Step 1: Before you crack it open...

Updated 31/01/2012
Thanks to MrJentis for some more ideas.

Before you go ripping it open remember that you can reuse the whole computer and not just some of the components.

1.-Install Linux
Linux is an open source OS that you can install on your old computer and use it as a everyday computer, for those of you out there that are not geeks that just basically means its a OS like windows XP that people give away free that you can use. You could do endless things with linux and there is a distribution to suit every computer.

This is for some of the better spec computers out there. Its is the most like proper a OS and it is the most user friendly. It can easily do everyday tasks like Surfing and sending email's. I needs:
1 GHz x86 processor
1 Gb of system memory (RAM)
15 GB of hard-drive space
Graphics card and monitor capable of 1024 by 768
Either a Cd/Dvd-drive or a Usb socket (or both)
Internet access is helpful

Ubuntu's system requirements have escalated over the last few released but there is a alternative version based on Ubuntu called Xbuntu

500Mhz x86 Processor (At the very least!)
 256 MiB of system memory (RAM)
 2 GB of disk space
Graphics card and monitor capable of 800x600 resolution

Puppy Linux-
This is a slightly less user friendly version of linux. Is is for those less functional PC's with not as good a spec. It needs:

CPU : Pentium 166MMX
RAM : 64MB
CDROM : 20x and up

Damn Small Linux
OK if none of the above options have worked for you, you must really have a scrappy computer. It is very basic and is not user friendly. It requires
486dx or 100% compatible processor
16mb ram (24mb recommended)
dual-speed CDROM (quad-speed or better recommended) (thats 2x or 4x)
1.44mb floppy drive (for boot floppy, if needed)

There are loads more distrabutions try http://www.linux.org/

Now I have never done the following options before so I can't go into detail on how to do them but you can google them:

Turn it into a server (web, printer, file etc.)
Put a big hard driver in it and make it a jukebox
Put a TV tuner into it and a big hard drive and make it a PVR
Use it as a firewall
Use it as a stress reliever
Automate Your Home
Use it as a answering machine
Make the monitor into a aquarium
Make it into a rendering farm
Trade It in
Put it in your car
Give it away/Donate
There are some more in the comments!
<p>I don't want to offend you, but please use spellcheck or proofread before you post, I had a hard time reading this. Other than that, nice article. I love recycling or finding new uses for old tech. </p>
You can make a ruler out of the ram! Fit perfectly in my pencil case !
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hey hope ur BBQ dont gets virus or BSOD XD XD XD XD XD <br />
:D lol (:
<p>Of course, there is that illegal thing people use them for. </p>
<p>make a linux server!</p>
why can you even find computers to do this with. I've been looking but cant seem to find anything.
There are a Couple of Other things To do with a PC Box, Make a Biltong Case, A Drying Case for Drying Salted Meat, and a CD Rack <br> <br>I Love The Instructables.com 3R's reuse Reduse Recycle Look of things
Voltage will sting, but it is the amps that will kill you. You can get a nasty burn from high voltage, but what it takes to kill you is a quarter of an amp across your heart. A twelve volt car battery could give you a lethal jolt, if you got careless.
You need the voltage to get the amps! The resistance of the human body is way to high to get a zap from 12 or even 24 volts.
I think the magic number, is 42.. (no, no reference to Scott Adams). 42V, is where you begin to feel it.. Though, I got a healthy shock when I accidentally bridged a 12V truck battery to GND, but only from the plasma from the arc. (trying to un-bolt a circuitbreaker from an F930 firetruck chassis. Wrench finally loosened the bolt, but it slapped the frame.. BIG spark, and right across the back of my hand.).. the danger, is going in one hand, and through to the other. Hence, why the old Electricians idea, when working with high voltages, Always keep one hand in your pocket! <br>
&quot;Scott Adams&quot;? I seriously think you mean Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. 42 is the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. Scott Adams is the creator of the comic strip Dilbert - and, yes, sure, there is a Dilbert strip 42. :]
24 volts is very hazardous. 120 volts will zap you and jerk you around, while 24 volts will zap you and hold you.
24 volts is not hazardous.. you won't even feel it.. unless you touch the power source with your tounge.. the tounge is sensitive, and you can feel 9 volts..
only if it has a high amperage.
AR eyou refering to AC or DC power.
up to 24 V - DC over 24 V - AC
That's right. You need volts to carry the amps across.
I wonder if there's such a thing as an electrical capacitance bracelet or something. Or something you could wear that would absorb some or most of the electricity from a zap, provided you don't touch electric poles and such.
I'm at work, this made me LoL, people looked at me funny...
maybe a layden jar that you could wear?
Using some of the anchor chain from a ship works well. Of course if the ship is really really big, you will only need ONE link as a walk through bracelet, but no only will it protect you from shocks, it neutralises the effects of Zanthron mind control rays.
thats right folks, 90kar09 is spot on. I did the tests and found that around 70 volts is the highest potential a person could sustain with dry hands before the current was too much to hold. 12 Volts simply doesn't have the potential for passing enough current through you (Even if you have wet hands). Only way you have any concern is when you have a inductive load on 12 volts is turned off passing current through you when the magnetic poles collapse.
to be presise its 60 milliamps
But it doesn't usually reach your heart in time to kill you...
right, I've been zapped by the car battery when I was really young. It through me a little ways, but I'm still here!
120Ah,about 200A cold crank.
ummm, a car battery can deliver about 500 amps on average... so yeah.
You could actually hang an old or dead motherboard on the wall as geeky art too.
A friend of mine made a key chain out of some old ram chips. anyone know what parts of the pc should not be rubbed on skin? cut? digested? I think ram is fairly safe? Thanks for this compilation! Its great to reuse these old products! Recycling is grand! ****
Generally I wouldn't eat anything out of a computer. But as far as skin contact, I think most of it is safe. Though I wouldn't go poking around in the Power Supply, because they have big capacitors that can carry power for a little while.
i wouldnt eat anything out of anything electronic full stop!...without going into a heavy chemistry lesson, apart from the LEAD content of PCB's, the next dangerous things are the electrolytic capacitors, dont open one of those and suck on it...!!!<br><br>As for the rest, unless you put the bits into a blender and make a PC milkshake, i think you are pretty safe.<br><br>Give the power supply 10-15 mins..and its safe!
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NeR2LyILWQ" rel="nofollow">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NeR2LyILWQ</a>
You might consider it if you read this:<br> <br> <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Canticle_for_Leibowitz">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Canticle_for_Leibowitz</a><br>
I think it is but i could be wrong, but i defintly no that parts of a motherboard is poisious
depends on when the motherboard was produced if its post 2006 it contains NO poisonous chemicals because of EPA (or was it 2005) if its before i would be careful
So I shouldn't eat the motherboard out of a C64?
srsly, why the h*** would u? Lol.
i hear those motherboards tastet like popcorn shrimp :D
But electronics and boards don have printed on them something like..TADAAAA!!!<br><br>I was born in 2006?<br><br>You will still find stuff in shops now from the far east that uses solder that isnt lead free, and in no way compliant with current regulations in any way!
I know that there is arsenic in some part of a computer.
LEDs are Gallium Arsenide which is a crystal of arsenic or something. But it seems pretty harmless to me.
On older electronics, the solder, as it contains LEAD
Oh no! Not LEAD! Why it just might shield me from radiation or something and we all know how good X-Rays are for us. Sort of funny how the military and aerospace are exempt from the lead ban in electronics isn't it ... It's OK for US but not for YOU! Lead free solder sucks. I don't waste my time with the crap.
Not sure if anyone has suggested it but sometimes schools and shelters non-profits will take them to actually use, so if you have a computer that is actually running maybe donate it there.
The first picture is a massive supply source. I'd love to have this pile. I'm going a little crazy looking at all the potential raw materials. With just a few tools, amp meters, I think that's what it's called. It's a hand held meter that you can use to check what parts on a mother board are dead and need to be replaced. One of those and a soldering gun to melt the solder (you do this from the back side. I worked in an electronics factory for about a month and got to see the wave solder machine. The solder is applied to the back of the silicone wafer board, so removing the solder to remove parts is done from the back. The bonus in this is that the board is marked after removal so you know where to put the new parts when you find them or buy them) The one thing that I'm pretty sure you'd need a good supply of is the anti-static bags to keep parts in, and completed boards in. <br> <br>I've done a few tear downs of key boards and what's cool about that is that it shows just exactly is needed to make a duplicate of it. The casing is part where it's possible to get really creative. So this first picture is like looking at a mother load of raw materials for building what ever a person could want to build. <br>One other note here. with so much to work with taking a few notes before disassembling would go a long way in knowing what boards are dedicated and which ones are interchangeable. Some boards are made for just one purpose. Other boards can be replacement parts if there are boards where the wiring on the board has been scratched which breaks the connection. All boards when they are empty and just have the wiring on them, that's those things that look like white lines on the wafer board. <br>Doing an inspection of the boards would require some patients, but would be worth the time invested. <br>Doing all the solder removal would have to be done in a well ventilated area but that's doable too. If you've got a pile that big sitting in your house or yard, the chances are you've got a garage or shed or even a shelter with lots of windows and some doors. You don't want to do the solder work in your house. There are fumes that you want to make sure your not breathing in. Gold which is in all electronics makes toxic fumes when heated. So as much ventilation as possible when doing any soldering. <br>I don't know if copper is used in computer type stuff. I'm thinking there could be because of the power supply. That's housed in a metal box. I'm not sure what that box is made of but it's not conductive of electricity. Its stuff like this that would make notes and tagging parts so valuable. <br>With all the truly dead or bad parts those could become raw materials for jewelry or steam punk stuff. <br>I'm stuck on that fist picture..it's making me crazy for all the stuff it's making me think of that could be done with it.

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