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4. Fit it all together - page 1 of 5

One thing to remember about fitting things together is that generally computers are well designed mechanically and if you find it difficult to put things in a certain way or place then maybe they just weren't meant to go there. Almost all things have chamfered corners or bits of plastic to encourage you to get things the right way round.

The hard drive (marked IDE) and floppy disk (marked FDC) headers above have cutouts and the floppy cable below has a plastic lug so that there is effectively only one way to insert the cable into the socket.

floppy drive cable

There are however exceptions and some things will fit either way

ide cable

The floppy cable above does not have the lug to fit into the socket at all so how do you know which way around do you fit it ?. There are some useful rules for connecting data cables and you will find that all data cables have a red stripe down one edge. At the same time you will find that all headers (whether enclosed or not) have either a number 1 printed on the board or show some kind of marking which indicates pin 1. The rule is:


Please try to etch this into your mind with one of those new fangled laser thingies or any other gadget you may have as you will find it helps you position virtually all cables correctly first time and will make you an absolute whiz at fixing other peoples cabling nightmares.

With one major exception when you come across things that will go either way (without the use of force) then it will do no harm to things to put them the wrong way round. The one major exception is USB headers on the baby AT style boards where you need to fit a connector onto pins on the mainboard as below (the connector fits onto the 8 pins just above where it says IDE1)

Rather than the ATX style where they are permanently soldered on as below

In the pin layour shown above you can place the connectors on either way around. The problem is that when you put them the wrong way around then you connect the live to earth and vice versa. This becomes apparent when you plug in a USB device and the smoke and flames start coming out (literally). The results are rarely good in these circumstances and even if you manage to catch all the smoke you just can't get it to go back where it came from so best avoid it in the first place. If you bear this in mind then you are ready to start the screwdriver stuff.

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