Saturday, March 10, 2012

The First Life of Moscato

This was the first time I had truly built a computer completely from parts. It was a really great learning experience. When I got to the packages, I whisked them away to my work-bench. I first started by opening up the case, and getting a feel for what I had set myself to. The case had more fans in it than I had previously thought. I only thought it had the fan in the side panel, but it also had one on the roof and rear.

I figured out how to clear out the 5.25in bay spacers to make room for the bay adapters. Once I installed the 3 bay adapters, I then installed the fan controller as well. I had originally intended to put the controller in the top most 5.25in bay, but due to my haste, I had forgotten about that. I ended up putting it the bottom bay. This is actually a better location for the controller. If the server sits on a desk, the display will be more easily readable. If the server is on the floor(say near-ish my bed) then the light from the display will not bother me. This also means I didn't have to redo 48 screws by hand. I then installed the power supply and motherboard. Next I spent two hours or so looking at pin-out diagrams to connect the front panel, power supply, and fans. I wanted to be especially careful to make sure that I wasn't going to break anything. I then put the SATA card and the RAM into the machine. Once I was convinced that I had hooked everything up to the point where the machine would boot, I put Ubuntu 11.10 on a thumb drive. The machine was assembled on my floor up to this point, and then I moved the operation to my workbench. I hooked up my old dell screen with 1600x1200 resolution, keyboard, mouse, and thumb drive armed with Ubuntu. When I first turned the machine on, I thought something was broken because it was so quiet. I reset the box and waited again, and then the Ubuntu start-up screen launched. Mission accomplished.

This rig is very quiet. In fact, I had to turn off the infamous Dell T110 to truly appreciate the quiet. My refrigerator was still way louder. The 230mm roof fan is exceptionally quiet when set to "low" via a switch on the rear panel. The fans in the hard drive bays are also very quiet under 1100 RPM. At about 500RPM, the bay fans are exceptionally quiet. Depending on the actual heat output of the all of the drives when they are installed, It might be appropriate to enforce a minimum speed of 500RPM to provide some airflow but also stay quiet. The solid state power supply, solid state drive, and slow efficient fans work together to be exceptionally silent. I put one of the temperature leads onto the heat-sink on the CPU. Under idling, the temperature reads around 110F. In contrast under load, I have seen it get to 116F; a pretty cool running machine too.

I name all of my computers after wines: merlot my Dell T110, syrah my Dell XPS 17in, and malbec my Acer Aspire. I mentioned my naming scheme to one of my friends, and she quickly replied that she had recently had a glass of Moscato....and it was done. Below are some pictures of the process.

Here are the packages! 

Here are all the parts lined up on my workbench.




Assembly in Progress

Since I live in a man-cave, It can be a little dark sometimes. My flashlight has magnets which I used to attach the light to the case in various ways. This was one example of how I put the light on the case to help me build.

The solid state power supply goes in!

The Installed Cooler Master Bays

The Motherboard Goes In!

The moment of truth! It worked!

Operational, but not final. The cables are a mess.

Naming the Machine

It works

All Bay fans on.

When I turn a fan off with the fan controller, it turns the LED fan light off too. It is kinda neat to be able to see if a fan is running or not.
357 updates..........

1 comment:

  1. Moscato. Awesome. And a really awesome machine! Thanks for sharing the details :)