Review of the VOV Technology VGA/PS2 Debug Board

by Alex Kuretz on October 29, 2013 · 2 comments

in News

The following is a guest article written and submitted by forum member Joe S. The debug boards reviewed in this article are available for purchase here in the forums.

I was lucky enough to get one of the last HP EX495 MediaSmart Servers from NewEgg before they went out of stock and truth be told I’m VERY HAPPY I did. Although it worked fine at the beginning, later on I had problems that were honestly caused by me. This is the result that happens when you DO NOT take the time to read the manual!!! Don’t make the same mistake I did. What can I tell you, I knew better, but I was in a hurry. The problem now was fixing it, and for this I needed a VGA/PS2 Adapter on the Server, which would make things go MUCH EASIER. After searching for one for quite a while, I found this site and the adapter I needed.

I have to say now that I was EXTREMELY LEERY buying this part from ANY INDIVIDUAL whom I didn’t know. I contacted Charles again and again he was EXTREMELY helpful and answered all of my questions fully. I finally decided which adapter I wanted (the VGA/Keyboard/Mouse type) but I was still wary of sending them $80.00 (for the part) plus another $5.00 for shipping (FedEx Ground). Needless to say, Scrooge finally opened up his purse strings and I did it.

I placed my order with Charles (Jan. 2, 2013) and it arrived today (Jan. 10, 2013) which is NOT TOO BAD especially for Ground delivery. By ordering it shipped FedEx Ground I was able to track the shipment, which I must admit, eased my worries. Now the only thing I had to quell was my anticipation of getting it and installing it. That’s what I plan for tomorrow, hopefully. Whopps, I couldn’t wait until tomorrow…

The photos on the web site are pretty accurate, but I have to admit that it’s a shame you can’t enlarge them to examine them better (Charles you might want to consider that option). The unit itself (looking from the front of the VGA Adapter) is roughly 4″ wide and 2″ in depth (including the VGA Connector) and 1″ thick. Now you should know that this Adapter board is NOT SOMETHING that you would think was designed AND built in a garage. It is as professionally designed and built that you will think it came from a BIG COMPANY like AMP or some other company. The cable that connects the Adapter to the Motherboard is sleeved and it is done VERY WELL at that. All the connections line up perfectly, which is rare. Overall, this is AS GOOD as any PROFESSIONALLY DESIGNED AND BUILT ADAPTER and is very well thought out and constructed. Excellent job Charles, you should be very proud of your work!!!

It’s small enough to be inserted into one of the HD Bays on the server itself, which it seems, many users elect to do. Personally I didn’t want to lose a HD so I had to come up with some other plans. Up until I took apart the Server I had planned to build some type of Plexiglas base to sit underneath the server itself that would hold the adapter (so it’s not exposed) plus some type of fan system to help cool down the HD’s as well. After opening up the Server I found that there are already 2 fans built into this system (Good job HP) so more fans would be kind of redundant. This is good, as it will help lower the costs of making a base.

I went to one Plexiglas Company (Total Plastics Inc. – from Harrisburg, PA.) and they were very rude to me, plus they wanted $150.00 to build it. It was almost like – “We couldn’t be bothered… Go someplace else”… They did suggest I try another company called “Grim’s Plastics & Fabrication” also located here in Harrisburg, PA.

I called them and went to see them and showed them the Server and told them what I wanted and they said that they would be happy to build it and that it would cost around $30 to which I said ok. They also asked me what color I wanted it in, which was totally unexpected AND appreciated. I have to say that the people at “Grim’s Plastics” treated me very professionally and I thank them for that. Needless to say, they are building the base as I write this and I’ll let you know how it looks when it’s done.

In case you’re interested in ordering one of these bases for your Server, Grim’s Plastics have saved the design so they’ll be able to make more for anyone who wants one. I highly recommend them, they do a professional job and you won’t be sorry. Their address is as follows:

Grim’s Plastics & Fabrication
6691 Allentown Blvd.
Harrisburg, PA. 17112
(717) 526-7980
(717) 526-7981 (FAX)
grimsplastics@comcast.net
Tom Miller – Sales Representative

The dimensions of the base are roughly as follows: 9 1/4″ in. long, 5 1/2″ in. wide, and 4″ in. high. I had them make it 4″ high as I wanted a place to install a extra fan for the Server. It has 2 braces going across the width (at the top) to attach it to the Server which I will do with bolts. It also has a cutout on the right hand side of the base for the VGA/Keyboard/Mouse Connector. I’ll include some pictures so you can see what it looks like.

Now that I’ve had the Server open and had a chance to inspect the insides of it, I think the best place for me to put an opening is through the bottom of the chassis in the right hand corner in the front (looking at the Server from the front – SEE ATTACHED PHOTOS – MARKED IN YELLOW).

Front of server and base

Front of server and base

I do have two suggestions for you Charles. Compressing the connection small enough to be able to fit through ANY hole is going to be rather hard. My 1st suggestion is to put some type of a TINY ROUND connector (Male to Female connector and the smaller the better AND put it near the END of the connector itself) about 1/4 of the way down the length of the cable itself. this way it would make putting it through ANY hole much easier and safer. The 2nd suggestion is to make the cable about 2″ longer. This will allow you to move the connector to a different place than I did.

Right side of server and base

Right side of server and base

Bottom of base (sorry about the blurry photo)

Bottom of base (sorry about the blurry photo)

Bottom of server showing opening - Front is on the left

Bottom of server showing opening - Front is on the left

I recommend that you cut your rectangle just about where I’ve marked mine in yellow (NOTE: I didn’t mark the entire rectangle in yellow as it would have covered over the cable). You will have to cut thru two (2) layers to make your opening as the base of the server is plastic with a metal layer about 1/8″ above that. A Dremel tool should work just fine but just be sure to make it the same length as mine as this will make fishing the cable thru the opening much easier.

You will find that the Server is VERY CRAMPED inside and making the connection WHILE sliding the Motherboard/Power Supply Unit back into the Server is going to take at least 3 hands and is much easier if both ends of the cable are detached (JUST MAKE SURE TO MARK HOW IT ATTACHES).

What I did then, was to run the Keyboard Cable down the right side of the Power Connector on the Motherboard. It JUST BARELY fits, but doing so necessitated cutting a 1/4″ notch into the side of the Server Front so the cable would fit. This was then fed down and through the rectangular hole in the bottom and then attached to the unit I got from Charles. I have to admit it took about 10 tries before I got everything to feed through correctly.

You will see that there is a notch cut into the Motherboard that HP used to feed the Cables through and while I first gave some thought to enlarging it, I would NOT RECOMMEND DOING SO. This IS the Motherboard after-all, so there MIGHT be some circuitry that you could cut OR break. NOT RECOMMENDED!

Underneath the Power Supply/Motherboard Unit showing the 4 Tabs

Underneath the Power Supply/Motherboard Unit showing the 4 Tabs

Like I’ve said before, the free space inside this case is EXTREMELY TIGHT. So feeding your cable through ANY of the openings, especially WHILE TRYING to get your Motherboard back into the Server (WITH the cable attached) is going to be difficult, so take your time.

If you decide to attach the Base to the Server using any type of bolt, just make sure that you use a bolt with a RECESSED HEAD. The bolt head MUST NOT stick up! If it does, the Motherboard WILL NOT slide back into the Server. I found this out the hard way. If you don’t want to use bolts, you could use epoxy instead, it’s up to you which method you use.

You’ve made an EXCELLENT PRODUCT here Charles, one that I’m glad I purchased. You should be very proud of yourself for the good work you’ve done. You’ve filled a hole that many of us Server Users needed filling, and have done it quite well. Thanks for an excellent job that was well done…





Article by

I'm Alex Kuretz, and I'm the founder of MediaSmartServer.net. I was the Lead Test and Integration Engineer at HP for the MediaSmart Server until April 2008 when I moved on to other opportunities outside HP. I've kept active in the Windows Home Server community, creating several add-ins and helping users make the most of their Home Servers.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Matthew Sawyer October 31, 2013 at 8:32 am

Very nice guest article, thanks for sharing! The base looks very well-built; that would probably be a really good choice and gives a nice cable management option.

I have a pair of MediaSmart Servers–an EX487 and EX490, and both have debug cables from Charles. I originally bought just one–the tightwad in me said I only needed one but I very quickly realized that having both was essential, especially given the fact I was using these servers for software development and testing.

Indeed the cables are professionally built and look great. Not to mention they work PERFECTLY! I’ve never had a problem with them. Indeed Charles should be proud of his work. He makes an excellent product and I am more than happy to give him a recommendation.

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Comp1962 November 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm

I actually just ordered my 3rd DEBUG Board. You simply can not go wrong with one and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for those who use the HP MSS or Acer EasyStore Servers.

Thanks for sharing your base as it provides others with options for mounting their DEBUG Boards. Some leave them under the top cover others in a drive tray. I run mine out through the side of the front grill and mount attach it to the side of the MSS with Velcro so its easy to remove when I need to service the unit. I recall many years ago another forum member made a similar but smaller base for his server to mount I believe a DEBUG Board but I do not recall if it was a custom device or VOV’s Device.

For those reading this who have not yet given any thought to getting a DEBUG Board I really encourage you to do so because it will open up a world of possibilities for you especially if you want to install another OS.

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