PC temperature monitoring system lights up when things get hot

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[Taylor] popped a new graphics card into his computer, but before he could settle in for a round of gaming, his card started to overheat. He eventually tracked the problem down to an undersized power supply, but the prospect of cooking his new GPU to death made him think twice about how he was monitoring his system’s health.

To continually keep tabs on his video card’s temperature going forward, he put together a small circuit that will alert him if things start to get too hot. He mounted a small temperature sensor on his graphics card near the GPU, wiring it to an Arduino. The Arduino monitors his video card, lighting an RGB LED blue if conditions are alright. If the temperature rises above 50C, the LED changes to red, signaling a problem.

We’re aware that there are all sorts of software applications that can monitor component temperatures for you, but the appeal of [Taylor’s] system is that it can be easily seen from across the room rather than via the desktop. That said, we think that his system could take advantage of his PC’s case fan lighting for a more visible warning, and it wouldn’t hurt to wire in an auto-shutdown feature in case his computer overheats while he’s away.

Broken vintage record player reborn as a portable MP3 cabinet

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[Julian] picked up an old record player that was sitting in somebody’s trash pile, and brought it home to see if it could be restored to working order. When he got it home he discovered that it didn’t work at all, so he and his wife decided to modernize it a bit.

In an effort to simultaneously reunite himself with his music collection and piss off audiophiles/antique collectors in the process, he gutted the radio and began rebuilding it to serve as an MP3 jukebox. Once the innards were removed, his wife refinished the cabinet and gave the front grill a new cloth cover.

An old PC was installed inside the cabinet, along with a set of relatively cheap (but better than paper cone) speakers. A pair of custom cut plexi panels were used to cover the computer, while providing space for the monitor and Apple wireless keyboard + trackpad [Julian] uses to manage the jukebox.

The refurbed record player came out looking quite nice, and although it likely raises the ire of several different groups of purists, we think it’s pretty cool.

Fixing POST errors with a single key

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Instructables user [Mike Craghead] was in the middle of building a very compact public computer kiosk when he ran into a problem with the processor fan. It was too big for the enclosure and had to be swapped out with a fan that did not allow the motherboard to monitor its rotational speed.

Motherboards don’t like this situation very much, and each time the computer was started, it would hang at the BIOS screen waiting for someone to press the F1 key to continue. Knowing that everything was just fine, and that there were no BIOS options which would allow him to ignore the error, he crafted a simple solution to the problem.

Since the computer just needed someone to press the F1 key, he figured he could rig up a small dongle that would always hold down the key for him. After verifying that the OS would ignore the stuck key, he tore apart a keyboard and traced the circuit matrix to identify which pins he had to short in order to represent the F1 key press.

Satisfied with his handiwork, he plugged the board into his computer and found that everything worked just fine. Sure it might not be the most elegant solution to the problem, but it gets the job done at a cost of zero dollars – you can’t beat that!

My desk IS my computer case

If you think that your water cooled rig is pretty sweet, check out this creation by Dutch PC enthusiast [Peter Brands] (Google Translation).

With his computer tweaked as far as he could imagine, he decided to spruce up his office a bit. In the process, he ended up tweaking his computer just a little bit more. After seeing a build put together by another computer enthusiast, he set off to construct a desk in which he could show off his computer. He spent some time drawing up plans with Google Sketchup and with the help of a friendly neighbor, started construction of his desk/PC case.

The desk is constructed from 3mm thick aluminum, and houses most of his computer’s components under a thick piece of glass. The only portion of the computer that is not enclosed in the desk is the 9-fan radiator he used for his water cooling setup. That part resides in his crawl space, which he connects to his PC via a pair of large water hoses he punched through his tile floor. If you are interested, you can see all 800+ pictures of the build here.

Simply awesome!

[Thanks duchie]

The origin of CTRL-ALT-DELETE

You may not have ever thought about it, but the far-too-often-used keyboard combination of Control + Alt + Delete had to have been brought into existence by some random coder at some point in technological history. But wait, it wasn’t just a random coder. The keystroke combo is attributed to [David Bradley]. He was one of the original designers of the IBM Personal Computer. You can even hear his own recount of the story in the video after the break.

He came up with the idea after growing weary of waiting for the Power-On Self Test (POST) routine to finish during each reboot of his software testing regiment. We remember the old days of slow hardware and can understand his frustration at the lost time. He decided to throw in a shortcut that allowed the software to reboot without power cycling the hardware. The original implementation used CTRL-ALT-ESC, but was later changed so that one frustrated keyboard mash couldn’t accidentally reboot the system.

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Hacking game port peripherals to work with modern PCs

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[Atiti] has a bad habit of hanging on to old things. Some people call this sort of behavior “hoarding”, but around here we understand his affliction. It turns out that in his collection of old computer peripherals, he located a Thrustmaster Formula 1 racing wheel he used back in the day. Analog racing wheels can cost a pretty penny nowadays, depending on what you buy, so he decided to see if he could hack this outdated controller to work with his new PC.

You see, the problem with this wheel is that it utilized a “game port” connecter to interface with the computer. If you don’t remember the game port, go dig up an old PCI sound card and take a look on the back. That 15-pin connector? That’s a game port. Microsoft discontinued support for the game port once Vista was released, so [Atti] had to figure out how in the world he would get it to work on his new PC.

His solution was an Arduino, which is used to read the analog signals output by the wheel. Those signals are processed and sent to a parallel port joystick emulator, enabling him to use the wheel with any game supporting a standard joystick.

Obviously he could have just gone out to the store and bought a USB wheel, but where’s the fun in that?

Stay tuned for a video demo of his refreshed wheel in action.

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DIY Racing Sim shift box

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Ask anyone who has ever owned a car with a manual gearbox – in real life and in video games, nothing beats stick shift. Rather than shell out gobs of money to purchase a pre-made shift box, forum member [nikescar] built his own for about $20.

Using some scrap wood and a plastic cutting board, he went to work building a prototype. The “H” shift pattern was designed in CAD and laid over the cutting board, which was hand-cut with a Dremel. Using some tips found online, he constructed a simple shifting mechanism, then wired in a cheap USB game pad found on Ebay. Using safety pins as temporary micro switches, he ran a few laps, and was quite happy with the results. Once the switches arrived, they were fitted to the shift box and it was off to the races.

[nikescar] reports that the shifter works extremely well, allowing him to row through the gears with the greatest of ease, sans any fear of breaking things. Keep reading to get a better look at the shift box internals.

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