FreeGeek is one of more popular organizations for doing things like this. They have a few locations around North America: Portland, Vancouver, NYC, Seattle, Fayetteville (AR).
I would do the same thing in grades 8-11 and do this for the local school district as well.
I remember putting together a bunch of IBM PC systems, loaded up with all kinds of things they didn't need like SDLC (Synchronous Data Link Communicator) cards "just in case."
I wish consumer devices were that easy to maintain and upgrade.
If you have just one unit and a failed power supply, instead of swapping in an ATX power supply you can buy in any local PC repair shop, you have to order the custom weird power supply online and wait for it to arrive. Or if you have a failed fan, maybe it's a standard 60mm or 80mm 12VDC fan, but it has a weird connector on it for how it plugs into the motherboard, so you'll have to take the 'ordinary' PC heatsink or case fans you have on hand and splice the old connector onto it.
Or if you have a failed motherboard (maybe a blown MOSFET?), but you're fairly certain all the other parts are good, instead of getting an ATX motherboard that will work with your CPU and RAM, you need a motherboard for that specific model of Lenovo M78, to match the weird shape and size of the case and rear I/O panel, and to match the specific DC power connections unique to that series and model of SFF desktop PC.
At least hard drives and RAM are common between whitebox PCs and enterprise type semi-proprietary PCs.
the lenovo m78 I have which I was using as an example is no smaller than an equivalent spec pc built from standardized parts.
I'm preaching to the choir how being able to repair your own stuff is a great thing. I wonder if there are lists of consumer purchasable hardware that follow this same philosophy to a degree. Would make future tech purchases much better for me personally.
Basically, they have a handful of workshops around the country where people can drop off computers and other related hardware, but they also work with companies who donate write-off hardware (there's a tax incentive). Anything they can piece together into working systems gets sent out to people who request it (these days a lot also went to schools who distributed it further) and anything that's unfixable or too old gets sold to a recycling company and partially funds the operation.
They usually ship the computers with their own Linux distro  and they also provide free tech support to people that receive their computers. I think they've given away over 4000 computers since 2011 (keep in mind the population of Slovenia is 2M, so that's pretty significant) and provided at least half of the estimated required computers for schoolchildren when the first lockdown went into effect.
P.S.: if anyone is interested in starting something similar in their own country, the software they use to manage everything is open-source  and they've said in the past that they'd love to help people set up similar projects in other countries, so do get in touch
If you are desperate you just get an old Thinkpad on ebay for $200.
Beyond a certain point you lose more in value than you save in money.
So you should embrace that and choose a completely different computing experience for sub $200. At that point you are better off with a cheap tablet. They do not cost significantly more than a Raspberry Pi 4.
I for one, when writing BBS software, hacked together a thing to allow my BBC's User Port to detect carrier select, ring indicate and something else off of my old (pre-Hayes) modem to provide these signals from the modem's RS232 interface to detect calls and dropped calls etc, because the beeb only had RS432 which made it impossible to do this with (all you had was CTS, RTS, RX, TX and Ground).
The Beeb had an analogue port. You could hang all sorts of experiments off of that...external thermometers and the like. PC's (Apple included) "ruined" all that, and what external interface boards you could get to replicate this functionality were usually pretty expensive, because the world moved on, and this kinda thing wasn't built into the design spec.
The Pi was intended to recreate that 70's/80's fun, joy and excitement, and re-introduce the ability to do stuff like this that modern PC hardware simply doesn't provide for out of the box.
I don't mean this as a slight, but perhaps you missed out on that era, but have also missed out on the point of this stuff for "hacking" out ideas because where you've got an itch you need to scratch....like building a weather station out of bits.
The Pi, it's marketing etc is an amazing thing and should, and does, get folks back to hardware and software hacking for fun and intellectual curiosity without spending megabucks.
Sorry I missed the last part:
> "I want a microcontroller, but don't want to program a microcontroller."
But it encourages you to learn how to program a microcontroller, that's the whole point. Curiosity which leads to other things.
I had to fix things on my car but didn't wan't to learn or wasn't interested about how to fix things on my car...turns out I am now. And saved money. And learned things. And saved money. And satisfied some mysteries about how cars work. Again, to encourage curiosity which leads to other things.
I’d say that your criticism could be seen as “why use a microcontroller when you could just use a PLA?” Well, there are a lot of reasons why you might choose a PLA, but microcontrollers are cheap these days and easier to program. And the Raspberry Pi is also cheap and easier to program than microcontrollers.
The Pi is easier to program than a microcontroller, more powerful, and still quite cheap. Cheap enough that it’s sometimes being kept in “production” designs.
If I had one of these as a teenager in the early 80's I'd have fainted with idea overload. But as it stands we had 8 bit processors running at 1-2MHz and 32-64k of memory.
may I ask where can I buy Pi Zero for 5 dollars? Even on Aliexpress (perhaps I wrongly assume it's the cheapest place to buy) there options start from $15 and up https://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?catId=0&initiative_id=S...
I'm not trying to invalidate your argument in any way, just genuinely curious. Also, does anyone know the actual production cost of such device?
it says 1 is 4.99, but multiple is 10$ when I saw it
The person buying 10 at a time is just buying the boards, so no extra items other than maybe a PSU. If you really want 10 at $5 go every day at lunch, that's what I did.
How exactly do you program a microcontroller?
With a pc.
So having a pi with NOOBS on the boot drive where u can just plug in peripherals and be off to the races is easier.
Used to be the thing that makes life difficult for a hobbyist is either you need to learn a lot of arcana to string free tools together and learn to debug blind. Or you needed to spend a bunch of money on tools.
With a bundled in circuit emulator and IDE it's easy to get started. That used to cost a couple of thousand. Now it's a few hundred to $1500 or so.
But imagine making e.g. an internet-controlled LED light strip. With an Arduino setting up the WiFi, accepting TSL connections, etc. would probably be a major pain and require additional hardware. With a Raspberry Zero W, this can be done via ssh in a few minutes, and it still has PWM ports to connect the hardware to.
I used to be pretty fluent in 6502 back in the early 80's, it's a long forgotten skill in my brain. I bought an Arduino kit back in 2010 and had a bunch of flashing LEDs working in about half an hour. And I'm not that clever. It's all about the tools.
Let's compare to used laptop:
It has uart and i2c which require a ftdiH dongle or arduino to use on a PC.
Plenty of pwm and motor controller shields not available for PC.
Up to date wifi and Bluetooth on the model 4, which you won't get on a 5 year old laptop.
You can try a couple different OS setups by merely swapping the sd card, or start from scratch in a couple minutes
There are no proprietary batteries that might die; instead you can run off a usb supply or battery brick which you can get anywhere.
Dual HDMI on the 4
Different form factor; can clip on your belt for some sort of wearable Frankenstein project
But yeah, I'd be sure to have a working conventional system first
Edit: forgot i2s digital audio and camera ribbon port
The size and I/O capabilities are desirable for anything from a plug-and-play media centre to building electronics projects. While there are disadvantages with respect to the latter, being able to write code on the Pi vastly simplifies things compared to microcontrollers.
It is also worth noting that a fully equipped Pi can cost significantly less than $200. Everything that you need to add to it can be salvaged e-waste: discarded USB power adapter, old keyboards and mice, lower capacity SD cards, as well as televisions are things that are often discarded in working order.
Edit: for clarification.
I set up some to stream media from my home server and gave them to friends and family.
I have a couple at relative's houses for remote monitoring. I have the Pi set up to make a reverse SSH tunnel back to my house. I can then tunnel VNC / RDP and help debug any issues they are having with their own home computers.
One Pi is used to wake up my remote file server with a Wake On LAN packet. The Pi idles at under 2W while the file server uses about 80W when on. I run my backups and then put the file server back to sleep.
Walking down the aisles it filled you with both fascination and melancholy.
They would sell exotic yet thoroughly obsolete $10,000 SGI systems, and also semi-obsolete $20 add-in cards for $1.
It was sort of like a cross between the great pyramids and the star wars trash compactor.
We would get semi trailers full of pallets of 5-10 year old laptops and PCs. Mostly from businesses upgrading. Then we would wipe them, fix anything that needed fixing (always with repaired/recycled parts), and sell them.
Not the most reliable machines for the end users, but super cheap!
It was kind of interesting, we would use RAM that had been sent back through a solder reflow oven to fix bad solder joints, figure out ways to repair dented and broken machines, etc.
I hated the job since it was super monotonous, but it paid.
Exactly. Surviving parts are often high quality, due to that process of "natural" selection, and are just in the middle of their bathub curve.
On the other side, you also do get a lot of parts with idiosyncratic or hard to diagnose deficiencies (like, RAM with a few bad bytes that you need to ignore, harddisks with bad sectors (same), CPUs and GPUs that randomly lock up, parts that work only in a certain temperature range, etc).
There's a whole street approximately here, if you were going there in a taxi you would ask for "bank road, saddar, rawalpindi" and then look around for the computer store.
or this side-street which is perpendicular to bank road, centered on approximately this latitude/longitude
at those google maps URLs, if you turn on satellite view so you can see the shape/size of the narrow side streets, scroll around a bit within a 500 metre radius and you should find at least a dozen things that are some variety of computer store.
I used to volunteer there, it's a great place!
This is also a really great way to "pay yourself" to learn to do rework. Buying 200 at £61 and selling the fully restored ones (which appears to > 100) at £9 is at least £900 revenue from the experience. Granted, since you are "learning" that would be slow work at first, but later it would become fairly routine. So something someone in high school could easily do.
Author will be donating the money to the Raspberry Pi Foundation. I agree - it is a fantastic way of turning £61 into a ~ £1200 donation!
One other thing here that makes me happy is that these repaired Pis will not end up in a landfill, which I bet would have otherwise been the end result. Yes, there are electronics recycling services, but who knows if the original owner would have gone that route, and I imagine there still ends up being quite a bit of unrecycleable waste, not to mention the energy required to do the recycling itself.
Meanwhile, I have a thermoelectric wine fridge that died recently. Looks like it's the logic board, but the manufacturer doesn't make them anymore (couldn't find anything on ebay etc. either). I feel really awful that I'll likely have to have to toss the thing due to what is probably a really cheap and easy-to-replace dead part. (I need to take another look at it to see if there's something obvious like a blown capacitor that I can replace.)
> Instead I will be donating the proceeds of the sales to the Raspberry Pi Foundation and they can decide what to do with the Money!
This is just really awesome. Kudos to the author.
When it was made they found something wrong with it
They threw it away like a piece of rubbish into an old dark storeroom
Then, from outer space, a Clever Man brought it to life with his cosmic dust!
...adapted from an ancient piece of welsh folklore: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ouLJ-dP1Wps
If you have it running still, what do you use it for?
- Plan 9 (http://9p.io/sources/contrib/miller/)
- Inferno (http://lynxline.com/projects/labs-portintg-inferno-os-to-ras...)
- RISC OS (https://www.riscosopen.org/content/downloads/raspberry-pi)
- NetBSD (https://wiki.netbsd.org/ports/evbarm/raspberry_pi/)
- FreeBSD (https://wiki.freebsd.org/arm/Raspberry%20Pi)
- Interim Lisp OS (http://interim-os.com - this runs on Raspi 2 only, so porting to the ARM v6 in the Raspi 1 would be a nice project) - btw., this is a project by Lukas Hartmann, who is also the creator of the open MNT Reform ARM laptop (https://mntre.com)
- (shameless plug) my bare metal "crosstalk" Smalltalk-80 (https://github.com/michaelengel/crosstalk)
I'm pretty sure this list isn't complete...
Some operating systems are not supported at the moment:
- OpenBSD only seems to support the Aarch64-based models 3 and 4
- Haiku seems to be looking for a maintainer for the Raspberry port
That kind of perspective probably wants to be fairly close to the metal, and virtualization is a sizable abstraction layer.
Like another commenter said, being able to put it on a shelf is nice. You can crack it open 5 years down the line to play with, or just give it to a friend that's interested in trying different OS's
It isn't particularly complicated. Base is a strong enough cardboard box from the local supermarket. I took screenshots of the console from an episode and cleaned them up with krita.
Electronics is a matrix where some rows have leds abd others buttons.
Software low level scans the matrix and drives leds and checks buttons. High level a state machine that changes state based on button presses.
I mainly us whatecer I have lying around at the moment, and don't spend much money on components.
The thing before this was a lego based crossroad with leds and an arduino
It uses a 433mhz receiver and picks up temperatures from a couple of commercial temperature sensors, uses pygame to display them to the screen, plus a few bits of other info.
Pretty basic, but it works. It struggles with timings though, which I've discovered is pretty important when receiving and decoding 433 signals. Looking to use a Rasberry Pico instead shortly.
Works great in the times that I have the primary Pihole (containerized) down for maintenance/upgrades.
* PiHole (original model should be enough)
* Home automation, ie Garage door opener / automation
* CCTV monitoring using old webcam (not fast though, perhaps less than 5 fps but that's good enough for what I need)
* CCTV recorder (not video, but just capturing photo every second, which is good enough for me)
* file server for low throughput device (or TimeMachine server)
* Server/PC status display (displays server status) on TV
* Prometheus, htop, GoAccess, etc...
* Lo-fi player
Something I've noticed is that the SD card corrupts easily, though that may be simply because I'm using a phone charger as the power supply.
I discovered that although the Model B does not support natively booting off USB, you can still put an updated bootcode.bin  on the SD card which will enable this functionality. Hopefully my flash drive will not corrupt as easily.
Edit: somehow missed the model you have, these may not be options.
- custom media player based on VLC, with a web UI
- a weather service that aggregates and displays info of small weather stations around the house (ESP8266 + a bunch of sensors)
We are thinking about moving to a v4 to have more RAM
I burnt through sooo many SD cards until I started using Alpine Linux which runs perfectly on the Pi and runs from a RAM disk. No more dead SD cards for me
Then I put the OS on USB and boot from there. SD cards stopped dying :)
I learned the IPhone 3G and 3GS were both (1) Super cheap when ‘broken’ on eBay and (2) *very* easily repairable phones. No need to solder stuff or tear apart a whole phone just to replace a screen for example.
At the time, I’d buy them from anywhere between $15-$30/phone depending on damage, swap out parts from unrepairable ones, or buy new(ie Battery replacements) and sell for around double the price.
I miss the days where you didn’t need a license and special training to repair these things.
Very niche, but hey -- this is HN.
There's probably other better channels. Anyone?
* you can never have too much flux
* do not clean the board before fixing it (corrosion can help point towards the actual cause of the issue)
* importance of the availability of schematics
Still I am using Pi B for pihole + openvpn at home.
The other one Pi B works like public wifi to ethernet. Public wifi goes to wifi dongle + Pi and ethernet wire from Pi to ddwrt router. That one creates access point and is not a public wifi anymore lol. Thats for tor network or researching purposes. Boots from an old flash stick I found on the street.
I thought at the time Pi B was broken, turning off in 1 min while booting without any reason. LCD was going crazy on off.
I booted without an lcd and pluged in. Yes time to type in usr+psw lcd on of went crazy but I managed to measure temperature it was 56°C in seconds +70°C and Pi went down.
Then I went to the basement and attached huge fan from old gpu card and temperature of cpu is always +34°C works like a bee.
After some time I found third Pi B, SD card slot was broken I have soldered that one, works. But I have no use from it. Still thats an old hardware.
> These will not be fixed
> I will not be fixing these
USB/Power (Power is a separate connector)
> I will revisit these in the near future.
I know that even fixing pins and easier problems is also valauble, but now I'm just afraid I'll miss the follow-up I want to see D:
No offense, it's just extra noise and I figured I'd share in case you do want to grow your Twitter following as that's the kind of thing that I'd wager puts a lot of people off of following you.
Neat project, I enjoyed the posts on it!
For my 2010 MBP, I'm running Linux on it and it's really brought it back to life. Especially with the 5.4 LTS kernel and Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, both with support until 2025. I say go for it, you'll have a ton of fun on it.
And if making it look like macOS is your thing, here's how I got mine looking: https://i.imgur.com/QgyRvrD.png
(Unfortunately the dGPU on the machine appears to have developed a fault which might put it into retirement for good)
IIRC 2015 was the last MBP with good Linux support (my 2016 MBP didn't have audio or suspend/resume until recently, after I gave up and ditched it), so that might work out well for you.
how did he source them? and what is the script to diagnose each PI?
it says right in the first sentence:
> the 200+ Raspberry Pi Model B’s I purchased on ebay
"I’m sorry to disappoint but I won’t be building a cluster or decorating my walls with them! In fact I don’t have a project planned for these instead they will be sold on starting at £4 for a “Model A” and up to £9 for a fully boxed un-repaired Model B. I’m not doing this to make a quick buck I’m doing it for the blog content and the experience and to hopefully provide you guys with some very cheap Raspberry Pi’s for your projects!"
> £9 for a fully boxed un-repaired Model B.
Why is he selling them un-repaired if the whole point is repairing them?
It reduces e-waste.
yet its a blog site absolutely new-years-eve-plastered with ads and user hostile content
If you don’t like ads feel free to use an Adblock - I use https://adblockplus.org/
If you want to buy a Pi for a very low price you could even setup pihole: https://pi-hole.net/
There’s nothing misleading when I say I’m not doing this to make a quick buck. I’m really not it’s just a lockdown project as there really isn’t much else to do in my spare time.