How to build your own personal computer - Kitchen Table Computers
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Finding a Place to Build Your Computer


The first thing you need to think about when planning your new homebuilt computer has nothing to do with parts, performance, or configuration.

You need to find a place to work.


Staking Out your Work Area

Professionals and die-hard home computer builders usually have work benches that are dedicated to nothing but computer work. But most home computer builders are not so lucky.

Still, most people can find someplace to build their new PC. Here are some things to think about when deciding where you will work:

  • You need a sturdy table or workbench. Ideally, you'll want a table that's big enough to hold a computer laying on its side, your tools, the parts you are installing, and any technical documents or instructions you will be using.

  • The table should be clean and non-metallic. If not, then you'll need to cover it with a non-conductive surface such as a plastic table cloth or a piece of plywood or Masonite.

  • Your work area should be well-lit and have a grounded AC power outlet nearby that you can plug a surge suppressor into so you can test your new PC once it's assembled.

  • Avoid places that are damp, subject to temperature extremes, dirty, or dusty. Also be careful if your workplace is an attic because squirrels can do major damage to electrical wiring and devices, as this page from Rid-A-Critter (an Atlanta squirrel-removal company) explains.

  • If possible, try to avoid carpeted rooms. Carpeting tends to generate a lot of static when you walk across it. (If your work area is carpeted and your parents, spouse, or landlord object to your ripping it up, then just then pay special attention to anti-static precautions.)


Finding the Right Time to Build Your Computer

Finally, try to find a place and a time of day when you will be able to work without being interrupted or distracted, and when your work will not annoy others.

Probably the most important advice I can give to a first-time, hobbyist computer builder is: Don't rush yourself. Take your time, double-check everything you do, and have fun. Typically, it takes first-time computer builders who have never built their own computers before between four and six hours to actually assemble their first machine, not including time spent installing the operating system. That's normal for a first-timer, so don't think you're dumb. Every new skill takes time to learn. You'll get better and faster as time goes on.

Over time, as your skills improve, you might even consider establishing a business building custom computers for clients with special computing needs, such as high-end audio or video editing or resource-intensive CAM/CAD applications. You can start out by freelancing your abilities, but as your client list grows, you really should establish a legal company to improve your credibility and protect yourself. This isn't as difficult as you might think. Sun Document Filings can help you form a full-fledged company and simplify the paperwork process, which can be bewildering for most folks.

Those of us who have been doing this for a while take a lot less time. I started building electronics projects back in the 1960's (yeah, I'm old), and it usually takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to build a PC, once I have all the parts in front of me. But I'm usually doing it for money and I'm in a hurry to get paid. So unless that's your situation, too, why rush? Take your time and enjoy the project. You will always remember the first computer you built, so make it a fun experience.

While you're pondering which room to convert into your workshop, let's start planning and designing your homebuilt computer.


Getting Started


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