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OT: card storage

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by D Yuniskis, May 11, 2010.

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  1. D Yuniskis

    D Yuniskis Guest


    Like most folks, I've accumulated a fair number of
    "I/O cards" over the years. Many I need to hold onto
    to give me certain capabilities (e.g., EIA485, certain
    digital I/O's, etc.) to maintain old designs. Others
    are worthwhile from time to time as I reorganize my
    machine herd and opt to support different peripheral sets.

    [I'm currently only speaking of COTS cards -- ISA, PCI,
    various memory packages, etc. -- not custom stuff]

    Storing these has proven to be not trivial. I've tried
    different approaches over the years -- antistatic bags,
    small boxes (e.g., "Wide SCSI HBA's", "TR NIC's", etc.),
    big boxes (e.g., "Network cards", "Memory", etc.). None
    really seem to work well. :<

    The REAL solution is probably just to sh*tcan the lot
    and <shrug> when I come across a future need! :>

    Has anyone come up with a slick way of storing cards
    that doesn't beat up on the cards, makes it relatively easy
    to locate the card you want *and* doesn't dramatically
    increase the volume required to store them (i.e., putting
    each in "retail packaging")? Right now, I think the
    most viable option (for me) is back to antistatic bags
    (to help the cards slide over each other without "catching"
    on protruding components) in *large* boxes :-(

  2. Order the right size box for several cards to lay in without
    having to show horn them in. The real key is uniform size
    boxes so they all stak and play well with each other.

    Similar to these:

    Then start labeling the boxes. NIC, Modem, VGA, etc.

  3. D Yuniskis

    D Yuniskis Guest

    Hi Jeff,
    That's been the problem! With the exception of "duplicates"
    of individual cards, it seems like every card is a different
    size (and even *shape*!). Couple that with the differences
    in component heights/placement, heatsinks, coolers, etc. and
    things just don't want to stack nicely. :<

    Most of the memory sticks are reasonably well behaved
    (though there are some exceptions -- like metal clad
    RAMBUS memory, etc.). PCMCIA cards tend to be annoyances
    (often due to accommodations for connectors, etc.)

    That's why I feel it's probably not worth "fighting" with
    them and just bag them and let them fall where they will
    in an oversized box :-(

    Or, cut some slots in a 1x4 and try to *stand* them in a
    suitably dimensioned box...
  4. D Yuniskis

    D Yuniskis Guest

    They don't like to stand :< I've tried standing them with
    "connector down" as well as "connector up". They just don't
    like either of those orientations "unassisted". That's why
    I was thinking of just letting them "slosh around" (the bags
    acting as the "lubricant") -- as long as they don't damage
    each other.
    <grin> I'm not *that* anal retentive! :> If I can see the
    card inside the bag, then I'm all set. E.g., "this box
    contains network interface cards" (so I know everything in
    it will be a NIC). I can dig through a dozen or two cards
    to find what I want once it's narrowed down like that.
  5. D Yuniskis

    D Yuniskis Guest

    Hi John,
    Yes, I've thought of a "slotted board" (run a 1x4 over a table
    saw with blade set at 1/4" or so) without the "dowels" atop.
    I'm just not thrilled that even *that* will keep them from
    conspiring to topple once they're out of sight (i.e., box closed)

    I guess its a lot easier if you have cards that are the same size,
    etc. as you can support them (reliably) in more than one place.
  6. D Yuniskis

    D Yuniskis Guest

    Hi William,
    Yes, I am more and more convinced that this is the way to go.
    I use smaller boxes (think of a 10 read copy paper box sliced
    so it is half as deep) to cut down how much "digging" I need
    to do. I tend not to be very patient when looking for a
    card that I *know* I have so having too many boards in a
    box is a Rx for *something* getting busted! :>
    Yes, but only those certified to be Windows compatible!
    Else the green electrons intermingle with the *blue*
    ones and all hell breaks loose!
    <frown> Better than me -- mine end up on the floor waiting
    to be *stepped* on! :-/ (OTOH, this is an excellent
    deterrent to walking around barefoot!)
  7. If you have some old unused passive backplane computers, which usually
    have a lot of ISA and PCI slots, just plug in the cards into these
    empty slots :)
  8. Get some old dead motherboards, hacksaw the PCI/ISA socket areas out
    then screw them down to a piece of blockboard or similar sized to fit
    the bottom of your storage box. Give the slots a spray of contact
    cleaner before you stick the cards in to keep the edge connectors shiny.

    I use 16"-20" plastic toolboxes to store my assorted ISA/PCI cards as
    well as other general hardware such as CPUs, video cards, cables etc.;
    they're cheap, rigid, stack nicely and they can be sealed with some
    shrink-wrap film around the lids to prevent moisture getting in if they
    spend any time in an unheated storage space.
  9. N_Cook

    N_Cook Guest

    I'm aware of a repair shop where they had strung steel wire near the ceiling
    of the store, tensioned with turn-buckles (otherwise unused space). Then a
    plastic curtain hook hot-melt glued to corner of each board, on a weekly
    basis, then strung up. Timewise order to the boards , so could be
    cross-referenced to repair job log so no logging of the boards as such
  10. JosephKK

    JosephKK Guest

    For a quick help from what you are doing, sort the cards into boxes by
    type and LABEL the boxes. Only one kind in a box. Put the boxes in
    storage racks and label the racks.
    If you really want to protect the cards build card board separation
    racks, include space for matching specialty cables and driver software.
    This eats up more space but keeps important combinations of things
    One of the smartest things i ever did was to package all the driver
    software with each PC i have. I actually placed it inside the case.
  11. Since every case designer seems to have their own bright ideas about
    how to mount hard drives etc. it's not a bad idea to bag up all the
    extra hardware in a 4 mil poly bag and store it inside the case. Then
    you won't find yourself looking for an extra-long metric screw and
    silicone grommet, or thin snap-in rails etc. Another possible place is
    the mombo box- a dozen or two of them fit nicely on a high shelf.

    You can buy boxes in various form factors from places like Uline. If
    it isn't worth a 50-cent box to store neatly, maybe it should be

    Best regards,
    Spehro Pefhany
  12. D Yuniskis

    D Yuniskis Guest

    Hi Spehro & Joseph,

    I create a directory containing all of the software installed
    on a particular machine along with a text file documenting the
    order in which the software was installed (so, if there is a
    problem, I can figure out *why*; if not, I now have *one* way of
    installing everything that is 'known' to work). I burn this
    onto a set of DVD's so I can reinstall as needed.

    (I also image the drive so I can restore it to its initial
    configuration relatively easily without having to reinstall
    all of the software *again*...)
    I don't save cases. If it's not running (i.e., "in service"),
    it goes in the recycle bin.
    I tried that route. You end up with *lots* of "wasted volume". :<
    Just pilling boards into four "large" boxes resulted in about
    4 cubic feet of "boards". I suspect that would double if each
    board was packed in something akin to retail packaging.

    E.g., I store my "spare" keyboards in "keyboard boxes" and
    they easily take up twice their minimal volume.

    I suspect most boards are such commodity items that a 50c
    box would be a huge (relative) investment -- in cardboard. :>
    (OTOH, if you just toss those commodity cards out, the cost
    of acquiring a new one WHEN YOU NEED IT is ridiculously
    expensive -- travel time, opportunity costs, etc.)

    I'll see how the "sort into four categories" approach works.
    If I can find boxes that are ~30% smaller, then I can, perhaps,
    toss 30% of the boards (and *hope* I toss the ones that I
    won't need NEXT WEEK! :> )
  13. D Yuniskis

    D Yuniskis Guest

    Hi Michael,
    Huh? Oblong pizzas?? :> (sorry, I just can't picture this :< )
    I've "standardized" on "Vacutainer" boxes (vacutainers are those
    vacuum-filled, rubber-stoppered, "test tubes" that are used when
    blood is drawn). They are ~18x12x6 so they fit nicely on my
    (18 inch deep) shelves. They are big enough that I can store
    "enough" in each -- yet not *too* big to end up with lots of
    "empty space".

    E.g., I have a box for SCSI "1" cables, "2", "wide", VHDCI,
    DB25, VGA, DVI, 10Base2, "RJ45", etc.; boxes for screwdrivers,
    chisels, drills, etc.; CD-ROMs, DVD writers, speech synthesizers,
    barcode readers, PDAs, signature pads, etc.; development boards
    (SBC's), hookup wire scraps, etc.; access points, routers, network
    fabric, network appliances, etc.

    [I think there are ~130 of these boxes currently]
    I like the cables sorted. Probably 25% of my "storage" is
    dedicated to cables. I suspect there is more *real* "value"
    there than in any of the other stuff -- it seems like I
    don't go more than a day without needing to dig out some
    sort of cable! Especially all of the odd-ball "specials"
    common for USB :-/
    I don't throw *out* anything. Everything gets recycled.

    I don't save "old" stuff anymore -- unless I need it to
    support an old design, etc. E.g., I have only one ISA bus
    PC -- but, it can support two *full* length cards.

    OTOH, I got bit yesterday as I needed a PS2 keyboard and
    didn't have a "spare" (I only keep a few spare keyboards
    and most of those are "specials") so I had to borrow one from
    one of my servers. :<

    I really like these little *tiny* keyboards (about 12" wide?)
    for those machines that I run headless -- yet "need" a keyboard
    to be able to power it down "locally" (i.e., "typing blind").

    [I keep a portable *7* inch LCD monitor for those times when
    I need to connect a display to a headless machine... requires
    a bit of squinting to read but a lot nicer than having to
    lug a larger monitor around!]
  14. D Yuniskis

    D Yuniskis Guest

    Hi Michael,
    Ahhh! --------------------------^^^^^^^^

    I was trying to imagine how the box for a *single* pizza
    could possibly be useful <:-/
    OK, different form factor (narrower opening, deeper).

    If I had a "separate space" for work related stuff, the
    gravitational field would probably be highly distorted in its
    vicinity! :> (i.e., I learned not to have too much
    "storage space" lest you end up storing too much *in* it! :> )
    Ah, I only keep what *I* will (personally) use.
    (sigh) There was a time when I was looking for WE 500/2500 sets.
    I hang onto cables because I don't want to have to *make* any!
    Just too damn much work for what it's worth, usually.

    So, I keep a good assortment of various types of cables in
    various lengths. The only ones I have in short supply are
    the nice 12" wide SCSI cables. :<
    I have two of the vacutainer boxes set aside for "unmatched" wall
    warts/bricks. Anything that *needs* a wall wart/brick has that
    stored with it.

    OTOH, there are times when I need a standalone power supply
    for some bit of kit. If I am lucky, I'll have a supply
    in one of the boxes *with* the right connector. If not,
    I'll find a suitable supply and cut the existing connector
    off and replace it with another.

    (I presently have to do that with a pair of external HD
    enclosures that are missing their power packs)
    I typically only keep one of each type of keyboard as a spare.
    Recently, however, my spare PS2 keyboard was used to replace
    one that developed a flakey spacebar. Unfortunately, I
    didn't think to replace the *spare* at the time! :<

    Yesterday, I needed to power down one of my headless servers
    and discovered that it's keyboard had given up the ghost.
    So, I had to resort to powering it down remotely.
    Not all of my machines run GUI's.

    I can telnet/ssh to any of them and shut down that way.
    But, that means having to turn *on* a second computer
    *just* to telnet to the *first*!

    If, instead, I leave a keyboard attached to each, I can simply
    type (without *seeing* what I'm typing):

    shutdown -p now (or whatever)

    wait a few seconds for confirmation that the box *is*
    shutting down...
  15. D Yuniskis

    D Yuniskis Guest

    Hi Michael,

    [attributions elided]
    I keep those mounted on one wall. I think there are currently
    14 60-drawer cabinets. But, lately, I have been moving "small things"
    into old pill bottles, etc. as wall space is at a premium, here.
    I may run HVAC into the little (100 sq ft?) store room off the
    garage and convert that into usable storage space. But, too many
    other "more pressing" projects before that...
    Mine are 6 wide and 10 tall. Same general idea. I passed up
    two "revolving racks" of drawer units (each 4 sided, 6 ft tall
    made of those little drawers) simply because I didn't have the
    space to store them. :< I'm trying *not* to store little
    parts any more as i can just have Digikey drop a package on
    my doorstep in a few days (instead of tying up space *anticipating*
    future needs)
    Yes, there is a group here that does that on a large scale
    (probably a thousand PC's yearly) so I bring any "recyclable"
    items to them. Stuff like this turns up far too frequently
    to set aside places to *store* it!

    (OTOH, 13W3 KVM's tend to be "keepers" when I do come across them!)
    No, most systems (especially if they don't have "MS" anywhere
    in their name!) can handle even abrupt power cycles. The
    only frustrating part is if the keyboard had been "bumped"
    in the past N days so that the console wasn't sitting
    at the "login: " prompt -- since I can't verify that visually.
    In that case, I have no way of knowing that my login was
    unsuccessful! So, if the machine doesn't start shutting down
    when I expect it to, then I have to go back through a more
    systematic set of keystrokes to *ensure* I am at a "login: "
    prompt, etc.

    <shrug> And, if push comes to shove, take the 7" LCD out of
    it's case and plug that in. (I have learned to leave a video
    cable dangling out of the back of every headless machine here
    so I don't have to try to crawl behind it when I *need* to
    plug in a monitor! :> Painful lessons learned through
  16. D Yuniskis

    D Yuniskis Guest

    Hi Michael,
    Huh? The 9T racks I have seen were basically "open" -- nothing to
    hang things off of (besides the tapes' "hooks")
    Yeah, the key there is "storeroom" :> As I said previously, if I
    had a place to dedicate to this stuff, I'd do things differently.
    But, with age, I've found I like having less and less "stuff"
    around to deal with (though I am still not to the point of
    wanting to "live in two rooms" someplace! ;-) Probably NEVER
    trim down *that* much!)
    Depends on whether or not you have the space to store them.
    My first move (out of college) my "load" was 19,000 pounds.
    Amusing considering I was just a college kid, etc. :> (I
    think all I had by way of "traditional belongings" was a
    bed, a couch, a kitchen table and a refrigerator)

    I live in terror of ever having that much "stuff" again.
    It would be *so* nice to be one of those guys who can get by
    with just a laptop. *ONE* laptop! :>
    4BNC and 5BNC. Actually, I think finding that sort of KVM would be
    even harder than a 13W3! (though you could adapt one with an
    appropriate set of cables, etc.)
    I found most KVMs don't like the typical mix of machines that
    I have, here. They'd "hang" at inopportune times, etc.

    So, for "headed" machines, I usually use monitors with two
    or more video inputs and just do the switching in the monitor.
    This is a little tedious as I usually run dual-headed on
    most machines -- but, can also be a win as I can switch one
    monitor to machine A while the other is on B and do two
    things at once (with careful planning of screen real estate).

    The pisser comes from the keyboards (and mice, if I'm running
    a GUI). It is *really* hard to keep track of which keyboard
    to type on for which "monitor" (machine) -- especially as
    you could have the screens set up as A1+A2, B1+B2, A1+B2 or
    B1+A2 (so you never really know *what* you're doing until you
    get some feedback from a screen :< )

    <shrug> Life was so much simpler with a Bell 103 and ASR33...
    (though considerably more BORING!)
  17. D Yuniskis

    D Yuniskis Guest

    Hi Michael,
    Ah, OK. Must have been a real b*tch to try to move it!
    I'd like a basement -- except it would quickly end up cluttered.
    :< With limited space, you think real hard before you *keep*
    something. Especially anything sizable! Hence the appeal
    of things that can get "stored" *inside* other things. Like
    cards installed in a PC (instead of piled in a box!).

    I've been slowly scanning the paperwork that I deem worthy
    of saving. That will clear up a fair bit of space (volume).
    Now imagine that much stuff when you're "just getting started
    in your 'adult' life"! :>
    Like odd bits of furniture, best not to let it in the door
    to begin with -- as it is hard to get it back *out*, later! :>
    Ah, OK.

    It's too bad someone hasn't hacked together a laptop that
    is *just* a monitor + keyboard! I imagine there would be
    a market for such a beast.
    Yeah, I still have one in the garage. Don't want to scrap
    it but *shipping* it anyplace is a real chore. :<
  18. D Yuniskis

    D Yuniskis Guest

    Hi Michael,
    These are either documents for old projects that I did
    (and didn't have the foresight to save the electronic versions
    of those documents at the time -- something I quickly
    learned!), tax and business records, etc.

    The most tedious are the print manuals that were never
    available (publicly) in electronic form. In addition
    to the actual *scanning*, there is a lot of work
    getting the manuals "disassembled" to the point where
    they *can* be scanned (e.g., ripping "perfect binding").

    I've got ~5 cu ft of MULTICS manuals that have been
    staring me in the face for a while, now... most of
    them are printed on "european size" paper (is that
    A4?) so it's also a bit "different" to handle.

    I may see if I can hack together a little adapter to fit inside
    just such a beast next time I come across one that "feels
    right". Doesn't have to be "pretty" -- just functional.
    Maybe turn it into a Hackable?
    Oh, there are lots of folks who would "love to have it"! :>
    Problem is, getting it out of here requires considerable
    effort on my part to ensure it will "travel well". It's
    just not high on my ToDo list (I got rid of another one a few
    months ago so I figure I'm already "50% done"! :> )
  19. We all have one or two (or several) of these...
    I know various place like The British Library, has special research
    centres so they can make electronic copies of various documents,
    books etc..

    Bear in mind they CANNOT rip the bindings or damage some books
    many HUNDREDS of years old, so they use special prism like structures
    to scan two partially open pages, often in special chambers to
    avoid damp, dirt, insects etc.. getting in whilst scanning.

    They cannot afford to damage most books as they are even less
    obtainable than your old Multics manuals.
    Slight correction ISO standard paper size, used in most of the world
    major exception North America.

    Nearest thing is ultra thin clients.

    Paul Carpenter |
    <> PC Services
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    <> For those web sites you hate
  20. JosephKK

    JosephKK Guest

    It not only has been done, but is still available, mouse included.
    But most of such currently are just repurposed laptops. Probably more
    user hacks than commercial sales. A great excuse to buy a laptop that is
    otherwise relatively CPU underpowered.
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