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Author Topic: Packard Bell iMedia 3054 - PSU cable ???  (Read 3446 times)

Carol Haynes

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Packard Bell iMedia 3054 - PSU cable ???
« on: September 15, 2008, 11:25:47 AM »
Trying to fix a computer. The PSU looks like a standard ATX PSU with the usual male 'kettle' connector on the back and the connector on the mobo says ATX connector.

Strangely the PSU has a 12v DC output externally (which I have never seen before) and the cables for the PSU connect into a Y connector (which I presume is so that you can plug two devices into one power socket).

I have the computer at home and forgot the Y connector from the client. I plugged in a standard 'kettle' cable and get nothing (it was powering on before). I am going to get the Y connector to try again.

Anyone have any experience of the strange PB set ups? Have I f*****d up the PSU by using a standard cable?

It does beg the question though why does PB use a nonstandard arrangement like this with standard connectors?

4wd

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Re: Packard Bell iMedia 3054 - PSU cable ???
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2008, 05:57:40 PM »
Trying to fix a computer. The PSU looks like a standard ATX PSU with the usual male 'kettle' connector on the back and the connector on the mobo says ATX connector.

I presume you mean the standard IEC C14 chassis mount plug.

Quote
Strangely the PSU has a 12v DC output externally (which I have never seen before) and the cables for the PSU connect into a Y connector (which I presume is so that you can plug two devices into one power socket).

Quite a few enthusiast PSUs have a molex connector on the rear of the PSU so you can power up a HDD without having to carry around a separate PSU or open up the PC.

Quote
I have the computer at home and forgot the Y connector from the client. I plugged in a standard 'kettle' cable and get nothing (it was powering on before). I am going to get the Y connector to try again.

Anyone have any experience of the strange PB set ups? Have I f*****d up the PSU by using a standard cable?

Can't say that I have, (always construct my own), any chance of a picture of the PSU with its cables, (and a ruler alongside to tell what type it is: ATX, FlexATX, etc) ?

Could be that the PSU was already stuffed.  I believe it's a no-no to fool around with what is a global standard power input so the power cable should be standard.

What was its original fault?

Quote
It does beg the question though why does PB use a nonstandard arrangement like this with standard connectors?

Dell do did the same thing - they use standard ATX PSUs and then swap the pins around in the standard motherboard ATX plug.  They can do this because they make their own motherboards so can use a non-standard ATX plug layout.
They do it to try and lock the customer in to their servicing system thereby generating even more revenue, (kind of like the printer and ink tank thing). 
You can buy adapters that will let you use a standard ATX PSU on a Dell motherboard, works out a LOT cheaper than buying a Dell PSU.

EDIT: After doing the Google thing, approx halfway down the page:

from Packard Bell:
Quote
Although ATX power supplies conform to various specification guidelines, there is not, unfortunately, a standard ATX power supply. To find a suitable replacement power supply for your machine, we would recommend that you have the following information to hand when making your purchase:

- You will require a PSU with a 24-pin ATX connector, SATA power connectors, and a 4-pin 12V motherboard connector
- Make a note of the wattage of your existing PSU
- Make a note of the external dimensions of your existing power supply
- Be aware that your PSU has a power connector for speakers. Most PSUs do not have this, so you may need to purchase a separate power supply for your speakers.

So it looks as if PB use standard ATX PSUs with just the added provision of powering your external speakers, (the 12V socket).

Also, it seems, that thread mentions that Dell no longer use propriety PSU wiring.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2008, 06:11:54 PM by 4wd »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Packard Bell iMedia 3054 - PSU cable ???
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2008, 07:13:40 PM »
It isn't a molex 12v connector - it is the round centre pin type (the sort of thing you often find on consumer devices where you plug in the power adaptor). I suspect it is to provide power to the speakers that came with the PC.

I am not talking about internal connectors here. The plug on the motherboard looks like a standard ATX connector - and the motherboard actually says ATX next to it.

The odd thing is that the external connector (the one you usally connect to with a trailing cable to the mains power supply) is identical to every power connector on an ATX PSU. (ie. 3 pin with the centre pin offset - not sure what they are called technically, in the UK they are usually called kettle connectors).

The PSU cable supplied with the machin has a mains plug for the wall socket and a length of cable into what looks like a sealed junction box. Out of the junction box come two identical power cables with standard connectors. One for the monitor, one for the computer. I presume that rather than use a PSU with a standard power input socket and an output socket to daisy chain the monitor they are effectively providing the power to the monitor by simply splitting the mains lead.

If this is the case I am a bit nonplussed why a short car journey should kill the PSU altogether.

The problem the system had was that it wouldn't start up. Fans started, mobo lights came on, hard drive and DVD drive powered up and cycled but nothing else happened.

Sometimes the machine POSTed and we even got into Windows XP once.

The machine was filthy and I suspected the CPU was overheating so I removed the CPU fan and cleaned out a pile of gunk from the heatsink, and a load more from all over the case. The computer instantly sprang into life (for the first time in days) and so I thought I had cracked it. A few minutes later it rebooted without warning and wouldn't POST (no warning beeps - just the DVD light cycling on and off).

I stripped everything off the motherboard excpet for the CPU and memory (I left the keyboard/mouse/monitor connected) and it jumped into life again.

At this point I noticed that each time I removed the power cable it lost its BIOS settings - so presumably it needs a new CMOS battery. Having said that it shouldn't stop it POSTing becaue it automatically set default BIOS settings (something that has never changed in the 4 years of the computer's life).

I plugged in the DVD drive and again it failed to POST. Removed it and it posted. I thought again - cracked and then it failed again.

I removed the drives adn the memory stick. Consistently got rapid beeps (presumably no memory error) during POST - so at least I know the CPU and motherboard work consistently.

Eventually I got it to run Memtest86+ for a few cycles and got memory errors. I think it is probably a memory fault.

When I did get it to POST I checked temperatures in the BIOS (fine) and voltages (all looked stable and fine).

I presume it is a memory errors (and a CMOS battery replacement).

I brought it home to test it with a good battery and some known good memory. That was when the problem arose with the PSU cable.

4wd

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Re: Packard Bell iMedia 3054 - PSU cable ???
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2008, 08:16:46 PM »
It isn't a molex 12v connector - it is the round centre pin type (the sort of thing you often find on consumer devices where you plug in the power adaptor). I suspect it is to provide power to the speakers that came with the PC.

No need to suspect - it is for powering the speakers, as I mention at the end of my post.  The reference to molex connectors was only to indicate that some PSUs provide a DC power outlet for powering other things, eg. HDDs.

Quote
The PSU cable supplied with the machin has a mains plug for the wall socket and a length of cable into what looks like a sealed junction box. Out of the junction box come two identical power cables with standard connectors. One for the monitor, one for the computer. I presume that rather than use a PSU with a standard power input socket and an output socket to daisy chain the monitor they are effectively providing the power to the monitor by simply splitting the mains lead.

They generally no longer make PSUs with both a AC inlet and outlet because it was a bad idea in the first place.  Actually the real reason is probably because they could not guarantee what some people would plug into them, eg. electric kettle.

Quote
If this is the case I am a bit nonplussed why a short car journey should kill the PSU altogether.

Without knowing the initial fault symptoms and your mention in your initial post that it failed to power on when you plugged it in, I only mentioned that it could be the PSU.

Now that you have provided more info, the possibilities are, (in no particular order):

1) Intermittent short either from the motherboard to ground or between tracks/leads on the motherboard.
2) Fractured solder connection, (usually around a component lead), dry joint or cracked pcb trace.
3) Board/RAM/CPU not plugged in correctly, ie. not fully and securely inserted.
4) Switchmode PSUs will die, it's a fact that can't be changed and it is generally due to one thing only, High ESR (Effective Series Resistance) in the electrolytic capacitors.  You can either spend the time repairing it, (as I've done on a couple), or try another ATX PSU.
5) Faulty CPU/RAM/HDD/etc.
6) You facing East-West on a North-South ley line  :D
7) Practically anything.

The fact that it would POST without the DVD and then plugging it in caused it to not POST is suggestive of insufficient PSU power output at load.

Also, if the CPU HS/FAN was that filthy you can probably bet the the interior of the PSU is as bad if not worse, which would only serve to shorten it's life.

Personally, given the age of the machine, it's symptoms of intermittently failing to start, RAM errors, etc - the first thing I'd be trying is a known working ATX PSU.

Also, BIOS readings for voltages cannot be relied upon.  The only correct way is a DMM while the PSU is under it's normal operating load.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2008, 08:19:41 PM by 4wd »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Packard Bell iMedia 3054 - PSU cable ???
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2008, 03:29:13 AM »
Right I have reestablished power to the system and this morning it managed to POST once but crashed 30 seconds late. Now it won't POST again. The fans power up so there is power getting through.

I have removed everything off the motherboard and disconnected everything from the PSU - so now all that is connected to the motherboard is the mobo ATX  connectors and the CPU/heatsink fan. The fan runs but I don't even get warning beeps that there is no memory (which it was yesterday).

Either the CPU is right on the edge of dying or there is a mobo component on the edge or the PSU can't even support just the mobo with no peripherals. I haven't got a mini-ATX PSU to try replacing the PSU and anyway the system dates back to 2003 and I know from reading other articles that PB also played the modded ATX connector game (like Dell) so connecting a different PSU would probably fry the system.

PB don't support the PC anymore and they don't have any tech info on their website other than generic info about dismantling the iMedia range.

I have told the client it is time to bite the bullet and get a new system.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2008, 03:31:43 AM by Carol Haynes »