My mom was cleaning out her basement and came across my husband’s ancient computer monitor, and for some crazy reason she didn’t want it. So she asked my sister to deliver it to my house…which is over 300 miles away!! What a good sister. But guess what? We didn’t want it either!
So, this big ol’ dusty tan hunk of Apple history became the perfect toy to deconstruct…with grown-up help because it turns out that monitors have tricky pockets full of icky stuff that can be deadly if messed around with in the wrong way. Lucky for us, my more-tech-savvy-than-me husband was up for the challenge!
Capacitors are Dangerous
Capacitors are dangerous. This you need to know. Our monitor was in storage, inactive, for about ten years so there was very little chance of being shocked by a charged capacitor. However, you have to be smart and can read more about it the truth of cathode ray tubes (CRT’s) and shock danger here if you’re interested in carrying forward in your own similar take-apart project.
If you decide to try this at home, with kids or adults, there are some warnings you should heed.
See the end of this post for a list of suggested items for take-apart tinkering.
After reading up on the dangers of endeavor, we decided that we’d only take Project Deconstruct Monitor so far before it would find itself at the town recycling center.
I’m not an advocate for anyone getting hurt, so use your best judgement and do your research, folks.
Tips for taking apart machines
- unplug your machine
- stay away from CRT’s (I know, we didn’t follow that advice — be smart)
- wear goggles (again — be smarter than we were!)
Before the monitor met its fate, we brought out some tinkering tools to explore with: scissors, screwdriver, and flashlight. And N loved it! She got her hands right into the wires and asked loads of good questions. It was really fun for all of us to see exactly what was inside a monitor.
N got her flashlight out to get a closer look at the circuit boards, wires, and metal housing pieces.
And she even got to give the screwdriver a spin or two.
After this, my husband carted the whole thing off to be recycled by professionals, and suggested that next time we take apart a simple keyboard or mechanical clock. Agreed!
Aside from being on edge about safety, this was a great project for matching my child’s interests (she’s taken note of other deconstructed computers lately), supporting curiosity, encouraging exploration of the unknown, and giving her a more intimate understanding of the inner-workings of our computers. Who knows, she may be a computer scientist one of these days!
Good objects to take apart
- sewing machine
- old fashioned telephone
- fax machine
If you or your child likes to take things apart, check out this book, Unscrewed: Salvage and Reuse Motors, Gears, Switches, and More from Your Old Electronics. Bonus: The table of contents contains an inspiring list of take-apart objects to get the ideas rolling.
5 easy steps to set up a TinkerLab at home.