Off Topic: Compressors and Computers

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I had a computer go down last week. Turns out that the power supply was clogged with dust and needed to be replaced. It was probably under powered too, which added to its demise. Talking to some friends, this has happened to two more people in the last 3 months. All of them multi monitor machines running some big apps. Regular computers did not seem to suffer from the same type of problem.
The tech suggested regular cleaning of the interior of the case every two months. Again, this is probably overkill for most machines, but we have three examples here of where we probably could have prevented the problems we had. He suggested a small compressor for this purpose. He had one in his shop. I have no problem with getting a small compressor to make my computers happy. It is just that my beloved and other folks working in the offices would have extreme objections to a noisy, pancake compressor starting up.
I could probably get by with a can of compressed air. I have a small vacuum cleaner which will do an OK job cleaning. But I need some compressed air to get everything really clean. I need something small, quiet and not scary to tool phobic office workers (or wives). Any suggestions?
I was thinking of the baby compressors that run artist's air brushes. But did not think they were powerful enough. Maybe even a fireplace bellows may work. I looked at a small compressor from Harbor Freight and was assured that it was very noisy. So that won't work. Maybe I am asking too much, inexpensive, quiet and effective. Any input from you guys would be appreciated.
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<leemichaels*nadaspam* at comcast dot net> wrote:

Do you own a leafblower? It works very well on badly-encrusted computers. Normally its easier than using an air compressor, as there's no waiting time for the tank to fill.
Art
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"Lee Michaels" <leemichaels*nadaspam* at comcast dot net> wrote in message

Could you not use a small, noisy compressor after folks have departed for the day? Or give them a few quid to enjoy an extended lunch on a sunny afternoon and then do the job whilst they are not present? Hey, take your time guys. It's a beautiful day, go and enjoy yourselves, I'll look after the shop whilst your gone. Bit of kudos for you to boot.
When using compressed air it is worth jamming all fans (PSU/CPU/Case etc) as the high rotational speeds can knacker (sorry, an olde English term) these fans. I know this to my cost.
HTH
Nick. England.
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"Lee Michaels" <leemichaels*nadaspam* at comcast dot net> wrote in message

Snip
Any suggestions?

I hope you take the computer out side to do this, not in the office blowing all the stuff in the air to be drawn back into other computers. A tank vacuum works. Put hose on output of tank. Large volume of air but low enough pressure so as not to cause damage. WW
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"Lee Michaels" <leemichaels*nadaspam* at comcast dot net> wrote in
*snip*

I have an air brush compressor, and while it doesn't put out much air it is quiet and would probably keep the computers clean enough if used on a regular basis.
If the systems collect that much dust, though, would some sort of filter be worthwhile? You'd probably have to add another fan or two, but changing the filter on a regular basis might be easier than lugging a compressor around.
One more idea... Put a regulator on a compressed air tank. Set it for something reasonable (20-30 psi?) and pressurize the tank to 90-100 psi. You can fill the tank in the shop and take it where needed.
Puckdropper
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"Lee Michaels" <leemichaels*nadaspam* at comcast dot net> writes:

Indeed. If your computer is in an environment where blowing it out more than every 6 months is necessary, move the computer or clean up the environment.
Compressor is way overkill.
A computer vacuum is nice, particularly for the keyboard.
scott
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On 4/3/2012 2:36 PM, Scott Lurndal wrote:

Disagree. I've used canned air several times on computers with marginal results, then took a 40 PSI blow gun from a compressor to the very same computer and blew out all kinds of residual crap that the canned air couldn't touch.
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Steve Turner wrote:

There's a point at which you'll start blowing components off the boards. I'm not sure where that point is and am not sure I'd want to find out the hard way.
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On 4/3/2012 3:12 PM, Bill wrote:

There's always a first time for everything, but like Steve, I've been using air from the shop air compressor to blow out computers since the late eighties with not one problem ... only I used a spare tank that held 120 psi to start with. ;)
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I use my compressor all the time. I clean my computers about every 6 mos.
BTW that has not prolonged my power supplies. They still go. Yours may well have been from heat and dust, but they tend to fail regularly.
My laptop gets cleaned too. I take the rear cover off and blow it out.
On 4/3/2012 4:12 PM, Bill wrote:

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40 PSI isn't anywhere close. I like an "excellerator" blow gun - it has a venturi and a small amount of high velocity air moves a WHOLE LOT of not quite so high velocity air - doing an excellent job.
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I've got some old circuit boards with surface mount components... maybe it's time for an experiment.
Hm... a little googling found a mini-heated torch. It uses compressed air and heat to melt the solder on SMD components (and blow it away) so the parts can be salvaged. (or maybe the board.)
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Puckdropper <puckdropper(at)yahoo(dot)com> wrote in

A quick experiment showed no movement at all with the SMD components. Compressor was set to 90 PSI (I forgot the 125 psi part) and I had a blow gun with "pool floatie" nozzle on the end. Air was applied to the side and front of the component, and nothing blew off or even looked like it was moving.
However, application of heat with a heat gun set to high (which will melt solder and remove components itself) and the compressor set to about 20 psi had excellent results removing components from the circuit board. A bunch of LEDs came off in less than a minute (through-hole) and the smd components came off even easier. Trouble was they'd blow away with the force of the compressor.
In my opinion, an air compressor is not going to be sufficient to blow chips off a cold circuit board. However, socketed ICs, pin and header connections, shorting jumpers, and maybe even some switches may be negatively affected by the compressed air. If sufficiently high heat enters the equation, however, the force of the compressed air can easily blow the solder away from the component and cause it to fly off.
You guys may have inadvertently sold me on another tool... I gotta see how much those hot air soldering pencils cost.
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On 4/3/12 2:54 PM, Steve Turner wrote:

That's how I found my keys. :-)
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On 4/3/2012 4:15 PM, -MIKE- wrote:

+1
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I've worked in the industry for 30 years, building everything from mainframes to supercomputers. The only time we ever used an air compressor was to power the loadable heads on a Burroughs 5N head-per-track disk drive built in the 1970's (and of course on the manufacturing floor to power various tools, such as torque wrenches, drills and various place-and-route machines in the wire-wrap era).
My last company had over 400 dual-socket 1U/2U servers, and about 100 workstation systems (high-end, dual-head) - canned compressed air was sufficient for those as well, albeit only required once every couple of years.
scott
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On 4/3/2012 4:32 PM, Scott Lurndal wrote:

That's nice. It doesn't change what I said (which you snipped) about having attempted (on many occasions) to fully clean out a computer with canned air, having it do an incomplete job, then getting just as much or more dust out of the system with an air compressor blow gun.
Incidentally, I've been in the industry almost as long as you have, five years of which were spent as an IBM CE where the only tools we had in the field to clean out a machine were canned air and a vacuum cleaner. We could *always* do a better job of cleaning out the machines if we were able to take them from the customer's site back to the office where we had an air compressor.
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Sorry I snipped it; a small amount of residual dust is harmless. The only place you want to make sure you have no thick dustbunnies is on the power supply heat-sinks, the processor heatsink, fan blades and any ventilation openings.
The rest of the system operates at temperatures that aren't affected by a small amount of dust. It doesn't need to be operating room clean. Rephrase, the lack of operating room cleanliness doesn't have an effect on MTBF.

The IBM big-iron (S/360, S/370, 3080, through Z-series) have filters that prevent dust migration into the system in the first place. As did the Burroughs systems.
Using a computer vacuum is better anyway, as compressed air by itself just returns the dust to the evironment, from whence it will reestablish itself in the computer.
scott
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On 04/03/2012 05:26 PM, Scott Lurndal wrote:

It's a good thing my pea seas are not mainframes! It's out to the shop, blow the fur balls out with the compressor and than back to the computer room. No residual dust in the house.
I've had more electronics failures from bulging/leaking electrolytic caps anyway.
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"Steve Turner" wrote in message writes:

That's nice. It doesn't change what I said (which you snipped) about having attempted (on many occasions) to fully clean out a computer with canned air, having it do an incomplete job, then getting just as much or more dust out of the system with an air compressor blow gun.
Incidentally, I've been in the industry almost as long as you have, five years of which were spent as an IBM CE where the only tools we had in the field to clean out a machine were canned air and a vacuum cleaner. We could *always* do a better job of cleaning out the machines if we were able to take them from the customer's site back to the office where we had an air compressor. ============================================================================Of course you could. Those little cans of air are very little better than nothing. At work, we would take them out into the shop (machine shop) and use the shop air supply to blow them out. Shop air was at 120 psi so you didn't get any closer than about three feet. I do the same at home (90 psi). I was over to someone's house a while back working on their machine. It needed cleaning out. He handed me a can of air. I tried that and then told him that was little better than nothing. He had a leaf blower though so we did get it clean.
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