keyboard, monitor and mouse. And I do not OC the giveaway systems that I build.
 

jsc

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It's an old cutting board. I have a nylon cutting board I have used. Also used a padded anti-static motherboard bag and I have used my Oblivion hint book. It's on a wooden table, but I like something at least an inch thick so I can let the back edge of the motherboard with the tab for the video card hang over the edge.
 

kubes

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I also do a lot of bread boarding. My setup is very much similar to yours other than, I like shadow, also use a crt to read my bios and check to make sure I can get ram timings and various voltages to manufacture specs. I also prop my motherboard up a little bit so its not directly on the wood - I really don't need to do this though.

I will admit your breadboard setup in general is much nicer than mine. Thanks for the pictures and tips. This type of setup makes it so much easier to quickly swap parts when I'm working on a machine that is having hardware problems.
 

jsc

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You psychic mind powers need a slight tuneup.

kubes: Notice the color coded KVM and power cable. :) They also match my color coded ethernet cables.

Kill@dor: it's my old eVGA 680i board. The one eVGA said was going to be compatible with all the 2nd gen C2's. :(
 

jsc

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There you go. One slight psychic mind power tuneup delivered on time and (hopefully) under budget.

Max_the_cat seems to have some meercat genes from a long distant ancestor.
 

kubes

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That's actually not a bad idea to cut up an old rj-45 cable and just use that. Maybee this weekend I'll see what i can't put together. I do like the switch idea. (the last few boards i've been breadboarding with have switches on them though so it has't been as big of a concern...e.g. evga x58 sli)


I've noticed there's been a large increase in pictures of cats as people's avatars. Gosh now i'm gonna have to get one.... What about dogs?
 

i3uu

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by boot.. do you mean plug in the power supply and flip the switch to turn it on(turning on the MoBo light)? I don't hear any beeps if that is booting..

(sorry, mega newb)
 

kubes

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There is an led on most motherboard saying power from a psu is currently reaching the board. It however does not actually turn on the board. There a bunch of pins used to plug your case led's and power/reset switches into. These pins are what will actually turn on the board. (some boards actually have a power switch actually built on them for example the evga x58 sli). So to turn on the motherboard you have to short the power pins. In otherwords you have to touch them together with something conductive such as a screw driver to actually turn the board on. What jsc has done is created a box that you pug into the power button and a switch will make the connection for you instead of having to do it with a screwdriver or paper clip or something...
 

madmanramsfan

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if u test the switch with screwdriver..touch both pins ..and it still doesn't start..is that an indication that the mobo is out...my system turned on one day..( have my post "psu won't start"} was reading some solutions and came across yours..
 

jsc

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Unfortunately, no. It could be the power supply. You can strip the system down to the minimal - motherboard, CPU, and PSU. If it's breadboarded and you do not hear long beeps (missing memory), at least one of those three components is bad. You can look for something obvious with the PSU using a multimeter, but the only sure way to test is by substituting a known good component.
 
G

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I'm having a similar problem but I don't know what to do. I don't have my comp breaded haha, but I do know that everything worked yesterday. I took my gaming computer and put it in a new case. Everything was working perfectly when I took it apart, but now it just fails. I turn on the power, everything starts for a moment (LEDs and fans), then it all stops working, spinning, etc. I've been told it may be a short, but other than that, I'm pretty much out of ideas. My next plan is to do the breadboarding idea, but I was hoping it wouldn't have to come to that. Like I said though, I didn't swap out any components. I simply put everything in a new case and hooked it back up. When I found out it was failing to boot, I started unhooking everything one by one. At this point, there are only a few components hooked up - 1) MoBo screwed to case, 2) PSU to MoBo, and 3) Case power button to MoBo. Are there any ideas you guys might have where I could have gone wrong? Thanks for all/any help in advance.

To rule out a few things -

I've tried hooking up the power button to reverse +/- ports.
I've tried hooking the old case power button back up to the MoBo to see if it was the new case's power button circuit was shorted.
I've tried unhooking nearly every fan and even the processor and RAM, also to no avail.

I believe it's a problem with the PSU or MoBo, but I can't understand why since it was all working just fine in my old case yesterday. Once again, thanks for any help or questioning you guys may give me.
 

sheira

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Hi, may I ask how do I turn the computer on outside of the case? Do i still need to put in cable from the case? I dont have any switch like you do, or anything like that.
 

N890

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jsc, I'm planning to build a tech station :)

I have a sheet of approx. 2-3.5mm thick aluminum, can I use that as my base for the motherboard? I'll still use standoffs tho. Then it'll go on top of a piece of wood....so on.

I plan to test this out with a stupid BTX dell (bad airflow) and add fans and such....think the aluminum will work?
 

jsc

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sheira, you can turn it on by (carefully, carefully :non: ) by using a screwdriver to momentarily short the two terminals that the power switch connects to.

N890, the aluminum would work, by I'd be very careful. The holes for the standoffs will be hard to place. Another idea would be to find an old case with a removeable motherboard tray and use that.

Nothing wrong with running a caseless computer either permanently, or semipermanently - as long as your cat is trained to stay off the tabletops. :)
 
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