Ouch, why my computer blew up!

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Ouch, Mar 28, 2008.

  1. Ouch

    Ouch Guest

    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, Mar 28, 2008
    #1
    1. Advertising

  2. Ouch

    Dave Doe Guest

    In article <47ec889f$>, 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
    Dave Doe, Mar 28, 2008
    #2
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  3. Ouch

    whoisthis Guest

    In article <47ec889f$>, "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


    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.
    whoisthis, Mar 28, 2008
    #3
  4. Ouch

    RL Guest

    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
    RL, Mar 28, 2008
    #4
  5. Ouch

    PeeCee Guest

    "Ouch" <> wrote in message
    news:47ec889f$...
    > 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.
    PeeCee, Mar 28, 2008
    #5
  6. Ouch

    Barry Lennox Guest

    On Fri, 28 Mar 2008 18:55:39 +1300, "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?


    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.
    Barry Lennox, Mar 28, 2008
    #6
  7. Ouch

    Richard Guest

    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
    Richard, Mar 28, 2008
    #7
  8. Ouch

    Jerry Guest

    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.
    Jerry, Mar 28, 2008
    #8
  9. Ouch

    cobs Guest

    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..
    cobs, Mar 28, 2008
    #9
  10. Ouch

    Steve B Guest

    On Fri, 28 Mar 2008 18:55:39 +1300, "Ouch" <>
    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.
    Steve B, Mar 28, 2008
    #10
  11. Ouch

    RL Guest

    Steve B wrote:
    > 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've never had a USB key with a switch on. I do have an SD card with a
    switch that is very easy to move, and inserting the card in to my most
    expensive card readers always makes it read only unless I put some tape
    on it.

    > 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.


    Take the hard drive out, purchase either a cheap 2.5" USB case (IDE), or
    one of those neat devices for connecting hard drives of different kinds
    with no case (I have one, came from PB Tech, but they don't list them on
    their site anymore).

    Total cost no more than $50, plus you can get a new toy you're actually
    likely to use again.

    RL
    RL, Mar 28, 2008
    #11
  12. Ouch

    Bugalugs Guest

    Steve B wrote:
    > On Fri, 28 Mar 2008 18:55:39 +1300, "Ouch" <>
    > 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.


    Have a look around dick smith. They have power supplies for a lot of
    those lower voltages. 30 bucks should cover it.
    Bugalugs, Mar 28, 2008
    #12
  13. Ouch

    PeeCee Guest

    "RL" <> wrote in message
    news:fsjdq0$4ki$...
    > Steve B wrote:
    >> 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've never had a USB key with a switch on. I do have an SD card with a
    > switch that is very easy to move, and inserting the card in to my most
    > expensive card readers always makes it read only unless I put some tape on
    > it.
    >
    >> 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.

    >
    > Take the hard drive out, purchase either a cheap 2.5" USB case (IDE), or
    > one of those neat devices for connecting hard drives of different kinds
    > with no case (I have one, came from PB Tech, but they don't list them on
    > their site anymore).







    http://www.pbtechnz.com/?item=ADPUSBIDESATA

    They seem to go out pretty quick though.

    Paul





    >
    > Total cost no more than $50, plus you can get a new toy you're actually
    > likely to use again.
    >
    > RL
    PeeCee, Mar 28, 2008
    #13
  14. Ouch

    Charlie G Guest

    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


    Did the same thing a few years ago to an old Dell - unfortunately with a
    non standard power supply. I was lucky and it was a simple matter of
    replacing a fuse in the power supply itself - the rest of the machine
    survived intact
    Charlie G, Mar 29, 2008
    #14
  15. Ouch

    Rob Simpson Guest

    Wyse WY60 terminals produce an impressive amount of smoke when you spill a
    cup of coffee in the top of them. (Don't ask)


    --
    Rob - Linux user number 467898 Ubuntu User number 17166
    Linux 2.6.22-14-generic - E2160 1.8Ghz running at 3.0Ghz
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    As a computer, I find your faith in technology amusing.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Rob Simpson, Mar 29, 2008
    #15
  16. Ouch

    whoisthis Guest

    In article <47ede2b6$>, Rob Simpson <> wrote:

    > Wyse WY60 terminals produce an impressive amount of smoke when you spill a
    > cup of coffee in the top of them. (Don't ask)


    Coffee is great, it is actually able to eat away at copper. Years ago a
    friend spilt coffee on his TRS-80, it got sent for repair by the
    insurance company, they misplaced it and a month later when they found
    it 1/2 the tracks were missing.
    whoisthis, Mar 29, 2008
    #16
  17. Ouch

    Ouch Guest

    "whoisthis" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > In article <47ede2b6$>, Rob Simpson <> wrote:
    >
    >> Wyse WY60 terminals produce an impressive amount of smoke when you spill
    >> a
    >> cup of coffee in the top of them. (Don't ask)

    >
    > Coffee is great, it is actually able to eat away at copper. Years ago a
    > friend spilt coffee on his TRS-80, it got sent for repair by the
    > insurance company, they misplaced it and a month later when they found
    > it 1/2 the tracks were missing.


    Thanks for all the good advice, it's appreciated. Insurance, now there's an
    idea, but when you allow for the excess, it's hardly worth it, but I guess a
    sudden accident with a computer would be covered?
    Ouch, Mar 29, 2008
    #17
  18. Ouch

    whoisthis Guest

    In article <47edfd40$>, "Ouch" <>
    wrote:

    > "whoisthis" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    > > In article <47ede2b6$>, Rob Simpson <> wrote:
    > >
    > >> Wyse WY60 terminals produce an impressive amount of smoke when you spill
    > >> a
    > >> cup of coffee in the top of them. (Don't ask)

    > >
    > > Coffee is great, it is actually able to eat away at copper. Years ago a
    > > friend spilt coffee on his TRS-80, it got sent for repair by the
    > > insurance company, they misplaced it and a month later when they found
    > > it 1/2 the tracks were missing.

    >
    > Thanks for all the good advice, it's appreciated. Insurance, now there's an
    > idea, but when you allow for the excess, it's hardly worth it, but I guess a
    > sudden accident with a computer would be covered?


    possibly.
    whoisthis, Mar 29, 2008
    #18
  19. Ouch

    george Guest


    > 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.


    The only power switch on the box should be the ON/OFF.
    Anything else calls for an update
    george, Mar 29, 2008
    #19
  20. Ouch

    george Guest

    On Mar 29, 5:36 am, Steve B <> wrote:
    > On Fri, 28 Mar 2008 18:55:39 +1300, "Ouch" <>
    > 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.
    >

    Take the drive out.
    There are kits to connect the laptop HD to a PC as a slave.
    Fire the machine up and you'll be able to access anything on the drive
    george, Mar 29, 2008
    #20
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