There are few obvious dangers inside a computer base unit, in fact as an engineer your main worry is not to you as the engineer/owner but to the computer, you may wish to read my anti-static post that I wrote earlier(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ battery).

Inside the computer base unit are low voltage circuits normally having a max voltage of 12v DC, most of the circuitry is 5v and the 12v supply generally for external components such as hard disks and CDROM drives(Sony VGP-BPS8 battery).

You can touch the 12 volt rail and not even know it was live, the main danger inside a computer box is the PSU (Power Supply Unit) this is normally a switched mode power supply and comes as a sealed unit within the computer, most of the computer builders of today put units together and very few if any understand the principle behind them, this is not such a bad thing because the insides of the PSU can prove lethal even when disconnected for a length of time and is best left to the professional, I am able to fault find PSU’s to component level but it is not worth the time(Sony VGP-BPL9 battery).

Provided the PSU is not opened the only real obvious danger is the metal edges of the case, when I started building computers the quality of the cases were a bit suspect and razor sharp edges were the norm, it was normal to draw blood building a computer, nowadays the build quality of the computer cases has improved no end and you can safely work inside most computers and in fact all the computers we supply(Sony VGP-BPS9 battery), writing this post takes me back to the first computer I built, it was a 286 at an amazing 25Mhz and I remember trying to make the board fit inside the case bending and squeezing case bits and the system board to make it fit, you modern day system builders don’t know your born with the Lego like construction(Sony VGP-BPL11 battery).

Monitors are another very real danger, do not put a plant pot on top, when you water the plant and the water overflows sparks are very likely , burns and death is a real possibility and before you ask yes I did have a customer who did this (She lived), there are very high voltages inside the monitor, even after being switched off for a long length of time, I can repair monitors to component level but I will never take the back off on a customer site(Sony VGN-FZ460E battery).

Most printers now have a PSU as a sealed unit, the main danger inside a printer is trapping hands or catching hair, these are normally prevented by a “chicken switch” sorry another college term, that kills the power when the lid is lifted(Sony VGP-BPS13 battery).

I remember working on a laser printer, not sure I think it was either a Panasonic, Data Products or a Kyocera, it was on the bench and I turned it around to work on it, the side panel was off and I shorted out the PSU with my hand, the PSU was a board that had the circuit side outwards and I had an imprint of the circuit board on my hand in little white blobs, needless to say the PSU blew up and the manufacturer fitted a plastic cover on previous models(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ21M battery ).

I remember when I was at college in our components lecture the lecturer Mr Goodall (if you read this thanks), as we were studying transistors advised us a way to bump off our family members, we were studying Germanium and Silicon transistors, this is as Germanium were leaving the market as more reliable silicon were being built, he told us that one of the doping agents in the transistors was Arsenic and that we could dip a few transistors into our victims cup of tea and apparently the effects of arsenic are accumulative and eventually they would pop their clogs of arsenic poisoning(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31S battery).

I have no idea if this is the case and he was very obviously joking about terminating people but that does lead to the theory that if this potentially lethal component is used in old and modern electronic the disposal of all electronics components must be very carefully considered(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ38M battery).

There are millions of electronic components out there and many millions are breaking every day, although the quantity of arsenic and many other poisonous elements are minuscule the accumulative level must be huge, Im sure Intel and Texas Instruments don’t buy these toxic elements by the cup, I am not an expert and I will not pretend to be but supposing all these elements in the land fill sides along with mercury, cadmium and other battery elements from disposed of batteries break free from their respective cases and enters the water table there is a recipe for disaster and mass poisonings(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31Z battery).

When I looked deeply into this problem, not from books but just by looking at the amount of batteries disposed of from discarded McDonalads toys, computer boards and normal every day batteries I decided to not chuck my batteries and electronic items in the bin but get them disposed of properly, I guess the council consider the dangers when they build a land fill site(Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31M battery) but I am not prepared to put the future of my family and generations to come at the mercy of cash strapped councils, I could plead ignorance and take the cheap easy route or I could take responsibility for my actions and do my best to ensure the safety of the people around me(Sony VGN-FZ11Z battery).

You need to pay people to dispose of old equipment but it has got to be worth it as one small step to saving the earth.

I would appreciate comments from anyone who can highlight any dangers mentioned in my above post(Sony VGN-FZ220E battery).




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