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Case Mods: 101
Author: Rob Baumstark       Date: October 26th 2000
Page: 6

Powering it all.

This has to be the most fun mod I've done yet (As of this article, still more mods in the planning stages, but thats another article). There have been a few articles on how to install a second ATX powersupply on the net, but I think that this way of doing it is by far the easiest (Well, the electrical part is. Cutting the hole for it is a pain.) Before I did this, my system was rather unstable unless I unplugged a few things while doing anything CPU intensive, even at stock clock-speed. This mod has fixed all my stability problems, looks damned cool (you don't see many of these), and should be able to provide me enough power to get into my peltier plans.

Note: This section assumes you've prepared for modding, and have already done the stuff in the safety section, namely removing EVERYTHING from your case. These are specific PS installation steps, not a list of steps for a complete project. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go back to the beginning of the article and start again, without skipping any pages this time.

Step 1. Find a place to put the thing. Unless you've got a mother-huge case like I do, you may end up not needing to make a cutout like this for it (though that creates the problem of getting power to it somehow). I'm sure there are a lot of places you can fit one of these, perhaps even outside the case if you're only in it for the power, not the overall look.

If you're going to be cutting a hole for it, you need to draw on the case where you are going to cut/drill, and basically follow the instructions for making a blowhole. To make the hole I traced the existing PS cutout on my case onto a piece of paper, then I cut that out of the paper and taped the paper down to my case. Finally, I traced the cutout of the paper back onto the metal and removed the template. If you thought I was paranoid about double-checking the fit for a blowhole, you should have seen me trying to verify that this would fit - there's just no way you can line a PS up with a tracing on the case to see if the holes line up or not. Even after all that testing I still didn't get it perfect, one screw-hole doesn't line up. Other than that, about the only difference between this and a blowhole-hole is that the lines are straight. As I mentioned before, I really recommend you still make many small cuts rather than trying to pull the Dremel disk along the line. If you need more detail about how to cut a hole, I refer you back to page 4.

Step 2. With both the first and second PS's in place, it's time to hook them together so they are operated from your computers main power switch. As all the articles say, you need to connect the green wires from both PS's together, and one ground from each PS together (one of the blacks.) Some sites also say that on the second PS you should connect the gray wire to ground, I didn't do this and haven't had any problems. What do all these wires mean? Green is the power-on signal. Whenever it is connected to ground the PS will turn on. You can check this by using a paperclip or small piece of wire to connect the green wire to one of the black wires with the PS plugged into the wall (you may want to do this to make sure your PS will work this way before connecting them together). If it doesn't work, try connecting gray (the power-good signal) to ground as well. All the black wires are ground, and it doesn't matter which one you use (use different ones for gray and green, still doesn't matter. They are all connected together inside the PS). The easiest way I've seen yet to do this, is to modify a small "tap-in connector" to allow both wires to pass through. You can get these at Radio Shack for cheap, they are pictured below so you know what I'm talking about. Notice that the end of one of the passages is blocked off, we are going to open it. I just used a sharp knife for this. You then simply place the two wires you want to connect in the two passages (eg. the two greens, or the two blacks) and close the connector around them with a small pair of pliers. If you later want to use the PS's for something else, it's quite easy to remove the connector with virutally no damage to the wires (picture below of where the connecter was on these wires, after removing the little pieces of insulation that were hanging off them to clean it up a bit) though I'd still recommend a little electrical tape around the cuts before putting it in another computer.

A tap-in connector. The blocked end of a connector. Opening a connector. A connector ready to be used.
Put the connector in place. Close the connector. Wires after connector removal. Wiring diagram.

Thats all it takes to get a second PS up and running in your machine. I've got all my HD's, CD's, MB, CPU, etc. running off the "main" PS, a 300W that came with the case. The second PS, a cheap 250W I had on a shelf powers all my cooling related items (right now fans, soon peltiers, water pumps, etc.) You can make out the tap-in connectors way in the back of my machine in this picture, all nice and neat; and a rear-view showing the dual-PS cutouts, and my collection of rear-fans.

The wiring in place. Dualie PS's in the rear.

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Case Mods: 101


Added:  Thursday, October 26, 2000
Reviewer:  Rob Baumstark

Page: 6/7

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