What's wrong with this computer??


C

Carbon

I built a computer for a buddy of mine a couple of months ago. It's been
fine but this morning he got an error message saying it couldn't detect
the hard drive. There was a fairly large lightning storm last night. Buddy
says he had the computer (including his modem) on during the storm but
that it was hooked up to a UPS. Afterward he was only able to get online
for 15 seconds or so before losing the connection. Then this morning it
wouldn't boot at all. Is it possible for the modem or PS or motherboard to
get smoked even if hooked up to a UPS?

What do you experts think is wrong? What's the best way for me to
determine which part(s) is bad?

Parts list:

Antec SLK2650-BQE Black Steel ATX Computer Case 350W Power Supply

Foxconn NF4UK8AA-8EKRS Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra ATX AMD Motherboard

AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Winchester 1GHz FSB Socket 939 Processor Model
ADA3000BIBOX - Retail

GIGABYTE GV-RX30128D Radeon X300 128MB DDR PCI Express x16 Video Card

mushkin Value 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200)
Unbuffered Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model 991145

Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 SATA NCQ ST3120827AS 120GB 7200 RPM Serial ATA150
Hard Drive - OEM

US Robotics 2976 56Kbps Data/Fax/Voice Modem - OEM

SAMSUNG Black IDE DVD Burner Model TS-H552U/BEBN BLK - OEM
 
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S

spodosaurus

Carbon said:
I built a computer for a buddy of mine a couple of months ago. It's been
fine but this morning he got an error message saying it couldn't detect
the hard drive. There was a fairly large lightning storm last night. Buddy
says he had the computer (including his modem) on during the storm but
that it was hooked up to a UPS. Afterward he was only able to get online
for 15 seconds or so before losing the connection. Then this morning it
wouldn't boot at all. Is it possible for the modem or PS or motherboard to
get smoked even if hooked up to a UPS?

Of course. A UPS is not going to stop a lightning strike!




--
spammage trappage: replace fishies_ with yahoo

I'm going to die rather sooner than I'd like. I tried to protect my
neighbours from crime, and became the victim of it. Complications in
hospital following this resulted in a serious illness. I now need a bone
marrow transplant. Many people around the world are waiting for a marrow
transplant, too. Please volunteer to be a marrow donor:
http://www.abmdr.org.au/
http://www.marrow.org/
 
1

~1Alex~

I thought that's one of the things they were supposed to do because they put
a transformer between the computer and the power souce. When the shit hits
the fan, the transromer is supposed to take the heat and get smoked sparing
the computer. Am I wrong about that?
 
S

spodosaurus

~1Alex~ said:
I thought that's one of the things they were supposed to do because they put
a transformer between the computer and the power souce. When the shit hits
the fan, the transromer is supposed to take the heat and get smoked sparing
the computer. Am I wrong about that?

Try it for yourself with your equipment :) The UPS can provide some
measure of power conditioning but it will not stop a lightning strike -
it will however permit that strike to fry everything connected to it.


--
spammage trappage: replace fishies_ with yahoo

I'm going to die rather sooner than I'd like. I tried to protect my
neighbours from crime, and became the victim of it. Complications in
hospital following this resulted in a serious illness. I now need a bone
marrow transplant. Many people around the world are waiting for a marrow
transplant, too. Please volunteer to be a marrow donor:
http://www.abmdr.org.au/
http://www.marrow.org/
 
W

w_tom

UPS connects computer direct to AC mains when UPS is not in
battery backup mode. Any protection circuits inside the UPS
are same protection circuits inside power strip protectors.
Neither claim top protect from the type of transient that
typically damages electronics.

You have describes what could be overstress. A transient
was small. Only enough to overstress electronics which then
suffer from accelerated deterioration.

The only effective protector is one that makes a short (ie
'less than 10 foot') connection to a single point earth
ground. Ineffective protectors such as power strips avoid
mentioning earthing to make excessively profitable sales.

To find damage, look for items that could have made a path
from the lightning cloud to earth ground. One typical item is
the modem. Incoming on AC electric black (hot) wire. Shunted
to safety ground (green) wire by the UPS. Enters computer on
green wire, through motherboard, through modem, then out to
earth ground via phone line.

For example, RAM would not be damaged. RAM has an incoming
path from motherboard, but no outgoing path. Therefore no
damage. Electrical circuit through electronics is how
lightning would damage or overstress electronics.

The phone line has 'whole house' protectors installed by the
telco for free. That would be the path from telephone line to
earth ground. The long term solution is to put a 'whole
house' protector (properly earthed) on AC electric. Protector
costs about $1 per protected appliance.

Meanwhile, information for symptoms is first required.
Information from the system (event) log. Report from Device
Manager. Execute diagnostics from component manufacturer or
third party diagnostics (ie Memtst, Hyperterminal, etc) to
obtain a list of suspect components.
 
J

JAD

I think...for the obvious.... He should (AND HAS) learn(ed) not to have his
system running(and connected?!) during a local storm.
There are very few things that will save equipment during a lightning
strike(close or direct) and a UPS is not one of them unless stated as such
and paid big for.( and house wiring properly installed)
 
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1

~1Alex~

thanks for clearing that up for me. looks like
the wages of ingnorance is fried systems.
 
C

Carbon

I built a computer for a buddy of mine a couple of months ago. It's been
fine but this morning he got an error message saying it couldn't detect
the hard drive. There was a fairly large lightning storm last night.
Buddy says he had the computer (including his modem) on during the storm
but that it was hooked up to a UPS. Afterward he was only able to get
online for 15 seconds or so before losing the connection. Then this
morning it wouldn't boot at all. Is it possible for the modem or PS or
motherboard to get smoked even if hooked up to a UPS?

What do you experts think is wrong? What's the best way for me to
determine which part(s) is bad?

Thanks for your advice so far. Assuming it is a lightning strike I'm
wondering the best way to determine which parts have failed. It could be
the PS, the motherboard, the CPU, the hard drive.

I have a spare PS I can swap in, but my guess is either the motherboard or
the CPU. I don't have a spare socket 939 board or CPU.
 
D

David Maynard

w_tom said:
UPS connects computer direct to AC mains when UPS is not in
battery backup mode. Any protection circuits inside the UPS
are same protection circuits inside power strip protectors.
Neither claim top protect from the type of transient that
typically damages electronics.

That's true of the typical low cost 'UPS' systems, which are really standby
power systems, but not true of UPS in general.
You have describes what could be overstress. A transient
was small. Only enough to overstress electronics which then
suffer from accelerated deterioration.

The only effective protector is one that makes a short (ie
'less than 10 foot') connection to a single point earth
ground. Ineffective protectors such as power strips avoid
mentioning earthing to make excessively profitable sales.

Nonsense.

And we're still waiting for the explanation of how aircraft manage the
magical "10 foot ground wire" for their electrical systems.
To find damage, look for items that could have made a path
from the lightning cloud to earth ground. One typical item is
the modem. Incoming on AC electric black (hot) wire. Shunted
to safety ground (green) wire by the UPS. Enters computer on
green wire, through motherboard, through modem, then out to
earth ground via phone line.

For example, RAM would not be damaged. RAM has an incoming
path from motherboard, but no outgoing path. Therefore no
damage. Electrical circuit through electronics is how
lightning would damage or overstress electronics.

The phone line has 'whole house' protectors installed by the
telco for free. That would be the path from telephone line to
earth ground. The long term solution is to put a 'whole
house' protector (properly earthed) on AC electric. Protector
costs about $1 per protected appliance.

Great. I want to protect 1 device so tell me where I can get one of those
$1 whole house protectors.
 
W

w_tom

Follow the path that lightning would have taken to obtain
earth ground. Power supply contains galvanic isolation good
for up to 2000 volts. Listed previously was but one example
that makes an easier path.

Meanwhile symptoms from Event log, Device Manager, and
manufacturer diagnostics go farther and faster to eliminating
most speculations. Speculate is all anyone can do without
those always first required facts.

We know that an adjacent UPS (not to be confused with a
building wide UPS) provides the transient with virtually every
wire into a computer. We know that outgoing paths to earth
ground include phone line, wire draped behind computer on
baseboard heat, linoleum tile, or concrete floor. These
would be but a few of numerous possible incoming or outgoing
paths.

Generally disk drives do not have both an incoming and
outgoing path. But then how drive is connected physically and
electrically can change those possible electrical circuits.

Motherboard, if properly mounted, has a single connection
from motherboard DC ground to chassis safety ground. Multiple
connections could create other transient conductive paths.

Normally, a transient finds earth ground, destructively,
through modem via the motherboard and modem DC ground. This
path often causes damage on modem's DAA circuit (phone line
side) - ie off hook relay's driver transistor. But if some
unique connection permit the transient to find modem via the
PCI bus, the PCI control electronics for that slot may be
damaged.

Power supply is rarely damaged. Others claimed a
(nonexistent) UPS transformer provides protection. Well,
properly designed power supply already has transformer
isolation, other galvanic isolation, and in-line filters. Any
protection that was going to work on power line is already
inside that power supply. However, transient finds
destructive paths bypassing the power supply; as described
earlier.

Meanwhile, power supply integrity is confirmed in less than
two minutes using a 3.5 digit multimeter. No faster way, no
time wasted, and no money wasting by swapping parts.

Provided in a previous post was first information that
should be provided. Otherwise we must write chapters on what
could and might not have failed.
 
D

DaveW

A lightening hit WILL fry the system, regardless of what protection you have
the system plugged into. If you use a good surge supressor (NOT a UPS) that
comes with a lightening guarantee, AND you've saved the receipt then you can
file a claim to have them replace your surge supressor and computer.
 
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J

John Doe

troll

w_tom said:
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Follow the path that lightning would have taken to obtain
earth ground. Power supply contains galvanic isolation good
for up to 2000 volts. Listed previously was but one example
that makes an easier path.

Meanwhile symptoms from Event log, Device Manager, and
manufacturer diagnostics go farther and faster to eliminating
most speculations. Speculate is all anyone can do without
those always first required facts.

We know that an adjacent UPS (not to be confused with a
building wide UPS) provides the transient with virtually every
wire into a computer. We know that outgoing paths to earth
ground include phone line, wire draped behind computer on
baseboard heat, linoleum tile, or concrete floor. These
would be but a few of numerous possible incoming or outgoing
paths.

Generally disk drives do not have both an incoming and
outgoing path. But then how drive is connected physically and
electrically can change those possible electrical circuits.

Motherboard, if properly mounted, has a single connection
from motherboard DC ground to chassis safety ground. Multiple
connections could create other transient conductive paths.

Normally, a transient finds earth ground, destructively,
through modem via the motherboard and modem DC ground. This
path often causes damage on modem's DAA circuit (phone line
side) - ie off hook relay's driver transistor. But if some
unique connection permit the transient to find modem via the
PCI bus, the PCI control electronics for that slot may be
damaged.

Power supply is rarely damaged. Others claimed a
(nonexistent) UPS transformer provides protection. Well,
properly designed power supply already has transformer
isolation, other galvanic isolation, and in-line filters. Any
protection that was going to work on power line is already
inside that power supply. However, transient finds
destructive paths bypassing the power supply; as described
earlier.

Meanwhile, power supply integrity is confirmed in less than
two minutes using a 3.5 digit multimeter. No faster way, no
time wasted, and no money wasting by swapping parts.

Provided in a previous post was first information that
should be provided. Otherwise we must write chapters on what
could and might not have failed.
Thanks for your advice so far. Assuming it is a lightning strike I'm
wondering the best way to determine which parts have failed. It
could be the PS, the motherboard, the CPU, the hard drive.

I have a spare PS I can swap in, but my guess is either the
motherboard or the CPU. I don't have a spare socket 939 board or CPU.
 
F

fj

First, you can look at each of the components. After my lightning hit, I
could see scorch marks on the MB and under the CPU. I knew the PSU was gone
because it wouldn't even try to start. The hard drive and CDRW that died
didn't show any visible marks. [Only the video adapter and the second hard
drive survived]

The best way to test any components that don't show visible signs is to try
them out in a known good system. Recognizing that the component might be
damaged in a way that it might damage a working system.

Of course, another method would be to start replacing components one at a
time with known good ones until [if] the system ever runs. The order I
would try would be:
PSU -> MB -> Memory/CPU -> PCI cards -> Drives.
 
L

Loan Shark

If the modem line is not protected by some type of surge protector, it is as
likely that a lighting strike to a nearby phone line caused your buddy's
problem whether he was online or not.. Start checking by popping the out the
modem and trying it in another computer. If it still works, you might then
try another power supply in the computer first to see if the system powers
up, however in either case, it is likely that at least your buddy's
motherboard is toasted.
 
G

Guest

David said:
w_tom wrote:

Nonsense.

Even Consumer Reports' electrical electrical engineers thought plug-in
protectors helped, and every bill for my home insurance includes a
brochure advocating the use of plug-in and whole house surge protectors
and arc fault detectors.
 
G

Guest

Carbon said:
I built a computer for a buddy of mine a couple of months
ago. It's been fine but this morning he got an error message
saying it couldn't detect the hard drive. There was a fairly
large lightning storm last night. Buddy says he had the
computer (including his modem) on during the storm but that
it was hooked up to a UPS. Afterward he was only able to get
online for 15 seconds or so before losing the connection.
Then this morning it wouldn't boot at all. Is it possible
for the modem or PS or motherboard to get smoked even if
hooked up to a UPS?

You start looking where the computer is connected to the outside world
-- power supply, surge protector, modem, any peripherals connected to
the outside world (their power cords). Inspect everything for burned
or ruptured parts, and don't continue using anything that has them,
especially ruptured capacitors, since they filter out voltage spikes
generated by the equipment itself and not only improve reliability but
also prevent chips from damaging one another. Both sides of each
circuit board should be checked, including the board inside the power
supply.

The US Robotics modem may have a 5-year or even lifetime warranty.

Good grounds, plug-in surge protectors (including for modem, DSL, or
cable) and a whole house surge protector improve the odds against
suffering damage. If your house is old, the phone company's surge
protection may consist of just a couple of neon bulbs, and a more
modern protector based on MOVs will be much better.
 
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D

David Maynard

Even Consumer Reports' electrical electrical engineers thought plug-in
protectors helped, and every bill for my home insurance includes a
brochure advocating the use of plug-in and whole house surge protectors
and arc fault detectors.

Of course they do. What w_tom does is takes snippets of electrical
principles and then misapply them.

Electronic devices won't be damaged if no damaging potential occurs across
them (the airplane example) so the task is to figure out how to prevent
that from occurring.

The whole house protector attempts it by shunting the potential to ground
but it's location presents some problems. For one, since it's at the entry
point it must deal with huge currents and that's the reason for his "10
foot" earth reference. But all wires have resistance, capacitance, and
inductance, even his '10 foot' earth ground, as do surge devices and
'earth' itself. The upshot of this is that transients, albeit greatly
reduced, can get past the whole house protector.

Whole house protectors also don't protect very well from transients
generated by devices *in* the home environment because, while his '10 foot
earth' at the entry point may have a relatively low
resistance/inductance/capacitance, the wires from, say, the backyard pool
pump motor all the way back to the entry point don't. So the potential at
the entry point may be wonderfully clamped to ground with high voltage
transients all over the interior.

A protector at the device itself can take care of those.

What if there isn't a whole house protector and only local protectors on
the device itself? They still work (if done properly).

w_tom is fixated on the length of the earth ground because he's fixated on
the whole house protector but, remember, it isn't being at 'earth
potential' that protects the device, it's if there is no damaging potential
*across* it and local protectors work by clamping the wires *at the device*
together. There's no potential difference.

The whole house protector *must* use 'ground' as the reference point
because it's trying to protect the 'whole house' but that's not the case
with the local protector. It makes no difference that the earth wire has
resistance because, from the perspective of protecting the device, it
doesn't care what potential is on it's 'earth terminal' as long as none of
the other wires are excessively different from it, and each other. And
since the local protector is clamping them together *at the device* there
isn't. The whole thing may 'jump' above earth ground, because of the earth
wire resistance, but they all 'jump' together, forced to by the protection
clamp, so there is no damaging potential across the device.

Btw, the whole house protector 'jumps' above ground too, as does the house,
it's just a matter of how far: the reason for the "10 foot" earth wire.

Ironically, the very thing w_tom claims is the major 'problem' with local
protectors is what makes them work. Specifically, wire resistance. As he
correctly notes, the amount of energy they can handle is a lot lower than a
whole house protector but the wire resistance from the entry point to the
interior limits the current into them. They simply do not have to deal with
the huge currents the whole house protector does so comparing them to one
is simply nonsense. Current limiting, btw, is not unique to the local
protectors. The whole house protector depends on the power company wiring
to limit the surge current into it as well.

Now, since the local protectors will work (assuming properly sized, wired,
and sufficient wiring resistance) why have a whole house protector? Well,
for one, you generally don't put local protectors on everything in the
house but I also said "from the perspective of protecting the device" and
there's another perspective: protecting the people. That 'jump' above earth
is irrelevant to the protected device but it isn't irrelevant to someone
who might be near, or touching, it. Hopefully, the whole house earth
protection shunts the huge currents and then the local protector shunts the
remaining so that things remain at a safe potential for the human inhabitants.

In practice, the power company is supposed to already provide a 'safety'
protector at their entry point, marginal at best, so the additional whole
house protector then further limits the surge so 'robust' devices will
likely survive, with that alone, and the interior protectors, on more
sensitive things, have less to deal with and so are more likely to survive.

So it's a protection *system*, not one device, with multiple methodologies,
considerations, and goals.

The biggest problem with local protection is that people don't connect them
correctly and, in particular, don't protect all the wires. E.g. a clamp on
the power might work fine but if you don't have the modem phone line
connection clamped to it as well then you haven't clamped all the wires
going in and out. And the same applies to the connected monitor, printer,
cable modem, etc. They should all be on the same local protector. Multiple
protectors, especially into different outlets, may not protect because of
the possibility they may each 'jump' differently during a surge.

Using local protection alone becomes progressively more difficult as the
system complexity increases because you can end up with connected devices
separated by significant distances, like with a local LAN, so that the
earth 'jump', that was irrelevant to the local device, becomes a problem
again. E.g. A computer on one end of the LAN 'jumps' relative to the other
end and now you have a potential difference. A whole house protector
reduces that problem because it reduces the magnitude of the surge
penetrating on into the interior and so reduces the 'jump' through the
local protector's earth ground.

As distances increase even more you can't depend on 'earth' being at the
same potential either but we have to stop somewhere ;)

There's no 'magic' one thing and that's why responsible engineers will
recommend both whole house protection and local protectors on sensitive
equipment.
 
S

spodosaurus

David Maynard wrote:

<snip>

I love you David. If only one of us were a woman! hehehe


--
spammage trappage: replace fishies_ with yahoo

I'm going to die rather sooner than I'd like. I tried to protect my
neighbours from crime, and became the victim of it. Complications in
hospital following this resulted in a serious illness. I now need a bone
marrow transplant. Many people around the world are waiting for a marrow
transplant, too. Please volunteer to be a marrow donor:
http://www.abmdr.org.au/
http://www.marrow.org/
 
D

David Maynard

spodosaurus said:
David Maynard wrote:

<snip>

I love you David. If only one of us were a woman! hehehe

Talking surge protectors really does it for you, eh? hehe
 
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S

spodosaurus

David said:
Talking surge protectors really does it for you, eh? hehe

It gets my electrons spinning :)

--
spammage trappage: replace fishies_ with yahoo

I'm going to die rather sooner than I'd like. I tried to protect my
neighbours from crime, and became the victim of it. Complications in
hospital following this resulted in a serious illness. I now need a bone
marrow transplant. Many people around the world are waiting for a marrow
transplant, too. Please volunteer to be a marrow donor:
http://www.abmdr.org.au/
http://www.marrow.org/
 

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