103a-al PC Lab

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The Lab

Hello, I am Kerla Mejia and I am a student in the How Computers Work Class. As our first Lab we disassembled a DELL desktop computer. The class lab took place on September 22, 2008 at the McConnell Foyer. This experiment was set in place so that the class could see what a computer is really made of. I had never disassembled a computer, so it was all new to me. Here goes my exciting experience with the Lab!

The Disassemble

My partner and I had our first task; opening the computer. We stood and wondered how on earth we would get it done. We tried until we finally managed to open the desktop! Once we opened it, I was astonished by how much was in there and confused by what each part was. But I got straight to work!

                                     103a-al Before.jpg
  • First I took out the Floppy Disk Drive and the CD /DVD Rom Drive. These pieces help us watch our movies, play our CDs, and for the very few, read information off the Floppy Disk. The Floppy Disk works the same as a Hard Drive considering it stores information and has its own memory, as well. The CD/DVD Rom is a bit more complicated. There are lasers inside the drive that read the tiny pits on a CD/DVD. These pits are used for storing binary data called bits. The laser reads whether the bit is one or zero and through the combination of the bits you get an image and, or a sound. I learned that scratches affect the CD/DVD by preventing the laser from reading the bits and therefore not being able to supply one with an image and, or sound.
                                      103a-al Floppy.jpg
                                      103a-al DVD.jpg
  • Then we I started taking out all the ribbons that transfer power from the power supply to different parts of the computer. My partner removed the power supply as well. The power supply is in charge of taking the current that enters the computer and distributing power throughout the computer. The amount of current that enters a computer is twelve volts. The computer does not use all the volts that it receives. Did you know that about 40% of the energy going into the computer goes off as heat?
  • This is when the Fan comes in handy. The Fan cools off the Processor when it is working at its best. The fan also helps lower the temperature in the computer. Without this tool, the computer would have a meltdown in hours!
  • Next out was the Memory. I liked getting to know where exactly the memory is placed because I always wondered where it went in the computer. The memory does just what it is, hold memory for the computer. This is really useful when trying to save a document. The memory works by the system called the Flip Flop which crates bits and therefore has memory. When eight bits are stored, it can also be called a byte. There are 1000000 bytes in a Megabyte and there are 1000000000 bytes in a Gigabyte. Now that is a lot of storage space! What I noticed about the memory is that it is connected to the motherboard, and although there was enough space for five memory pieces, there was only three in the desktop. I guess these pieces are really expensive!!!
                                    103a-al Memory.jpg
  • The Hard Drive was also exciting to see. I never knew exactly what it looked like or what it did. The Hard Drive stores the programs that we use on a daily basis, like Microsoft, Media Player, Calculator, etc. Without this wonderful equipment we would not be able to keep programs or add them. The hard drive consists of a CD that stores information and a magnetic needle that reads the bits on it. Although we do not see it, this needle searches like there is no tomorrow. The way this needle functions is by using is "magnetic pole" to read whether a bit is north or south. The north and south is translated into one and zero and the information is then obtained. Good thing I did this lab because now I know where the hard drive is, what it looks like, and what it does.
                                    103a-al HardDrive2.jpg

I got this image from http://www.sub-zeroproductions.com/files/images/SamsungF1HardDrive.jpg

  • My favorite of all was the mother board, which in all actuality is a large rectangular piece with millions of tiny wires that help communicate many parts. The mother board the one of the main elements of the computer. It is what holds the Pentium Processor, another important element to the computer. It's amazing that such a small technological piece can do such vast wonders!
                                     103a-al Motherboard.jpg
  • Last but not least, we took out the Pentium Processor. This is what I consider the "brains" of the computer. This nifty piece, also known as the CPU, hauls information from all the computer back and forth. It is the greatest search engine ever invented!
                                    103a-al PenitumProcessor.jpg
  • This is when the Fan comes in handy. The Fan cools off the Processor when it is working at its best. The fan also helps lower the temperature in the computer. Without this tool, the computer would have a meltdown in hours!

After we were done with the disassembly, this is what was left of the poor desktop, the computer case.

                                    103a-al Aftermath.jpg


I did not know this lab was going to be such a learning experience for me. I also did not know that I was good at disassembling computers! My partner and I did a great job and I know this is something you can not experience sitting in a classroom listening to a professor. I enjoyed the lab and can not wait for the next one!