£250 budget gaming pc can it be done?

Right so currently my pc is running an old quad core Q6600 CPU with 8gb ram and 512mb graphics card and to be honest it’s starting to feel the strain.

Firstly it’s currently used as a family pc but struggles with a couple of different users logged in etc. My eldest child uses for browser based games/Minecraft etc but there will be a time soon when he wants to play more demanding games.

So being on a tight budget I’m going to try and cobble together something half decent that will play games at 1080p.

Now I was initially as previously buy individual components and build one but having used a Lenovo M91p sff I thought to save time and money I would get the tower version chuck in some more memory and a graphics card job done.

After some searching I found some 4GB Kingston memory modules for cheap on ebay.

After this the project stalled as busy with other things when I came back to it I found the M91p came with an i5-2400 CPU but the case and psu was also limiting. Undeterred I carried on searching and found a Lenovo M73 on eBay with an i5-4460 and would also be able to use the ram I had previously purchased. Also liked the fact it already had usb 3.0 ports and card reader. Stuck in a bid and won it for £125 posted.

Now the one of the limiting factors in these prebuilt machines is the psu as they weren’t originally designed for gaming use.

Cost breakdown
Lenovo M73 – £125
2x 4GB Corsair DDR3 1600 MHz CAS 11-11-11-30 Dual Channel Memory – £35.30
Graphics card – Nvidia Geforce gtx 750ti 2gb – £60

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Maplin A26LW A5-V11/A5-V12 OpenWrt Ralink RT5350F Mini Portable 150Mbps 3G/4G WiFi Wlan Hotspot AP Client RJ45 USB Wireless Router

So while randomly browsing a deals website I came across a USB wifi router/hotspot on sale at Maplin for a mere £2.00 and as my tinkering desire took over I decided to order a couple. https://www.maplin.co.uk/p/maplin-3g-n150-wi-fi-router-and-hotspot-a26lw

These devices all appear very similar physically but your mileage my vary on functionality i.e they may have
A restricted bootloader that doesn’t allow OpenWrt images
Limited Busybox shell available by telnet
More complete Busybox shell

Board is marked A5-V12 and chip is an Ralink RT5350F. From my reseach I found other boards are marked A5-V11 so used that as a starting point.

SoC RT5350
MIPS CPU
Clock 239 MHz
4 MByte Flash (GD25Q32)
16 MByte RAM (EM639165TS-6G)
USB Host 2.0
10/100 Ethernet switch
802.11n interface
I2C
Uart
Reset button
2 LEDs
Micro usb as power source

For this configuration I used my windows desktop and connected my 2nd network interface to the device.

Default ip is 192.168.169.1 and DHCP is enabled

Telnet is enabled by default and can login using admin/admin

BusyBox v1.12.1 (2011-10-22 23:04:50 CST) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.

# help

Built-in commands:
-------------------
. : break cd chdir continue eval exec exit export false hash
help local pwd read readonly return set shift source times trap
true type ulimit umask unset wait

# cat /proc/cpuinfo
system type : Ralink SoC
processor : 0
cpu model : MIPS 24K V4.12
BogoMIPS : 239.61
wait instruction : yes
microsecond timers : yes
tlb_entries : 32
extra interrupt vector : yes
hardware watchpoint : yes
ASEs implemented : mips16 dsp
VCED exceptions : not available
VCEI exceptions : not available

cat /proc/cmdline
console=ttyS1,57600n8 root=/dev/mtdblock5

# cat /proc/mtd
dev: size erasesize name
mtd0: 00400000 00010000 "ALL"
mtd1: 00030000 00010000 "Bootloader"
mtd2: 00010000 00010000 "Config"
mtd3: 00010000 00010000 "Factory"
mtd4: 000c282a 00010000 "Kernel"
mtd5: 002ed7d6 00010000 "RootFS"
mtd6: 003b0000 00010000 "Kernel_RootFS"

The stock bootloader is minimal/strangled one and needs upgrading and doesn’t allow flashing of OpenWrt firmware via the stock gui.

The easiest way to load a new bootloader and firmware is to download the files from a webserver. I used miniweb after installing I added the following files the htdocs directory

uboot_usb_128_03
mini.bin

and then run via windows command line

C:\Users\pc\Desktop\miniweb>miniweb.exe -p 80 -d
MiniWeb (build 300, built on Feb 28 2013)
(C)2005-2013 Written by Stanley Huang

Host: 192.168.169.2:80
Web root: htdocs
Max clients (per IP): 32 (16)
URL handlers: 2

Back in your telnet window download the two files

cd /tmp
# wget http://192.168.169.2/uboot_usb_128_03.img
Connecting to 192.168.169.2 (192.168.169.2:80)
uboot_usb_128_03.img 100% |*******************************| 135k --:--:-- ETA

# wget http://192.168.169.2/firmware.bin
Connecting to 192.168.169.2 (192.168.169.2:80)
firmware.bin 100% |*******************************| 3328k 00:00:00 ETA

Next write the new bootloader

# mtd_write write /tmp/uboot_usb_128_03.img Bootloader
Unlocking Bootloader ...
Writing from uboot_usb_128_03.img to Bootloader ... [w]

Now write the new firmware

# mtd_write write /tmp/mini.bin Kernel_RootFS
Unlocking Kernel_RootFS ...
Writing from /tmp/mini.bin to Kernel_RootFS ... [w]

Once all complete reboot
# reboot

While it's rebooting you'll need to set a static ip on your desktop interface that is connected to the device i.e
192.168.100.2
255.255.255.0

Once the deivce has rebooted it will be available via 192.168.100.1 and again telnet is enabled.
=== IMPORTANT ============================
Use 'passwd' to set your login password
this will disable telnet and enable SSH
------------------------------------------

BusyBox v1.19.4 (2013-12-29 15:07:06 UTC) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.

_______ ________ __
| |.-----.-----.-----.| | | |.----.| |_
| - || _ | -__| || | | || _|| _|
|_______|| __|_____|__|__||________||__| |____|
|__| W I R E L E S S F R E E D O M
-----------------------------------------------------
BARRIER BREAKER (Bleeding Edge, r35407) - RT5350F
-----------------------------------------------------
-- Cooked by pratanczuk --
-- --
-- my-embedded.blogspot.com --
-----------------------------------------------------
root@OpenWrt:/#

CONGRATULATIONS you now have a minimal OpenWrt image installed. You can now also upgrade using the sysupgrade function but you need to be aware of the 16MB memory limit.

Please let me know what you are using your devices for and share any custom f/w you've built for it.

Here are some useful links I found
OpenWrt
My Embedded (minimal OpenWrt image)
Github
Bootloaders
Blog Post

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Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show Audio MP3

As a long time avid fan of HHGTTG I stumbled across a website which had the audio files for the original radio show. In the interests of archiving I have downloaded them to TOP for hosting.I will be adding the links shortly.

HitchHikersGuide-01.mp3
HitchHikersGuide-02.mp3
HitchHikersGuide-03.mp3
HitchHikersGuide-04.mp3
HitchHikersGuide-05.mp3
HitchHikersGuide-06.mp3
HitchHikersGuide-07.mp3
HitchHikersGuide-08.mp3
HitchHikersGuide-09.mp3
HitchHikersGuide-10.mp3
HitchHikersGuide-11.mp3
HitchHikersGuide-12.mp3

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