So, sure, I have a basic knowledge of PC hardware, but I'm sorely lacking in troubleshooting skillz. I'm bored, so this will be a narrative post rather than cutting direct to the problem.
Here's the situation: I have a box at home that's home-made. Asus mb, Athlon 64 processor, 1gb ram, etc etc etc. It's currently running Ubuntu installed on a 160gb hd.
Last week, I moved the desk the computer is on to a different room in the house, and switched from using the built-in ethernet nic to using a wireless card. Ubuntu discovered the wireless card and configuration was super-easy (at least compared to using the same hardware under other Linux distros I've tried.) Anyways, two or three days ago I noticed it was dropping the wireless signal every few minutes. Around that time, I got a hardware error message when the machine was booting. More on that later.
Tried troubleshooting, and eventually discovered that the antenna on the wireless card had fallen off (!!!) during the move. Plugged it back in, assuming that was the problem. Rebooted, but no dice. Still had the hardware error and still very crappy signal.
So, I F1'd it into the BIOS on boot, and looked through the screens. On the screen giving hardware info, the value for 3.3v was low - like 2.6v. It was also highlighted red, so I'm assuming that was the problem.
At this point, I unplugged/removed everything from the box that wasn't essential (extra nic's, sound card, extra hd, cd, etc) to make sure none of that was causing problems. Still had the low voltage signal.
Fooled around with it a bit more, and suddenly things got worse. I booted and got something that looked like a stack dump of error messages related to the hd. Booted again, and got an error along the lines of "DISK READ ERROR. PLEASE INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER." Great! So is my hd dead now too?
Anyways, next attempt was swapping hd's. I have an "emergency" 18gb drive with Fedora installed on it, so I swapped that in. The machine booted totally fine, and everything seemed OK. So I figured my 160gb drive was toast. Next decision was to put Ubuntu on the 18gb drive. Put the Ubuntu Live CD in, and attempted to boot. "DISK READ ERROR. PLEASE INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER." Ok, so now it won't boot from the Ubuntu Live CD either! Tried booting from the first Fedora install disk, to see if it would boot from the CDROM at all. No luck, same error.
So, what gives? I've got an occasional low voltage signal, and now the machine is being picky about what it'll boot from. Any thoughts? MB failure? Power supply failure? If this can't be resolved for cheap ($100 or less), I'll probably throw in the towel and buy a Mac. I've been kinda wanting to do that anyways, haven't had one in a few years.