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Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-29-2005, 12:57 PM   #1
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Reviving a crashed eMachine

My apologies for jumping right in this morning without reading all the previous posts, but it's been a long night. I've broken & fixed my share of computers over the last 20 years but I've never seen this problem. Any ideas?

Yesterday morning, ironically while reading this board, our two-year-old eMachine crashed. Everything had been going along fine when the monitor lost its video feed and the computer stopped responding. The fan was still running and there were no other noises coming from the machine. It didn't seem to have slipped into hibernate mode because the indicator light wasn't blinking. The box, with its Athlon processor and CPU/RAM graphics emulator (no graphics card), is too cheap to have an "off" button. So I turned off the power at the surge suppressor, waited a few minutes, and pushed the computer's "on" button. The CD light came on (as if it was starting its boot sequence), the hard drive light came on solid yellow (instead of green flickering), and I could hear the HD heads unship... but nothing else happened.

It doesn't put out a video signal when it's turned on and the speaker doesn't beep any error messages. It doesn't even seem to start its BIOS read sequence let alone give me a chance to get at the BIOS settings. There aren't any obvious scorches or burn marks or smells on the motherboard or the CPU. I didn't get any temperature warnings or error messages and the machine had been acting fine before it died-- it just quietly lost its video output and stopped responding. The hard drive is fine-- it reads with no problems in the new computer. The monitor is fine too. I installed a video card in the old machine to see if there was a problem with the embedded video emulator but it didn't change the symptoms. (It's truly a plug & pray installation-- I can't even get to the BIOS, let alone change anything to reflect the video card's installation.) My trusty "Upgrading & Repairing Computers" indicates a CPU or motherboard fault but also suggests that a POST card is necessary for further troubleshooting.

Of course that troubleshooting may be more expensive than it's worth. Local firms are asking $75-$150 just to determine the problem, let alone fix it. With bare-bones boxes selling for $450 and having four times the capacity of this paperweight, finding the problem may be just an academic exercise. But if the problem is cheap & fixable then perhaps it'll solve my FIL's computer problem. Could all this frustration be caused by just a dead CMOS battery?

Buying a new machine took a lot less time than it'll take to reinstall everything & regenerate all our configurations settings. And as I've said at least once a year for the last two decades, thank goodness for weekly backups. I didn't need them this time but it was a good feeling knowing that I didn't have to be able to read the old HD. And it'll be a lot more enjoyable to do those new weekly backups on a DVD burner instead of a stack of CDs!

OK, I'm going catch up on my sleep and read the rest of the posts. Thanks for listening...
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-29-2005, 01:33 PM   #2
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine


Try vaccuming dirt and dust from the motherboard and case. Then reseat the cpu, memory, and any other replacable parts. My Dell notebook dies every few months and reassembling/cleaning resolves the problem every time.
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-29-2005, 01:54 PM   #3
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine

I agree on cleaning all the dust out; I'd blow it out with a reversed vacuum or canned air, though.

For these symptoms I'd unplug every cable and peripheral I can; ideally only the cpu, PS, speaker and a stick of memory are hooked up, but on this PC I'm sure there's other stuff built into the motherboard. If you can get a beep code (or onboard video) with a minimal setup then add things one at a time until it stops working.

My guess is either the motherboard or power supply went out, but occasionally I have PCs that dust keeps from booting up. It's been a long, long time since I've had a bad CPU; unless you cook them they don't break much. The RAM could be bad, but I don't think I've seen RAM bad enough to prevent the early startup and/or beep codes.

I think you can get POST cards for less than it costs to take it to someone, but I couldn't find a price offhand, and I also don't know if there are PCI POST cards, and your machine may not have an old ISA slot.
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-29-2005, 01:55 PM   #4
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine

Something similar will happen on the Macs here at work, most times it's just a matter of cleaning and replacing the battery.
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-29-2005, 02:00 PM   #5
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Outtahere
Something similar will happen on the Macs here at work, most times it's just a matter of cleaning and replacing the battery.
I don't think I've seen a bad battery prevent booting a PC, but it's cheap to try. The battery just keeps the BIOS settings alive and powers the clock, but a PC should still boot without the battery. (It will complain about invalid CMOS configuration and prompt for the setup screen, though.)
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-29-2005, 02:06 PM   #6
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine

Nords - sounds like a power supply problem since you don't even post *- it is not a battery problem since that would still allow a post -

Power supplies are a cheap component and usually available locally - check out CompUSA for a generic 150-250w supply at $30 or less- bring along your old power supply so that they can match the physical size *- get one and keep it as a spare. *I recently had to replace a small power supply on daughter's HP which I got from DALCO.com. *320W ATX EMACHINE MICRO POWER SUPPLY * *Dalco #: 66183 MFG #: FSP150-60SP-B Availability: Ships Today *Dalco Price: $27.50 *athttp://www.dalco.com/ProductsList2.a...1&selection=24

Usual problem is dust in the power supply building up and shorting something - today's PS has +/- 5v, +/- 12v and other derivatives - any of them going out would cause what you describe - These are not user repairable and truly have potential to give a powerful jolt so if tempted to open it, DON'T! *

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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-29-2005, 02:23 PM   #7
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnP
Nords - sounds like a power supply problem since you don't even post *- it is not a battery problem since that would still allow a post -
Very good point. I'm more familiar with the power supplies that shoot flames when they have a problem, but this one might just not be putting out the voltage. It sounds like it's spinning up but it never occurred to me that it could be the problem. I do have three HDs in that machine and I think the P/S is only 250 W. Even better it's a cheap bet to troubleshoot. I think I'm finally done with the old HD in the new machine so swapping back to the old machine and paring it back to just one HD is no problem.

When I was a Weapons officer the bane of my existence was pulling/reseating cards in expensive combat computer systems. I think we broke more than we fixed (your tax dollars at work). We also learned that blowing is far worse than sucking (I'm referring to using vacuum cleaners here). I'll see how a 300 W ATX works out. And the new machine has such a big HD (200 GB) that it only needs one. This time I really mean that.

An interesting side effect of this casualty is that the family has become emotionally attached to the new machine in just a few hours. It followed me home so I guess I get to keep it-- happy holidays!
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-29-2005, 04:50 PM   #8
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine

I had an emachine die. It was the power supply. Very cheaply made. Do you have a volt meter to measure the power supply output?
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-29-2005, 05:27 PM   #9
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazarus
I had an emachine die. It was the power supply. Very cheaply made. Do you have a volt meter to measure the power supply output?
That's the great thing about an Emachine. They're so cheap
it's not a big deal when they fail. We've had good luck with ours.

JG
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-29-2005, 05:37 PM   #10
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazarus
I had an emachine die. It was the power supply. Very cheaply made.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnP
Nords - sounds like a power supply problem since you don't even post *- it is not a battery problem since that would still allow a post -
Well, I'll be darned. That was it. $26 for a new 260W ATX (they were out of stock of the 300s) and I'll only run it with the one HD.

Now it's time to call my father-in-law...

Thanks for the help, everyone!
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-29-2005, 05:42 PM   #11
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine

If you're going to buy a replacement machine, don't buy a Dell from Hell:

http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...p?topic=4996.0

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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-29-2005, 06:25 PM   #12
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine

Quote:
Originally Posted by cube_rat
If you're going to buy a replacement machine, don't buy a Dell from Hell:
I hear you loud & clear, and you're part of what's become a mighty chorus. I'm wondering when I should short Dell stock...

But I went even cheaper than that. I just bought the box & keyboard for $450. It comes with the "extra" RAM & DVD burner that I was going to buy myself for Christmas, and the CPU & HD are just an extra bonus. However I was surprised that it didn't come with a diskette drive. When you buy a car you expect it to have four wheels, when you buy a house you expect it to have a bathroom, and when you buy a computer you don't even check to see if it has a diskette drive.
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-30-2005, 04:34 AM   #13
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine

Nords

Glad to hear that a new PS did the trick!* Your three HDs probably did in the PS on the eMachines.* PC power supplies are lite and cheap because they use transistors in clever ways to eliminate the large transformers of the old days;* when the PC PS dies it does it quietly and without fanfare (or flames).*

the 3 1/4" diskette drives have gone the way of the buggywhips... They have virtually been replaced by the ubiquitous usb thumb drives - The free ones have 64-128 MB of flash ram - at BF 512MB models could be gotten for $10...* one gig thumb drives are $40, almost double the capacity of a CD.* I hardly ever use a floppy these days.

Save your money for an external (usb connected) hard drive to use for Ghost backup... you'll love it!

JohnP
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine
Old 11-30-2005, 07:13 PM   #14
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Re: Reviving a crashed eMachine

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnP
the 3 1/4" diskette drives have gone the way of the buggywhips... They have virtually been replaced by the ubiquitous usb thumb drives - The free ones have 64-128 MB of flash ram - at BF 512MB models could be gotten for $10...* one gig thumb drives are $40, almost double the capacity of a CD.* I hardly ever use a floppy these days.

Save your money for an external (usb connected) hard drive to use for Ghost backup... you'll love it!
Sorry, I'm still mourning the demise of the 8" floppies (I'm talking about disc-shaped computer storage devices). And remember when you were hot stuff if your disk drive was an integrated 5.25" HD WITH a 3.5" HD?

Diskettes still rule in our house and one of our cameras is a Mavica. So we won't be going all thumbs anytime soon. When the neighborhood teens start whining about only having one USB 2.0 port for their cell-phone downloads then I'll know it's time for our daughter to buy her own !@#$ computer.

I'm hoping backups are just a DVD burning once a week or so. Multiple bytes kilobytes megabytes gigabytes of backup ought to be enough for anybody, right?
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