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Old 09-24-2012, 08:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Advice On A New Dedicated Special Purpose Build

I am looking for recommendation a special build.

I have an electronics hobby bench where I dabble in audio repair. I have been wanting/needing a spectrum analyzer. I have given up on finding an dedicated bench analog spectrum/distortion analyzer primarily because of the high cost and limitations of units from the 70's and 80's (dynamic range, bandwidth, etc).

I am now looking at a PC based system using one of the available FFT software's such as ARTA, or RightMark Audio Analyzer.

I have already purchased my high performance PCI soundcard: ESI Juli@. This card is highly recommended by members of a DIY audio forum I frequent.

This system will be a dedicated system used almost exclusively on my bench. It will not be used for email, gaming, and music. I may occasionally visit the web to look for or access repair manauls and other electronic hobby information.

Low noise is the goal of my system build. Measure "Total Harmonic Distortion" and "Signal to Noise" requires test equipment with a noise floor well below the audio equipment under test.

Obviously, the build will require a full size PCI slot for ESI audio card. Ideally, I would like the unit to be a small form build. It should be able to operate on AC or DC battery (Battery to eliminate power supply noise when conducting test).

I would like to use Window Pro 64 bit OS.

I am also interested in using one of the new Solid State drive. I will not need large capacity storage but should be large enough for the OS and software.

I have looked at a Intel Atom Mini-ITX based system. I am not sure if this is the best choice.

The last system I built was a long time ago (Windows 95).

Any recommendation on Motherboard and Case. I thought I would use an External DVD Combo CD-RW Burner Drive. That way I can attached when needed so that it does not drain the battery or introduce noise during measurements.

Side note. I have experimented with my current laptop and one of the better external usb sound cards (E-MU204). Performance was just ok. In this board the ADC gives pretty good results. The DAC is the weak link when generating an audio test signal.

Thanks,

Dennis in Maine
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Old 09-24-2012, 09:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice On A New Dedicated Special Purpose Build

What is your budget?
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Old 09-24-2012, 01:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice On A New Dedicated Special Purpose Build

I would like to keep it under $500 for the PC box and contents. I don't think I will need a lot of computing power. $300 would be better.
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Old 09-24-2012, 01:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice On A New Dedicated Special Purpose Build

Well we have a problem. I just realized you already purchased that audio card. If you want a mini-itx rig there are no boards that have a standard PCI slot on them.
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Old 09-24-2012, 01:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Advice On A New Dedicated Special Purpose Build

Atually PP. what about this:

Newegg.com - ASUS E35M1-M PRO Fusion AMD E-350 APU (1.6GHz, Dual-Core) AMD Hudson M1 Micro ATX Motherboard/CPU Combo

Not sure how you'd run on battery though
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Old 09-24-2012, 01:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice On A New Dedicated Special Purpose Build

mATX. If he wants mATX I'm sure we can build him something real nice and purpose built but he wanted a tiny box and was talking about mITX.
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Advice On A New Dedicated Special Purpose Build

I didnt notice the exact size, or even know mitx size.
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Old 09-24-2012, 03:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice On A New Dedicated Special Purpose Build

Thanks for the response so far. The ITX boards were just part of my initial research and I offered it as a possibility. Bench space is premium and thought the small ITX would fit the bill. I liked the fact that most are fan less and most required an external supply either AC/DC or battery.

However, I have no current experience with modern motherboards and their configurations. If I need to go to a Micro ATX that is fine.

I thought I found a ITX board on eBay that had a PCI slot and a riser. I just looked on Neweqq link and could only find PCI-e slots.

ESI Juli@ sound card also come in a PCI-e version. But I don't think it is available yet in the US.
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Old 09-24-2012, 03:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice On A New Dedicated Special Purpose Build

I was just going based off what you said. You mentioned you already purchased the card so figured we needed to work around that. The only way you can run these off of a battery IMO is through a UPS so any setup will do, long as low power parts are chosen.
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Old 09-24-2012, 04:03 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Advice On A New Dedicated Special Purpose Build

There you go. I did not think of a UPS. Excellent idea. If I remember correctly, doesn't a UPS also help clean up household AC?

Part of the problem I ran into with my laptop setup and the E-MU204 card is dirty AC. My spectrum analyzer software test showed 60hz noise along with it's 2nd, 3rd, and 4th harmonics.
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