Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2004-03-31
  Another hardware meltdown
After being dragged out of bed at an awfully early time (if Boohbahs are still on, its too early), I headed downstairs to get an early start on work. However, when I got to my desk, things were too quiet. It wasn't perfectly quiet, just less noisy than usual. My win desktop machine was off.

After determining that there hadn't been a power outage and that all my other computers were functioning still, I set out to figure out what was wrong with the Kayak. It had a yellow light on (whatever that means), and wouldn't power up when I hit the power button. So, I un-plugged it and then plugged it back on. That got me some weird blurps from the internal speaker, two chirps, and then a flashing red light. Ok, so its not happy.

First step, pull out recently installed hardware: the bad pioneer CDR drive and Adaptec SCSI card. Not much hope here, but what the heck. Try again. no change. Hmmm, that's annoying. Time to take a break and get some breakfast.

Now one thing I've learned over the years it that working on hardware is much harder when something like this has happened. Even if its a different machine, my patience is gone, and I'm likely to take shortcuts (and break things), or get further frustrated when something doesn't fit or work. That in mind, I set about pulling the hard drives out so that I could put them into my IBM xServer and have access to the data. There wasn't much that I didn't have replicated in other locations, but there were a few files that it would be inconvenient not to have.

In the Kayak case, the hard drives look like they should come out without tools, but they actually snap into brackets and you can't get access to the releases without unbolting the entire front end of the computer. I suppose you could probably add a hard drive without tools, but who would ever want to remove one... Tools in hand, I disassembled the entire front of the machine and extracted the hard drives. Looking over at the cover afterwards, it turns out there are directions, and not every fastener has to be removed. Too bad.

Open up the xServer which is truly a tool-less chassis (pull one lever and the side panel comes right off), and take a look around. Plenty of room for two more hard drives ever since my dual 15,000 RPM SCSI RAID 0 array ate itself. Stick the IDE in, and then the SCSI. Of course I'm too lazy to put the drive sleds on the IDE drive, but for some reason I put some on the SCSI. Bend one of the pins the first time (hurrying too much), so then I'm sitting there with pliers and a knife trying to push the pin back into place. Why not leave it? Because its touching the pin next to it, probably not a good idea. Straighten it out and plug it in again (more carefully). I probably should have used another connector, but what the hey. What's the worst thing that could happen. The pin could break off and be stuck in the drive socket? Hush.

Power the server up:
Boot partition not found.

Ok, so that's worse. Start trying different things: mess around with the scsi card settings and unplug the new drives in different combinations. Its always a good idea to mess with settings you don't understand when things aren't working and you're frustrated. Unplug the SCSI drive, no change. Unplug the IDE drive. Also notice that the old SCSI boot drive is sitting on a metal ledge which is shorting out all of its pins along the front of the circuit board. Maybe that's not such a good thing. Stick some cardboard under the drive and it boots up ok. Shutdown and plug in the SCSI drive. It still works. Ok, lets stick with this for a minute and get some data off of it.

Ok, so I've backed up everything of interest on that drive to my laptop, and I'll leave the server up for the time being. It was only a 6GB drive, so its not much trouble to replicate. The IDE drive is 80GB so there's not much hope backing it up. The server already had a 120GB drive, but I think there's less than 20GB free on it. Too many videos from my DV camera and years of accumulated artwork/animations/data.

Just for fun, dig around on the net for beep code errors. Find some data here, but nothing for two warbles, and then two beeps. Try booting the machine again just to verify, but now it won't even power cycle at all. When I plug in the power cord it shows a yellow light and I get a very high frequency whine from the power supply. Try unplugging the power to the motherboard. Still get the whine, just no yellow light now. Wonder how much a replacement would be. Check the HP parts store for an 0950-3959: Part Not Orderable, oh that's just great. Looks like I'll be ordering a IBM workstation off of ubid sometime.

 
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