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Hello, World! :D - Robert B's PC builds - oogle away freely :) - OLD Hardware Emporium

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Back in saddle! Shakedown - At Night (Kid Creme Funksta mix)

Yamaha CRW8824E - The FANtastic ODD

What if I told you that an Optical Disk Drive that had an active cooling fan existed? For sure, some of you might say that I'm off the rails but I'm really speaking the truth. The people from Yamaha did this back in the day. Meet the Yamaha CRW8824E CD Writer unit, a marvelous piece of tech, a treat to work on.

I found this ODD quite recently. My eyes popped out and I grabbed the beauty from the bottom of the cardboard box where it sat silently. Upon closer inspection I found out that it is the IDE variant. Fact mentioned clearly on the back of the unit by a nice glossy black sticker.

This puppy oozed quality and immediately made me think if it really was profitable to manufacture such a nice unit. Who knows?



TAKE ME HOME! And take it I DID! Check out the miniature fan on the back. Something out of the ordinary for sure, at least for me. It never ceases to amaze me to see the evolution of tech from the early '90s to the late 2000s. I'm always caught off guard by what I find at the flea market, stuff that I never even knew existed. For instance, last Sunday I found an Intel RC440BX, the 3PCI 1 ISA version, damn I like that board. It begs for a nice V2 SLI action in a small unassuming case.



I asked politely the ODD to stick out its tongue to see if it was healthy or not. All was ok. Stuff that can be sorted in a blink of an eye.



To open the unit, you first have to remove two sets of screws on the back. One set holds the metal case, top and bottom, together and the second set holds the PCB to the bottom metal plate. In a normal unit the PCB is held by a set of plastic clips. The Yamaha people took this to the extreme, screws and a PCB that had to be warped a little to be taken out of the fixing slots in the black plastic frame from inside.

The bottom metal plate is made from high quality metal and it is quite heavy and thick. Notice the metal slots that act as vents to get air inside the unit or to equalize the pressure inside when a disk is spinning inside. I don't know the actual function of these slots and I just assume their role.



Boys we are IN! Yamaha YX581.



To remove the front bezel (the tray must be ejected) as there weren't any clips visible on the outside, after I removed the bottom metal plate I tried to unclip two white plastic retainers that were present on the inside but that proved difficult, so I backed off and tried to find an alternative.



I went on to remove the top metal shroud and I was greeted by another "quirk". On a "normal" read low cost unit, the top metal shroud comes off quite easily after you remove the screws, on the Yamaha you also have to unclip two black plastic clips on the sides.



Once I was inside I found the solution to the removal of the front bezel. Just two elegant plastic clips on the sides. Frigging slick I must say.



When I remove any part from anything that I want to clean or restore I always use a marker to pinpoint the exact position from where it came. A trivial aspect for some, paramount for me. What is left for me to do is to also put the same screws in the same exact orientation and position too, but I'm not there yet. :D



To remove the tray you must lift a small plastic clip. Be gentle. You really don't want to break it off. Unless you want some UT Ripper action when you eject a disk.



Check out the inside of the unit. No rubber belt in sight, just sprockets everywhere. I LIKE IT!!! RoboCop - I Like It



This must be the most beautiful laser head assembly that I saw to date.



Sprockets everywhere.



I must say that I am a FAN of your work. Do tell! :D SHICOH ICFAN 2510-5L DC 5V 0.09A. A 2.5cm mini precision cooling fan. KAWAII!



Always take pictures of every cable, connection or any other detail as you never know when you might need it.



The PCB in al its glory. Look at the IC density on square cm. Damn!



While I was taking apart the unit, after I removed the ribbon cable from the PCB, when I flipped the black plastic frame I was amazed to see that the laser head moved smoothly on the rails just from gravity alone like it was on ice. This is the smoothest action I registered after I worked on 25+ ODDs over the years.

Such a nice unit. All ribbon cables beautifully routed and held down with tape or even small plastic removable clips. Damn!



The fan was a little dusty and at first I tried to clean it without taking it apart but that was a solid NO GO.



A closer inspection of the front bezel was a confirmation of the fact the the plastic retainers weren't the good route to remove the bezel from the unit. These retainers just hold a reinforcing metal plate for the buttons and LED lenses. Notice the thickness of the metal. On a normal unit, you won't usually find LED lenses, just tiny holes, and the buttons aren't held by a reinforcing plate, just a small plastic strip that either is glued or held by melted plastic tabs.



I dismantled the fan as I also didn't like the sound it made. I cleaned it with small paint brushes, cotton sticks and IPA 99%. The sticker received new 0.2mm double sided tape. No matter the size, all details are important.



After I worked on the small bits and pieces and I saw that much of the original grease was still in great shape and the unit felt solid, I decided not to take it apart entirely as I wasn't going to get more out of this. If the unit would've been really dirty I would've made the choice to dismantle it to the last nut and bolt but since it wasn't the case, I applied the KISS principle. (Keep It Simple Stupid). The inside of the unit was just tidied up using cotton sticks, microfiber cloths and IPA 99%. I didn't go overboard.



The lens was gently cleaned with IPA 99% and a microfiber cloth. I applied minute pressure and with a couple of motions I removed a thin layer of dust. This operation is always risky but I do it regardless. I do not trust high spinning cleaning disks. Had one back in the day. It made quite a racket in my 16X LG CD-ROM.



The laser head cradle is held by tiny metal strips and screws instead of plastic clips. Neat stuff. Excess engineering.



Looking great.



Small details that you usually do not see on a regular ODD.



Its mechanical! I LOVE IT!



The PCB is coated in a protective lacquer, that it is easily removed by IPA 99% and leaves streaks that are quite hard to get rid of. This stuff is not like that found on motherboards, so, after a test on a small area using cotton sticks and IPA 99% I decided to clean the PCB only using a small brush made from animal hairs and I limited the use of IPA 99% just on the really dirty areas, like the rear connectors and other parts. The results were quite good.



I cleaned the fan duct well.



The fan was put back and the wires were carefully routed in the same way they were. Some 0.2 mm double sided tape was required to fix some of the original cloth tape that lost its stickiness.



The plastic and metal parts were washed with water and dish soap. Some stains that were present on the front bezel have been removed with small amounts of polishing paste and cotton sticks. Some small scratches remained as I didn't want to lose some of the texture that was present on the plastics due to the use of the polishing paste.



On the road to recovery. The gears, and the laser head rails received a small amount of clear silicone grease. Also the tray rails have been lightly greased.



DONE!



If you want to know if I tested the unit before I started the restoration process I must say that I did not. :D Why? No reason really. Such a good looking unit can't be dead, right? :D

One aspect that I forgot to mention is that on the front tray cover there are also vents/tiny slots present, that get fresh air inside the unit. An over the top ODD that is for sure. This unit made my cogs turn every step I took and everywhere I looked I saw attention to detail and craftmanship. I must say that they are really not making them as they used to and this is true for many things not just computer HW.



NICE!



The LED action was interesting, to say the least. They even tell you if you have a disk inside. Neat stuff. The LEDs are quite nice and the amount of light they put out is carefully dosed. If you look closely to the PCB you will see that the LEDs have some kind of diffuser in addition to the lenses that are present on the front bezel.



Enough chit-chat I guess. The unit was running great and at the specified speeds. The scratched CD-ROM was read brilliantly. This unit is @ 100%!



I praised this unit but I didn't say anything about the all important fan. Is such a fan doing anything? Well, I used a small piece of toilet paper and I saw that some air was moved by it. As to the real benefit of it I really can't say for sure. Maybe it has something to do in regard to the CD writing process where it might reduce the temperature inside the unit, but I have some doubts as some of the hot air from inside of the PC case is sucked inside the ODD via the vents in the bottom metal plate. Maybe the design of this unit was inspired by some car stereos or high end Hi-Fi stuff where cooling might be more important. Who knows?



Also I must mention an annoying fact. This fan is ON all the time even if you have a CD inside or not. I thought that the fan would kick in only when you use the ODD but NO SIR! It is ON ALL THE TIME. This was quite unexpected and it made me think why this design choice was made. I guess that I will never know.

It isn't loud but it has a higher pitched sound that was noticeable only when I put my ear near the unit. Also the bearing is a little grindy. I guess that much of its life, due to the very low level of wear and tear inside, this ODD just sat unused, with the tiny fan blasting away, doing nothing more than getting dust inside, a real treat to any ODD. Dusty dust dustiner checking out the premises aka all the holes, nooks and crannies.

All of the few shortcomings are only noticeable when you are really close to the unit and if the Yamaha CRW8824E would've been closed inside a case they would go unnoticed.

Now at the end, I must say again, that I really like this ODD and any respectable PC case would be insane not to want this piece of tech inside it. :D

gallery: https://postimg.cc/gallery/TWTfnZS

More later.
 
Last edited:

Mussels

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everything was amazing until you wrote kawaii as kaway and my inner weeb started writing "AKSHUALLY..."

hot air from inside a PC wont even hit 40C, vs that little enclosed unit going 60+ (possibly much higher, with an early design with PEW PEW LAAAAZORS!)
 
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Also I must mention an annoying fact. This fan is ON all the time even if you have a CD inside or not. I thought that the fan would kick in only when you use the ODD but NO SIR! It is ON ALL THE TIME. This was quite unexpected and it made me think why this design choice was made. I guess that I will never know.
That answer is simple, the laser diode in some early ODDs got very hot and sometimes failed from overheating. The solution was to install a fan that provided constant cooling. This was before a few very important advances in laser diode tech were made.

If the fan is noisy, a solution is to service the fan bearings with a 50/50 mix of synthetic motor oil and dielectric grease(mixed very well!). The fan will become very quiet and very efficient!
 
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That was quite the education...I love this kind of product review and tear-down. :respect:
 
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everything was amazing until you wrote kawaii as kaway and my inner weeb started writing "AKSHUALLY..."

hot air from inside a PC wont even hit 40C, vs that little enclosed unit going 60+ (possibly much higher, with an early design with PEW PEW LAAAAZORS!)

Fixed! :D You sir are correct. :D

That answer is simple, the laser diode in some early ODDs got very hot and sometimes failed from overheating. The solution was to install a fan that provided constant cooling. This was before a few very important advances in laser diode tech were made.

If the fan is noisy, a solution is to service the fan bearings with a 50/50 mix of synthetic motor oil and dielectric grease(mixed very well!). The fan will become very quiet and very efficient!

I think that you have something here with the quality of laser diodes but I mean a fan spinning away for no obvious reasons while the laser head isn't in use begs the question: why? My only gripe is this and nothing else. Maybe the unit gets hot just by idling. I really don't want to check this with the unit opened up. :D The fan is much more quiet than a regular fan, inaudible to many but it isn't like new anymore even after a careful treatment. This was expected so I'm not bothered.

In general, to quiet down fans I use all matter of concoctions with grease (3 types), motor oil, sewing machine oils and some types of thicker oils used for motorcycles chains but I learned one thing: once the ball bearings go south there is very little things to be done. I opened up many other bigger bearings to get fresh grease in but even that is not a guarantee that it'll fix it. Sometimes I left the small bearings for 24 hours in IPA 99% to get all of the old grease out, then in fresh grease for 24 hours and I got lucky as some grease got inside without opening them up. The tiny bearings do not need much grease as they'll push it out anyway.

That was quite the education...I love this kind of product review and tear-down. :respect:

My pleasure. I have at least two episodes with ODDs and you will see that I'll take things much further than in this case.
 
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Remember, at the time, power management wasn't a thing. It was common practice to make something with a fan that was always running when the power was on.
Maybe the unit gets hot just by idling.
This. Back then the laser diodes never shut off. They were always in a state of laser activity, and because laser diodes back then were not very efficient, they got hot easily and needed constant cooling.
 

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Amazing attention to detail as always @Robert B !! :D :D You never cease to amaze!! :cool: :cool:
 
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This is only the beginning. :D I have quite a few heavy hitters already done. :D

CJ#1 - featuring a V5 5500.

And a Canopus card The Jacksons - Can You Feel It One of a kind beauty!!! :D
 

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Space Frog & The Grim Reaper - Follow me (Original)

CJ#1 aka Client Job No. 1 - 3dfx Voodoo 5 5500 64MB AGP

Usually I don't take repair jobs from anybody, for various reasons, but as they say, never say never, here I am performing one.

In this instance, this particular card came from my best supplier of retro HW. A contact from the not so distant past, when I used to buy many things from him until I discovered the local flea market. I keep a good relation with this guy and we write to each other on WhatsApp to present what treasures we have found. Each week we have something as a "duel" to see what we got. Lately I started selling him stuff from the flea market that I don't need. It is a WIN WIN situation. He also sells newer stuff and does this on a bigger scale.

In July 2021 I received a picture with a card that looked familiar, as I have one of these beauties, even if it is only @50%, as my card has only one working VSA chip.

I still cherish the card as it means more to me as a physical object that I can touch and feel, than to put it to work. I could send it to be repaired but I won't do it for now. I searched for it for years and when I got it I was struck by its aura and also by it fragility. The first thing that came into my mind when I got my card, was: You're only "human" but I still dig you with or without a shovel. :D

As soon as I saw the card I knew what it was. The V5 5500, came from a scrap lot and had some damage. It had been powered but it didn't output any image on the screen. The only thing that gave a hint that the card was alive were the leds on the keyboard lighting up at startup.

I was asked to repair the card and I said that I need clear pictures and a day to think it over.

The first thing I did was to see if I had all of the required components, ceramic caps, capacitors, SMD power inductors, etc.

I had a dismembered V5 5500 AGP that a few years back, I found at the flea market and this was the starting point of this adventure. Also I had another damaged card that provided the required power inductors.

As we all know, it takes a VooDoo to repair a VooDoo ( not really :D ) and an nVidia Geforce 4 Ti 4200 to repair a VooDoo ( not really :D ). So I was set on the right path and I accepted the job. You will see later that I also had to do an operation that I never did before as the card had a little more damage than just a few ICs flying off the board.



I cross referenced the card I received with mine and I found out that I had all I needed except the SMD power inductors marked with 4.7 aka 4.7uH.



I searched through my pile of dead cards and I found a Leadtek WinFast Geforce 4 Ti 4200 64MB AGP A250 LE that had two matching SMD power inductors marked GS 4R7. I searched the Internet and I found out that they are equivalent with the ones marked 4.7. I asked the guy that sent the card if he is okay with this and he laughed at me and he told me to repair it the best way I could as this was more than he hoped to get out of the whole situation.



Get ready! Set! GO!



One of the details that give a V5 5500 its originality are the big OS-CON SMD caps near the auxiliary power plug. I removed the needed capacitor from the donor card and I also removed the SMD power inductors from the Leadtek card.



In total, the card was missing ceramic caps at C501, C502, C554, a resistor at R504, an SMD OS-CON 470uf 6V at C90 and two SMD power inductor at L20 and L21. Not too bad, taking into consideration from where it came.

The card was looking pretty well, and the lacquer was shiny, a sign that not long ago it sat protected inside a case, only to be taken out and thrown into a pile by careless individuals.

The repair operation went forward. Each missing part was removed with great care. The donor card was very cooperative and I was also in great spirits as everything went smoothly, like a COPY PASTE procedure. I was ZEN and I don't mean Ryzen. :D It was like the card wanted me to repair it and it guided me each step I took.



After a close inspection of the card, I found out that I had more work to do, besides soldering the missing parts.

The card received a blow that bent a couple of pins on one of the memory chips on the back, but this was not the worst problem, as the object that bent those pins, also cut a few traces that went to the neighbouring memory chip.



At first I tried to rearrange the tiny copper traces that were visible and I thought that I might rebuild them using solder. This was my first choice but later you will see that I gave up on this idea.



Here it is the back of the card I received.



Even if the lacquer was shiny it didn't mean that the card was by any means clean.



And now lets see the face of this beauty.



The missing components on the front of the card.



Using a fine needle I gently checked and I also separated more the bent pins so that no contact was ever possible. As they were bent inside any chance of making them to look better flew out of the window. The only way to do this professionally would've been to remove the chip and replace it with the same exact thing, date code and all. Good luck finding one. So it was left as it was.

I must say that during the entire operation I never ever thought that the card wasn't alive. I was like someone who just has to adjust some things and let the card do the rest.



Looking good. This example of a V5 5500 was oozing personality from all its pores. It had the heatsinks glued almost perfect. Flat, correctly centered with the thermal glue nicely spread albeit a little too thick as it is always the case. The only thing that bothered me (and maybe just me) were the slightly mismatched cooling fans. :D

I already knew how it will look once my job was done. I visualized this since the beginning.



The donor card was of great help and it also made me feel at peace that the originality would be still intact once I'll place down the soldering iron.



While I went on performing the various tasks required to revive this relic of times gone by, my mind was also searching for a solution to the cut traces. I knew that bridging the copper traces with solder wasn't my best solution. The reasons were a few and among them the most important were: the durability of the repair and not knowing if the cut traces would make contact with other traces or layers of copper beneath as I had no way to check this and I also didn't want to dig deeper into the crater.

So, I was in for a trace repair using jumper wires. I chose a wire that was solid and it was the thickness I deemed optimal as I didn't want this thing flapping around. I wanted to buy a dedicated wire for trace repair but I didn't find anything localy. Also this was my first ever trace repair and I wanted it to be a success. I watched how trace repair is done professionally but I lack the required tools to do it. That stuff is for pros who do this everyday not for someone like me. Option A) a muscle car or Option B) an Italian super car. :D Guess what I chose or should I say I had to use whatever was available. :D

I cleaned the copper wire with sandpaper to remove any coating it might have.



In the end I decided to remove each piece of the cut traces that were visible. Even if I managed to solder the bits that survived, one trace in particular, that snaked through, would've been impossible for me to repair without the correct tools. All in all 3 traces needed repairs.

I had a clean slate to begin with.



As you might've expected, I first tried the proposed repair on the donor card. This was a job that I didn't want to rush no matter what.



Don't mind the wavy wire, baby steps if you know what I mean. In my mind the procedure was a walk in the park. In reality it was quite fiddly.

And now on the actual thing. The real deal. Before any wire was soldered I filled the crater with a two part epoxy to eliminate any possible contact with some phantom traces/layers even if I knew that none was possible.



The missing parts have returned to their rightful position.



The wires have been soldered. The shape of the wires wasn't perfect but I was still proud of my work. I wanted to follow the shape of the "lost" traces. One wire in particular went near two eyelets. Don't be fooled by the optical illusion as there is no contact between the exposed wire and the eyelets. Remember, the wire is round and the part that sits close to the eyelets is thinner that the diameter of the wire.



All things considered I liked the results. One step was quite a challenge. Soldering the end of the wires to the tiny legs of the memory chips. I decided not to intervene on the shape of the wires once I soldered them. Remember that the area where I worked was small and the last thing I needed was a damaged memory chip or a torn pad. Sometimes it is better to choose your battles than rush in.

I soldered the OS-CON cap and the SMD power inductors. To solder the SMD power inductors I used a method I saw on YT. I added some solder to one pad on the PCB and while the solder was still liquid by holding the tip of the soldering iron on the pad, I slided in the power inductor gently. Then I removed the soldering iron and I waited for the solder to cool. Soldering the other end was easy afterwards.



So there you have it. ALL DONE!



Using basic tools and my common sense, plus experience, I was ready to wake up the two headed monster. Rise and shine you wonderful card.



Well?!?!?!?!?! Well what? You mean the card? A! Yep! It's firing on all its cylinders. :D



After testing it was obvious that I had a winner in my hands.

The card ran solid and never missed one beat. I wished that it was mine but ever since I accepted to repair it I knew that I will have to let it go once I was done with it.



For the extra comfort and to be 1000000% sure, I also fixed the jumper wires with some transparent two part epoxy. If I would've had some green epoxy/solder mask the repair would've looked even better.



After my job was done and after I informed the owner that the card is @100% I asked him if he would like me to restore it. The answer was swift and I guess that you know what comes next. :D

Nothing was left to chance. Every nook and cranny was inspected and cleaned.

The fans were dusty and the bearings were grindy.



This card wasn't handled with gloves. The frames of the cooling fans have managed to mitigate some of the damage.



The bracket had seen better days.



IPA 99% FTW!!!



Extra attention was given to the cooling fans, a hallmark of a V5 5500. I used some oil and some grease and I was able to make them more quiet. They turned out great and after treatment I would say that they are at 85-90% of how they were when they were new, in regard to their functionality. The bearings are still a little grindy but very little. A major improvement than before. This was quite unexpected as this operation is a hit and miss affair and you don't know what you will get in the end.



Uhhhh shiny!!!



Attention to detail.



SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT!



DONE & DONE!



After I was done I knew that it had been a very special day. Not every day you get to work on a rare card and not every day everything goes without a hitch. Even the flowers on my window smiled at me. :)



Before I sent the card I tested it one more time and after it got the green light it was time to let it go.



SHIP IT!

I put the card in a box that was way too big and I sent it on its way towards the happy owner.



Now, at the end I must say that it was an absolute treat to work on this puppy and I'm happy that I got to do it. Also, many things were learned especially in regard to fine repairs using just basic tools. If I were to do something differently I would use a wire that would be just a fraction thinner but I do not regret using something that it is above what it was required. What I do must be solid in more ways than one this is my motto ever since I was a kid.

To wrap this up. The card arrived at the very happy guy and he played NFS II SE on it plus many other games. In return, I didn't want any money for this job as I said to him that this is a way to repay him for all the great parts that got into my collection even if I had to pay for them.

Because he wanted to send me something I accepted to receive an Abit KR7A-Raid motherboard that had some problems but when I got the package I was struck by its contents. Inside were also a couple of Celeron Tualatin CPUs, a Diamond Fire 1k Pro card and the icing on the cake the card for the next episode. :D Not just any other card, you will see what I'm talking about in the next episode.

gallery: https://postimg.cc/gallery/rT2X3jf

More later.
 
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Space Frog & The Grim Reaper - Follow me (Original)

CJ#1 aka Client Job No. 1 - 3dfx Voodoo 5 5500 64MB AGP

Usually I don't take repair jobs from anybody, for various reasons, but as they say, never say never, here I am performing one.

In this instance, this particular card came from my best supplier of retro HW. A contact from the not so distant past, when I used to buy many things from him until I discovered the local flea market. I keep a good relation with this guy and we write to each other on WhatsApp to present what treasures we have found. Each week we have something as a "duel" to see what we got. Lately I started selling him stuff from the flea market that I don't need. It is a WIN WIN situation. He also sells newer stuff and does this on a bigger scale.

In July 2021 I received a picture with a card that looked familiar, as I have one of these beauties, even if it is only @50%, as my card has only one working VSA chip.

I still cherish the card as it means more to me as a physical object that I can touch and feel, than to put it to work. I could send it to be repaired but I won't do it for now. I searched for it for years and when I got it I was struck by its aura and also by it fragility. The first thing that came into my mind when I got my card, was: You're only "human" but I still dig you with or without a shovel. :D

As soon as I saw the card I knew what it was. The V5 5500, came from a scrap lot and had some damage. It had been powered but it didn't output any image on the screen. The only thing that gave a hint that the card was alive were the leds on the keyboard lighting up at startup.

I was asked to repair the card and I said that I need clear pictures and a day to think it over.

The first thing I did was to see if I had all of the required components, ceramic caps, capacitors, SMD power inductors, etc.

I had a dismembered V5 5500 AGP that a few years back, I found at the flea market and this was the starting point of this adventure. Also I had another damaged card that provided the required power inductors.

As we all know, it takes a VooDoo to repair a VooDoo ( not really :D ) and an nVidia Geforce 4 Ti 4200 to repair a VooDoo ( not really :D ). So I was set on the right path and I accepted the job. You will see later that I also had to do an operation that I never did before as the card had a little more damage than just a few ICs flying off the board.



I cross referenced the card I received with mine and I found out that I had all I needed except the SMD power inductors marked with 4.7 aka 4.7uH.



I searched through my pile of dead cards and I found a Leadtek WinFast Geforce 4 Ti 4200 64MB AGP A250 LE that had two matching SMD power inductors marked GS 4R7. I searched the Internet and I found out that they are equivalent with the ones marked 4.7. I asked the guy that sent the card if he is okay with this and he laughed at me and he told me to repair it the best way I could as this was more than he hoped to get out of the whole situation.



Get ready! Set! GO!



One of the details that give a V5 5500 its originality are the big OS-CON SMD caps near the auxiliary power plug. I removed the needed capacitor from the donor card and I also removed the SMD power inductors from the Leadtek card.



In total, the card was missing ceramic caps at C501, C502, C554, a resistor at R504, an SMD OS-CON 470uf 6V at C90 and two SMD power inductor at L20 and L21. Not too bad, taking into consideration from where it came.

The card was looking pretty well, and the lacquer was shiny, a sign that not long ago it sat protected inside a case, only to be taken out and thrown into a pile by careless individuals.

The repair operation went forward. Each missing part was removed with great care. The donor card was very cooperative and I was also in great spirits as everything went smoothly, like a COPY PASTE procedure. I was ZEN and I don't mean Ryzen. :D It was like the card wanted me to repair it and it guided me each step I took.



After a close inspection of the card, I found out that I had more work to do, besides soldering the missing parts.

The card received a blow that bent a couple of pins on one of the memory chips on the back, but this was not the worst problem, as the object that bent those pins, also cut a few traces that went to the neighbouring memory chip.



At first I tried to rearrange the tiny copper traces that were visible and I thought that I might rebuild them using solder. This was my first choice but later you will see that I gave up on this idea.



Here it is the back of the card I received.



Even if the lacquer was shiny it didn't mean that the card was by any means clean.



And now lets see the face of this beauty.



The missing components on the front of the card.



Using a fine needle I gently checked and I also separated more the bent pins so that no contact was ever possible. As they were bent inside any chance of making them to look better flew out of the window. The only way to do this professionally would've been to remove the chip and replace it with the same exact thing, date code and all. Good luck finding one. So it was left as it was.

I must say that during the entire operation I never ever thought that the card wasn't alive. I was like someone who just has to adjust some things and let the card do the rest.



Looking good. This example of a V5 5500 was oozing personality from all its pores. It had the heatsinks glued almost perfect. Flat, correctly centered with the thermal glue nicely spread albeit a little too thick as it is always the case. The only thing that bothered me (and maybe just me) were the slightly mismatched cooling fans. :D

I already knew how it will look once my job was done. I visualized this since the beginning.



The donor card was of great help and it also made me feel at peace that the originality would be still intact once I'll place down the soldering iron.



While I went on performing the various tasks required to revive this relic of times gone by, my mind was also searching for a solution to the cut traces. I knew that bridging the copper traces with solder wasn't my best solution. The reasons were a few and among them the most important were: the durability of the repair and not knowing if the cut traces would make contact with other traces or layers of copper beneath as I had no way to check this and I also didn't want to dig deeper into the crater.

So, I was in for a trace repair using jumper wires. I chose a wire that was solid and it was the thickness I deemed optimal as I didn't want this thing flapping around. I wanted to buy a dedicated wire for trace repair but I didn't find anything localy. Also this was my first ever trace repair and I wanted it to be a success. I watched how trace repair is done professionally but I lack the required tools to do it. That stuff is for pros who do this everyday not for someone like me. Option A) a muscle car or Option B) an Italian super car. :D Guess what I chose or should I say I had to use whatever was available. :D

I cleaned the copper wire with sandpaper to remove any coating it might have.



In the end I decided to remove each piece of the cut traces that were visible. Even if I managed to solder the bits that survived, one trace in particular, that snaked through, would've been impossible for me to repair without the correct tools. All in all 3 traces needed repairs.

I had a clean slate to begin with.



As you might've expected, I first tried the proposed repair on the donor card. This was a job that I didn't want to rush no matter what.



Don't mind the wavy wire, baby steps if you know what I mean. In my mind the procedure was a walk in the park. In reality it was quite fiddly.

And now on the actual thing. The real deal. Before any wire was soldered I filled the crater with a two part epoxy to eliminate any possible contact with some phantom traces/layers even if I knew that none was possible.



The missing parts have returned to their rightful position.



The wires have been soldered. The shape of the wires wasn't perfect but I was still proud of my work. I wanted to follow the shape of the "lost" traces. One wire in particular went near two eyelets. Don't be fooled by the optical illusion as there is no contact between the exposed wire and the eyelets. Remember, the wire is round and the part that sits close to the eyelets is thinner that the diameter of the wire.



All things considered I liked the results. One step was quite a challenge. Soldering the end of the wires to the tiny legs of the memory chips. I decided not to intervene on the shape of the wires once I soldered them. Remember that the area where I worked was small and the last thing I needed was a damaged memory chip or a torn pad. Sometimes it is better to choose your battles than rush in.

I soldered the OS-CON cap and the SMD power inductors. To solder the SMD power inductors I used a method I saw on YT. I added some solder to one pad on the PCB and while the solder was still liquid by holding the tip of the soldering iron on the pad, I slided in the power inductor gently. Then I removed the soldering iron and I waited for the solder to cool. Soldering the other end was easy afterwards.



So there you have it. ALL DONE!



Using basic tools and my common sense, plus experience, I was ready to wake up the two headed monster. Rise and shine you wonderful card.



Well?!?!?!?!?! Well what? You mean the card? A! Yep! It's firing on all its cylinders. :D



After testing it was obvious that I had a winner in my hands.

The card ran solid and never missed one beat. I wished that it was mine but ever since I accepted to repair it I knew that I will have to let it go once I was done with it.



For the extra comfort and to be 1000000% sure, I also fixed the jumper wires with some transparent two part epoxy. If I would've had some green epoxy/solder mask the repair would've looked even better.



After my job was done and after I informed the owner that the card is @100% I asked him if he would like me to restore it. The answer was swift and I guess that you know what comes next. :D

Nothing was left to chance. Every nook and cranny was inspected and cleaned.

The fans were dusty and the bearings were grindy.



This card wasn't handled with gloves. The frames of the cooling fans have managed to mitigate some of the damage.



The bracket had seen better days.



IPA 99% FTW!!!



Extra attention was given to the cooling fans, a hallmark of a V5 5500. I used some oil and some grease and I was able to make them more quiet. They turned out great and after treatment I would say that they are at 85-90% of how they were when they were new, in regard to their functionality. The bearings are still a little grindy but very little. A major improvement than before. This was quite unexpected as this operation is a hit and miss affair and you don't know what you will get in the end.



Uhhhh shiny!!!



Attention to detail.



SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT!



DONE & DONE!



After I was done I knew that it had been a very special day. Not every day you get to work on a rare card and not every day everything goes without a hitch. Even the flowers on my window smiled at me. :)



Before I sent the card I tested it one more time and after it got the green light it was time to let it go.



SHIP IT!

I put the card in a box that was way too big and I sent it on its way towards the happy owner.



Now, at the end I must say that it was an absolute treat to work on this puppy and I'm happy that I got to do it. Also, many things were learned especially in regard to fine repairs using just basic tools. If I were to do something differently I would use a wire that would be just a fraction thinner but I do not regret using something that it is above what it was required. What I do must be solid in more ways than one this is my motto ever since I was a kid.

To wrap this up. The card arrived at the very happy guy and he played NFS II SE on it plus many other games. In return, I didn't want any money for this job as I said to him that this is a way to repay him for all the great parts that got into my collection even if I had to pay for them.

Because he wanted to send me something I accepted to receive an Abit KR7A-Raid motherboard that had some problems but when I got the package I was struck by its contents. Inside were also a couple of Celeron Tualatin CPUs, a Diamond Fire 1k Pro card and the icing on the cake the card for the next episode. :D Not just any other card, you will see what I'm talking about in the next episode.

gallery: https://postimg.cc/gallery/rT2X3jf

More later.
Yes... another beautiful story with a happy ending. Nice work and well done!
 

Mussels

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My lordy, those old cards may be easier to repair by hand than newer ones but the sheer effort for that repair and documenting it so thoroughly...
 
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Yes... another beautiful story with a happy ending. Nice work and well done!

A great experience from start to finish. There was no way that I could keep this only to myself. :)

My lordy, those old cards may be easier to repair by hand than newer ones but the sheer effort for that repair and documenting it so thoroughly...

You are absolutely right. Thank God that they can be repaired with house hold tools. :D Also with these older cards restoration procedures return better results as the manufacturing process was different, with other types of lacquers that are shinier than that on new cards. Also the PCBs were more resilient than that on newer cards. All in all when I work on these components is like you have an older car and you buff out all the chrome and after you're done you need an eye exam when the sun touches the surfaces. :D

A methodic approach to restoration. You experience the same path I took from start to finish. I don't even have to think and while I work my hand reaches to the phone to grab some pics. No detail is unimportant. I have in excess of 75K pics taken since 2015. Each year more and more as my style and method have evolved. :D

In the works: The card from The Land of the Rising Sun.



In case you are wondering what's the hubbub with the thread locker then all I can say now is this: I had so much fun with it so I had to be sure that I will have MORE fun with it at a later date. :D

More later. Method Man, Redman - Da Rockwilder (Official Video) :D
 
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Some spit'n polish! :D



The Canopus card is ready to have its story told. The pics have been sorted and edited. The only thing I miss is time. Lately I have so much awesome HW coming in that is kind of ridiculous. Some was sold, some was kept, but gone are the times when I had a few ongoing projects. Now, I juggle with 15+ projects, all in various states of completeness.



Don't worry, I didn't forget about you, my faithful fans. :)

Soon a new episode will be posted. I mean soon not that kind of soon. :D
 
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phill

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You never cease to amaze me @Robert B !! Can't wait!! :D :D
 

Mussels

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The longer you take, the more retro it is when you post the pics!
 
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Bombdogs - First Time (Original mix) (No House of the Rising Sun song here)

The card from The Land of the Rising Sun

There are a few cards that stick with you for a very long time. You might think that I'm referring to some mythical cards like the VooDoo 5 6K or something along the line, but that is not always the case. As we are different, or at least we like to think that we are, each of us resonate to certain things that for others mean absolutely nothing or they are just a footnote on their scale of "values".

Sometimes, a card that it is not sold in certain regions of the world due to the fact that it is simply destined for other markets, quickly achieves a status that can make many people hearts race.

For me, among many other things (as you probably know by now), the Canopus line of cards has a very special place in my heart.

Back in their hay day I'm not sure that I heard or read about them. Maybe I saw some ads with their 3dfx cards? My memory is a little hazy but what I can say for sure is that I never heard anyone close to me to own such a card when they were King of the Hill.

Fast forward to somewhere around 2010 I stumbled on some pictures with a few Canopus TNT 2 Ultra cards. I was awed by their presence and I was impressed by their design. They were simply stunning. They have a je ne sais quoi that speaks my language.

For the last 6 years since I started actively acquiring HW I never saw one in the flesh and truth be told I wasn't holding my breath for finding one anytime soon.

I was quite surprised in July 2021, when I received some pictures with a Canopus card from the guy that also found the VooDoo 5 5500 that I repaired in the previous episode.

How LUCKY can you be to score two awesome cards in such a short span of time?

The card was tested and it worked but as soon as I got the pictures I pointed out some problems. Due to the fact that I didn't want to spend money and buy it, I congratulated the guy for a job well done. For the last few years I'm not inclined to spend big money on many parts and I'm just waiting patiently for them to pop up at the flea market. :D Sure that they may come with some problems but my body is ready. :D

That was it for the time being.

After I repaired the V5 5K I sent the card to the very happy owner and I didn't want something in return for my services. Soon after this, because he asked me, I agreed to receive an Abit KR7A-RAID motherboard as compensation for repairing the V5. The motherboard had issues but I still wanted it as I always like to challenge myself. What? An Abit mobo? Heck yeah! Send it! After I changed some bad caps I found out the real problem of that motherboard as it proved to have a shorted SB. Bummer. In the end I wasn't able to do anything with it. It can be repaired but it is a question of time and money, like everything in life.

But that wasn't everything. When I got the package, to my surprise, I found a few extras inside. A couple of Celeron Tualatin CPUs, a Diamond Fire 1K Pro AGP card and you guessed it, The Cherry On Top, the Canopus card. I called the guy to ask him if he wanted the card repaired or if it was for me. And so, I got my very own Canopus card. It had a lot of problems but the fact that it was still kind of alive made me want to do everything in my power to restore it. Where people see junk, where people see lost causes, I see opportunity. I can't remember how many times I was asked, what are you doing with those "corpses" and when I present the "finished product" the question quickly turns into: are they for sale? For sale? Not yet! They might be but I can't say for now. Even today I hear people saying that if a component has a few torn caps or other cosmetic damage, they aren't to be bought. That always makes me smile. Remember that these parts will never be manufactured again. Need I say more?

So, in the end, after I thought that the Canopus card was already sold to someone else, I was the lucky winner of yet another "unicorn". Looking back, that card had my name written all over it.

Let's meet the Canopus Spectra 5400R2 N17-AG-904!



The signature feature of many Canopus cards is the SSH daughterboard. In essence that SSH daughterboard which stands for Signal Super Highway, together with other ICs that are present on the card, ensure a better video output from it or at least that is the gist of it. In practice I saw that indeed the signal output was crispier than that on some other TNT 2 cards I own. This was registered on an LCD. As I do not own any CRTs I can't say if the same difference could be observed on the good old cathode-ray tube monitors.



The tip of the iceberg.



The back of the card was full of scars and missing components. Not a pretty sight.



The label that was present on the card had some very interesting information on it. Spectra 5400 Premium Edition or Spectra 5400. What? Spectra 5400 PE? The heck is that? A quick search has revealed that the PE edition is the well known TNT 2 ULTRA variant. What's the stuff with this sticker I wondered? Is it 0 or 1? Why would you put such a sticker on your product? Which one is it?

I already knew that this card was a regular TNT 2 but I still had a 0.0000001% hope that maybe it was the PE edition. I know I was greedy. :D



Let's focus on the problems of this card. Many missing ceramic caps, cracked ceramic caps and some deep scratches. Well, it could be worse I said to myself.



Let's count the number of threads on those screws as I know that I'll need this information later. I really don't want to screw up something.

Left.



Right.



I was intrigued by the miniature cooling fan. It looked to be of high quality and it still spun silently even if it was looking worse for wear. Model Panaflo UDQFNKH01 DC5V 0.14A. Made In Japan. Well, it was to be expected that a high quality miniature fan made in Japan was to be used on a card made by a Japanese company. Elementary.



I had some reservations in regard to this diminutive 3cm pygmy but in the end I was won over by it. It was looking a little under the weather, with scratches, dents and some black deposits inside.

Break it up folks! No PE in here! There's nothing to be seen!



I never expected that it would be so tough to remove that tiny cooler from the card. Sure that a nut and bolt combination is way better than some crappy plastic push pins, but using thread locker on them was quite a sneaky move.

I had to be very patient and use a fine needle to remove some of the thread locker that was visible, then I had to use a pair of pliers to keep in place the nut, while I tried to unscrew the bolt from the other side without damaging the card. It was quite a tense situation as I didn't have a wrench that was so small and I knew that if my pliers would slip or if my screwdriver would slip I might have to add some more repairs on the already long list of stuff to do on this card.

In the end I prevailed and I managed to free the tiny cooler from the card.



I took a close look at the cooler and at first I wanted to take it apart but I soon dismissed this idea. The cooler has a shroud that it is riveted to the heatsink so, I had to resort to a "key hole" cleaning procedure. A tedious thing, let me tell you.



I could've submerged the entire thing in IPA 99% but as the fan bearing was still running smoothly I wanted to keep that way.

After I used about 15 cotton sticks dipped in IPA I took a close look at the results.



Well, it looks kind of ok, I said to myself, BUT I WANT MORE!

The back of the cooler was in pretty good shape.



To get into all the tiny spaces of the cooler I bought a set of small brushes and then millimeter by millimeter I cleaned the inside of that tiny thing. I was amazed at how much dirt and grime came out of it. I reckon it took me close to two hours to clean it.



After this, I looked at the results and I played with the idea of using some sandpaper to smooth out the dents that were on the aluminum shroud and then polish it.

In the end I opted to leave it as is, as I deemed this operation to be well into the diminishing results territory. Some of the dents were simply too deep and I had to remove a lot of material.

After some more detailing and polishing I got these results.



You might wonder why I spent so much time with this operation. Well, look at the card and tell me which signature feature is the most striking? Among, other things, that cooler screams Canopus all the way. This is why I wanted to do everything I could to give this battered thing a new lease of life.

After another inspection of the card I got more good news. Cough, cough. MORE WORK! For ME?! Oh, you shouldn've have! &^%$*#^($#%^!!!! :D



Ready to be made great again.



It's ME the SSH thingy. I don't know about you, but all I see is just a PCB and some traces. Well, the Marketing Department needs some material, don't they?



YAY! More bent pins and a few scars. YAY!



The bracket has seen better days. I'm sure of it.



Rust! A very nice flavor! You know! RUST! aka Rusty rust rust ... a very nice fellow ... not.



Into the rust remover solution you go! NOOOO!!! Suffer and be reborn!



OHHHHH!!! A torn pad! NICE! Look at that cotton sticking to that lifted trace that used to make contact with the missing pad.



Joke aside, I was quite relieved when I saw that I had something to solder onto. That tiny bit of copper made my day. I CAN FIX THIS! Phew!

I scraped the copper trace as much as I could, using an X-acto knife, then I soldered a tiny piece of copper wire onto it. The connection was solid. Then I soldered the replacement ceramic cap to the wire. The ceramic caps was first soldered firmly on the other side. While I soldered the ceramic cap, the wire lifted a little but the result was still good and I was pleased with this fix. The rest of the ceramic caps were a breeze to replace. I must say that all of the replacement ceramic caps have been scavenged from donor cards.



The flapping label on the back was secured with 0.2mm double sided tape. That thing was getting on my nerves. The originality of the card must be preserved at all costs.



As something was still nagging me I secured the ceramic cap that had the torn pad with a little two part epoxy. Come high water you are there to stay!



Bubble bath. Due to the fact that the card was already rusty and it was quite dirty I had no reservations in washing it with tap water and dish soap.



Looking good!



Look closely to the memory chips. I really am amazed that this card has survived.



RGB anyone? If you wonder what's the use of these jumpers head over here: "Dual Filter System (DFS: patent pending). To allow the best performance on a variety of monitors, the Fine Filter was developed. In addition, a Super-fine Filter was developed to ensure the best performance on high-end monitors exceeding 21 inches. This setting can be altered via colored jumpers on the board itself. Fine Filter is set by default." http://www.hardware-one.com/reviews/5400pe/5400pe-3.shtml



I already see the final result. :) All the hard work will pay dividends in the end.



Poor memory chips on the back and a slightly damaged corner. How is this thing still alive?



After the cleaning procedures with water and IPA, one of the paper labels on the back was on its way out. A black marker attempt made things worse. &$#*&$(#^$&!!!!



The SSH daughterboard came out pretty nice but some rust was still giving me the finger.



The bracket was looking awesome after some rust remover solution treatment and manual polishing.



The SSH daughterboard was put through more stages of rust elimination treatment. In the end I had to stop as I simply could not get things to look better than they were apart from maybe changing the connector. :D

Final results.



You remember the paper label from above don't you? Well, I tried some white corrector on it but that made me lose my marbles. :D So I tore up the offending part of the label. Auch!



I was left with a gap that had to be filled. Hmmmm ...

I wanted to print out a new label but the font was hard to identify, so I searched for a clear picture with another label. Then I printed that label on a piece of brown paper that kind of looked old.

After I printed the label I saw that I had to adjust the size of the writing a few times. Trial and error.

Once I got things perfect I rubbed my finger on the paper and you have guessed it. The whole thing came off ...

I could not use the entire label I found on the Internet as each card has its own SN ...

Back to the drawing board.

A new label and some nail varnish. Sure the paper is darker now but the ink is there to stay.

I slapped some 0.2 mm double sided tape.

DONE!



After a lot of work came the best moment. All the parts have been made to look as good as they were ever going to get. Everything was set and ready to go.

I applied some AC MX-4 paste and I removed some of it from the four corners of the graphic chip as the tiny cooler does not cover the entire area.



And now for the coup de grace. THREAD LOCKER!!!

But WHY?

WHY? I had so much fun with it that I had to be sure that I will have more FUN with it at a later date. :)

Joke aside, that thread locker is vital as due to heat cycles, or just by handling the card, the nuts and bolts might come lose.



If you have paid attention, you remember the two pictures from the beginning of this episode. Left and Right.

I counted the number of threads on each bolt to ensure the same exact torque specs as the original. Then, the thread locker was applied with a fine needle. Also I checked if the cooler wasn't too tight even if I secured it like it was before.



Attention to detail is everything, at least for me.

So here we are, close to the end of this endeavor. The results of my work speak for themselves.



Bask in the SUN my beloved! :)



Almost perfect. Some scars are there to stay but who can see them?



After all the effort I was ready to power it up. The guy that gave me the card said that it was picky and it might not give signal every time. Well, with so many missing caps, I would also not give a signal from time time. :D

POWER!

The card XPLODED!!!

Not literally of course.

The BIOS string made ma smile. This thing has gone Supernova!



After hours of testing I labeled this card to be @ 100%!

The satisfaction I felt was off the charts. This is a drug that is quite addictive let me tell you.



There you have it. Another success story. :) Canopus, the brightest star in the southern constellation of Carina and the second-brightest star in the night sky. Quite a fitting name for this uncommon card I must say. Even if the Canopus Corporation is no more, its legacy still lives on in their electronic artefacts which will endure the test of time for many years to come. You are only forgotten when nobody remembers you.

This card has a very special place in my collection and as I always say, once something goes (will go) out of my collection, then all of them will go as I really am a binary person, 0 or 1, when it comes to certain things that are important to me.

Stay close for more thrilling adventures. :) You never know what life has in store for you.

gallery: https://postimg.cc/gallery/6CwYzZF

More later.
 
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You are spot on pshipkov but where would we be without marketing. :D

Next episode in the works: Geforce 3 Ti 500 - An above and beyond adventure

This didn't pan out like in the manual. Well ...



In other turn of events, stuff in need of rescuing is piling up but I'm not complaining. :D Many of them will receive the love and attention they need and also they may head to a loving home once I'll reluctantly be able to part with them.



More later.
 
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I can't wait...the Canopus story was awesome. Your complete explanations add depth. :rockout:
 
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Quasimodo - Let It Out

Geforce 3 Ti 500 - An above and beyond adventure

As any HW collector out in the wild, I too like to own the absolute high end of a certain line of cards or any other PC component. These evasive creatures aren't easily found in the wild and even if you manage to find them, they more often than not, cost and arm and a leg and we know that we need our body parts to function at an optimal level, so there aren't many of us that can pay that arm and leg in $$$ form.

As you know well by now, I'm a person that doesn't like to spend a lot of dough on a certain component and instead I choose to wait patiently for it to pop up at the flea market. These last years I've been quite lucky and I managed to score quite a few "unicorns" so it seems that my "strategy", even somewhat unusual, pays up in the end. This doesn't mean that if I see a good deal outside the flea market I don't pull the trigger and I take ownership of other strange creatures that happen to cross my path. NO SIR! Though, between me and you, these encounters aren't too common.

In May 2021 I was at the flea market and if I remember correctly, it was a slow day with little interesting stuff. I was relaxed though, as that meant that the $$$ would stay in my pocket!

Somewhere in the middle of the market I saw a big suitcase full of stuff. Old dismembered phones, chargers, junk and everything but the kitchen sink. On top of that pile of non descript stuff, my eyes caught a glimpse of a green AGP card that sported a green, square nVIDIA heatsink.

'the HECK is that?! Hmm ... a Geforce of some sort. Let's check the tricorder, ahem, smart (dumb) phone and see what's what.

* Loading ...
* Compaq ...
* WHOOOOO!!! A GEFORCE 3 Ti 500! WHOOOOOOOO!!!!
* Hmm ... for sure it had seen better days ... poor thing.
* How much is it? I asked politely.
* 1 EURO!
* Here you go!
* Thank You!


So I found another "unicorn" and of all places, at the flea market form my city. How friggin' cool is THAT!

I knew that it was going to be a PITA to restore this card but I was ready come hell or high water!

So let's get on with the show! Strap yourself in as this was quite a ride for me. For months I tried to get the maximum out of this whole situation and only in August 2021 I was ready to put down my tools and accept the outcome.

This whole affair took a long time as I worked on it sporadically. Some components took a while to get here and some were found at the flea market many weeks after I got the card. Also I wasn't ready to put an end to this story until I was absolutely sure that I had exhausted all the possibilities.

NO REST FOR THE WICKED!

This GF3 Ti 500, the star of this episode, is a model made for Compaq. At a first glance there weren't many tell tale signs that it was an uncommon card. No outrageous cooler, no eye popping color, no special PCB, etc.

The first thing that caught my attention was the string: MS-8853 VER:100, so it seems that this card was manufactured by MSI for Compaq. A good start I said to myself.

This is how it looked when I got it.



Apart from the missing heatsink from the top video memory chips, some dings and a torn connector of the cooling fan, it seemed that she was all there. Looks can be deceiving we all know that, so for a sane mind we all should choose our women only at the light of day or should I say at night all the cats are gray!? :D Nevertheless, I bought this basket case in broad daylight so I had to deal with this situation no matter what!

nVIDIA 180-10050-000-C01 MADE IN TAIWAN.



YIKES!!! Torn fan connector, cracked power inductor, missing various ceramic caps of unknown value. Well, I was sure that the Good Ol' Internets aka SERIOUS BUSINESS, will eventually help me out, so, I wasn't too worried. :D



The back of the card looked rather alright but I knew that I was in for a treat when I saw with what I was faced. Facepalm in progress ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... :D Why do you do these things?! said my inner self. Well, for funsies? Yeah right! And pigs can fly!



A thorough inspection of the back of the card revealed a slaughter that was a carbon copy of a battle from the Civil War, many missing ceramic caps, a torn resistor, a shifted IC, and you name it. The problems were so many that I lost count of them.



You might wonder why I bought this train wreck. I must say that I saw many of the problems before I bought the card and I knew what I was doing. Many of the repairs were a straight forward job and well within my skill level, so I said WHY NOT? You only live once!

Let's recapitulate the list of repairs that I was to perform.



NVIDIA Corporation Model: P50 * Replace with Compaq Spare SPS-BD NV20 64MB W/TV * 254095-101 * 254216-002



The bracket was a little bent but it looked quite okay. Ever since I saw the card, my gut was telling me that for sure this card was alive when it was tossed at the garbage bin. I couldn't help but to sympathize with the poor thing.



Nuts and bolts, ahem, bits and pieces.



The massive hit that took out the heatsink from the top memory chips also dislodged the cooler from the GPU. This was both a blessing and a curse. We all know why. Less work for me, more deadly for the card.



I saw a GF3 Ti 500 GPU die only in pictures, so, the moment I laid my eyes on the real thing, was quite special. It remined me of the time when I got my first Geforce 256. Good times!



After some cleaning. "A million dollars" shot! There is no replacement for the real thing. I sure hope that you are still among the living I said to myself ...



The first task on my agenda was to clean the cooler until it was up to my standards. Some acetone and lots of IPA and cotton sticks were required plus an abundance of elbow grease. The cooling fan was still running strong with zero grinding noise, another clue that made me think that this card had just a few miles under its hood. I didn't disassemble the fan as it was easy to clean as it was. There is no need to intervene if things are just as they are supposed to be. This is the result of countless hours spent restoring various components. Experience is the name of the game.



During a restoration process I take my time to make things right and no detail is overlooked. Be it a cooling fan or a tiny ceramic cap, all of them receive the needed attention. No detail is unimportant. Where does it hurt? Time for another sponge bath?

The power inductor with a cracked head received a prosthesis made from a two part epoxy that was later painted black.



I scavenged the MIA heatsink from a dead GF3 Ti 200. The removal process was tedious to say the least. I tried various methods including heat but in the end I had to perform surgery with and X-acto knife.



An ideal replacement, minus the color. Well, in life, you don't always get what you want ...



At the end of the restoration process I was going to fix the silver heatsink with some double sided thermal tape. It seemed that this whole affair was to be a smooth sailing case for me. All the puzzle pieces seemed to fall into the right place. Little did I know ...



The mighty GPU, the beating heart of any graphic card.



I removed the various papers stickers that were kept safe in a plastic bag and I braced myself for what was to come.



Even from the get go I hit a brick wall. The removal of the torn pins of the cooling fan connector proved especially difficult. Even my trusty 100W soldering gun wasn't able to get the torn bits out. I tried many things but the only thing that I didn't try was to gently heat the PCB a little with a hair drier or with the help of the sun, before I went on to remove the little pieces of metal. This realization came too late as I already started to feel the tell tale smell of burnt PCB.

So, while I tried to do good I did a lot of wrong. Minus points for me! I must say that I felt that burn like the time when I burnt my hand a few years back. Accidentally I dropped the hot 15W soldering iron on the back of my forearm. The skin was so sensible that the top layer came off under the water. Took me a month to not feel the pain and a couple doctor visits. The recovery process was slow but in the end there were no repercussions. I have just a tiny scar to remind me not to play with fire. :) The road to success is sometimes paved with hardship so I place this affair as something inevitable.

The only upside was that the damage I inflicted on the card wasn't something too serious and apart of the unsightly look, the functionality of the card was intact. Thank GOD! I scavenged the replacement pins from a donor card.



Among the many things that were wrong with this card, I also had to deal with many solder pads that were scarred, a clue of the bad treatment this card endured until it got to me. I did the right thing and I returned the areas to their former glory.

At this point I just couldn't stop and think of the amount of stuff that was wrong with this particular card. And this was just the tip of the iceberg.



A 224 resistor was scavenged from the same GF3 Ti 200 that also gave the silver heatsink. The many ceramic caps needed were also scavenged. The bent IC on the back was left in place as apart of it being out of position, there was nothing wrong with it. For peace of mind I just added some solder to all its feet. I couldn't find a replacement and I decided to keep it as it was. If some time down the road I was to find a replacement for sure I was to do a swap.

I knew that against all of my efforts this card will never be as it was but at least it had a chance to prove if it was still alive or dead and buried. 0 or 1.

The entire operation took some time but in the end I had something that looked as it should. Something whole that could be plugged into a motherboard.



While I tackled the bent bracket I could feel that the time when I was to power up the beast was fast approaching. Anticipation started to build up.



During the various restoration and repair procedures I managed to damage the golden MADE IN TAIWAN sticker. I wanted to repair it with some aluminum tape but in the end I gave up. Too much hassle.



The only thing that kept me from powering up the card were two SMD OS-CON SVP 82uf 16V caps. The pictures I found on the internet indicated that these were an absolute must, so to ensure the best odds of success for this card, I placed and order at TME and I anxiously waited their arrival.



If you closely look at the pictures you might already spot a problem.

The caps I ordered were a size too small. &*%()#&$#&$!!! The original caps were OS-CON SVP 82uf 16V with a diameter of 8 mm while the replacements were OS-CON SVPF 82uf 16V with a diameter of 5 mm. Damn! I didn't read the specs thoroughly and I did a mistake. DAMN IT!

After I read the spec sheets, as I should've the first time, I came to the conclusion that I had nothing to worry. the SVPF were superior to SVP and apart of the size there was nothing wrong with them. The order of the SVP(F) caps was made in a hurry. This was a mistake on my part. At first I didn't pay attention to the size factor and then to the fact that the new caps were SVPF and not SVP. All I saw was SVP 82uf 16V and I placed the order.



After this mix up in regard to the SVP caps, I looked at pictures of other GF3 Ti 500 cards and on a Leadtek I saw that regular 100uf 16V SMD caps were installed in the same location. Facepalm in progress ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Well that could've save me a few bucks ... No matter, only the BEST for my precious!

The tiny SVPF caps barely touched the solder pads but at least they filled the gaps. I really had to do something about this shortcoming ...



Let's turn back the time and see if we can restore some zing to this beauty.



The fruits of my labor.



Attention to detail.



After a lot of work and commitment, I was ready to power up the card.



Well?

Well, nothing. No beep, no signal ... I paused for a few seconds and counted my options. I soon came the the realization that this was it. The card is dead. Just a big fat zero.



I tried various things but nothing worked, so I tossed the card in a box and I decided to try something else at a later date when I had a clear mind.



My options were limited but of all the scenarios I could come up with, one stood out. I wanted to find the correct SVP 82uf 16V caps. I had one on a dead Leadtek GF4 Ti 4200, but I needed two. The last one came from another dead Leadtek card I found at the flea market.

So, after many weeks, as I wasn't ready to let go, I was back in business.



SWAP COMPLETED!



POWER!



Still nothing. Bummer ...

For the 100th time I checked the card for other signs of damage.

To my surprise, I found something. Hope filled my sails once more. An inductor at the L84 position was MIA. The solder pads didn't have the obvious tell tale signs of a torn component so I overlooked that exact spot. I had to cross reference other pictures from the internet to be sure that the L84 was indeed present on this GF3 Ti 500.



For the last time I pressed the POWER BUTTON and I was filled with joy when I saw the green led light up on my monitor.

The joy was short lived though. The card showed artifacts but also had instances when it showed a perfect image. Damn ... I checked the top memory chips for broken or unsoldered pins so I was sure that the problem lay somewhere else.



At this point I threw in the towel. That's it I'm done! Troubleshooting the cause of this behavior was something out of my skill level and truth be told I was quite tired to deal with this card. Accepting that I was defeated wasn't easy but I had to let it go.

I'm sure that I'll find another GF3 Ti 500 one of these days. :)

This above and beyond adventure had its moments of glory but also of despair but in the end I came out stronger and more determined. There is no limit to what you can do once you put your mind to it. It is just a question of how far you want to take things.

The only upside of this experience was that at least, in the end, I managed to make this sorry a$$ card output an image, so for a brief moment in time this card was as it once was. Shiny and whole, like it left the factory.

Up to this date I didn't try anything else and I intend to keep things like this. I don't want to poke the demon lurking below. I'm sure that if I just take this card in my hands I'll lose many more days, weeks, thinking of ways to recover something that has minute chances of survival. At least until I am able to obtain the tools and the expertise to tackle even more difficult cases. But this is for another time ...

Sleep my dear ...



Who knows what the future will bring?

More later.

gallery: https://postimg.cc/gallery/5yJ8Tcg * https://postimg.cc/gallery/0vvsjfh
 
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A good tip if you want to repair traces and can't find a good wire is find an old induction heating coil and strip the wire from that I had an old soldering iron over a decade ago that died and I'm still using the coil today for trace repair.
 
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That was a Massive attempt at fixing the unfixable and deserves big respect. Nice try! :)
 

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The effort you to go for GPU repairs and documenting the steps is amazing
 
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A good tip if you want to repair traces and can't find a good wire is find an old induction heating coil and strip the wire from that I had an old soldering iron over a decade ago that died and I'm still using the coil today for trace repair.

Tip noted! Thanks! :)

That was a Massive attempt at fixing the unfixable and deserves big respect. Nice try! :)

I gave it my best but after I wrote the episode, as expected, a new idea has popped up so this baby will need my attention again some time in the future. This is such a needy card! &$#*)&%#%^#$#!!!

The effort you to go for GPU repairs and documenting the steps is amazing

It comes naturally to me. After 6 years of constantly improving my method it is second nature, a reflex. :) I tried to restore a piece without taking pictures but it wasn't the same. I still kept reaching for the phone when I saw something interesting. It seems I am "broken" but not quite. I like to think that there is a method to my madness.

You should look back at past posts, Robert does this with a ton of stuff. While many people can do the repairs shown in this thread, Robert adds his own style and flare that gives it a charm all it's own!

I know I'm "special" but I'm a modest person and I want "my work" to speak for me. :D I like to think that "the whole package" makes me stand out. I had a few words with others trying to replicate what I do and as it turned out it is not an easy task, especially being focused and doing this years on end. These adventures have gone past the just cleaning stage and are way into the heavy restoration territory. Lately, as stuff has come in big numbers, I was overwhelmed by what I must do over the following years. Yes years! So, even if I take a few moments off, you can be sure that I'll be back! :D I also intend to tackle other projects and I have a few ideas that I'll present when I'm done with the "thinking/preparation" part. Who knows what the future will bring?!

***

In other turn of events I finally scored THIS baby. It took me many years but I finally got one. My very first Intel Venus VS440FX. Shocking Blue - Venus A little banged up but I'm not complaining. :D

I'll pair it with my PPRO 180MHz I found a while back. Add to this some high capacity EDO SIMMs I also found a while back and I'm golden. :)

Socket 8 in the house ready for action at a moment's notice IF the mobo or the CPU are still alive! So many unknown factors! The CPU has a damaged pin that I managed to fix but other than that everything is possible.

As usual you will be the first ones to find what happened!

More later.
 

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