SimRig Update: More Pedal Mods!

In my previous post about finally building a Sim Racing Rig, I mentioned that I modded the brake pedal by removing the rubber stopper/block that Logitech put in order to simulate progressing brake tension, but the design was poorly thought out as the rubber block/stopper, made it next to impossible to brake fully. Thus I decided to remove it.

Not satisfied with such a simple mod, I wanted to make the Logitech G920 pedals feel a lot better and a lot more responsive, especially in the throttle; I felt the throttle spring is too light and have fine control of throttle a little bit tricky. I also found the stock face plates of the pedals didn’t really feel comfortable as the are a bit too tiny, especially in the throttle, thus I decided to be on the lookout for after market pedal face plates.

Thankfully, as is with most racing wheels for simulators, they are nearly identical to real life counterparts, so you may use after market parts for real cars in the racing wheel and pedals.

I found a cheap enough pedal set, with a long enough throttle to feel comfy and a large enough, rally style brake face plate, that can make it easy for me to do heel toe braking if I need to (which I don’t need so much in F1 games), and it being large enough, makes it very comfortable to brake.

I then decided to switch the stock clutch face plate with the stock throttle face plate, since I bought the after market face plates without the clutch; the stock throttle face plate is large enough for the clutch in my opinion.

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New pedal face plates for the brake and the throttle; used the stock throttle face plate for the clutch.

I then switched the springs from the clutch to the throttle and vice versa; the stock clutch spring had more tension than that of the throttle, and I felt that if when I need to use the clutch, I want it to be pushed down completely and quickly. Whereas the stock throttle spring had little to no tension for me, making it difficult to pepper the throttle to control the speed in corners when trying to lift of. So by switching the springs around, I got the tensions I want for both the clutch and the throttle. (Note: I removed the face plates of both the throttle and clutch in order to work on them)

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The seedy underbelly of the pedals
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Time to mod!
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Prior to opening the bottom to the pedal case, I removed the face plates of both the throttle and the clutch to get access to them
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Removed the housing of the springs
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The bigger and shorter spring was originally for the clutch and the thinner and longer spring was originally from the throttle; did the old switcharoo and the tension for both pedals are perfect for me

After all these, was it worth the time, effort, and expenditure? As with all hobbyists, they would say of course it was without having good tangible evidence as to back up the purchase. Well I do…

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Using DashPi (available for both iOS and Android); might make a separate post on how to use your tablet and phone as dash meters or telemetry

I was just having a quick drive around Monaco where my best time with my personal car setup was a 1:19.231 (I am not the greatest sim racer out there; others easily get 1:13.00s) and shattered it, while not driving really seriously, with a 1:18.897. So, yeah, it was worth it.

What is my next project for the SimRig? I do wanna make 2 dedicated sim dash devices so I don’t always have to use my iPad mini and my Zenfone 2; plus I get to program exactly how I want them to look and what telemetry to collect using readily available programs intended for Arduino. Though I won’t be doing it anytime soon as I don’t have so much time for such projects just yet. But it  will happen sometime.

Til next time! PEACE!

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My Sim Rig 2017 (Finally)

If you know me personally, apart from tech, gaming, blogging, guitars, NFL fan, and photography, my other passion are cars and motorsports, particularly, Formula 1.

I have a Formula 1 fan since 1996 and I never failed to watch every season since I became a fan; sure there are a few races I missed per season due to studies and what not, but overall, I never missed a season.

Being a fan is totally different from hopping in the bandwagon. I know the history of the sport, I know the strategies, I know the innards of these cars, etc. I say this, because a lot of people still think I just hopped on to the bandwagon since my boss liked Formula 1. NO.

I have vivid memories of watching the Spanish GP way back in 1996 and saw this red car flying thru the wet track and won the race. That was the Ferrari F310 driven by Michael Schumacher. Since then, I became a fan of Schumacher, Ferrari, and the sport.

Up to this day, I am still a big fan of the sport and Ferrari; win or lose, even during 2009, there worst year in recent memory, I was still rooting for Ferrari. I didn’t jump into the bandwagon for the new dominant teams or drivers… I stuck with my team like a true fan.

So being a fan of Formula 1, of course, I am a bit of a speed freak; I also enjoy me some World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship, and mostly other open wheel racing like Formula 3 and recently Formula E (No I don’t like IndyCar; I mostly like FIA sanctioned events). Naturally, I love driving games, they are my second favorite genre after Role Playing Games.

However, the last racing sim that I owned and really played was Gran Turismo 4 in the PS2 (First racing sim that I played was Gran Turismo 1 in the PS1) and F1 99-02 in the PC. Becoming a PC gamer, however, there were not that many good simulators; sure there was, like I said, F1 99-02, great for F1 fans, can be modded to one’s heart’s content, there is rFactor, Live for Speed, etc., but none caught my heart and passion for racing like Gran Turismo and F1 99-02. Not even the later F1 games from Codemasters caught my eye at first. Games like Assetto Corsa and Projext cars, as well as iRacing, got me intrigued, but I never thought of playing racing games again in my PC.

Suddenly, I stumbled into a Logitech G920 for 66% off… So I decided to load up my favorite sim racing YouTube channels I use to frequent a lot back then, found some new channels and personalities, and found out that a lot of the sim racing games have gotten so much better, the peripherals from the racing wheels, button boxes, displays, transducers, etc., have gotten way better since the last time I was really into sim racing, not to mention that F1 from Codemasters seemed to have imrpoved over the years as well. This whet my appetite and I knew I can no longer pass up a 66% off racing wheel.

I also got a racing wheel stand since I just want a dedicated rig for the wheel and pedals to be had mounted and I can easily tuck away at the side of my PC without having to mount and dismount on the desk each time I wanted to play (that is one of my biggest turn offs back when I was younger when I had to mount and dismount from the desk each time). I also decided to get a wheel stand, not a complete cockpit, because I don’t have that much space in my room anymore, nor do I have a real dedicated PC rig for sim racing, thus I got this, a small right that I can easily drag using furniture slides to sit flush with my desk and tuck away when I’m done.

Here are the photos of the items:

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FINALLY! These packages took 5 days to arrive!
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Ultra soft Styrofoam packaging… not my type.
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The simple wheel and pedal stand. It also has the optional stand for the shifter, which I will use when I order the shifter.
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The accessories
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This is what 66% off looks like; the box is not in good shape, but the wheel and pedal are in great condition and work like a champ
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What 66% packaging looks like…
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Good lookin’
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She is built! Fairly easy build, the rig didn’t have proper English instructions and the Chinese instructions with pictures were basically useless. One can eyeball the build of this thing.
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Easily tucked away on the side
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Used these furniture sliders for carpets to easily drag it around; I didn’t mount it using the adhesive since I don’t want the rig to slide about when I brake.

I decided to modify the brake pedal, as if you read reviews on the Logitech G29 and G920, the brake pedal gets stiffer and harder to push down on the farther it gets. It tries to emulate the progressive tension of real life brakes, but honestly, it is a terrible system they used to try and emulate the braking characteristics, especially those with a hydraulic brake system. I decided to mod it to make it easier to push down on and I used this video below to help me do so. Very helpful as he mentions the sizes of the hex and screws, so if you don’t have it, you can easier look for the exact size in the hardware store. The pics below were taken using my phone, hence quality isn’t as good as the otehr photos:

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This doctor is gonna do surgery… Oh yeah, I’m a licensed physician that loves to game.
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The simple innards

 

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Almost there…
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Here is the culprit! That black rubber stopper/block causes the difficulty in braking. Awful design Logitech!

 

 

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The bane of my braking
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I also adjust the clutch (not needed in F1 sims that I usually play now), the brake, and the throttle face plates.

 

The video I used to help me remove the rubber block in the brake pedal:

In the future, especially when I move back to the States, I will definitely improve my SimRig, maybe with a better wheel system, better cockpit, but the ones I am looking forward to purchasing next time would be button boxes and displays. The latter is very important to me as I like to turn off all on screen display in game and have an external display showing me time, fuel, my gear, RPM, RPM limiter, speed, lap times, tire pressure and temperature, brake temperature, oil and water temperature, and the list goes on.

I can’t really find any good ones here in the Philippines since sim racing isn’t really as big as one might think here, so I downloaded app for both the Android and iOS and used my phone and iPad mini to work as user datagram protocol (UDP) devices and display the telemetry I need.

This is the most difficult part, as both apps use the same loopback IP and port, I had to use 8 hours to read the program language of the game and the 2 apps, edit the program, edit the ports, the IP addresses, the loopback addresses, etc, and troubleshoot each new code I wrote. Needless to say, I got both apps to work without conflicting with one another and having them display the proper telemetry separately.

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Using my devices as UDP for telemetry; the most difficult part is setting these up without them conflicting with one another.

Here is a video of my trying the new wheel, re-learning how to paddle shift, using an un-modded brake pedal, and testing my 2 devices if they are working properly. Please, no hate on my lap times. I didn’t edit the setup of the car or anything… I was merely testing these all.

This is like my photography hobby, my guitar hobby, my PC and gaming hobby, where I really started out humbly, not getting the highend or at least mid-high end products for my hobbies since I was just getting into them, so in time, I know my SimRig will be as awesome as the SimRigs most YouTube sim racers show off.

Someday…

Okay, that may have been overkill… still worth a share!

Some glamour shots when set up:

SimRig 2017

SimRig 2017
SimRig 2017

Til next time! PEACE!

P.S.

I “might” be reviewing the Logitech G920 and the BRZ Racing Wheel Stand, but I haven’t even released my Logitech G933 and F710 reviews, yet. So, yeah, I don’t know.

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I am now a Logitech G Fanboy

It all began sometime last year when I first bought a Logitech G600 mouse to replace my Razer Deathadder 2013; I was so blown away be the quality and function of that mouse and the Logitech Gaming Software that I decided that I do want to have other Logitech G peripherals.

It wasn’t until I finished and passed my Physician Licensure Exams earlier this year that I bought another Logitech G peripheral. I saw the G13 on super sale and just had to get it, and again, even if the keys were not mechanical keys, the overall ergonomics and the ease of use with the Logitech Gaming Software, hereafter LGS, I was blown away.

Then not long after, my old headphones were biting the dust so I knew I had to get a replacement for those late night gaming and it was a no-brainer, it had to be a Logitech headset. I got me the Logitech G430 and I was never into those “7.1” gimmick even if I am an audiophile, let alone an emulated 7.1 surround sound. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the emulation and how games became even more atmospheric with the G430 and coupling it with my triple monitor setup. Nowadays, even in broad daylight, I am using my G430 to be immersed in the game.

Now, it has been years that I was holding out on getting a controller as I am obviously a PC gamer and still believe in keyboard and mouse, but let’s face it, there are some games made for the controller *cough* Darksouls *cough*. And so I knew I needed one in case a game I like is better played with controller. I have always been looking at the Microsoft XBox 360 controller for the PC, either wired or the wireless variant, but never got myself to get it. And it has been 4 years since I thought of getting it.

Fast forward to today, it was truly and impulse buy when I purchased the F310 by Logitech (or course), but somewhat also due to the circumstances, I needed to get it. The circumstances were not that I finally found a game that may use it (which I did, Slain: Back from Hell looks more fun with a controller), but the circumstance that arose when my credit card failed 3 times in 3 different stores prior to today. Worried that my credit card is just no longer being read right and may need to be swapped out, I needed to try it yet again just to see if it still is functioning. Lo and behold, it worked, and I took it as a sign from above that I needed to buy this controller as my credit card failed 3 times prior.

Why not the F710 I hear you ask? Well, it doesn’t fit my theme of my setup, and I still choose to keep my setup’s theme intact. That is also the reason why I didn’t get any other headset from Logitech; the G430 matches my setup plus the G633 and G933 wasn’t available in the store at that time.

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Just for good measure as I am running out of USB 2.0 slots, I got me a 4 port USB 2.0 hub.

Now as you can see, my Logitech G family is growing. Why don’t I have a Logitech G keyboard? I would but the Logitech G810 I am eyeing uses Romer G switches which I am not a fan of; I am using a Ducky Dk9008 Shine 2 Cherry MX Blues and I love me some Cherry MX Blue switches. The Logitech G keyboards that do have Cherry MX switches just have this wild “gaming” look to it; I like simple looking, professional looking keyboards, and that is why I love my Ducky Shine 2 keyboard.

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G13
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G600
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G430

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Logitech does have a G610 but is only available in Cherry MX Red or Brown and I am a BIG fan of the Blue Switches. Plus, the G610 only has white LED backlit keys; I need em blues…

Now, I don’t see myself getting any other Logitech product in the future (unless I plan to switch out my webcam or when they make the perfect keyboard), but I can say that maybe I finally becoming a fanboy of the company and its peripherals.

Til next time! PEACE!

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Weekend Project: Open Part Surgery

I have always contemplated on changing my Bitfenix Shinobi midtower case for another one with far better airflow and for possible future watercooling projects for my system. I was bouncing around different cases, even thought of getting the new Corsair 400c, as it had a PSU shroud and seemed to be roomy enough if ever I decide to go for dual GPU and whole system custom watercooling loop.

But then I remembered the owner of the local enthusiast shop had a Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX for his build, before he switched to the ThermalTake Core P5 case. And I was entranced back then, and looking at the pics, it turns out, I still was.

Speaking of ThermalTake Core P5, I was also thinking about picking it up, but I was thinking how the dust build up and the clean up would have been an absolute nightmare. I love being different from the norm, and getting that ThermalTake case would help me be different, but the trade off for having dust build and the nightmarish clean up was just not worth it.

Needless to say, I got myself the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX in black. All the while knowing that this is primarily a full aluminum paneled case, apart from the steel inner chassis, I was anticipating this being heavy, and oh boy, was it heavier than I expected. In fact, I asked some of the employees at the local shop where I ordered this to help me pack in the car since I can’t carry something this heavy due to my right knee being operated and all.

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Even the box looked great!

After staring at the box for at least 30mins and planning out how I would tackle the transfer of my current system in the Bitfenix Shinobi case, I knew that apart from the transferring and cleaning of the system, I have to rewire the “battle station” and clean it up, too.

So the plan of action yesterday in what I dubbed “Open Part Surgery” was firstly, clean up the desks and the re-route the wires in such a way that little to no wires can be seen on the floor; move the power strips and the subwoofer underneath the 2nd desk that is accessible thru a crevice between the 2 desks; remove and clean each component from the Bitfenix Shinobi case; and finally, plan out the cable management on the new case while transferring the rest of the components.

I had to move both the desks slightly from their original positions to assume a more compact look; this way I can hide the cables and the subwoofer underneath the 2nd desk, as they were formally on the 1st desk, covered by a printer and a small plastic drawer for cables. Where the cables, plugs, subwoofer, etc. were placed originally was not the most ideal as I had no more leg room. Thus, I decided to utilize the space underneath the 2nd desk, using the tiny opening that combining the 2 desks creates to access the power strip and the subwoofer to turn them on or off. I am a pseudo audiophile, so with that said, I knew there will be a better boost to the bass sound when placed in placed like this. Having tested it with several bass heavy songs, I was happy with the deeper bass it is now creating – in fact, I even have to adjust the equalizer later on in the PC just to get all the sound right.

I then decided to move the printer next on the side of the 1st desk so I have leg room. Sure now it ruins the ease of access, but come on, I am not that lazy to stand up just to go to the side of my desk to load up paper if need be.

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My printer’s new home

That process took a good 2 hours just de-cluttering the desk, re-routing the wires, and simply dusting off the desks and the floor, and placing the printer in its new location. Onward to removing the components from the Bitfenix Shinobi and dusting them off.

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I removed my system, some peripherals, 2 of my monitors in order to move the desks and dust them off
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Putting back the monitors after dusting off and used the main desk to put the system back; here I will remove the components and clean them
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As always with cleaning, it will only get messier before it really gets any cleaner. This is how it looked like, and it got worse before it got better

My way of cleaning my components is using tiny brushes that are used for painting on an easel; they aren’t too tough, get in between ares real easily, and just for peace of mind, these do not make as much electrical/static discharge that may destroy these components. Also, speaking of electrical/static discharge, I am not using an anti-static wrist strap, but I am touching the case and the PSU every now and then to remove any static built up in my body.

I would like to try Brian’s, from Tech Yes City in YouTube, method of cleaning up; he uses parts/brake cleaner and such to get them really clean and looks, in his voice, “brandy new”. The reason why I am not ready to do his method yet is that this is my main system and currently only system, so if I screw up, well, I have to replace them and will set me back weeks or so. Also, I need to research on the strength of the parts/brake cleaner he is using as I don’t know if the ones sold here locally will be too tough on the electronics and the plastics on it.

The PSU, HDD, SSD were easily enough to clean; just dust them off, and you’re all good. The PSU, in my case, wasn’t dirty inside, so I just had to clean up the exterior. The GPU was a little more tricky. Thankfully the heatsink didn’t have that much dust on it that warrants my to break the GPU apart to clean it properly. The fans were a bit hard to clean on this particular GPU (VTX3D Radeon R9 390), but after near mini heartattacks cleaning this GPU, I can breathe a sigh of relief as this is the most expensive component of my whole build.

The CPU, I decided not to remove the DeepCool IceBlade Pro heatsink out; I cleaned while it was placed in the motherboard, I just covered the motherboard really well and dusted off the heatsink. Thing about this heatsink is that it is tarnished like crazy; no matter what I do to get it all shiny, I just can’t. Anyways, I am gonna replace this with an All in One watercooling loop, or a whole system custom watercooling loop, later on. After that, I just dusted off the motherboard, the extension cables of the PSU, the rest of the fans, and the Shinobi is now bare bones.

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What lung cancer looks like in a PC
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Having cleaned the components, I am ready to transfer the system to the new case
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A closer look at the clean CPU heatsink and the Corsair SP120 fan

I thank you Bitfenix Shinobi, you have been a great case for the past 4 years, but I started to see the limitations of the case, thus I needed to move up the case food chain for possible future upgrades like water cooling or simply for a future build still using the new case.

Enter that aforementioned new case: The Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX case in black!

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The box so nice, it worth a second look

Even the box itself looks menacing.

What’s inside the box? Apart from the obvious case, which I took the time to stare at it – set me back another 30 mins… It came with an cardboard accessory box that is really sturdy; this isn’t like those cheap cardboard boxes that comes in other cases that you are compelled to just dispose, this one was sturdy enough to really have it for keeps. Plus what is inside really forces you to keep it anyway.

So, inside the accessory box you get the manual, a plastic with some zip ties (I honestly didn’t need it thanks to the robust design of the case) and extra LEDs for the front panel (I used the blue one, of course), a plastic toolbox of sorts to keep all your screws in (easily my favorite accessory! Now I can keep my other screws in here, too!), and other brackets for HDD, etc. to be placed in the main compartment of the case (I didn’t need them as I just had HDD and SDD and they can be placed in the PSU shroud/back of the case away from prying eyes).

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Labeled… just in case you forget what it is. *sarcasm*
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The manual; most of the time you don’t need this, but for the PWM chip and the front panel connectors, it can help sometimes
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Some cable zip ties, which I didn’t even use. Then extra front panel LEDs; I switched the stock white for the blue to match my overall theme
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My favorite accessory! The screws all placed in a convenient case of its own. Perfect for your surplus of other screws, too!
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The extra brackets/cages for HDD and whatnot to be placed in the main compartment. I didn’t use this to utilize better airflow

Now the star of the day… everyday… of the whole year… of every year… the case! I won’t go all review on this, because this is just a weekend project blog, but I will give a gist: it is aluminum panels with a steel inner chassis, with a huge side window and a hidden front panel port for 2 USB 3.0 ports, the mic and headphone jack inputs, and the reset button witch also acts as a HDD activity light. Both side panels can be easily removed and they are further dampened with foam to prevent metal on metal and causing noise. The front panel is also easily removed revealing a removable dust filter and 2 140mm fans. The PSU also has its own removable dust filter. The top panel can be removed by removing 2 screws in the back and front, and it is minimalistic as it only has tiny vents and the power button.

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Well packaged…
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The large windowed side panel
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The top panel; very minimalist with just a power button.
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A portion of the front panel can be opened up, so to speak, to reveal 2 USB 3.0, the headphone and mic jack inputs, and the reset button that also acts as a HDD activity LED
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The front panel with the removable power LED; I changed it to blue. The front panel dust filter is removed at this point.

Inside, you can see the area where the brackets can be placed for extra HDD and what not, or leave it blank like I did for better airflow; this area can also be used to place your reservoir or radiator. You can see another 140mm fan at the back as well as ventilated expansion slot bay covers. The cable holes are grommeted, the PSU shroud is porous in case you change the orientation of the PSU and this provides the 2nd GPU, if present, to get air. The shroud also has a big cut out in case you want to show off you PSU, has a smaller cut out and a drop in screws for a SSD – I used that small slot to route my NZXT Led strip. That way, I can hide the small PCB of the LED in the shroud. Also of note, I could have done a way better job keeping the PSU cables in the free space in the shroud as my PSU is not modular, but that’s something to keep in mind especially if you keep the HDD/SSD brackets in there.

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Once fully swung open, both side panels can be removed by simply lifting it up
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Tool-less alright
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Look at all the room for activity! The side panels are also cushioned with dampening foam to stop metal to metal contact

At the back, you can see there is a big motherboard cutout, 2 more drop in screws with brackets for SSDs, a PWM controller chip, 2 HDD/SSD cage in the PSU shroud, and Velcros for better cable management. As you can see the blurry pic below, the clearance is around a 3/4 of an inch, but that is measured on the smallest area possible; the motherboard tray angles at the front so there is a lot more space towards the front and you have room in the PSU shroud.

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Behold the back! See the PWM hub/chip, Velcro for cable management, grommeted cable routing holes, and everything else
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The blurry pic… around 3/4 of an inch in the smallest possible space

The rear is your standard rear so I won’t even talk about it at all.

I first moved the 2 140mm fans in front higher to give more airflow in the main compartment. I am neglecting my HDD and SSD underneath the shroud, and I am banking on the large fan of the PSU to cool itself down. I then added the 3 fans on top as exhaust; I like this feature of the case, I remove 2 screws on the fan/radiator mount in one side, and 3 more in the other side, to easily slide out the mount. I made a mistake though, I had to put the motherboard in before the placing these fans.

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Moved the fans up
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The radiator/fan mount for the top can be removed for ease of attachement
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The top fans installed; I made a mistake as now I can’t install the motherboard. Thankfully, the mount is easily removed

I’d usually put in the PSU first; it adds stability to it since the heavy side panels aren’t there to keep the chassis stable. Next was the motherboard; I can’t, for the life of me, remove the extra 3 stand offs for the EATX motherboards, so I am forced to use the one and only extra stand off to complete the ATX stand offs. I wished Phanteks supplied more stand offs for clumsy people, or people like me that likes to keep a surplus.

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PSU in!
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Motherboard in!

After the motherboard I then placed the HDD and SSD in the cage underneath the shroud. I can use the drop in cages for the SSD near the motherboard cutout but my current sleeved SATA data cables are with 90 degree angles, so I had to use the regular cages; in fact, the 90 degree angle of the SATA data cable was such a tight fit on the HDD since it is close to the bottom part of the case. I might want to replace that real soon to avoid problems. Thus far, it seems to be holding up well.

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SSD and HDD in!

I then planned out the cable management of the fans and the extra cables of the PSU. Like I said earlier, I probably could have done a better job in tucking the extra PSU cables away, but I was already tired at this point. I fixing the cables now since the GPU and LED cables are not as hard to fix; the GPU has its own route in the shroud and I will use the small cutout for the SSD in the shroud to route the LEDs.

After the initial cable management, I then placed the GPU and also managed its cables through the grommeted cable route. Nice to note that both the 24 pin motherboard and GPU’s 6 pin and 8 pin molex cables have cable combs to “train” them and keep them neat. And yes, it will take awhile for these cables to be trained.

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GPU in! And the cable combs on the cables!!

Last bit was the LEDs; I just used my favorite 3m double sided tape and re-used the cable clips that hold the LEDs in place. I removed the bracket of the PCB that controls the LEDs so I can tuck it inside the PSU shroud. The top was a bit tricky as there was no space to place the clips. I decided to place them on the fans plastic bodies and orient the LEDs upward at this area to avoid seeing them in the window.

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Removed the bracket of the NZXT LED strip kit… DIRTY HANDS!

Finally, the build is technically complete. I then had to do the usual test before placing all the peripherals and panels; let it also be known, even if I know this PC works, I still did the traditional booting outside the new case after clean up. Powering it on, it worked, however, the top, back, and front fans are not working. I knew I connected them all on the PWM control chip, connected it to the motherboard and supplied power. It turns out, I placed it on a 3 pin header in the motherboard and PWM is usually on 4 pin headers. After the switch, everything runs.

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Initial boot, fans didn’t work due to me connecting the PWM chip to a 3pin header instead of a 4 pin header; needless to say, it all worked after

Added all the panels and all the peripherals and did another test boot to see if everything really works, to my surprise, my system was on a constant reboot; the motherboard has a small LED panel that gives a alphanumeric code to tell what is causing the problem. The error code was 0x55 and looking at the motherboard manual, it means that the RAM are not installed. Which is weird, because all for DIMMs are in and it worked earlier. I removed 2 of the DIMMs in 1 channel, test booted it, and it worked… re-inserted the other DIMMs I removed and the whole system is working again. Probably a seating issue while I was moving the case around a lot while connecting the monitors, peripherals, and panels. Removing it and inserting it again provided a better re-seat of the DIMMs.

I am not gonna lie, this case with my full system is heavy. REAL HEAVY. And since I am still recovering my right knee, I had to ask my dad to help me move it in the right position; when I say right position, that is a position where the cables in the back won’t be seen, but you can still get to see the large side panel. I will probably move the cable modem, router, and my NAS to a different place in my room to give more room for the case as I might want to move it a little more forward to easily remove the side panels if need be.

The rest is really just managing the rest of the cables of the peripherals – I just used black duct tape and taped them on the edge of my desk; no, an IKEA signum or the like will work… I’ve tried, so taping them was my only option.

 

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Final clean up!!

After putting all the peripherals back and cable managing, the PC system, overall is done. I just needed to sweep the floor, wipe the bare floors, and I am completely done. This entire ordeal took me 13 hours, skipping lunch and dinner. I tend to get really absorbed in my projects and work that I forget to eat, much like my busy days at the hospital. But in both cases, I never complain, because I am a workaholic, and I enjoy doing these.

I am absolutely happy with the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX case; I got it because of future upgrades that this can accommodate and if ever the time comes, I can still use this case for my next PC build. The design, to me at least, is simple and timeless. I also got this knowing it has better airflow than my previous case and being mostly aluminum and steel, it can also act as a heatsink. Thus far, the temps are great even with the side panel on. I would usually remove the side panel on the previous case to get it more cool.

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Glamour shot with the lights on! Plastic still on the side panel! And yes, that’s Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse! There were no clean sheets other than that that could match my room
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Glamour shot with the lights off!

Now, I will save up for a new PSU, a second GPU, and a possible watercooling loop, all within the year. And this case we have no problem accommodating all those.

And with that! I end my post about my weekend project. Hope you all enjoyed reading this, though I know it is quite wordy.

Til next time! PEACE!

P.S.

If you want to see my parts list, just click here to my PCPartsPicker list.

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When OC Strikes…

I have raging obsessive compulsive behavior especially when it comes to my gadgets and PC; I have the NZXT black sleeved extension cables for years now, but always tried valiantly to keep them neat, but never get to do so.

I was going to order cable combs from the States, but hey, what do you know, the guys at FTW actually carry these cables combs locally and for a good price.

Got 2 packs; each pack consists of 1x 24 pin comb, 2x 6 pin combs, and 3x 8 pin combs.

It is a simple yet very effective accessory for the PC enthusiasts that believe in both aesthetics as well as performance.

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I am planning to get a new chassis since this Bitfenix Shinobi midtower is starting to show its limitations, plus I might do custom watercooling loops in the near future, so I am paving the way with the Corsair 400c. After my exams, I will do an “open part surgery” to transfer my current specs to the new case. The combs will be very helpful in “re-training” the sleeved cables to the new case.

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I know this is a boring post, but I needed a medium to release my tension for today since I seem to be more short tempered today than I usually am. I guess it is the fear of the exam and stuff. Ah well.

Anyways, ’til then!

PEACE!

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Move over DX Racer, GT Omega, Maxnomic Gaming Chair; I found an alternative

UPDATE AS  OF FEBRUARY 27, 2017: I have since upgraded my chair and you can read all about it along with alternatives HERE.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a paid/professional reviewer. I am much like you, a consumer, giving my honest consumer thoughts. So if the review doesn’t feel all too professional, well now you know. Also, some of the photos I use here are not mine, and I will give proper credit and link to the original website source.

-o-

I wanted to have a gaming chair akin to a race car seat; simply those that are offered from brands like DX Racer, GT Omega, Maxnomic, etc. However, their offering are way over my budget, some if not most, are even more expensive than my ASUS Zenfone 2, heck, they are even more expensive than my GPU, Radeon R9 390, or even my processor, Intel i7 3770 (built this system way back 2012, what can I say…)! As much as I believe that being very comfortable while working, studying, or gaming in front of a PC is, I don’t think it is justified for me, a non-YouTube personality, a non-professional gamer, or anything of the like that I can either be sponsored or have a good enough paycheck to try and buy one for myself, I resorted, for many months, in finding an alternative. Surely there should be an alternative to these chairs… right?

 

Well, it wasn’t easy finding a gaming chair that is a good alternative to the above brands; it took awhile and I was close in buying an alternative… to the alternative.

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Taken from EASY PC website; The RAKKER Chair

Since I live here in the Philippines, I was really considering this chair since I don’t think there will be any alternatives; hey, it was better than spending php15,000-php20,000 on a DX Racer in the shops I found here.

No hating on EASY PC but I am scared of the design of these kind of chairs; I mean, yeah sure, they won’t sell these kinds of chairs without legs in the back if it will really just make you fall backwards, but psychologically, I would not be too comfortable, and let us face it, as much as I wanted a new chair, I didn’t like the overall design – as much as I want a cheap chair, I also don’t want to skimp out too much either… so onward to finding a new chair. Again.

I stumbled across this one and it was an absolute winner; it was technically half the price of the cheaper DX Racers (take note, I will always refer to DX Racers for price comparison as I know their prices locally better as more stores carry them here in the Philippines).

It doesn’t recline nor does it have an aluminum star base like the higher end gaming chairs, but for half the price, like I said, is a winner… until I stumbled in to these!

Now these, just so we can all be oriented, the DX Racers are around php15,000-20,000, the Milano/Torino alternatives are php8,000, while the above, unnamed, unbranded ones, range between php5,800-6,500.

The unnamed chairs that I eventually got one of, also does not recline and has a plastic star base that is said to withstand up to 200lbs (I am a good 120lbs), but of course, I still wanted it to be sturdy and future proof enough, so I was able to find an aluminum star base from a different shop (If you are here in the Philippines and want to do the same thing, you can find the star bases here).

I was and actually still am wary about these unnamed/unbranded knockoffs, but for that price, I was willing to make a big gamble. I said that I am still wary as of course, it is too early to tell if this will truly last, but somehow, my initial reaction/opinion to this chair is a positive one. Plus I am very good at keeping things well beyond their supposed lifespan. Though I suck at doing the same things for relationships… however that will be for another post.

SO! I ordered a black chair since there were no blue ones to match my computer system and it also struck me that my future builds will not always be blue in theme, so a black chair will be a good idea for whatever colored theme will be for my future builds.

I was able to receive it the same day I ordered it. However, it isn’t through regular courier. Something as big as this chair will cost a lot to ship through courier, thankfully here in the Philippines I recently learned that you can have a package shipped through a bus line and they will drop it in their respective terminal and you can pick it up personally for a cheaper price. Also, I found out unlike couriers where they usually ship at a certain cutoff time and you will receive the package the next business day, bus lines, if you give the package at a time before they leave, and we know there will never be a shortage of buses leaving, they will immediately take it with them, and they are not limited to business days. Of course, the downside is that you have to pick it up yourself… and something this big, along with my weak knee… bad combination. Thankfully my dad was nice enough to drive me to pick this up.

And like all gaming/excutive chairs the box is huge…

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I had to drag this in…

The packaging per se, is not all that great, they just packed everything in, with little dividers, so even if they have bubble wraps on some of the items, it can still have a few dents here and there through shipping (I found 2 dents on the armrest). But what do you expect for an unbranded chair?

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Let’s do this!

After laying it out, I didn’t see any instructions inside the box, I was assuming this is also part of it being an unbranded chair; was going to reach out to the shop where I ordered this, but I decided to just try my luck. Sure it is an easy process to make a chair like this if you think about it, but the tough parts are the different sized screws and washers; you can’t just presume that this goes here and there if the threads are not supposed to accommodate the screws. Also the tilt/swivel seat plate mechanism is supposed to be placed in a certain orientation so I won’t fall flat on my back if I leaned back.

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It comes with different sized screws and washers as an Allen key, in case you need one

All these can be done trial and error, but I am prepping for my board exams so I don’t have time for trial and error (I do have time to review on my reading breaks lol).

So I carried on thinking there was no instructions…

Then lo and behold, after assembling the star base with the caster wheels and the gas life with its respective cover, as I grabbed the lower cushion, I found the instructions packed with it. So, yeah, good thing…

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You sneaky bastard…

Now that I found the instructions, I am confident to build the rest of the chair… now I am sure what screws to use and stuff.

As you can see, it is a small touch, but seeing the Tilt/Swivel Seat Plate maechanism with a “front” sign and the lower cushion have a sticker also with a “front” sign is surprising on a unbranded gaming chair knock off. Simple things like that found on these knock offs makes you think twice about these. In a good way.

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Almost there…

Having to screw in the back cushion was simple enough now that I knew which screws to use, and at this point I was contemplating whether to leave it without the armrests as it seems cool that way. But I tried it anyway…

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Completed!

Looking at it, and sitting on it with the armrests, seemed just fine, maybe even better. As you can see the armrest acts like another screws on the lower cushion and the back cushion, acting as another support. So it was a better idea to add the armrests.

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Looks great with my setup!

The above pictures of the build and the end product were all taken with my ASUS Zenfone 2 and I really didn’t try and get good photos with it since I was lazy. That being said, I whipped out my DSLR to get better glamour shots and all get better photos up close of each part of the chair.

Here goes!

So what do I think about? Initially, I was wary but am very surprised by the quality. I wish that it would recline, have an aluminum star base, and have larger caster wheels, because due to the weight of the chair itself, plus my weight, the caster wheels do dig in to the carpet real good. But what can you expect from a php5,800 chair that is unbranded so to speak?

For that price, in spite of what I said above, overall this chair is bang for the buck; the padding is thick, but not too stiff that it is uncomfortable to sit on; it is Goldilocks… just the right amount of firmness.

With the pictures above using my DSLR, you can see the quality work on the stitching. You can also see how the pleather looks of quality. The median aspect of the cushions, you can see a mesh like fabric. This helps with a bit of ventilation. Not a lot because it isn’t completely open mesh, but it is better than feeling suffocated in way.

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Mesh midportions of the cushions, enveloped with pleather
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Thick metal junction
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Pleather armrests

You can see the junction of the back cushion and the lower cushion is a large and sturdy metal, so leaning back, along with the tilt function, is not that scary. However, like I said about the star base being plastic, in time, I might fall on back by breaking the star base.

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Think plastic star base rated to withstand 200lbs

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Small caster wheels; it can dig in the rug real good.

Speaking of the star base, it may be plastic, but it is a thick and strong piece of plastic. I am still wary and am thinking about changing it to aluminum in the future (link above). Though if it’s true that this plastic base can withstand up to 200lbs, then a 120lbs should be no problem.

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Typical swivel/tilt mechanism lever functions; nice to see it labeled, gives a sense of quality. Simple things, people.

The tilt function is like any other chair, but being this chair in particular, it feels right; a chair like a racing chair, that is comfortable, and you get to lean back and have the chair tilt just enough (adjustable by the way), is great. Still like I mentioned about the plastic star base, I can only adjust the tilt so much so I won’t be afraid to tilt too far back. And for those who don’t like to tilt, you can lock it anyways.

In the end, I love this chair. It may not have the bragging rights as DX Racer, GT Omega, or Maxnomic, but I can still brag that I saved so much money on this. No reclining, no aluminum star base (but I can always buy an aluminum one to replace this anyways and still be cheaper than those other chairs), the caster wheels do get caught up in the rug (again, I can always buy bigger caster wheels and still save a lot of money if I were to buy the other chairs), but the overall comfort, the surprising build quality from the individual parts to the well stitched pleather and stuff, makes this bang for the buck. The tilt function is nothing new, but for me, with all the other chairs I used, it felt better here; this might be because of the shape of the chair and the overall comfort.

I should also mentioned, unlike the other chairs, this doesn’t come with the head pillow/cushion and the lumbar pillow/cushion. So maybe that is another con to consider apart from the lack of reclining, etc., that I seem to mention over and over again.

So in short, I say, go buy it, if you don’t want to spend on a chair that is probably more expensive than your GPU or CPU, heck maybe even your GPU and CPU combined! You can always buy an aluminum star base and larger caster wheels and still don’t break the bank.

BUY IT. (Well, if you’re in the Philippines that is)

PEACE!

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My complete workstation…

-o-

Links to all the sites where the above chairs can be found(if found locally, I will link to sites in the Philippines):

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VLOG Up Soon?

So, I got mail… and in that mail… er package… I got me an A4Tech PK910h 1080p Webcam.
This is primarily going to be used for Skype and Oovoo for friends, family, and significant others, when chatting on those platforms.
But I might be using it for my future vlog… It has been long over due; I have been planning to make a vlog for so long now, and recently I really started thinking about videography as much as I do think about photography, so that was another factor going into my decision to finally put up a vlog.
This is not going to be a review of the product, its more of an overview and unboxing of the product. I will see if I have time to finally hook it up and run it with my copy of Dxtory and Open Broadcaster Software (for vloggers or streamers check this video out to set it up from Logan of Tek Syndicate).
Anyways for the unboxing:
So I ordered this in PCHub online, since the branch of PCHub near my place closed down due to leasing issues with the mall they were stalled in; I ordered express, so it came the very next day while I was on duty at the hospital. Very glad to see this in the mail when I got home.
Simple plastic packaging, it was opened already in order for PCHub to place the necessary stickers to indicated when I purchased this for warranty purposes. Ignore that hairclip over there. It ain’t mine. OBVIOUSLY. It is from diz gherl ai lyk. I use it as lucky charm.
Inside the package you’d find the webcam itself, surprised by the petite-ness of the webcam itself as the pictures in the advertisements look a little larger than that. It also comes with a quick set-up guide and a driver cd (which, by now, if you are truly part of the PC master race, should know that you are better off throwing those away and look for the latest drivers directly from the website… then again if one has no unlimited access to internet, I guess these cd’s still have a purpose after all.).
Closer look at the petite webcam. Clean and simple look. Build wise? This is certainly a plastic fantastic webcam… if dropped on concrete from a certain height, it will get scratched and possibly have a crack in the body and not simply just a nick.
I appreciate that this was shipped with a cable tie and not the usual cable twist ties. This makes it easier for me to manage yet another USB cable in my system.
And here she is mounted on one of my monitors. My gripe with the attachment mechanism is that it isn’t spring loaded to have counter force to be exerted in order to have a better clamp on the monitor. If the webcam is manipulated enough… and by enough, even if you slightly adjust the camera’s perspective or angle, the attachment mechanism may shimmy out of place because of the lack of the spring loaded mechanism for it to clamp on the monitor properly.
Well, that’s that for now. I will set it up and test it ASAP and write another blog… or even launch my first vlog about this camera.
PEACE!