Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

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Homebrew PC, No. 2

I'VE  been fussing with the case for the past couple of hours, installing all the drives in their cages, additional fans, and so on.

Thoughts on this process:

1. So far, I really like the In-Win Q500 case. It's a full tower case, both sides come off, allowing great access to the innards. The cable pass-through in the middle of the case is big enough for all the power cables and ribbon cables. There's room for three case fans. I'm annoyed that has wrong information on its site about the proper fan sizes. This case takes three 80 mm fans, not two 80's and a 90, guys. So why did you make me buy a 90 mm fan I can't use? >.< I'm liking less and less. (At the end of this, I'll have a wrap-up about the companies I bought from and whether I'd recommend them to others.)

2. It seems that case fans install with self-tapping screws that screw directly into pre-drilled, but untapped, holes in the plastic fan housing. Or, they're supposed to. So far, I have destroyed the female Phillips-head matrix of two self-tapping screws, trying to screw them into the very hard plastic of the fan housing. Luckily, I've got more screws than I need, but seriously, this is an unfriendly technology. Self-tapping screws are fine for soft stuff like polystyrene, but unless you've got some sort of mutant combination vise-grip/screwdriver (which factories that build PC's probably do have), you're guaranteed to mess up your screws doing it by hand, unless you're incredibly careful. There ought to be a better way. The fan manufacturers ought to countersink the fan housings with threaded metal taps, maybe?

3. Why, exactly, do 3.5 and 5.25 inch drives attach with different size machine screws? Or rather, 3.5 inch drives seem to attach to the case cage with  #6 32-thread/in. screws and 5.25 inch drives have half their screw holes threaded for metric 3.0-5 screws, and half for #6 32's. Except for the 5.25 inch Toshiba DVD/CD, which only has holes threaded for the metrics. Oh, and 3.5 inch floppy drives count as 5.25 drives, because they're only have threads for metric screws.


As you might imagine, it took me a bit of time a more than a little aggravation to figure this out. Oh, yeah, and the cage for 5.25 inch drives has screw holes in a weird horizontal figure-8 pattern, with two or three horizontally connected holes. But you can't pull the drive from hole to hole to get it in the right position relative to the front case bezel, you have take the screws entirely out, reposition the drive, and replace the screws. I suspect it's made this way so PC assembly plants can tell stupid employees, "Now on this model, always put the drive in so the screw is through the front hole in that figure-of-eight thingy, got it?" "Duh, boss." And as long as the employee does as he's told, the drive won't be horribly malpositioned. But it's annoying for the hobbyist.

I've set up the master/slave jumpers for the CD/DVD and CD/RW, and to-be RAID drives. Only had to change one, the rest were fine in the factory configuration. But that one... I'm glad I had a hemostat in my briefcase. Yes, they're good for more than roach clips. That jumper was on very snugly, in a very tight spot that my fingers couldn't get to, and a pair of tweezers just slipped off. The hemostat worked well.

I've also replaced power supply the case came with, with the Sparkle 400W. Very easy, just a matter of undoing four screws.

Haven't touched the motherboard or processor yet. That's next. I decided I'd rather mess with the case first, easier to do before the mobo is bolted down. Seating the processor, heatsink/fan, and getting it to post for the first time is the hair-raising part. I may do that later this morning, or put it off until tonight. But right now, I'm going for a jog.

I know, I know, I'm pretty sure some people reading this have built dozens of PC's, and think all of this talking about it is silly. "Just put the thing together, already!" you're yelling. But I've never done it before, and for me, it's an adventure, with danger, excitement, and learning around every turn.

Boo! Gee, whiz! Ahhhhh....

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