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Your most MacGyver'ish moment with computers.

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Your most MacGyver'ish moment with computers.

What was the most "ridiculous" thing you ever did with computer hardware to get it to work or solve a problem at hand?

 

It was back in the day sometime in the mid-1980's. I was totally out of money from eating too much McDonalds and my parents weren't gonna spend anymore on "those goddamned videogames" anymore! Not one red cent! Not until I shaped up.

 

But I was! I was finally "growing up" and getting ready to play in the "big leagues". Retiring my old 8-bit Apple //e and moving into the 16-bit world of Amiga. That's growing up, isn't it? Well, I couldn't wait to get started. I had some stuff I wanted to transfer over like my journal and BBS text file collection and budding porn collection (ASCII graphic pinups). And once that was done I could pack that 8-bit stuff away forever.

 

I didn't have the right kind of cables at hand to hook the two systems together. And I wasn't bright enough to think to call a BBS and temporarily post the files and download them to the new Amiga. Nor did I think of taking the phone off the hook (and waiting till after the OFF-HOOK buzzer sounded and expired) to allow two modems to talk to each other. Back-to-Back, like so:

http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Modem-HOWTO-26.html

http://www.jagshouse.com/modem.html

 

Getting the parts from RadioShack was not an option either. I would end up spending just as much as buying a cable in the first place.

 

So what I did was I made my own RS-232 Null Modem Cable out of paper clips. Entirely out of paper clips. It wasn't hard at all.

 

Got a handful of them. Set the two computers close together. "Unraveled" some clips and stuck them in one system's connector. Took needlenose pliers and made another set of clips to look like wire-wrapping wire and slid each on to the pins of the other system.

 

Now all I had to do was make the connecting wire by intermeshing one clip to the next, to the next, to the next. About 5 times for each of the three lines.

 

I started up ProTerm 2.01 on the //e and either Amiga RIP Term, NComm, or MicroTerm on the Amiga. I don't recall which one exactly. I set all the parameters on the Amiga first. Then carefully did the same thing on the //e. I typed something and it showed up on the other system. I was in business!

 

Lo and behold the damned thing worked. By golly I had a real serial connection going. I felt like a million bucks! I immediately took tons of photos of my accomplishment and all that.

 

Over the course of the evening I proceeded to transfer all my stuff over using Z-modem protocol. Everything I did was done with great care. The slightest bump on either of the systems and there'd be errors - naturally.

 

Even months later I was so full of myself having done that trick that when I went for job counseling at the juvie center I insisted this be on my resume.

 

To this very day I keep a box of paper clips in my toolkit. One side of the box has the old-style colored Apple logo. The opposing side has the Amiga checkmark.

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I can remember the time I was setting up a Null Modem between my IBM AT Clone and my Commodore SX-64..

I was doing some Sub System Testing and was able to send Characters at about 2400bps ( limit of the Commodore RS-232 Interface, IIRC ) from the IBM to the SX-64, with a Single Wire!!!

 

No Ground or anything else in my Null Modem Cable... I guess that the Power Supplies of both Computers had a Ground Common with the Ground for the Motherboards. One Wire was ALL I needed. ( and another Wire from the SX-64 back to the IBM AT Clone, so Two Wires Total )..

 

 

MarkO

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Well, my story pales in comparison. My power supply fan was starting to die; it made this loud whining sound.

 

Aside from the cost of getting it repaired, there would be a week without a PC and the cost of taxi fare to/from the repair facility. (I do not have a car.)

 

Instead, I bought the fan myself, carefully opened the case, and then carefully opened the power supply -- making sure to keep all of the screws in seperate containers. The new fan had a different power connector from the old, so I simply cut and spliced the wires together.

 

To my surprise and delight, everything worked, and it lasted several more years until I finally upgraded.

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I thought I was going to read that someone got his mullet caught in a printer. :D

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Fascinating Keatah :)

 

I don't know if I would consider it MacGyver'ish or just kind of stupid but I remember splicing an old power supply to use on a different system that had either updated or different connectors (I want to say it was just AT) and it took me almost an entire evening but getting a new power supply wasn't an option for whatever reason but I very carefully spliced each cable to its new connector and re-traced everything multiple times to make sure I hadn't screwed anything up. For some reason I also remember it being a 50/50 chance in being laid out pin-wise correctly or wasn't completely confident it would work but I did it... and remember having it plugged into a power surge protector and halfway across the room while flipping the "on" switch on the power strip "just in case" the computer fried/exploded because I hadn't wired something correctly.

 

Somewhat to my amazement, my wire splicing with black electrical tape and all seemed to went without much of a hitch, other than a slightly delayed POST by a few extra seconds, the PC ran just as expected and I never looked back. Not sure what ever happened to that system...

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MacGyver? Well, not speaking about computer repair but about the good guy stopping the bad guy, I can relate a story told to us when I attended a Commodore event in the Midwest back in the 2000's. The Commodore user had his classic Commodore set-up next to the window of his second-floor apartment. You know the classic C64... brown breadbox-shape with heavy, black, power supply brick. One night he heard somebody climbing up to the window of his apartment. When the intruder stuck his head through the open window, the C64 user grabbed the C64 p.s. brick by its cable, swung the brick around, and smashed the intruder in the head with it. Needless to say, the intruder fell to the ground below and ran away.

 

Yes, use your Commodore for self-defense!

Robert Bernardo

Fresno Commodore User Group

http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm

July 18-19 Commodore Vegas Expo v11 2015 --

http://www.portcommodore.com/commvex

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my geforce 2 gts spent a couple years where the board had warped and would only work if put in a position where the screw could not be put in to hold it, next best thing, toothpick

 

there's this picture

http://www.instructables.com/files/orig/FUK/KNFF/G962OIAS/FUKKNFFG962OIAS.jpg

which is an athalon 64 bootstrapping a mac SE hard drive, which was blank ... floppy disk doesnt work, and no other mac in the house

 

earliest one that pops into mind was plugging a stalled 40 meg hard drive into a car battery, which overcame whatever was stalling it.. least long enough for me to get my crap off of it

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My buddy gave me a non working early 2000's Imac laptop. With a quick google I found out there was a common problem with a surface mount chip breaking solder points free from the board. This was not actually my MacGyver idea in fact I found a youtube video walk through. All you had to do was get a slider that you would put on the bottom of a chair leg and stick it to the top of that chip. When the case was reassembled it would press on the slider and force the chip to make contact with the board. I was amazed when it worked. It was so easy I felt bad keeping the computer so I gave it back. He moved to Germany and still uses the laptop. For him its basically no more then a facebook machine.

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I had a POS motherboard in a barebones PC. The damn thing was using slow-as-molassis SD-100Mhz memory even though the thing supported DDR. Also I had a 1.7Ghz POS Celeron in there. The time came to upgrade it to 400Mhz DDR memory stick, but this required using a long row of jumpers. The jumpers were lost and gone, and I needed like over 50 of them. So I cut a quarter inch strip of aluminum foil and crammed it down between the jumpers. I had done a continuity test and found that all the pins on one side were grounded, so the foil was a safe bet. The PC booted and I felt like a million bucks!

 

But I still felt like the system was running slow, so I eventually upgraded to a 2.4Ghz Pentium 4. Sadly that was the end of my little adventure. Somehow the Celeron could handle having the entire bank of jumpers shorted together, but the new Pentium 4 upgrade was toast. I took it back to the store to have the guys diagnose it, and they told me the foil shorted out the CPU and Mobo. I said that was impossible because it worked with the old CPU.

 

So yeah, my MacHyverish trick worked for a while, then failed spectacularly. Looking back, it's possible the foil may have come loose and touched something it wasn't supposed to. At any rate, the hack worked for a while, but ended up being a costly mistake in the end.

Edited by stardust4ever
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I've an old T60 laptop I keep around because it's all setup with years of cool development stuff. Soon, I won't need it anymore as I'll have setup all I want on newer machines.

 

It's fan is crap. Replaced it. That one is crap. I don't want to do it again, so...

 

I don't need the machine at full speed. Running XP, it does fine clocked down to a modest and cool rate. But the BIOS wants to see that fan work at boot, and sometimes the fan starts rough, chatters, and the machine will fail.

 

Enter the air can. Yes, I keep one next to the machine, power up, count one, two, spray pfffft into the fan, where it spins up, zzzzip, and the machine boots just fine. After that, who cares if the fan works at all? Runs plenty cool enough.

Edited by potatohead

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A vacuum cleaner would have performed well too... :P

 

I hot glued a fan to the exterior of a laptop once after the internal fan failed. Used old thread bobbins as stilts to prop the laptop up. I had the fan wired into the 19V power supply with a series resistor so it wouldn't burn up. The laptop actually ran cool for the first time under that setup.

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i made a photo frame from a broken laptop. I flipped the screen, had to extend the display ribbon cable and reversed the laptop so the back of the laptop was stuck onto the back of the screen. glued a photoframe to the bezel and installed photoviewer software to cycle through the photo's.

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While this doesn't exactly have to deal with computers directly it is definitely on-topic. It takes place in the traditional classic arcade.

 

Among one of the cool things I did at the arcade back in the day. Besides leering at the women, and meeting my future wife there; my next interest was gaining hi-scores. I was never any good at it because I weakling kid. So I made my self an autofire box in hopes to improve my endurance and therefore score. It would work on most arcade games. And it was fully adjustable. The shit kicker part was that it was all mechanical! I was beginning to learn how I could use electronic parts to control mechanical things. Motors. Relays. Solenoids. Stuff like that.

 

I took a small plastic tube and shortened it to about 2 inches. It was about that much in diameter too. I removed the cylinder from one of my model airplane engines. I used my glue gun and mounted it onto the pipe. And I hooked a motor from an RC car gearbox to the crankshaft. I hooked up a battery and a rheostat. And when I was done I had this ungainly thing that I could place over a fire button. When the switch was turned on the piston would move up and down and mash the fire button at whatever speed I wanted.

 

Some operators didn’t like that and more or less threw me out. Others watched with amusement. Sometimes I’d have my buddy hang close and cover it with a jacket.

 

It was a relatively loud contraption. So I tried something different soon enough. I took the same motor and gearbox and affixed a strip of plastic. By eliminating the piston I was eliminating a source of noise. Less moving parts. Less noise. And when I spun that up it would slap against the fire button. To my utter dismay it made even more noise and eventually marred up the control panel. It worked. But it was a bust. It attracted even more attention. And marked up the machines after some time. It was hard to get a precise and repeatable rate. Because as it ran slower I had to move it closer in to the button.

 

The last attempt I made at this endeavor was getting a big-ass relay from RadioShack and gluing a popsicle stick to the armature. And with mechanical advantage leverage as the relay opened and closed, the stick would slap the button. This worked well too. Really well. I wired up the relay so that as it opened it would break its power, and then close, get power, open, break, close.. The classic buzzer circuit. And that happened fast and made a loud buzzing noise. It was way too fast for autofire usage. I used a simple RC circuit to charge and discharge a capacitor (at selectable rates) to have the relay open and close at any speed desired. Click, click, click, click.. This one I stuffed up my sleeve like the James Bond art gun in Moonraker.

 

All that stuck out from my long sleeve shirt was a popsicle stick like thing. It worked best on games that had uncluttered panels. And the battery lasted forever (4 9v in parallel). And I could put them in the shirt pocket or wherever. It was the most clandestine device of the three and evaded detection by those evil operators the longest!

 

Ladies and gents, it's the fun of experimentation and discovery that we did back then that makes those times so memorable. Other kids might have re-engineered their BMX. Or built real forts with real wood. And you know what? It's all the same kind of fun! Something lacking today.

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I wired a wavetable daughterboard to a serial port of the amiga once.

Since a wavetable daughterboard needs ttl midi / 5v, 12v, -12v, and the amiga delevered those, I figured out they could connect to each other. To my surprise, it worked! Maybe I converted the voltage of the serial signal with a max232, but you could do that with passive components too I guess, I can't recall.

Edited by roland p

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For my high school's 75th anniversary in 1985 another student and I created a board to control six Kodak Carousel slide projectors with a Commodore 64. The board could change the slides and turn the lamp on an off for each projector independently. This allowed us to both advance the slides and do fades. The projectors were arranged three across with two projectors in each position. By fading between two projectors on each screen we eliminated the usual switching between slides. Special effects were also possible by strobing the lamps.

 

In order to obtain the 12 required signals we used the 8 I/O lines on the C64 User Port and 4 lines from one of the joystick ports. (Yes, the C64 joystick ports are bi-directional.) A custom scripting language allowed us to "compile" the sequence needed to advance the slides and turn the lamps on and off as each slide changed.

 

You can see a copy of the end result here. https://youtu.be/WbOrx0rczFk I apologize for the quality. The video was ripped from a Beta tape made in 1985.

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I had an old AMD CPU computer that I had upgraded to a Dual Core AMD Chip - it had 1 PCIx16 slot. I upgraded my video card in another machine and had a spare 8800GTX that I wanted to install in my AMD machine. If you've ever seen an 8800GTX card then you know how big and long it is.

 

Using pliers, wire snip, thermal paste, screwdriver, and some tape I was able to install the card and everything work out ok.

 

Dont ask what I needed all those tools for - just know that some things had to "make way".

 

3 years later and my AMD MAME machine is still humming :)

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I used to repair computers for a computer store.

I remember trimming away metal to get a video toaster to fin an Amiga 3000.
Trimming RF shielding to get something to fit in an Amiga 500.
Trimming pins on a RAM upgrade to get it to fit.
Who know how many case mods to get drives or cards to fit in PC cases.

A machine we sold was in the office of a machine shop and it was brought in one day because the floppy drives had stopped working.
I opened it up and several inches of metal dust (it was sorta fluffy like cotton candy, only black) filled the machine.
I tossed the drives, tossed the power supply and ran alcohol over the motherboard until the stuff stopped coming out from under the chips.
I seem to remember reversing the power supply fan so we could put a filter on it and it blew out through openings like the disk drives so they wouldn't stop working again.

The first circuit boards for the AIR Amiga drives had the connector backwards on the circuit board so we had to run jumper wires for a whole row of pins. We probably sold 50 drives like that. I had to fix the circuit layout by hand and that was the final production board for the life of the product.

 

And that's just off the top of my head.

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I used to repair computers for a computer store.

 

A machine we sold was in the office of a machine shop and it was brought in one day because the floppy drives had stopped working.

I opened it up and several inches of metal dust (it was sorta fluffy like cotton candy, only black) filled the machine.

I tossed the drives, tossed the power supply and ran alcohol over the motherboard until the stuff stopped coming out from under the chips.

I seem to remember reversing the power supply fan so we could put a filter on it and it blew out through openings like the disk drives so they wouldn't stop working again.

They were extremely lucky the whole board wasn't shorted out. Might be a good idea in such a case to run the exhaust fan backwards (positive pressure) with a coffee filter over the intake to collect dust. Use a cheapo high power "vacuum cleaner" loud 120x37 mm fan with an adapter if necessary for maximum blow action. The noise won't matter in a machine shop.

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They were extremely lucky the whole board wasn't shorted out. Might be a good idea in such a case to run the exhaust fan backwards (positive pressure) with a coffee filter over the intake to collect dust. Use a cheapo high power "vacuum cleaner" loud 120x37 mm fan with an adapter if necessary for maximum blow action. The noise won't matter in a machine shop.

I don't even remember what kind of filter we used. I think it was more like cotton. A coffee filter might not pass enough air. But this was an 8088 Turbo so I'm not sure it got that hot.

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I don't even remember what kind of filter we used. I think it was more like cotton. A coffee filter might not pass enough air. But this was an 8088 Turbo so I'm not sure it got that hot.

Or probably better cut a square out of a cheapo air filter (one of the flat, non-corrigated ones).

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try this with your BeOS PE 5, And Lantronix device you use for BBSing set up your network server by ticking ftp server and telnet server and login info in networks.

Now with your classic computer with the lantronix hooked up to it type atdt 10.1.1.6:23 what ever port the beos is on now you have beos shell on your

classic computer and you can FTP to the world and Telnet out by typing open telehack.com and loginto it just like a real vt100 terminal

ill put a video up on youtube sometime and show you but try it.

Edited by David Baldwin
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try this with your BeOS PE 5, And Lantronix device you use for BBSing set up your network server by ticking ftp server and telnet server and login info in networks.

Now with your classic computer with the lantronix hooked up to it type atdt 10.1.1.6:23 what ever port the beos is on now you have beos shell on your

classic computer and you can FTP to the world and Telnet out by typing open telehack.com and loginto it just like a real vt100 terminal

ill put a video up on youtube sometime and show you but try it.

Love Beos. Bought the retail boxed version of beos 5 back in the day. Great speed, and multitasking. To bad i got rid of my dual p2 and my ppro systems. Would be cool to run it on those systems.

My username is based on beos.

Edited by Seob

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They were extremely lucky the whole board wasn't shorted out.

 

I remember a similar situation in a flower shop, the damn thing kept over heating and crashing, got to the shop and the entire inside was coated with damp wax like spray they used on the flowers to help keep them fresh, totally borking any moving fan and insulating everything in the machine in a then thick coating

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I remember a similar situation in a flower shop, the damn thing kept over heating and crashing, got to the shop and the entire inside was coated with damp wax like spray they used on the flowers to help keep them fresh, totally borking any moving fan and insulating everything in the machine in a then thick coating

Well at least wax is an insolator. Good for electrical, bad for heat. :lol:
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