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Assembling Your Homebuilt PC: Getting Ready

 

Computer parts, tool, and manuals on a kitchen table.

Before beginning to assemble your new computer, gather everything you need (your computer tool kit, components and manuals) together in one place.

Move any drinks, cut flowers in vases, or anything else containing water or liquid someplace else. Liquids and electronics don't get along well.

Place something over your table to avoid damaging the surface. An anti-static mat is best because it will not only protect your table from scratches, but it also will protect your computer's components from static damage. Remember that shocks much too small for us to feel can be deadly to computers.

Not scratching the kitchen table is especially important if you're a kid. You don't want to get mom or dad angry at you.

Speaking of kids, my lawyer wants me to remind you that this site is intended for adults and that children must be supervised by adults while working on electronics projects. Done.

 

Building Your Own Computer: Safety & Anti-Static Precautions

Use an anti-static wrist strap when putting a computer together.

If you haven't already read the page about safety and anti-static precautions, read it now. You can find it here.

Go ahead. I'll wait for you.

Did you read it? Good. Now you know that a static shock that is much too small for a human to feel can still be enough to fry sensitive computer components. So if you don't have an anti-static wrist strap, stop right now and go buy one.

The anti-static kit in this picture is a professional model that comes with an anti static mat (the red thing in the picture). There's also a strap that attaches the anti-static mat to your wrist, as well as to the computer's chassis.

Less expensive anti-static kits (and even disposable ones) are also available. If you can afford it, however, go with a high-quality kit that includes a mat.

If at all possible, try not to work on electronics projects in a room with a carpeted floor. Carpeting causes static to build up as our feet move over it.

 

The wrist strap cable being attached to the computer's chassis with an alligator clip.

The wrist strap attaches to the computer's chassis by means of a high-tech device that we call an alligator clip. Connect the alligator clip to an unpainted, metal part of the computer chassis, and check it frequently to make sure it hasn't fallen off.

Placed the elastic strap on either wrist, making sure that it fits snugly. Most wrist traps are adjustable to fit wrists of any size.

Electronically speaking, it doesn't matter which wrist you place the strap on. The idea is to ground you to the project so there's no difference in potential (voltage) between your body and the project, and the voltage will be the same anywhere in your body.

Most people place the strap on their non-dominant wrist (for example, your left wrist if you're right-handed), however, so it's less in the way while they are working.

Anti-static kits are sometimes called "ESD" kits. ESD stands for "Electro Static Discharge." It means exactly the same thing. It's just that we geeks love our three-letter acronyms.

 

Planning your Homebuilt Computer's Assembly Sequence

Take a few minutes to look at your computer case, motherboard, and other parts. Try to think ahead through the assembly process to determine what is the best order in which to build the machine. This is a very important step any time you are going to assemble a computer.

The thing that you're trying to avoid by thinking the process through is installing a component that gets in the way of installing another component later on. A few minutes of planning at this point can help prevent annoyance later.

In most cases, however, the first part you will install in your homebuilt computer is the motherboard; so if you're ready, let's move on to the next page: Installing the Motherboard.


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