NOTE: This post was written yesterday. I forgot to post it.
Today, I took apart my first computer. In doing so, I took apart my first computer.
I had planned to pack for a small trip this coming weekend, but that didn't really work out. My father called at about 3:15 and said his computer died. He has a Dell that he bought about five years ago. I head over to the office and figure out (read: guess) that the power supply is busted. We start discussing swapping out the hard drive to another computer, just to get the data he needs onto a flash drive. We have two other Dell computers that were purchased about the same time. The first one is really slow. So slow that I don't want to go near it. The other Dell in this house would be mine. My first computer. The one my parents got me for my 16th birthday. I haven't been using it recently, considering RPI offered top-of-the-line laptops at a discounted price, then forced me to buy them. Yeah, I didn't use the desktop for much. It hadn't even been plugged in since Sophomore year at RPI.
The furthest I've taken apart a computer was to remove the lid to blow dust out. I really never did a good job at it, either. Open the lid, spray air through the vents, clean the fan next to the heat sink. But that was it. Sure, I can fix common software problems, like figuring out where my grandmother's inbox disappeared to, why mom's Kodak printer wouldn't print from QuickBooks or WordPerfect (don't ever buy a Kodak printer), or finding the drivers for a decade-old dot matrix printer, with all the dongles to convert from 418-pin monstrosity to USB. But before today, I've never seen a processor.
While I'm looking inside my father's desktop, I decide to look deeper, to see if I can actually get some evidence telling me what the problem is. I had a guess it was the power supply, sure, but I tossed the Dell lid aside and saw a bright green LED staring me in the face. At this point, I thought something must have burned out, there was no way the power supply had gone bad. I, very slowly, start figuring out the parts of the machine. "This wire supplies power to the CD drives, this is the hard drive, and, oh, this heat sink just seems clamped on. Let's see what's under it." Sure enough, the heat sink is resting on top of the processor, with pressure applied by the clamps. No burn marks anywhere, all the wires seem intact and plugged in. "Okay, maybe it is just the power supply."
When reclamping the heat sink, I hear a snap and feel a lot less tension on the spring. I broke something. I broke one of the plastic hooks for the spring. Great. Since I don't know much about hardware, I don't know how important that heat sink is since he barely uses the computer. But I'm not the one to take chances. The easiest and most fool-proof plan is to move his hard drive to my tower, and he'll be set. I load his computer into my car and head home.
When I get home, I open up his computer again and take out his hard drive. About 4 screws total. I drag my computer out of the closet (lol, it's gay) and open it up. Dust everywhere. It seems like a nice day out, so I bring the computer to the deck table outside, grab a can of compressed air, and start removing dust. I remove the hard drive, get the dust out of there, remove the floppy drive, dust, remove the fan, and spend a good half hour cleaning it. The heat sink for my computer had a different clip, so I'm glad I didn't have to struggle and take things apart, and then risk breaking anything putting it back together. I pull off the heat sink and hear a sound very similar to velcro ripping. Huh.
Well, it turns out my processor was just in contact with the heat sink, it was mounted to it. When I removed the heat sink from the tower, I pulled the processor with it. Not knowing better, I thought I'd just have to place it back in. I didn't know about the lever that opens the holes, and that you have to remove the heat sink from the processor before replacing it. So, I push the processor back in. It didn't quite rest right, so I tried it again. Nope. Wonder if somethings blocking it. Oh. The pins are bent. Hm. That one broke.
I start wondering what the hell I'm going to do, now that I have a broken power supply and heat sink clip in one computer and a broken processor in the other. Do I take apart another computer, or do I make a Frankenstein's monster out of these two machines? After about fifteen minutes of cursing, swearing, and having a generally dirty mouth, I realize that the heat sink clips have the same footprint. So now, instead of moving a hard drive from one computer to another, I move a power supply and a heat sink clip in the other direction. Frankenstein's monster it is.
Everything else goes fairly uneventfully. I transferred over the hardware, and I even gave doubled his RAM. Now he has a quarter of a gigabyte! So now his computer is made up of:
- My power supply
- His hard drive
- His processor, with my heat sink clamped to it
- Two sticks of RAM, both 128MB.
- His CD-ROM, CD-RW, and floppy drives
I have the following sitting in my room:
- DVD-ROM drive (probably going in my new desktop)
- CD-RW drive
- 40GB Hard Drive with very little data on it.
- Floppy drive
- 15" Dell CRT Monitor
- Extra power cord
Want anything? :)