Step By Step Guide to Building a New PC


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Installing Hard Drive, CD and Floppy:

The first step to installing the drives is to remove the drive cage from the case. The typical mini-tower drive cage is attached with a couple of screws, and a spring steel release on the bottom. Handling the drives and screwing them into the cage is much easier with the cage out, even when access in the case appears to be good. The frustration you'll save on the first dropped screw or bent pin is well worth the extra work.

When building a PC with an IDE hard drive, you'll almost always want to set the select jumper on the drive to "Master". Do it before you secure the drive, it's alot easier. In our single hard drive, single CD drive system, the hard drive will be the master and the CD will be the slave, both attached to the same ribbon cable.

The hard drive is secured with four screws, usually the coarse thread type, and the end of the drive with the connectors must point towards the inside of the case. There are usually a couple rows of holes in the cage, make sure the holes you pick let the screws clear the opening at the front of the case when you put the cage back in. Normally, the second set from the cage bottom is used (two photos ahead).

Always install the ribbon cables before replacing the drive cage in the case. About the most common mistake made by beginner and experienced PC assemblers alike is miss-aligning the floppy drive ribbon connector, either failing to make the connection with the red key wire to the pin 1 or 2 side of the connector, accidentally forcing the end of the connector in between a vertical line of pins, or even missing an entire row. All of these mistakes are due to poor visibility once the drive is in the case.

As the cage is being installed back in the case, you can see that the ribbon cable is already connected to the floppy drive and has been fed through the opening prior to sliding the cage in. Note also the position of the screws securing the floppy drive to the cage, all the way foward in the slots, which is the norm. The hard drive is mounted in the second set of holes from the cage bottom.

The connections for the CD drive here are shown with the CD out of the case, for illustrative purposes only. The only cable you can actually attach before installing the CD is the patch cable for sound, the thin connector at the far left. The selection jumper, between the sound cable and the ribbon cable, has been set to "Slave".

Don't forget to reinstall the screws back in the cage, even though it snaps into place. The CD drive has already been installed in the top bay of our mini-tower, though you can wait until after you restore the plastic faceplate to the case, particularly if you aren't sure which set of screw holes will align the drive flush with the cover.

The ribbon cables have been installed on the motherboard (no room in picture for hands), with the red key wire in the ribbon towards pin one on the connector. The IDE cable has been installed in the connector marked "Primary". The identical connector marked "Secondary" will be used only if you add additional IDE devices to your PC. Just visible in the center of the picture is the edge of the ribbon cable running from the hard drive up to the CD, not shown here.

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