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Lost neutral, computer dead


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#1
Jalon7

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I have an e-machine T-4510. I had several trees cut in my backyard and branches fell breaking the neutral line coming into my house. An electrician friend of mine told me it could cause a spike in one leg of the hot lines.
And as luck would have it I went to use my computer and it turned on, let me sign in, pulled up my desktop and seemed to freeze for a moment before it just died completely.
I assumed that I had fried my power supply so I bought an ATX-300-12E replacement power supply. After hooking it up my computer turned on, booted up, let me sign in and pulled up my desktop. A balloon popped up asking me to delete any unused icons. I clicked the x in the corner to cancel it and my computer went dead. Seemed very similar to the way it did the first time it died.
Is there something else that could have been damaged?
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#2
Bartender

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Jalon -
I'm just taking a coupla wild guesses here, but it seems we need to start eliminating possibilities. Could you try starting the PC up, but this time don't touch a thing. Let it get to the Windows desktop (or wherever it ends up) and just watch the thing to see what happens.
The other goofy thought I had was replacing your mouse and keyboard with a coupla plain old PS2 input devices and see if that makes a difference.
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#3
Jalon7

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Thanks for reply. It will not do anything now. The power switch will not light up or anything.
Also, when I put in the new power supply I just slipped the main tower in the place of my other computer tower (the one I'm using right now actually) utilizing all of its stuff (mouse, keyboard etc..)
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#4
Bartender

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Jalon -
I'm not coming up with much. Hard to diagnose a PC that doesn't do anything! Um - about the only thing we can do is take the PC apart and try to figger out what's fried. I'm assuming something is fried. One thing I'm a little worried about, but I don't know if this is even possible or not...if the motherboard is toast, is it possible to keep killing power supplies (PSU) by hooking new ones up to it?

I'd pull the PSU and either connect it to another PC with the same power connections or find someone with a PSU tester. Find out if the PSU is working.

If the PSU was operational, I'd probly disassemble the PC and take a close look at the motherboard for visible damage. If none obvious, I'd follow some of the directions that have been posted for setting up a basic PC out of the case - just one stick of RAM, mouse, keyboard, CPU & heatsink, onboard video (if you have that), all set up on a piece of cardboard or wood or some other non-conductive surface. Not even a HDD. Se eif the thing will post. If not, then it's probly looking like a dead motherboard but don't take my word on that...
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#5
Bartender

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Another thing - if you do disassemble the PC, take lots of pictures or draw yourself some maps so that you do NOT lose track of all those pesky wires coming off the motherboard. Make sure you could reassemble without getting the wires backwards.

Especially map out that gang of wires coming from the front bezel of the PC case (power switch, HDD LED, power LED, reset button, etc.) to the pinset on the motherboard.
Identify the 2 wires coming from the power switch and which pins they connect to. You'll want to use those pins. I'll explain.

If you disassemble the PC and try an out-of-the-case build, try to start the PC by momentarily touching the 2 pins that the power switch connected to with a small screwdriver. You want to short these 2 pins for just a second. That's all that happens when you push the power on button. The power button closes a circuit between those two pins when it's pushed in.
I mention this because there's an outside possibility that your power switch could be bad. Shorting those 2 pins is a way to bypass the power switch.

The motherboard will function without any of those wires from the front of the case connected. As long as you remember which two to short in order to start the PC!
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#6
Jalon7

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Hey Bartender! I appreciate your steering me the right directions. I know I have given the classic lack of coherent information. You seem to be right on the mark so far as I can tell. I can put the PSU into another e-machine to see. My first fear when this power supply started up and died was just what you mentioned, I feared something else may be blowing my PSU. I had put all my hope in the fact that all I needed was a new power supply.
The part you mentioned about the front switch does seem to be possible. when I first went to turn it back on after putting in new PSU the light around the switch button flickered when I held it in for several moments until I pushed it a couple more times and it did turn on the computer. It has not done a thing since it died this last time.
If my mother board is bad will I be able to get my programs and info off of my computer? I know that may be a stupid question but I am at the point of desperation due to procrastination. I have an extension to file my federal income taxes which ends on Oct. 15. All of my past Turbo Tax records along with the rest of my life are on that computer. I know, I know, backup your work. I really just don't know how that is done. It wont fit on a CD. Thanks for your help.
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#7
Bartender

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If you suspect the power button, try shorting it right where you are. Don't disassemble the PC, just follow the wires back from the power button, identify the 2 pins that it plugs into, draw a picture or take a photo or whatever you need to do so that you can put it back the way it was. Then remove the power button wires from their pins. With the PC all plugged in and ready to go, reach in there with a little screwdriver or some other metallic instrument and short those two pins for a half second. Electricians often wrap their screwdrivers with electrical tape so that only the last half inch is exposed. I mention that because sticking a screwdriver into your PC is not exactly a risk-free proposition. You don't want to touch anything but those two little pins!

If the PC doesn't jump to life, or does exactly the same thing as it did when you pushed the power button, then you might as well put the power button wires back on and assume that the problem is deeper.

I was hoping someone else would pipe up and tell us whether it's possible to keep destroying power supplies by hooking them up to a ruined motherboard. Darnit.

Anyways, your data is kept on the HDD. Completely independent from the motherboard. Problem is you can't just put a new motherboard and parts underneath a HDD that was set up for another system. Not without a lot of screwing around, anyway. This is a drivers issue. Too complicated to go into right now.

Your best bet for retrieving data at this point is to take out your HDD (let's call the one from the damaged PC HDD A) and plug it into another PC as a slave. If your HDD A is a PATA HDD, the kind that plugs into the wide ribbon cable, then you'll probably want to plug it into the 2nd IDE bus and ribbon cable.

Jeez, where do I start? What I'm proposing is not a terribly difficult project, but the IDE interface has always caused confusion because you have to put the device on the proper clip (each IDE bus can support 2 devices, so IDE cables generally have 2 clips on them) and you have to understand how to set up the little jumpers on the back of your HDD's and optical drives so that the IDE bus properly identifies them as the primary and secondary devices.

Your HDD A (from the damaged PC) will be jumpered as the primary in the old system. The simplest thing I can think of is this:
1. - Open up your working PC. Identify the #1 IDE bus on the motherboard (or "plug" if you will - the plug that the ribbon cable is connected to). The #1 IDE bus will have the HDD plugged into it. There's also (almost always) some sort of label silk-screened onto the motherboard itself, identifying IDE #1 and IDE #2. If the working PC has an optical drive, that drive should be on a separate IDE cable, plugged into the #2 IDE bus. That's how it SHOULD be, but sometimes manufacturers cut corners and put the optical drive on the #1 IDE cable, jumpered as the slave.
2. - Lift HDD A out of the non-functional PC as a unit. Disconnect the ribbon cable at the motherboard, not the back of the HDD. That's the surest way I can think of to be confident that HDD A is jumpered correctly, and on the right IDE ribbon cable clip. Before removing it, make absolutely sure you draw another map, showing which way the ribbon cable is oriented. There's always a colored stripe marking the #1 pin. Most IDE cables are keyed, but some aren't, and we don't want you to lose track of how it was plugged in.
3. - OK, back to the operating PC. If there's a ribbon cable plugged into the #2 IDE bus, draw another map showing how that one is oriented. By that I mean, make a little map showing whether the colored stripe on the ribbon cable is facing up or down. You must make sure that you know where the #1 pin is. Then unplug it. You don't have to remove the optical drive from the PC, just get the ribbon cable out of the way.
4. - Plug HDD A into the #2 IDE bus. Make sure you plug it in so the colored side of the cable corresponds to the #1 pin. Find a power plug for the HDD, either by grabbing a loose one or borrowing it from the optical drive if necessary. Set HDD A on a piece of cardboard or a box or whatever so that it doesn't get dropped or jolted. It doesn't have to be screwed into the PC case as long as you have it securely parked on something non-conductive. *One comment: keep an eye on this drive if you end up having the PC on for hours. It might get hot without air moving around it. You may need to set up a small room fan blowing on it.*
5. - Start the PC. Your BIOS should automatically detect the second HDD, but the PC will not try to boot from it. The PC will boot to Windows from the original drive, NOT HDD A. If you can tell by putting a finger on it or placing your ear next to it, see if HDD A spun up when the PC started. If all goes well, the operating PC will see HDD A as another drive, and if you go into Windows Explorer you should be able to explore HDD A, copy files from it back to the first HDD or to a thumb drive, or whatever you want to do.

EDIT: You'll be able to copy files, such as Word documents or mp3's or your TurboTax data. Programs are a different story. Programs intertwine themselves into the system, and you can't just copy the program folder. If we can't get the original PC working you'll have to try loading TurboTax to the second PC, then opening your saved data.

It's also possible to plug your HDD A into the operational PC and have the optical disc too. But that would entail more screwing around with master and slave and positions on the IDE cable & it'd just get way too complicated. If you google around some I'm sure you can find some pictures of IDE ribbon cables and how to set devices up as master and slave.

I tried to read all the above and I got confused :whistling: You may just have to get a friend over there to help you move HDD A over to the other PC. Or maybe someone's posted a much better guide (with pictures) on the web somewhere!

Edited by Bartender, 15 September 2006 - 05:49 PM.

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#8
Jalon7

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Actually, as I read I thought I was catching on pretty well, then I realized I didn't understand ( or rmember what you told me to start with...lol.
Seriously, though, I appreciate your diligence very much. I will print your instructions out and take it step by step. It may take me all weekend to get to this as time permits.
I'll post back when I get to the bottom of this to let you know what the outcome is.

Thank You.
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#9
Saracen

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Just an added though - have you checked the reset switch is not faulty or stuck in thats causing the error
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