Stuff to pimp your Windows Home Server

Hacking Windows Home Server is a blog dedicated to Microsoft's WHS technology. Brought to you by Donavon West, Microsoft MVP and author of and I'll also discuss the Hewlett-Packard HP MediaSmart Server EX470, EX475, EX485, EX487, the T7-HSA Tranquil Harmony Home Server and any other new Home Server hardware platforms that arise. You can also call this hacking or hackz. In any case I will show you some cool things to make your Microsoft Windows Home Server even sweeter.

A blog devoted to getting the most out of your
Windows Home Server by Microsoft MVP Donavon West.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Attaching a VGA monitor to your HP EX470

imageOver the past few months, I've been intrigued with the idea of attaching a VGA monitor to the HP EX470. Every time I take my server apart (whether it be at upgrade the RAM to 2GB or upgrade the processor) I can't help but to notice the empty connectors on the motherboard; the most interesting of those are silk screened CN2 and CN10. I just knew that somewhere among these unused pins that there just had to be the signals to drive a VGA monitor.

A close up of CN2I guess that I wasn't the only one. Someone going by the handle ymboc over on not only had the same hunch, but took his suspicion a to the next level. ymboc has not only determined that CN2 contains signals for R, G and B video output, but also HSYNC and VSYNC. He has also ordered the proper connector and has tinkered with actually connecting a monitor! So far he hasn't produced any visible VGA output, but I'm guessing that he should have it solved within days at the rate he is going.

I'll be building my own cable as soon as he has everything worked out and will be happy to provide complete instructions here (or link to ymboc's instuctions if they are made available).

Great job ymboc! You deserve a lot of credit for the work you have done so far and I look forward to seeing your completed project. You can follow ymboc's progress and read all of the excitement here.

**** UPDATE ****

He did it! Watch the YouTube video showing a VGA monitor hooked up to the HP EX470 motherboard.

**** UPDATE 2 ****

As ymboc points out in the comments, a complete schematic of CN2 has been posted along with pin outs for a serial port and PS2 keyboard and mouse (although it is labeled CN9 for some reason). Thanks for the heads up.


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MitchSchaft said...

Now that is cool!

Vincent said...

Hello, I am not sure if you guys have any viewers that can write drivers and such or any information but I own a ex470 and a gaming rig, xp 64-bit machine,

I have been able to get the connector running on 64-bit xp and I am able to get it to back up fully.

Problem is when I go to open a backup that completed off of the 64-bit xp machine it goes to 6% then wants me to install a driver for the "possible - restore" - Driver is dually noted as "Windows Home Server Restore Driver 2".

Great... almost there.

I hit ok to the install of the driver and then the opening of the 6% open backup immediately fails.

I've looked into the issue, found it to be attempting to load VolSnap.inf driver.

VolSnap is part of Vssvc.exe which is volume shadow copy service.

If we can get some good people to develop something or build volsnap (x64) into a re-built from ground up, or simply a restore only connector we could have the ex470/ex475 running for x64.

Let me know what you think.


ymboc said...

Just a heads-up. JRock over on the MediaSmart forums has posted the complete pin-out for the VGA Connector header, adding serial & PS2 as well.

Donavon West said...

@ymboc - I saw that and have been meaning to post the image and reference here for me readers (I'll do that now). Allow me to personally congratulate you for your hard work! The schematic will definitely help, but it was your effort that made the difference.

ymboc said...

Thanks for the kind words. I think "CN9" refers to the connector on the break-out board pictured in the thread - fortunately the pinout matches CN2.

Ernesto said...

Now for the question to the answer.
Using this technique to gain access to the BIOS, can a SATA mirror be created so that the OS disk is hardware protected against failure?

Ernesto said...

Well . . . not to answer my own question . . . but I have found a way to set the ex470 up with SATA RAID (JBOD,0,1) without using the BIOS.
I would be happy to start a new thread if anyone else is interested.
This gets away from the current data corruption issue with WHS as you can set all your disks up as one big drive.

MitchSchaft said...

Wouldn't that work against what WHS does? It's not meant for that, is it?

Charles Kalapati said...

You can also buy a cable if you do not feel like going through the trouble in building one. Details are here:

Poopskin the liar said...

W..w...wait. If there's no VGA port except for the one you mentioned (which could, if i understood the article, only be used if you removed the case) then how would you connect a monitor to the EX470?!

Don said...

The posting to buy the cable has been removed. Any ideas where one can be bought?

cakalapati said...

@Don - The posting to buy a cable was never removed. The service was temporarily suspended until the gen2 cables were released.

David J said...

Would this be the same on the ex490?

wang l said...

Would this be the same on the ex495?
Any ideas where one can be bought?

Thank you!!

phraze2amaze said...

charles you are asking too much money for the cables, if you had a lower price I would be more than glad to purchase your cables. If I make my own the most im spending is 20.00 not 65.00. if you offered just the vga cable for 40.00 im sure your sales would ramp up dramatically

Jon said...

I'd like to buy the pre-made cable, but then I saw photos of a MediaSmart that has the ports neatly intergrated into the back of the unit! It looks great. I'm not sure the pre-made one can be fit in this way.

Could someone please post info on how I can get mine to look like the one above?

Denison said...

I would like to go one step further and add a VGA port, small screen and run win7. Why? Because the lack of ongoing support from HP and the fact that a large win 7 system would do everything (apart from the back up restore functions that at the end of the day I doubt I would ever use) What I need most is large storage (7 TB plus) file redundancy and DNLA media server functionality. This is all hindsight and experience gained and the ex495 has worked well for 2 years. Now its crashing all the time and is hard to maintain...I could yet sell/trash the box and transfer the hard drives to another solution

Esay leoz said...

HDMI Ethernet Cables for Australia.

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