Question An Advisory about ATX cases and their front-panel connection hardware

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,312
1,187
126
So I made an ass of myself all this year, troubleshooting an OS corruption problem. In process of doing that, I acquired "extra parts" with two spare processors, two spare motherboards, and so on yada-yada-yada. IT WAS STIUMULUS MONEY! I SPENT IT AND I STIMULATED!

So I was going to build a twin system to the wonderful beloved flagship machine I built FIVE YEARS ago. I'd had such good luck and success modding the case on that one -- a CoolerMaster Stacker 832 midtower. I found another one on EBay, got all the hardware for it. But -- strange! The seller sent me that case with the USB, Audio and the usual front-panel pinout wires (Power, Reset, LED . . . LED, etc.) wrapped up separately. They looked brand new. And in order to get them off the CM Stacker, one has to remove the front-corner plastic assembly, take it apart (tiny screws, find the plugs, plug in the wires -- or alternatively -- unplug them.

Well, you see, my trials and tribulations of 2021 2022 began with a vaping-pen-chargiing in a front-panel USB port -- One of those CM ports. It was a static charge for shuffling across the carpet and reaching for the pen. It destroyed the motherboard USB controller, probably caused OS/HDD corruption -- leading to a year of misery until a few days ago. One thing I noticed in the aftermath while routinely inserting a USB stick: just touching the USB stick to the port caused the system to reset. Something wrong there! Unplugged the cables between front-panel and motherboard -- for half the USB 2.0 ports. Don't need 'em -- got a front panel 2-port USB 3 installation -- my own.

Now, with this new (15-year-old) case --the twin case -- I see that the seller had the cables, they weren't plugged into the case hardware. He has some sort of intentions about this case and didn't follow through. It's a lot of trouble to disassemble that plastic nose on the forward case. I now know how to do it! I've done it! It's easier than it appears to be! But I suspect the previous owner may have had the same troubles with his case as I had with my original.

The hardware (circuit card) that connects the internal cabling-to-motherboard has a pile of little soldering points that stick up like needles. Pulling on the cables could cuase "wire chaffing" and shorts. Why they built it that way without protection, I wouldn't know.

If you worry about this or you start to worry after examining your particular situation with this-year's case or something newer than mine, find a way to stick a piece of cardboard, plastic, wood -- foam-core artboard! -- between the cables and those solder needles.

That's the cause of a problem I have, and likely the reason I received the second case with new cables completely removed from their arcane, tedious assembly in the forward case top. And on the new case, I've got the uncertainty that something in that little circuit card doesn't work. If the power switch doesn't work, I can fix it. If the LEDs don't work, I was going to install separate drive LEDs anyway. There ain't nuthin' that can't be fixed: you just have to know what needs fixin'.
 

igor_kavinski

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2020
3,187
1,742
96
I hate front USB ports. My first data loss on a USB flash disk was due to putting it in the front USB port of an assembled system at work. Apparently, they skimped on the cost of the casing and I paid the price with my unbacked up data (this was around 2008 when affordable USBs were still around 4 to 8 GB in capacity).
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,312
1,187
126
I hate front USB ports. My first data loss on a USB flash disk was due to putting it in the front USB port of an assembled system at work. Apparently, they skimped on the cost of the casing and I paid the price with my unbacked up data (this was around 2008 when affordable USBs were still around 4 to 8 GB in capacity).
I fully understand. But having them on the front-panel is much more convenient than bending over the computer's back-side with an LED headlight and fumbling around to find a port there. The only other option I can think of is to connect a little hub box with a cable and sit it on top of the PC.

I've disassembled the "nose" on the upper front of the twin CM Stacker I'm preparing in my patio workspace. If I get around to it, I might pull the assembly apart for the "Vaping-Pen" computer. But I''m only going to use the USB2 ports that still work and weren't part of that problem, or the USB3's I installed myself.
 

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