We Will Create – 2012 – February

All the good wire stuff just about ready for the smoke test!

This is the February update for my WeWillCreate project for 2012 … and only a little bit late. The first post with complete description is here.

My brainstorming led me to a good plan, but I had to adjust some of the months for the projects. I think I’ll be adjusting a few others so that they fall during time when they fit best.

My computer decided to go to the great circuit board graveyard in the sky last month, so I had to adjust a little more. Since my goal here was to build something electronic, well, why not a computer. So I’ll put off the solar charger to a later date and build a computer. It has been probably 6 years since I completely made one from scratch. Things have changed a bit. Memory sure is cheaper … eight gigs for 20 bucks … wow.

Fry's bargains! Got a snazzy working computer for about $180!

Well, anything involving electronics or computers means a field trip to Fry’s Electronics. People who don’t have a Fry’s nearby just don’t know how much worse their lives are. You can eat lunch in a 1950 convertible while you shop for just about anything electronic. That store is just perfect computer geek bliss, and when they are selling Girl Scout cookies out front I just cry. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

The new motherboard ... control center for the new epic pc of cheapness!

So I guess this post isn’t as exciting or eccentric as a solar iphone charger, something that would lead me on long hikes in the wilds of SoCal without losing touch with my GPS, but it’s something I’ve always enjoyed and that’s the goal of this project.I started taking computers apart and fiddling with them around 1981. Before that, I took apart everything else. I think that’s why I ended up fixing cars and computers for money for a time. I just took apart everything and found the things people will pay for. I mean, really, nobody pays for you to take apart the desk lamp or the oven, but computers and cars can make you some good money.

One fun new thing I got to do was to make a USB install boot disc for Windows 7. I have never done this before but it was very much easier and fun. Installing Windows 7 was much quicker and it is handy to have a thumbdrive I can boot up with next time I need to mess with stuff.

// begin technical geek computer stuff here …

I got lucky and found this case that must have been sent down from heaven for me. It was on the clearance table for what said half price. A nice case with a 600 watt power supply would usually be over a hundred bucks. These guys at Fry’s let me have it for $20.00 because it was a display model. The side panel and all of the mounting screws are missing. I have enough of those screws at home to pave a driveway with, so that’s not an issue. And the best part? I always leave the side panel off of my computer so I can get in there and fiddle when I feel like it. So this is just perfect.

Many useless cables and things that I save "just in case"

They always have some motherboard/cpu combo deal that is on sale. No disappointment here. For $100 bucks I got an AMD (now firmly 2nd best behind Intel, but who cares) cpu and mb. I found a smallish 500 gig hard drive for $60. Add $20 bucks for 8 gigs of ram on sale and I’m in business. I almost bought a dvd writer, but the $15 price was on the wrong spot on the shelf and I wasn’t paying $30 for one. Lord knows I don’t need a mouse or keyboard or any cables. I think I have enough extra cables to build 5 volleyball nets and have extra

… end of technical dribble //

So I had a really very fun time building a new computer. It’s running cool and quiet and serving me well. The built in video card has got to go for sure, but I’ll live with it for now. It was relaxing to put together.

Fiddling with all the settings and dip switches is cathartic to me and seeing it all come to life and work gives me that sense of accomplishment that only comes from fixing things. I took the utter demise of my lovely 2 year old Mac Mini as an opportunity to do something that I have always enjoyed … Create!

Some of the things I know for sure at the start of this journey I will find foolish and completely wrong at the end.  – me

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