So the secretary asked me to go talk to one of the vocational teachers today. He is not one of those who is fond of his computer, and when he saw me he said something about this thing giving him fits lately. I assumed he was talking about the computer on his desk, which was comforting because we have several of that model, and they work well, and are generally easy to deal with. But no, he walked right past that to the corner of the room where sat the SimWelder! I had no idea what a SimWelder was, I couldn’t have told you anything about it, whether it had a processor, or if it had mice running on wheels to power it. I had previously seen it in action once from across the room, but really had no idea what the heck it was. I am slightly better informed now.
The SimWelder consists of a Shuttle PC (one of those breadbox shaped PCs), a Pohlemus Patriot sensor thingamajig (connected to a welder simulator and another sensor), and an eMagin Z800 (related to the attached mask with simulator screen). The teacher reported that he had checked all the connections and had even blown out the PC (very good idea, it tends to get distinctly dirty in that area of the building). I did notice that there was an envelope leaning against the right side of the Shuttle unit blocking the vents on that side. The whole unit is in a wood cabinet with two fans on the back. The Shuttle itself had two case fans and a CPU fan. Lots of fans. Must like it cool.
At this point the thing was not starting up, and I really had no idea what it was supposed to do even if it did start up. It showed a power light on the CPU, but nothing on the display, and it didn’t sound like it was busy with the HDD, though it was a bit noisy to tell. Looking through some of the materials that came with this contraption, I was pleased to see that it was running Windows XP and that it seemed to have all of its supporting software, drivers, and manuals. The unit is not connected to the network, or internet, and apparently never has been. It has a Xeon X3220 2.4 GHz processor with 2 GB RAM.
I tried shutting it down and restarting it once or twice and still got no display. Next, I disconnected the USB mouse and keyboard, the USB connection to the Patriot, and the video connection to the eMagin. When I restarted it again, it rebooted into Windows XP. I checked the Device Manager and discovered that I did not have permissions to update any drivers. When I checked Documents and Settings I noticed that the Administrator folder was empty. Huh. (Guess I will have to explore that another time.) It showed one USB device not recognized (yellow question mark). I shut it down, reconnected everything, rebooted (happy so far), and started the SimWelder program. Mr. Teacher logged in as FJLKSDJF, or something like that, with similar entries for the next couple of fields (guess you can put anything in there) and got to the screen where it checks for the sensor. It’s called it something else, but I don’t recall what. The circle on the screen is supposed to go green when it is ready. It never got ready, it turned red.
After examining the attached components I finally noticed the brightly flashing red light on the front of the Pohlemus Patriot. OK, so I thought it was on the back, for some reason, probably because it was sitting backwards on the shelf in the cabinet, but the manual informed me that this was, indeed, the front. I tried shutting down and restarting the Patriot, restarting the Shuttle, and checking the connections, but still got the flashing red light with no connection. I left to go see what I could find online regarding this hardware. I was able to find the online manual for the Patriot, read the setup instructions, including a rather specific sequence for setup and connection, and decided to give it another look.
It turns out I had plugged the USB connector into the slot below the one labeled for it on the Shuttle, so I moved it to the correct spot. I disconnected one of the sensors, unplugged the power cord at the power strip, and pushed on the power connectors that were covered by a rubber sleeve (apparently covered to keep them connected, seemed a bit loose, but the unit definitely had power). I started it up and the flashing red light came on, but switched over to a green light in a second or two. Next I reconnected the second sensor (I think I shut it off first, but not sure) and the green light came on again.
After another reboot everything seemed to be working. We shall see.