Announcement

Collapse

Forum Rules and Etiquette

Our mission ...

This forum is part of our mission to promote the preservation of vintage computers through education and outreach. (In real life we also run events and have a museum.) We encourage you to join us, participate, share your knowledge, and enjoy.

This forum has been around in this format for over 15 years. These rules and guidelines help us maintain a healthy and active community, and we moderate the forum to keep things on track. Please familiarize yourself with these rules and guidelines.


Rule 1: Remain civil and respectful

There are several hundred people who actively participate here. People come from all different backgrounds and will have different ways of seeing things. You will not agree with everything you read here. Back-and-forth discussions are fine but do not cross the line into rude or disrespectful behavior.

Conduct yourself as you would at any other place where people come together in person to discuss their hobby. If you wouldn't say something to somebody in person, then you probably should not be writing it here.

This should be obvious but, just in case: profanity, threats, slurs against any group (sexual, racial, gender, etc.) will not be tolerated.


Rule 2: Stay close to the original topic being discussed
  • If you are starting a new thread choose a reasonable sub-forum to start your thread. (If you choose incorrectly don't worry, we can fix that.)
  • If you are responding to a thread, stay on topic - the original poster was trying to achieve something. You can always start a new thread instead of potentially "hijacking" an existing thread.



Rule 3: Contribute something meaningful

To put things in engineering terms, we value a high signal to noise ratio. Coming here should not be a waste of time.
  • This is not a chat room. If you are taking less than 30 seconds to make a post then you are probably doing something wrong. A post should be on topic, clear, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion. If people read your posts and feel that their time as been wasted, they will stop reading your posts. Worse yet, they will stop visiting and we'll lose their experience and contributions.
  • Do not bump threads.
  • Do not "necro-post" unless you are following up to a specific person on a specific thread. And even then, that person may have moved on. Just start a new thread for your related topic.
  • Use the Private Message system for posts that are targeted at a specific person.


Rule 4: "PM Sent!" messages (or, how to use the Private Message system)

This forum has a private message feature that we want people to use for messages that are not of general interest to other members.

In short, if you are going to reply to a thread and that reply is targeted to a specific individual and not of interest to anybody else (either now or in the future) then send a private message instead.

Here are some obvious examples of when you should not reply to a thread and use the PM system instead:
  • "PM Sent!": Do not tell the rest of us that you sent a PM ... the forum software will tell the other person that they have a PM waiting.
  • "How much is shipping to ....": This is a very specific and directed question that is not of interest to anybody else.


Why do we have this policy? Sending a "PM Sent!" type message basically wastes everybody else's time by making them having to scroll past a post in a thread that looks to be updated, when the update is not meaningful. And the person you are sending the PM to will be notified by the forum software that they have a message waiting for them. Look up at the top near the right edge where it says 'Notifications' ... if you have a PM waiting, it will tell you there.

Rule 5: Copyright and other legal issues

We are here to discuss vintage computing, so discussing software, books, and other intellectual property that is on-topic is fine. We don't want people using these forums to discuss or enable copyright violations or other things that are against the law; whether you agree with the law or not is irrelevant. Do not use our resources for something that is legally or morally questionable.

Our discussions here generally fall under "fair use." Telling people how to pirate a software title is an example of something that is not allowable here.


Reporting problematic posts

If you see spam, a wildly off-topic post, or something abusive or illegal please report the thread by clicking on the "Report Post" icon. (It looks like an exclamation point in a triangle and it is available under every post.) This send a notification to all of the moderators, so somebody will see it and deal with it.

If you are unsure you may consider sending a private message to a moderator instead.


New user moderation

New users are directly moderated so that we can weed spammers out early. This means that for your first 10 posts you will have some delay before they are seen. We understand this can be disruptive to the flow of conversation and we try to keep up with our new user moderation duties to avoid undue inconvenience. Please do not make duplicate posts, extra posts to bump your post count, or ask the moderators to expedite this process; 10 moderated posts will go by quickly.

New users also have a smaller personal message inbox limit and are rate limited when sending PMs to other users.


Other suggestions
  • Use Google, books, or other definitive sources. There is a lot of information out there.
  • Don't make people guess at what you are trying to say; we are not mind readers. Be clear and concise.
  • Spelling and grammar are not rated, but they do make a post easier to read.
See more
See less

Basic computer repair/maintenance toolkit

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Chuck(G)
    replied
    I don't count software or cables--in most cases, I can make either myself or know where to find them. However, you can't download a screwdriver.

    I'm a bit surprised that no one has mentioned PanaVise. I'd be lost without mine. I use the 324:



    The great thing is that the rail that the spring-loaded PCB clamps rides on is a standard square tubing size, available at most US hardware stores, so you can fabricate your own extra-long rails. The advantage is that you're not trying to old a PCB steady while you work on it; holding angles are adjustable--and you get simultaneous access to both sides of the PCB.

    Leave a comment:


  • Oscar
    replied
    Hi,

    Did anyone mention a side cutter? Can't do without that!

    A couple of bigger things to add to this list... Stuff that was way too expensive in the past but (thanks to Chinese manufacturing mostly) have dropped in price so much they make sense in Stage Two of your retrocomputing affliction:

    • Desoldering tool
      Cheap Atten 858 or Zhongdi ZD915 desoldering stations cost something like $60. It really allows repair jobs that were impossible before. Although, yes, a $7 solder sucker does work, you're not going to remove a 68000 processor from its motherboard that way...
    • Logic analyzer
      I bought a Saleae probe a few years ago. For finding out what's wrong, nothing has been more useful. About $100 or so?
    • Oscilloscope
      You can buy anold Tektronix 465 for $60 or so if you look around. Correction to self: even more useful than the logic probe. And just as interesting as the vintage computer it's used on...



    I actually made a page on my site describing my collection of tools (here). Tools Are Nice.

    Cheers,

    Oscar.

    Leave a comment:


  • njroadfan
    replied
    This toolkit is a good start: http://www.amazon.com/Syba-145-Piece.../dp/B003I4FETM

    General tools I use in addition to the above:
    -A dedicated soldering station with clamps to hold small parts (that "3rd hand"). Soldering Iron with temperature control is nice.
    -A telescoping mirror for seeing around cases.
    -A lit magnifying glass for seeing small parts.
    -Add in a precision bit toolkit as posted earlier. A clicker torque screwdriver for these is nice, but costs a bit more.
    -Specialized bits (ex: pentalobe) are available from iFixit. Purchase when needed as they are expensive.
    -Wooden chopsticks from the local Chinese joint work great as probes.
    -Crimpers for various communications wires (coax, RJ-45, etc.)
    -A digital multimeter for testing circuits. Add in a test lamp and alligator clip leads! Sewing pins are good for testing small female connectors (gives you a place to clamp on the alligator clips).
    -Cable testers are important if you plan on debugging building wiring installs. Optional otherwise
    -Ethernet patch cables, both wired straight and crossover.
    -Parallel data transfer aka "Laplink" cable and null modem RS-232 cables. Always handy.
    -Various monitor adapters.
    -Gender changers/adapters for serial, SCSI, etc.
    -AC outlet tester. Sometimes getting clean power is the whole problem
    -AC Power strip.
    -Spare screws, jumpers, case standoffs
    -Optionally an air compressor is handy for cleaning out really dusty cruddy cases.
    -ATX power supply tester

    Electronic "tools":
    -USB to SATA/PATA adapter for quick connection of HDs and optical drives. Comes with a nice power supply that can be used for other things as well.
    -12-in-1 USB flash card reader. Mostly for data recovery, the older ones support dead standards like SmartMedia and xD.
    -USB-to-Ethernet adapter. The older ones supported various platforms with included drivers. Later OSes usually have drivers built in. Needed for machiens without onboard adapters or broken adapters.
    -A collection of video cards for just about every bus/platform (ISA, VLB, PCI, AGP Universal, NuBus). Useful for testing "blank screen" machines.
    -NEC Multisync II or any "true multisync" display. These usually support 15khz analog RGB along with other exotic signals and digital TTL RGB like CGA/EGA. A must with vintage equipment!
    -A POST code card. ISA and PCI combo handles most everything. PCIe versions will be needed for the latest machines. Also MiniPCI/PCIe combo cards for laptops.
    -I keep a collection of SCSI interface cards for just about every bus including parallel port. Handy for hooking up drives to vintage machines that lack USB and ATA, or are non-PC. I also have USB/Firewire PCI and Cardbus cards handy.
    -In addition to the cards above. I have various "bridge" machines that can interface with vintage hardware like 5.25" drives, oddball tape drives and, removable media (Jaz, Syquest, etc.). Windows 9x is usually on these machines as it can run both DOS and older Windows software/drivers. I also maintain Mac bridge machines as well (mostly older beige PPC units with all the legacy ports running OS9 and OSX dual boot). Both have really saved me when I was doing this work professionally for a local computer store and had some "unique" data recovery scenarios.
    -A memory tester. I don't own one of these, but dedicated devices are handy if you don't have another machine that takes the memory you want to test to rule out problems.
    -A CFL backlight inverter tester. Tests backlight bulbs on LCD displays. Some even have the ability to test the inverters themselves.

    Software Tools:
    -Disk repair software for various platforms (Spinrite, DiskWarrior for Mac, etc.)
    -Live CDs for various platforms (BartPE, MS DaRT etc.)
    -A decent virus/malware program on the above
    -WSUS/Offline Update CD. Quicker then Windows Update.
    -Install CD/DVDs for popular OSes, including common OEM variants (XP Home/Pro, 2000, Server 2003, Vista 32/64bit, 7 32/64bit, MacOS 8.x-9.x, OS X, etc.).
    -Now obsolete, but I have a bootable OS CD with Windows 9x, 3.1x, and DOS on it. The boot image is the Windows 98SE startup disk which has handy tools and drivers.
    -Hardware test programs, mostly for hard drives. Grab ALL the various HD vendor's tools (Western Digital, Seagate, etc.) including defunct companies like Maxtor. They usually work best as opposed to generic tools. Various memory testers. Check-It! 3.0 is handy for vintage PCs but can only test 16MB of RAM.
    -Imaging software (Ghost, Acronis TrueImage, CarbonCopyCloner, etc.)
    -File translators. Sadly these have gone out of style, but something like DataViz Conversions Plus and MacLinkPlus is really handy to have around.
    -Virtual Machines/Emulators. This is mostly a last resort for data recovery if a host isn't available or if a customer needs legacy software when moving to a new machine.

    Note that this toolkit took years to build, it wasn't something I purchased all at once. I'm prepared for just about anything old and new as a result. This was mostly because the store I worked for didn't turn away vintage machines or Macs of various ages (the latter mostly because I had to tools to support them!).

    Leave a comment:


  • Doug G
    replied
    If you have a shaky hand, or work on monitors and other RF stuff a good set of plastic non-conductive "tweakers" is nice to have. That way when your screwdriver slips off the thingy you're adjusting you don't short something out. Non-metallic screwdrivers were also a requirement if you were adjusting RF circuitry so you didn't detune circuits with your metal screwdriver. My uncle owned a busy radio/tv shop and I've inherited a giant bundle of his non-metallic adjusting tools.

    Leave a comment:


  • Crypticalcode0
    replied
    Hm, My gear is the following.

    I have 3 sets of Screw drivers for several different purposes.
    A small metal, wristwatch set. (Using it for setting Pot meters)
    A Insulated set this is generally the bigger stuff insulation up to 1000V.(House electrics and monitor fixes, and Assembly)
    A ESD set this is my least used set to be honest.

    A ESD wristband and wire I have a ESD mat on my worktable.

    I have a Weller temperature controlled soldering station which has a 3 irons, 1 normal which can use different tips, a desolder gun, and a heat blower for the interesting stuff.
    Desolder leach, also known as desoldering wick is handy to have

    In general i keep a Laser temperature sensor at hand, just in case A multimeter and I would love to get my hands on a private logic analyzer and Oscilloscope.

    A EPROM programmer is going a little too far IMHO but i do understand the requirement for dental tools in electronics, do not forget a good solid insulated pliers, and trusty ol side cutter.

    PS: I nearly forgot pincet one of the corner stones of electronics tools.

    Leave a comment:


  • Tor
    replied
    If you don't use a strap, at least wear cotton clothing (avoid synthetic fabric).

    -Tor

    Leave a comment:


  • Chuck(G)
    replied
    It's probably easier to choose the appropriate flooring material. Vinyl composition tile is good. Carpeting can be nasty stuff, on the other hand.

    Leave a comment:


  • DOS lives on!!
    replied
    The one time I made an effort to use an anti-static wrist strap is when I ran a computer workshop at a kids camp. I made sure to emphasize, "Now if you ever want to pop the top off this computer for any reason and tinker around inside, ALWAYS wear your anti-static wrist strap." Nevertheless, I've never followed my own advice there.

    Leave a comment:


  • Doug G
    replied
    I've never used any anti-static prevention either, even in Denver when the humidity was often in the single digits. To my knowledge, I've never zapped anything with static.

    Don't take this as a recommendation to avoid using static protection though, you really should use wrist straps and such if available.

    Leave a comment:


  • Chuck(G)
    replied
    Never use static prevention, but then humidity around here rarely drops below 40-50% RH. I am careful with handling, however.

    Leave a comment:


  • patscc
    replied
    Let the static wars begin.
    I'm a firm believer in static mats and wrist straps, since if zap a chip, the damage doesn't necessarily keep the chip from working. It's not like being excessively cautious is going to hurt anything.
    patscc

    Leave a comment:


  • Stone
    replied
    As long as you grab the case first, before touching anything else, you don't need anything else.

    Leave a comment:


  • generic486
    replied
    What are your opinions on a anti-static mat and wrist strap? I usually neglect them because it is fairly warm here but it would use it in the midst of winter, when I get most of my systems.

    Leave a comment:


  • Maverick1978
    replied
    I'll second Chuck's post about the Xcelite tools. I picked up this kit at a yard sale over a year ago for $20, and I've used it daily ever since. Best set of nut drivers and basic screwdrivers in my toolbox. It tends to go to work with me, and ride in my truck when I'm not at work. They've been inside my truck's engine, and just about every computer, monitor, and appliance I've taken apart in the last year.... If you can't tell, I'm quite enamored with them. Not sure that I'd pay the retail cost on them, but I'd definitely try to piece together a kit from eBay or the like (where they can be had quite cheaply, surprisingly)

    Leave a comment:


  • EverythingIBM
    replied
    Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    Well, I'm kind of fussy about screwdrivers, particularly Phillips. Most of the Far East imports just don't have them done right. Go with a brand that has "Genuine Phillips" on it. Here's a nice set from Crescent that should meet most of your needs.

    The other thing I'm fussy about is nutdrivers. A good nutdriver is worth its weight in gold. I think I've been using my Xcelite nutdrivers for almost 50 years now. They still work as well as the day they were new. Cheap Chinese drivers have a sloppy fit, plated finish and rounded "nose" and can be a pain.

    As someone once said "I can't afford cheap tools." A few really good basics will last a lifetime.
    The aforementioned screwdriver set is fantastic. I took apart many thinkpads and 5 1/4" HDDs using it.
    And you'll have immense difficulty finding those screw sizes anywhere else. Which is what I was after. I have plenty of high quality screw drivers that just don't go down that small.

    Leave a comment:

Working...
X