The Sietch

A community of friends changing the world for the better

Talk binary to me baby

Every one likes computers right? But the problem is they are always so damn expensive. If you just want to check your email or do your English homework you don't need a 2 thousand dollar beast, you need something in your price range, namely FREE.

Materials needed:


The whole project was done over several weeks to find all the parts but the construction only took about 1 hour.


Check out the rest of the pictures here

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Build Your Own Computer

Every day some guy or girl in a suit gets a new computer, or the local bank upgrades to a new server, or little Jimmy or Suzy down the road begs mom to buy them the new SUPER XL 5000X, and you know what they do with all the old computers they have? That's right they throw them away. Perfectly good computers and now they are toxic sludge waiting to happen. But you are going to save the day you are going to get those computers and you are going to make something great out of them!

First we need some old computers. The thing about old computers is they are often lacking the parts we want, so the idea is to find lots of them. There are many ways to go about this. My favorite method is riding my bike around town looking in dumpsters, when I find a computer I come back with my car and pick it up. If you are scared of just taking things out of dumpsters you can always go the old "ask for it" route. If you call up banks/stores/office buildings/county office/schools/colleges/etc they are often more than happy to get rid of what they think is just old "junk". There are often auctions where you can buy pallets of computers for as low as 25 bucks. I have gotten as many as 40 computers for 25 bucks before...however you get them, try to get as many as you can as this will lead to more parts for our machine.

The first thing we need is a case. The case is what is going to hold the rest of the parts. Any case will do but try and find one that fits both your power supply and mother board (we will talk about this later).

Here we have a fine case, while it might not have all of its skin this is not important. Next we need a mother board, this is the part that holds all the other boards. I was lucky enough to find this case with a mother board already in it.

This mother board has all sorts of stuff on it but you don't need to worry about this right now, and to tell you the truth you will find lots of these things, and half of them will be broke, but keep at it and you will find a good one. The mother board is attached to the case with a couple screws all the screws in a computer are usually the same, and you are going to find a million of them attached to parts and stuff so just find five or six, line up a good one to the holes in the case and screw them in. Now you need a power supply. This will power all the parts of your computer.

Isn't that nice? Lets put it in the case. It goes in the little hole in the back at the top (most of the time)

What a nice fit. Sometimes your power supply will not fit into your case, a bit of work with some tin snips will usually fix that. Or you can just go find another power supply. Now we have to attach the power supply to the mother board.

The plug that goes into the mother board from the power supply is big and white, it looks like a white Lego. If you find the kind that takes two plugs you have an old mother board so toss it and find a new one, or find a power supply that is older. Now we need a disk drive and a cd-rom drive. These are some of the easiest parts to find. I have found entire boxes of these things in dumpsters.

The cd-rom is on the left and the disk drive is on the right. They go in the case in the slots in the front.

The cd-rom and the disk drive use cables to connect to the mother board, they are different. The cd-rom uses one that is longish and has three connectors on it, the disk drive uses one that is longish and has 2 or three connectors on it. How to tell the difference, the disk drive one has a twist.

Disk drive cable on the left, cd-rom cable on the right (by the way you use the cd-rom cable to attach the hard drive as well) Here is what they look like when attached to the disk drive and cd-rom.

The disk drive and cd-rom both get plugs from the power supply as well. Make sure you set the jumpers for the cd-rom drive to "master" if its on its own cable, if not set the hard drive jumper to "master" and the cd-rom to "slave". Look closely at the little pins on the back and you will see what I am talking about.

A tip, put the disk drive and cd-rom into the slots they fit in, screw them in with a couple screws and THEN put the cables onto the back. You cant mess up because most of the time they only fit on one way, however sometimes the disk drive plugs will be odd. If your disk drive doesn't work when you turn the computer on this is why (you have the cables on backwards) You will also need a hard drive. (use the cd-rom cable and an extra power plug from the power supply) The hard drive fits in the case in the slot that looks like it will hold it, usually below the cd-rom slots, or below the disk drive.

The cable that is connected to your hard drive and cd-rom drive connects the mother board in little white slots. So does the disk drive cable.

Lots of mother boards now and days come with just about everything built in. This motherboard did.

In this case I didn't have to find anything extra as it was all there. But if you are not so lucky you will need to find at least a video card and if you want internet or sound a sound card and a network adapter (or modem).

Left to right that is a sound card a video card and a network adapter (a modem looks just like that but has 2 holes in the back These install into PCI slots.

The big huge white slot is a PCI slot. The bottom of your cards fits perfectly into the PCI slot.

As you can see it fits perfectly. You will also need some ram. Most of the mother boards I find have a couple of "sticks" in them already. Just keep looking you will find a lot.

The more ram the better, most mother boards come with a couple of slots. The last thing you will need is a CPU. I find a lot of old Pentium 2's all over the place.

these go on the big huge brown or black slot on your mother board (the fan plugs into a smaller plug, make sure you find this or your chip will over heat)

Here you can see the CPU installed. You will need to put all these parts into your computer and hook them all up. Then get a monitor and a keyboard.

You will find monitors and keyboards ALL OVER. The thing you always seem to have a hard time finding are power cables, they are black and if you are looking at this page on the internet right now you can see what they look like by looking at the back of your computer. Get two of them (one for the computer and one for the monitor) Find a mouse and you are all set. Now there are plenty of things I have not covered in this tutorial, however if you find your geeky friend, or look on the internet you will be able to find just about anything you need. When you turn your computer on it will most likely boot to a black screen. You are going to have to find a tutorial on how to install windows (or better yet download a free copy of Linux). Here are a couple of good ones.

Further Reading

how to install Linux