Nature strip computer For The Win!

I found a computer on the nature strip; it was enormous, but had a couple of DVD-RWs, dual DVI connectors and USB3, so I figured it was reasonably modern.

When I got it home and inspected it closely, I realised it wasn’t USB3 but eSATA instead, and my hopes deflated. Booting it up showed a BIOS from 2006 and I figured I just bought myself another trip to the council’s transfer station. However, checking out the CPU (Intel i7 920), full-height full-length graphics card (MSI R4870X2) and RAM (6Gb of DDR3) I realised I had found something special. Dropping in a SATA drive that I salvaged from a machine we decided was past it’s use-by date, I built it into a Linux Mint box.

Yet again, the most powerful machine in the house was found in hard rubbish.  It’s twice as powerful as the last computer we bought, and nearly twice as powerful as the most recent desktop machine.  The RAM is a bit light-on, but DDR3 is still widely available.  The TPD (power consumed by the CPU) is 130 watts, which is… a lot.  Not a machine to run in a small room on a hot day.  Add in the graphics card that consumes between 120 and 220 watts depending on load, and a meaty power supply is needed; the one in the case has 1000W written on it, whatever that really means.

At the end of last year I found my local primary school had unceremoniously tossed about a dozen PCs into a dumpster filled with detritus such as broken plastic tubs, desks without legs and out-of-favour books (like a perfectly good Macquarie dictionary). Figuring I could cannibalize multiple machines into a single working machine, I pulled a half dozen monitors and three computers out and loaded them into the car. When tested at home, everything worked just fine. Everything. Confronting the authorities the next day, I was told that the PCs were “broken”, but after some haranguing I got a concession that next time the machines would be donated to a computing charity. As a result of this find I have a three-computer cluster of dedicated Minecraft machines, which now provide adequate performance after extensive tweaking.

Have you found anything good, or would you never take home strange hardware?

5 thoughts on “Nature strip computer For The Win!

  1. daniel

    Last thing I found on the nature strip that I wanted to adopt was a Topfield PVR. Turned out to not be working; turning it on produced an error message that is apparently consistent with a well-known problem on that specific model when it goes kaputsky.

    But yes, sometimes good stuff can be found.

    Note: some council areas (including Glen Eira) now collect e-waste with regular hard rubbish, and (we are told) dispose of it appropriately.

  2. daniel

    @mgm, thanks for the kind offer. I’ve got enough gadgets I think… don’t really need it 🙂

  3. Kiwi Nick

    The biggest hard disk in my home at one stage was a 40GB disk found within a machine on the nature strip. But since surpassed by a 160GB sold with a machine, and a 1TB later added to the same machine.

    I’ve also taken home unwanted scrap from a couple of workplaces, and even prepped a laptop for a community organisation’s office, from an employer’s fire-sale of (not too) old kit.

    Not computing gear, but I still have a hammer drill and toolbox from a Telecom New Zealand fire-sale in 1989, and an isolating transformer from the same fire-sale was still with friends in Brisbane in 2005 (and possibly still with them today).

    (Note: posted a few times on, but first time here)

  4. Tim Chuma

    I still have my old computer sitting in the lounge room. Would have just chucked it out the front at my old place but I am closer to the main drag now and can’t do that.

    Supposedly I “had to” get a SSD due to not being able to boot off the HD. You try my patience MSY…

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