Sunday, December 31, 2017

Spondoolies SP-20 and Spondoolies SP-35 cleaning

Overhauling Spondoolies Bit Coin Miners

I own both the SP-20 and an SP-35.  Recently they started getting intermittent, so I decided to clean them up and do new thermal grease (since that’s about all you can do when the OEM goes out of business).  These are the steps I took … didn’t use ESD precautions, but I know how to handle parts, so I was not too worried.  Your mileage may vary.

Make sure you have thermal paste on hand … ArcticSilver is what I use.

The SP-20 is the hardest to do from the perspective of “how to take apart” while the SP-35 takes a lot of hours.

The SP-20

For orientation, when the unit is lying on a table, the RJ-45 is at the top edge.  So, take out the three screws at the top of each side and remove the top.  Now, you will see two ribbon cables running into the controller card … slide those off … there are no clips … just pressure holds them on.

Now with the cables off, take out the next three screws (from each side) and the sub-assembly that holds the controller card with the RJ-45 connector is now loose … but ... be careful to ensure that the ribbon cables don’t get in the way as your removing it, and “hinge” it towards the rear as the rear fans are wired to the controller card.

Once removed, you’ll see the two miner cards in there, loose.  Look at the stamped metal you removed … there are guides there that the two miner cards go into during re-assembly … remember them. Now, remove each miner card and set them aside.

Now blow out the chassis metal that’s left … blow off the controller card assembly, and blow off the miner cards.

For each miner card, remove the heat sinks (2 screws each) and blow the dust off.  Clean the old thermal grease off the heat sinks with 99% isopropyl alcohol (70% will do, but 99% is best).  Then, clean the old grease off the chips … properly cleaned, the chip tops should look like little mirrors.  Never touch either the chip or heat sink with bare hands … and remember that all surfaces are only clean via an alcohol wipe down.  I used Nitrile gloves to ensure that no skin oils got on any surfaces.

Apply a small dab of new grease on each chip, and using a razor blade, spread it out over the entire surface.  It goes far so you only need a tiny amount.  Once you spread the compound out via the razor blade and the top is fully covered, re-install the heat sinks onto each chip … first screw is turned a few turns to set it, and then the other screw is fully screwed in.  Once the second screw is screwed all the way in, finish the first.  These screws should NOT be tight … just turn until it stops.

Once both boards are done, re-seat the boards back in place, in their guides and all way back so their power connectors stick out the back.  Then, put the controller card back into place, making sure the ribbon cables are routed through their cut outs and re-connect them. 
Now you need to move the boards about a bit so that they boards are into their proper position.  The controller assembly metal needs a little bit of force to get the screw holes lined up … the pressure is to ensure that the boards stay in place during movement.  Get each of the 3 screws of each side in … and don’t tighten any until ALL SIX are installed … and THEN tighten them.  Now, put the top back on and put the last 6 screws back in. 


SP-35

Pull the power supplies out and blow them out.

Remove the top via 3 screws in the rear.  Once the screws are out, you slide the top back about ½ inch and remove it.

You have two platters of miner chips … there is a top and a bottom.

But first, by the power supplies you will see two metal plates with 4 screws in each.  Those connect (or link) the power supplies to the processor boards.  Remove all 8 screws (2x4) and remove the links.

For the top miner platter, remove the heat sinks (2 screws each) and blow the dust off the heat sinks.  Clean the old thermal grease off the heat sinks with 99% isopropyl alcohol (70% will do, but 99% is best).  Then, clean the old grease off the chips … properly cleaned, the chip tops should look like little mirrors.  Never touch either the chip or heat sink with bare hands … and remember that all surfaces are only clean via an alcohol wipe down.  I used Nitrile gloves to ensure that no skin oils got on any surfaces.

Now, you will see screws holding that platter down … should be about 10 of them.  Remove those, and notice that by the power supply is a shielded ribbon cable … remove it … no clips … pressure fit only.  Lift out the platter and sit it aside.

Same instructions on the bottom platter … remove heat sinks and blow the dust off.  Then clean the old grease off the chips and sinks.  You can remove the bottom platter if you want … I didn’t.

At this point, you want to blow out the chassis and blow all the dust off the platters … then wipe the chips off in case any dust got on them.

Apply a small dab of new grease on each chip, and using a razor blade, spread it out over the entire surface.  It goes far so you only need a tiny amount.  Once you spread the compound out via the razor blade and the top is fully covered, re-install the heat sinks onto each chip … first screw is turned a few turns to set it, and then the other screw is fully screwed in.  Once the second screw is screwed all the way in, finish the first.  These screws should NOT be tight … just turn until it stops.  Do this to both platters. 

Re-install the top platter and reconnect the ribbon cable and the power links.  Screw the platter back in place.  NOTE:  I found two of the stand offs that the top platter sit on were stripped out from (I assume) poor production processes … so I just left 2 screws out as I didn’t want to disassemble and tap the threads.

Install the top and power supplies and you’re ready to rock, er, mine.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Torrents and Seedboxes ...

Many people on line have tried downloading torrents, and then using a torrent engine like utorrent (read: microtorrent) to download a file (maybe the latest HOT movie?).  And inevitably you stumble upon a copyright holder who will file a C&D (cease and desist) against your ISP ... which get's you cut off (because your ISP tracks your IP address and times assigned).

Then, you think "I'll use a VPN and log in thru Hong Kong" so they can't track me ... and that is correct.  But the problem is that setting up a VPN and monitoring it 24/7 takes a lot of time and technical "know how".  When I tried a VPN (via Windows), I found that often it would drop off, and my network connection would resume "in the clear".

Finally, I found the best solution ... a seedbox.  If you don't know what that is, this article describes it better than I can.  But in brief, it is your 'friend' in some "non-tracking country", say The Netherlands, where privacy laws will keep you from ever being disclosed or discovered.  They download the file you want, and you FTP it from them, and since no one tracks FTP activity, no one ever knows you downloaded a "protected" file.

I used UltraSeedBox for over a year, and found that, while they had good pricing, over the last 6 months their Customer Support went to total crap ... so after they LOST my RSS feeds twice, I gave up on them and switched to EVO ... only $5/month, super support, and you can even pay them with BitCoin if you REALLY REALLY REALLY want to stay anonymous (I don't, but you can).  

Final note ...  if you don't use EVO and decide to use something else, make sure you ask about PUBLIC versus PRIVATE trackers.  I tried one where only after signing up did I find that they would only work with PRIVATE trackers ... and you don't want that.




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