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Old 04-03-2019, 06:21 PM   #3644
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Join Date: May 2008
City & State: VA (NoVA)
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Default Gateway Select 650 PC find

Finally got to posting this - the old PC that I found about 2 weeks ago.

So it’s the usual story: I was going to the grocery store and spotted something metal and rectangular next to a trash can, about the size of a PC case. I slowed down as I passed – it was a PC, indeed! The only reason it took me a few moments to realize that is because the PC was missing its side, and front panels, in addition to being turned upside down. I noted its location and figured I’d have another look on the way back.

That, I did… but only briefly. It was an old PC – probably Pentium 3 or 4 era, so didn’t try looking too hard. Nonetheless, I noted that the HDD cage area was pretty mangled up and the HDD was missing – most likely someone (with more physical strength than brains) removed the HDD. The PSU in that PC also seemed very familiar. It didn’t ring any bells initially, though. Likewise, the video card appeared as some early nVidia – most likely a GeForce 4 MX series, going by the RAM and heatsink layout.

As I didn’t really care for yet another early 2000’s PC, I decided to leave it overnight, hoping that someone else would take it (perhaps the metal scrappers?) If not, I’d go early in the morning, before the trash guys come (as it was trash day next day in that neighborhood) and maybe then pick it up. Reason I say maybe is because I saw some lumber thrown out a few houses down the same road and thought about picking that up. Also, I noticed there was a nylon bag next to the PC case. As I went to open it, I noticed there was something metal inside. What are the chances this is the missing PC’s side and front panel? When I opened it up, indeed that is what was inside. Moreover, I spotted a beige keyboard in there too, which is what finally convinced me that I will come the next morning to at least pickup the keyboard and the lumber.

Given that this was the same neighborhood where I found my PS3 and Compaq Presario V6000 laptop about 2 years ago, I knew there was actually a high chance that no one will take the PC, as the neighborhood is a No-Outlet street (hence, no passing traffic.) Thus, when I came early in the morning, the PC was still there. So what the hell – who can say no to a free PC and/or possibly useful retro components, right? I loaded it up, along with the nylon bag with the keyboard, and drove home.

Unlike the previous day, the day I picked up the PC was very warm, bright, and pleasant – perfect for taking the PC outside and cleaning it (and also checking for rogue bugs.) The PC had some really black dust in it, but wasn’t terribly dirty. I didn’t find any traces of roaches, bedbugs, or any other pests either – which wasn’t surprising, as just about everything I’ve picked up from this neighborhood (including that PS3 and laptop) has always been OK. The funny part is that the houses look small and somewhat old – certainly not where you will find “loaded” folks, (but not poor either.)

Anyways, onto the PC… this was the mess it came in:
Looks like an Intel or AMD slot machine, given the CPU. On the back of the CPU cartridge was a big AMD logo – so it IS a Slot A Athlon! Not only that, but as soon as I saw the CPU back, I also instantly recognized the motherboard with its distinct (electrolytic-less, 4-phase) CPU VRM: Gateway Kadoka. Is this another Gateway Select PC? Turning the PC around to look on the back side, the sticker confirmed it: Gateway Select 650. A-ha! So it’s a 650 MHz slot A Athlon PC. Some of you may recall me mentioning one of my “file storage” PCs as a Gateway Select 750 – that’s a PC I found about 9-10 years ago and still have it here next to my desk. Rarely used, but still serves its purpose. Given that I used it at one point as a secondary PC briefly, I know it inside and out very well. So no wonder why the PSU and that whole PC shown above looked so familiar to me when I saw in on the street.

Anyways. The unfortunate part is, like I said, that this must have been worked on by a “monkey technician” with more brawn than brains. It was indeed now clear to me that “they” (owner and/or whoever worked on this) were after removing the HDD (likely for security reasons ). And it looks like they couldn’t detach the HDD cage properly (they missed removing only a single screw), so they mangled it up to get the HDD out.

... which is shocking, because the cases on the Gateway Select PCs are 1/16” (almost 1.5-2 mm) thick steel. It’s not rolled on the edges, so it’s not super-tough, but it is still very hard to bend. How someone bent the HDD cage like that is beyond my imagination. It's stupid too - so many ways to get yourself hurt doing that instead of taking 5 extra minutes to figure it out where the screws are.

You can also tell from the above pictures that the optical drives’ front bezels were also ripped out and destroyed. Why? Because whoever tried to remove the HDD probably thought there must be a hidden screw somewhere behind the front bezel of the case (funny they didn’t think to look inside the case first, as the screw is there and not *that* hidden – it isn’t completely obvious, though, I give them that.) So they likely tried to remove the case’s front bezel, which requires the removal of the optical drives. The screws for the optical drives were removed on one side, but not on the other. Again, whoever did this just needed to remove the other side panel to get access to those screws. But I suppose that is too complicated. Thus, they just ripped everything with brute force to get the HDD out... including the front panel button wires.

A look inside the case reveals even more bizarre chaos: bent PCI cards and ripped/cut IDE/floppy parallel cables.

But wait, there’s more!
They bent and broke even one of the motherboard’s PCI slots. For those of you who are about to dismiss this and shrug, take a junk motherboard (if you have one) and try bending the PCI slot like that with your fingers or with a card in it. Can’t? Try with a screwdriver then. But I bet even that would prove rather hard. So how the person who worked on this managed to do so much damage is just absolutely mind-boggling.

Speaking of which, I am quite surprised the PCI sound card – a Creative CT5803 (Sound Blaster 16 PCI) took so little damage.
I haven’t tested it yet, but it appears only its bracket and output connectors are bent. Probably still works, but who knows. Will have to check it.

So let’s move on and focus on the “good things”, shall we?
At least the video card looks like it had somehow managed to survive all this carnage.

Too bad it’s probably just some old outdated GPU. But then I turned it around and saw this:

Holy crap, it’s a VooDoo card!!!
Excitedly, I brought this inside and quickly looked up its model number: it was a VooDoo3 3000 AGP 2x card! x2 I’ve been looking to rescue/find a decent VooDoo card like that for a long time now (and not have to pay an outrageous sum for a used one, like there are on eBay, going for $50+ easily.)

My excitement extinguished a bit when I saw that two of the electrolytic caps on the card also had received some damage. But I checked them with my DMM in circuit, and they didn’t appear shorted. Thus it looked like I could test the card “as is”. Then I noticed there were also two traces in the back of the card that looked damaged / cut. Luckily again, they turned out to be okay.

Thus, I proceeded to test the VooDoo 3 GPU. Unfortunately, she was sick with graphical artifacts all over the screen. Welp, there goes my excitement of trying out a VooDoo card with my old games. Upon close inspection of the card, I think that might have been induced by physical damage too – i.e. same way as the rest of the stuff. If I bend the PCB on the GPU, I can see one corner can almost lift from its BGA. With that said, if the damage is indeed on the BGA from brute force, I just hope none of the pads on the GPU chip got ripped. Otherwise, this one won’t be repairable. Most likely, I will be attempting a reflow first.

Moving onto the last item: the keyboard.

I think this was the only thing that didn’t get damaged. It looks dirty and somewhat yellowed in the above picture, but it actually cleaned up very nicely and there is no yellowing on the plastic (it’s just from the picture.) The keyboard is connected to one of my PCs as I type this. It’s a Gateway model G9900H with rubber domes. But it is of excellent quality - I actually replaced a mechanical with it, as this keyboard can do more than two continuous key presses at a time (which is a must, as I have it connected to a gaming PC.)

Anyways, that is all for this PC find. Cleanup is almost finished and will probably post the pictures/progress of that here too. Even though this PC is not really anything special (just a late 90’s OEM PC), I really like these Gateway Select PCs, as their motherboards and PSUs are built like tanks. Plus, I like to try and restore old hardware – or in this case, make it a little less damaged / better looking than before.
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