Smoking around computers

From: Ian Koller <>
Date: Mon Dec 10 23:48:14 2001


  You've got plenty of other nasty stuff in the air in
machine shops too. Smoking cutting oils, mist coolant
drift, etc. One way to keep the gunk from being drawn
through the drives is to leave the cover off the case.
With an extra fan inside blowing across the boards,
keeps everything cool enough.


Richard Erlacher wrote:
> Bear in mind that I'm a FORMER smoker, and that there's no Catholic like a
> convert, as they say ... I don't know about truly Classic (pre-Apple/pre-CP/M)
> hardware in this context, but from my experience with current hardware, i.e.
> PC's with a fan at the back of the PSU that exhausts air that's drawn in through
> the front-loading peripherals, I'd make the following comment.
> I've disassembled a number of CDROM drives that clearly suffered from
> accumulation of dirt on the optic. In those few cases where (a) I knew the user
> to be a frequent smoker, and (b) where I could smell the smoke on the innards of
> the drive, I normally found that I couldn't clean the optic with anything I
> dared put near the quite soluble plastics used in the drive and specifically in
> the laser pickup.
> Likewise, I often have seen and smelled what was obviously tabacco smoke residue
> on floppy disk innards. Those were easily cleaned, with the exception of the
> heads, which in the cases where they were visibly stained (and it's not easy to
> look at the heads, but, once they're visible, the damage is easy to see) with
> what appeared to be smoke residue, and that generally has rendered the drives
> unreliable. The environment in which I most frequently encountered this problem
> was a machine shop where things were none too clean anyway, but the mousepad
> showed plenty of evidence of a cigarette being held 2" in front of the end of
> the box where the CDROM and FDD resided. It was no wonder the CDROM and FDD
> smelled like a very dirty ashtray.
> This is largely the product of the stupid, Stupid, STUPID practice of putting
> the fan in the PSU such that it exhausts the system in the way in which it does.
> I routinely turn the fan around, and, in fact, on at least two of my boxes, have
> put a second fan outside the PSU, with a filter between the two. This has quite
> remarkably reduced the accumulation of dirt in the PSU as in the rest of the
> box. It does make for a bit more noise, as the two fans tend to "beat" due to
> the difference in speed. I once made a crude effort to measure the temperature
> effect of doing this, and found the results favorable, since the reduced
> presence of dirt meant freer airflow against the surfaces of the IC's that
> required cooling in the box. I like to believe the conclusion I drew was
> correct, but it was what I expected to find, so take it for what it's worth.
> Tobacco smoke is VERY sticky and VERY pervasive, and should be kept out of
> computer hardware, even if only because it's so nasty and hard to remove. This
> can be accomplished, if you don't want to turn around your PSU fan, by taping a
> piece of paper towel to the front of your hardware so it requires the air to
> flow THROUGH the paper towel, rather than going, unimpeded, through your
> front-loading peripherals. That's probably adequate. Some cases once had a
> sliding cover that protected these peripherals from the hazard of smoke and
> other airborne pollutants. The air will still get into your computer, since its
> box isn't air-tight, but at least it won't flow through the devices that would
> be damaged most by it.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Douglas Quebbeman" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Monday, December 10, 2001 8:40 AM
> Subject: RE: Smoking around computers
> > > > From: Tony Duell <>
> > >
> > > > I wouldn't want anybody smoking near my computers!
> > >
> > > I've been chain-smoking around computers of various sorts for 20 years, and
> > > I've never seen any evidence of smoke-related problems. I prefer that
> > > computers don't smoke around me, however ;>)
> > >
> > > OTOH, audio gear seems to be very susceptible to my smoke, and I have to
> > > clean all the switches and pots every three months or so.
> >
> > The early CDC disk drives (like many others I'm sure) has so
> > much room between platters you could stick your hand in there,
> > and enough room between the flying heads and the platter that
> > neither smoke nor dust was a problem. One CDC engineer remarked
> > to me about how they usually be smoking a cigarette while they
> > were *polishing* the platters (yes, I know about the stiction
> > cure joke, Lemon Pledge and all that). Which reminds me of an
> > MPEG that Elsa included with the Winner3000 drivers... you
> > watch this video, you'll think it's cigarettes that they're
> > selling...
> >
> > -dq
> >
> >
Received on Mon Dec 10 2001 - 23:48:14 GMT

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