• Tooling around with computers

    Home » Forums » Newsletter and Homepage topics » Tooling around with computers


    ISSUE 20.10 • 2023-03-06 HARDWARE By Ben Myers Whether you maintain your own computer, run your family IT department, or manage lots of computers, hav
    [See the full post at: Tooling around with computers]

    Viewing 14 reply threads
    • #2541382

      iFixit sells set of tools for PCs

      • #2541479

        Yes. Bought some from iFixit to replace the hard drive with an SSD and max out the memory in an iMac, perhaps my ugliest repair ever.  iFixit sold me the adhesive strip to re-attach the glass cover over the screen.

    • #2541413

      I have (& do USE) a twin of Sister Sledge in computer disassembly. She and a large flat rock in my garden, along with a Ziploc freezer bag to contain all the debris, are my final step in securely erasing a hard drive that has been taken out of service. I find this quicker than drilling a hole through the drive – and lots more satisfying.

      • #2541485

        Another way to render a hard drive useless, albeit with the release of far less aggression, is to remove the circuit board with a Torx tool, remove the metal cover from the other side, then stab at the drive platter with a big screwdriver.  Not as messy, and the small circuit board has some recycling value, about as much per pound as a slab of roast beef.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2541581

          I admit to being one of those guys who takes dead hard drives apart for the magnets.  On my way to the magnets, I bend each platter to ensure its uselessness.


          1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2541449

      An excellent article in the necessaries for computer care. My own go to tool kit is a quality leather (yes leather!) case the size of a small book, with a sturdy zipper containing two sizes of flat blade, Phillips and Torx screwdrivers, 1/4 and 3/8 inch nut drivers, a chip puller and a chip inserter (last used in 1992 on a 16550 UART chip), all made of hefty steel and plastic. The original plastic three claw pickup tool was replaced by a four claw stainless steel tool (the only way to retrieve small screws deep within a motherboard). I have added a spring steel spudger tool (better than any plastic tool), a few zip ties, small side cutters and needle nosed pliers.

      One other caveat. Video card manufacturers advise against using compressed air to spin card cooling fans. You can exceed the bearing tolerances by spinning the fan faster than designed and could damage the bearings. Better to hold the fan and use canned air that way.

      • #2541481

        Thank you. I did not think too many people would be interested in pulling and inserting DIP chips, not found much these days.  Back in the day when CPUs had no on-board cache, I populated vacant chip sockets with SRAM cache chips. pulled 486 CPUs from sockets to do upgrades and other tasks no longer needed today. It’s all soldered down and integrated as much as possible.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2541498

        Compressed air to blow the dust out of fans does need some caution.  I am less concerned about exceeding maximum RPM when cleaning a gamer video card with a fan or fans about 3 1/2″ in diameter.  The inexpensive low-end video cards have fans that look like they will fall off if you even breathe on them.  Laptop fans require caution.  Desktop fans are generally pretty sturdy and can withstand a withering blast of compressed air.  I don’t think I have ever had the misfortune of making a cooling fan fail with too much fresh air.  Maybe I’m just lucky.

    • #2541468

      I have a tool kit from iFixit. Its plastic case serves as a holder for small screws and such. It has little walls that enable me to keep different screws separated from each other. See https://www.ifixit.com/products/essential-electronics-toolkit.

      • #2541500

        The iFixit kit has decent markings of slots for the various bits so you can put them back in the right place when done. But the markings are not as easy to read as markings printed in white, as you are likely to see next week.

        • #2542077

          My Ifixit is not easy to get open the lid is secured with magnets but the is no where to get a grip on it. Function over form would be more appreciated for a tool set. Yes case does look good with a surface uninterrupted by finger holds.


          Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
    • #2541520

      There are only 3 tools in my toolbox – a hammer, a bigger hammer and a biggest hammer. All three are essential.

      • #2542078

        If you can’t fix it with a hammer make darn sure no one else will either 😈


        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
    • #2541527

      Because the screws and bits can be varying sizes and often must be used in the matching locations (especially with laptops, or all-in-ones), I use a multiday pill container for them. I just drop them into the openings in their order of disassembly, and then reassembly is easy. This is especially helpful if I have to pause for a day or so while waiting for parts to arrive.

      4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2541556

        Good idea!  I let the screws and tools go free range. Most of the time there is no ambiguity where the screws go back in.  Fortunately, manufacturers of laptops follow a pattern, like the same thread and length of screws to attach the bottom, or maybe a couple of longer screws with the same thread as the others.

      • #2541560

        I was going to suggest something similar. I use an ice cube tray for the same reason. Your idea has the advantage of having lids for the compartments. Mine has the advantage of being really cheap :o)

    • #2541561

      I do use a ryobi battery driver with changeable and magnetized bits. Sometimes will use it manually to break the screw loose, then hit the switch. Life saver when doing a bunch of tear-downs. Also, being caught without my tools once, I used the client provided Phillips screw driver from her sewing machine kit, and lacking a spudger tool, my credit card worked just fine!

      Never Say Never

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2541654

      Well maybe I’m getting old, but a screwdriver magnetizer/demagnetizer is about the neatest tool I’ve acquired in a long time! A few quick strokes of the screwdriver blade within the [+] slot holds those really tiny screws on the tip of the screwdriver long enough to get them started. 🙂

      Ran across this when looking for a magnetized screwdriver. Duh, why not DIY!

      This one by WiHa Tools is only around $5 at Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Wiha-40010-Magnetizer-or-Demagnetizer/dp/B00018AONE/ref=sr_1_3


      Windows 10 Pro 22H2

    • #2541691

      A wrist-bound ground strap was considered mandatory in my time (back when dinosaurs ruled the earth). Didn’t see mention of it here.

      My part of the country is famous for low humidifies (7%!) and high static buildup on human bodies. Just getting out of your car and touching metal can really give you a zap!

      Should this item still be included, or is the buffering on modern (post-2008) equipment and chips improved to the point where this is no longer necessary?

      Win7 Pro SP1 64-bit, Dell Latitude E6330, Intel CORE i5 "Ivy Bridge", 12GB RAM, Group "0Patch", Multiple Air-Gapped backup drives in different locations. Linux Mint Greenhorn
      "Nine out of 10 doctors say Acid Reflux is mainly caused by computers."

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2541809

        I have not used an anti-static wrist strap for many years, but I am living in a world of higher humidity than you are.  I have not killed any electronics in that time, either.  Using an anti-static wrist strap in your climate might be a good safeguard. You don’t want the negative reinforcement of zapping some piece of electronics, rendering it useless.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2541913

          Yeah, I kinda-figgered that. Thanks for the validation.

          Blowing dust-sand, low humidity is a real electronics killer. So are Thunderstorms. Back in the 90’s, I had a state-of-the-art Shortwave outfit that had FET transistors in the front end (1st RF stage, right after the antenna.) Had a bolt of lightning come down 1000′ away, and just the FIELD from that bolt induced enough voltage on the antenna to blow out the FET’s.

          Like I said, when we get this kind of weather, most folks go about their day holding some sort of key, and touch THAT to the metal they’re reaching for first; once I saw one spark that was 1/4″ long arc between a person and a metal door frame. (OW!)

          I would NOT like to subject a mem strip or a MOBO to that, ever. Again, thanks!

          …and nobody should be working on anything electronic during thunderstorm activity! 🙂

          Win7 Pro SP1 64-bit, Dell Latitude E6330, Intel CORE i5 "Ivy Bridge", 12GB RAM, Group "0Patch", Multiple Air-Gapped backup drives in different locations. Linux Mint Greenhorn
          "Nine out of 10 doctors say Acid Reflux is mainly caused by computers."

    • #2541662

      Good to see that there are other tool freaks out there! Suggest checking out Klein pliers of all sorts which can be found in many of the “Big Box” home stores and on line. Screwdrivers from Wera as they have excellent handles for long term use and an amazing range of sizes. This suggestion is from a career of building and installing electro-mechanical equipment and industrial controls.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2541811

        I concluded long ago that I was OK with tools for desktops, towers and servers. The screws are all pretty large.  My major focus lately has been on the wide range of tools needed for laptops and other small devices, because I see more and more of them, and not as many bigger computers. Stay tuned.

    • #2541726

      I also have the iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit and it comes in extremely handy!

      Instead of canned air, I use the OPOLAR Cordless Air Duster/Vacuum. It’s only “slightly” larger than canned air and has a 6000mAh “rechargeable” battery which lasts for a LOT of dusting! The vacuum function is also handy although it doesn’t work nearly as well as the blower mode.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2541856

        I have the same cordless air duster/vacuum.  It is a handy tool.  The vacuum extension with the small thin brush tool works well on keyboards without worry of dislodging the key caps.

        Custom desktop Asus TUF X299 Mark 1 16GB RAM i7-7820X
        4 27" 1080p screens 2 over 2.
        Laptop Clevo/Sager i7-9750H - 17.3" Full HD 1080p 144Hz, 16GB RAM Win 10 Pro 22H2 all

    • #2541773

      For the old Cobol machines, you need a sledgehammer to fix things. Just like the old days where there were vacuum tubes in computer size room that need a sledgehammer when they failed. I know some of them were still operation 10 years ago when I was called back from retirement to work on it. The young people were not sure how to fix it and were worried going into an electric room…That was not my concern when I was doing the work in my younger days. Those were the good ole days. Now every is tiny and difficult to work with when your eyesight is slowing going down hill with the rest of you.

      • #2541956

        I was trained on maintaining the Burroughs BUIC (Back-Up Interceptor Control) system while in the USAF and another good thing about computers that used tubes was, turning off all the lights in the computer room, was an easy way to tell exactly which tube had gone bad and needed to be replaced!

    • #2542116

      Hard disk platters make excellent mirrors!

      The magnets really bite!

    • #2542314

      I often see video’s showing Diagonal Side Cutters used to cut off the tail of Plastic Tie Wraps. Side Cutters are for primarily for use on WIRES and should never be used on Tie Wraps! When used on tie-wraps, they often leave behind a little tiny plastic tail that is as sharp as any razor blade. While they make special Tie-Wrap cutoff tools ($15-$25), most people who regularly work with tie-wraps REPLACE their Side Cutters with a 4″ spring opening “Flush Cutter” instead. The jaws are tapered & ground only on the inside edges so they leave no tail. Be aware Amazon also lists some “Flush Cutters” but the pictures show the cutting edge is tapered on both sides so they are really just small Side Cutters. Who would have guessed there would be mislabeled products on Amazon?

    • #2543395

      One potential problem cleaning of the fans in the computer, NEVER spin the fans with compressed air unless they are unplugged from the motherboard. Permanent magnet fans become generators creating high voltage and can damage the motherboard and the power supply very quickly.

      Years ago I blew out a power supply fan and completely killed the entire power supply. I now insert a small screwdriver to lock the blades from turning while blowing out the dust.

    Viewing 14 reply threads
    Reply To: Tooling around with computers

    You can use BBCodes to format your content.
    Your account can't use all available BBCodes, they will be stripped before saving.

    Your information: