In our consume it and toss it world we tend to discard our old electronics for the faster, better newer items. I know we are pretty good at recycling our old electronics, but wouldn’t it be even better to repurpose our old gear, maybe give it a new life as something else? I had an old Microsoft Surface 3 sitting on my desk collecting dust for a while. The specifications were pretty weak. 4GB of RAM, 64GB disk, and a really slow mobile processor. Compared to today’s standards its barely enough to run Windows 10, at least the disk was SSD.
What I did with my Microsoft Surface 3
Looking at the Surface I saw a great opportunity to make a wall clock weather station! With just a few prep steps and a neat low cost trick to mount the surface to the wall I had this project done in under an hour.
We take electronics for granted in todays society. Microchips are in everything! Computers, TVs, Smart Phones, Microwaves even your car! If it plugs in and turns on there’s a good chance a microchip will be inside.
Have you ever wondered what is a microchip? I don’t want to cover the history of chips or integrated circuits (IC) in this article, however lets leave it as miniaturized electronic components on a die that is encased in a plastic shell. The components are usually transistors and millions of them can be on a die to compose a single chip.
These are older microchips and the there are a few where you can actually see the die through a small window. These chips were know as EPROMs and were programmable!
Actual Microchip Die!
This is the inside Die Chips found in sophisticated IC’s. The die was fully processed and the next step was to bond gold wires to the different connection points on the IC die and connect them to pins on a plastic IC package. This step was not done.
These are fascinating to study under a strong magnifying glass or microscope. Great for making “electronic jewelry”, study and training.
Who would have thought sitting home daily with my two kids during the Covid-19 crisis would lead to the kids each wanting a gaming computer. After pricing out what a “pre” made gaming computer would cost it was decided to build our own on a budget. The goal : How powerful a computer could be built for under $1000.
Gaming computer parts
The debate was on, which parts to spend money on and what parts could we save some cash.
It was decided the 3rd generation Ryzen 5 3600 processor would be used. The Ryzen would give great performance at a budget price. At the time of this post the Ryzen was down to $155 on Amazon (I paid $175)
MOTHERBOARD – MSI B450 gaming Plus Max $110
Finding a gaming computer motherboard proved to be a challenge. I would guess due to the shutdowns in China, and higher demand (I’m not the only one building a gaming computer) many motherboards were out of stock.
Old radio enthusiast please don’t send me hate mail after reading this blog. I know many of you will frown on what I have done to this 80+ year old radio. I promise you this Zenith will get tons more use in its current condition rather than in original form.
The project consisted of gutting the original electronics from the radio and replacing them with newer more modern tech. Resulting in a working radio that still has the spirit of the original.
I am still trying to figure out the back story on this restoration project. What I do know is this is a Dynarometer Model 1260, under the bezel of the meter movement is says Superior Instruments Co, New York NY made in USA. I am not sure if these were sold as a kit or even the exact model year. If I was to guess I would say 1950’s give or take a few years.
A friend was tossing this out so I adopted it and decided to keep it from the landfill. It was dirty and quite rusty. After a through examination to make it operational again would be virtually impossible, however restoration as a piece of art would be the second best thing.
If you have been mandated by the government to work from home due to the Covid-19 outbreak and would like to be a bit more productive, it may be time to look in the basement or attic for that old monitor you just couldn’t throw away. I personally find it way more productive to work on two or more displays at a time and hopefully you will too.
The portable usb monitor
The simplest way to add an additional screen to your laptop or desktop computer is to plug in a USB portable display. This type of display is easy to install, easy to move from computer to computer, easy to travel with and reasonably priced.
In the office we tend to buy Dell Desktops and Laptops. In my opinion they are no better or worse than any other brand and are priced competitively. Normally we have a 3-4 year cycle moving old equipment out and new equipment in. This one E5550 has been hanging around for whatever reason and was feeling slow. I originally popped the back cover to upgrade to a SSD and noticed the battery was in bad shape and needed to be replaced.
E5550 Battery Replacement
From the looks of it, two of the cells out gassed and have a belly. This is very bad since the battery capacity is obviously reduced. It is also dangerous to the hardware since the added pressure from the battery could damage the system board or cause the case to crack.
I work for a mid sized accounting firm and collaboration is an important part of making our group efficient. Mangers need to peer in on their staff calendars and the staff also like to see where there managers are. Exchange calendars are easily shared, however most staff members either don’t know how to do it or forget to allow access.
First step – set up a group in active directory
If you already have a group with all users in it you can simply use that. Otherwise access active directory and create a group (like the one below) and add all your users to it.
Floppy disks are all but a memory for most. They have gone the way of the tape cassette and VHS tape. I can remember back in the late 80’s and early 90’s shopping Radio Shack for 5 1/2 disks to feed my Commodore 64 1541 disk drive. The only issue was the 1541 could only write one side of the disk, so the backs of the disks were wasted. Disks were expensive a 3 pack would run $15 or more!
As luck would have it, a creative person would develop a solution to alleviate some of the pain my 15 year old self was suffering due to my full allowance going to floppy disk procurement.