Thursday, May 3

The Peterbilt (Part 2)

In Part 2 here, I'll share with you the process of getting this from packaged parts to a working, usable machine. I see that not all of you are interested in this sort of thing and that's okay. But for those of you who are, I hope you enjoy it. I may even post a Part 3 to this, telling you about my first project and how it actually performed.

Putting our DIY system together was actually pretty foolproof. We mostly followed the instructions and manuals that came with the various hardware, especially the motherboard. I also printed a small article I found online about putting a system together. Here's a summary of how it went.

The case we got was somewhat toolless but not totally. We first screwed down the Mobo (standard ATX). Then we tackled the processor. Of course, being our first time ever installing a processor, it kind of felt like we were going to break it. It's such a small piece, yet it's likely the most you know if you break it, that would be like really bad. The heatsink that came with the Core 2 already had a thermal compound applied to it, but I was advised not to use that and get a better product. So we scraped it off and cleaned it with rubbing alcohol. Then applied a bit of the Arctic Silver compound that I picked up at Fry's directly to the top of the processor. Putting the heatsink on the processor was another challenge, but we got it on there (they say if you didn't set the heatsink on properly, your processor could fry within ten far, were okay).

The Ram was easy and so was the Video card. We only plugged in one of the Hard drives (the boot one) because the power supply didn't come with enough SATA power connectors. The Sony DVD drive went in smoothly.

As you can see, our case has some front ports, so we had to hook those up to the onboard connections. Everything found a place except a cable labeled "speaker", which is probably for the little beeps and warning messages (I think I hear those out the speakers in the monitor anyway). With the monitor hooked up, what's left to do but push the button. Woohu! Actually, I think we pushed the button even before we had monitor on just to make sure that.....well.....just to make sure.

Now turning the computer on with the monitor we were having some trouble getting into the bios. Oh, plug in the keyboard. Minor technicality. Having the keyboard plugged in helped and we entered the bios with the delete key. We did some minor changes and exited. If I remember correctly, we weren't able to get to the Windows installation screen because the drive configuration in the bios was set to "RAID" mode. Then switching to "IDE" mode seemed to get us going in the right direction. At the first screen it was telling us if we were going to install third party Raid drivers to press the F6 key. We knew we wanted to do Raid but didn't have power to the other drives yet, so we skipped that step, thinking there would be some way to get the Raid going later (there was an "Intel Matrix Storage Manager" Raid Driver floppy disc that came with our Mobo). Although I think installing the driver then to just have it ready wouldn't have hurt. Later we had to do a repair install of XP in order to install the Raid Driver floppy and get the Raid going (that seemed to be our only choice because we still weren't able to boot in "RAID" mode).

Anyway, we got the OS installed and were able to start using the computer. After the newegg order came, we got power to the drives. Things started to get a bit cramped in our mid tower when I was installing and plugging in the other items that came...but it works.

Setting up the Raid in the "Matrix Storage Manager" bios was supper easy after the driver was installed and the drives were formatted. I now have over 100GB of avi video on drive "R" (a 745GB Raid 0 drive labeled "VideoRaid"). Sweet.