Hardware MacGyvering


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    Late yesterday afternoon one of our largest clients calls me. They are a huge specialty veterinary hospital that also owns several veterinary clinics. It was one of the partners calling.

    Me: "Hello Dr. Smith. How are you?"
    Him: "Not well. Our CT is acting up, and the company that supports it wants us to reload the software on the machine and that is a bit out of our comfort level. Think you could send someone out to take care of that for us tonight?"
    Me: "I have something to finish up and I will head that way."
    Him: "Wonderful. Thank you very much. I will let them know you will be on site tonight."

    This CT machine is one that they had just spent $55K on replacing the controller for and the partner flew to pick up the controller in his plane to get. It can't be down or else the doctors are back to x-rays and ultrasounds which cannot always provide the clarity that they need.

    So I get there, he tells me that when they boot the machine and it gets to the OS, everything looks like hieroglyphics. We go take a look and when the BIOS starts loading, there are columns in the display that are flashing off and on. Once it gets to what should be the desktop, everything is completely artifacted and completely illegible.

    So I call the technician that services this machine (with another company. We only service it in regards to how it transmits to the PACS server and networking issues, etc) and tell him. He still wants to try loading the software. I know this is not going to work, but let's see. Same shit is happening in Anaconda, so I stop it before it wipes out the old install. He finally agrees that it is likely a hardware issue. (no shit?) I tell him I will call him back and start disassembling the CT workstation.

    Man, what a cool bit of kit. The controller and the computer tower that control everything are all on this nifty drawer that is exposed when you take off the front of the machine. The tower is just a bog standard HP workstation tower and it has two DVI leads running in to it. So I dive in deeper, undo some straps, open the side of the case, figure out how to remove the video card and it is an AGP Nvidia Quadro card. The fan is seized. I pull out the card, take it to a desk and grab the drill from my vehicle and drill 3 tiny holes in the top of the cooling fan to try to get some oil in there as a bodge fix. No go, the bearings are completely toast.

    Then I go to the server room. There are a few old workstations in there. Obviously there are no AGP Nvidia Quadro cards. But, there are a few CPU cooling fans I can scavenge. They are all huge in comparison, but they should fit in the available space. Off to the admin offices to look through some desks. I find a few heavy duty rubber bands, pull the 2-pin fan header off the board so I can fit the 4-pin plug from the CPU fan. I unscrew the cover plate to expose the entire heatsink, rubber band the 92mm fan to the video card, plug the fan on to the bare header pins. If I were a religious person, this is where I would have prayed. Instead, I just hoped for no smoke. Back to the CT machine, button it all up, put the front cover back on and flip the switch.

    No flashing columns. It POSTs, it boots, it works.

    True shit. Yesterday I fixed a CT machine with a scavenged CPU fan and some rubber bands.

    New video card should be here tomorrow. I will try to remember to take pictures of my bodge fixed video card that temporarily fixed a CT machine that is probably worth more than my house.



  • @Polygeekery said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    We only service it in regards to how it transmits to the PACS server and networking issues

    So, the video card fan is part of networking ? 😉


  • SockDev

    @TimeBandit if it can't connect to the network at all and can't upgrade the networking software because you can't see it, it counts 😛



  • I once received a dead-on-arrival graphics card (GeForce 8800 I think) and the manufacturer refused an RMA because they've never seen a DOA before and didn't believe it possible (undefined). Despite no evidence at all, they were convinced my power supply was actually dead. I knew it wasn't my PSU, and I didn't have a spare, so I actually rigged up a 12V car battery to power the dead graphics card. When it acted exactly the same, I called them back and said I did testing with a different PSU, and they finally issued an RMA. And what do you know, the replacement worked perfectly.



  • @mott555 said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    so I actually rigged up a 12V car battery to power the dead graphics card.

    Good thing there wasn't a short anywhere 😉



  • @mott555 said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    I once received a dead-on-arrival graphics card (GeForce 8800 I think) and the manufacturer refused an RMA because they've never seen a DOA before and didn't believe it possible (undefined). Despite no evidence at all, they were convinced my power supply was actually dead. I knew it wasn't my PSU, and I didn't have a spare, so I actually rigged up a 12V car battery to power the dead graphics card. When it acted exactly the same, I called them back and said I did testing with a different PSU, and they finally issued an RMA. And what do you know, the replacement worked perfectly.

    Could you I dunno, just tell them you tested with a different PSU if you were sure it wasn't the problem?



  • @dangeRuss I was only about 95% sure my PSU wasn't the problem. I can't tell you how many times I've done stupid RMA's because I was "99% sure it's this thing and not that" and been proven wrong.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @TimeBandit said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    So, the video card fan is part of networking ?

    Ha. More correctly, we do whatever they need and if they want to pay $200/hour for us to do shit that we have no fucking clue how to do, we will service the tubes.

    As far as bodging a fan on a video card...I know how to do that. It is a standard HP workstation. There is an aluminum box behind it that does all the rest and it may as well be full of black magic for all I know about it.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @mott555 said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    @dangeRuss I was only about 95% sure my PSU wasn't the problem. I can't tell you how many times I've done stupid RMA's because I was "99% sure it's this thing and not that" and been proven wrong.

    I RMA'ed my first graphics card purchase because my computer didn't recognize it. When the replacement had the same problem, I contacted the computer manufacturer and eventually we figured out that there was a switch in the BIOS to enable use of PCIe graphics cards rather than the on-board.



  • @Polygeekery said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    As far as bodging a fan on a video card

    On one of my previous laptop, the CPU fan stopped working. Of course it was after the warranty expired. Upon inspection, the fan wasn't seized, I could spin it manually without effort.

    I supplied it with 5v, it works. It's the motherboard plug that's not giving it power.

    I welded the power leads on the nearest USB and used that laptop for another year. The only downside was the fan was spinning at full RPM, making it louder.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @TimeBandit said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    On one of my previous laptop, the CPU fan stopped working. Of course it was after the warranty expired. Upon inspection, the fan wasn't seized, I could spin it manually without effort.
    I supplied it with 5v, it works. It's the motherboard plug that's not giving it power.
    I welded the power leads on the nearest USB and used that laptop for another year. The only downside was the fan was spinning at full RPM, making it louder.

    That's a pretty nifty bodge fix. I would have likely thrown it in the trash can. 🙂


  • kills Dumbledore

    The most computer bodging I've done is taking a pair of tin snips to the bits that hold the hard drives in the front, so I could fit the graphics card I bought before realising it was far too big for the case.

    Then again when I replaced the card with an even bigger one



  • I'm jealous of you handy types. If my problem is underneath the software level, I'm basically screwed.



  • I had a wifi hotspot that was unlimited data (supposedly for iDevices, but could be hacked to allow any device).

    My in laws used it as their internet for many years. Eventually the usb charging connector got loose.

    My boss (who's good with hardware stuff) was able to solder it back on, and it worked until that device was no longer supported by the provider.



  • @TimeBandit said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    @Polygeekery said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    As far as bodging a fan on a video card

    On one of my previous laptop, the CPU fan stopped working. Of course it was after the warranty expired. Upon inspection, the fan wasn't seized, I could spin it manually without effort.

    I supplied it with 5v, it works. It's the motherboard plug that's not giving it power.

    I welded the power leads on the nearest USB and used that laptop for another year. The only downside was the fan was spinning at full RPM, making it louder.

    The last time I had a PC like that, back when I was a teenager with no job, I left the side panel off and stuck a box fan next to it.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @dangeRuss said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    My boss (who's good with hardware stuff) was able to solder it back on, and it worked until that device was no longer supported by the provider.

    Sounds like a cool boss.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @mott555 said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    @TimeBandit said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    @Polygeekery said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    As far as bodging a fan on a video card

    On one of my previous laptop, the CPU fan stopped working. Of course it was after the warranty expired. Upon inspection, the fan wasn't seized, I could spin it manually without effort.

    I supplied it with 5v, it works. It's the motherboard plug that's not giving it power.

    I welded the power leads on the nearest USB and used that laptop for another year. The only downside was the fan was spinning at full RPM, making it louder.

    The last time I had a PC like that, back when I was a teenager with no job, I left the side panel off and stuck a box fan next to it.

    "Wait until you see the 700mm fan I have on this bad boy!"



  • @mott555
    BTDT

    i have to take a picture of a coworker laptop. the screen hinge broke, so he bolted a new one outside the frame.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    Why can I not upload a picture from mobile?



  • @Polygeekery Because mobile is different ™


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