[Moving Zeal] Your Scrap Motherboards

Each motherboard is a different puzzle to both assess for resale value and dismantle for scrap value. Sometimes you’d get the old school ones where the soldered-on batteries and huge heat sinks would be a pain to snap off. Other times you’d develop a rhythm after scraping your hundredth slightly-outdated board. What surprised me about the recycling company most was how infrequently we’d consider selling them online. Waiting for $20 versus getting a quick X-cents/pound, perhaps?

I wasn’t the main board scrapper.

While I also don’t care much about hardware specs, despite having made my career in technical support, there were rudimentary methodologies for scraping versus selling motherboards. What I remember more is the summer heat, where an industrial fan would knock 5 degrees off the heat from one side of the warehouse, and opening computers like I was deshelling clams.

The oldest computers were always easier to open.

You could get most everything with a Phillips-head screwdriver. We had a screwdriver bit for Macs, but we only occasionally got one, and never anything good. We’d then either take a flathead screwdriver or a prybar to everything we could scrap. Heat sinks for copper, aluminum, or a mix. We’d be careful removing processors unless they were over 10 years old, then, gut ’em and chuck ’em in the bin.

The “shells” went into the scrap metal container.

Unlike my time volunteering at a computer repair shop, where we’d get plenty of old or broken computers to more thoroughly assess, this was just scrap and go. Time spent assessing details cost money. “Minimal wage,” sure, but business wasn’t booming. Then again, a small repair shop mainly receiving e-recycling donations would be more likely to strike gold with good processors than a medium-sized warehouse collecting truckloads of usually scrap metal plus occasionally good items.

So about those gold processors.

If they were newer, we’d sort them by processor type, and do bulk untested sales for them, parsing out anything with major scratches or anything that might visibly prevent them from working. If they were older, we’d sort them into bulk bins and sell them as smelted gold. I had limited involvement with this process as well, but I don’t remember motherboards or processors being big money items.

All told, it was better for the environment.

Better to bring any old appliances down to an e-recycling facility, a thrift store, or anything other than your trash bin. As I’ve been downsizing during this moving process, I’ve figured out that I actually don’t go through that much legitimate garbage. Much of it can be recycled or composted.

I know some municipalities dump recycling/compost into the trash.

Still, these companies are overall doing more good than harm. Sure, it may be hard labor work, but it was a decent job and we did some good for the environment, so it wasn’t that bad. If anything, it was an opportunity full of exciting adventures, some learning, and physical fitness.

This broken old motherboard is worth more than landfill fodder.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal and professional experiences.
Inspirations: Donating a scrap motherboard and thinking about working at the recycling company. This essay wasn’t as slam-full of content as “Summer Recycling Scrap” but some behind-the-scenes adventures just aren’t interesting.
Related: Other Moving Zeal essays. Sequel to “Summer Recycling Scrap” and the unfortunate conclusion to “Yard Sale: Project Motherboard.” I might as well write my thoughts about that here: I bought the motherboard for $1 during a time when I was employed in technical support, and right around the time I had a budding technical support business, where I went around and helped out people with technical issues. I was about $50 from breaking even, and could have made acceptable money, had I not realized I enjoy writing more than repairing old computers. I closed the business, kept up this website, and feel much happier because of it. The motherboard, which was sold to me as “a project NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI motherboard “that won’t POST”” in late 2016 would have been an eventual project, had I continued in that technical route. Instead, it collected dust as I changed career paths and lifestyles. It’s an unfortunate conclusion, but I feel essays like this and this downsizing move, in general, has helped me focus my efforts. I’ve adjusted well to not buying anything randomly just because it piqued my interest. Of course, the next year in the new apartment will be the real test to determine if I can stay focused on downsizing appropriately while not taking in too much more junk. I believe I can be materialistically more responsible.
Photo: Motherboard described above atop a purple bag on my old washing machine.
Written On: January 25th [bus ride 30 minutes]
Last Edited: March 2nd [importing into WordPress, editing for word count, clarity, and such]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.