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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 8:41 pm 
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Service is Open. (Read the post and the FAQ below for more details)
(Note: I will update this post if/when I decide to stop the service. The service is still 100% open. Yes, this forum posting is old, but the service is active.)

Edit: October 2014 - Holy Smokes! The post was originally made in May 2010 (4 years ago) and the service is still open! Pretty good commitment eh?

I am running a small and humble service to all of my HP MediaSmart Server comrades who wish to have a VGA/PS2 Keyboard/PS2 Mouse/Serial debug board and would rather buy (and not build) the board.

Why should you buy a debug board?
-- You want to play with the BIOS settings or re-flash your BIOS
-- You want to boot from a USB stick to install another OS (Vail, Linux, Windows Server 2008, OpenSolaris)
-- You are a software/kernel/addons developer
-- You want to tinker but not risk shorting your MediaSmart Server
-- You don't have the time to build your own custom cable
-- You don't want to buy expensive tools for a one time project
-- You want the ability to troubleshoot any bootup problems without running a recovery that will destroy existing data
-- Buying is cheaper than building!

What others are saying about my debug board.
I have been building the debug boards/cables for this community since May of 2007 and I have had many happy customers.

"Fortunately, there's a debug board you can buy to retrofit a VGA-less server, so you can install Windows Server 2012, Ubuntu, or whatever you want." - J. Peter Bruzzese, InforWorld

"The debug board is very well constructed and has a high quality look and feel which gave me no concerns or worries about connecting it up to my HP server." - Steve Crick, mswhs

"With this cable, I can see the boot sequence, enter the BIOS setup screen, install new OS to the hardware if I want" - kamlau.com

"[VOV Technology] sells a cable that plugs into this header with PS/2 ports to connect a mouse and keyboard, as well as a VGA monitor" - Ed Tittel, Tom's Hardware

"It’s completely worth it. Being able to change boot devices, change fan settings and connect a monitor if something goes wrong – it’s just absolutely essential." - Bjørn Froberg, IT Supporter

Plus the countless comments from the members of the mediasmartserver.net community.


What is the difference between this generation and previous generations (Gen1 and Gen2)?
The Gen3 debug board has full support for the latest HP MediaSmart Server hardware. We also added protection against electrostatic discharges (ESD) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) on the PS2 lines.

Price:
-- $65.00 USD for the VGA Assembly (The Most Affordable Set) [SOLD OUT]
-- $80.00 USD for the VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse Assembly (The Most Popular Set) [Available]
-- $100.00 USD for the VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse + Serial Assembly (The Complete Set) [Available]
-- $30.00 USD for an Extra Black Cable (note: each assembly already includes one black cable) [Available]
-- Texas residents must add 8.25% sales tax to their order.

Shipping to USA:
-- Free shipping via USPS (3-10 business day delivery time, no insurance, no tracking number)
-- $5.00 USD via FedEx Ground (3-4 business day delivery time, insured with tracking number)
-- $21.00 USD via FedEx 2Day (2 business day delivery time, insured with tracking number)
-- $52.00 USD via FedEx Standard Overnight (1 business day delivery time, insured with tracking number)

Shipping to Canada:
-- Free shipping via USPS (5-20 business day delivery time, no insurance, no tracking number)
-- $28 USD via USPS Priority Mail International (4-8 business day delivery time, insured with tracking number)
-- $35 USD via FedEx International Ground (4-5 business day delivery time, insured with tracking number)

Shipping to Europe and All Other Places:
-- $28.00 USD via USPS Priority Mail International (4-8 business day delivery time, insured with tracking number)

Notes about Shipping (Please Read):
-- If shipping via FedEx, please do not specify a P.O. Box shipping address (this is not my wishes, but the courier's wishes).
-- FedEx rates are applicable to the lower 48 states.
-- About International Duties and Taxes: Typically items that are under one pound (16 ounces) and less than $100 in value are not charged duties and taxes. However, it is at the discretion of the customs officer who handles that particular package on that particular day. You (the buyer) are responsible to pay any duties or taxes that your country decides to charge (if any). If this is your first International order, please take the time to review your country's import laws and taxes before making the order (so there are no surprises). Some countries in Europe may charge approximately £10-£25 to import the cable. Please check with your country's import laws to determine the exact fees (if any). There may be shipping delays if the VAT fees are not paid.

Notes:
-- The debug board kit consists of a printed circuit board (PCB) inside an enclosure with a black 26 terminal pass-through cable.
-- Black cable is 18 inches (45.72 centimeters) long and 0.5 inches (2.54 centimeters) thick.
-- The assembly ships 1-3 business days after payment is cleared.
-- All shipments are made from Austin, Texas, USA.
-- Payment is accepted from PayPal (http://www.paypal.com). You don't need a PayPal account to pay.
-- You will be doing business with a company called VOV Technology.
-- Be sure you have read and understood the "Known Issues" section (below) before placing an order.
-- All sales are final. Items that arrive defective are replaced if reported within seven days of arrival. Customer pays the shipping for returned products. Replacement assembly is shipped when returned assembly is received (undamaged)--no cross shipping.

Hardware Compatibility:
-- HP MediaSmart Server EX-470 and EX-475
-- HP MediaSmart Server EX-485 and EX-487 *
-- HP MediaSmart Server EX-490 and EX-495 *
-- HP StorageWorks X510 DataVault *
-- Acer Aspire easyStore H340 *

Customer Tested Hardware Compatibility:
-- Acer Aspire easyStore H341 *
-- Acer Aspire easyStore H342 *
-- HP LX195 MediaSmart Server
-- HP LX197 MediaSmart Server *
-- HP DataVault X310, X311, X312 and X315
-- Lenovo Ideacentre D400 *

If you are interested, email me** at "mss_cable_service<at>vovtech<dot>com" with:
1. The board specifications (VGA only or VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse or VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse + Serial) and price (as stated above).
2. Your first and last name
3. The address where the cable should be shipped***. If this is a business address, please include the name of the business.
4. Your shipping preference and price (as stated above)
5. Your phone number (couriers typically require the destination phone number)
6. (OPTIONAL) Let me know your Windows Home Server box (i.e HP EX-485, Acer H340, other) to receive a free jumper (while supplies last).
7. (OPTIONAL) Tell me something funny/interesting about yourself that puts a face to this cable. :-)

* Requires a jumper to unlock the the PS2 keyboard and PS2 mouse capabilities. Instructions can be found here and here.
** If you already have a PayPal account, please send your cable request from the email address bound to your PayPal account.
*** Your shipping address must match your PayPal address (for security reasons and to qualify for PayPal's buyer/seller protection program). Your cable will, by default, ship to the address specified at the PayPal transaction.

Upon receiving your request, you will receive a PayPal invoice from VOV Technology. Your cable will ship one to two business days after your payment has cleared. You will receive an email alert that will confirm shipment (along with tracking info if applicable).

Thanks and happy MSS tweaking!
Charles


Attachments:
File comment: An example of the complete set (VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse + Serial) assembly. The cable is 18 inches (46 cm), which is perfect for almost any installation.
GI0F5090 (Medium).JPG
GI0F5090 (Medium).JPG [ 34.87 KiB | Viewed 121712 times ]
File comment: Some users prefer not to damage their HP MediaSmart Server, so they install their cable coming up the back of their box and out one of the spare hard drive bays. The assembly can sit comfortably in a closed drawer and that drawer can be opened when needed to troubleshoot problems.
GI0F5138 (Medium).JPG
GI0F5138 (Medium).JPG [ 34.7 KiB | Viewed 121712 times ]
File comment: Some enthusiasts do not like the standard (included) enclosure and would rather go with a custom mounting option. The four holes in the printed circuit board give end-users the flexibility to mount the board however they wish.
GI0F7409 (Medium).JPG
GI0F7409 (Medium).JPG [ 34.61 KiB | Viewed 121712 times ]
File comment: An example of the three assembly options. The VGA assembly is perfect for basic troubleshooting, while the VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse assembly is perfect for BIOS tweaking. The complete set (VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse + Serial) assembly is perfect for the kernel developer who wants to hack at the lower-level hardware, or perhaps the enthusiast who wishes to connect a RS232 weather station to their HP MediaSmart Server.
GI0F5189 (Medium).JPG
GI0F5189 (Medium).JPG [ 34.6 KiB | Viewed 121712 times ]
File comment: The cable is only 0.5 inches (1.27 CM) thick, which accommodates several different mounting options.
GI0F5160 (Medium).JPG
GI0F5160 (Medium).JPG [ 40.91 KiB | Viewed 121712 times ]
File comment: Each debug board is made with the highest quality parts and really simple to install--simply plug and play. No additional drivers are required.
GI0F7406 (Medium).JPG
GI0F7406 (Medium).JPG [ 64.04 KiB | Viewed 121712 times ]


Last edited by cakalapati on Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:54 pm, edited 83 times in total.
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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 8:41 pm 
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do you need a PayPal account to buy a debug board? I don't want to create an account with PayPal.
A: You don't need a PayPal account, nor do you need to create one to pay for the debug board. Any major credit card will suffice. If you live outside the United States, PayPal will also handle the currency exchange rates.

Q: Can you describe the payment process?
A: Upon receiving your request (via email), I send you (via email) a PayPal invoice and that invoice has instructions (from PayPal) on how to pay the invoice. The invoice will have your requested debug board as a line-item, along with the shipping charge. You can pay with any major credit card, or a PayPal account (if you have one). After paying the invoice, I am notified of your payment. Your debug board typically ships 1-3 days after your payment clears. When your package ships, I send you an email to notify you that it shipped along with tracking info (if tracking is available).

Q: How long will it take before I have a debug board in my hand?
A: There are many factors that determine how long it takes for you to get a debug board. They vary from promptness of payment, shipping distance and customs clearance (for international orders). Typically, I try to send a PayPal invoice 1-2 days after receiving the email request for a board. Your board ships 1-3 days after your payment has cleared.

Q: Which debug board should I get?
A: I make no assumptions about your needs because everyone's needs are different. The VGA assembly is perfect for basic troubleshooting (like diagnosing boot-up problems or BIOS tweaking). The VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse assembly is recommended for BIOS flashing and other more advanced things. The complete set (VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse + Serial) assembly is perfect for the kernel developer who wants to hack at the lower-level hardware, or perhaps the enthusiast who wishes to connect a RS232 weather station to their HP MediaSmart Server.

Q: Which debug board do you recommend?
A: If you are unsure which debug board is right for you (see previous question), I recommend people get the VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse debug board. It provides a healthy balance between functionality and value.

Q: Why would anyone buy the debug board with the serial connection?
A: The answer really boils down to you and your needs. A serial connection on a headless computer is priceless when doing low-level hardware debugging. A serial connection to a UPS can be valuable in case of power failure. A serial connection may be important for the enthusiast who is logging temperature from a weather station (that only accepts a serial connection). Serial will never die because it is used in many embedded markets. With that said, the desktop market is moving away from serial is favor of faster protocols (like USB and Firewire). Unfortunately, those protocols require an intelligent (non-trivial) driver stack, which can be problematic in certain scenarios.

Q: I sent you an email but got no response. Are you offering the debug boards?
A: If this forum posting says that my service is open, then I am still offering the debug boards. I get a bunch of emails and I am usually very good at responding to them in one or two business days. However, if you have not heard from me in three days, then I either did not receive your email or it got lost among other emails. Sometimes spam filters re-route good emails so if you are emailing me from a foreign country, that may be an issue too. Simply resend your email and you should be fine. If your email will not go through, post it to the forum.

Q: Do I need to get the PS2 option if I am using the debug board for basic troubleshooting? Can I simply get a VGA-Only board and plug a USB keyboard into the HP box?
A: The VGA-Only is perfect for doing basic troubleshooting. As far as I know, HP and Acer do not lock out the USB keyboard, regardless of the debug board configuration. You will need a jumper to access USB keyboard functionality on select HP MediaSmart Server and Acer easyStore models.

Q: I am an international customer and my debug board shipped via "Express Mail International" (which includes insurance and tracking). Which courier service has my debug board after it leaves the United States?
A: The United States Post Service (USPS) has many affiliates around the world for express mail. Here is a list of countries with their corresponding courier service which handles express mail.

Q: I don't have the money for a serial debug board so I'm going to buy the one I can afford (for example, VGA-PS2). Does the black cable which connects the HP motherboard to the debug board contain the wiring for the serial connection in case I wanted to add the serial connection later to the PCB.
A: I don't do anything to cripple the functionality of the debug board or the PCB between the three product offerings. That is, the three product offerings are the same, except for the extra soldered components and testing. The cable has all 26 wire-leads available and acts as a pin-to-pin extension cable. You can solder (if you wish) a connector to the PCB at a future time and it should work fine. Soldering your own components to the PCB will naturally void any warranty from me.

Q: What are the exact dimensions of the PCB?
A: 3.94 inches by 1.7 inches.

Q: Where exactly are the mounting holes?
A: With the origin (0,0) being in the upper left corner (near the DSUB9 connector) holes are at (0.15,0.07), (1.27, 1.40) (1.30, 1.40) (3.78, 0.80). Units are measured in inches. Each hole is on a 0.160 inch round pad with a 0.125 inch hole.

Q: Where did you get the 26 pin female to female cable extension?
A: The 26 pin female to female cable extension is build by a third party company using factory grade equipment. It results in a much higher quality cable, capable of undergoing a lot of stress.

Q: The first generation VGA cable was $40. Why did the price jump from $40 to $65?
A: The price for the first generation VGA cable is a reflection of the cost of the VGA cable, plus the labor it took to get that cable usable with the HP MediaSmart Server. The second and third generation debug boards use a different business model. That is, the fixed cost of producing one debug board is simply higher. Regardless of which option you chose (VGA, VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse, VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse + Serial), the same fixed costs (26 pin custom cable, PCB, PCB enclosure, etc) are consumed. The price is slightly higher but you get a much better product.

Known Issues
--Sending the same consecutive byte over a serial connection using HyperTerminal (which ships with Microsoft Windows XP) will periodically result in a bit flip on on most significant bit. The issue is a software bug with HyperTerminal. Other serial applications should work flawlessly.

--USB to PS2 adapters do NOT work. If you are ordering a debug board assembly that includes the PS2 connectors and you do not have a PS2 keyboard or a PS2 mouse, you may not be able to communicate to your MediaSmart Server via the PS2 ports. Workaround: Use a PS2 keyboard or a PS2 mouse on the PS2 ports. If you do not have one, use a USB keyboard or a USB mouse on the USB ports.

--Accessing the server via Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection without the debug board attached, users may be able to successfully SHUT DOWN and REBOOT the server. However, some users encountered errors when RESTARTING the server (e.g. after Windows Updates are applied)--the server hangs at some unidentified point during the restart procedure. (Note: With the the debug board attached, the unit restarts without incident - even without a connected keyboard or mouse). To get around this, try the following: with the debug board attached and peripherals connected, power on the HP MediaSmart Server. Press <DEL> repeatedly to enter the BIOS. Review the BIOS log. Do you see "Non functional keyboard" errors that correspond to the approximate times when the server was restarted as opposed to performing a complete shut down? If so, locate the BIOS setting 'Headless Mode' and change it from the default "Disabled" to "Enabled." Optionally, also locate the 'Quick Boot' setting and set it to "Enabled." These two options seem to replicate the "Do not halt on keyboard errors" function available in most BIOS configurations.


Last edited by cakalapati on Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:14 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 7:41 pm 
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I was one of the lucky first to try this new Gen 3 cable, and I must say it is a brilliant piece of work!

When I first bought my EX495 and got it up and running, I was very disappointed with it, not because of the hardware or performance, but I just couldn’t reconcile with the WHS OS, and because there was no way of installing a new OS on the unit with the lack of VGA output, I quickly put it up for sale and tried to cut my losses.

This is when I stumbled upon the mediasmartserver.net forum and the gen2 cable, and the possibility to finally get a different OS on my EX495 unit, so I wrote to Charles with my questions about the gen2 cable and soon put in an order for one, however Charles got back to me and told me about the new Gen3 cable that was near completion, and I waited a couple of extra weeks so I could get the new and improved cable with official EX490/EX495 support.

Now having no experience with the earlier generations of the cable I can’t directly compare those with the new Gen3 cable, I can however vouch for the Gen3 cable, I just work's great and without any problems at all.

After connecting the cable on the motherboard and putting the jumper on the correct pins (I forgot this the first time :crazy: ), I booted up the unit and could start to install my new OS immediately without any problems or complications, I could even use a normal USB keyboard (in my case a Dell) with only the VGA output being used.

After installations I simply concealed the cable still attached to the motherboard inside the EX495 case and done, very nice and very clean, and if I need to use the cable again for some reason (like accidently disabling the NIC, which has actually happened to me already ](*,) ), I can just open the front of the case, connect the print board to the cable, and put a screen on the unit to fix the error.

So for me there’s no doubt that this cable sealed the fate for me and my EX495 unit, and finally gave me the opportunity to have one of the most powerful NAS boxes available with the OS of my choosing.
So if you find yourself in a situation like mine:

BUY IT :mrgreen:

_________________
Happy owner of HP MSS EX495 running Windows Server 2008 (made possible with the fantastic Gen3 cable from VOV Technology)


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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 7:13 pm 
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Got my cable a few hours ago...since I had my machine apart I added an E7500 and 4 gigs Mushkin Enhanced Silverline http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820226089 .

Everything is working as planned and I sure would like HP to update to 64bit and server 2008..hardware is ready (Ex495) :sanjuan:

PT


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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 1:18 pm 
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primet wrote:
Got my cable a few hours ago...since I had my machine apart I added an E7500 and 4 gigs Mushkin Enhanced Silverline http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820226089 .

Everything is working as planned and I sure would like HP to update to 64bit and server 2008..hardware is ready (Ex495) :sanjuan:

I have a question for you. I'm thinking about ordering this because I'm not so fond of the ex495 as it currently works. I have a few questions for you:

    How is the temperature working out for you with the 7500?

    Do you see a big performance difference when you added the chip & RAM? I have considerable slowdowns & odd issues where data becomes magically 'unavailable' for short periods of time. I have four 1.5 terabyte HDD's using folder duplication, and can't really use the crappy HP software streaming because it all seems jacked up. When I view it across the network (video files) it sometimes stutters, and I don't get the best performance (running gigabit ethernet 100%).

    Since you have the VGA option you can see the BIOSIn the BIOS, is there a RAID option? This folder duplication blows because of the speed & out of 6 TB, I can only use 3. I'd like to be able to use RAID5 and get 4.5TB of storage & faster speeds as well. I'm hoping there is an option for this in the BIOS, otherwise perhaps I will switch to WinServer 2008 and enable it via the OS.

    Lastly, how difficult was it to add all this hardware in? The CPU, Memory, & the VGA/PS2/etc combo? I'm an average modder, even built a water cooled machine (it sucked bad tho). I read awhile back it was a difficult process, but just checking.

I have an EX495 + DIR655 router + 1 HTPC + 3 desktops + 1 laptop. A side benefit to all this is I would be able to run my torrents on the server directly, so I wouldn't have to leave my POWER HUNGRY PC's on to get the job done :D

Thanks for any assistance. This will help me make a purchasing decision. (on a related note, I'm considering putting the beta homeserver software on mine once all is said and done, looks like what the current version should have been).


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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2010 6:54 pm 
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Hmmm Where to start...I ran a frankenServer all through WHS beta and release. Q6600, 8 gigs memory...overkill @ the highest. I bought the EX495 because I wanted the HP frontend. I've never had any kind of speed issues then or now. I added the e7500 only because I had it laying around. I added the memory to future proof for Vail. I added the video cable once again to be ready for Vail.

Upgrading your machine is as easy as finding the step by step pics on this site or others like it. My only suggestion is that you buy a GOOD quality #00 screwdriver. It's real easy if you are careful and gentle. I didn't see any Raid options...don't think that would be a good idea anyways but I'm sure google will be your best bet.

Seeya

PT


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 5:57 am 
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Does anyone know if debug boards are still available for purchase? Really hope OP is still in business of selling cables. I have sent multiple emails with no response. Its been almost a week still no reply. I am desperate to get a debug board in my grasps as I just bought 2 MSS with intentions of installing Windows 2008 Server. Any help aquiring cable would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:31 pm 
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If the first post states that the service is open, then the service is indeed open. I usually respond to board requests with a PayPal invoice (sent via email) in one to two business days after your request. If you sent a board request and have not heard from me in three business days (unlikely but still possible given the uncertainty or spam filters), simply send another email request, or send me a personal message (aka PM) via the mediasmartserver.net website. I take board requests seriously and do not sit and wait a week to process them.

Note: I've PMed geeksuneek to handle his order.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:42 am 
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My apologies if I made it look like my order was being ignored in any way. In actuality I was being impatient. Spoiled by the internet and its instant online orders. Recommendation for the OP, have you considered selling your cables on Ebay opening up an Ebay Store? As Mediasmart Servers become more popular so will demand for your service.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 1:59 pm 
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Hi geeksuneek,

I have personally purchased 2 of these cables back when they were Gen2 and I can tell you cakalapati does respond fast and ships quickly if the cables are instock once the Paypal transaction has completed. I am as they say a very happy customer and in future should I need another cable I would be a returning customer.

_________________
Exploring the possibilities!

Migrated from WHS2011 to WS2012E: HIGHLANDER

~ Norco 4220 Enclosure
~ Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5
~ AMD Phenom II X4 995 3.2 GHz
~ 8 GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
~ 3 Supermicro AOC-SASLP-MV8


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:45 am 
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geeksuneek wrote:
have you considered selling your cables on Ebay opening up an Ebay Store? As Mediasmart Servers become more popular so will demand for your service.


Thank you for the feedback.

These companies charge a premium for using their services. Since I am looking to decrease the price (and not increase it) I have chosen to resort to email requests to keep costs manageable. I also feel it important to keep the MediaSmart Server community together (on one site).


Last edited by cakalapati on Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:34 pm 
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This cable is made very well. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:59 pm 
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I bought a Gen3 VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse Assembly debug board for my EX470 and EX490 from Charles. The item is high quality and shipping is super quick. For those of you that don't want to, or can't build your own, I recommend buying one of these boards. I was able to save my 470 after a lighting strike blew my Ethernet port, and this made it so much easier to get it back up and running. Thanks!!!


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:12 pm 
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I received my unit, but have yet to install it. Been busy with a full time job, wife, 2 midgets, and going (back) to school for 9hrs a week. Oh, and my HTPC's MB took a crapper, so it's in RMA, and the real purpose behind my homeserver is to provide storage for my HTPC.

If anyone has fooled with VAIL on their ex495 server, please let me know! I'm interested to see how much better the functionality there is and if CPU usage is a bit lower. I'm even thinking about extra RAM because even with almost nothing enabled, the memory seems to spike to 85% at times (and if the OS is smart, with more RAM, it caches more, hence faster).


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:45 am 
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Are these still available?

I am looking for the "VGA + PS2 Keyboard + PS2 Mouse" option - but could not see an email for site for ordering.

Thanks,
Craig Hill.


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