Tag: packard bell

Tales from the Car Boot: Christmas Booting

This takes place a couple of Christmases ago, when I went back home. One of the boots I attend when I’m back at home is an indoor boot that only runs in the colder months of the year.

The boot itself is primarily traders, although there are a few stands run by your average Joe. Stalls are spread across two (sometimes, when it’s warmer and busier, three) floors of what I can only assume is a dilapidated warehouse of some form. It isn’t uncommon to dodge buckets in the middle of the aisle, strategically placed to catch drips from the leaky roof. It’s a strange atmosphere but there are some bargains to be had here, so when I can (and usually when my outdoor boots are called off due to weather) I take a trip down.

One such Sunday morning after Christmas, I braved the treacherous conditions and drove down to this boot. All you need to know about the journey there is that I’d never driven in snow and ice before, and thank god my car has ABS or I’d have probably been hit by a bus en route. I encountered a stand full of phones, games consoles and laptop bits, the usual hallmarks of a trader.

Piled on a table were two stacks of about 5 laptops each. Naturally I had a rummage through, and three machines caught my eye: An MSI netbook with a detached hinge and hideous stickers on the lid, a Sony Vaio which had one of the most destroyed keyboards I’ve seen and I later learned, a cracked LCD, and a smart little Lenovo ThinkPad X60. I have a soft spot for these little ThinkPads, I once acquired an X31 missing its top half, so I duly bought one, and my mother used it for about 2 years or so before I sold it on. With some bartering, I got the Vaio for £10 and the MSI for £5. I left the ThinkPad for that week, as it was priced at £25 and was untested. My intention was to fix up the Vaio and steal the hard drive and RAM from the MSI for another machine I had in stock.

Back in the safety of home and armed with screwdrivers and coffee, I set to work seeing what could be done. The Vaio, despite being marked as untested, appeared to work other than its original faults, and it eventually booted into its XP installation with an external monitor hooked up. Not the quickest machine in the world, but a 1.66GHz Pentium dual core with 1GB RAM and a 100GB hard drive would still have netted me a good £50-70. Bonus points for the DVD-rewriter, webcam and battery that held a charge would have ensured the higher end of that estimate.

However, eBay revealed that the cost of a keyboard would be about £30-40, and the screen a similar amount. The MSI was a similar crapshoot, due to soldered RAM, but this gave up its 160GB hard drive for the other machine (an Acer Aspire 5920, see next paragraph!) and was then given to one of my contacts in my uni town alongside another machine, funnily enough, the same Acer!

While I remember, I’ll write about the 5920. This was bought from a uni town car boot for £10 missing its RAM and hard drive. 2GB was put in, alongside the 160GB drive, and was sold for £50 to a contact of mine. It then died, but this wasn’t picked up on until a long while after. As I’m not a total bastard, I refunded him £40 and let him keep the rest for spares.

I went back the next week, after New Year’s, to see if I could get a machine with a donor screen for the Vaio, and to see what I could do about the price on the ThinkPad. Previously I had seen some 15.4″ HPs in the pile that could have donated screens, but before I could look for those I spotted a couple of new additions in the pile, so went straight for them. One was a Packard Bell, 15.4″, with a severely gouged lid and in need of a damn good clean, marked as untested. I took a punt on that, and negotiated down to £10 from £20 after giving the seller an endorsement while she was attempting to sell an Xbox to an unsure buyer. I then managed to get the ThinkPad down to £15.

Back home, and problem one: My universal charger doesn’t fit the ThinkPad, I can’t test it. Shit. This is the first laptop in the 4 years I’ve owned the charger that I couldn’t use it on. As a sidenote, that universal charger was the best £10 I ever spent. Yes, £10, bought it from Ebuyer, Xenta own brand one, never let me down until that moment! But wait, it fits the Packard Bell… for kicks, let’s turn it on shall we? Oh. It works perfectly and after a wipe down, aside from the lid is in pretty good condition. Sure, it’s a Vista laptop running 1GB of RAM, why manufacturers thought this would be acceptable I will never know, and it’s only an 80GB hard drive, but the condition and the hour-long battery life made it a good candidate to sell on.

Back at university, and oh look, in my spares box is a charger for the Packard Bell. Paid around £5 for the charger in a lot of them on a boot a few months prior. My usual contact, new custodian of the MSI and the previously mentioned Acer, agreed to swap the Vaio for a charger that would fit the ThinkPad, so this deal was done, and the ThinkPad turned out to be fully working as well! The slow 40GB drive with XP Pro was removed and replaced with a spare 60GB I had from a stripped machine, the RAM was upped from 1 to 2GB thanks to some cheap sticks of DDR2 at our local CEX store, and Windows was loaded on. The machine later sold for £60 to a grateful lady who collected.

The Packard Bell sold a few weeks later for £30 to a lowballing Gumtreer. I had it listed at £50, but given the condition of the lid and the low specs, £50 was a bit of a long shot anyway.

Total Profits made:
Vaio –  £10 = Breakeven (swapped for charger worth roughly £10)
ThinkPad – £15 + £4 for the RAM, £10 item swapped for charger, sold for £60 = £29 spend, £31 profit
MSI – £5 = £5 loss, given away after HDD removed.
Packard Bell – £10 + £5 for the charger, sold for £30 = £15 spend, £15 profit
Total spend across all four machines was £59, total made was £90, so an overall profit of £31. Not too shabby for four laptops another trader had pretty much discarded!

And as for the Acer, £10 purchase price, £5 for the HDD (effectively the price of the MSI), £5 for a hard drive caddy, £10 for a charger, sold for £50 = £30 spend, £20 profit. Let’s ignore the fact that it died shortly after selling and I ended up refunding £40!


Tales from the Car Boot: It’s dad’s fault, I swear!

This Saturday, my father decided to visit, so we both went along to my Saturday boot this time, with some interesting purchases made. Sunday seemed to be a day of peripherals, with lots bought (including a nice dark wood and black leather nest of tables for £15, not pictured, but I liked them a lot!)


Toshiba Satellite Pro A120

It didn't like the Ubuntu USB you see attempting to boot in the background
It didn’t like the Ubuntu USB you see attempting to boot in the background

This looked a little rough but the screen seemed good, and it was at a price I could not refuse. An inspection when I got home revealed it was complete internally, with its T2250 processor and 512MB RAM. Boots, but the standard 80GB hard drive is dead, the keyboard is dead (a recurring theme with my purchases lately!) and there’s no backlight for the screen. Plan is to order an inverter, replace the hard drive and keyboard, and then restore back to its original XP (helpfully, a Toshiba recovery DVD was left in the optical drive!). Rough costs are £5 for an inverter, £11 for a keyboard, and another £8 for a charger.
Price Paid: £10

Packard Bell Argo-C

This is what we started with...
This is what we started with…

This was for spares, obviously, I mean, look at it! Most of the parts have been thrown away. Surviving the chop were the 80GB hard drive, 1GB RAM, single-core processor, mini-PCI wireless card, the DC jack (not a soldered one in these!) and the DVD-RW drive, as well as the keyboard. Everything else was chucked, and screws were kept. Hard drive is going in the A120, and we’ll put the RAM in there too.

...and this is what's left!
…and this is what’s left!

Price Paid: £1

Advent 9212

Bloody thing. I can't solder to save my life!
Bloody thing. I can’t solder to save my life!

This was sold to me as working with a broken keyboard. The whole keyboard and touchpad were covered in a clear glue, which was peeled off on the drive back. Missing one key, and another is one from a different laptop. Further inspection reveals the 2GB of RAM and 160GB hard drive this should have aren’t present. Furthermore, the DC jack seemed iffy when tested. It later disintegrated, so needs a new one on.. If I can get it to power up, I might consider replacing the DC jack, but the main thing I want to do is test that the screen is working OK. Might be sold on for parts, not sure yet.
Price Paid: £5


Mystery package!

Guess what's inside without reading down!
Guess what’s inside without reading down!

All of the next few items were on a stand where the guy was clearing out all his old stock. He planned to unwrap this and put whatever it was on the stand, and I said, for a laugh, I’d have it as is for £1. Upon opening the package, it turned out to be…


This Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5″ drive! It appears to have been posted from Belgium to somewhere in Yorkshire, and hasn’t survived the journey. Non-responsive to commands according to SeaTools… but what’s this? Under warranty until February next year? Sending this back to Seagate this week and we’ll see what happens!

Huntkey 65w universal charger

Boxed and ready to go!
Boxed and ready to go!

Looks alright, but only does 18v to 20v, whereas my current universal charger does 15v to 24v, so will probably stick with that. Works fine, intention is to sell for around the £10 to £15 mark.

Call of Duty: Ghosts (PC)

Boxed and ready to play!
Boxed and ready to play!

I’ll be keeping this, provided the code hasn’t already been activated. I liked Modern Warfare 2, but didn’t really rate Black Ops 2, but for the price paid it’s worth a play I think!

Extremeory 8GB CompactFlash card

I'm quite happy with this.
I’m quite happy with this.

This works, and will be kept for my Sony A200, as I’m currently running 2 2GB cards.

Akasa USB 3 internal card reader

Would be great... if it worked.
Would be great… if it worked.

Boxed. Little disappointed as I hoped this would be one I could use on my motherboard’s internal USB3 header, but that’s not the case. Better still, the card reader portion doesn’t work. Stripped it down and basically got myself a USB3 extension lead, and chucked the rest.

Coolermaster NotePal U2 laptop cooler/riser

Arise, sir laptop...
Arise, sir laptop…

This was a little bent but has been bent back into shape. Good working order. Will attempt to sell on but it wouldn’t be so bad to keep. Quite a smart thing, black brushed aluminium, two 80mm fans, connects via USB with a passthrough connector.

Price paid for this lot: £6

I then went back and bought another lot off the same guy!

StarTech USB3 dual SATA enclosure

A nice paperweight.
A nice paperweight.

This is boxed and looks to have been used briefly as the locks on the doors are a little chewed up. Looks like a nice bit of kit though. Upon opening up, oh no, one of the SATA ports is broke, and the other won’t accept a HDD for some reason (tried it with a known working WD 160GB drive). Chucked. Kept the packaging foam to use to return the Seagate, and the power supply (12v 3a, and a fig-8 lead).

StarTech ExpressCard USB3 adapter

A worse paperweight.
A worse paperweight.

This is also boxed. Will be put in my old L300 if working… which it doesn’t appear to be. Nothing happens when I plug it in. Could be a laptop issue, the R510 I have in at the moment has an ExpressCard slot so will try and test in that.

HP/Compaq charger

I couldn't be bothered to open the box... it's a charger, they all look alike!
I couldn’t be bothered to open the box… it’s a charger, they all look alike!

This is a standard cheap 18.5v 3.5a charger that fits HP and Compaq laptops. I haven’t got one in at the moment, but into the box of spares it goes.

Generic windscreen mount for satnav/phone

This is a windscreen mount plate, comes with something to clip it to air vents and a suction pad for the dashboard too. No adapter plates but these can be got cheap (I got one for £1 for my old TomTom from Maplins once). Forgot to photograph this one!

Anker 2-port turbo car charger

This will replace the cheap one I've been using, probably.
This will replace the cheap one I’ve been using, probably.

This is a little USB car charger. Will test and possibly keep as I’m currently using a really cheap crap one for my TomTom (to be fair, it could be the cigarette lighter in my car that’s buggered!)

Price paid for the lot: £7