Hackaday Links: October 6, 2012

Upgrading a desktop with a diamond cutting wheel

[Michail] needed a new graphics card. The only problem was his motherboard didn’t have any free PCI-E x16 slots available. Unable to find a PCI-E x1 card, he did what any of us would do and broke out the Dremel. Yes, he got it working, but don’t do this unless you know what you’re doing.

It’s recycling!

[Steve] recently got a Galaxy S3 and was looking for something to do with his old phone. It’s got WiFi, it’s got a camera, and with a free app, [Steve] now has an IP Webcam. Neat way to recycle a phone.

This is now bookmarked

We’re not much for plugging other blogs, but Math ∩ Programming – that’s intersection, remember – is really cool. Apparently it has been around for a little more than a year and already there are quite a few really cool posts. How to use cellular automaton to generate caves in video games and facial recognition through Eigenvalues are amazingly in depth, and show the theory behind some really cool techniques. Very, very cool.

Troll Physics: now wireless!

Remember [Fredzislaw100], the guy who puzzled the Internet with impossible circuits? He’s back again, this time with wireless LEDs. We’re guessing something similar to an induction charging system in the battery clip, wirelessly coupled to something under the paper, and that is wirelessly coupled to the LEDs. Your guess will probably be better than ours, though.

Not shown: Captain Obvious, Major Major

Pv2 [Zachary Ricks] of the U.S. Army thought we would get a kick out of the last name of one of the guys in his company. Yes, it’s ‘Hackaday,’ and yes, it’s a real surname. Here’s the full pic [Zach] sent in. Apparently it’s a name along the lines of ‘Holiday.’ Honestly, we had no idea this was a real surname, but we’re thinking Private Hackaday could use a care package or two (dozen).

Anyone up for sending a few hacker friendly (for [Zach] and a few other guys) care packages? Even socks or books or Oreos would make for an awesome care package. Email me if you want the mailing address.

33 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: October 6, 2012

  1. I would opt for modifying the PCIe slot rather than the card. A little dremeling (or even a razor if careful) and the back of the slot can be removed to accommodate larger cards. Cool hack.

    1. Yeah, that’s another possibility. But I didn’t wanted to void brand new motherboard warranty.

      Also, on many motherboards, there are components near x1 slot that would not allow to stick x16 card.

      And wire soldering would still be needed (ether on videocard, or on motherboard, but it’s dirty hack – what MB will think when we remove the card and leave shorted pins?)

      1. Hi, do you have the pins you changed to change from x16 to x1? as I am interested in doing this but I can’t work out which are the ‘sense’ pins for each ‘PCIe Mode’ (and you don’t mention it in your log). Thanks, G

  2. Just in case you don’t know about Project Euler, it’s a bit like this ‘math intersection programming’, except it’s more like ‘math that requires programming’. It’s stuff like, find the sum of primes below 10001, or what is the smallest number into which all numbers 1 through 20 divide evenly. Cool stuff.

  3. Speaking of math intersects programming reminds me of [http://projecteuler.net]. A fun and more mathematical alternative to programming contest sites, if you’re into that sort of thing (as I am).

    A belated thanks to HaD for linking to +Ma’s riddles (hard cracking challenges) at [http://3564020356.org]. Unless my mind is failing me, I saw this link here a few years ago.

    1. Well, that is doable, but with such ribbons it would be impossible (?) to mount videocard into the case, as there would be not enough spacing between card and motherboard/case.

      1. I see you are aware of the cable/board idea, but I still think you could do it. You used a half height video card, just put the half height bracket back on it, and that will leave enough room inbetween the video card and mother board for the adapter board/cable.

      2. Checked the pictures again, and it looks like it is not truely a half height card. I suppose it could be done if you removed the VGA cable and desoldered the SVideo port, but either way requires moding the card. Kudos on your hack.

  4. Loving the video card bit, but my question is this:

    What does this do to the bandwidth of the card? I realize that x1 and x16 are compatible with one another and that it is a matter of bandwidth. But I would love to see a diagram of the pins.

  5. ip webcam from an old phone? Awesome idea! I’ve got a ton of android devices (like 8?). I’ve got a droid 1 with a touchscreen that is shattered, but still functions. This is pretty much perfect for that.

  6. Bitcoin miners have been using PCI-E x1 slots for mining for ages now, I suspect there are some very clever mods too that preserve both the slot and GPU (as they want resale value typically).

    I recall reading of a few that used the risers combined with a 90 degree bracket to mount the GPU sideways. They then dremelled a hole in the back of the case for access (evidentally the most disposable of the 3 things).

  7. I like the board chop. It’s surreal you can do that and it still works. ;)

    Though there’s one thing I’ve always wondered. Seems like all that high-speed friction should, at least in theory, have the potential (pun intended) to produce some serious ESD. Enough that the ESD damage should result in immediate, and therefore easily attributable failure, at least part of the time. Yet I’ve never had an issue, nor have I heard anyone else report one. Not even once. Even in an extreme case of shortening a DIP MCU:


    It still worked. Why is that?

  8. It worked because the micro only
    uses some of the pins, I’ve heard
    of people doing this to make a
    4000 series chip fit where an
    expensive 74W one with eight pins
    and a non standard pinout was.
    Turns out that this does weaken
    the chip long term but that package
    is pretty robust even post Dremel.

  9. I actually went to Basic Training with a Private Sergeant and one of my CO’s was a Captain Major. Right name, wrong time. Eventually they would have gotten promoted to Sergeant Sergeant and Major Major. Or maybe even Sergeant Major Sergeant. That would have been hilarious.

  10. typical derpaday

    “Pv2 [Zachary Ricks] of the U.S. Army thought we would get a kick out of the last name of one of the guys in his company. Yes, it’s ‘Hackaday,’ and yes, it’s a real surname.”

    surname != lastname…

    1. Maybe not universally. But in the case of a private in the US Army, most likely yes.

      From Wikipedia:

      A surname is a name added to a given name and is part of a personal name. In many cases, a surname is a family name. Many dictionaries define “surname” as a synonym of “family name”. In the western hemisphere, it is commonly synonymous with “last name” and is usually placed at the end of a person’s given name.

  11. I wonder what exactly you connected for the PCIe detection. Is is PRSNT1# ?

    This interest is because as far as I know, PCIe does auto-negotiation concerning the number of lanes, and a standards compliant x16 card will work fine in any shorter slot, without any modification. Did you try to use it without the pin hot-wired?

    (I have an Nvidia Quadro running in a 4x slot I drilled open, with no modification on the card. I also have a board which comes with PCIe slots which are open at their backs, so just about any card will fit in there)

    1. Reading up a bit more about the PRSNT signals, it seems to be like this: There is one PRSNT#1 pin which is on the very beginning of the PCIe connector. For each of the usual widths of PCIe there is another pin, each called PRSNT#2.

      If I am not mistaken, the idea behind this is like the following:
      A plugin card must connect the PRSTN#1 signal to one of the PRSNT#2 pins for two purposes:
      a) allow detecting the presence of a plugin card
      b) recognizing what amount of power a plugin card may use

      By shorting the two pins given in the blog post, this becomes a real PCIe 1x card, and says it is consuming 7.5W of power max from the slot. (Which may or may not be true)

      The reason the 16x card works in the 4x slot for me might be one of the following two:
      – either the card connects the PRSNT#2 of the
      4xslot or the 1xslot – this seems to be a valid
      option when less power is required?
      – the mainboard doesn’t make use of the PRSNT
      signals, and has the slot powered and connected
      continously (this seems to be perfectly fine
      with the spec)

    2. Okay, this should be the final update:

      Those PRSNT pins are intended to be used for hot-plugging. They are make-last, break-first and a hot-plug capable board should use them to only provide power to the card while it is fully inserted. A plugin card must only connect its farthest apart PRSNT#2 with PRSNT#1 thus avoiding a premature power-on of the card if it was inserted somewhat tilted. (though this is usually avoided as hotplug systems have a guiding system for plugin cards)

      As my board does not support hotplug, it may safely ignore the PRSNT pins, thus the card is working fine, though it doesn’t connect the slot’s PRSNT line.

      On a side node, down-plugging as in using a card with a higher link-width in a slot with smaller link-width is not supported. Though it might work anyway, as we can see.

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