Home > Geeky, hardware > “Old Paint” goes out to pasture, but he’ll be back

“Old Paint” goes out to pasture, but he’ll be back

May 13, 2005

The customer’s computer was a smoking hulk, burnt by lightning.  I found his hard drive, containing precious data, intact, and mounted it as a second drive in the new computer he purchased.  The rest of the computer, charred wires and all, we placed by the back door to be put in the dumpster.  After work that day, I put it in my car.  It was just perfect.  I think the year was 1998.

Everything but the sheet-metal case went right in the trash.  Combining a new power supply with scrap components from junk computers, and a PII/266 motherboard I’d bought from a customer who was upgrading to the new Intel PIII processor, I assembled one of innumerable “FrankenPuters” that I’ve built over the years.  This one was for me.

Fast-forward to May, 2005 – I’m still using the same pile of junk parts and it still works perfectly – but a little slowly.  Time for an upgrade.

I no longer work at a computer store, so my endless supply of junk parts has dried up.  I think I’ll buy actual, new parts this time… but I’m keeping the scorched metal box they all fit in.  It’s butt-ugly, and I kinda like it.

So I’m typing on a borrowed computer while “Frankie” is on my repair bench.  In few weeks I’ll have collected enough parts to put it back in service as a battered-looking, 8-year-old, “New” computer. 

  • PC Power & Cooling power supply

  • Asus motherboard
  • … and probably a dual-drive SATA RAID storage system, and a gig of RAM.
  • … and a Plextor DVD burner for data archiving
  • I really don’t care about video cards – if the motherboard doesn’t have it built-in, I’ll use one of my old Matrox Millennium 4mb PCI video cards.  They’re reliable, stable, compatible, and I don’t play video games.
  • I also don’t care about sound – if the motherboard doesn’t have it built-in, my PCI Sound Blaster will be fine.

The power supply is an under-appreciated component.  If you really want a reliable computer, you’ll pay extra for one that provides stable power over a wide range of utility power fluctuations. 

More details later but I’ll put ‘em below the “read-more” link ‘cuz heck, most people couldn’t give a rip about some geek building a computer.  Especially since I like to build for stability over performance – the “Hank Hill” of computers.

Categories: Geeky, hardware
  1. basil
    May 14, 2005 at 09:36 | #1

    My first computer was a 286 a friend made for me out of old out dated parts. After it fried out(wasn’t me monkeying with it, evolutionary pun not intended)it
    was rebuilt into its present state as a 486 with a dx chip. It runs at a sceeming 33 mhz and has windows 3.1, perfectly adequate for printing dot matrix lawn invoices; it’s a tried and true tank.
    My kids computer that I surf the net with, has had numerous more crashes, and printer driver reinstalls. I wouldn’t give up my dependable, old outdated pc for anything!.

  2. May 15, 2005 at 00:13 | #2

    I’ve got parts for several Frankenputers in boxes all over my office.  Can’t bring myself to part pieces that still work.  Never can tell when you’re going to need a spare floppy drive or back-up cd rom.  I just finished turning an old PII into a file server for the church system.

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