AC side wiring, replacing copper with aluminum

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Jan 12, 2020
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I have a failed 200w AT power supply that came out of a Dell Dimension XPS P60

Instead of taking the time to track down the problem and repairing the PSU, I have decided to replace it with a Diablotek 400w ATX power supply I have laying around using an ATX to AT adapter

The thing is when I bought the Diablotek PSU, I was originally planning on just buying an IEC connector for something I was working on, but the store I was looking in (Micro Center) didn’t sell IEC connectors and I didn’t want to order one online and wait for it to be delivered, one thing they did sell that has an IEC connector are PSUs, so I picked up a cheap 400w Diablotek PSU (the one in question), opened up the PSU and cut the wires to and removed the IEC connector to use for the thing I was working on, then I just held onto it for future use (which ended up being this replacement)

Since the 200w PSU failed, I decided to just swap the IEC connector from it to replace the now missing one in the Diablotek, this is where I ran into the problem

Because I cut the connector out of the Diablotek, the wires that connect to the connector are too short and no longer reach, so I need to remove (desolder) the short wires and solder in longer replacements

The Diablotek used 20AWG stranded copper wire, well great, I just so happen to have 20AWG stranded hook up wire, same rating and everything (the text written on the wire in the Diablotek is the same text on the hook up wire, letter for letter, word for word), the problem? The hook up wire is aluminum

Now I have been doing some research on the subject and found out that aluminum wiring has a higher resistance than copper, and gets hotter than copper at the same load, which can be a fire and/or electrocution hazard (as the insulation can melt and short out), so using the hook up wire probably wouldn’t be a good choice, and a thicker gauge should be used when using aluminum

The 200w failed PSU used aluminum wiring for the AC side, but uses thicker 18AWG wire instead of 20AWG, so I was thinking it would be safer to scavenge the 18AWG from the 200w PSU and use that in the Diablotek, but I wasn’t sure if even that were safe as it is being used in a 200w PSU since the Diablotek is double the wattage (or if the 18AWG wire used in the 200w PSU is overkill and would work just fine/safe in the Diablotek)

I was just thinking about playing it safe and going to Micro Center to pick up another PSU, but I noticed on their website that they are no longer selling the Diablotek PSU, and all similar PSUs on the site lack an AC power switch (which the Diablotek has), so I would much rather just use the Diablotek if I can

I do not have any 20 or 18AWG copper wire and don’t want to buy 3 whole spools (black, white and green) just for the few inches I need, should one of the two gauges of aluminum wire I do have work, and more importantly, should it be safe?
 

extide

2[H]4U
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A dell Dimension XPS would not be AT. It would be ATX. AT died way before the XPS line ever existed.

Can you post up some pics of what you are actually trying to do because I think you are getting some terminology wrong which is making it a bit confusing.
 

Tsumi

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In all likelihood, the runs will be short enough that it won't be a big deal. Are you sure the lines are aluminum and not tinned copper?
 
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A dell Dimension XPS would not be AT. It would be ATX. AT died way before the XPS line ever existed.

Can you post up some pics of what you are actually trying to do because I think you are getting some terminology wrong which is making it a bit confusing.
I thought it odd myself, but I assure you, it is a Dell Dimension XPS P60, and I wouldn’t quite call the motherboard AT, but I wouldn’t quite call it ATX either, it’s an oddball from the times right before AT died and right after ATX came popular, where they mixed AT and ATX technologies

While it has ATX features like PCI slots and PS/2 ports, it also has AT features like 72pin SIMM slots, ISA slots, a Dallas RTC+battery and the aforementioned AT power header (with AT power supply)

But just in case you don’t believe me (I have it in parts right now as I’m in the middle of restoring it)

Case Bezel
53EF97C2-4ED0-4E42-B30F-AF8904A6E155.jpeg



Motherboard
E2F95D53-AFC3-4AE7-ABCE-75F421A9B9CF.jpeg


Here is the failed PSU in question
49705E13-63B0-404E-A140-E4378149466D.jpeg
9B53CB7E-B4BA-4153-B5A9-F1D1B4C8511B.jpeg


And finally the replacement (Diablotek)
457461B1-FF54-4766-AA63-1CBAEED2FD3D.jpeg
AD7AAC71-E58B-4EE6-95EB-E398962E2008.jpeg
As you can see, the ground (green/yellow) is just long enough to touch the ground pin on the IEC connector, the hot (black) coming off the switch is also just long enough to touch the hot pin (maybe), but the neutral (the cut white wire above, to the left of the bottom heatsink) is nowhere close to the IEC connector

I find even “just touching” to be too short because there is no way I’m soldering inside that case, that’s just asking for trouble

If you zoom in on the neutral or ground, you should be able to make out the orangey reddish color of the stranded copper core (it’s definitely not silvery like aluminum), that’s 20AWG stranded copper wire

Here is the back of the Diablotek, the IEC connector on it is from the failed 200w Dell PSU above (you can see it’s a bit smaller than the hole with the gaps on the corners)
8CE8C780-9090-4950-8330-19F36A714BFA.jpeg
On the top of this photo and on the internal shot above, you can see the wires and connector from the failed PSU still connected, I haven’t gotten around to desoldering it off yet, those are 18AWG aluminum stranded wires (so are the long black and white wires connecting to the voltage selector switch from the internal shot of the failed 200w PSU, which were the ones I was thinking of transplanting into the Diablotek)

This is my set of 20AWG stranded aluminum hook up wire (also from Micro Center)
D6B03A32-BB6D-4094-9310-3FA85B176161.jpeg
13BF74EB-F709-40A3-B93F-65BE4C330048.jpeg

 
Joined
Jan 12, 2020
Messages
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In all likelihood, the runs will be short enough that it won't be a big deal. Are you sure the lines are aluminum and not tinned copper?
Pretty sure, there was some bare wire exposed before where it was tinned, it still looked silvery
 
D

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I thought it odd myself, but I assure you, it is a Dell Dimension XPS P60, and I wouldn’t quite call the motherboard AT, but I wouldn’t quite call it ATX either, it’s an oddball from the times right before AT died and right after ATX came popular, where they mixed AT and ATX technologies

While it has ATX features like PCI slots and PS/2 ports, it also has AT features like 72pin SIMM slots, ISA slots, a Dallas RTC+battery and the aforementioned AT power header (with AT power supply)

But just in case you don’t believe me (I have it in parts right now as I’m in the middle of restoring it)

Case BezelView attachment 215474


MotherboardView attachment 215473

Here is the failed PSU in questionView attachment 215475View attachment 215477

And finally the replacement (Diablotek)View attachment 215486View attachment 215485 As you can see, the ground (green/yellow) is just long enough to touch the ground pin on the IEC connector, the hot (black) coming off the switch is also just long enough to touch the hot pin (maybe), but the neutral (the cut white wire above, to the left of the bottom heatsink) is nowhere close to the IEC connector

I find even “just touching” to be too short because there is no way I’m soldering inside that case, that’s just asking for trouble

If you zoom in on the neutral or ground, you should be able to make out the orangey reddish color of the stranded copper core (it’s definitely not silvery like aluminum), that’s 20AWG stranded copper wire

Here is the back of the Diablotek, the IEC connector on it is from the failed 200w Dell PSU above (you can see it’s a bit smaller than the hole with the gaps on the corners)View attachment 215487On the top of this photo and on the internal shot above, you can see the wires and connector from the failed PSU still connected, I haven’t gotten around to desoldering it off yet, those are 18AWG aluminum stranded wires (so are the long black and white wires connecting to the voltage selector switch from the internal shot of the failed 200w PSU, which were the ones I was thinking of transplanting into the Diablotek)

This is my set of 20AWG stranded aluminum hook up wire (also from Micro Center)View attachment 215492View attachment 215493

Instead of risking frying the board and burning your house down, why don't you just pick up some pos PSU for $20 and call it a day?

https://www.newegg.com/rosewill-rd-series-rd400s-400w/p/N82E16817182074
 

extide

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Messages
3,494
Ok, that is definitely AT. So why are you trying to swap the IEC main input connector? The input should be able to be fine as-is.

Is that Diablotek PSU ATX or AT? The OUTPUT of these types of PSU's is totally different. You can't easily convert them.

I'm not even sure what you are trying to do here.

Instead of risking frying the board and burning your house down, why don't you just pick up some pos PSU for $20 and call it a day?

https://www.newegg.com/rosewill-rd-series-rd400s-400w/p/N82E16817182074

That's another ATX PSU, which won't work here.
 

pendragon1

Fully [H]
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Oct 7, 2000
Messages
27,308
yeah, op, stop before you burn your house down and/or kill yourself. get a proper AT psu or even grab the oem one off ebay.
 
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Jan 12, 2020
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Ok, that is definitely AT. So why are you trying to swap the IEC main input connector? The input should be able to be fine as-is.
Because as I mentioned, the Diablotek doesn’t have an IEC connector, when I originally purchased the Diablotek, I originally planned on just buying an IEC connector for something I was working on, I couldn’t get an IEC connector by itself, so the best I could do was buy something cheap I could cut an IEC connector out of, that was the Diablotek PSU, now that I have to replace a PSU, and the failed PSU has an IEC connector, I can just reuse that, the wires just aren’t long enough to solder into the IEC connector

Is that Diablotek PSU ATX or AT? The OUTPUT of these types of PSU's is totally different. You can't easily convert them.

I'm not even sure what you are trying to do here.
The output voltages are actually the same between AT and ATX, some voltages are just not used (like +3.3v), you can get ATX to AT adapters online to convert ATX power supplies for use in AT based systems (which I have)
https://www.amazon.com/20-Pin-Power-Supply-Adapter-Cable/dp/B01EDGS0KI

The issue is quite simple, the AC wires in the PSU (after I cut out the connector to use in something else) are too short, I simply need to replace those wires with longer wires, except I don’t have the same type of wire that the manufacturer used, I do have the same wire with aluminum core, just not in copper core
 

extide

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Ok so you already harvested the IEC connector, and now need to replace it. I see. You should be fine using the hookup wire you have -- alu will be fine -- just make sure your solder job is clean, and completely remove the old wiring from the PCB and the IEC connector, clean up the solder and then solder in the new wires. You should probably take the PSU PCB out of the case to do this so you have good access to the bottom side. Don't join the existing wires to new ones as an extender -- completely replace the wires so it is just a single length gtrom the connector to the PCB.
 
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If i remember correctly diablotek psus are really bad to begin with... Did they make any quality units?
 

Tsumi

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I don't think this is really a computer he cares much about, hence the cheap fix.
 

GiGaBiTe

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If i remember correctly diablotek psus are really bad to begin with... Did they make any quality units?

Diablotek is one of the worst brands, along with Logisys, Coolmax, etc. They have a habit of exploding, and from the picture I see inside the unit in question, it's a fire hazard.

Repairing the old unit would have been a better choice. I don't see any scorch marks, which makes me think that it's either a failed line capacitor or some failed passive component like a resistor. I've seen old power supplies fail because the main filtering capacitors (the two big ones side by side) fail.
 
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Okay, I get it, Diablotek PSUs are crappy, and their build quality are downright dodgy (and possibly dangerous) at best

Here’s the reason why I was deciding to go with the Diablotek I have versus just repairing the AT PSU I have or buying a new PSU

I tried out the failed PSU (before I knew it failed) which resulted in a clicking sound, the fan attempted to spin (slight movement during each of those clicks), this was with no load, but being that the fan attempted to spin at all, I don’t think it’s one of those PSUs that require a load to power up, I later done some continuity tests on it and found out that the +5v rail is shorted/bridged to the GND/negative rail (as well as the case and therefore the ground pin on the IEC connector), I assume this has something to do with the fan not spinning and what could be causing that clicking noise

As it stands right now, I’m not going to bother tracking down the problem and fixing it, I may look at it at a later date, but right now I just want something that works, and something I can get quickly and cheaply

So I thought that I might just get another PSU at Micro Center

Looking for something cheap, I would go for something like this (which looking at it now, might actually do)

https://www.microcenter.com/product/457428/solid-gear-sdgr-400bx-400w-atx-psu

The product image on the site is low quality, but until I just looked at it now, it didn’t look like it had an AC power switch, but upon closer inspection, it looks like it does, right to the left of the IEC connector, the low quality image just makes it hard to make out, I don’t yet have a power switch (the ATX to AT adapter doesn’t come with a switch, but instead two spade connectors to connect a switch to), and I’m still hesitant on cutting out the switch from the failed PSU yet, so I plan on just bridging the two for now and using the AC switch for power on/off, so the AC switch is a requirement

That said, even though I just found out that PSU does have an AC power switch, it’s power rating is “Not Certified”, so it’s probably no better (safer) than the Diablotek, plus the name “Solid Gear” makes it seem just as bad as Diablotek anyway



The closest I could find to “not completely overkill”, yet reliable and trustworthy is this

https://www.microcenter.com/product/485310/powerspec-430-watt-80-plus-atx-fixed-power-supply

Which is 80+ Certified, and being PowerSpec is a house brand of Micro Center (and I have used and trust PowerSpec PCs), I’d be fine with it, except the total with tax is $40, which at least right now, I’m not paying that

As for the Diablotek, since I already own it, it’s free

One thing I should probably mention is I happen to have another one of these Diablotek PSUs, even scarier, I’m currently using it (given I’m only using the 12v rail)

I happened to purchase another one (same model) when the PSU to my 3D printer died, so far it has been powering my 3D printer just fine (that said the load is nowhere close to 400w, most likely less than 100w)

From what I have read, the problems (and most likely the cause of the explosions) are due to the fact they don’t supply anywhere close to their rated 400w output, and the unreliable power output over the different voltage rails (like 3.3v or 12v over the 5v rail), which yes, is a huge problem, that said, I wouldn’t expect that to spontaneously happen, more like if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen right away
 

GiGaBiTe

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I tried out the failed PSU (before I knew it failed) which resulted in a clicking sound, the fan attempted to spin (slight movement during each of those clicks), this was with no load, but being that the fan attempted to spin at all, I don’t think it’s one of those PSUs that require a load to power up, I later done some continuity tests on it and found out that the +5v rail is shorted/bridged to the GND/negative rail (as well as the case and therefore the ground pin on the IEC connector), I assume this has something to do with the fan not spinning and what could be causing that clicking noise

If just the +5v rail is shorted to ground, I'd suspect the switching transistor failed. The fact that the fan is twitching means the 12v rail is at least trying to come up, so it may be fine.

The product image on the site is low quality, but until I just looked at it now, it didn’t look like it had an AC power switch, but upon closer inspection, it looks like it does, right to the left of the IEC connector, the low quality image just makes it hard to make out, I don’t yet have a power switch (the ATX to AT adapter doesn’t come with a switch, but instead two spade connectors to connect a switch to), and I’m still hesitant on cutting out the switch from the failed PSU yet, so I plan on just bridging the two for now and using the AC switch for power on/off, so the AC switch is a requirement

You can definitely do it that way, the spades as you call them just go to the PWR_ON and a random ground on the ATX connector.

That said, even though I just found out that PSU does have an AC power switch, it’s power rating is “Not Certified”, so it’s probably no better (safer) than the Diablotek, plus the name “Solid Gear” makes it seem just as bad as Diablotek anyway

One thing cheap power supplies have in common is that the PCB is usually made by the same manufacturer, so you can have several dozen different trash brands with the same innards. This is how they get around safety inspections in customs, if one brand name is blocked, another will go through.


From what I have read, the problems (and most likely the cause of the explosions) are due to the fact they don’t supply anywhere close to their rated 400w output, and the unreliable power output over the different voltage rails (like 3.3v or 12v over the 5v rail), which yes, is a huge problem, that said, I wouldn’t expect that to spontaneously happen, more like if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen right away

The most often reason these IEDs explode is because of the circuitry on the primary side can't handle the load. I've seen numerous shitty PSU designs where the secondary side is overbuilt and the primary side is where the cost cutting happens, because high power mosfets and bridge rectifiers are expensive compared to the secondary side regulators. But you can pretty much tell how far you can push these shitty units just by looking at the bridge rectifier, they'll almost always use discrete diodes rated for 2 or 3 amps meaning that you can at most pull about ~190W before they burn.
 

GiGaBiTe

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A silvery appearance does not mean wire is aluminium. Hookup wire is commonly tinned copper.

Aluminum or copper coated aluminum wire is very common in computer power supplies, even on higher end brands because it's cheaper.
 
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