Author Topic: What can we do with old PC motherboards?  (Read 4356 times)

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Offline Azhar

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What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« on: May 20, 2015, 09:38:11 am »
I have few old PC motherboards lying around, they are all working and complete with CPU, RAM, even hard drives.
Any ideas what to do with them? any hacks?
 

Offline jeroen79

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2015, 09:50:06 am »
What kind of specs/types?

If you have a motherboard, CPU, RAM and hard drive then you almost have a full PC.
Add a power supply and mount it in a case or a simple board and you could use it as a server, workstation, mediaplayer, system for experimenting/playing around.

Maybe you can use some parts to upgrade another system.

Should you decide to have no use for it then you could salvage some parts (for example some heatsinks or connectors) off the board for other projects.
Or donate it to a local charity.
 

Offline PeterFW

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2015, 01:26:36 pm »
I have few old PC motherboards lying around, they are all working and complete with CPU, RAM, even hard drives.
Any ideas what to do with them? any hacks?

A desktop arcace cabinet with proper controls
Wifi Radio / Musik streamer / Jukebox
Home entertainment/theatre PC
Bitcoin mining (loosing money on that one)
Christmas lightshow controller
SMD soldering practice boards
Salvaging PCI connectors for custom backplanes / dev boards
Build a PI crunshing rig
Donating to <insert idea here>
Multi voice software synth with hardware controls
Multi emulator game console
All sorts of old gear emulation

That is all i can think of now...
 

Offline ivan747

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2015, 01:54:39 pm »
Most embedded applications would require you to have the computer turned on all the time. I never wanted to do this with an old computer because they are noisier and more inefficient than any $50 single board computer out there.

Learn linux on it.
Turn them into a Hackintosh (Mac runnign on PC). Useful if you're a programmer or just curious.
Nothing like the smell of rosin core solder in the morning.
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Offline kolonelkadat

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2015, 09:48:43 am »
older ones have some useful components you could pop off to make other things with. the power consumption per performance makes them a bit useless for anything else though.

once you depopulate the board you can make a pcb wall, done right those can look pretty cool.
 

Offline tec5c

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2015, 10:00:13 am »
+1 for using one of them to make an arcade cabinet. The specs don't need to be all that great to run the majority of ROMs that are out there.  :-+
 

Online rdl

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2015, 02:32:41 pm »
I have a few I've kept over the years, not many though. There just doesn't seem to be many worthwhile uses for them.

I do still have the first two PCs I ever bought, an IBM 486 and a Micron PentiumPro 200, both from the early 90s. After that I started building from parts and I've kept a few of those also.

For some reason I can't remember I have a new in the box Asus P3BF somewhere in a closet. No idea why it was never used in something or why I've kept it all these years.
 

Offline RobertoLG

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2015, 03:27:56 pm »


For some reason I can't remember I have a new in the box Asus P3BF somewhere in a closet. No idea why it was never used in something or why I've kept it all these years.

I have two of these too, one with a PIII 550 with a Voodoo 3 AGP video and another Voodoo 3 spare, it´s functional
 

Offline Greorge

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2015, 03:52:09 pm »
Quite a few years now mini computer-like $20 to $few hundred gadgets are used to control pumps, cameras, other home devices.

Suppose old computers are quite capable to do some tasks like that too.

Probably power consumption could be an issue and programs to run desired applications could be big ask for beginners.

I also agonise when some not damaged goods get too old, too slow and impossible to be updated.
 

Offline Azhar

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2015, 04:26:00 pm »
I have few old PC motherboards lying around, they are all working and complete with CPU, RAM, even hard drives.
Any ideas what to do with them? any hacks?

A desktop arcace cabinet with proper controls
Wifi Radio / Musik streamer / Jukebox
Home entertainment/theatre PC
Bitcoin mining (loosing money on that one)
Christmas lightshow controller
SMD soldering practice boards
Salvaging PCI connectors for custom backplanes / dev boards
Build a PI crunshing rig
Donating to <insert idea here>
Multi voice software synth with hardware controls
Multi emulator game console
All sorts of old gear emulation

That is all i can think of now...

most of them designed to run Win98 some designed for WinXP, the maximum ram is 512MB, pentiumIII ..etc
 

Offline PeterFW

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2015, 04:34:57 pm »
most of them designed to run Win98 some designed for WinXP, the maximum ram is 512MB, pentiumIII ..etc

So... PI crunshing, video players and bitcoin mining is out...
MAME should run on that, as do many emulators.
Audio streaming still works, a light controller a well.
And a software synth will work as well.

Just do not run windows on them.
 

Offline Ice-Tea

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2015, 08:16:50 pm »
Keep 'm around for old software. Have a dedicated DOS machine. Have a dedicated XP. Will come handy sooner or later...
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Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2015, 08:23:25 pm »
Keep 'm around for old software. Have a dedicated DOS machine. Have a dedicated XP. Will come handy sooner or later...
^
This.
 

Offline T3sl4co1l

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2015, 08:35:08 pm »
Good for those projects when you need old fashioned peripherals, modest computing power, and a general purpose OS, but not one so intrusive that you can't get to the IO (i.e., WinNT+ -- though there are workarounds).

For those, I would recommend anything from an 8086 up to a Pentium, maybe Pentium 2-3 range.  You'll have serial and parallel, ISA slots, and probably PCI on the newerish kind.  Obviously, the older computers will be quite slow and limited in memory, but consider: 640kB of RAM is still competitive against modern budget DSOs in sheer storage (which have only relatively recently crossed into the "megapoints" range).  Anything 486+ will be almost as fast, too (well, not counting any DSP or ASIC signal processing used to convert DAQ into FFTs and rasters..).

Even though the ISA bus and peripherals are hidden behind PCI bridges since the Northbridge-Southbridge system came out, the BIOS covers all that, so you still get transparent control over those devices.

Nice part about ISA being, you can use 74LS/HCT series chips directly on it, allocate your own IO range and talk directly with the system.  PCI is possible too, but by then you're probably looking at an FPGA card to decode the gazillions of lines and handle PnP and all that.

Tim
« Last Edit: May 21, 2015, 08:37:27 pm by T3sl4co1l »
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Online Mechatrommer

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2015, 09:09:48 pm »
keep them, they have nice buzzer, linear regulators, caps etc.. just in case...
if something can select, how cant it be intelligent? if something is intelligent, how cant it exist?
 

Offline rob77

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2015, 09:31:32 pm »
if the boards are old enough then it's a great source for parts - mosfets, inductors, even smd caps (1206 size 3+uF caps - older boards have a lot of them).
someone mentioned PCI connectors for custom backplanes or board-to-board - i use them as well - but i pull every other pin of the PCI connector and it yields a nice 2,54mm pitch connector ;) (btw.. i de-solder all parts i want from a board using my hot-air and then de-solder the PCI connectors with a paint stripper)
 

Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: What can we do with old PC motherboards?
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2015, 04:25:33 pm »
if the boards are old enough then it's a great source for parts - mosfets, inductors, even smd caps (1206 size 3+uF caps - older boards have a lot of them).
someone mentioned PCI connectors for custom backplanes or board-to-board - i use them as well - but i pull every other pin of the PCI connector and it yields a nice 2,54mm pitch connector ;) (btw.. i de-solder all parts i want from a board using my hot-air and then de-solder the PCI connectors with a paint stripper)

The power connector is good too. Short out the green wires so a ATX PSU will turn on and BOOM! You got a nice power supply.
 


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