Discussion:
desktop dying after few seconds of switching on
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Peter
2014-10-20 16:43:39 UTC
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Bit of a general PC repair question here, but it's one on which I was
hoping to install openSUSE, and I can't even get past the first hurdle.

An ex-friend-turned-trou-de-cul (French people are never your friends,
only future enemies) donated me a P4 desktop which supposedly worked
fine but upon switching on, it only lasts a few seconds before going
off. So although I can access the BIOS, I cannot even get to make any
configuration changes in time before it turns off.

Of course I've done a first check for loose or wrong connections. My
hunch is either the motherboard or PSU is at fault, but these are things
I cannot test as I have no suitable alternatives available. I'm going to
embark on a systematic process of elimination with some of the other
parts, but does anybody want to throw a suggestion into the hat as to
what is usually at fault in this situation? I'm not going to examine
every part to provide detailed specs just yet, suffice to mention that
it has integrated Intel 965 graphics, so it can't be that old 'unseated
video card' chestnut.

Cheers,
Peter
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Felix Miata
2014-10-20 16:57:20 UTC
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Post by Peter
Bit of a general PC repair question here, but it's one on which I was
hoping to install openSUSE, and I can't even get past the first hurdle.
An ex-friend-turned-trou-de-cul (French people are never your friends,
only future enemies) donated me a P4 desktop which supposedly worked
fine but upon switching on, it only lasts a few seconds before going
off. So although I can access the BIOS, I cannot even get to make any
configuration changes in time before it turns off.
Of course I've done a first check for loose or wrong connections. My
hunch is either the motherboard or PSU is at fault, but these are things
I cannot test as I have no suitable alternatives available. I'm going to
embark on a systematic process of elimination with some of the other
parts, but does anybody want to throw a suggestion into the hat as to
what is usually at fault in this situation? I'm not going to examine
every part to provide detailed specs just yet, suffice to mention that
it has integrated Intel 965 graphics, so it can't be that old 'unseated
video card' chestnut.
965 might be a little new for the following, but you never know, especially
WRT power supplies, and compact form factor cases that run the internals hot:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague
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Peter
2014-10-20 17:16:37 UTC
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Post by Felix Miata
965 might be a little new for the following, but you never know, especially
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague
It's funny, I only read up on that for the first time a short while ago,
before attempting to use this donated system. As far as I could see,
there weren't any obviously blown capacitors on the mainboard and the
timescales mentioned didn't quite seem to match this system's generation.

It's in a standard midi tower case. A very bog standard home PC by all
accounts.

I've known all sorts of failed components over the years on my systems,
but this intrigues me because normally it results in a system that
doesn't switch on at all, a blank screen, or dodgy goings on once
booted, whereas this comes on and goes off again shortly after.
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Anton Aylward
2014-10-20 17:25:06 UTC
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Post by Peter
I've known all sorts of failed components over the years on my systems,
but this intrigues me because normally it results in a system that
doesn't switch on at all, a blank screen, or dodgy goings on once
booted, whereas this comes on and goes off again shortly after.
It depends where it occurs.
One place I worked threw out some LG Flatrons that were dead, as in
blank scree. I rescued one from the dumpster and replaced a few
capacitors and it on my desk right now.

Your mobo may be fine and the problem entirely in the PSU.
That might explain the boot/die cycle.
PSUs fail for many reasons, but if the fuse is OK I'd suspect capacitors.

Lookit, capacitors die anyway.
Its not as if these are MIL-GRADE stuff for NASA spacecraft that are
going beyond the Oort Cloud on a 30 year mission.
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Felix Miata
2014-10-20 18:37:05 UTC
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...As far as I could see,
there weren't any obviously blown capacitors on the mainboard and the
timescales mentioned didn't quite seem to match this system's generation.
Its timescale's genesis is in motherboards. OTOH, PS development, production
and QC are rather different from motherboards. It's apparently easier to get
a PS to survive its warranty period with lower quality components, and in the
process kill a motherboard that might have survived a better PS.
It's in a standard midi tower case. A very bog standard home PC by all
accounts.
So not a common brand, generic in the true sense of the word? How much does
its PS weigh? Light tends to have a high correlation to cheap in a PS. Open
up that PS if you didn't already, and check the brands if there are no caps
obviously bad.
http://www.badcaps.net/forum/showthread.php?t=388

Changing bad ones successfully in a PS tends to be easier than those on a
motherboard.
I've known all sorts of failed components over the years on my systems,
but this intrigues me because normally it results in a system that
doesn't switch on at all, a blank screen, or dodgy goings on once
booted, whereas this comes on and goes off again shortly after.
Instant or not long after shutdown isn't particularly uncommon in my experience.
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Anton Aylward
2014-10-20 20:15:37 UTC
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Post by Felix Miata
...As far as I could see,
there weren't any obviously blown capacitors on the mainboard and the
timescales mentioned didn't quite seem to match this system's generation.
Its timescale's genesis is in motherboards. OTOH, PS development, production
and QC are rather different from motherboards. It's apparently easier to get
a PS to survive its warranty period with lower quality components, and in the
process kill a motherboard that might have survived a better PS.
Quite so.

I've seen cases where a PS did not protect against a power surge. You
would think that a switched-mode PSU would, but apparently not. Cheap
components, poor layout.. Whatever.

ZAP!

That being said, what Peter describes _could_ be a wonky PS, and
something that starts but gives up once a load actually hits it.
its something I would consider. One of the advantages of the Closet is
that there's always something there to cannibalise for some component.
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David Haller
2014-10-21 04:02:57 UTC
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Hello,
Post by Anton Aylward
Post by Felix Miata
...As far as I could see,
there weren't any obviously blown capacitors on the mainboard and the
timescales mentioned didn't quite seem to match this system's generation.
Its timescale's genesis is in motherboards. OTOH, PS development, production
and QC are rather different from motherboards. It's apparently easier to get
a PS to survive its warranty period with lower quality components, and in the
process kill a motherboard that might have survived a better PS.
I've seen cases where a PS did not protect against a power surge. You
would think that a switched-mode PSU would, but apparently not. Cheap
components, poor layout.. Whatever.
ZAP!
That being said, what Peter describes _could_ be a wonky PS, and
something that starts but gives up once a load actually hits it.
its something I would consider. One of the advantages of the Closet is
that there's always something there to cannibalise for some component.
Could be the spike from the HD drive(s) spinning up. Had something
similar, on coldboot the system began to start (Fans spinning up,
maybe the BIOS page showing?), then just hang. It turned out that the
PSU (450W with not much on 12V) was not strong enough (anymore) to
power up the drives (8-13, can't remember which box it was at what
point). Solution: a solid (rather costly) 650W SeaSonic PSU (from
Corsair).

In a different case, the board would not boot rightaway, producing
"nuiiiic-nuiiiic-nuiiiic - tick tick tick" sounds directly after
switching on power (along with the fans spinning, IIRC). And it got
worse. While at first it did start and run after a couple of tries
(nuiiiic .. tick cycles), at the end, I think it took minutes of that
before it came up. Oh, and it tended to shut down after a while
(~5mins?) later. Turned out the MoBo was borked. Switched that (on
guarantee IIRC :), everything fine since then.

So much for symptoms re PSU vs. MoBo ;)

For the Op: I put 60% on the MoBo and 40% on the PSU ... That is if
the system stays on long enough for the HDDs (the spinning rust type)
to have spun up. If it shuts down while the HDDs spin up it's 70+% on
the PSU ...

-dnh

[1] http://www.tomshardware.de/netzteil-oem-hersteller,testberichte-240604-4.html
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Anton Aylward
2014-10-21 16:49:19 UTC
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Post by David Haller
For the Op: I put 60% on the MoBo and 40% on the PSU ... That is if
the system stays on long enough for the HDDs (the spinning rust type)
to have spun up. If it shuts down while the HDDs spin up it's 70+% on
the PSU ...
Simple test for that:

Disconnect the disks.
If the disks are draining the PSU then the mobo works, bios comes up
complaining that the disks have vanished.

If the problem persists, ...
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A: Yes.
Post by David Haller
Q: Are you sure?
A: Because it reverses the logical flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting frowned upon?
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Peter
2014-10-22 20:14:29 UTC
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Post by Anton Aylward
Post by David Haller
For the Op: I put 60% on the MoBo and 40% on the PSU ... That is if
the system stays on long enough for the HDDs (the spinning rust type)
to have spun up. If it shuts down while the HDDs spin up it's 70+% on
the PSU ...
Disconnect the disks.
If the disks are draining the PSU then the mobo works, bios comes up
complaining that the disks have vanished.
If the problem persists, ...
Thanks everyone for the input thus far. I've been distracted these last
couple of days and might not get to look into this for a few more days
yet. I certainly hope it's the PSU and not the mobo; much easier (and
cheaper) to fix. I haven't had a good look at it but I'm sure it's just
a cheapo model that came in the case. So far as I can tell, it's not a
branded PC but a home build, which surprises me since I wouldn't have
credited the coward that palmed it off on me as being computer savvy enough.

I did already try unplugging a couple of drives but this didn't change
anything. I'll try disconnecting all but the essentials next time.

Cheers,
Peter
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Anton Aylward
2014-10-20 17:15:11 UTC
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Post by Peter
Bit of a general PC repair question here, but it's one on which I was
hoping to install openSUSE, and I can't even get past the first hurdle.
An ex-friend-turned-trou-de-cul (French people are never your friends,
only future enemies) donated me a P4 desktop which supposedly worked
fine but upon switching on, it only lasts a few seconds before going
off. So although I can access the BIOS, I cannot even get to make any
configuration changes in time before it turns off.
Of course I've done a first check for loose or wrong connections. My
hunch is either the motherboard or PSU is at fault, but these are things
I cannot test as I have no suitable alternatives available. I'm going to
embark on a systematic process of elimination with some of the other
parts, but does anybody want to throw a suggestion into the hat as to
what is usually at fault in this situation? I'm not going to examine
every part to provide detailed specs just yet, suffice to mention that
it has integrated Intel 965 graphics, so it can't be that old 'unseated
video card' chestnut.
regular readers will recall that I enjoy working with 'decommissioned'
equipment from the "Closet of Anxieties". There are many failure-modes
in a corporate setting, and many of them don't involve the equipment not
working, for some suitable value of "working". Many of the items simply
don't work with later versions of MS-Windows, but when has that ever
bothered us Linux-weenies?

But sometimes equipment *IS* broken.
Sometimes the boot sequence goes very, very weird as in one tower I
played with recently. Consistency was not its long suite.

The ruberick in electronics for the last century is that solder joints
are the #1 failure mode. They can fail in many ways. Even if they
don't actually fail they can act as diodes, grow hairs (which is death
on a tightly laid out multi-layer PCB).

Then there's capacitors. Even if you don't have ones from the Era of
the Plague, then still do odd things, polarise, depolarise, crack,
explode, leak or stop working for anonymous reasons.

And resistors ...

Unless your 'amis' has been overclocking, the CPU is probably OK.
Ironic isn't it? But please don't try pulling and replacing the CPU.
You'll probably do a lot of damage.


My experience with "decommissioned" and "recommissioned" equipment is
that they can be "a learning experience". I've had a wonderful time
with old, slow, underpowered , memory starved desktops (that never
overheat), and with old, slow, low capacity disk drives (that seem to
live forever). I've had PSUs die, PSUs blow up, motherboards fry and
burn. But I've also had my share of systems that simply don't work in
various ways for reasons that don't seem to be easily explained. Its
the marginal, the intermittent ones that are frustrating.

Visual inspection of the mobo _might_ show something up, breaks, burns,
loose components, solder joints discoloured. I believe there is a tool
that lets your cell phone act like one of those IR spotters. It may
take hardware hacking and might damage your phone.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Poor-Mans-Cell-Phone-IR-Filter/?ALLSTEPS


Suggestions for mobo problems include using a hair dryer to heat
specific parts, or a can of spray coolant to do the opposite.
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Peter
2014-10-20 17:39:51 UTC
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On 20/10/14 19:15, Anton Aylward wrote:
<snip>
Post by Anton Aylward
Then there's capacitors. Even if you don't have ones from the Era of
the Plague, then still do odd things, polarise, depolarise, crack,
explode, leak or stop working for anonymous reasons.
And resistors ...
Unless your 'amis' has been overclocking, the CPU is probably OK.
Ironic isn't it? But please don't try pulling and replacing the CPU.
You'll probably do a lot of damage.
Alas, this was something I did early on because I wanted to see exactly
what CPU was in there, and the heatsink/fan seemed a little loose (crap
fixing). All the thermal paste had come off so I put some new stuff on,
the same little sachets I've used on other machines, but it seemed a bit
runny, perhaps been sitting too long. Just hoping it hasn't dripped.
Post by Anton Aylward
My experience with "decommissioned" and "recommissioned" equipment is
that they can be "a learning experience". I've had a wonderful time
with old, slow, underpowered , memory starved desktops (that never
overheat), and with old, slow, low capacity disk drives (that seem to
live forever). I've had PSUs die, PSUs blow up, motherboards fry and
burn. But I've also had my share of systems that simply don't work in
various ways for reasons that don't seem to be easily explained. Its
the marginal, the intermittent ones that are frustrating.
Visual inspection of the mobo _might_ show something up, breaks, burns,
loose components, solder joints discoloured. I believe there is a tool
that lets your cell phone act like one of those IR spotters. It may
take hardware hacking and might damage your phone.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Poor-Mans-Cell-Phone-IR-Filter/?ALLSTEPS
My phone is an old feature(less) phone so no joy there. I have a much
older P3 machine that I wanted to transplant a couple of items over from
(soundcard, HD) but the rest is of a different generation so not
interchangeable. It's possible I'm going to have to go back to using
that 14-year-old machine instead :/
Post by Anton Aylward
Suggestions for mobo problems include using a hair dryer to heat
specific parts, or a can of spray coolant to do the opposite.
I have neither such thing at hand, but I do have a grill and some ice
cubes. And a pair of feet. Never underestimate the power of a good kick
when it comes to misbehaving electrical appliances.
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John Andersen
2014-10-20 18:17:09 UTC
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Post by Anton Aylward
The ruberick in electronics for the last century is that solder joints
are the #1 failure mode. They can fail in many ways. Even if they
don't actually fail they can act as diodes, grow hairs (which is death
on a tightly laid out multi-layer PCB).
Then there's capacitors. Even if you don't have ones from the Era of
the Plague, then still do odd things, polarise, depolarise, crack,
explode, leak or stop working for anonymous reasons.
My experience is that the former is in most cases associated with infant mortality
and the latter is associated with the year immediately after the warranty ran out.
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Anton Aylward
2014-10-20 20:24:36 UTC
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Post by John Andersen
My experience is that the former is in most cases associated with infant mortality
and the latter is associated with the year immediately after the warranty ran out.
Sadly it didn't used to be like that but engineers are getting better at
making 'lifetime' one of the design specifications.

As has been mentioned before, I have old old 20G and 30G drives that
will not die. Compare this to the 500G and 750G I've had that outlast
warranty by a few months or a year at the outside. I expect my 1T and
2T drives to die the day after warranty.

OK, that's not fair. About 1/3rd of my 1T drives died within a few days.

In ancient times in places where energy such as coal was expensive the
bathing tradition was to have a bucket of (cold) water poured over you,
soap up and scrub, then rinse off (in cold water). Afterwards there was
the equivalent of the hot tub, but you had to be scrubbed clean first.
I wonder if there is an equivalent of the "cold scrub" or the "shower"
before getting into the tub for hardware. "Acceptance Testing"?
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Felix Miata
2014-10-20 20:57:46 UTC
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Post by Anton Aylward
engineers are getting better at
making 'lifetime' one of the design specifications.
Reputation doesn't seem to matter as much as it used to. Companies absorb
each other, and names disappear. Even big companies are wont to change names
"to get with the times", create a "new" image, or whatever. Remember Goldstar
electronic products from 20 or so years ago? Wachovia Bank from 7 years ago?
Master Charge? BankAmericCard? Cities Service? Pure Oil? St Petersburg Times?
TWA? Borland? WordPerfect? Lotus?
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Anton Aylward
2014-10-20 23:18:39 UTC
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Post by Felix Miata
Post by Anton Aylward
engineers are getting better at
making 'lifetime' one of the design specifications.
Reputation doesn't seem to matter as much as it used to. Companies absorb
each other, and names disappear. Even big companies are wont to change names
"to get with the times", create a "new" image, or whatever. Remember Goldstar
electronic products from 20 or so years ago? Wachovia Bank from 7 years ago?
Master Charge? BankAmericCard? Cities Service? Pure Oil? St Petersburg Times?
TWA? Borland? WordPerfect? Lotus?
Try a few names out of Canada or the UK :-0

Also, you might care to read "In search of Stupidity"
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/Stupidity.html
Rick's site is at
http://www.insearchofstupidity.com/
and the front page makes for interesting reading.
Visit the museum of stupidity.
He mentions Micropro. Read "Once upon a time in Computerland".

Many of us here lived though the era Rick describes, the 1980s and 90s
when Microsoft was just another player.

If that grabs your interest you can read it online at
http://os24.org/files/a-z/dynamics/Merrill_R_Chapman-In_Search_of_Stupidity-EN.pdf
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John Andersen
2014-10-21 00:09:33 UTC
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Post by Anton Aylward
Sadly it didn't used to be like that but engineers are getting better at
making 'lifetime' one of the design specifications.
It was pointed out to me once that Engineering is the art of finding the least safe design.
(It was in reference to building bridges and such.


By that it was meant the design that would use the least materials, cost the least to build,
But...
Which was still safe.

If anything, the definition of safe now seems to equate to the length of the warranty.

There is some evidence the bad capacitor era was caused by
industrial espionage
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague#Industrial_espionage_implicated

The company I was with at the time was manufacturing computers in that time frame,
and we got hit badly by these exploding caps.

Joe user could, with a soldering iron and a couple hours, replace them all,
for a few dollars in parts, but it never paid on an industrial scale, and
a lot of mother boards got sent back upstream.
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upscope
2014-10-21 16:41:18 UTC
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Post by John Andersen
Post by Anton Aylward
Sadly it didn't used to be like that but engineers are getting
better at making 'lifetime' one of the design specifications.
It was pointed out to me once that Engineering is the art of finding
the least safe design. (It was in reference to building bridges and
such.
By that it was meant the design that would use the least materials,
cost the least to build, But...
Which was still safe.
If anything, the definition of safe now seems to equate to the length of the warranty.
There is some evidence the bad capacitor era was caused by
industrial espionage
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague#Industrial_espionage_imp
licated
The company I was with at the time was manufacturing computers in that
time frame, and we got hit badly by these exploding caps.
Joe user could, with a soldering iron and a couple hours, replace them
all, for a few dollars in parts, but it never paid on an industrial
scale, and a lot of mother boards got sent back upstream.
I remember the bad capacitor days. Back then I worked for a company
providing industrial instrumentation. We had so many go bad that we just
replaced and boards and sent them back to the home office for repair.

Thank was during the time we were guaranteeing 99.9% up time.

Now that was fun!
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Cristian Rodríguez
2014-10-20 20:47:20 UTC
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Post by Anton Aylward
But sometimes equipment *IS* broken.
I've had PSUs die, PSUs blow up, motherboards fry and
Post by Anton Aylward
burn.
I had a minor electrical fire once .. lab had to be evacuated due the
smoke..does that count as fun ? :-D Horrendously crappy electronics.
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Greg Freemyer
2014-10-20 20:55:44 UTC
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On Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 4:47 PM, Cristian Rodríguez
Post by Anton Aylward
Post by Anton Aylward
But sometimes equipment *IS* broken.
I've had PSUs die, PSUs blow up, motherboards fry and
Post by Anton Aylward
burn.
I had a minor electrical fire once .. lab had to be evacuated due the
smoke..does that count as fun ? :-D Horrendously crappy electronics.
Fun is when you have a small "data center" maybe 4 meters by 4 meters,
with a 240volt circuit breaker on the rear wall, that floods to about
an inch deep.

I was very happy I didn't have to walk through the water and throw the
circuit breaker.

That was around 1983 and the computers needed 240 volts.

Greg
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Anton Aylward
2014-10-20 23:22:06 UTC
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Post by Anton Aylward
Post by Anton Aylward
But sometimes equipment *IS* broken.
I've had PSUs die, PSUs blow up, motherboards fry and
Post by Anton Aylward
burn.
I had a minor electrical fire once .. lab had to be evacuated due the
smoke..does that count as fun ? :-D Horrendously crappy electronics.
Yes, that happened to me with a Data general PC. I was trying to run
XENIX on it.

Actually I went though a phase where much of the electronics I used
"blew up". By blow up I do mean exothermic to the point of destruction,
often accompanied by rapid expansion of material and sometimes smoke.

Somewhere along the line I grew out of it.
--
E pluribus unum. (Out of many, one.)
- Motto for the Seal of the United States. Adopted 20 June 1782,
recommended by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, 10
Aug. 1776, and proposed by Swiss artist Pierre Eugene du SimitiËre. It
had originally appeared on the title page of the Gentleman's Journal
(Jan. 1692).
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Lew Wolfgang
2014-10-20 23:52:10 UTC
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Post by Anton Aylward
Actually I went though a phase where much of the electronics I used
"blew up". By blow up I do mean exothermic to the point of destruction,
often accompanied by rapid expansion of material and sometimes smoke.
Somewhere along the line I grew out of it.
I used to have a .2 Farad electrolytic capacitor that I always wanted
to charge up to its 35-vdc working capacity and short out. I couldn't figure out
how to do it safely (as if that mattered) and easily. It was as big as a quart
milk bottle.

Regards,
Lew
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James Knott
2014-10-21 01:31:49 UTC
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Post by Lew Wolfgang
I used to have a .2 Farad electrolytic capacitor that I always wanted
to charge up to its 35-vdc working capacity and short out. I couldn't figure out
how to do it safely (as if that mattered) and easily. It was as big as a quart
milk bottle.
Back in my Gr 12 electronics class, our teacher had a capacitor, the
size of a gallon gas can, that had a 20 KV rating (IIRC). I don't
recall the capacitance. We charged it up with a TV high voltage
supply. The instructor then shorted the terminals with a screw driver.
That resulted in an extremely loud bang and bright flash.
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David C. Rankin
2014-10-23 02:08:09 UTC
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Of course I've done a first check for loose or wrong connections. My hunch is
either the motherboard or PSU is at fault, but these are things I cannot test as
I have no suitable alternatives available. I'm going to embark on a systematic
process of elimination with some of the other parts, but does anybody want to
throw a suggestion into the hat as to what is usually at fault in this
situation? I'm not going to examine every part to provide detailed specs just
yet, suffice to mention that it has integrated Intel 965 graphics, so it can't
be that old 'unseated video card' chestnut.
Peter,

You are on the right track. I have seen those symptoms with:

1) bad capacitors

2) bad CPU cooling

a) active cooling failure (fan/dust bunnies in heat-sink)

b) passive degradation (thermal paste failure over time)

3) bad power-supply

Check cooling and power-supply first. When checking caps, look for ANY
bulging or "puffiness" of the tops (ANY means ANY!) and, of course, any
split/leaking caps. Some are hidden under other cards, etc.., look close.

If you eliminate all other possibilities and it still won't stay running,
either e-bay ($10-$20 replacement mobo) or badcaps.net is your friend.

Good luck.
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David C. Rankin, J.D.,P.E.
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