[nSLUG] Best way to destroy a PC?

Donald Teed dteed at artistic.ca
Mon Jun 2 12:03:37 ADT 2003

Most of the ideas will involve the risk of overloading
the power and thus bringing down all of the machines
and/or the lights, etc. in the room.

A standard cheap power bar with a circuit breaker in it should
be able to protect the rest of the set up.

You could test the power bar circuit breaker before hand by using
a plug with wires and a penny.  Without touching the metal
part of the wires, place both of them on a penny and it
should pop the breaker.  Radio shack sell a short plug and
wire set that have bare wires on one end that could be used for
the circuit blowing test, or you could take scissors to an old
power plug you have around.

I used this method to sucessfully and safely blow the power at
a place I was staying many, many, years ago.  I needed to sleep but a
friend of the guy in the room next to mine wanted to play
Dark Side of the Moon over and over again at 2 AM.  A quick trip to
the Seven/Eleven and I covertly had the required part of the house
in darkness and quiet.

You could have a lamp plugged into the same power bar
with circuit breaker at demo time to verify to the audience
that the power has been blown on that source.

The hydraulic press crushing act could produce an open rather than
a short, so water might be a more sure or more predictable bet if
you wanted to use the lamp concept with the power bar.

I still think some audience participation would make it more
exciting.  This is what magicians and other forms of
entertainment use to allow the viewer to place their
perspective into that of the participant.  Perhaps
asking "did anyone order a drink and get the wrong one"
could be used to find a source of liquids to pour on to
the machine.

--Donald Teed

On Mon, 2 Jun 2003, Dop Ganger wrote:

> Thanks for all the suggestions. My concerns are:
> (a) shorting a circuit breaker and plunging the Casino into darkness. The
> target machine is a desktop, so it's going to be plugged into the
> electricity supply.
> (b) avoiding harming members of the audience. Not the best way to get
> publicity!
> (c) Something attention getting
> (d) Something that doesn't foul on the case (the desktop has a riser bay
> that has a support bracket that cover the top left hand corner of the
> case; the machine won't boot without it, though I'm going to see if I
> can't cut off just the support with a hacksaw).
> Now, there were a couple of people wondering why I'm going to be doing
> this instead of just pulling the power, and therefore saving all the
> components. Well, this box is an old junker that was going to be thrown in
> the garbage anyway, and it's a Compaq all-in-one machine; no PCI cards can
> be saved. About all that can be salvaged after I take it out is a 32 meg
> dimm, a 300MHz Celeron CPU, and a 3 gig hard drive. And the reason *why*
> I'm going to destroy it instead of just pull the power; well, I'm going to
> do that first anyway to demonstrate that what I'm about to do isn't just
> sleight of hand. Then, after the machine boots up and takes over again,
> I'm going to kill the machine for good. The reason for this is, a certain
> large software manufacturer did a similar demo for its cluster technology,
> but in their case the representative didn't use his axe on the machine (I
> guess he didn't really have the confidence in his product). I want to
> destroy it to show that Linux is capable of real failover, and that we're
> willing to put our money where our mouths are :-)
> Now, the suggestions:
> * Sledgehammer (or axe)
> Concern here is (d). It's a small machine (the maintenance guide at
> ftp://ftp.compaq.com/pub/supportinformation/techpubs/user_reference_guides/314127-001.pdf
> has the only pictures I could find to demonstrate how small it is -
> there's actually a guide in there on how to attach it to the underside of
> a desk). I don't want to risk damaging the table underneath, either.
> * Graphite/iron filings, potassium permangante, liquid nitrogen
> Risks (b) by having filings/powder/liquid nitro flying all over the
> audience. Also a risk of stuff getting into other machines and causing a
> total outage (bad!)
> * Hydraulic press
> I hadn't thought of this one, but it's definitely tempting. I'm going to
> look into this one to see what I can find out.
> * Screwdriver
> Tempting, but I know from past experience (don't ask) that running a
> metallic object over a motherboard generates some nice sparks, but does
> not guarantee the death of a board (or even a crash).
> * Thermite
> Ummmm, no.
> * Water (optionally with complete submersion)
> Nice idea, but it risks (a). This is probably what I'd do if it was a
> laptop I was using, though.
> * Push it off the table
> Not really graphic enough, and it risks denting the floor (I'm not sure
> what it is, but I have a suspicion it's a wooden floor).
> Thanks for all your suggestions. I'm hoping to get a DV camera so I can
> record whatever I end up doing and put it up somewhere for your viewing
> amusement :-)
> Cheers... Dop.
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