Computers and Mods

Locust Reborn

In making an entry to the Locust pages, I just noticed that It’s been about a year since I’ve done any mods or anything to it. Wow.

Anyway, I got to feeling antsy about my hardware so I bought a new mobo/processor combo off of ebay for dirt cheap and dropped it into Earthquake. EQ‘s mobo and processor are now headed for Locust, along with a new look to its woody, giving it a cherry stain so it will match EQ‘s case.

The plan here is to turn Locust into my secondary gaming box and turn Plague into a dedicated server that will live in a colo facility somewhere, serving up Quake 2 Devastation goodness and these web pages. In that vein, I’m also taking the Asus V8200 graphics card from Plague to run here.

I’m also rekindling my original watercooling setup for Earthquake, so I may be watercooling Locust or I might save the parts for my new Canterwood-based computer that I’m spec-ing out.

New motherboard for Earthquake

I recently picked up a new A7v266-E motherboard and an Athlon XP 2000+ processor for very cheap off of ebay, so I decided to throw that processor/mobo combo into the old Locust and upgrade Earthquake slightly from an XP 1600+ to an XP 2000+

Here’s the new processor specs:

 Athlon XP Processor High-end
 Core Thoroughbred-A
 CPU Model 8
 Manufacturing Process 130 nm
 Approximate Transistor Count 37.2 million
 Approximate Die Size 80 sq. mm
 Performance Rating 2000+
 Working frequency 1667 MHz
 Package Type OPGA
 Operating Voltage 1.65 V
 Max Die Temperature 90° C
 L1 Cache Size 128 KB
 L2 Cache Size 256 KB
 Multiplier 12.5x
 FSB Frequency 266 MHz
 Stepping Code AIRDA
 Manufacture Year 2002
 Manufacture Week 22
 Production Batch M
 Batch Production Number 8703

Plague’s poor man’s array

In another attempt to appease my modding urge, I’ve redone Plague again, this time adding the temporary array from the old Headcrash setup to this box. Basically, I wanted to see if I could stuff four 10,000 rpm SCSI drives into a space designed for two while maintaining tolerable case temperatures.

What I ended up doing was purchasing four wood reinforcing strip from Home Depot and doing a little bit of trimming and clipping to the case to make it fit properly.

Then I drilled two holes in the front of the case for a 120mm and an 80mm fan. The two fans blowing at 7v are sufficient enough to keep the case at ambient without sounding like a vacuum cleaner. Unfortunately, the ball-bearings on the 10k drives whine like madmen.

Here are some pics from the project:


Headcrash SCSI benchmarks

While reinstalling Win2k server on Headcrash, I decided to take some time to run some benchmarks against the storage subsystem to see what would make the best setup out of the hardware I had on hand.

Here are the results using SiSoft Sandra.

Here’s a test of five LVD-80 10k SCSI drives in RAID-5:


Here’s a test of four U-160 7200rpm SCSI   drives in RAID-0:


Here’s a test of four U-160 7200rpm SCSI drives in RAID-5:


No real surprises here. RAID-0 beats RAID-5 and U-160 drives beat LVD-80 drives. Nice to know that SCSI RAID-0 still outperforms ATA RAID-0.

Still More Headcrash Modding

In a continued frenzy of modding, I’ve completely redesigned Headcrash to be a lean, mean rig. It’s been stripped down of all extra hardware and now exists to serve up test web pages, dedicated game servers and act as a test server for other applications.

In the spirit of this new approach, I’ve also updated its look, updating it with some new-style modding gear like a CCFL, some quiet Panaflo L1As and Vantec Stealth fans and a dual voltage baybus, while preserving it’s old-school modded-HX08 look.

I ditched the 5-drive ghetto array of 4.6gb drives as they were slower than the U-160 array. Since 5 10k rpm LVD-80 drives in RAID-0 are still faster than an ATA-100 drive, I’ll probably be sticking the Adaptec SCSI RAID 2100s card and the five drives into Plague to boost its loading times. I also wrapped some of the power cables to lessen their impact on the case.

The old look: The bezel looks pretty plain and silly, doesn’t it. Mismatched CD-ROM drives and a huge expanse of beige bezel = boring.


The new look: I added a second fan down low and installed a third fan into the 5-1/4″ face plates to cool the hard drives mounted in the bays up there.


Inside shots:

From the side: plainly visible are the four U-160 hard drives tucked nicely into the 5-1/4″ bays. They’re up in their own area with a separate airflow over them. This way they don’t heat up the air as it flows towards the processors.


Lights Out:


Headcrash and Earthquake side by side:


Temporary drive array

Here are some pics from the temporary drive array that I’ve set up on Headcrash. This is a temporary setup until I can complete the redesign of its case with some new mods.

The array itself is four lumber straps purchased at Home Depot and 5 4gig Seagate 10k RPM SCSI-3UW drives. All cabled together with a ribbon cable from an old Compaq server and a few molex splitters spliced into the power supply.

Adding SCSI to Headcrash

I scrounged up a bunch of cheap 10krpm SCSI drives and an array controller from Compaq, so I decided to add another array to Headcrash to store CD-ROM Images and for an excuse to mod up the HX08 case to see if I could fit nine hard drives into it while keeping the case sufficiently cooled.

Ill be modding the case this week as soon as some fans, drive rails and grilles show up from Pictures to come soon.

Headcrash also got the v770 video card from Plague. It now loads the title screens from server games that much quicker…

Earthquake Updates

I added another stick of 512MB PC2400 RAM. Just for kicks and so I can add a few more tracks on my Cakewalk recording software.

I ended up ditching the DigiDoc 5 and the PCMods baybus since the case would end up being really, really tall and awkward looking. These two devices will probably end up in Headcrash when it gets modded and rebuilt again.

I also junked the Flowmaster Max water cooling kit after it popped a leak and dripped on a sick of RAM. I swapped it for a Zalman Copper Cooler and found that it runs at about the same temperatures as the water cooling solution and just as quiet. It basically replaced the vibration of the pump motor with a whirring of a 92mm fan. I love this HSF!

I guess I just was never really satisfied by the results of the water cooling solution, although it was fun to put together. I do plan on water cooling my next rig, but, now that I know what I’m doing, I’ll buy better components, like a better copper block and a pump with a better flow rate. I’d definitely build a reservoir into the loop to take water expansion into account. I didn’t do that before, so when the water expanded as it warmed up it leaked out through my fill pipe.