Monday, July 19, 2010

Saved From the Dustbin

In a move to reduce the power consumption of my "server" room upstairs, I replaced the XP desktop machine that was doing file serving, CCTV recording and mail filtering with a Vista laptop I picked up at a car boot sale for £20. It was a bit busted, the power supply was lost along with the battery, and the OS was trashed but as a server it doesn't need all the keys on the keyboard to work, doesn't need a battery as it will live exclusively on the mains and I found a matching power supply at the same car boot sale for £1. Best of all, the hidden recovery partition was still in tact on the hard disk so I could re-image the machine and now it works fine. It consumes a mere 25W of power compared to the 110W of the old desktop, greatly extending the time the server can run on solar power.

My wife's laptop recently expired from overheating - a design defect in the HP G60 series :( but the memory from it was compatible with the car boot machine so it now has the salvaged RAM from the dead HP.

The HP may yet live though. In the spirit of "make do and mend" to reduce the waste of throwing things away that can be fixed, I found a company that specialises in repairing the G60. It usually dies because the graphics processor had a poorly designed heat sink. It gets too hot and the the solder joints on the chip fail. The company resolders the chip on the motherboard and then fits a new customised copper heat sink and an upgraded BIOS that makes the fan run faster all the time to prevent the problem recurring.

The operation runs from a garage in Thatcham and I was shocked to be met at the door of an ordinary suburban house by a man in a white coat! He showed me the "lab" and the stack of machines awaiting repair along with a couple on soak test after being fixed. At £50, it will be an economic repair (if it works) and I'll have saved a machine from becoming unecessary land fill fodder. If it doesn't work, they only make a charge for return postage so I'll only have lost £10. I'll scavenge the hard disk for the new server (as the HP one is twice as big) and sell off the carcase to repairers who can use the LCD screen and plastic body parts to refurbish other G60's. There's a market for them on eBay...

"Waste not, want not..."

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