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Building Your Own Computer Like My Super PC

What Problems Were There?

Not too many really. That's one reason to use quality components. But things didn't go perfectly trouble-free, and when anything goes wrong it can be intimidating. After all, you're staring at $1000 worth of sensitive equipment that's acting like a pile of junk, and you're wondering if it was such a good idea to give up the Customer Service that comes with a store-bought PC. Fortunately, the Internet is a wonderful place filled with information. I was able to search my problem description and find solutions.

Problem #1
The first time I tried to do a power-up, pretty much nothing happened. The fans were turning and I could tell the system had power. The CD-ROM drive light came on and I could tell it was getting power. But the LED on the monitor never turned green, it just kept blinking orange as if the PC were turned off. The screen was blank. I felt sure the processor must be bad. But I pulled it out and gave it a thorough visual inspection and it looked ok. My search of the internet did not turn up anything on my specific problem, but I did happen to read about someone having a problem with their CD-ROM and it was due to their IDE cable being the wrong length. Do tell! I didn't even know they had to be a certain length. So I checked and sure enough, they should not exceed 18 inches. Mine was a 24-inch cable I had purchased from Radio Shack. I don't know why I'm buying a cable from Radio Shack when I'm so keen on quality - but who knew? I didn't really see how the CD-ROM cable could be the problem, but it sounded like I had an improper cable anyway. So I purchased a quality cable, namely a Belkin Ultra 66 IDE 18-inch cable, and replaced the 24-inch Radio Shack cable. I tried powering up again, and, Voila!, It's Alive !! I had a living, breathing PC that now only needed proper preparation and grooming! I did my first "Dance Of Joy" for My Super PC.
Problem #2
I encountered an error when I tried to re-do my disk partitioning. I used FDISK to partition my hard drive. I accidentally didn't partition my hard drive exactly the way I wanted it the first time. But when I tried to do it over, FDISK gave me "Error Reading Fixed Disk" immediately after the first prompt for "use FAT32". The hard drive looked fine in the BIOS. I fixed this problem by using the "Drive Fitness Test" utility. This utility is available from IBM via the link I provided on my Build A Computer Like My Super PC - Hard Drive page. It includes a capability to erase the MBR (Master Boot Record). Erasing this record removes all information regarding partitioning. After using the "Drive Fitness Test" utility to erase the MBR, I re-booted using the Windows 98 Startup Disk (floppy disk). I used the FDISK on this disk and did not encounter the error message, so I was able to start over. The utility can also do a "low level format", but that was not necessary.
Problem #3
Sound Card IRQ Conflict
After installing the Creative Labs SoundBlaster Live! sound card, an IRQ conflict was reported by Creative SB16 emulation during boot. Everything came up fine and nothing seemed wrong. No sound was missing. But IRQ conflicts are not good, so I looked into it. Searching for the problem on the internet was easy! Seems like everyone's encountered this! It's even a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) at Creative's site. They phrase the FAQ as "The SB16 Emulation is causing an Interrupt (IRQ) conflict on my PC. How can I disable this device?" The response provides the instructions for disabling, with the closing remark "Note that this will disable your sound device in MS-DOS mode". Swell. I can probably clear the conflict by removing the card, too, and then live without sound. But here's a simple, better solution that worked for me: Open the Control Panel, then open the System icon. On the Device Manager tab, left click the plus (+) in front of the "Creative Miscellaneous Devices" line. Highlight the "Creative SB16 Emulation" line, left click the Properties button, then select the Settings tab. At the bottom of the Settings properties page, check the "Allow LPT Interrupt Sharing" checkbox, select "Apply", then "OK". Restart the PC and the problem was solved.

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