Hard Drive Replacement – Microscrope Computer (Dell Optiplex GX620)

Dan noticed that the computer wouldn’t boot, so I looked into it a bit. When attempting to boot, the hard drive (HDD) was making a clicking noise; this is never a good sign.

I replaced the HDD with a clone of the existing (now dead) HDD that I had created back on 20150422 and everything is mostly back to normal.

What hasn’t returned to normal is the usage of Dropbox. Sometime this summer, Dropbox stopped supporting Windows XP and no longer allows usage of the Dropbox app on Windows XP computers. For the time being, this means that all files saved on this computer should be uploaded to Dropbox via a web browser.

Saving files to the Dropbox folder that still exists on this computer will NOT sync! That means they will NOT be backed up.

To resolve this issue, we would need to upgrade to Windows 7. Once I obtain a new backup HDD to create a new clone, I’ll attempt to upgrade this computer to Windows 7. The main reservation I have about this is that the two key pieces of software installed on this computer (Nikon Elements and SPOT) are extremely old and may not function on a newer Windows version. But, I guess we won’t know until we try!

Below are images of the steps I took to replace the dead HDD:








Macbook Pro (Yosemite) – Password Reset Problem

Lisa’s Macobook Pro (not sure of model year) running Yosemite ran out of battery last night. When she plugged it in and started it today, the computer booted to a Password Reset screen and she was unable to log in.

With some searching, I discovered that this issue requires the user to restart the VRAM.

I restarted the computer and held down the COMMAND-OPTION-p-r keys simultaneously until the computer made the startup “chime” a second time and released the keys.

The computer booted normally and Lisa was able to log in to her computer normally.

Troubleshooting – Green Screen Using SPOT Camera

For some reason, sometimes when we use the SPOT camera for capturing images on the microscope, we see this:


For some reason, the default filter setting has been set to “Green” instead of “RGB.”

Change the setting by following the next three steps:

1. Click on the Image Settings button:

2. Click on the Filter Color drop-down menu:


3. Select the “RGB” option:


We’re back to the normal view! Granted, the image appears a bit washed out (and a bit on the yellow side), but this can be taken care of with a white balance adjustment.

RAM Replacement – Dell XPS Studio 7100

This computer had been having intermittent issues for awhile (would just lock up for no apparent reason). Recently, it failed to boot and was issuing a Dell beep code: four beeps.

Turns out this is an indicator of faulty RAM. I removed the existing RAM sticks one at a time and turned on the computer. This allowed me to identify the bad RAM module (the computer won’t start when a faulty RAM module is installed).

I ordered new RAM to replace the faulty RAM.

Installed the new RAM today (4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 RAM) and the computer is working perfectly.

Power Supply Replacement – Microscrope Computer (Dell Optiplex GX620)

After finding out that the microscope computer had been down for at least a week, I determined that the power supply had likely gone bad.

Swapped in a “new” (it was used, but verified to be functional) power supply that arrived today. The computer booted up fine.

Some pics below to show what the power supply is and what it looks like when it’s removed.

RAM Replacement – Office Computer (Dell Optiplex 960)

The replacement RAM I ordered to fix my dead office computer arrived today.

I put in the new RAM and the computer started. I decided to restart the computer and it would no longer reboot! This time, Dell error code indicated a system board failure. This means the computer is dead dead. Additionally, I transferred the new RAM to a computer I scavenged from the old Horner-Devine Lab. Turns out, one of the RAM modules is now bad and the Horner-Devine Lab won’t start with that RAM module. I think it possibly got fried by my old office computer.

Will surplus the Optiplex 960 for recycling. RAM and hard drive has been removed.

Troubleshooting – Lab Computers

Surprisingly, we had two computers go down today:

  • My office computer (Dell Optiplex 960)
  • Microscope computer (Dell Optiplex GX620)

My office computer was showing the Dell error code indicating a memory (RAM) failure. I removed both sticks of RAM and re-installed one stick at a time in each of the four available slots in an attempt to identify which of the two sticks is bad. The computer failed to start with either of the sticks in any of the slots. Have ordered replacement RAM (DDR2  PC2-6400).

Apparently the microscope computer has been down for at least a week, but no one told me. Checked it out and the computer won’t power on. Additionally, it doesn’t generate any power at all, evidenced by the fact that no error code is displayed. Tried different outlets and different power cords to no avail. Likely a bad power supply. Have ordered a replacement.

Computer Setup – Dell Optiplex 960 for OA System

Dan had been using the Dell Studio XPS 7100 for running LabView to record data from the Honeywell Dual Input Controller for controlling the OA system at Manchester. The computer occasionally failed; it would shutdown, wouldn’t boot and would just produce six steady beeps. Although this behaviour was inconsistent, Dan needs a computer that will always remain on for data logging.

Our departmental computer support person couldn’t diagnose the problem and offered to provide a replacement computer, but only if we purchased a SSD drive for the replacement computer (at a cost of ~$250 for a 480GB SSD drive and adapter).

So, instead of wasting the money (and the continued headache of dealing with our computer support person), I grabbed the Dell Optiplex 980 from FSH 240, backed up the data on that computer (backed up to Nate’s folder on our server: backupordie). I obtained the appropriate license/serial numbers for LabView from the College of Engineering, downloaded and installed LabView 2014 and service pack 1 (SP1).

The old computer was able to boot, so I copied all the LabView files that Dan had previously been using to the Friedman Lab Dropbox and then downloaded them to the Dell Optiplex 980. Additionally, I re-seated the RAM sticks in hopes of making the computer usable again. I have moved this computer to FSH 240 to take the place of the Dell Optiplex 980.

Dan will take the newly configured Dell Optiplex 960 to Manchester to use as a data logger for the Honeywell Dual Input Analyzer and its pH and temp data.