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 and electronics work. But most home computer builders are not so lucky. They have to build their computers on their kitchen tables (hence this site's name).
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 an anti-static mat, or at least a plastic table cloth or 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 or uninterruptible power supply 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. That grounded outlet might not be grounded anymore.
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 spouse, landlord, or parents 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 to not rush yourself. Take your time, double-check everything you do, and have fun. Typically, it takes first-time computer builders who have never built a computer 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. 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. (That's actually how I got started. I turned my hobby into a business.)
Those of us who have been doing this for a while take a lot less time to assemble a computer. I started building electronics projects back in the 1960's (yeah, I'm old), so it usually takes me only about 45 minutes to an hour to build a PC nowadays. But I did it for money. Unless that's your situation, too, why rush? Take your time and enjoy your 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.
- Finding a Place to Work (This Page)
- Planning Your PC
- Anti-Static Precautions
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