Beat SAD with a new system build

Subject: Systems | February 13, 2013 - 02:49 PM |
Tagged: DIY, econobox, sweet spot, double stuff

The Tech Report has updated their System Guide for February and added in a new SFF build as well as instructional videos on building a PC for those just joining the enthusiast crowd.  The four price points that they aim for are $600, $1,000, $1,500, and $3,000 and range from an EconoBox for basic usage up to the Double Stuff workstation and of course the new Mighty Mite system.  Head on over to see what they've assembled and feel free to contrast it with our own Hardware Leaderboard.

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"In the latest edition of the TR System Guide, we've tweaked our usual builds to incorporate newer components and price changes, making our recommended systems better than ever. We've also included a small-form-factor gaming build priced just under $1,000."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

If you aren't whitening your case, it is yellowing ...

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 31, 2013 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: Retr0bright, DIY, ultraviolet, crest

Back in the ancient days of computing before cases came in all colours of the rainbow, we made due with a standard creamy white colour, which over time became a shade of yellow usually associated with Bingo halls or greasy spoon diners.  While white or cream coloured cases have gone out of style, there are still systems which are housed in nasty yellow stained plastic cases and Hardware Secrets can tell you how to whiten them to the colour TV commercials would have you believe your teeth should be.  The trick is called Retr0bright and uses both a hydrogen peroxide bath and UV lighting to restore cases to a more appealing white.  The process isn't perfect, make sure you read their caveats before beginning your project.

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"Plastic parts of older computers become yellow or brown over time, so you end up with a computer that looks yellow or brown instead of white or gray. In this tutorial, we will show you how to restore old plastic parts to their original color by using a homemade peroxide-based solution called Retr0bright."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Buzz bugging you buddy? Hack your speakers and get rid of it for good

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: audio, corsair, corsair sp2200, DIY, hack

Some people you know might refer to your favourite music as noise, but you know better; what is worse than that is when you can hear noise in your music.  The annoying intermittent buzz/crackle coming out of your speakers is something a lot of us have experienced and it has a wide variety of sources, from bad cables to electronic noise effecting the signal sent from your onboard audio to defects in your speakers ... and many more reasons.  At Hack a Day is a good solution to rid yourself of noise that is caused by the speakers, this guide is specifically aimed at the Corsair SP2200s but could be applied to a wide range of speakers.  Follow along with this step by step process to use the headset amp as a pre-amp and clean up your music.

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"[Michael Chen] liked the sound he was getting out of these Corsair SP2200 computer speakers, with one big exception. They were giving off some unpleasant crackling sounds. He figured this might be as easy as replacing a faulty potentiometer, but soon found out the fix was going to be more complicated than that. All said and done he ended up reworking the design of the speakers’ amplifier board."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: Hack a Day

A little DIY hard drive unbricking

Subject: Storage | July 30, 2012 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, repair, DIY, bricked

While this trick will not work on all bricked HDDs, if you have a Seagate 7200.11 HDD that is failing because it is convinced it is always in a busy state then you should check out this story on Hack a Day.  While the initial step of detaching the circuit board and blocking some connections with piece of cardstock can be handled with easy, it will take some expertise to use an Arduino or serial-TTL converter to issue commands to the HDD controller.  It is a good thing that there is a tutorial to walk you through the steps to unbrick your HDD, besides in the worst case scenario your HDD will still be a brick so it is worth a shot.

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"Hard drive firmware is about the last place you want to find a bug. But that turned out to be the problem with the Seagate HDD which he was using in a RAID array. It stopped working completely, and he later found out the firmware has a bug that makes the drive think it’s permanently in a busy state. There’s a firmware upgrade available, but you have to apply it before the problem shows its face, otherwise you’re out of luck. Some searching led him to a hardware fix for the problem."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Hack a Day

Spend Memorial Day speccing out a new system

Subject: Systems | May 28, 2012 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: DIY, econobox, sweet spot, double stuff

The Tech Report have updated their Systems Guide just in time for the holiday in the US, so you should have plenty of time to peruse their recommendations today.  From an i3-2120 powered Econobox priced just under $600 to over $1500 Editor's Choice system with a GTX670, i5-3570K and Samsung 830 SSD there is a system for just about everyone.  Read straight through to the end for suggestions for monitors, keyboards and more.

You can contrast their picks with our own Hardware Leaderboard here.

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"We've freshened up our system guide with new-and-improved builds featuring Ivy Bridge CPUs, 28-nm graphics processors, and cheaper-than-ever solid-state drives. Come and see what we've put together."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

De-bezel your monitor, void your warranty and run the risk of killing your LCD ... but no bezels!

Subject: Displays | May 11, 2012 - 01:18 PM |
Tagged: DIY, Alienware OptX AW2310, mod

When EyeFinity and NVIDIA Surround first hit the market we were promised LCDs specifically designed to have tiny bezels so that your multiple monitor gaming experience would be enhanced.  These monitors are still few and far between and even if you track one down their scarcity guarantees a high price.  That is probably what prompted Tweaktown to pick up scraper and hacksaw and carve up their Alienware displays' bezels.  This is of course something to be done with the full knowledge that you may well destroy your monitor but if you want gaming like in the picture below you might have to risk it.

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"A step-by-step guide on how to de-bezel an Alienware AW2310 monitor and how they look in a three screen portrait setup."

Here are some more Display articles from around the web:

Displays

 

Source: Tweaktown

He's dead Jim ... or at least that's what my Tricorder says

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2012 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: tricorder, DIY

The plans for the Tricorder Mk II have been released by The Tricorder Project and just who in their right mind would not want to build one for themselves ... or their kids.  The device uses an Atmel AT91RM9200 processor, 32MB SDRAM and a pair of touchscreen OLEDs powered by an Epson S6E63D6 and runs Debian Linux. 

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The sensor suite onboard can monitor a variety of atmospheric, electromagnetic, temperature and spatial values.  Toss your old IR thermometer away, the Tricorder will give you that measurement and distance as well.  You might as well dump the GPS as well since the Tricorder has you covered.  You will need a bit of skill in assembling electronics and soldering to finish the project, along with roughly $500 but the instructions are very detailed and in the end ... you get a working Tricorder!

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"The Science Tricorder Mark 2 prototype sensor board contains ten different sensing modalities, organized into three main categories: atmospheric sensors, electromagnetic sensors, and spatial sensors. Many of the sensors are similar to those used in the Science Tricorder Mark 1, where the differences are centrally in upgrading sensors to higher-resolution versions where possible. The prototype sensor board also includes an imaging sensor, in the form of a cell phone camera, that is untested. Sensor boards for the Mark 2 are designed to be self-contained, include separate microcontrollers for low-level sensor communication, and as such are more easily upgraded."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

GoFlow To Offer $99 tDCS Brain Augmentation Kit

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2012 - 09:54 PM |
Tagged: tDCS, overclocking, DIY, brain, augmentation

The new Extreme Tech (RIP ET Classic) recently ran an article that talks about turbo boosting, overclocking goodness, but with a twist. Instead of the typical CPU or GPU hardware, the article talks about overclocking some wetware in the form of the human brain. More specifically, a DIY kit called the GoFlow is in the works to enable affordable tDCS, or transcranial direct-current stimulation, to stimulate the brain into a "state of flow" enabling quicker learning and faster response times.

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The GoFlow β1 will be a $99 do it yourself tDCS kit that will direct you in placing electrodes on the appropriate areas of your scalp and then pumping some direct current from a 9V battery at 2 milliamps through your brain, enticing the neurons into a state of flow. This makes them more malleable to creating new pathways and increasing learning speed as well as allowing them to fire more rapidly, bolstering thought processes. The kit, which is not available for purchase yet, will not require any knowledge of soldering, and will be housed a plastic case along with wires, schematics, and a potentiometer to dial in the right amount of power.

The company behind the GoFlow β1 has further referenced cases of successful tDCS short term testing including tests of UAV Drone pilots and professional gamers all learning their respective trades more quickly than the average. Extremetech also mentions that tDCS can have therapeutic effects for people effected by Parkinson’s or post stoke motor dysfunction.

Right now, the kit is still in the works, but interested users can sign up to be notified when it becomes available on their website. At $99, is this something work a shot, or do you prefer not to void the warranty on your brain? (heh)  Personally, statements such as "our tDCS kit is the shit" and "get one of the first β1's and will help us develop β2" on the webstie are not exactly instilling confidence to me, but if you're big into the early adopter adventure, GoFlow may have something for you to test.

Source: Extreme Tech

You can't always write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say ...

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: DIY, model m, input, frank zappa, blue alps sliders

Sometimes hacks and mods are done to save you time and money or possibly both but other times you find yourself stuck in the position of Frak Zappa and cannot find a giraffe filled with whipped cream and have to make it yourself.  Such is the case with this completely made custom keyboard described at Hack a Day, in which every part was either custom ordered or made by the designer themselves.  None of the keys seem to be in their accustomed places and your thumbs will get a workout from all of those keys mounted in the centre of the board but for a programmer this could be the perfect design.  It has taken over a year to build and likely cost more than a mass produced designed keyboard but if you want something done right ...

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"[dmw] posted a pseudo-build log over at the geekhack keyboard forums. Every single part of this keyboard is custom-made. The key caps were made by Signature Plastics, the case was made by Shapeways, and the custom PCB for the key switches came directly from Express PCB. The key switches are blue Alps sliders (one of the best key switches available) with a few white Alps switches taken from an old Apple keyboard."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Hack a Day

Building the ultimate ultraportable ... for $300!

Subject: Mobile | February 16, 2012 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: ultraportable, DIY

Check out the latest system build at The Tech Report; a lucky find of a 12" X60 devoid of its hard drive, battery, and power adapter for $87 along with some smart shopping lead to a very powerful ultraportable.  What was left inside was the 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 1GB of DDR2-667 RAM and a lot of empty space.  Another stick of RAM and a power adapter were located in their hoard of equipment so the only peice that had to be purchased was a hard drive and battery.  The battery was easily available for little money and they went all out on the hard drive, picking up a SanDisk Ultra 120GB SSD.  Not a bad build for under $300!

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"In his latest blog post, TR's David Morgan pieces together a 12" ultraportable notebook with ThinkPad build quality, a 120GB SSD, and much better performance than budget netbooks for less than $300. Here's how he did it ..."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile