BASIC VINTAGE TROUBLESHOOTING
I often get asked "How to check out vintage electronics" and for the most part it is much like any other electronics diagnosis work. Here are some tips I use - feel free to ask about these, or suggest more steps. While these are more tailored to vintage PC troubleshooting many of the basic tips are good on older electronics of many types. Most of you probably know some of these or even all of them, but newbies to the work may not and hopefully these will be helpful to folks with this type of work.
PHYSICAL INSPECTION - I cannot stress enough how important a good visual inspection is. Some times a working item will be found to appear bad on arrival and hook up. This can be due to some poor handling in packing, shipping, and un-packing. A part may be pushed in the handling and come loose, pull a lead away, twist a bit and be shorted, leaning over to cause a short with some other part. Connectors could be partly or all the way loose. Parts may not be in their sockets, and similar. Some of these things could allow you to test and not make things worse, but most will cause more damage if you power up the card or motherboard. SO - DO A GOOD VISUAL INSPECTION BEFORE YOU POWER UP THE ITEM.
Cleaning is often a major part of getting vintage items (especially PCs) usable again.
In what we often call the Vacuum Cleaner effect, a PC will end up sucking in all the dust and lint, pet hair, and worse that it can. The cooling fans tend to suck this stuff in, and the wires and fins inside make great traps to hold the dust and lint. I get some systems in where you can hardly see the system board, and the cooling fins are so covered up that you know immediately they are not providing but a fraction of the cooling they were intended to give.
This picture is very similar to many I have had in my shop over the years. Some of these were actually from very dusty and dirty homes, but even clean homes will have a build up of dust and lint that is quite surprising - especially to the owners. I would often open the PC up and show them when they brought it in, so there would be no doubt that it really there and not something I would add in to charge extra for. (I guess some shops have done that?)
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