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  • EEVblog #466 – Dumpster Dive Night Raid

    Posted on May 3rd, 2013 EEVblog 24 comments


    Dave goes night raiding in the dumpster and finds the PC motherlode!

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    24 responses to “EEVblog #466 – Dumpster Dive Night Raid” RSS icon

    • I hope you do a teardown, or better yet, a troubleshooting video on the APC Smart-UPS. I have a very similar model APC Smart-UPS that won’t start for me, and I’ve been trying to troubleshoot mine. So I would love to hear what you have to say about it once you go inside of it.

      • Dave – I agree! I would love to see you to a teardown of this. I want to hear your comments on the design and construction, especially concerning the part of the circuit that’s doing surge suppression and filtering.

    • I don’t why but the theme tune to ‘Mission Impossible’ was playing through my head watching this video… too much coffee and coding…

      • I swear i heard police sirens in the background just a few moments before Dave had to switch off the cam… ;-)

    • The APC UPS failure may be something stupid like a dead battery. I have the very same UPS and neglected it for a while. When I wanted to put it to use many years later it would not boot (with mains power) – as if it was completely dead. That puzzled me because I fairly sure I put it in storage in working order. However after charging both batteries (24V pack consisting out of 2 individual 12V 17Ah batteries) with a car charger the UPS came back to life! The batteries were shot (almost no uptime without mains power) and had to be replaced, but the unit is still working fine today.

      I was actually surprised by this. I would have thought the UPS could operate just fine with a dead (or even without a) battery installed – even if it was just for diagnostics… I almost bought a new UPS because I thought it was dead.

    • Oh, blimey, I want to have access to such garbage room.

    • I salvaged many perfectly fine 12V batteries from dead UPSes. They are very handy to provide a beefy and long-lasting power supply in the field (the real fields, in the real outdoor) and are very easy to charge using a common car-battery charger.

      Speaking of the HP, nice trick to know : to reset the bios password, don’t go for the yellow “clear cmos” button, it erases everything BUT the password. Unplug the only green jumper (a bit under the switch) and you’re done. We have quite a few of those boxes @ work (I’m sure it’s a different model, but it looks the same) and they have been proven to be reliable. The only real drawback is it accepts only low-profile cards and the sata cables are a bit short.

    • Hello Dave

      We have a similar UPS at my workplace (In Montreal, Canada… Yes, a fan from Canada!). I noticed that in your video, the removable link is missing. Make sure you get it. It’s a big gage wire loop that attach on the back of the unit. Just one rectangle yellow connector with a 3~4 inches wire loop.

      I noticed problem with ours a couple months ago. It stopped working out of the blue. When I opened it, you should have seen the batteries. Where you normally have two rectangle batteries, there were tow big rounded bulges (like the batteries were seriously overheated, but more probably because one of them failed at end of life). It took quite some time and some force to extract those from the unit as it was stuck against the metal frame on all sides! Luckily, they didn’t explode or leaked. Replaced with 2 new batteies and it’s good as new.

    • I like the last picture. Not so tall Dave.

      • Hehe, no surprise there… Already a few centuries ago, Prussia (a historic German state) was known for their “long guys” ;-)

    • The server is HP ProLiant ML350 G4.

      Single/dual Xeon up to 3.4GHz (only single core with HT, but 64 bit). Unfortunately only 8GB of RAM maximum. Probably the biggest drawback is in the noisy and rather slow SCSI disks.

      Not very useful today.

      If anyone finds ML350 G5 don’t think, take it. Very nice machine, very cheap to get best parts for it and still very useful server.

    • I always think that this sort of “find” is a bit sad. All that computing power, thrown away. All sorts of effort spent making things like “rasberry Pi” or “OLPC” in an effort to provide affordable computers for teaching “computer science/engineering/literacy”, when you could probably do nearly as well just by figuring out how to put common software on all the 3-generations old desktops that people are throwing away. (and distribute them, of course, which is probably easier said than done.)
      It’s an unforunate paradox that the people who most need “cheap computing” are the least able to make use of disposed resources like this. Dave or I, or most of the people reading this, could probably think of something interesting to do with systems back to the 386sx days (runs freedos, linux, or freebsd; command line only? Who cares!) Joe Beginner needs the systems documented by the books and tutorials on the internet now (and thus needs to be able to connect to the internet, view video, etc.) Sigh.

      • Agreed 100% with above comment. What a stupid waste of power when you know what people are doing with their PCs nowadays. Oh yeah the surely need an i7 E3770K to open that document or spreadsheet or play that Hip Hop song (not talking about video rendering by Dave of course). And all this garbage back to planet Earth (in Africa mainly) just to be able to run Windows 8! Grrrrrrr this drives me nuts!! I run a shuttle server dating back 5 years ago with Linux Mint and have it set up as both workstation and multimedia server for the whole house with 6TB storage. It just never has to be rebooted… I changed all caps and upgraded it to the max for the price of a cheesburger. Dave your dumpster room is definitely a pinguins paradise and you could donate all this to a non profit org and cut on your taxes as well. Also old PCs can be a gold mine of super nice caps. I salvaged my aunty’s office P4s last month and got 100 USD of super sexy low ESR Rubycons caps perfect for my USB audio DACs. The UPS is an excellent model BTW. It certainly deserves a repair. I have the same one IBM branded and it’s a pure winner (bought it refurb from UK). I also completly refurbished a similar product (MGE brand) changing all power caps and transistors and it costed me about 30 USD total with a bit of overkill upgrades. Except for the power relay (Omron brand) which may be dead or quite charcoiled and which is in the 25 USD range on it’s own these UPS are immortal and are very useful especially if you live in a remote place like I do… Now Dave what about a microcrontroller based project of a magnetic lock to the dumpster room. You could have a lottery algorithm to allow one lucky forum contributor to gain access to the room one night of the year. Like a modern treasure room!

    • >> “you could donate all this to a non profit org”
      The local public HS has a program for getting donated computers and related equipment to low-income students and classrooms. They’ve apparently found homes for over 6000 computers since they started in 1999. Yeah!

    • This waste hacks me off, with a little effort this could have a new life. All the computers i use are second hand, this one i am using was on the way to the dump, not very good for video editing, but any thing you like will run if its Linux. When you buy most PC’s you end up spending ages towing out the crap, well get an old one and spend your time on a good OS.
      Linux Puppy is great and made in Austria?
      No it does not have to be Linux there RISC OS, BSD, UNIX and lots more….
      I heard the other day ” oh a laptop is only any good for 18 months to 2 years”
      Just got an Panasonic CF-18 the WI-FI is a bit flaky, looks like it fell off a bridge as well
      Dave get one, TAKE IT APART !

    • Very strange a supposedly developped country allows companies to dump electronics this way. If it exists in Sydney, it exists allover australia !
      Clearly shocked !

      Or is this room dedicated to electronics only and a recycler (not Dave !) empties it ?

      http://www.environment.gov.au/settlements/waste/ewaste/

      Please explain us the actual state of recycling ;-)

      • I’m not sure of the details. But pretty sure we have one contractor come take it all away. The electronics stuff probably gets recycled though. You aren’t actually allowed to dump electronics in that room, just general rubbish.

    • It may seem a waste of technology that dump of good equipment, but if you consider how much energy those PC require (P4s + current hungry hard drives) in the long turn the only sane thing to do is ditching them through proper recycling. The cost of energy to keep them running makes a purchase of newer machines much more convenient. Sad but true.

    • I work for one of Australia’s largest waste disposal companies. Most of the time when we encounter electronic equipment we divert it to ewaste disposal and not landfill. He everything is broken down and split into individual materials. This is then sold off for reprocessing.

      Customers will also book large skips for ewaste disposal which will then be delivered direct to ewaste processing centres. This is a cheaper solution as general waste is the most expensive way of disposing of things.

      I would also be careful going through commercial waste bins because some waste companies treat it as theft. You never know where the cameras are, and they are used.

      However I do agree it is pretty amazing what electronic stuff gets thrown out. I always check out the ewaste yard when i get a chance. Not allowed to take anything though.

    • Hi Dave,

      On the UPS:

      One thing to watch out for. We once ordered a brand new battery for one of these UPS’s and
      plugged it in only to create a big bang and a lot of smoke. The cable had been wired backwards at the termination on the battery (obscured by a glued on black plastic cover).The Red and Black wires were terminated properly in the Anderson connector.

      The UPS was toast of course.

      Now we check every one with a DMM to verify polarity. An no the vendor did not warranty the APC sine wave UPS that got toasted!

      Sam

    • It’s now illegal to put computers and peripherals in the regular trash stream in some states in the USA. They must be recycled at a drop-off locations.

    • no_connection

      Be careful with that APC.
      I have had two APC SmartUPS 1000VA get VERY hot due to shorted cells in the battery. It appears it has little current limiting in it’s charching circuit so it happily dumps a lot into the battery until somethings melt or it trips input braker.

      The HP server psu has 12V rail with high current, it has protection though so I bricked one by trying to change the fan.
      The 12V to * DC-DC inverter could be useable as well.

      Do salvage it for the fans, they are monsters that move an incredible amount of air. The one in the PSU is 7W and the big one is 9W or so.
      Very good at producing pressure.

    • Hi Dave,

      try to salvage those power supplies from the HP server and try to make a nice +-12VDC and 5VDC power supply of it for homebrew.
      Maybee you can even hook up a solder iron.

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