Thursday, December 06, 2007

A cheap gift that keeps on giving

Some totally non-theological stuff. But since you're reading this on a computer, this is computer -- and other -- electronic suggestions that are useful for anyone.

"At this time of year, it's a real head scratcher on what to give anyone (including yourself!) Here is the gift that keeps on giving all year - a can of compressed air! This is often called dust remover. And the reason? ALL electronic equipment that dissipates heat, such as DVD recorders, televisions, appliances and computers are continuously accumulating dust and dirt internally through cabinet openings. Heat buildup is a prime cause of failure in all electronic systems. Think of any electronic equipment as an "unintentional electronic air filter." (Before using the canned air, attach the red tube supplied with it.)

Here's a slogan: "A cheap can of air prevents a $200.00 repair!"

* A computer's lifetime is often directly related to how HOT it operates, among other factors. Heat build-up dries out capacitors and causes power semiconductors to run at excessive termperatures. This shortens the lifetime of power supplies, video boards and processors.

To clean a computer, one only has to open the case. Many cases today are hinged and open like a book. Often no screwdriver is needed. In today's computers, there are no exposed line voltages anywhere inside any computer when the case is opened. Cleaning is best accomplished with the computer ON, not off. There is no need to physically touch or take a tool to anything inside the computer. It is impossible to have any effect on software by simply opening the case.

Here are the steps to clean your computer:

1. Spray the fan on the video board (and any metal heat-sink fins) to remove dust and dirt there, and also the processor. The CPU fan will blow out the loosened dirt. Heat sinks are usually silver, blue, green or black and stand straight out from the motherboard.

2. Use the canned air to clean accumulated dust and dirt from CDROM drives. This can be done from the front of the computer, with the empty drive tray ejected. Avoid spraying downward where the delicate head assembly located.

3. Spray the compressed air into the slots or holes on the power supply box. This is usually silver colored. A blast of dust and dirt will exit the rear of the computer with the air. Do a few short blasts until no more dirt exits the fan.

4. Finally, use the compressed air to clean out the cabinet interior and close the cabinet. The entire process takes about 2 minutes or less.

* To clean a DVD recorder (these run far hotter than simple players, and usually have a fan on the rear panel) eject the disk tray, and blow compressed air inside. The rear panel fan will help you and carry loosened dirt out through the rear of the enclosure. Avoid directly spraying the head asembly. This assembly will be located downward, near the center of where the disk tray will be when retracted. If mechanically inclined, you can remove the top cover. Note: Avoid directly blasting the delicate laser head assembly with compressed air. While open, the laser lens can be cleaned with a cotton swab and alcohol. Do not allow alcohol to contact the tiny tracking coils located near the laser. A film of dirt often builds up on the laser assembly.

* Televisions (with picture tubes) are a somewhat harder to clean with compressed air with the cabinet on. Almost all televisions have the high voltage, heat generating section located on the left inside the cabinet (orientation - facing the television from the front.) Vents around rear, underneath and the rear of the cabinet can be safely blasted with canned compressed air. If there are no vents underneath, the sides or the top then there is no dust problem to be concerned with. This is often the case with smaller portable televisions. It's not recommended that you open the cabinet on a picture tube television unless you know what you are doing. However, television lifetime can easily be about 20 years (or until the picture tube itself degrades) if dust is removed each year. Television designs today are actually not as robust as old vacuum tube televisions. Those televisions were designed to run hot - solid state televisions are not.

* Microwave ovens, refrigerators and freezers - these too, can become plugged up with dirt from simple convection. These appliances generate far more heat than the largest television set. Compressed air can blow insulating dust and dirt out of hard-to-reach places, such as condenser fins. A vacuum cleaner can remove the dust bunnies that will come out from the process. This also reduces electrical consumption, as these appliances run longer to acheive the same temperature when there is more dust around the condensers. A microwave oven cooking causes a fan inside to run to remove heat from the magnetron. While the oven is running (with covered food inside for a load, do not run empty!) blow compressed air into cabinet openings. The fan will help blow loosened dirt out of the cabinet.

Canned compressed air is a cheap gift, around $6.00. Some cans are sold in packs or two or more. Don't worry about buying a particular brand or what nonsense is written on the label. All canned air has the same inert gas. The only difference between brands is the amount of gas (sold by weight) you get for your buck. Some companies offer tall cans with 20% more than the standard size, for the same price as the standard size can. A bonus can like that typically has 12 ounces. Depending on the amount of dust and dirt to be removed, one can of air can clean a computer thoroughly perhaps two or three times.

Merry Christmas from"

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