Andrew Burks

Tag: Workstation

Workstation Build Completed

by on Jun.14, 2010, under Personal Projects, Workstation

My new workstation is now humming along perfectly.  To review, the specs are:

  • Intel i7 920 Quad-core @2.66GHz (currently not overclocked)
  • ASRock X58 Motherboard
  • Nvidia FX Quadro 580 workstation graphics card
  • 6GB RAM
  • 1TB Samsung HDD
  • 650 Watt Corsair Power Supply
  • CoolerMaster Hyper 212 CPU cooler
  • CoolerMaster 335 Case

Build Observations

Putting together a computer was quick and easy.  Everything went super smoothly and was very straightforward.  I never really had to read the directions (although Mike Ornstein was guiding me heavily).  The hardest part was making sure all of my components were designed to work together.  I spent more time researching individual parts than I did assembling the whole system.

Overclocking seems unnecessary right now.  I have Solidworks running in RealView, and I can spin large models with no lag.  The biggest improvement is my rendering ability.  1920×1080 renders of complex geometries in Photoview used to take more than an hour, or just crash my laptop.  On the new computer, it takes only four and a half minutes.  This makes sense, considering that my Windows 7 Experience index raised from a 3.1 (Limited by graphics score) to a 6.9 (Limited by HDD score; Graphics and processor are highest – tie at 7.9).  I successfully played an HD movie over the weekend, and am very pleased with the results.


With one computer that i use in my room (or remote into) and another I take around with me, it is important to make sure they play nice.

I found a file synchronization tool, FreeFileSync, that I really like.  I have a “SYNC” folder on each computer, with everything I want to have available to me on any computer (School/Project/Personal files, Music, etc).  FreeFileSync matches this folder from each computer against a backup I set on my external hard drive.  So I have three sets of identical data in three separate places.

I was having trouble syncing my iTunes playlists.  The way iTunes handles its playlists and libraries is very weird.  I decided to convert to Windows Media Player, and I’ve never been happier.  All of my music (4-5GB) and playlists are synchronized now.  However, because WMP playlists are just xml data with absolute mp3 file locations, syncing the playlists would make it not work on one computer.  I solved this problem by drawing on my 15-123 PERL skillz and writing a quick script to convert the absolute file names into relative file names in the playlists (which are identical between computers) and now my playlists can synchronize too!

I have set up remote desktop and have given my friends an account so they can render on my machine.  I’m curious to see if i start remoting into my workstation when I’m on campus, or if I’ll just keep using my laptop most of the time.

I look forward to installing Synergy which should allow me to control the workstation with the keyboard and mouse on my lenovo (which I love) as well as using my laptop and workstation screens side by side, as if they were one computer.

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by on Jun.06, 2010, under Overhead

Purpose of the Blog

This summer, besides working at NREC on the Strawberries Project, there are a few goals/projects I am working on.  Hopefully this blog will help me keep on pace to get everything done by the end of the summer and keep my friends and family up to date on what exactly I do with my time.  If I’m committed and get positive feedback, I might even continue once the school year starts.

Robotics ClubRobOrchestra Project

After taking over the RobOrchestra project one Richie P. left, I’ve been trying to add as many new instruments as possible.  The group got nearly $1000 from the URO for a Vibraphone project.  The proposed timeline has the mechanical design completed before the Fall semester, so this project will probably take priority.  Luckily, my roommate Mike Ornstein is also on the project, so he should be able to keep me in line.  I’m also still thinking about alternative string plucking and fretting options for an upgrade to or replacement of the Whamola instrument developed last year.

Formula SAE – Custom Software

After being appointed “Full Model Guy” for the next year on the Formula team, I decided I wanted to use some of my Solidworks API knowledge/interest/enthusiasm to help organize the team.  I’ve spent several hours staring at a blank computer screen though, because I’m having trouble defining what exactly I want to make.  I definitely want to make a piece of software that can extract features from a part and use it to generate a cost report document in Excel.  Beyond that, I can’t decide how much of a version control system/custom property manager I want to make, and what kind of interface (web, add-in, both?) I want in it.

New Custom Workstation Computer

This is a personal project, although I am getting tons of advice from tons of experienced friends.  Once the parts finish arriving on Monday, I’ll take some photos and post some specs.


I’m in the middle of a lot of other projects which I should continue working on casually over the summer.  There are other RobOrchestra instruments, electronics, and coding to be done.  I also have SAE design and fabrication commitments to take care of.  If I get around to it, I might try to make some backdated posts which give a little more background about those projects.  You can also expect me to share random Solidworks or Machining tips I come across as well.  Hopefully this blog will become a very thorough and accurate representation of my technical hobbies and interests.

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