Computer Repair Tools are not necessarily limited to screwdrivers and hardware testers. A robust toolkit must also include an array of internal adapters.
Different technical standards, particularly when using new items in older equipment, require adapters, or converters, to be operational. This applies to both desktop and mobiles devices.
In this section we look at some of the power supply and disk storage adapters that should form part of anyones toolkit.
This is the fourth of a six part series. Here we look at the essential tools you need in your kit bag, including some unexpected objects!
Part 1 looks at the core tools you need in your kit bag such as screwdrivers and pen torches.
Part 2 looks at what you need to do before opening your device. This includes a focus on how to manage electrostatic discharge.
Part 3 focuses on hardware testers. We look at different tools for testing different components, including motherboards to Power Supply Units.
Page 5 focus on the different types of cables and components that are an invaluable part of your tool kit.
Part 6 is a run down of additional items to consider for your toolbox.
A set of computer repair tools is not complete without the reliable universal power adapter (Opens New Window). Used mainly for laptops, they usually come with a selection of adapter tips/jacks and switchable voltage options to fit your laptop make/model.
To determine the voltage and size of jack to use, refer to the devices manual. In addition, some adapters are specific to the mae and model of laptop e..g. a Dell or Mac Book Pro.
Most adaptpers come with lights, or LED's, to signify, say, a true connection to your device, whether the device is recharing, or when fully charged.
Some connectors come with magnetic tips to ensure a true connection. How often have you thought the power adapter is plugged in properly when in fact it isn't? The magnetism withstands small movements or cable pulls that could disconnect your supply under normal circumstances.
For working with desktop devices it is prudent to have a couple of standard kettle leads (Opens New Window) with a 13A (Amp) fuse (UK) as part of your computer repair toolset.
These cables are also useful for powering monitors too, as they often take the same rated cable type.
Mobile devices can be charged with an appropriate USB cable connected to a wall charger or direclty in to another device such as a desktop or laptop.
There is a lot of options on the market covering different types of adapters for different types of Smartphone and Tablet devices. A quick Google or Amazon search can bring back an overhelming array of choice (Opens New Window).
Universal external power banks (Opens New Widow) provide a convenient way to charge mobile devices when there is no power outlet or cable available.
Modern power banks have the capability to identfy your device to perform optimal (fastest) charging techniques.
This is useful if you are working on a device that does not have a power supply with it and the device is running low on juice. I've seen this scenario several times in my career - if only such devices existed in the early days!.
Power bank do not work with laptops but do work with most other mobile devics such as tablets and surface pros. However you need the right cable type to connect thew device so make sure you have this available.
There is a whole load of different types of internal Power Supply Unit (PSU) converters available on the market.
An example is where a new motherboard is installed into a desktop device but the original PSU has a different connector required to power the motherboard.
Another example is where a faulty PSU is replaced in an older devicd and does not have thecorrect molex connector to power the PCI Express (2.0) video card (Opens New Window).
These types of adapter are also useful to have as part of your computer repair toolset for increasing the number of power connectors available, especially in machines with lots of internal components, or when using hardware testing componenrs such as POST's.
Another scenario where internal adapter extensions are useful is for powering components in larg tower chassis where the component is furthest away from the PSU.
The key is to understand what you have and what you need. You tend to collect these types of cables as you work on different machines, and is usually your first port of call when undertaking a repair job.
Hard Disk adapters are an absolute must for your computer repair toolset. Har Drives fail frequently for whole host of reasons - wear and tear or power surge to name but a few.
I have been in situations where I've had to plug a laptop hard drive in to a desktop machine to retrieve data. Laptop hard drives are smaller than standard desktop hard derivews, and need a special 44 to 40 pin IDE adapter to connect.
On occasions I've had to connect desktop hard drives to laptops via USB ports to take data backups or transfer large amounts of data betwen devices. There is some key information to note when looking to invest is one of these disk adapters.
When using an internal disk drive in an external capacity, make sure you are earthed, and be careful when manoevering the device. You don't want to cause a short and render the hard drive uselss.
If you are unsure about using internal components in an external capacity, in this way, look at using an externald HDD Dock (Opens New Window) . These devices make HDD's hot swappable and reduce the risk of HDD damage.
Another advantage of HDD Docks is they can be used to cloning/imaging.
USB Flash Drives are also a staple item of a robust computer repair toolset. They come in various sizes and levels of security/encryption (AES-256 for those interested).
USB pens can be more convenient than HDD Dock, but have less capacity than a HDD and are equally susceptable to damage.
The video below gives an overview of the Kingston Data Traveler USB Flash Drive.
It is impossible to cover every type of adapter as there are so many available covering various types of circumstances.
The key takeaway message is to pay attendtion to the detail of what is required. Don't just take a punt on an item because it looks like it will do the job. Check the USB version, capacity, number of pins, transfer rates, PSU type, volage, adapter tip/jack size etc.
Most of this information is available with the accompanying instructions for the devce you are working on, or available online.
The vdeo below is a quick introduction to USB docks.