[Skimmertalk] Building a computer for Skimmer

Pete Smith n4zr at contesting.com
Sat Feb 7 08:42:47 EST 2009

After temporizing for a long time, I finally decided to build a new 
computer, due chiefly to the requirements of CW Skimmer which were proving 
too much to handle on my old Dell, particularly with a logging program 
doing SO2R as well.  At the same time, I didn't want to break the bank, so 
this had to be pretty much the minimum machine required to do the job.

I thought this might interest some folks, because my total cost was only 
$375, including a new copy of Windows XP.  Not too bad... you don't need a 
Quad Core, or even a Core 2 Duo for the job.

I started with the Pentium 4 Dual Core E2200.  Until recently, this was the 
CPU used in the cheapest Dells, but even they have moved on.  Still, it had 
a benchmark rating 4 times that of the single core P4 in my Dell, so I 
figured it would be adequate.

I put the CPU on a cheap NVidia motherboard, one that has onboard video and 
audio and supports USB 2.0.  A cheap PowerUp case, 2 GB of Crucial DDR 
memory, a $24 DVD drive/burner, and a CPU cooler completed the package.

Because I couldn't face the task of reinstalling all my apps from the old 
Dell, I decided to run the new machine as a dedicated Skimmer server, at 
least for the moment.  That meant a wireless network card for it.

The result seems to be entirely adequate to the task.  With 600 decoders 
running, Skimmer reports CPU loading peaking at 51 percent, and Task 
Manager says it's less than that; my old Dell would choke at 400 decoders.

If anyone wants more specifics, please drop me a note directly.

73, Pete N4ZR
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