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Last post Author Topic: Computer problem, maybe you can help  (Read 8054 times)

wreckedcarzz

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Computer problem, maybe you can help
« on: July 27, 2008, 05:14:39 PM »
Alright, I have an issue and a friend (although tempting, the friend is not the issue that is the topic here today :P)

This friend of mine has had a Dell Dimension 8200 computer. Bad shape. Let me clarify. Picture your entire house, all the dust, now collect it and put it into a 4 year old computer that is about 18"x18"x6" and has only been opened MAYBE 10 times in its lifetime. Except all that dust wasn't the problem (DYSON vacuums do wonders ;D). Ignoring the mere 256MB of ram (64MB each, 4 sticks), two aging hard drives, graphics card with the back cover 1/2 broken off, one *really* old CD 4x drive, and the most-likely-broken floppy drive... the computer will no longer boot. (It could be noted that this poor computer was used for gaming - not Solitare, but mid/high range games like the ones in the DC Gamers Club area of the Forum. When you stop laughing (or crying), read on.)

The issue happened after my friend, as he says "hit the side of the computer really hard" and "it doesn't turn on anymore. The power light just goes orange"

Basically, it sounds like some wierd hardware malfunction happened due to the sudden shock. The power supply is NOT the culprit (I have replaced it, minus the secondary hard drive/CD drive/floppy power). I did a ton of over-the-phone troubleshooting and nothing helped. Removing GPU, reconnecting all plugs on back of PC, changing power outlets, nothing. With the computer in my posession now, I have done more advanced stuff, but nothing seems to help. The computer makes NO beeping noises at startup or after several minutes "running" (not sure how to describe it, it doesn't turn off but it isn't "on"). The video card gives no output. The sound card was swapped out recently from a Sound Blaster LIVE! to a Sound Blaster Audigy SE, however that is not the issue. It has nothing to do with Windows, and not the hard drives (he hit the power button as I was installing the PSU (!) and there was no change (the hard drive was not plugged in). I said some things, but the computer did not change (the same cannot be said for my voice inflection). ;D

The rear (CPU) fan WAS spinning up on "boot", but it has since stopped (I think that is a personal error, as I am unsure how the he*l this stupid Dell fan clip goes onto the mobo... but anyways. CD drive opens. I believe the hard drive spins up as well, not sure. The graphics card, as said, has been re-installed and the RAM shouldn't have moved (haven't checked). There is NO onboard video, FYI (and I do not own another AGP graphics card, so that limits testing that dept).

I have done Google searches (don't bash me for not, because I have :)) and the answers are not as helpful as I need them to be. Specifically here: http://forums.techgu...nge-power-light.html seemed helpful, but I have checked all of that.

So I have no idea what to do. I am happy to scour it for parts, but if I can get it working I might be able to hold it long enough so he can get a newer, and maybe somewhat decent, computer. And then I have another server or something for BOINC.

Ideas, fellow DCers?
-Brandon
« Last Edit: July 27, 2008, 06:11:54 PM by wreckedcarzz »

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2008, 05:36:06 PM »
Additional info:

Hard drive LED stays green
Not plugged into surge protector
No dust around any ports
All USB ports appear to be fine (no bent pins)
Rear/CPU fan is spinning once again (my error)

EDIT: And GPU fan is spinning strong

EDIT 2: Both HDs are IDE, and set to Cable Select

First HD does NOT appear to spin up, secondary does spin up
Primary shows constant HD green light Both show NO HD light (green is shown when there is NO HD attached, so... some weird cabling issues there it looks like)

EDIT 3: Information change (above)

EDIT 4: It appears the primary hard drive is/has been dead. Not sure, but it sure looks like a paperweight now (no spinning). The light is still amber on both IDE cable plugs. The secondary drive spins up, so it is not a power-to-HD issue.

EDIT 5: Everything works fine (HD, GPU fan, CPU fan, and the CPU (I touched and quickly removed my hand from the somewhat hot heatsink to check), but it still doesn't work. RAM appears to be seated fine (I gently pressed on all 4 chips). After a short 60 second phone call I now know that he hit it on the right side (where the motherboard is) and that it did not fall over afterward. I think it is a scrapyard paperweight at this point... but I don't really want to give up on it. Ideas? I don't really want to get 5 or 6 things from this PC and dump it in a landfill if I can fix it.

EDIT 6: The hard drive is fine, spins up like a beauty. IDE and other cables are secure. I think it might just be the motherboard at this point... there is heat coming from the RAM and heat sink, so... dunno. Afterthought: Could it have overheated? Small room, room temp @ about 90F (~32C) with little ventilation and running system intensive 3D games (literally riding on the "MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS"?
« Last Edit: July 27, 2008, 06:20:15 PM by wreckedcarzz »

Dormouse

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2008, 06:07:22 PM »
Given the apparently awful state of the computer - and the number of things that might have happened - I'd suggest a swapping in strategy rather than a swapping out one. In other words, I'd take each component (including cables), one at a time, and swap (or add) them to a known working system. That should at least isolate the components that don't work with the exception of the mobo.

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2008, 06:10:38 PM »
I have thought of this approach, but I am not sure what component has gone wrong, and I have installed faulty hardware into perfectly running PCs before, only to fry that computer as well (smoke, a lot of heat, and panic). It is an option but for now I would like to keep this an isolated problem.

mouser

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2008, 06:18:56 PM »
no motherboard beeps or lights to yield any clues?
the yellow light suggests maybe motherboard problem or cpu problem?

Shades

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2008, 06:19:33 PM »
First of all, make sure the machine is completely turned off (pull out the main power cable).

Without any experience with DELL computers (I am my own PCbuilder :)), but a lot with normal self made setups, you normally "kick" the motherboard into gear again by removing everything but the bare necessities (RAM, keyboard and video) and use one of three methods:

1) Reset the bios by setting a jumper (see the manual, most if not all motherboards have this option). Now turn the machine on and off again. After that set the jumper back to its original position and turn on the machine again. This should do the trick.

2) Some people also turn off the PC, remove the battery, turning it on and off again, put the battery in place and start the PC.

3) You could even try to use an 'old skool' method I was told to use when working at OLIVETTI years ago...using a solid, even, grounded and cleaned metal plate the same size as the motherboard and let the bottom of the motherboard rest on this plate for a few moments. Make sure that the whole bottom from the motherboard touches the plate at the same time!

After "kicking" put the components back on a one-by-one basis (to rule out any nasty other hardware errors).

You told that you checked the power supply? Did you actually measure the exact output of each spawned plug ? Also under load? The reason why I mention this is that I had to replace four PSU's which in principle are not broken, but I cannot use them in production machines either because after taking measurements I found out that they did not deliver the required/specified power.

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2008, 06:24:50 PM »
@mouser: No beeps. Small green mobo light is shining away. PSU is good. CPU seems fine (heat sink is ... hot) :P

@Shades: Ditto on the no D(H)ell experience. HP and Gateway person here.

I do not have the manual on hand (hand-me-down PC) so I'll Google it.
I think it might be the CMOS battery (I think that is the name for it), so I'll check that too. $5 at Radioshack if it is dead or something isn't bad.

And I cannot measure the voltage of the PSUs as I do not have the tools to do so, but the stock PSU was fine (I have ruled it out due to all the fans working after several minutes, so it wasn't dying). There was also no power surge around the same time, and no change in power being supplied to the PSU.

EDIT: Here is the system specs if they might help out...
http://supportapj.de...ms/dim8200/specs.htm
« Last Edit: July 27, 2008, 06:28:21 PM by wreckedcarzz »

mouser

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2008, 06:29:31 PM »
you may not want to hear this but at this point, given the age and limited capability of the thing i would just heave it in the trash.
at a certain point even if you got it working i'd never trust it to stay working, and therefore i'd classify it as a risk to my data.

techidave

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2008, 06:43:43 PM »
You might try reseating all 4 sticks of RAM.  Sometimes just pushing on them doesn't cut it.  On some Dell's we have at school, when they don't give off a beep code and the light is flashing, reseating the RAM has fixed it for me.  Also make sure to unplug the power cable before doing so.

Dave

Shades

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2008, 06:45:16 PM »
We have a saying in Dutch: "Meten is weten!" (roughly translates to: only after taking measurement you know for sure, everything else is just a guess).

Unfortunately I am inclined to agree with Mouser...if a PC (motherboard) breaks down after 3 years it is hardly worth the effort. When you replace the faulty part you still have a three year old motherboard... :(

mouser

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2008, 07:03:24 PM »
very good idea re ram, and try with just one stick -- i've found memory is very temperamental.

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2008, 07:03:48 PM »
I'll give the ram re-seating a go, it is a beotch to get them back in but it might on the off chance work...

True, no matter how long you extend something you can only drag it out for so long. Unfortunately everything must die.

If nothing else, I get a hard drive, floppy drive, power supply, fan, and some other random parts from it. Something for nothing is never bad (assuming the something isn't a harmful thing).

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2008, 07:08:17 PM »
Random oddity: Two sticks of RAM appear to be superglued into the motherboard. But there is no glue or anything holding them that I can see. I have removed the 256MB that Windows was using... so I don't know what the heck these other two are. They are the length of RAM, but about 2/3 of the height of the others.

That's a new one.

techidave

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2008, 07:28:06 PM »
are you sure they're not just stuck?  I have used RAM with varying heights before without known problems.  I do try to make sure they are all the same speed, ie. PC2100 or whatever.

cmpm

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2008, 07:32:26 PM »
I've rebuilt a few old computers from parts.

Sounds like you have tried everything but the ribbon cable.
If it's not the motherboard, I'd try a different ribbon cable.

But Dells-especially old dells are very picky on every little setting.
Including the bios and parts.

Disable all warnings in the bios,
if you can.

Reset it to setup or standard defaults.
Then go through each section and clear warnings and virus scans and intrusion alerts. If you can.

Personally an old dell ain't worth it to me,
unless I have the time to mess with it.

Like I said, they are picky about every little setting from what I've experienced.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2008, 07:48:04 PM »
I had a similar problem to solve recently and after faffing for a while this is what I did ...

First - unplug the power cable

1) Remove everything from the motherboard except the CPU and the PSU connector (but check the PSU connector by unplugging and plugging in again). That is remove all PCI cards/graphics cards etc., memory and unplug the hard disc and floppy disc connectors.

2) Plug in the power cable and switch on - if all is silence you are probably stuffed - it should at least make multiple beeps to tell you there are problems (such as no memory etc). Are there any LEDs to show there is some power present to the motherboard? Does the PSU have a lit power switch - if so is it lit (if not check the fuse in the plug and look to see if there is a user servicable fuse in the PSU - don't take the PSU apart - if there is a fuse it should be in a circular thumb screw socket)

3) If silence look at the motherboard to find the make and model number and then go to the manufacturer's website to find the manual. REMOVE THE POWER CABLE then find the CMOS RAM clear links and remove the battery on the motherboard and move the reset link to the clear position. Get a new battery (a couple of dollars/pounds) and then put the clear CMOS link back to the normal position and insert a new battery. Plug in and switch on.

4) If no sound it is either the CPU or the motherboard and if it is that old give up and start again with a new computer - you'll be lucky to find a working CPU replacement on eBay that you could try but you need to be very careful removing the old CPU so as not to damage the socket. Even if you do find one it could be a mobo chip in which case you have wasted money trying to fix a piece of junk. If the CPU fan was not working for more than a minute you have probably fired the CPU anyway.

5) If you are lucky enough to get beeps start by inserting one stick of memory (unplug first) and then switch on again - you should get different beeps (in which case things are going well).

6) Try installing the graphics card and plug in the monitor/keyboard and mouse. Plug in and switch on - see what you get on screen (if anything).

If things are going well try plugging in a working floppy disc drive and running memtest - then add the rest of the memory and run memtest again.

If you have a working system you can gradually add bits and bats until it works or fails. I would plug in the hard disc and CD drive last of all (so you don't end up booting into Windows with the wrong hardware present).

PS - the glue holding things in is usually just a rubbery compound that you can remove fairly easily. It is there so that service angineers can check you haven't invalidated a warranty in the early days.

PPS - if the PSU appears dead don't forget that some Dell computers use non standard connectors so don't be tempted to swap in an ATX PSU unless you are sure it supports a standard connector.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2008, 07:50:55 PM by Carol Haynes »

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2008, 08:14:20 PM »
Turned out to be DELL RAM. Whoever did the installation of the new RAM moved the Dell ram over incorrectly. I had to use vice grips (the "mega pliers") to pull one side of each stick out to remove them. No idea how much the capacity is, but it couldn't have been much (Designed for Windows 2000).

@cmpm: Using the included Dell ribbon IDE cable. No problems with the cable (tears/cuts). I have moved the HD1 and HD2 connectors between the working hard drive to no avail. It is securely attached to the motherboard.

@Carol: I don't get any video nor beeps, even with/out a hard drive/floppy/optical drive. The RAM has been jury rigged for some time anyways (the Dell RAM and the NEC RAM are apparently incompatible with each other, even though the system ran with both (but it only saw the NEC when the system was operational)). The little light on the motherboard shows green, with no blinking or changing to indicate diagnostic needs. Most of the things are working just no video and no beeps, so no BIOS setup and no OS. All input and no output makes this Dell an ugly paperweight.

RAM reinstall was a bust (removed the crappy Dell RAM too). Still a yellow power light. Took the graphics card out on a hunch, nothing. Ditto on the Audigy SE (the Audigy was a birthday present, some good it is now). I don't think it is the CMOS because the CD and hard drives run fine, and the computer ran for 30 minutes or so in its "Yellow Light Mode" with no issue. No HD activity light (the drive did spin up, so it will soon take new life in my small white Gateway makeshift home server). I have put the replacement CMOS battery number onto the grocery list, however it is a long shot at best. Oh well. Time to start un-screwing and salvaging.

@All: Thanks for the ideas and help :-*! Maybe we should keep this topic somewhere handy (I might favorite it) for other computer issues here @ DC. Might help as a future reference.

Target

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2008, 09:05:17 PM »
Carols diagnostic list is the way to approach this, but if you're not getting any POST beeps with all your peripherals removed then you're wasting your time trying anything else...

techidave

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #18 on: July 27, 2008, 09:15:16 PM »
Does your system have the 4 diagnostic lights on the back?  If so they may help identify the problem.
Here is a link to that page for more info. http://support.dell....00/codes.htm#1101572

Deozaan

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2008, 09:34:49 PM »
Carols diagnostic list is the way to approach this, but if you're not getting any POST beeps with all your peripherals removed then you're wasting your time trying anything else...

That's assuming the PC speaker is even plugged in and working.


Target

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #20 on: July 27, 2008, 10:34:30 PM »
errrm, I had a vague feeling there was a piezo buzzer on the boards (or used to be)

good point  :-[

cmpm

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #21 on: July 27, 2008, 11:27:44 PM »
Sounds like some extra parts and trash the rest though.

Grorgy

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2008, 01:35:29 AM »
well, when all else fails, and before you trash it, give it another bloody good bashing and see if that helps, has worked for me sometimes, sometimes it doesnt, (ok mostly it doesnt) but if you've tried all else and the trash is the next step you got nothing to lose and its good for the soul and relieves tension ;)

Carol Haynes

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2008, 03:50:41 AM »
Sounds like the Basil Fawlty approach - now all you need is a good tree branch!

Grorgy

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Re: Computer problem, maybe you can help
« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2008, 03:56:17 AM »
Sounds like the Basil Fawlty approach - now all you need is a good tree branch!

 ;D  Thanks Carol I'd forgotten about that episode.  Makes note to self, hire Fawlty Towers soon.