Jul 8, 2014
David Dunlap
Computer Building Geekness

I have been putting computers together for a quarter of a century. In the beginning, I worked on Atari and 8086 builds. I built my first computer with leftover parts and with a lot of assembly required. I got pretty handy with a dremel though. In the early days, a great deal of time was spent on config.sys and autoexec batch files trying to grab a few extra bits of memory. And I have to say working on those two files for hours on end and squeezing out an extra couple of kb was lots of fun, but none of my friends knew a single word I was talking about.

From the very first computer I built to today, I have been fascinated with technology and trying to squeeze every bit of performance out of a system. Building computers is fairly straight forward, so before going into a project, I create a list of challenges to make it more fun. Some of my challenges included: the silent computer (I built two of these; one was a computer built inside a large heat sink, another was an oil immersion computer), the computer for under $100 (this was by far the most difficult because it also had to be able to play UT, which came out that same year), alternative cooling (peltier cooler, oil immersion, and a full water cooled system to include customizing the power supply), and a completely hidden entertainment computer (crammed a mini-itx into a DVD book case).

I also do a lot of steampunk creations. It all began when I built an LCD enclosure using brass and wood–and it all went downhill from there! I’ve built computer cases with all manner of vacuum tubes, water cooling hoses coming out of them in variety of colors, wooden assembles, clockwork assemblies, gears for show, gears that actually trigger events (such as turning the computer on), and more. Then my hobby moved away from just computer creations to building steam rotatory engines and other assorted devices.

My favorite projects require a great deal of detail in a small amount of space, such as Z scale model trains and the like. One of my future projects is to create a fully working steam Z scale train patterned after Blaine the Mono from Stephen King’s gunslinger series.

Geek, Nerd, I’m the guy with a dremel.

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