Recently, my brother-in-law visited relatives in Washington, DC. When he was about to leave for home, they presented him with a computer that didn’t work. He brought it to me with the instructions to “fix it if it is practical, otherwise, pull any parts out that you may want and throw away the rest”.

When I first looked at it, I noticed that the cdrom and floppy drive were missing. It also had the sound of loose parts inside. When I opened it, I found both the cdrom and floppy drive inside, unsecured. Wires were ripped from the front panel, possibly from the loose drives tugging on them.

I cleaned the outside of the case and blew out the dust from inside using compressed air and began my visual inspection.

I have already decide that this is not a practical fixer up, Repair costs (parts and labor) are already over $200. This is mainly a challenge to me. I want to see how far I can get with this pc.

Here is a list of “obstacles” within this computer.

1. ripped wiring between the front case and the motherboard

2. password protected bios (unknown to me or my brother in law)

3. password protected login on win-xp/home (unknown to me or my brother in law)

4. unknown motherboard ( I looked everywhere — both sides of motherboard, still no manufacturer identity)

5. Loud noises from Hard drive

6. Need to re-install cd rom and floppy drive

7. one defective usb port out of two available

Using some of my software tools, I was able to determine that the processor was 1.6ghz pentium 4 with 256mb of ram. Hard drive is a 17gb hard drive.

I now have it working. So far, I have substituted a new power supply and because of the ripped wires it will need a new case, and the hard drive is making noises like it may go at anytime.

I rejuvenated the hard drive with spinrite, but would not recommend continuing it’s use. I called my brother in law with the news. He has decide to pay for the repairs, so my challenge has become profit ( a little — anyway ). If I had billed my brother-in-law as a regular customer instead of giving him the “relative discount”, it would not have been practical to fix.

I have learned techniques that will be useful in other repairs and in troubleshooting. I have made a little money, plus my brother-in-law is happy! The challenge was worth it.