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      CrystalFontz.com LCD & Bracket Kit Review

     
     Date: April 25th, 2001
     Type: Review
     Supplier: CrystalFontz
     Author: mayhem

    If your really serious about wanting to have your own professional server then you will need to get yourself one of these. I am talking about an LCD display, most servers these days have them, they are quite a necessity as it allows the admin to just check up the server by looking at the display on the front of it. Its also a bonus for those of you who want to check the status of your box without having to telnet in or hooking a monitor up, not to mention it looks pretty cool to impress all of your friends. And if you want to make it look nice as well as be functional then your will probably want a mounting kit. Well you have come to the right place then cause we have want you want.

    Out Of The Box:
    Well to tell you the truth I was expecting something alot heavier from the description, but I was impressed when I picked up the box that it weighed almost nothing (1lb 4ozs which is approx. 1/2 a kilo). Apon opening it I was even more surprised by the kit already setup and ready to bolt in.

    Inside the kit you will find:
    - 20x4 LCD display (634LG)
    - Tux mounting bracket (DBB634LG PC Mounting Bracket for 634LG)
    - Serial cable (WR232Y01 9F/9F 6 feet, shielded)
    - Power cable (WR232Y02 PC to LED backlight cable)
    - Mounting screws (DBB634LG PC Mounting Bracket hardware)
    - Instruction sheet

    The way that this kit is packaged allows you to have an easy installation and to also reduce the risk of damaging the LCD module.

    Getting Started:
    The first thing you need to do is to get your case ready (It is recommended that you turn your computer off and remove the power plug before commencing with the install). You will have to remove your case and then once that is done, (if its a single piece cover then just remove it, if its a two piece you will need to remove both sides in order to access the screw holes for the bays), then remove two adjacent 5 1/4" bay covers and also one metal cover from the back of your machine, these will be where the kit is mounted in the front and the whole in the back is for the serial cable to go through. Depending on how your metal expansion card covers are made on the back you will probably need to either "snap" it out or on some more expensive cases just unscrew one.

    Installing The LCD:
    You will need to plug the cables (power and data) into the LCD before screwing it in, this makes it easier and makes the connections as firm as they can be. Once you have done this you can carefully slide the LCD and Bracket into place and then you will need to screw it into place with the supplied screws. Although there are eight holes and only four screws this is fine, you should just use the top and bottom holes on either side and leave the middle ones, the other wholes are there just incase you need them to fit the kit into your case.

    Now that the LCD and Bracket it nicely in place you will need to feed the Serial Cable through the whole in the back of the computer and plug it into your hopefully free 9 pin Serial COM Port. Then you need to connect the power, if you don't have a spare HDD size power plug then you will either need to make one or you can get one for around five dollars at your local Dicksmith or Tandy store, this shouldn't be the case as your using the bays that would otherwise have drives and therefor spare plugs but some of you may have a mass array of fans or other such devices using them already.

    OK, the kit is in and your ready to roll, its best to leave the case off just incase you have to adjust it in some way. Just plug the power in and boot up your machine.

    Downloading Software:
    The software that you need to drive the LCD display can be freely downloaded from the Internet. The following are just our selected software for different Operating Systems, but there are many others out there for you to try.

    Linux:
    http://lcdproc.omnipotent.net/download.php3
    - LCDproc for Linux

    Win9x/NT/2k:
    http://www.2morrow.com/ - LCDproc for Windows

    http://www.crystalfontz.com/products/wintest/index.html - Crystalfontz Windows Test Program

    Just download these programs and save them to your computer. You can now proceed to installing them in the next step.

    NOTE: The versions of these programs that we used can be found in the files section of our site. Also you will need Win2k Service Pack 1 installed on your machine if you want this program to work, you can download that here if needed. (Unfortunately we didn't have the opportunity to test the LCD in a Win9x machine, but it should be straight forward)

    Setting Up The Software:
    Now that the kit is installed into your machine its time to proceed to the installation stage. The following steps are how we installed the software on my machines (Pentium II 450 running Windows 2000 and a Celeron 600 running Red Hat 6.2).

    Linux:
    Firstly I must say due to the nature of Linux the install maybe different for you depending on the distribution and configuration of you machine.

    To uncompress the file you will need to be in the directory in which you downloaded it to, and you can simply enter this command: tar -xzvf lcdproc-0.4-pre9.tar.gz.

    Now to install the program change into the directory created by the previous step, i.e. cd lcdproc-0.4-pre9. As usual the next recommended step is to read the provided installation notes by cat INSTALL | more. The way we proceeded from here was to edit the Makefile.config, firstly we modified the DEVICE line to point to the appropriate COM port on my machine which was /dev/ttyS0. Then we commented (#) out the lines of all the drivers we didn't want (this was only the Matrix Orbital ones) the rest seemed to be "handy" and could be used later. Now time to make, once that was done we logged in as the super-user, su, and proceeded to do a make install. If all went well then your program should be installed and the /dev/lcd link made to point to where your LCD is connected.

    Win9x/NT/2k:
    To install on Windows just double-click on the executable you downloaded, in our case it is lcdsetup13.exe. To step through the install all you need to do is select the directory you wish to install the program and the start menu group you wish it to appear in. When you have installed the software it will ask you to make some simple configuration options as to what information you want displayed and where the device is connected and what type it is. Now your done, time to see what this baby can do.

    The WinTest program needs no installation, it can be run by double-clicking the WinText.exe. (you may need to extract it if you have downloaded the zip compressed version)

    NEXT: Testing (Linux and Win2k)

     

      Supplier Information

     
    If you would like to purchase the LCD & Bracket Kit, then please feel free to visit the CrystalFontz.com website and place your order through there secure on-line ordering pages. Please note that they are a US base company and prices are in US$, this means you will need to convert to AUS$ before you know the actual cost. http://www.crystalfontz.com/

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