Power Supply Woes & An Explosion

Well, let me give the run down. I recently bought a new higher wattage powersupply (450 watt foxconn taken out of a new Chieftech case) and a harddrive. I put them into my computer, reinstalled win2k, drivers, etc. Everything was running fine except that the computer seemed to lock up or randomly shutdown/reboot without warning. After a few power failures my windows install was all messed up, so I reformatted and reinstalled. Again, lock ups / power failure. So, I went out and bought a 330W Antech True PSU, hoping to end those problems (and new IDE cables too).

Here is where it gets interesting. I reformatted/reinstalled again without a glitch. I got everything running beautifully. I powered the computer down, unplugged it, and reconnected the power supply hook ups into a less messy arrangement, plugged the power cord back in and hit the switch. Nothing happened. 3 seconds later BOOM! A giant blue flash and a loup pop from the PSU.

what the hell is happening? I'd didn't bother trying to power it on again, and I hope my components are not too damaged. Any idea what the hell is going on? Here are the specs:

Abit KX7-333 mobo
AMD 1900+ cpu
Leadtek GeForce4 4600 VIVO
SB Live Vaule 5.1
Linksys 10/100 Ethernet Card
Western Digital 80 Gb 8mb cache HD
512 mb Corsiar XMS 2700 memory
Lite On 40x CDRW Drive
Pioneer 16x DVD Drive
330 Watt Antech True PSU (busted!)

The previous PSU was a Foxconn 450 watt froma Chieftech case. Before that (when everything ran fine!) a two year old 300 watt antech PSU.

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  1. It sounds like you have dirty power. You may need to purchase a line conditioner or UPS. Where do you live?


    = The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
  2. I don't think its the power. My machine with my original Power supply has been running fine for abouy 4 months, and I've checked the lines for proper gounding. I have a fairly nice surge protector and the rest too.
  3. Surge protectors do not condition the power you are receiving. If the voltage, amperes, or cycle time (60Hz normally) are not fairly constant and within specifications, it can damage your power supply. A surge protector will only handle the case of power going above maximum specifications. It will do nothing for stabilizing the power or cycle time.

    In addition to the dirty power possibility, you may have a short circuit somewhere on the motherboard. That might prove a bit more difficult to track down. Make sure the motherboard is not touching your case on its underside.


    = The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =
  4. We had a harddrive in our machine go out, it caused a short and popped our power supply. The other PSUs we used wouldn't turn on but also wouldn't blow up until we removed that drive.

    Perhaps one of your drives was starting to go out (transistor getting hot and causing shorts) and that was causing the restarts. Now it may be completely gone, or still just flaky.

    Try running with just a harddrive for a while, then add components one at a time until either you have them all working, or something causes problems.
  5. I'm voting for the shorted motherboard theory.

    Did it go up in smoke when you turned on the switch on the power supply itself? Or when you hit the ATX power button on the front of the case?

    *Dual PIII-800 @900 i440BX and Tualeron 1.2 @1.74 i815*
  6. Shorted Motherboard:
    I haven't checked for a short yet, but the PS blew right after I hit the ATX power button on the front of the case.

    A faulty harddrive could blow the power supply? It seems possible considering that I was having wierd errors with two seperate power supplys tested in the same system, AND the ONE harddrive in the machine was a new one installed along with the first faulty power supply.

    Lord where will it end....

    Any suggestions on how to clean/test the incoming power line?
  7. "A faulty harddrive could blow the power supply? "

    yeah if it failed to a short circuit condition.

    It really does sound like a short circuit kind of situation, but it would be interesting to know exactly what type of component exploded and what part of the circuit was it in (ie inside the PS box?).

    If you have an ohm meter you could ohm out the various power supply nodes on the motherboard while the power supply is unplugged to reveal if there is a short.
  8. The only problems you could be having on the power side would be voltage related (if you're on the grid and not running a generator or solar panels etc).

    A neutral/ground fault could cause the voltage in one phase to drop and the voltage in another phase to increase.

    You can pick up cheap voltmeters at Radio Shack and do some quick checking (I'm going to assume you're in North America, - if you're not I'll edit as needed).

    Have look at your outlet, it should have two slots, and one round hole. One of the slots will be slightly longer. The round hole is the ground. The smaller slot is the hot. The larger slot is the neutral.

    Three things to measure:
    - Line to Neutral should be ~117VAC.
    - Line to Ground should be exactly the same as above.
    - Neutral to Ground should be 0.

    *Dual PIII-800 @900 i440BX and Tualeron 1.2 @1.74 i815*
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