Hardware, programming and astronomy tutorials and reviews.

Getting rid of dust from home and from a computer case

Dust is something not welcomed and the more dust gets to a room or to a computer PC the more often it has to be cleaned. For quite some time I was noticing a much higher dust buildup in my home that in few offices closer to the city center so I've decided to investigate this mystery. Here is my investigation involving air quality sensor, air purifier and winter heating season.

Read more

Building a software developer PC based on Ryzen 7 1700

From time to time a company will spend a nice chunk of money on new hardware. Few days ago company I work for - Social WiFi (and Captive Portal Installer) made some upgrades - new PCs for software developers, RAM and SSD upgrades for some old laptops and stuff like that (a new coffee machine!). I participated in the PC upgrade process. We built four Ryzen 7 1700 systems and added a bit of RGB on top of it. Here is the story, parts picked and some benchmarks.

Read more

Power and thermal performance of fanless Pentium J5005 PC

Not so long ago I tested a fanless Pentium J5005 motherboard. I did some basic power usage testing but that was done with a powerful ATX power supply. In this article I want to test power usage more precisely with a DC/ATX power adapter. Alongside it I want to test if there will be any thermal throttling when running the system under heavy load in a typical small mini ITX case. How a 10W TDP CPU will perform in those categories?

Read more

Wire wrapping tool for electronics prototyping with reliable connections

Breadboards allow for quick prototyping of electronic circuits, yet they don't offer reliable connections, especially those that will last in less friendly that desk conditions. We can solder the circuit on an universal PCB but that requires time and makes any fixes quite hard to implement. Fortunately there is a in-between solution called wire wrapping.

In this article I'll showcase a simple tool for wire wrapping - an very old technique of wrapping wires on electronic components. More reliable than DuPont connectors and a breadboard yet quick and easy to wrap or unwrap.

Read more

Grounding and electrostatic discharge protection of a problematic PC system

When winter comes or when someone watches The Verge PC build reaction video the topic of ESD protection and electrostatic discharge sees a surge in interest. People working with electronics or even more precautious PC builders do use various tools and safety measures to avoid damaging electronics via electrostatic discharges. Consumers of electronic devices don't care that much and often just rely that the device maker made the device to handle both electrostatic discharges as well as various electric faults that may occur.

In this article I'll go over basics of grounding, electrical bonding, electrostatic discharge and how that caused problems to my PC. Treat it as a template for checking or improving your own electrical wiring.

Read more

Testing old 16 core Opteron 6386 SE on a Jingsha X89 motherboard

For server market both AMD and Intel offer dedicated groups of products. Intel has Xeons processors, AMD had Opterons and now Epyc. One of AMD past family of server Opteron processors used a G34 socket and offered up to 16 cores and an option to have up to four CPUs on one motherboard for a total of 64 processor cores.

In this article I'll test the top of the line 16-core Opteron 6386 SE on a rather recently released Chinese G34 motherboard. How does 16-cores from 2012 compares to 12-16 core Threadrippers in 2019? Can it even beat latest quad core CPUs?

Read more

Risers and adapters for non-standard GPU connection

You get a graphics card and you connect it to a PCIe slot on the motherboard. That's the most common way but not the only one. In some cases you may want to mount the GPU away from the motherboard – to showcase it, to improve cooling, to power it directly from the power supply and not via motherboard PCIe slot, or when you have a nettop or a laptop with mPCIe, M.2 NVMe or ExpressCard slot and you want to be able to connect a GPU at all. In such cases extension cables called risers, various boards and eGPU adapters come to play. Some special computer cases also. Let's have a look at those options.

Read more

Design and capabilities of multi-CPU computers

There are tasks like video rendering that can take many hours on a good CPU. The final total time needed depends on the CPU performance - how many cores it has, what frequency it runs at, what is it IPC and so on. Many tasks can use multiple cores of a CPU to finish the job faster while the CPU can only have a finite amount of cores due to size or design limits. To overcome this problem servers and workstations just use more than one processor in one system. It adds complexity but provides much more cores for the task to run on. Lets check how multi-CPU systems work and how you can play with one yourself by using an old cheap workstation motherboard.

Read more

Testing two cheap portable monitors

It's not a problem to buy a monitor. If you need 1080p, 4K 16:9 or ultrawide 21:9 - everything is easily available. But there is also a niche called portable monitors with small diagonals of 11,6" to 17,4", often powered from a laptop to which they can be connected to. In this article I'll review two Chinese monitors of such type - 11,6" and 13,3" cheap displays.

Read more