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Old 01-27-2021, 06:27 AM   #1
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Default Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

Fast Internet connection highly recommended to view this thread.



So earlier this month, I decided to install some new firewall software on my firewall system (an Advantech UNO-3072LA from 2008) and get a proper firewall solution going instead of the hacky Shorewall... thing that I had running. I picked IPFire because it was basically the last Linux-based solution left that would still boot on x86. Equipped with an Intel Atom N270 CPU, it's stuck on 32-bit software, and is a huge limitation, especially considering that it has dual GbE NICs. In the process of configuring IPFire, I ran into a rather nasty problem: It has no idea what to do when I try to open ports to the outside world at the same time the web proxy is running. Which is a breaking limitation, so I needed to pick another firewall solution. Say hello, OPNsense. Thing is, that only boots on x86_64 CPUs, which this Advantech system doesn't have.


Cue a (former) gaming computer from 2004. Equipped with an AMD Athlon 64 CPU, any modern Linux distro should boot on it. It was in 24/7 service from November 2004 until late 2018 when it was pulled from service due to a flaky SATA controller and a bad PSU. It remained out of service until November 2019 when it was very suddenly called upon to act as a bridge system to bridge the Tech Room's wired LAN to the home's WiFi network because the modem had moved, resulting in the unavailability of it's LAN jack. It was recommissioned and was in service from November 2019 until May of 2020. More home networking changes resulted in a nearby LAN port becoming available again, and the system was removed from service.


It's been out of service since May of 2020, but it has been used for other things. It's original installation of Xubuntu 18.04 is still on it's main HDD, but it has since had a Maxtor HDD installed. That had Debian Testing installed on it, and that install was used for recovering the contents of a few hundred floppy diskettes. (Sidenote: That Maxtor drive, despite showing perfect SMART stats, is dog slow.) Since it was last used, it's had a few things piled on top of it, and it was nearly invisible in an odd corner of the Tech Room.









Now to move the pile of junk, get the system up onto the table, and grab some photos before we start messing with it.


Awesome side panel:


Butt shot 1 (lots of legacy ports on this old motherboard):


OOPS, clicked post too early. Carry on...

Butt shot 2:


Other side panel:


Front panel door closed, feat. optical drive with disintegrating cover:


Bottom of front panel:


Front panel door opened:

(Yes, that floppy drive is loosely sitting in the case.)

And for the USB ports:

The headphone jacks are nonfunctional. IIRC, the motherboard's audio controller is also dead.

Now for some inside shots before partially stripping it to make working on it easier.

Top-down case view:


Both HDDs installed and cabled up:

Also, I manually jumpered both drives for master/slave when I added the Maxtor drive.

Installed expansion cards:

See that heatsink? I had that attached to the wireless card's chipset because it would overheat and do all kinds of bizarre crap without it.

GPU:


Molex Madness. Lots of splitters and adapters here:



I don't have a lot of time left this morning to work on this thread. More pictures coming up from last night later today.
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Last edited by TechGeek; 01-27-2021 at 06:43 AM.. Reason: More pictures b/c I hit post too early.
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Old 01-27-2021, 06:08 PM   #2
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

More inline pictures incoming. I took these as I partially stripped and reconfigured the hardware.

In the process of partially stripping the computer, the faceplate on the optical drive completely disintegrated to smithereens. As a result, I moved it down a bay so it's protected from junk getting inside. Also, I removed the FDD as it won't be needed anymore.


Ouch. The IDE connector on the optical drive really didn't want to let go of the cable.


Partially stripped.


These won't be returning to the system.


PSU reinstalled.


The lonely 40GB Seagate reinstalled and cabled up.


ODD installed and cabled up. As previously mentioned, it's been moved down a bay to protect it since it no longer has a faceplate.


Wireless card removed and slot blank installed. I prefer to close up any and all open slot blanks on a system when I can. It's aesthetically pleasing and helps keep junk out of it, especially when it's not in use. Open slot blanks are a lot of reasons why roaches and rodents get into systems and tear them up.


PSU cabling ready to be hooked back up. I didn't hook it back up because there were a couple of pictures to be taken and I was about done messing with it for the night.


Had to mess up some of my cable management to get the LAN cable to reach the FE controller, which was installed at the very bottom of the case so it could be in the faster PCI slot on the motherboard, as indicated by the orange-colored slot.


Ethernet cables disconnected from old firewall system. They were reconnected shortly after this, likely for the last time. Yes, it's still on. Yes, those are LED fans hot-glued to the side of it to keep it cool.


Now to throw it back together, hook it up, and get OPNsense installed and configured on it.
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Old 01-27-2021, 08:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

LOL I'm currently working with one of the exact same case, was wondering...

This case is obsolete!

Why?

The HDD slots cannot take SATA disks

Why?

Well, unless you have 90 SATA connectors, both power and data, you can't close the side cover if you have SATA hard drives installed there

I ended up having a few disk rails printed as I didn't have any and couldn't figure out a way to incorporate deeper SATA connectors and still able to close the case without flexing and damaging the cables.

BTW, there was a P4 MB in here, alas it wasn't stable. I replaced it with that P3 I was talking about in this case. I have an Athlon XP2100+ somewhere but the P3 could handle 1.5GB RAM, the XP2100+ could only take 1GB

Last edited by eccerr0r; 01-27-2021 at 08:27 PM..
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Old 01-27-2021, 08:30 PM   #4
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

Quote:
Originally Posted by TechGeek View Post
Installed expansion cards:

See that heatsink? I had that attached to the wireless card's chipset because it would overheat and do all kinds of bizarre crap without it.
i thought the wireless card is the middle card? dont see any heatsinks on that. the lower card is the wired ethernet card and thats the one that seems to have the heatsink on it.

also u have bulging teapos on the pci slot above the orange one. better recap those lest the installed pci cards take a dump from the bad caps!!
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Old 01-27-2021, 09:38 PM   #5
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

Didn't even check the caps?
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Old 01-27-2021, 09:50 PM   #6
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaosLegionnaire View Post
i thought the wireless card is the middle card? dont see any heatsinks on that. the lower card is the wired ethernet card and thats the one that seems to have the heatsink on it.

also u have bulging teapos on the pci slot above the orange one. better recap those lest the installed pci cards take a dump from the bad caps!!
Wireless card is the middle card. The heatsink fell off of it, likely when I was moving the system to the table.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eccerr0r View Post
LOL I'm currently working with one of the exact same case, was wondering...

This case is obsolete!

Why?

The HDD slots cannot take SATA disks

Why?

Well, unless you have 90 SATA connectors, both power and data, you can't close the side cover if you have SATA hard drives installed there

I ended up having a few disk rails printed as I didn't have any and couldn't figure out a way to incorporate deeper SATA connectors and still able to close the case without flexing and damaging the cables.

BTW, there was a P4 MB in here, alas it wasn't stable. I replaced it with that P3 I was talking about in this case. I have an Athlon XP2100+ somewhere but the P3 could handle 1.5GB RAM, the XP2100+ could only take 1GB
This system was originally equipped with a SATA HDD. I can't remember if it was turned so power+data was facing the boring case panel or facing the fancy one. And yep, it needs those stupid rails. Saw the case box in the dumpster a while back, should've grabbed it. If I need more than one HDD, I'll either get some rails printed or ghetto it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Topcat View Post
Didn't even check the caps?
Didn't even notice the bulging caps. If/when I have the money and time to down the system to send the board off for a recap, I'll go ahead and do that. Which, depending on circumstances, may be soon.
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Old 01-27-2021, 11:00 PM   #7
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

Quote:
Originally Posted by TechGeek View Post
Didn't even notice the bulging caps. If/when I have the money and time to down the system to send the board off for a recap, I'll go ahead and do that. Which, depending on circumstances, may be soon.
For crying out loud, this is BCN....we all look out for eachother....if funds are tight, just cover the shipping, I'll take care of it.
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Old 01-28-2021, 01:14 AM   #8
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

Quote:
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This system was originally equipped with a SATA HDD. I can't remember if it was turned so power+data was facing the boring case panel or facing the fancy one.
Still don't see it possible without 90 bent connectors. I was trying to fit SATA disks and all my straight SATA cables would extend so far out to hit the access panel, couldn't close the panel without bending the cable really sharply, which would stress the cable at the connectors - and thus these and the disk's connectors. The disks went all the way to the end of the disk cage chassis so no length was wasted... (The plexiglass eats yet another " of clearance for the sata/sata power...)
I didn't see any way for the cable end of the disks to be on the inside, the cable end must be on the outside next to the access door.
Quote:
And yep, it needs those stupid rails. Saw the case box in the dumpster a while back, should've grabbed it. If I need more than one HDD, I'll either get some rails printed or ghetto it.
Don't thingiverse it

Well as for curiosity's sake, I currently have 4 PATA HDDs, a 4mm DDS2, and a 5 disk SCA backplane with 4 SCA disks in this chassis. Yes, can fit a lot of drives... but no, all obsolete

Last edited by eccerr0r; 01-28-2021 at 01:44 AM..
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Old 01-28-2021, 01:38 AM   #9
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

I think most newer boards come in box with at least one (or two) 90 degrees SATA cable. I definitely remember I had to build a LGA775 machine with the same type of cages, and I had some spare 90 degree SATA cables. Made my life much easier and could make it look incredibily clean.
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Old 01-28-2021, 01:47 AM   #10
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

Just about every SATA cable I have are straight including power cables. It's rare that I see 90 bend cables, I think I've ever seen one or two ever. Well if you can get a whole set of bent cables - both data and power - then this case will work fine for sata, else it seems to fit PATA and the molex 4x1 power best.
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Old 01-28-2021, 05:12 AM   #11
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

Quote:
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For crying out loud, this is BCN....we all look out for eachother....if funds are tight, just cover the shipping, I'll take care of it.

PM is on it's way.
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Old 01-28-2021, 06:25 AM   #12
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

More progress. Got it back together and in it's place. Old firewall system is officially out of service for the first time since early 2018.

PSU fully cabled up. Since there's no floppy drive, I can plug the HDD directly into one of the PSU's Molex cables.


1GB of DDR1 RAM installed.


All buttoned up.


Doesn't that look plain awesome?


Another butt shot. No more wireless card.


Optical drive no longer exposed.


Shutting the old firewall system down for the last time.


Powered down...


...and power cut.


Remains of the ODD's faceplate.


Test setup.


It's alive!


First boot in 144 or so days.


More XBLADE awesomeness.






Killed the lights for these photos. This is where it really shines.














Up and running on a USB keyboard.


In it's new home.


Online (on an Ethernet connection) for the first time in over 8 months.


Had some trouble writing an OPNsense image to my USB drive. Either the downloaded file was full of nothing or it refused to boot for whatever reason. Don't expect to see much progress today. Will be pretty busy. Now all I have to do is install and configure OPNsense. There might be an interesting twist in terms of the motherboard, so stay tuned.
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Old 01-28-2021, 09:26 AM   #13
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

Tech Geek

Very nice work
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:44 AM   #14
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

Just looked at the PSU in my xblade case... oh my deer...
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:54 AM   #15
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

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Just looked at the PSU in my xblade case... oh my deer...
PUNNY!
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:00 AM   #16
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

I don't want to be a jerk, but I fail to understand why you use a PC that consumes 10x more electricity working as a router than simply buying Mikrotik.
The electricity bill will show you how this is not the best option. I also don't know what you need a web proxy.
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:34 AM   #17
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

If it's also doing something else like being a shell box or dynamic content webserver, then it's not a big deal.

Also sort of depends where one is in the world, electricity is ridiculously cheap in some places.

But yes, a PressHott probably isn't a good idea as a router. The Athlon64 I have probably isn't a good idea either (though it is a laptop.) But it's not horribly bad, if compared to something like HVAC, power is a drop in the bucket, even if the HVAC needs to cool that one computer too.
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:03 PM   #18
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

Quote:
Originally Posted by sam_sam_sam View Post
Tech Geek

Very nice work
Thanks. There's just something relaxing about this type of thing. Until the system refuses to cooperate with you.


Quote:
Originally Posted by televizora View Post
I don't want to be a jerk, but I fail to understand why you use a PC that consumes 10x more electricity working as a router than simply buying Mikrotik.
The electricity bill will show you how this is not the best option. I also don't know what you need a web proxy.
Two words: Small budget.
I need something better, so I'm making do with what I have until I can get funds to do a proper rebuild. Also, I need a web proxy for URL filtering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eccerr0r View Post
If it's also doing something else like being a shell box or dynamic content webserver, then it's not a big deal.

Also sort of depends where one is in the world, electricity is ridiculously cheap in some places.

But yes, a PressHott probably isn't a good idea as a router. The Athlon64 I have probably isn't a good idea either (though it is a laptop.) But it's not horribly bad, if compared to something like HVAC, power is a drop in the bucket, even if the HVAC needs to cool that one computer too.
$0.10/kWh here. Industry average, AFAICT.
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Old 01-29-2021, 02:08 AM   #19
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

Speaking of routers, I wonder how fast of a PC is needed to route 1Gbps from one ethernet port to another, using no hardware assist? Then with "decent" ethernet cards?

I'm figuring my Celeron 1200 is not fast enough...
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Old 01-29-2021, 02:15 AM   #20
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Default Re: Repurposing a 2004 Athlon 64 system in 2021

Someone who read all that tell me how it was repurposed?
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