Jump to content
COMBATSIM Forum
Home Fries

Major System Failure

Recommended Posts

All,

As those of you who fly Total Air War in multiplayer may know, my gaming rig shut down last Wednesday as soon as I went to sit down in my virtual cockpit. This happened immediately after I "shocked" my Cougar throttle while climbing in, and I have not been able to power up my rig since. Given the coincidence of electrostatic discharge (ESD) and the power down, I'm assuming that these events are directly related.

The power supply (PSU) still provides power to the motherboard, as I can see the two lights indicating power once the PSU is online. However, I cannot get any response when I try to cycle the power button on the case (not even fans engaging or a series of beeps).

For troubleshooting, I have left the power off (i.e. powered down via the switch on the power supply) overnight, unplugged all USB devices, unplugged all connections (except power), removed all cards, and finally removed all RAM. I still get lights on the motherboard, but no indication of power cycling when the power button is pressed.

I'm wondering if anybody has any experience with this, and in particular can help narrow down whether the problem is the PSU or the motherboard. From strictly a signal flow standpoint, I would think that the motherboard is the culprit because the ESD would go through the USB port first, but conventional online wisdom (now there's an oxymoron :lol:) says that the PSU is the most ESD sensitive component, and is likely to be the problem.

Also, does anybody have a suggestion on the next step for troubleshooting? For motivational purposes, my Total Air War 2.0 development stuff is on this rig, and I was hoping to do an update soon :).

Thanks in advance,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would guess that the motherboard is fried. The static shock may well have traveled through the stick's cable and fried some of the motherboard circuitry. No beeps usually means dead motherboard. Best way to find out is to try to power up the system with a psu that is known to be good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All,

The power supply (PSU) still provides power to the motherboard, as I can see the two lights indicating power once the PSU is online. However, I cannot get any response when I try to cycle the power button on the case (not even fans engaging or a series of beeps).

For troubleshooting, I have left the power off (i.e. powered down via the switch on the power supply) overnight, unplugged all USB devices, unplugged all connections (except power), removed all cards, and finally removed all RAM. I still get lights on the motherboard, but no indication of power cycling when the power button is pressed.

Also, does anybody have a suggestion on the next step for troubleshooting?...

Based on what you've reported thus far regarding your troubleshooting algorithm, it doesn't sound to me like the PSU.

That said, the CMOS components which are incredibly sensitive to static shock can suffer irreparable damage from ESD and the battery will malfunction. CMOS battery failures can prevent a system from starting. My next step, where it my system, would be to replace the CMOS battery (~$5.00), first and go from there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gees, that is bad! Makes that TS3 problem pale into insignificance. Unfortunately if that happened to me, I have to run to my favorite repairer. Keep us informed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well you can test the PSU with a PSU tester about 20bucks. Do you have another PSU available to see if it will even post??

You also need at least 1 memory stick in to Post and a vid card if you do NOT have Onboard Video..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FREE PSU Tester:

Unplug the 24 pin connector from the main board, take a paper clip and stick it in to jumper the green wire with any of the black wires, this will force the PSU to turn on, if it does not turn on, the PSU is bad (or not plugged into the wall :unsure: )

If the PSU turns on doing that, take the power switch connectors off of the main board from the case, (24 pin connector plugged back in) and use a piece of metal to jump those to pins together, if it starts, the front switch is bad, if it does not start then you are either using the wrong pins for the front switch of the main board is bad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just because I like pictures ...

Here's a pic showing DrKevDog's suggestion for testing your PSU:

atx-power-bypass.jpg

And here's one showing how to use a screwdriver to jumper the pins on the mobo to bypass the case-mounted power switch:

case_switch.jpg

Great suggestions :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, guys. Sorry for the wait.

I just did DKD's technique using TD's graphics, and the power supply was able to start the fans once the pins were shorted (I had nothing else connected to the PSU). I then connected 2 DIMMs and the video card, connected the PSU to the MoBo, then fired it up. I got a long continuous beep, which means that I forgot to plug the aux power into my videocard, so at least that check is working. I then aux-powered the video card, fired it up a second time, and this time the case light made as if the hard drives were accessing (no HDDs were attached), but no beep and no video output (I tried both ports on the card).

If I were to guess, I'd pin this on the MoBo. It looks like it has part of a brain, but doesn't go to the next level. Next step is to try DKD's other suggestion and replace the CMOS battery, though I'm not optimistic at this point.

Any other suggestions?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, guys. Sorry for the wait.

I just did DKD's technique using TD's graphics, and the power supply was able to start the fans once the pins were shorted (I had nothing else connected to the PSU). I then connected 2 DIMMs and the video card, connected the PSU to the MoBo, then fired it up. I got a long continuous beep, which means that I forgot to plug the aux power into my videocard, so at least that check is working. I then aux-powered the video card, fired it up a second time, and this time the case light made as if the hard drives were accessing (no HDDs were attached), but no beep and no video output (I tried both ports on the card).

If I were to guess, I'd pin this on the MoBo. It looks like it has part of a brain, but doesn't go to the next level. Next step is to try DKD's other suggestion and replace the CMOS battery, though I'm not optimistic at this point.

Any other suggestions?

I'm glad you're not 'Home Fried', however, I suspect you are a little 'crispy' as computer problems can cause a body to generate frustration heat. The problem will be solved soon we just have to go through the process ;) The PSU test you performed is a no-load test so it doesn't absolutely eliminate the PSU but PSU's generally either work or they don't. If it were me I would replace the CMOS battery (without allowing the CMOS to reset) first and methodically check and re-seat all connections as well as check the motherboard manual to make sure there is a DIMM in socket 1 of the mobo. If that did not work I would reset the CMOS. From there it is basically a process of elimination.

Below is a very good guide to troubleshooting the problem you're having:

PC troubleshooting Guide

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, guys, here's the latest:

I went through the checklist (though most of it I could skip because the mobo worked previously), tried with a single DIMM (I had tried a pair of DIMMS in slots 0 and 1 previously), then reset the CMOS by removing the battery and draining the capacitors. Everything was the same (i.e. when starting up, the HDD light would illuminate but no post or other signal.

Time to get a new mobo, methinks.

EDIT: The good news is that the Cougar tests sat on my laptop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, guys, here's the latest:

I went through the checklist (though most of it I could skip because the mobo worked previously), tried with a single DIMM (I had tried a pair of DIMMS in slots 0 and 1 previously), then reset the CMOS by removing the battery and draining the capacitors. Everything was the same (i.e. when starting up, the HDD light would illuminate but no post or other signal.

Time to get a new mobo, methinks.

EDIT: The good news is that the Cougar tests sat on my laptop.

sat = satisfactory ?

So does that curtail your TAW2.0 multiply, or can you run (somewhat happily) from your notebook or other?

You've still got that TS3 comm. problem, although others think its bandwidth and they may be right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

problem is that I can't move my laptop to my cockpit, and I can't move my cougar up to my laptop, so I am down until the new Mobo comes in. Besides, even if I could do it, my LT would have trouble with both TS3 and TAW.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

problem is that I can't move my laptop to my cockpit, and I can't move my cougar up to my laptop, so I am down until the new Mobo comes in. Besides, even if I could do it, my LT would have trouble with both TS3 and TAW.

If that wasn't all true, it'd be funny. ;)

Haven't thought of replacing your complete system?

Few years ago, my power supply went down, HDD's where getting noisy. and I had had a falling out with SLI video cards. Took it in to my trusty repairer (who I trusted), who said it would be cheaper to buy a new, current technology computer. At the price (so cheap compared to 4 years earlier) it made it the best option.

Just a thought.

Edit: Don't forget we still expect to "see" you at Teamspeak on Wed at 9.00pm. Besides, who's going to fix all our TAW2.0 problems ..... ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I looked into a new system, but everything now is geared toward the i5/i7 series processors, which also require DIMM3 RAM, so I would have to replace the processor and RAM with the motherboard. I just ordered another nVidia 680i motherboard for $80, which will keep me going just fine for now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I looked into a new system, but everything now is geared toward the i5/i7 series processors, which also require DIMM3 RAM, so I would have to replace the processor and RAM with the motherboard. I just ordered another nVidia 680i motherboard for $80, which will keep me going just fine for now.

$80!!!!! Gees, they're almost giving them away these days. I paid $355 for my mobo 15 months ago and that was cheap then ......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's because it's a mobo for the LGA775 type chip (e.g. Core 2 duo, Core 2 quad), and hasn't been made for a couple of years. Just what I need though, so I don't have to replace everything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update:

My new 680i motherboard arrived yesterday. After installing, it posted. That's the good news.

Now the bad news:

  • My 2x1Gb DIMMs were fried to the point that they wouldn't pass the nVidia RAM test on post.
  • My video card is showing artifacts; looks like the VRAM was hit as well by the ESD.
  • My system couldn't stay in windows long enough to rebuild the degraded RAID.
  • After running Memtest on my remaining DIMMs had numerous fails.

Now some good news again: I have done my part in stimulating the economy by purchasing a GTX460 and some more DIMMs from NewEgg. I won't be flying tonight, but I should be good to go for next week.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Moved my blog entry here for posterity:

Let this be a lesson to you, boys and girls: if you live in an area with a lot of static electricity (e.g. just about any house in winter), don't plug your Cougar directly into the USB port of your PC. Instead, run it through a USB hub first, so that any electrostatic discharge (ESD) will fry your $10 hub and not your $200 motherboard.

It all started before our weekly Total Air War Fly-In. One moment I was on teamspeak telling the rest of the flyers "I'll be there in a minute," and the next moment a shock of ESD put my gaming rig out of commission for the next few weeks. As many of you undoubtedly know, the high-end Thrustmaster controllers (Cougar and Warthog) are made of aluminum, as opposed to plastic. This gives them an "as real as it gets" feel, but also provides them with the side effect of conducting electricity. I went to sit down in my virtual cockpit, touched the throttle as I sat down, and the electric potential went from my finger to the throttle, then was strong enough to arc from the frame to the USB cord, to the USB port on the back of my PC, then directly to my motherboard. Game Over, Home Fries!

To make a long story short (the long version is available here), I replaced the motherboard, which arrived about a week later. After installing and posting with the new motherboard, I realized that the ESD had also fried both my RAM and my video card. Fortunately, I had just discovered an error in our favor on an auto repair bill (to the tune of $600), so the Mrs. (affectionately known as CINCHOUSELANT) was agreeable when I decided that as long as I was shelling out the cash for a new videocard that I might as well get bang for my buck. Enter the EVGA GTX460, along with 8Gb of RAM to replace the 6Gb that bought the farm.

I have now had a week to test out the new hardware, and I am enjoying it immensely. The video card works in TAW Glide mode with the 266.58 drivers, and ramping up the detail on the rest of my sims (not to mention LotRO) has been a fun experience.

That said, your best bet if you are a proud owner of a Cougar or Warthog is to run the controller through a USB Hub. That way, any ESD will fry your $10 hub and not your $200 motherboard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×