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How to resurrect a wet DAW?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by lambchop, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. lambchop

    lambchop Active Member

    Well Irene came through on Sunday and I awoke to about 2" of water in my studio. I, unfortunately had my DAW resting on the floor with two power supplies for my interfaces and most of my cable runs. I opened the DAW and saw that only the mobo and one interface had gotten wet. It's been left open to dry. I'm going to take out the MOBO and card and spray them with circuit board cleaner then compressed air. Do you think I can resurrect them?
  2. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Just make sure they are totally dry before powering, compressed air should help.
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Be very careful using compressed air in a wet atmosphere. Compression of the air can cause water to condense out, and high velocity water droplets are destructive.
  4. MrEase

    MrEase Active Member

    I would definitely remove the MOBO and the affected card to clean them. I would also use a brush to give them a more thorough clean than just spraying. Be careful with static though. I usually cut a small non synthetic paintbrush down to about 1/2 inch to give a decent stiff brush and use with IPA (Iso Propyl Alcohol) for such cleaning.

    Most modern surface mount parts are designed for wet cleaning so, provided everything is clean and dry, I think you should be OK.
  5. lambchop

    lambchop Active Member

    Yeah, I'm hoping to be able to do it tomorrow. I was going to do it yesterday but ended up vacuuming up some more water. I'll probably tear up the carpeting in the studio and put down some synthetic industrial carpeting without any underpadding. I'm just trying to minimize the possibility of any mold at the moment. A close friend of ours contracted bacterial pneumonia from the mold that was growing between the walls of her hi-rise apartment and ended up staying with us for four months while she battled with her coop. By the way, she won and they bought her apartment. It helped that she had gone to college to be a biologist before switching to finance. She hired a professional "moldologist" who tore up the wall; took samples and tests and provided his findings along with a white paper that he had authored on the subject.
  6. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Dunking in alcohol can help because it displaces water and dries quickly.

    But this is still an indefinite matter.
  7. lambchop

    lambchop Active Member

    Well, I cleaned and dried everything and turned on the power switch. The power supply is providing power to the ASUS P5B Deluxe mobo and my processor fan and video card fan are working. However, there's no video and I do not hear the bios kicking in the hard drives. A buddy of mine says that even if the power was off the capacitors on the board would still have been storing energy (even though I hadn't turned this computer on for more than a day) and they are now fried. Does this make sense?
  8. MrEase

    MrEase Active Member

    This depends to an extent. Although the PC was off, was the line power also turned off? If not, the ancillary 5V would still have been active and this may have caused some damage.

    The main supplies though would have been off and any associated cap's would have discharged within minutes at the most. The only other point to be aware of is that, of any modern components, the most likely to be less than watertight would be the electrolytics but that is still unlikely.
  9. lambchop

    lambchop Active Member

    Would the ancillary 5V have been powered by the lithium power cell on the board? If so, is there a possibility that I could resurrect the board by replacing the cell?
  10. MrEase

    MrEase Active Member

    The ancillary 5V is present whenever there is line power going in to the PSU. While this is on the lithium cell is doing nothing - it is only when line power is removed that the lithium cell takes over.

    The main question is, was the line power on at the time of the flood? If so, there is the possibility of some damage through electrolytic action. If only the Lithium cell was available, I doubt there was enough energy to cause any real damage. The lithium cell could easily be flat though and I had sort of assumed that you would change it.

    With the RAM (not DRAM!) unpowered then your CMOS settings could have been lost and you would need to access the BIOS to set up the MOBO defaults (plus any of your own preferences) again. It is possible it is just this that is stopping your MOBO booting. If you can't even access the BIOS then there are other problems. You could try a BIOS reset - the procedure for this will be in your MOBO manual.
  11. lambchop

    lambchop Active Member

    A BIOS reset! Now that's something worth exploring. If I haven't already mentioned, the board is an ASUS P5B Deluxe and I also know that you can purchase BIOS chip replacements for it, although I would not want to have to resort to trying to unseat and replace the BIOS chip as my soldering skills have been basically limited to repairing cables.
  12. MrEase

    MrEase Active Member

    I don't think you have this quite right. The BIOS is normally stored in a flash memory which is non volatile and should not be damaged - nor is it necessary to replace it as it can be re-programmed. Attached to the BIOS though is a small, fast static RAM (SRAM) which stores information of the BIOS set up to your preferences. This memory is volatile and is what is maintained by the Lithium cell and which could be corrupted if the cell goes flat. Replace the cell as the first step. If you do a BIOS reset, it is this memory that will be reset and you should then be able to get into the BIOS set up page.

    If not there is some other fault......
  13. lambchop

    lambchop Active Member

    Thanks for the full description and education Mr. Ease! It's definitely appreciated. If you reread my prior email you'll see that I was just mentioning that I also knew that you could purchase a BIOS chip for the board, if necessary. I'm going to have to take a look at the manual to see how I would be able to perform a reset. I'll need to check the lithium cell tonight.
  14. MrEase

    MrEase Active Member

    I had read the post and when you mentioned unseating the BIOS chip and soldering etc. it seemed as if you were considering this a solution to the problem.

    The only reason I can think for replacing a BIOS chip is if you had a failure whilst re-flashing the BIOS. This would cause it to become corrupt with no chance of a boot. This is extremely unlikely in your situation as the PC was off.

    Even if a new Lithium cell and reset fails, I doubt if the solution would lay with a new BIOS chip.
  15. lambchop

    lambchop Active Member

    I still need to thank you for the information and suggestion. I just picked up a new lithium cell and will install it in the board and try the BIOS reboot tonight. The manual states that the board has "ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3" that can restore corrupted BIOS from a USB Flash disk containing the BIOS file. I just need to figure out which one of the many available versions for that model on ASUS' website I should use.
  16. MrEase

    MrEase Active Member

    I emphatically recommend that you do NOT try to reflash the BIOS! If your MOBO is not booting properly this is a recipe for disaster!

    There is categorically no way in which water ingress on an unpowered PC would be able to corrupt the flash memory!

    In your manual you will find a procedure to Reset the the user settings held in the SRAM. This usually involves removing the line power and temporarily moving a link on the MOBO. This will clear the SRAM NOT the Flash.
  17. lambchop

    lambchop Active Member

    FWIW, I did disconnect the main power supply when I removed the board for cleaning. When you mention temporarily moving a link would you be referring to the jumper links on the board? There are directions for clearing the Real Time Clock RAM in CMOS.
  18. MrEase

    MrEase Active Member

    Yes, that's the one, the RTC and CMOS. You have not confirmed yet whether the line power was on to the PC when the flooding occured (even though the PC was off).
  19. lambchop

    lambchop Active Member

    The power supply switch was on, however, the power strip it was connected to was turned off.

    UPDATE: So; unplugged everything; removed the battery and cleared the CMOS. When I replaced the new battery and turned the computer on I received the same thing. Two points though; when the computer turns on it runs for about 5-10 seconds, shuts off, then turns back on. The other point is that this ASUS board has a light indicator on it: Red for on/active, and blue for off. When I power on the light is red, but when I turn it off there is nothing.
  20. MrEase

    MrEase Active Member

    That's good and bad news! Good that the line power was off (minimal chance of electrolytic damage) but bad that it still does not work.

    Unfortunately on most MOBO's the connectors for power switches, front panel LED's etc. all sit at the bottom of the board together with the CMOS RAM etc. These will be the first things to get submerged. How far up the MOBO did the water go? Did the hard drives get a soaking too? The actual disks are normally well sealed but the electronics are usually exposed.

    I think you need to take the whole thing apart, give it another clean and then give it a thorough inspection for any signs of damage. Look for discoloured areas on the PCB solder resist which would indicate water getting in and also see if there appear to be any damaged tracks. To do this effectively you will need to completely remove the MOBO as the damage could be on the back of the board. Take care with static!

    If you don't find anything obvious I think it's getting to be time for an insurance claim. In another PC you may well be able to recover data from your hard drives so you may not lose everything. Do you have back-ups?

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