it's been a rough few weeks for my workstation. i absolutely hate being without a workstation; it feels like i've lost an arm. or half my brain. or both. was this downtime due to recent misadventures in watercooling? sadly, yes. learned some lessons, and got a whole lot better at soldering.
- 2022-07-04: i conclude a long 3-day weekend of 3d printing numerous parts with which i intended to "complete" my build. the goal was that no cables ought be visible—a formidable task, given everything in the box.
- 2022-07-05, 0700: i wake up, smoke a cigarette, check my mail, and go back to sleep. as i do every morning, i note that my condo is not full of the smell of burnt electronics.
- 2022-07-05, 1000: i wake up again, and smell a horrible acrid odor suggesting burning plastic. i go to find out who's been smoking crack in my condo. nope, the electric stink is coming from my machine, where the four leftmost power pins of my RTX 2070 Super have melted into the PCIe slot (press 'f' for respects). it is immediately obvious that the card will never again multiply a matrix. the motherboard, somewhat shockingly, still posts.
- 2022-07-05, 1100: i look into what's required to replace a motherboard's PCIe slot, shake my head, and order another Gigabyte Aorus Master TRX40 off Ebay. aftermarket TRX40 motherboards are not plentiful. i pay about $450, similar to the cost paid back in 2020-03 when i originally bought it. i order an EVGA Copper Hydro 2080ti for about $750, and marveling at freefalling GPU prices, pick up another 2070 Super for $300. i sell the scorched 2070 Super for $40, unsure why anyone would pay even that. i throw an air-cooled Radeon 6650 XT into another slot, forcing me to pull my Hyperx4 NVMe card, meaning my two SSD-based RAID1s are running in degraded mode.
- 2022-07-05, 1130: GPU prices continue to fall like Tom Petty falling off a stage while signing "free fallin'". the 2080ti i paid $750 for is now like $600. goddamnit. i see that the Quantum Momentum TRX40 monoblock i use is on extreme clearance at EKWB, and pick up a second one for $70. my old one had some organic crud in the fins, and who knows, maybe i'll end up using it with the old Aorus Master (minus one slot). and anyway, just $70!
- 2022-07-06: i fix the DRGB cable on my old Quantum Momentum, which had been decapitated a few months back (as in the 3-pin DRGB plug was severed from the cable, still not sure how this happened). doing so required identifying the three stranded wire groups within the cable, and then soldering on a new Molex 0022284033, $0.27 at Digikey. first, i use the ohmmeter functionality of my Amprobe multimeter to verify that no wires were crossed in the plug housing. they weren't, which meant there were only two possible mappings of cable internals. ARGB 3-pin is 5V, Data, no pin, Ground, so the three bunches of stranded wire were either
- 5V, Data, Ground, or
- Ground, Data, 5V
i was hoping that 5V and Data would be on different sides, since the only way i was going to blow this thing up (afaik) was switching 5V and Ground. if Ground ran through the center, that wouldn't be possible. i wasn't sure how to determine which mapping was in play, so i went by color. there were white, black, and red sheaths, which map cleanly to 3 of the 4 USB2.0 bunches (USB has Data+ and Data- on white and green cables, respectively), and the white was between the red and black (just where we would expect the Data line to be under a USB interpretation), so i made an executive call and guessed that the red was live. i stripped and separated the three bunches, and used three 18AWG solder seal wire connectors together with a heat gun to bind them to three pins. into the Molex went the pins, into an ARGB connector went the assembly, and...boom! works! felt like a pimp. so now i have two working monoblocks.
- 2022-07-07: video cards arrive. i check the Copper Hydro 2080ti in my machine against my existing Aorus Master, and realize using it in the top slot will invalidate the shroud i'd laboriously designed+printed a few days earlier for my mobo-side drive bays. the world is cruel. i can't place it in a lower slot, as my Dual XTOP pump would be displaced. i ponder permutations that move the Dual XTOP, despite it looking kinda badass where it is, and conclude that the best thing to do is change up my shroud. said shroud was printed with carbon fiber-infused PETG, requiring a high-temperature extruder. my high-temperature extruder is fucked. i resolve to unfuck it. my 2070 Super turns out to be...the air-cooling components of a 2080ti, completely useless to me. i ask the ebay seller what the fuck; he replies what the fuck yourself; this has escalated to a chargeback following failed ebay dispute resolution. so that's no longer in play. 2080ti or go home.
- 2022-07-08: mobo arrives. i have lots of other shit to do, and am unhappy, so i'm fine with waiting for the new monoblock to be delivered. i'm also not looking forward to moving my $2000 CPU (now $3500, ugh, since when do chip prices go up?), nor installing the monoblock, nor inevitably feeling like an unscientific fool applying new thermal paste.
- weekend of 2022-07-09: i grimly set to unfucking my Qidi X-Plus, which is broken in just about every way a 3d printer can break. i install a new stainless steel nozzle into my high-temp extruder, and extract the CF-PETG which had befouled it. i install a new brass nozzle into my other extruder, scraping out PLA which had filled the thing in horrible splotches like shit sprayed onto the walls of a public restroom. i tighten up applicable belts, open it up and extract bolts which had fallen into the bottom, and replace the factory fan with a spare Noctua. now we're cooking with thermonuclear fire, i think. i reassemble the fucker and go to calibrate it. the bed only rises to half of the intended height. i stare at it, reboot it a few times, curse loudly, watch the videos on the Qidi site since apparently all manuals and customer service are now youtube videos, and still it rises only halfway. i mail Qidi support, who ask for a video. i'm like "look i could just draw you a box with a plate halfway up the inside" but no, they want an Android video mailed back to them. it's a day that ends with Y, so the video is too large for their mailboxes, and i am given a Google Drive account to upload into. the Drive account is full of hundreds of other people's videos, to which i have full read and write access. fucking china. Qidi has no idea what's wrong; they offer me a conciliatory free stainless steel nozzle. the nozzle will cost $39.95 to ship from china, and will not fix my problem. i decline. Communist hooligans!
- 2022-07-11, 1000: i post my Qidi for sale on our building's internal mailing list.
- 2022-07-11, 1030: my message is rejected due to "too much swearing Nick!"
- 2022-07-11, 1031: i respond to the list administrator that most of the male residents in this building are walking bowlegged any given night and are likely, if anything, to be excited by talk of getting fucked in the ass by chinamen
- 2022-07-11, 1035: i am informed that "chinamen" will likewise not fly on the mailing list
- 2022-07-12: i walk to the office to use one of our fancy Ultimakers. like every communally-administered 3d printer ever, they are nonfunctional. later, for lack of anything better to do, i declare war on screws. i take my machine completely apart to replace every screw with hex bolts. "they're less likely to strip, see, six sides to accept your luvvvvv", i say, attempting to justify this massive bit of effort to a friend. the bolts are from MONSTERBOLTS of florida, of whose vaguely Satanic trade dress i approve. while doing so, i move my top two 360mm radiators into the roof of my CaseLabs T10 Magnum. this requires cutting new watercooling tubes.
- 2022-07-13: my new monoblock arrives from Slovenia. i am having surgery the next day, and am excited to finally fucking finish this beforehand. i remove the factory cooling (large L-shaped heatsinks+heatpipes+fans) from my new Aorus Master. i (very carefully) move my 3970X, polish it, apply Thermal Grizzly Kyronaut Extreme thermal paste, spatula it around feeling vaguely stupid for twenty minutes, and go to install the new monoblock.
i realize that this is "Revision 1.1" of the Gigabyte Aorus Master TRX40, compared to my original "Revision 1.0". looking for differences between the two, the sedulous inspector will notice two chokes on Rev1.1 where but one choke had been mounted on Rev1.0. this new choke prevents the monoblock from mating to Rev1.1. i go out onto my terrace, smoke a cigarette in silence, and finally erupt in a spectacular chain of expletives. i have no cooling option available for my CPU. the machine will not run this evening. i weep. even using a regular CPU block will now require reassembling the motherboard, a gigantic and questionable pain in the ass.
- 2022-07-14, 0900: my inguinal hernia is repaired in a largely painless procedure. i do not look at the machine, its pieces spread around my living room floor, mixed with tools, and manuals, and uncorraled fasteners of unknown province, and surgical gauze. to think of it is to think of my own failure, and for my eyes to burn in anguish and anger.
- 2022-07-14, 1900: i rush-order an Optimus Threadripper block ($195) for next-day delivery. knowing Optimus to have a reputation of shipping late and full of the magnanimity induced by Lortab hydrocodone, i also reserve a IceGiant ProSiphon Elite from Microcenter ($108).
- 2022-07-15: i receive my block from Optimus less than 30 hours after ordering it. my IceGiant is picked up and brought down by a friend. has the 3970X been sitting out bare in my living room for two days with thermal paste all over it? it sure has!
- 2022-07-16: i rebuild my new motherboard, restoring the factory heatpipery. i upgrade the thermal pads along the way, using top-of-the-line Gelid pads. i use about 20% of the screws i removed. the heatpipe and heatsinks are hanging on by a prayer. i install the Optimus block. i install the 2080ti, wire everything up, and build a new core for my custom loop. i run a leak test and immediately eject over a liter of coolant onto my floor, coming from what looks like three places. one definite leak is at the input of the Optimus, and liberally drenches my motherboard and the GPU. do remember that this all started with a leak into a motherboard slot. fuckin' fantastic.
- 2022-07-17: i spend over 16 hours detaching the PCIe slot from the old Aorus Master, and soldering a new one ($1.33 from Mouser). it is an incredible struggle. by the end my asshole is in tatters, and it sings a lamentation of worlds that only were, worlds where i have not soldered and wicked tiny holes for two thirds of a day. if you want to try this at home, watch this video, and change your mind. i eventually get the thing to POST with my Radeon, and oh readers i felt myself one of the world's greatest pimps when i did. as soon as the amdgpu kernel module was loaded, video failed and could not be recovered. sshing into the machine saw all amdgpu ioctl(2)s failing and sepsis in my kernel logs. i resolved to still consider this a success, and sold the motherboard for $80 on ebay. who's buying this shit? as a followup, i repair a D5 pump using an NPN transistor, pretty entirely due to this superb writeup.
- 2022-07-18: having run fans on the machine for 24 hours, i fix the leaks, take a breath, and...boot a working machine.
relative to where i was two weeks ago, about half of my precious bespoke 3d-printed parts have been invalidated due to other changes. i have upgraded my 2070 Super to a 2080ti, which is nice but nothing i needed. i have a better CPU waterblock, but it lacks any RGB, which my monoblock had. i have two useless monoblocks. my motherboard is somewhat dubiously held together, but looks like it'll hold alright. i ordered a used Aorus Xtreme TRX40, which aside from the ridiculous name is a very fine motherboard indeed, and which i got at a great price. installing it will require another CPU move, ugh, and invalidate another bespoke part. shit never ends: fuck the world, save yourselves.
previously: "The DNA Power Hour with Pa Dank" 2022-06-26