Main video: 35 man Roadtrip.
This is an airship I built over the weekend of the 23rd/24th Feburary. Estimated build time around 10 hours, making heavy use of WorldEdit. This will be the spawn area for the server, with portals on the lower decks to other worlds.
Last year, 2 Player Productions started a Kickstarter for a Minecraft documentary. I sponsered one of the mid-level tiers and my kit turned up recently. The film was released in December 2012 and shipping started soon after – coming from the US it was bound to take a while. The sponser level got me an early digital download as well as name in the credits. I have here my C418 film Original film score, a special double-disk edition of the film (unsure what this means currently), a Creeper wind-up toy and a papercraft cut-out figurine. I was seriously pleased with the production quality of the DVD and film and was glad to have physical copies. It’s a feather in Kickstarters cap that “crowdfunding” really can work.
Just messing around with Just Cause 2
I recently had an issue with one of my MicroServers – detailed in a ServerFault question but replicated here.
My issue was when server is powered on the power light turns green but the machine’s status light (the HP logo on the front) stays off and there is no video output through the onboard VGA. The system fan kicks in and if connected to a network the link light shows activity. I have no extra boards (iLO card, graphics card) only 4GB PNY non-standard stick of RAM.
I logged a job with HP who diagnosed a motherboard fault and sent out a replacement board. After swapping the boards over I started the machine up with video and a blue (good) status light but realised the MiniSAS cable wasn’t plugged in and once I did the machine refused to boot.
I was sent a new MiniSAS cable and managed to replace it – not an easy job. The server booted and is now working as expected.
If you have this issue, try unplugging the MiniSAS and see if the system boots. If it doesn’t, contact HP or find a supplier for a HP Part Number: 616572-001 or HP Spare number 624881-001. The cable looks like this:
I had difficulty finding instructions to replace the cable so here is how I did it. HP also provide an instruction video.
To remove the MiniSAS cable you will need to remove the MiniSAS from the motherboard (can be difficult) and for ease of access remove the motherboard and tray, and the 4x Hard disk caddies. You will then need to remove 4 screws at the back of the chassis. The allen key that comes with the machine and should be stored in the door can be used for this. The locations are marked below.
Once the four screws are removed the MiniSAS cable needs to be fed back though the chassis, over the power supply, but you will need to cut a number of cable ties to do this. Then you will need to disconnect the 4 Molex connectors (if you have a hard disk or CD/DVD drive in the top bay this will need to be removed to gain access to the cables). This was not easy as 1 of the cables was very stiff and needed come coaxing to come out.
Once the screws and cables are loose the rear panel that was unscrewed can be removed – I had it bring it forward feeding the cables down behind it and then rotate it so it could slip out between a center stand in the disk caddy area. You then end up with this (actually upside-down here).
The cable can then be disconnected from the mounting plate – 8 screws can be removed using the tool that comes with the server. The replacement cable can be pushed into place (small plastic bumps line up with holes in the rear and then screwed in. The plate can be put back into place, feeding the cables up past the fan, and then screwing back into place. Molex cables need to be connected back up, the MiniSAS fed back through over the PSU. Motherboard can be put back into place and MiniSAS, Power and other connectors can be done as well.
Put the door back on, cover on, power in and VGA in and start it up. That should be it.
Originally posted April 22, 2012
After my MicroServers arrived I realized I was in need of a new KVM switch (Keyboard, Video, Mouse, allows you to use a keyboard, screen, and mouse with one or more computers) as the two port Belkin USB Flip wasn’t going to be enough – I wanted at least a four port one. Two ports for the MicroServers, one for the DL360 and one for the file server. I looked at IPKVM switches but I quickly realized that they would have been too expensive for a home network. My criteria, then, was a four port KVM, with USB (as the microservers didn’t have PS/2 ports) and VGA.
Enter the Belkin SOHO 4-Port KVM Switch
I found this on the Novatech websites – as they were based in Portishead and it was the school holiday I decided I could take a trip down to get it rather than waiting for delivery from eBuyer or similar – and it looked ideal. There were a couple of other models with more ports and rack mountable but that would have been getting expensive. As bad luck would have it Novatech didn’t have it in stock so it was ordered in for me on the Tuesday I went down and was ready for me to pick up on the following Saturday.
First impressions were very good. Solid base unit with four colour coded buttons, and four chunky colour coded leads of a decent length that took the video, audio and USB data to the computers (I didn’t actually realize it had sound capability). Through voodoo or magic the end that went into the computer had audio, video (mic, speakers) and USB, while the switch end just had video and audio – I guess the USB must be done over the VGA. Unfortunately three of the machines I was plugging into the KVM didn’t have sound/mic ports so I tied them back along the main cable to keep them out of the way.
Once installed it sat quite nicely underneath my screen, plugged into the VGA for the screen, two USB ports for a mouse/keyboard and a set of headphones. The switch also features two USB ports, one on the back, one on the side, that act as a USB hub and can be presented to the machines as if a USB stick was plugged into the system itself, however switching between machines disconnects the USB meaning you can’t start a copy one one computer and switch to another while the transfer is running. Switching between computers is quick and the mouse/keyboard picks up with no delay, unlike the Belkin Flip I was using before. Pressing the middle of the button switches both audio and video output to that machine, pushing the left hand side switches to just the video and the right is just the audio – so you could listen to music from one machine while using another.
Really, for £114, it’s quite good value, although the downside is that you can’t use your own VGA cables with it, it has to be the Belkin ones – the longer cables are quite expensive. Due to it’s size and form factor it’s only really good for the small home/office or lab setup – anything more and you’ll probably need to start looking at IPKVM switches – but if there was a 8 port variant of this KVM that would almost certainly be worth a look. If you spent the time shopping around you could probably get it for under £100 then it’s definitely worth it.
Edit November 2012 – The unit recently failed on me – not working at all. No lights and no beep when pressing the buttons to change input. Returned to Novatech/Belkin under warranty and they replaced it with a new one. Unfortunate but good service.
Originally posted on September 2, 2012
While I’ve been a fan of PC gaming I’ve not always gone for the best components and instead gone for bundles. My desktop CPU and Motherboard were a bundle from Maplins and so were the case and the graphics card. CPU is a quad-core AMD Athlon II X4 630 at 2.8GHz and motherboard is a ECS GeForce6100PM based on the nVIDIA nForce 6100-430 chipset. The graphics card was a basic XFX Radeon HD 5450 which, while has served me well in the past, was starting to struggle. While it was fairly happy with Minecraft, Battlefield 2 and 2142 could only be ran on middling settings and sometimes World in Conflict and Supreme Commander 2 slowed with a lot of particle effects. Just Cause 2 was unplayable and was like watching a slideshow, while Crysis 2 ran at 15-20 FPS and Battlefield Bad Company 2 seemed to run okay but was very sluggish on the controls.
So it was time for an upgrade. After reading up I decided on either a Radeon 7850 (MSI Twin Frozor) or 7870 (XFX Core edition) and in the end I went for the 7870. So I found myself on my way to Novatech to pick it up and see what it can do.
I also upgraded my power supply from an Artic 500W (originally from eBuyer) to a Novatech 600W (rebadged OCZ or Corsair, according to the sales consultant). 500W is minimum reccomended for the 7870 but for £60 the Novatech was a good buy for a modular PSU.
First impressions when I got home is that this was a big card – a lot bigger than I was expecting. I knew it was a double-slot card but at nearly 25cm long it overlapped 3 out of 4 SATA ports on my motherboard meaning I had to disable the CD/DVD drive. The size of the card is 24.10 x 3.80 x 11.10 cm which, compared to the 5450 it replaced, also dwarfed it.
Fitting wasn’t an issue as I had to take the PSU out as well to replace it. This was my first modular power supply as well which I found a lot easier to manage compare to the Artic it replaced with the spare cables training everywhere.
Fired the machine up, re-ran the Windows 7 Experience Index tests (raised gaming graphics from 5.1 to 7.9), updated the latest drivers and was met with Just Cause 2 running the benchmarking tests at a spectacular 75 FPS.
A truly excellent card well worth the money.
Name: XFX Radeon HD 7870 Core Edition
Memory Clock: 4.8GHz
Clock Speed: 1GHz
Cooling: Single Fan
Video outputs: 1x HDMI, 2x DVI, 2x Displayport
Price: £199.99 (Novatech, £220 eBuyer)
Originally Posted April 23, 2012
I’ve had my MicroServers for a while now, I’ve upgraded the RAM to 4GB/each, installed a couple of OS’s onto them and played about with them. Here’s what’s happened.
First thing I wanted to try is putting Ubuntu Server on them. Installed without problems (installing from a USB stick created with uNetBootin) however when the USB was removed and the machine restarted the BIOS spash screen flicked up, ran through it’s configuration and then the screen switched off as no display input was being recieved – which I thought was odd because even the console should have been displayed. I had a look online and it appears that GRUB (the Ubuntu boot loader) was installed /dev/sda which was the USB stick. When I’ve got some more time (during the holidays) I might go back and put Ubuntu back on them again but I dropped Server 2008 Web on them to use in the short-term.
I also took the decision of upgrading the RAM – from 2GB to 4GB with a PNY 4GB stick each, the RAM spec was “PC3-10666 1333 MHz DDR3, Unbuffered, non ECC”. The 2 GB that comes with the MicroServer are ECC RAM so the modules cannot be mixed for 6GB (as I found out, I didn’t remember that the ones included were ECC). HP Part number for the RAM installed was 500209-161. I also thought that the ones I bought were going to be too small and the MicroServer used a smaller RAM form factor but happily I was wrong.
Installing the RAM meant you needed to unscrew two thumbscrews holding the motherboard tray down (I used the door-mounted Allen key to make this easier), a number of headers, the power supply, the Mini-SAS cable (which was quite tough) and almost forgot the VGA, USB and Ethernet cable in the back. The tray came out quite nicely, RAM was put in the slot (of which there are two, I think it’ll take up to 8GB) and then cabled back in. You might have some difficulty getting the cables back to their original position but after a couple of goes you’ll probably be fine. There’s also an on board SATA port that you could use if you wanted to put a CD/DVD drive in or a 3.5″ drive in the 5.25″ bay.
One final word – the Hard Disk caddy (HP Product ID: 624572-001, Spare ID: 624879-001) is avaible at a range of prices, up to an eye-watering £80+ on Amazon – if you need a couple you’re probably better off buying a new MicroServer and using it for spares.