Two PSUs are better than one

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 26, 2011 - 10:57 AM |
Tagged: PSU, enthusiast, dual PSU, DIY

[H]ard|OCP visits the weird world of dual PSU products, which allow the usage of two PSUs in a single system and which are transparent to the end user as they are both controlled as if there was only one.  There are four methods covered; Add2Psu, the Lian Li Secondary Power Supply Starter Kit and both auxiliary and redundant PSUs.  They range in style from the impressive abilities of Add2Psu to string together unlimited amounts of PSU using Molex connectors and Lian Li's PSU crossover cable to FSP's 5.25" Booster X5 450W auxiliary PSU and the Athena Atlas 800 redundant PSU which seems more at home in the server room. If you want more power but don't have a PSU big enough this will show you how to give your existing PSU a helping hand.

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"Putting two powers supplies in your computer has been a recurring subject in our forums for years. While the physical process of making that happen is not exactly rocket science, it still can be daunting for some users. Today we show you a few products that make it easy for anyone to double up on the power should your wattage needs increase."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Mod a dial that goes to 11 onto your AMD graphics card

Subject: General Tech | August 26, 2011 - 10:31 AM |
Tagged: DIY, overclocking

One of the favourite features on the high powered graphics cards that Ryan has been reviewing this week is the ability to manually overclock the card while running it.  Instead of having to use the built in software tools of the driver to first modify the speed and then running a test cycle it is possible to raise the frequency manually using controls on the card.  The changes occur on the fly, without the software first testing to ensure stability which necessitates the presence of a reset button to take you back to stock frequencies.  Thanks to Hack a Day you can now see how it is now possible to build your own paddle switch to do the same thing as the high end cards without having to spend the money or reach inside your case.  Check out this project which will give you a paddle that not only upclocks your cards memory and GPU separately, it can also reset you back to default speeds if you go too far.

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"[Fred] likes to squeeze every cycle possible out of his graphics card. But sometimes pushing the clock speed too high causes corruption. He figured out a way to turn a knob to adjust the clock speed while your applications are still running.

The actuator seen above is a Griffin Powermate 3.0. It’s a USB peripheral which is meant to be used for anything you can imagine. [Fred] uses an AutoHotKey script that he wrote to capture the input from the spinner, process that information, then adjust GPU clock speed in the background. Since the clock on his ATi Radeon 5800 can be adjusted using the AMD GPU clock tool, it’s an easy choice for this application. Now better graphics are at the tips of his fingers. See for yourself in the video after the break."

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Source: Hack a Day

Who needs software control when you can roll your own fan controller?

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 18, 2011 - 05:56 PM |
Tagged: fan controller, pwm, DIY

Even with the fancy drivers now that allow you to set a minimum fan speed you will find that it is almost impossible to completely turn the fan off.  If you desire to do so, it is almost impossible to turn the fan completely off, which is something that is almost impossible with either a software solution or with a PWM controller.  Over at Hack a Day you can find instructions on how to create a breadboard project which translates PWM signal to DC and will allow you much greater control over your fan speed.

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"[hedgehoginventions] wrote in to share a little modification he made to his video card in order to keep it from overheating during strenuous 3D tasks. Having swapped out the stock cooler on his Nvidia 9600GT graphics card, he found that it did not need to utilize the fan while doing mundane things like checking email, but that it still required extra air flow while playing games.

He figured he get the fan to shut off by tweaking the PWM signal, but he found that he could not get the duty cycle under 20% using software, which still caused the fan to run at all times. The circuit he built takes the PWM signal output by the card, cleaning it up before converting it to a corresponding DC voltage. The fan then runs at the same speed it would if driven directly by the PWM signal, though it can now turn off completely when not required."

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Source: Hack a Day

Battle the bane of bulging caps, bring back life to your monitor

Subject: General Tech | July 29, 2011 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: lcd, solder, capacitor, DIY

Over at The Tech Report you will find a handy guide on restoring a monitor with busted caps to working condition, for not much money nor effort. A bit effort is all that you need to track down a dead capacitor on the circuit board, identified by the bulge which will be apparent at the top of the cap.  Once you've found it you just need to desolder it and swap in a new one and your once broken monitor will be working again.  Even better, this procedure can resurrect any peice of equipment you have which is suffering from failed capacitors.  If you've never used a soldering iron to fix something, this would be a great place to start.

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"In his latest blog post, our own David Morgan shows how to bring a monitor back from the dead with a simple capacitor transplant."

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Got a bunch of old disposable cameras? Why not turn them into a clip for a pulse laser gun?

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2011 - 11:38 AM |
Tagged: pewpew, laser, DIY

There are a lot of instructions on the net covering the steps to build yourself a laser, from the large scale models at Power Labs which are not portable to smaller scale ones using DVD/Blu-ray lasers which can't be used for much more than driving the family pet insane.  Over at Hack a Day is a detailed project on how to build your own hand held pulse laser which can certainly burn holes through thin metals and other unsuspecting inanimate objects.  This particular build is powered by scrounged capacitors from disposable cameras and as long as you keep an even number and ensure the capacitors are all the same rating you can make it even more powerful.

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"Self-declared Mad Scientist and Instructables user [Trevor Nestor] recently built a pulse laser pistol and decided to share his build process, so that you too can build a ray gun at home. The gun is made up of mostly scavenged components, save for the Neodymium:YAG laser head, which he purchased on eBay for about $100. He does say however, that you can score an SSY-1 laser from an old rangefinder, providing you hang out near a stockpile of decommissioned Abrams tanks."

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Source: Hack a Day

Habley Shows Off Small Atom PC Capable Of Playing Two 1080p HD Streams

Subject: Processors, Systems | June 12, 2011 - 08:57 PM |
Tagged: SFF, Intel, htpc, hd, DIY, atom

Habley has recently shown off a new small, embedded computer dubbed the SOM-6670E6XX. The new computer is the size of a post-it note; however, it sports an Atom E600 processor running at 1.0Gh as well as an integrated GMA600 graphics core. To be more specific, the motherboard in question measures 70mm x 70mm.

The CPU and GPU blend is able to support two displays and pipe two HD video streams to each. Using Media Player Class Home Cinema 1.5, the computer is able to play both a 1080p MPEG4 trailer of the X-Men First Class film and a HD FLV version of SpiderWic simultaneously. While playing both films, the CPU saw around 93% usage and 210 MB of RAM from the Windows Embedded 2009 operating system. Further, while playing an HD FLV film trailer while also watching an HD YouTube clip, the processor was again pegged at 93% usage; however, in this test the RAM usage was much higher, at 422 MB. The test system used, in addition to the SOM-6670, it consisted of a SOMB-073 Carrier board (which provides the various IO including video and audio output, mouse and keyboard input, and SATA ports), 1GB of on-board RAM, and a 5400RPM laptop form factor (2.5”) 120GB hard drive.

Including the two monitors, at 1280x768 (over HDMI) and 1920x1080 (SDVO) respectively, the system drew 18 watts during usage. You can see the test system of the small HD-capable computer in action in the video below. What uses do you have in mind for a micro-sized computer such as this?

Source: MaximumPC

Roll your own Chromium OS lappy

Subject: Mobile | May 16, 2011 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: chrome, DIY, Chromium OS

If you can't wait for someone to release a mobile PC with the Chromium OS preinstalled, then why not pick up your own laptop and install Chromium yourself?  ExtremeTech walks you through the process, from finding or making a build to install and installing it on a bootable USB device to moving that installation onto an internal drive.  There are links to troubleshooting sites and they reveal that the default password seems to be facepunch.

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"On June 15, Samsung and Acer will release the first consumer-oriented Chrome OS laptops, or Chromebooks as Google likes to call them. Both hardware- and software-wise, these netbooks are nothing special: You can download Chrome OS's open source brother, Chromium OS, for free -- and at around $400 for a Chromebook, you would certainly expect some better hardware than what Samsung and Acer are offering.

In fact, for around $300 you can get a cheaper and more powerful netbook with Windows 7 pre-installed -- and it only takes about 30 minutes to wipe Windows and install Chrome OS yourself. You'll end up with a better and cheaper Chromebook -- and to top it off, you'll have a spare Windows 7 license that you can give to your mom."

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Source: ExtremeTech

Build your own frickin laser beam; Shark catching instructions not included

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2011 - 12:05 PM |
Tagged: laser, DIY, Altoids

Wired offers you several ways to build your own laser, some powerful enough to burn holes in paper and other flammables but all able to ruin the eyesight of anyone you point it at ... so bear that in mind.  They range from a build claiming you need no soldering for those less technical people who want a laser to one built in an Altoids tin.  The power of the laser varies depending on the build, some even use re-purposed DVD lasers as the light source.  Perhaps the most impressive build lacks wattage but being able to project vector graphics with lasers more than makes up for it.

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"Even though lasers are as common as dirt now, appearing in everything from DVD players to supermarket scanners to computer mice, there's still a certain appeal to a beam of coherent, monochromatic light. Especially if it's dangerously powerful.

So it's no surprise that people can't resist playing with lasers, building their own, customizing them and, of course, setting stuff on fire with them."

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Source: Wired