Optiplex 980 -> ??? -> Gaming PC

2014-06-30 20.24.55

I was lucky enough to get two nice pieces of machinery given to me earlier this summer: A Dell Optiplex 980 (Small Form Factor) and a GeForce GTX470 graphics card with an aftermarket Zalman cooler.  Encouraged by recent Steam sales, I set out to make a budget PC capable of playing new-ish games with cost as the key factor.  The 980 came with a decent processor for its age–an i7-860 at 2.8GHz–and 8GB of RAM.

Originally I thought this would entail swapping the stock video card and getting a new power supply to provide enough juice.  I went with the Corsair CX600.  I got a riser to connect the video card outside of the case, since the Zalman cooler is about as big as the SFF case itself.  Dell’s proprietary power supply configuration meant I had to get an adapter and reconfigure the pinout to supply the correct power, and after a couple weeks, this brought about the end of the $35 gaming PC dream: one of the pins I reconfigured came loose and fried the Dell motherboard.  I’d have to invest a little more money to get something useable.

Getting a non-Dell motherboard meant I could scrap the weird power supply setup, so I got a used Intel DP55WB and tried to install it in a larger Dell Optiplex 960 MT case (again, trying to save money whenever possible).  This time everything fit in the case, but the mATX motherboard was not meant to fit in the proprietary Dell case, and in trying to cram it in, I fried another mobo.  Fun!

Deciding that I should just bite the bullet and make a computer that works, I invested in a Rosewill Ranger case, an ASUS P7P55-M motherboard, and a Cooler Master Hyper TX3 fan–the i7-860 is after all a popular processor for overclocking.  This time taking extreme caution with my motherboard and power, and testing all components, I got things up and running!
2014-06-30 18.05.37

See below for PCPartsPicker.com build sheet, not including the pile of dead parts left in my wake–I’m chalking those up to gaining experience.  Everything I bought was pretty heavily discounted (sometimes via rebates) and I’m really enjoying the computer overall.  I mostly play Chivalry: Medieval Warfare and Rome 2: Total War.

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/JrC26h
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/JrC26h/by_merchant/

CPU: Intel Core i7-860 2.8GHz Quad-Core Processor  ($0.00)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper TX3 54.8 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler  ($24.99)
Motherboard: Asus P7P55-M Micro ATX LGA1156 Motherboard  ($54.99)
Memory: Kingston 8GB (4 x 2GB) DDR3-1333 Memory  ($0.00)
Storage: Toshiba  160GB 2.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($0.00)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($49.99)
Video Card: PNY GeForce GTX 470 1.25GB Video Card  ($0.00)
Case: Rosewill RANGER-M MicroATX Mini Tower Case  ($42.99)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 600W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply  ($37.99)
Total: $210.95
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-09-03 15:54 EDT-0400



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Welfare State Paper Update

Since my last post, I finished my paper on the Welfare State and and have both a full (21  pages with references) and 10-page version available if you want to read.  The final title is “Ideology and the Alliance for Progress: Charting the Boundaries of the Welfare State”.  The paper takes a look at the ideology behind Kennedy’s foreign aid (specifically in Latin America) and how it matched up with his idea of the American welfare state.  Were the ideas behind the Great Society reflected in the Alliance for Progress?  Check out the links above to find out.

I’ve also completed two Coursera courses that really bolstered my musical abilities: Intro to Music Production with Loudon Stearnes (Berklee Music) and Songwriting with Pat Pattinson (Berklee Music).  The Music Production class was an awesome foundation for learning DAW functionality and the basics of audio and synthesis.  The Songwriting class was a little goofy but is great for looking at songwriting more analytically than I ever have.  I highly recommend them both.  Next up: Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering.  More on new pedals coming soon, as I have a PCB fuzz, a Veroboard-ed Octaver, and a Boss DS-1 Seeing Eye / Ultra mod in the works.

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Beer, Cider, Latin America

On the homebrew front, there’s a 5-gallon carboy with an India Brown Ale that will start dry-hopping today and will be bottled this weekend.  I’ve also got 7 gallons of cider with various combinations of spices, yeast, etc. that should be bottled by Monday too.

I haven’t been able to update lately with all the work I’ve been doing on my research paper for The Welfare State.  It’s been a great class so far, though putting together a research paper has been challenging in several ways.  Poking around through archives takes a long time when you’re as easily distracted as I am.

On the plus side I find a lot of cool things that provide different perspectives.  Like this poster advertising Latin American travel as the “land of business opportunity–a vast market–a great source of supply.”  I’m trying to study how US business interests in Latin America are tied in to the process of building a welfare state via international aid (1950s-60s).  While this poster is unrelated to social welfare, it does provide an interesting look at general business interest in states south of the border.

latin america

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Mike Rowe on “Are Bad Jobs Good for the Economy and for Those Who Work Them?”

This was a great read.  I love what Mike Rowe has been doing since Dirty Jobs.


“To: Steve Kloosterman
From: Mike Rowe
Re: Your Headline, My Face

Hi, Steve,

Mike Rowe here, Dirty Jobs. Thanks to the necromancers over at Google, I’ve been alerted to your most recent Question of the Day: “Are Bad Jobs Good for the Economy and the People Who Work Them?” (http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2013/07/question_of_the_day_are_bad_jo.html)

Immediately under your headline I noticed a photo of me, taken on the Mackinac Bridge while filming a segment on Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe.

Given the juxtaposition of my face with your headline, a reasonable person might conclude that a “Dirty Job” and “Bad Job” are one and the same. This sentiment is not only inconsistent with my own view of hard work, it’s completely at odds with the Dirty Jobs Code of Conduct, a collection of life lessons painstakingly compiled from the men and women I’ve met on Dirty Jobs. ”

Click the link above to read the full letter.

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August 23, 2013 · 9:43 pm

Looper & Killswitch

Completed two new pedals last night based on schematics from Beavis Audio Research.

Killswitch guts Looper & Killswitch

The larger of the two is a true bypass looper that’s great for taking noisy pedals out of the signal chain like my Big Muff Pi or Superego.  I’m probably going to paint it black, and the LED has a red-diffused lens.

The other pedal is a basic killswitch… some people use these to stutter their guitar signal but I think I can get some neat sounds putting it in the effects loop of the Superego.

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Audio Sample – Tele with Fralin Unbucker

I’m in between computers right now so I haven’t been doing much recording.  I did set things up to get a feel for my new pickups this weekend, and I love the tone.

The Fralin Unbucker is a humbucking pickup that is designed to be split–unbalanced coils allow for the warmth of a humbucking pickup and for more of a single coil tone.  This works really well with the neck position of the tele, and I used a push-pull volume potentiometer for the split.  I was just kind of goofing off on this recording so please forgive the sloppiness.  I used the Electro-Harmonix Superego pedal for a little background texture.  The new tremolo pedal I made also makes a surprise appearance at the end:


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Two pedals done in one weekend

Completed the tremolo pedal I was working on and also tinkered with the Fulltone OCD clone to get it working. Two new pedals in one weekend!

Mellowdrive & Tremolo

mellowdrive LED

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