Power Supply Frankenputering

We had a power fail at the house this morning, probably a squirrel somewhere he should not have been. It’s an easy fix for OG&E, just push the big breaker bar back into position. We were down for about three hours.

Everything in the house came up OK, except for the Dell desktop Raegan uses. I pulled it out and opened it up, the power supply was clearly fried. I went looking here in the house for power supply (I keep a few spares for school computers that fail), and the first thing I noticed was the ATX power connection was… too… short. By four pins.

Clearly, someone upgraded when I wasn’t looking.

I went online and found that the ATX 24-pin connector was the new standard. Hmmmm. I knew that none of the school computers supported that. Then I cast an eye on a computer a work buddy of mine had donated a couple weeks ago, that I hadn’t taken to school yet; it looked kinda new. I opened it up; the first thing I noticed was the hard drive was missing. The second thing was that it indeed had a 24-pin ATX power connector. The power supply, though, had an odd 20-pin connector plug with a four-pin outrigger plug; two physically separate connectors.

I pulled the ATX-24 spec sheet, and then fired that sucker up in bench mode and checked all the leads with my meter; they were right in line with what the spec sheet said they were supposed to be. I got it into her computer, and it powered up to the BIOS screen just fine. So far, so good.

Except… (there’s always one of those). Her drives (a 1TB and a 500GB) are SATA drives. The SATA power cables could connect to one drive, but didn’t have the length to connect to both.

I went back to the dead power supply and cut the SATA connectors from it, and the grafted that into one of the cable bundles in the new power supply. A little solder, a little electrical tape, some strain relief, and she was back in business. The grafted cable went to the two SATA drives, and the one of the other cables that had a PATA power connector went to the DVD drive.

It all powered up and is working fine now. It could have been worse.

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