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Ouch, why my computer blew up!

 
 
Ouch
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      03-28-2008
This is one of those "don't let this happen to you" stories. Recently, I
turned on my poor old desktop computer and there was a flash, a loud bang,
and then lots of smoke filled the room! After a few minutes' chat with the
manufacturer, we realised that at the back of the computer there is a power
switch that enables you to change between 115 volts and 230 volts. OK you
guessed it, somehow when the tower was being moved between rooms, the power
setting got altered from 230 volts to 115 volts. Understandably, the
computer didn't like getting a dose of 230 volts when it was expecting to
receive 115 volts.

So why would a New Zealand computer need such a switch just below the main
on-off power switch? Is it really necessary for a computer that is assembled
and sold in New Zealand? Shouldn't such a switch be only accessible if you
take the case off so that kids can't alter this setting? Although very
sympathetic, the manufacturer told me that, because the computer is 4 years
old, it is due to be renewed anyway! They told me that such an "explosion"
would have ruined all the major components, is that correct? Perhaps even
the data on the hard drives has been lost, I will take them out and put them
in caddies to see if the data is still there. OK my fault, I've learned, but
perhaps you may want to check whether your computers have such a switch.

Ouch

 
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Dave Doe
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      03-28-2008
In article <47ec889f$(E-Mail Removed)>, http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) says...
> This is one of those "don't let this happen to you" stories. Recently, I
> turned on my poor old desktop computer and there was a flash, a loud bang,
> and then lots of smoke filled the room! After a few minutes' chat with the
> manufacturer, we realised that at the back of the computer there is a power
> switch that enables you to change between 115 volts and 230 volts. OK you
> guessed it, somehow when the tower was being moved between rooms, the power
> setting got altered from 230 volts to 115 volts. Understandably, the
> computer didn't like getting a dose of 230 volts when it was expecting to
> receive 115 volts.
>
> So why would a New Zealand computer need such a switch just below the main
> on-off power switch? Is it really necessary for a computer that is assembled
> and sold in New Zealand? Shouldn't such a switch be only accessible if you
> take the case off so that kids can't alter this setting? Although very
> sympathetic, the manufacturer told me that, because the computer is 4 years
> old, it is due to be renewed anyway! They told me that such an "explosion"
> would have ruined all the major components, is that correct? Perhaps even
> the data on the hard drives has been lost, I will take them out and put them
> in caddies to see if the data is still there. OK my fault, I've learned, but
> perhaps you may want to check whether your computers have such a switch.


Similar prob (but not due to the 115/240v switch), a PSU just "blew up".
Quite literally too, a big flash and some smoke and loud bang.

RAM was OK. CPU was OK. Motherboard deado. All four hard disks had the
wee controller chip (one nearest the connector that goes into the drive
itself) totally blown off the board. DVD drive buggered, floppy drive
buggered.

A lot of damage really.

--
Duncan
 
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whoisthis
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Posts: n/a
 
      03-28-2008
In article <47ec889f$(E-Mail Removed)>, "Ouch" <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

> This is one of those "don't let this happen to you" stories. Recently, I
> turned on my poor old desktop computer and there was a flash, a loud bang,
> and then lots of smoke filled the room! After a few minutes' chat with the
> manufacturer, we realised that at the back of the computer there is a power
> switch that enables you to change between 115 volts and 230 volts. OK you
> guessed it, somehow when the tower was being moved between rooms, the power
> setting got altered from 230 volts to 115 volts. Understandably, the
> computer didn't like getting a dose of 230 volts when it was expecting to
> receive 115 volts.
>
> So why would a New Zealand computer need such a switch just below the main
> on-off power switch? Is it really necessary for a computer that is assembled
> and sold in New Zealand? Shouldn't such a switch be only accessible if you
> take the case off so that kids can't alter this setting? Although very
> sympathetic, the manufacturer told me that, because the computer is 4 years
> old, it is due to be renewed anyway! They told me that such an "explosion"
> would have ruined all the major components, is that correct? Perhaps even
> the data on the hard drives has been lost, I will take them out and put them
> in caddies to see if the data is still there. OK my fault, I've learned, but
> perhaps you may want to check whether your computers have such a switch.
>
> Ouch


Or if you own a Mac computer or some PCs they have a power supply that
goes from 85v to 265v automatically. Having the 230/115 is just a means
of making it cheaper. However that switch is generally not easy to swap
over so accidents are extremely rare.

Explosion... nah, buy a new PSU and carry on, it is unlikely to have
done more damage.
 
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RL
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      03-28-2008
Ouch wrote:
> So why would a New Zealand computer need such a switch just below the
> main on-off power switch? Is it really necessary for a computer that is
> assembled and sold in New Zealand? Shouldn't such a switch be only
> accessible if you take the case off so that kids can't alter this
> setting?


The majority of these switches can only be operated by using a screw
driver (or similar). They used to be very common on power supplies, but
seem to be disappearing from modern systems.

RL
 
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PeeCee
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Posts: n/a
 
      03-28-2008
"Ouch" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:47ec889f$(E-Mail Removed)...
> This is one of those "don't let this happen to you" stories. Recently, I
> turned on my poor old desktop computer and there was a flash, a loud bang,
> and then lots of smoke filled the room! After a few minutes' chat with the
> manufacturer, we realised that at the back of the computer there is a
> power switch that enables you to change between 115 volts and 230 volts.
> OK you guessed it, somehow when the tower was being moved between rooms,
> the power setting got altered from 230 volts to 115 volts. Understandably,
> the computer didn't like getting a dose of 230 volts when it was expecting
> to receive 115 volts.
>
> So why would a New Zealand computer need such a switch just below the main
> on-off power switch? Is it really necessary for a computer that is
> assembled and sold in New Zealand? Shouldn't such a switch be only
> accessible if you take the case off so that kids can't alter this setting?
> Although very sympathetic, the manufacturer told me that, because the
> computer is 4 years old, it is due to be renewed anyway! They told me that
> such an "explosion" would have ruined all the major components, is that
> correct? Perhaps even the data on the hard drives has been lost, I will
> take them out and put them in caddies to see if the data is still there.
> OK my fault, I've learned, but perhaps you may want to check whether your
> computers have such a switch.
>
> Ouch




Ouch

Those switches are very common on power supplies because they are built
overseas (China) to be sold in many markets.
By building them with the switch they can take 'stock' power supples to
satisfy almost any order from anywhere in the world.
Cost of parts is not realy a consideration as the switch is cheap and the
two pieces of wire connecting it even cheaper.
Some assemblers do go to the trouble of gluing or hiding the switch under a
label, others don't.

As for the 'guts' of your particular PC, I would advise you to try to borrow
a suitable power supply and try it out.
What 'dies' in a given brew up like this is exceedingly variable.
I've seen them from complete motherboard/ram/CPU/hard drive/optical drive
failure to nothing other than the power supply itself.
The key factor seems to be the quality of the power supply in the first
case.
Good quality supplies will have decent overvoltage protection on the output
rails that clamp any overvoltage from damaging the computers internals.
Poor quality supplies will obviously won't.

The last one I did had a quality supply in it, problem was the owner only
said the PC was dead when they dropped it off.
Seems 'hubby' had tried fixing it by flipping that switch, then when it went
bang, switched it back.
When I plugged it in the shorted bits inside the Power supply went bang
again and took out my bench UPS!!!!
However because the original supply was a good one (Thermaltake) all we had
to do was replace the supply and it worked 100%
Havent seen it back and that was over 12 months ago.
(they paid for the UPS too)

If you do regard the PC as to 'sus' to bother with repairs (I tend to agree
with their to old bin it advice) it would still be worth pulling the hard
drive out and mounting it inside another PC to see if the drive is still OK
and the data on it recovered.

As I said try it out, you may be lucky

Best
Paul.

 
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Barry Lennox
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      03-28-2008
On Fri, 28 Mar 2008 18:55:39 +1300, "Ouch" <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

>So why would a New Zealand computer need such a switch just below the main
>on-off power switch? Is it really necessary for a computer that is assembled
>and sold in New Zealand?


That's so, as they are made in 100's of thousands for minimum cost,
and why you can buy a new one for about $40. It's no harder to design
one that will operate over the universal range of 85-265 vac (Some PCs
have these) but it costs a $1 or so more. That 's too much in a
cost-sensitive market


>They told me that such an "explosion"
>would have ruined all the major components, is that correct? Perhaps even
>the data on the hard drives has been lost,


Maybe, maybe not, borrow a new PSU, or get one for $5 from a recycler
and see.
 
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Richard
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      03-28-2008
RL wrote:
> Ouch wrote:
>> So why would a New Zealand computer need such a switch just below the
>> main on-off power switch? Is it really necessary for a computer that
>> is assembled and sold in New Zealand? Shouldn't such a switch be only
>> accessible if you take the case off so that kids can't alter this
>> setting?

>
> The majority of these switches can only be operated by using a screw
> driver (or similar). They used to be very common on power supplies, but
> seem to be disappearing from modern systems.


Instead we are getting ones that will blow up without a switch to set
incorrectly.

Funnily enough I have lost 3 or 4 "400 watt" power supplies which are
the newer ones without a switch. Have hardly had any others go ever, and
infact a really old 350 watt one (back when 350 watts was heaps and only
needed for a sever) that I made into a 12 and 5v bench supply about 6
years ago is still going strong. It was one of the first atx psu's that
I got.

One thing that all my casualties have "featured" is active power factor
correction - not something that you need unless you are running on
commercial power that will charge more for a lower power factor and
something I could easily see adding more to go wrong to the front end of
a power supply
 
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Jerry
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Posts: n/a
 
      03-28-2008
Ouch wrote:
> This is one of those "don't let this happen to you" stories. Recently, I
> turned on my poor old desktop computer and there was a flash, a loud
> bang, and then lots of smoke filled the room! After a few minutes' chat
> with the manufacturer, we realised that at the back of the computer
> there is a power switch that enables you to change between 115 volts and
> 230 volts. OK you guessed it, somehow when the tower was being moved
> between rooms, the power setting got altered from 230 volts to 115
> volts. Understandably, the computer didn't like getting a dose of 230
> volts when it was expecting to receive 115 volts.
>
> So why would a New Zealand computer need such a switch just below the
> main on-off power switch? Is it really necessary for a computer that is
> assembled and sold in New Zealand? Shouldn't such a switch be only
> accessible if you take the case off so that kids can't alter this
> setting? Although very sympathetic, the manufacturer told me that,
> because the computer is 4 years old, it is due to be renewed anyway!
> They told me that such an "explosion" would have ruined all the major
> components, is that correct? Perhaps even the data on the hard drives
> has been lost, I will take them out and put them in caddies to see if
> the data is still there. OK my fault, I've learned, but perhaps you may
> want to check whether your computers have such a switch.
>
> Ouch


No, generally throwing that switch just takes out the power supply. You
should be able to get a new one for $30 - $50.
 
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cobs
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Posts: n/a
 
      03-28-2008
Ouch wrote:
> This is one of those "don't let this happen to you" stories. Recently, I
> turned on my poor old desktop computer and there was a flash, a loud
> bang, and then lots of smoke filled the room! After a few minutes' chat
> with the manufacturer, we realised that at the back of the computer
> there is a power switch that enables you to change between 115 volts and
> 230 volts.

[...]
> because the computer is 4 years old, it is due to be renewed anyway!
> They told me that such an "explosion" would have ruined all the major
> components, is that correct? Perhaps even the data on the hard drives
> has been lost, I will take them out and put them in caddies to see if
> the data is still there. OK my fault, I've learned, but perhaps you may
> want to check whether your computers have such a switch.


It's worth testing the rig remains with another PSU (set for 230v )

We had someone caught out when replacing a PSU on a Dell gx260. This
particular batch of world replacement PSUs had all shipped with the
switch set to 110v from the factory, so the smoke escaped.

Tested with another PSU set for 230v and no other component had been
affected.

Fingers/wires crossed..


 
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Steve B
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      03-28-2008
On Fri, 28 Mar 2008 18:55:39 +1300, "Ouch" <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

>So why would a New Zealand computer need such a switch just below the main
>on-off power switch?


My favourite - though much less disastrous - is the little switch on
the side of a lot of USB keys, that lies just under your thumb as you
plug the devicet in, and makes all the files read-only.

I was really puzzled for a while the first time it happened.

Maybe the makers of this PC have pretensions to exporting their
product

A while ago I retrieved an old laptop from a cupboard, dusted it off
(literally) and tried to fire it up. Battery totally flat of course
and the power supply for it has, naturally, gone missing. My wife
thinks there may be some files of hers on there that she might want to
transfer...

The plate says it needs DC 15V 3A - about half what present-day
laptops demand.

Please help me Do My Bit for the Environment and retrieve those files
(if they're there).

The Laptop Company wants to charge me nearly $200 for a power supply
of the right kind; there must be a cheaper solution.

Steve B.
 
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