First post, by luckybob
First a story;
A long long time ago, somewhere in the Ford galaxy, I used to have a part-time job at a computer recycler. This was '02 and life was good. Gold-top Pentiums were cheap, 486's were everywhere. Anyway, in comes in a little blue box from Sun micro-systems. A Cobalt Qube2. Neatest little machine I ever laid eyes on. Didn't work at first, but a new hard drive, OS install, and 256mb of Simms later she came to life and For a time life was good. I had just gotten broadband internet and it quickly became a blue box of cute that would host my web page and other things I wanted to share. A few months pass and being a kid, I ended up selling it on ebay. for $125 if memory serves.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZypZA2o3oHc <- relevant to story (if you are actually reading all this)
Last week, completely on a whim I find myself looking up the Cobalt. Its kinda like how you find yourself watching strange youtube videos after a while. (I mean STRANGE) Anywho, I lookup the qube on ebay. Lo and behold there are several. All seemed to be well overpriced for today's market. I shrug and go to bed. For the record, I don't know HOW Ebay does it, but in my inbox the next morning I get one of their 'spam' emails. I was just going to trash it and not bother looking at it, but in the corner of my eye they had, at the bottom of the email a 'similar searches' or something, and pictured was this auction: http://www.ebay.com/itm/111234093857
My guess is I didn't think to search for the qube3 with the 3 separate, or didn't care last night, but anyway it was a low bid auction so I figure it would be a good indicator as to the REAL value of these systems. Sure the shipping was a touch high, but with the low first bid, there was no harm in putting it on my watch list, right? A day or so passes, and by this time I'm sober and I've fully researched the little blue box. the one up for auction is the Qube3 PRO. Which means it has built in "raid 1" and SCSI. Basically meaning it was the last one made, with all the bells and whistles. For those that don't know the Qube2 was identical in shape color and size, but the guts left much to be desired. The Qube2 came with a RISC processor, 64mb of ram, and like a 6gb hard drive, also it's Ethernet ports were 10mbit only. The Qube3 Pro was a monster by comparison, with a K6-2 450 (pro) 256mb ram and 'raid 1' 40gb disks. I keep putting the raid one in quotes because its not real raid, its just two drives on 2 ide channels and the software automatically mirrors the drives.
So, on the last day of the auction, in the last 15 minutes, my phone goes bananas informing me that a watched item is ending. 1 bid. I don't know why I decided to bid on it. The money I had was supposed to go to gas for my truck. But I found myself bidding $30 on it. Thinking that I would be outbid and the seller would make a few extra dollars. Well, the joke is on me because I ended up winning for $20.50. Don't get me wrong, I'm not upset. In fact I'm VERY happy I won. I had to bum a ride with a friend all week instead of driving myself, but he owed me one and I like hot-boxing his Honda with him. 😎
Fast forward to the 19th. After a morning of errands the package arrived at my doorstep. The guy packed in one layer of bubble wrap and newspaper. THIS IS A CARDINAL SIN. Or at least should be. The box looked like it had been ran over or at the very least gnawed upon by a dragon. The insides made me cry. I could just imagine the fragile plastic case destroyed by shitty packaging. I cut open the bubble wrap and breathed a sigh of relief. The case was intact, but it felt like the hard drives inside decided to break loose. This is where I really must apologise to you, because it is here that I am supposed to have all sorts of pictures of me opening the box, unwrapping the Qube and what-not. However I can only describe what I saw and did because my brain decided to forget that I even owned a freaking camera until I was all done. So bear with me, but I did find someone online with nice pictures of the insides, so I'm just going to link his pictures instead. He has some good info anyway: http://www.kevinomura.com/microservers/cobalt/qube3/
First off, I tear the machine down. The case was intact save for 1-2 minor dings. When I say minor, I mean that I would probably have to point them out to most people. The hard drives had come loose in shipping but did not do any damage to the internals. WOO! The drive cage was bent out of shape and caused the outside of the case to warp. I would guess the packages was dropped AT LEAST ONCE, but I move on. The insides were caked with at least a year's worth of dust. On a scale of 1 to 10 i'd give it a 4, but still dirty enough to warrant a complete tear down and wash. My soap of choice is the original green Palmolive. That stuff works miracles sometimes. Again, I wish I had the wherewithal to remember to take pictures of this process. 🙁
A few bangs from a rubber hammer, some careful bending with a pliers, and a washdown later, I reassemble the Qube. This little box shines like it was brand new. The original fan was replaced by one that obviously needed a speed control knob. Something I'm going to look at in the future. I do have a picture of the unit running: http://imgur.com/SWJ8EZC Honestly, Its a crap picture. I'm going to need to do it proper here in the near future. The green in real life is an emerald color and the case is much darker. I daresay a COBALT BLUE. *snicker* The unit seems to work fine. The web management software does NOT like chrome for some reason. Maybe its not updated as much as it could. Something that I'm going to look into. So now that I have this guy, I already have a laundry list of things I want to do to it.
* upgrade cpu to the max. I'm hoping a K6-3+ or at the very least this guy: http://www.ebay.com/itm/280652557202
* Upgrade ram to 512 minimum. I've seen reports that it will accept 512mb dimms! (368mb currently)
* replace power hungry 40gb drives. I have a pile of old 320gb dvr drives. They use MAYBE 300ma on 5v and 200ma on 12v and SILENT. There is a 137gb barrier to worry about, but i'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
* pci <> parallel port. So I can hook up my HP Laserjet 4MP printer to the network.
* some sort of scsi external hard drive. JUST BECAUSE. (but probably not, because noise)
* mod the unit so the power supply is internal. (maybe)
Originally, I did not know what I was going to do with this box aside from look at it. I haven't had a webpage in over a year, but I do own a domain for my minecraft server. So there's that. I did find out that this box works wonders as a little router. So the "plan" is to use it as such for my apple machines. This box supports appletalk and macintosh shares, so i'm going to put this little cube to work! I know that somewhere I have a backup of my old webpage from 2002, so I'm probably going to re-do that. Not that anyone is going to look at it, but I will have it. Maybe integrate it with my minecraft server somehow...
Well, thanks for reading my story. It felt good to write, I'm going to hit post and have a celebratory white russian. Maybe two. 😊
TL;DR: I got a Sun Cobalt Qube3 for $50 off ebay and wrote an essay about it.
It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.