Where to get stuff cheap?
We all like to tweak our systems to get that extra bit a performance, but where to get your tweaking goods? You need stuff like fans, heat sinks, and maybe even thermoelectric devices (TEC) to do that tweaking... Without them not much of an improvement is going to happen. This article is a road map to where these parts can be found, hopefully saving the hastle of having to pull out the plastic and head to Radio Shack.
Those nice 3" fans that cool the power supply were there way back in the age of the XT and 286. These old computers are being put to the curb a lot these days (universities and schools upgrading the old equipment are a good source) and are usually found minus everything but the case, 720K drive and power supply. Remove a couple of screws and you have yourself a working 12V fan. Cost $0. If you head over to the online stores, the prices at All Electronics Corp. (www.allcorp.com) range from about $4.00 to $7.50 for 12V
fans of similar size. The 3" fan is a good one for an intake or outtake
case fan, as it can easily be hooked up the regular powersupply leads and be mounted just about anywhere.
The electronic surplus store, these seem to be pooping up everywhere these days, both locally and virtually (Murphy's Surplus Warehouse, Active Surplus and Above All Electronic Surplus are some of my favorites). They offer the usual fan fare of electric components and old computer parts of unknown functionality. The going rate for 5" 120V brushless fans is $3.50 - be sure to test before buying if you can. Some won't work, and some will sound like dying cats. For comparisons sake similar fans at All Electronics Corp. (www.allcorp.com) are $12.00 each. At MECI (www.meci.com) 12V fans range in price from $5.00 to $9.00, and 120V fans from $4.00 to $9.00.
Some helpful tips:
-Five bladed fans are quieter than those with three blades
-120V fans work with the electricity from wall plugs and thus require special precautions and wiring
-The amperage of a fan tells how powerful it is, i.e. 120v .16A is on the weak side, whereas 120V .25A is on the good solid wind end.
-12V fans can be run off most internal power supplys so long as there aren't too many hooked up.
-AC is for alternating current (the poles alternate between negative and positive 60 times a second), like electricty from a wall socket. DC is for direct current (poles remain negative OR positive and do not switch), like alkaline batteries. AC and DC are NOT compatible! AC will fry any DC fan you hook up to it, whereas an AC fan on DC just won't work.
Once again the electronic surplus store is the best bet for these, most of the heat sinks will be from old transistors or other heavy duty power switching applications. I was able to find a place selling old PII fan and heat sink combos for about $4. Most heat sinks in just about any size, shape and configuratio, will range in price from $1 to about $12. Expect to pay more if it is surplus goods especially made for CPU cooling.
There are two types of cheap hard drives, the kind for $6 that get opened to solve that mystery about what's inside those little demons, and the kind that cost about $75. What is the difference? Well the ones that go for $6 are usually FUBAR or of the 50MB variety - almost the same in usefulness anyway. The ones that go for $30 -$75 usually contain a specific amount of bad sectors which explains why I was able to get a 6.4 GB for $100 (GRADE B), and another 6.4 GB for $60 (GRADE C). But if you're thinking gigs and gigs of bad sectors you're wrong, the Grade B hard drive (which was a Fujitsu by the way) has only 4mb of bad sectors, and the grade C (also a Fujitsu) has about 20mb. Almost nothing really. The only bad thing I can say about these hard drives is the need for a very thorough scandisk before they are used.
Cost $6 - $75