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jawtheshark's Journal: Dumpster Diving - Good news and Bad news 12

Journal by jawtheshark

So, today I went to the recycling centre. Fully hoping for much goodness because Christmas has passed and I expected the bin to be full of stuff I could use. Now, I was a bit disappointed. Only one case there and it was already reaped. Strangely enough, it was a black case (side panel missing) that promised at least a P-III. Mainly due to the fact that the (empty) memory slots told me it was either PC100 or PC133. Who the hell would throw away a P-III and keep the PC100/133 sticks? That makes no sense. No stickers on the front. Two harddisks, but just "thrown in there", no IDE cables, no floppy cables, nor CD-Rom drives, even though the floppy was there. Also, no graphics card... Powersupply is missing too. Hmmmm...

Still, I was going to try it... So while I'm taking the machine one of the guys employed there comes along and asks me "Can I help you?". I'm a bit astonished, and say "No, I'm fine...", and instinctively I ask "I can take this, can't I?". He say: "No, you can't...". I'm somewhat baffled, and I say: "But, I just want to see if the parts work". He says: "You're not allowed to, but I'll look away."

WTF? This is a recycling centre... Isn't the *best* thing that can happen that someone takes the stuff and re-uses it instead of you guys sending it to China so that some kids can get high on the plastic to identify what kind of plastic it is? I'm utterly confused.

So, luckily I can take it home. I install and AGP card, a 150W powersupply and some PC-133 256Meg stick and boot it up. Nothing... Okay, I have this never used new 650W powersupply. Let's try that one. Nope... Okay, let's try a PCI graphics card! Whooohooo, it boots.... I try a lower-end AGP card and it boots with that as well.

An AMD Athlon 900MHz. Meager. I do have a 1GHz version lying around. Let's try that one. Change CPU, boot... Nothing. Damn, I never tried that CPU, so it might as well be dead. Okay, put back in the 900MHz one and start looking into the BIOS. I also download the manual of the motherboard. I start looking into the jumper config: the previous owner clearly has tried some odd stuff. Very strange, but it's clear he never read the manual because he forgot to change one jumper to turn off the autoconfig. All other jumpers are invalidated by it according to the manual. Bah, let's downclock it to 500MHz and try if the 1GHz CPU at least boots up.

Uh-Oh, 1Ghz doesn't boot, but neither does the 900MHz! According to the manual, I can short a jumper on the motherboard to reset the BIOS settings. Of course, this jumper is missing, but I manage to short the soldering points with a screwdriver and the 900MHz boots up again. *Phew*. So, the 1GHz is clearly dead. Too bad...

Still, I want to know the exact nature of the 900MHz CPU and look at the parts number: A1200AMS3C. Hey, that's a 1.2GHz CPU. No wonder the former owner was messing with the settings. It detects a 900MHz and it is in reality a 1200MHz CPU! Methinks it's time to upgrade the BIOS. So, I do that and 'lo and behold 1200MHz goodness...

As for the rest of the parts: one Samsung 3.2G harddisk, booting into "NTLDR not found", which I'm going to discard.... It's too small. The second harddisk is a 46G Deskstar, but it doesn't seem to detect. I guess it's toasted. I'm going to try it in another computer. I'll never understand why people put a 3Gig hardisk next to a 40Gig harddisk in a machine. There is also a network card which I think is not worth keeping: "Etherlink XL PCI". I have one of those and it's a 10MBps network card. I've got plenty of 100Mbps network cards, even from 3Com. Unless I find out it's a 100Mbps, it's going back.

Anyway, it is the time of the year to keep an eye on the dumpsters. Vista is going to bring ever better machines in there. I'm just going to have to avoid the guys from the recycling centre when harvesting. Too bad the sidepanel of the case is missing. If I had it, it would have been a nice case. The case is most definately going back too, due to that.

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Dumpster Diving - Good news and Bad news

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  • The reason the previous owner didn't ditch the small disk after upgrading is most likely that he didn't want to reinstall the OS. Plug a new, bigger drive in, set it as D: (or e: if the CD was d: and they didn't want to (or know how to) change the setting) and use it for data - easy.

    If it was my machine I would have reinstalled the OS on the larger drive and kept the small drive as the swap file (or the tmp directory) for performance reasons...
    • Evidently...But those small disks usually rate much slower on the IDE bus. Most likely he put it as slave of the smaller disk and thus botch his performance. I've seen people having a 1G disk primary-master and a 20G primary-slave (actually, the machine my mother in law had, was configged that way until I redid the whole thing). It's just a bad idea. It's that simple. Keeping a disk that's only 10% the size and much slower of the new disk is a bad idea.

      He should have asked a professional.... Okay, I

      • by arb (452787)
        For most users, this is a non-issue. They just want more disk space and don't realise that they may be risking lower performance by adding a second, newer disk as a slave. Plus, for these users, they most likely wouldn't even know that the new drive might be faster - it will appear to be as fast as what they have and just wouldn't know the difference.
        • You're right of course. It's because of these people that dumpster diving is fun for me ;-) If everyone would be like me the computer hardware industry would come to a grinding halt ;-)))

  • one Samsung 3.2G harddisk, booting into "NTLDR not found", which I'm going to discard

    Jeez, if you'd written a sentence like that as little as 5 years ago, people would have given you rations of shit for it. Thankfully, we now have the 20 and 40GB drives starting to show up in discarded PCs now, so it's all good.
    • It's very simple: I wouldn't have written that sentence 5 years ago. 5 years ago, it would have ended up in my private stock of replacement harddisks. It's only last year that I've thrown away all harddisks smaller than 5 Gigs. Yes, that means that I still have (for example) an 8 Gig lying around.

      With technology advancements, even dumpster divers can get pickier. Wouldn't take a machine without USB ports these days. I'd probably even snub a P-II (unless in SMP configuration). Only real vintage comp

  • Possibly toasted but a number of old m/b's do not support anything that size - even with the most recent Bios. They simply will not recognise them or throw hissy fits if you try something wacko to get it to work.

    Try it on a newer m/b before you chuck it. Though I seem to have heard stories about them. Is it one of the infamous IBM models known for its failure rate?
    • I recovered a 40Gig Deskstar (fondly called "Deathstar") a while ago , I know the stories) that is in working condition and it was detected by said motherboard. You are referring to the BIOS limits on certain motherboards, and those are ar 32Gig and 137Gig. Last time I was confronted with such a limit, it was a P-III 800MHz and it "only" was the 137Gig limit. The recovered motherboard is quite a bit more recent that a P-III 800MHz, so I didn't expect such a limit.

      The 46Gig is probably toasted... I haven

      • by tqft (619476)
        I kinda figured you would know all that, but you never know when a reminder might help someone. Anyone who does dumpster diving probably knows more about old hardware than me anyway.

        But just because the m/b is a bit more modern doesn't mean it doesn't have a crap chipset and bios in it.

        What bios upgrade did you use? Did you have a look over at linux bios to see if there was anything there for it?
        • Sure, it's always good to try to help those that may be clueless. Of course, I'm an old fart ;-)

          You're right about the crap chipset, it's always a lottery. The motherboard was indeed on the limit of either supporting 137Gig disks or not. However, since it detected other 40Gig disks, it is highly unlikely that the 46Gigger works. I'll try it in the P-IV 1.9GHz that I salvaged when I get the occasion. It's still standing here without a function.

          The BIOS upgrade was simple a DOS boot disk with the A

          • by tqft (619476)
            Having been scared of destroying my machine when I couldn't afford a replacement I was always afraid to try doing a BIOS update.

            Needed to with new machine - though still didn't help much - Asus. Couldn't have been easier and am impressed by how well setup the Asus BIOS flash process is.

            When posting hit insert disk with new rom. Wait. It will tell you when done and to remove disk (either floppy or cd-rom). This is for as P5LD2-VM.
            • The rule is quite simple: if everything works, do not touch the BIOS. It's really quite seldom you need to update the BIOS... Mostly it's for newer CPU support (or weird stuff like the 137Gig limit), but CPU upgrades are rare.

              It's nice for being able to do it... I remember a time that the BIOS was in real ROM.... Heck, my fathers IBM PS/2 Model 50 had a Basic ROM if all else failed.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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