Bringing Hardware Back To Life…….

I’ve been a Linux user for almost 20 years years now, and have been a Linux only user since 2006.  Back in 2005, I purchased an HP DX5150 from CDW, and this is the story of it’s ongoing life.  

My company at the time used CDW as our primary source for all things tech and our CDW sales rep was able to give me a great deal on this DX5150 because it was an open box.  I used it as my primary desktop till 2011, when I replaced it with a quad-core 8GB self-built machine. At that point, I replaced the single core in the DX5150 with a dual-core, maxed the ram to 4GB, and gifted it to my mom with a fresh install of Windows XP.  This year, with the EOL (end of life) of Windows XP, it was time to upgrade my mom to a new PC with a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate.  So after the upgrade, I lugged the old DX5150 home, consigned to the fact that it was deprecated. It had been having power on/off issues for some time.    However, being the “maker” that I want to be, I held out hope that it was repairable.  So I drug it home, popped open the case, and immediately saw the problem; a hand full of capacitors bubbling out their tops.

dx5150_caps

This gave me much hope.  So, I pulled out my new soldering iron, a Hakko FX-888D, and attempted to desolder these caps.  Two things to keep in mind here: first, this is a double-sided PCB.  Secondly, like with most modern PCBs, this one was wave soldered.  That means the solder is not going to come easy, and there is a good chance you’ll either burn out, or pull up, the solder plates; I did both.  I then took the board to my good friend, The Sound Doctor, and had him work his solder magic on it. He may be the best solder tech I’ve ever seen. Nonetheless, once I had the new capacitors soldered in, I threw in a new 120GB SSD for the OS, a 1TB HDD for storage, and a new nVidia GT720 video card. If you’re looking for a budget card, < $50, the GT720 is where it’s at.  The PC powered up without issue.  I loaded a fresh install of Debian Jessie and passed it off to my friend Tylyn, who has recently returned to school.  She is now using it as both her primary school computer as well as her primary gaming rig.  Obviously, she’s not playing the latest and greatest of games, but does play quite a bit of CounterStrike, and it plays wonderfully on this old PC.

So if you have an old PC laying around, wondering what to do with it, it may make a great project for you.  Additionally, if it’s not being used anyway, and you fry it, which you’ll most likely do the first time you try a hardware mod, it’s nothing lost.  So best of luck and feel free to send some pics of whatever projects you may take on.

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