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Up in Smoke

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August 27, 2002 2:32:13 PM

Fellow THG posters...

I can honestly say I knew the time would come went all my futzing around with my perfectly fine PC would come around and bite me in the ass, but I never expected this.

Specs:
XP 2000 at 150FSB 187Mem
Asus A7V333
1x512 Samsung PC2700
ATI AIW 7500
Maxtor 80GB 7,200

K, any help would be appreciated. Here is what happened...

*puts on detective hat*
Someone was using my computer during a house party and must have spilled some fluid in to the 80mm fan blowhole on top of my case (which I cut myself, lol). Now, I don't know how much got in or what type of fluid it was (not like it matters, but I suspect it was beer used for ashing cigarretes, lol) but I believe that caused a component in my PC to kick the bucket. There is this eerie smokey smell coming from inside the case, but I could not pinpoint where the smell originated. Please feel free to LYAO at this post btw, because I was crackin up myself at my shitty luck.

First off, just for shitz and giggles, I used acetone to clean off some parts of the board and the video card. Unfortunately, there was only a little sticky stuff on the wires, but no noticable droplets on any parts. Basically, once my PC is powered, my monitor acts like it is not even connected (sits in standby).

Power will cause the fans to start, and the HD makes noise, but that's where I'm at right now. I let it run for a bit and felt the HS for heat, but it felt cool. The fan on my AIW 7500 does run. Also, the AIW was directly underneath the fan hole at the top of my case, so it was my initial suspect.

Here's where I need help: I didn't see any discoloration on any of the components (I've never shorted a board or card before, so didn't know what to look for). My board does not have a default monitor output that I could use to pinpoint the video card as the culprit. The LED on the board lights up, and the CPU fan that plugs into the board is still running.

Any ideas of easy ways to determine what parts are shot? I'm a banker and have zero free time until weekends, and have no spare parts to switch. Worst case I'll throw some money at a local PC store to troubleshoot for me, but once I know what's busted I can order a replacement. I just don't want to purchase any additional components until I can be sure I'm ONLY replacing broken components. My gut says it's the board and/or the video card.

Thanks for any suggestions.


<font color=purple><i>Smokey McPot - Your Baby's Daddy</i></font color=purple>

More about : smoke

August 27, 2002 2:37:45 PM

Also, please appreciate the irony in the fact that my THG nick is "Smokey". I think the term "self fulfilling prophecy" comes to mind?

<font color=purple><i>Smokey McPot - Your Baby's Daddy</i></font color=purple>
August 27, 2002 4:48:44 PM

Hopefully you don't smoke in front of such a machine with so many fans. But anyway...

I'd be worried if any SMT (surface mount technology) capacitors or SMT resistors got coated with anything. I've noticed that those things are not well protected because trying to protect them can slightly alter their values. They look like little squares with tin caps, no more than two milimeters long. I had them sitting all around the base of the high voltage capacitors on a slot athlon board. Some of those regulation capacitors started leaking and over time they leaked on the SMTs and all hell broke loose on that board. Dead board is what I had. Monitor acted like it was always connected, system powered or not.

Looks like your into some fan replacements as well as a new mainboard.

Everytime my roommate turns the heat off I end up running my athlons at 100%. It all works out.
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a b à CPUs
August 27, 2002 5:37:34 PM

1.) Probably fried nothing more than your power supply, but could have fried more
2.) Never use Acetone as it melts plastic! The best thing to use for cleaning a motherboard IMO is WATER. Of course you need to let it dry completely (even under the chips) before use. You could put it in a warm oven (no more than 120F) to dry it faster. Alcohol works a bit better on sticky stuff, but most beverages come off with warm water, a safer alternative.
3.) You may have damaged your board cleaning it.

<font color=blue>You're posting in a forum with class. It may be third class, but it's still class!</font color=blue>
August 27, 2002 7:16:18 PM

Oops!

I only used dabs of acetone on a papertowel, and swiped at any sticky stuff. I actually thought acetone would be safer than water, whoopsy. Anyway, nothing seems to have changed from before I cleaned the parts to after, so I don't think the small amounts of acetone helped me or hurt me.

The PSU? That's the funny thing. It's a 350watt POS with awful amperage ratings, but I think that survived. All the molex equipped devices were powering, the CD player opened and closed, and the mb LED lit up.

Thanks for the suggestions guys, I appreciate them.

QUESTION: If my GPU fan runs, can that in any way validate whether the video card itself is functional or are they mutually exclusive (i.e. the fan might stop while the card still worked)? Also, would a bad ATX board still power up at the LED display? When I hold the power button for 4 seconds (an option in my Asus board to power off the system) it does shut off the power. I was also wondering if the fact that that function still worked signify that the board was still ok.

BTW, I don't burn anywhere near my box (and I'm not a cigarrette man...). I actually try to keep any excess dust from my room because I know my PC is a sitting duck.

<font color=purple><i>Smokey McPot - Your Baby's Daddy</i></font color=purple>
a b à CPUs
August 27, 2002 7:44:23 PM

No, you could have all good power circuits and all bad logic circuits (not likely, but possible).

<font color=blue>You're posting in a forum with class. It may be third class, but it's still class!</font color=blue>
August 27, 2002 8:01:47 PM

Ouch, that sucks. In case this happens again, try using distilled water to clean it (distilled water doesn't cause electrical components to short out).

Knowledge is the key to understanding
August 27, 2002 8:20:11 PM

I don't think there is an official test. There's an unofficial test: Stick a working card into the slot and turn the machine on. If Winblows recognizes it, then the slot works.

Knowledge is the key to understanding
August 27, 2002 8:45:26 PM

Quote:
I don't think there is an official test. There's an unofficial test: Stick a working card into the slot and turn the machine on. If Winblows recognizes it, then the slot works.

Not to diagnose if the PCI slot works.

A PCI card with built-in LEDs to display an error code for the exact point that the PC stops booting up. Then you can have a much better guess of what hardware has and hasn't been initialized yet and reduce the list of probable causes.

<pre><A HREF="http://www.nuklearpower.com/comic/186.htm" target="_new"><font color=red>It's all relative...</font color=red></A></pre><p>
August 27, 2002 8:48:54 PM

Oh that thing. I forgot all about it.

Knowledge is the key to understanding
a b à CPUs
August 28, 2002 1:34:20 AM

Yes, in fact there are some with LED number displays that give you boot diagnostics codes. A little pricey though, $70 I think.

<font color=blue>You're posting in a forum with class. It may be third class, but it's still class!</font color=blue>
August 28, 2002 2:57:27 AM

bummer. a friend of mine once poured beer onto his computer when he came home drunk one nite.
wasnt fun.

had to replace the psu, then the sound card, then a little while later the cd-rom drive.
that beer cauzed problems for months.
expensive.

<b>Due to Customer Complaints this sig has been withdrawn from public use. Thankyou. :lol:  </b>
August 28, 2002 2:11:12 PM

Thanks for the help fellas. As sad as this makes me feel, I'm actually considering dropping off my box at CompUSA and having all my components troubleshot. They charge 99.99$ (to which my first instinct was like no way!) but weighing the facts...I don't have any spare components to substitute (and my friends are all Dell people, shocked that someone would even need to open a case!) and even though that PCI card is a really cool idea, the price mentioned was 70$.

Is it worth the extra 30$ just to have them tell me exactly which parts are busted? I honestly don't know.

I live in Long Beach, NY, so if anybody knows a good local computer shop that could troubleshoot for me I'd appreciate it. Also, if any of you don't think I should trust CompUSA to dig into my box, lemme know.

I'll post whatever I find out what the problem was, so others can laugh at the caveats of mixing alcohol, women, and computers.

Three expensive habits that when combined...turn EXPONENTIALLY more expensive!



<font color=purple><i>Smokey McPot - Your Baby's Daddy</i></font color=purple>
August 28, 2002 4:11:33 PM

Well, good luck. A pro shop <i>should</i> diagnose the problem pretty well. (Though sometimes they also try to subsequently rip you off by telling you they can replace part X for only five times what it costs on PriceWatch.)

Quote:
so others can laugh at the caveats of mixing alcohol, women, and computers.

I suppose we should at least be glad that this thread wasn't about new applications for forced feadback joysticks...

Although it makes me wonder if anyone has a patent on a few of the ideas that instantly spring to mind... There might be money to be had there! Heh heh. ;) 

<pre><A HREF="http://www.nuklearpower.com/comic/186.htm" target="_new"><font color=red>It's all relative...</font color=red></A></pre><p>
September 5, 2002 2:40:51 PM

Guys,

Just a follow up to let you all know the verdict. A good buddy actually called me and the wizard he is, diagnosed the initial problem. "If you're using an Asus board, don't they use beep codes on boot to identify errors?". What can I say, I can't believe I forgot about that. The guy is a genius.

Anyhow, since I WASN'T getting any error codes on initial boot, and I didn't feel like giving my PC to CompUSA, I ordered a new board. Once I got the new board, I took out the old and cleaned all components with acetone and a toothbrush (I know, I know, but I only used a little and it cleaned SO well). I cleaned everything that had beer and ash on it, including the LED's wires that plugged into the board (since they had residue).

I put the new board in and...VIOLA! Powered up, POSTed, and actually got into windows. Unfortunately it choked on a missing SYSTEM\CONFIG32 file and was having some driver problems, which even from safe mode I could not repair (also windows XP repair couldn't fix it). I reformatted the HD, and now I'm back. I will check my audigy tonight (since I was corroded on some of the pins) as well as my nic, but otherwise I'm back in action.

Total Cost: 127$ for new MB from newegg. 1$ for acetone. X-Girlfriends toothbrush, free. 14 years of my life shortened from stress? Priceless!

<font color=purple><i>Smokey McPot - Your Baby's Daddy</i></font color=purple>
!