Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Media PC - assembly instructions

Here are the assembly instructions to build a do it yourself, do it all Media PC.

If you have built your own PCs before, this one is no different.  Just take your time, and make sure you don't have a lot of static electricity when you put it together.  If you plug in the power cord and touch the metal case, you should have a fairly decent ground when handling the parts.

Notes (in no particular order):
  • MicroATX cases are a bit more cramped than a traditional PC case, so take your time installing everything.  You will need to remove the supporting cross bar when inserting the motherboard.  It is held in place by one screw.
  • You need to install the motherboard first.  Install the BluRay and disks last as they block your access to the motherboard.
  • If you are installing a PCI card, be sure it comes with a smaller back panel.  A normal ATX sized back panel won't work.  Fortunately, the D-Link wireless card that I chose came with both panels.
  • Both the Bluray drive and Hard disk use sata cables (no more pata cables, yeah!)
  • The trickiest part is connecting all of the case's LED/switch wires to the motherboard.  Just take your time.
  • The case has a speaker & wire, but the motherboard that I use has it's own speaker directly on the PC board.  So, no need to hook that wire up.
  • The card reader connects to one of the USB jumper blocks that are unused.  As I recall there were two and it should matter which one you use.
  • The retail CPU fansink comes with thermal grease already installed.  All you have to do is snap it on per the instructions. 
For those that want to hook up a recording light, I'll cover that in a separate post.

Update #1:

I neglected to point out that the case's power LED connector has three pins while the front panel jumper block (JFP1) on the motherboard only has two pins.  I've run into this situation on at least two computers that I have built in the past.  The solution is to move the pins in the connector so that they are adjacent.  Then you can plug the connector into the jumper block (and the one empty hole will hang over the edge).

In the image below, you can just barely see that the three slot connector has one empty pin and it is hanging off to the right side of the jumper block (see the red arrow).

To move a pin, simply push a sharp pointy tool into the exposed side of the connector.  This releases a catch that holds the pin in.  Then gently push the pin in and pull it out.  You need to push the pin in first so that it is no longer catching on the connector.


  1. Thanks for sharing your system, George! I'm in the final stages of building one like yours based on your instructions (I upgraded the HD and optical drives a bit). The power LED cable from the case has as 3 pin connector with the outside pins wired, but the corresponding connection on the motherboard only has two pins. What did you do to get around that?

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  3. Thanks, George - that did the trick. A couple construction notes that might help someone else:

    - The motherboard comes with one SATA data cable and one 4-pin power to SATA power adapter. The case doesn't come with any SATA data cables, and it has one SATA power connector. So if you buy a bare SATA optical drive and a bare hard drive you'll need to pick up an extra SATA data cable.

    - If you don't choose to use a card reader you can fit in an additional hard drive.

    BTW, I've enjoyed reading through your other posts as well. Good stuff. I just ordered a Kill-a-watt :)


  4. Hi Bob,

    Glad to hear it! And thanks for sharing your construction notes and feedback.

  5. You have a lot of great posts, and have helped convince me to take the plunge into building my own media pc.

    In case anyone needs the info:
    The short back panel plates are called low-profile brackets, and not all microATX cases require them. Make sure to check the specs of your case before buying.

  6. Hi George, I put together the system as you suggest. The only thing I deviated on was to get 2 X 2 Gig memory stick. I tried to power up today and I am getting 3 beeps and no video. Some webpages say this is keyboard, others say it is memory. I have tried two good keyboards, one memory card then the other, no memory cards. Any ideas?

  7. Hi Anonymous,

    Sorry to hear about your trouble. I doubt it is the keyboard as my system boots just fine without a keyboard. Note that the IR remote is also a "keyboard" (I removed that as well), and it still boots.

    You are going down the right path to debug this. Given that you've already tried different memory sticks I think you are down to a bad CPU, bad motherboard, or a bad power supply. I would also double check that you have the power supplies' cables plugged in correctly to the motherboard.

    If you have a spare power supply, I would try that next.

    After that it gets more complicated. Not many people have spare cpus or motherboards lying around to swap. As a last resort, I'd probably try to reseat the cpu.

    Oh, you could also try to clear the CMOS memory on the motherboard. I suppose it is possible it got messed up and resetting it to default is probably a good thing to try. I think you can do this by temporarily setting a jumper on the mobo.

    If nothing works (and you can't isolate the problem to either the cpu or the mobo, you might have to try to return / exchange both.

    BTW: In order to avoid these problems in the future, I'm thinking of offering pre-built (and tested) systems if enough people are interested. Too late for you, but I realize not everyone enjoys this kind of tinkering.

    Hope that helps,


  8. George Thanks for that info. I have not isolated the issue though. I have not tried the power supply, I will try that next.

  9. Still no dice. I am exchanging the motherboard.

  10. New motherboard did the trick. And how easy that was to return on Amaxon. I am sold on Amazon. I will buy more stuff from them. Thanks for all your help George. This has been a great experience.


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