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O/T: Old laptops. Anything salvageable or just E-waste?

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  • O/T: Old laptops. Anything salvageable or just E-waste?

    These are my laptops from over 20 years. Hoarder.

    I can work my way around a desktop PC no problem. But I have never opened up a laptop, dont know a thing about the hardware inside. Dont even know how to get inside without some destruction.

    If there are any useable parts like hard drives or memory I wouldn't mind saving some. Half are dead to the world due to antient batteries that are no longer available. And the tech is just old.

    If I cant harvest anything good Ill just remove the remaining batteries and drill a 1" drill bit through the hard drive area to keep the data un-usable (for the most part) and take them to our towns monthly E-Waste program.
    Thanks, JR

    Click image for larger version

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    My old yahoo group. Bridgeport Mill Group

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...port_mill/info

  • #2
    I know a guy locally who refurbishes old laptops for students. He told me anything made in the last 10-15 yrs is still usable. Yes you can pull the hard drives and put them in an external case, to plug into your desktop. I used to do that.

    A new battery/charger and a modern solid-state drive makes those old laptops new again.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by nickel-city-fab View Post
      I know a guy locally who refurbishes old laptops for students. He told me anything made in the last 10-15 yrs is still usable. Yes you can pull the hard drives and put them in an external case, to plug into your desktop. I used to do that.

      A new battery/charger and a modern solid-state drive makes those old laptops new again.
      Oh, I would love to give one to a kid that doesnt have any. Thats always my first choice.

      These things are so old. To wipe the unit and install an operating system with the drivers would still not work. The software available just wont run on the old OS.

      Bummer. JR
      My old yahoo group. Bridgeport Mill Group

      https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...port_mill/info

      Comment


      • #4
        If there are any that you would like to re-use, you can often find a substitute battery by googling the part number.

        You can find instructions for opening the case of virtually all laptops online. It usually involves removing a handful of screws, then popping off the back panel or possibly removing the keyboard first.

        I've used laptops for a variety of things; Website servers; network storage; mail servers, remote camera viewers, video servers, etc.

        It's amazing how much power is in a modern laptop. Back in 2002 I worked for a fortune 500 company. We lost the data center that hosted our web server when a backhoe ate the fiber in multiple places. I was in charge of the DNS as well as the system backups. With permission from the company, I loaded the backup for the web server partition and the email relay onto a laptop at my home and changed the DNS to point to one of my spare IP addresses. For several days that laptop was the corporate website for one of the largest companies in California.

        When I get ready to get rid of a laptop I usually run a disk wipe utility that does multiple passes, then load a Linux distribution on it. I put an instruction sheet on each one that explains that it is NOT Windows and basic instructions on using it. The last box of 7 computers was set at the curb at 3 PM and it was empty before 5 pm. I talked to a couple of the parents and they were quite happy to have anything that would work.

        Dan
        At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

        Location: SF East Bay.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by danlb View Post
          When I get ready to get rid of a laptop I usually run a disk wipe utility that does multiple passes, then load a Linux distribution on it.
          Dan
          Yes, I know how to "clean" a computer without a 1" drill bit at the drill press. Joke but, wont work.

          I tried to boot a good old one up with a Linux boot driver I think Sparky said try.
          The MS OS is too old to use the boot disk.

          I have done more than my amount of re-configuring Computer Systems to ever really want to do it again.

          More to the point the oldest laptop is in that pile of 8 and I still use it. Actually really need it.

          It holds the MSC or whatever my enco 120.

          I have to feed the program from my laptop via serial cable. Its actually not a big deal. The head unit takes the feed (cnc file, along with well, sub routines spec'ed for this computer (enco120) .

          Its a very large, small lathe.

          I seem to get caught up with that. The Monarch 10EE? Small, Butt Heavy. JR

          My old yahoo group. Bridgeport Mill Group

          https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...port_mill/info

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by JRouche View Post

            Oh, I would love to give one to a kid that doesnt have any. Thats always my first choice.

            These things are so old. To wipe the unit and install an operating system with the drivers would still not work. The software available just wont run on the old OS.

            Bummer. JR
            I guarantee I can get either linux or FreeBSD installed on them, with full-on multimedia. Hell I was watching music videos back in 1998 on an old 486-DX4 in linux. Running FreeBSD right now, in fact -- I like it.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by JRouche View Post

              Yes, I know how to "clean" a computer without a 1" drill bit at the drill press. Joke but, wont work.

              I tried to boot a good old one up with a Linux boot driver I think Sparky said try.
              The MS OS is too old to use the boot disk.

              I have done more than my amount of re-configuring Computer Systems to ever really want to do it again.

              More to the point the oldest laptop is in that pile of 8 and I still use it. Actually really need it.

              It holds the MSC or whatever my enco 120.

              I have to feed the program from my laptop via serial cable. Its actually not a big deal. The head unit takes the feed (cnc file, along with well, sub routines spec'ed for this computer (enco120) .

              Its a very large, small lathe.

              I seem to get caught up with that. The Monarch 10EE? Small, Butt Heavy. JR
              Sorry. emco not enco. My bust. JR
              My old yahoo group. Bridgeport Mill Group

              https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...port_mill/info

              Comment


              • #8
                FWIW, my last desktop went 19 yrs before I finally got a new (used) one last year.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by nickel-city-fab View Post

                  I guarantee I can get either linux or FreeBSD installed on them, with full-on multimedia. Hell I was watching music videos back in 1998 on an old 486-DX4 in linux. Running FreeBSD right now, in fact -- I like it.
                  I can to. Do you know how many add on drivers they needed to just get the install rolling?

                  My Bridgeport Boss5 runs on Ah-Ha. Its a conversion that was available. I ripped ten tons of electronics off the back of my lil bridgeport, lightened her up a bunch.

                  A PC running DOS 6.2. Boot seq. Ah-Ha or Dos:6.2.

                  Yeah, its a old group. Whatever.. JR
                  My old yahoo group. Bridgeport Mill Group

                  https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...port_mill/info

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I haven't had a working battery in my current daily driver for probably 5 years. Who cares? I am rarely working sitting on a rock with a mountain vista, so I just plug it in to use it. Now that I think about it, its getting long in the tooth....10 years old! It was high end at the time and has aged fairly well. Every time I look at a new one and think about having to waste time installing everything and learning/futzing about with W10 I give up and figure I'll get another few years out of it.
                    in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JRouche View Post

                      I can to. Do you know how many add on drivers they needed to just get the install rolling?

                      My Bridgeport Boss5 runs on Ah-Ha. Its a conversion that was available. I ripped ten tons of electronics off the back of my lil bridgeport, lightened her up a bunch.

                      A PC running DOS 6.2. Boot seq. Ah-Ha or Dos:6.2.

                      Yeah, its a old group. Whatever.. JR
                      Yeahm BSD does not play that game with the extra drivers. I've done that tooo, but it was 20 yrs ago. What is Ah-Ha?
                      I actually think DOS 6.2 is pretty good, wish I still had a copy. Nah.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have a similar stack, with laptops dating back about 15 years. They all still work, for some definition of work - some have exhausted battery, broken wireless, flaky power connector, broken hinge. All would serve well as desktops, and I even pulled out the broken hinge one to put next to the 3D printer I recently purchased. Couple of aluminum flat bars to fix the screen in place and it's good to go. I've been using Linux since the 90s and they only just recently dropped support for the Intel 386 chip - it can handle any laptop I've owned. Windows or OS X, good luck. BSD, good luck getting any laptop to work - I gave up on FreeBSD in 2010 when I was building a workstation with SATA2 drives, and it was considered too new/experimental for the FreeBSD folks to have developed a driver for.

                        Now, regarding the internals: most everything in a modern laptop is wired into the motherboard, meaning the mobo is a single-board-computer like an over (Vantechsized Raspberry Pi. The hard drives used to be removable, and you could use something like https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000J01I1G/
                        (Vantech SATA/IDE to USB adapter) to pull data off them. Now most laptops use SSDs, and those have a host of new connection standards, but pretty much VVMe-to-USB or M.2 SATA -to-USB should work. As would be expected, if there's an adapter, there/s an enclosure available.

                        The only other interesting component in a laptop (because let's face it, the keyboards and trackpads suck) is the display. There are a projects out there which attempt to make these useful, but the downside is the connection for each display is proprietary and often unique. I'll never understand why electrical engineers find it so difficult to repeat themselves. Here are some links:

                        https://hackaday.io/project/4177-lvd...ay-interfacing
                        https://hackaday.io/project/4177-lvd...g-an-lcd-panel
                        https://www.ebay.com/c/1933145725
                        https://www.banggood.com/T_SK106A_03...p-1401875.html

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                        • #13
                          Years ago, our company's IT guy used to recover hard drive magnets. He had some stuck together on his desk top for fun. As I recall they were small but very strong. Once stuck together, very hard to get them apart. Not sure if hard drives today have similar or not.
                          S E Michigan

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                          • #14
                            Recently, I came across an old USB drive enclosure with a laptop drive in it, that made the "your data is toast" noise (click...click...click...). Took it apart, chucked the circuit board and the rest went into the bit bin (except the drive platter, that was so shiny i wrapped it in cloth and put it in a drawer). The magnets were not all that strong - they're goo magnets, but I had no trouble removing them from the toolbox I stuck them on.

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                            • #15
                              There is a cheap adapter cable that you can use to connect the 2-1/2 in laptop drive via a usb port:
                              Click image for larger version

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                              My experience has been that when a laptop dies, the problem is rarely the HD itself. I use this adapter to slurp the (oops, someone forgot to back it up) data off the drive, and possibly copy it directly to a new machine. And yes, you could continue to use this as an additional external drive for your desktop PC. Note it has 2 usb connectors, apparently some drives require more power than a single usb port can supply.
                              "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979

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