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As we progress forward, we are finding more volunteers wanting to sign up for Build, and therefore Prebuild. We are also experiencing a decrease in hardware in the first parts of Prebuild (Hardware Sorting and Case Management) due to process changes needed for efficiency and the ewaste legislation. This creates a problem of how to squeeze extra volunteers through this bottleneck on their way into Build.

The plan is to combine the jobs that were formerly known as Hardware Sorting, Card Sorting, Motherboard Sorting, Eval 1, and Case Management (Hardware ID) into one new educational area called Hardware Identification. Some functions from Case Management would go to System Evaluation. System Evaluation would expand in slots and space available. Hardware Identification would try to be a drop in and learn space and students could demonstrate discrete skills needed to go into build. Once these skills had been demonstrated, they'd be free to do some time as System Evaluation and then move on to Build.

There would be a basic set of skills that each student would have to demonstrate proficiency in. There would also be intermediate skills. They would only need to demonstrate a percentage of the intermediate skills. We could record the basic skills as a checklist on their status sheet, and also list the "extra credit" skills they have as well.

An effort should be made to include descriptions and definitions so that volunteers studying the charts out-of-House on the wiki will not suffer from misunderstood word phenomena.


This is a brain dump of some items. Some could be moved, added, or deleted.


Students would have to demonstrate that they know all this stuff to move on. (This is a preliminary list.)

  • differentiate between memory slots and card slots in a motherboard (see Cards vs Memory)
  • identify a PCI, PCI-e, and AGP card, and identify each type of those slots on a motherboard (see Card Sorting)
  • size a hard drive (see Hard Drive Sizing)
  • identify the three main types of DIMMs (see What kind of memory is this? and RAM Sorting)
  • size memory (see Memory Sizing) (including Google?)
  • identify a network card, a modem, a wireless card, a sound card, and a video card from each other
  • identify where the processor goes on the motherboard
  • identify hard drives
  • differentiate between optical drives - regular CD drives, DVDs, rewriteable or recordable CDs
  • find an IDE cable
  • open and close three styles of cases without breaking them (an easy, a medium, and a hard)
  • spot a blown capacitor
  • difference between a slot processor and zif socket (see CPU Box)


Students might have to demonstrate that they know some percentage of this stuff to move on, but they wouldn't need to know all of it. (This is a preliminary list.)

  • identify a riser
  • identify an AT and an ATX power connector
  • identify an AT, USB, and PS/2 keyboard connector
  • test button batteries
  • test power supplies
  • identify an Ultra Speed and High Speed rewriteable or recordable CD
  • identify ISA, EISA, VESA, and MCA slots and cards
  • determine the speed of a NIC
  • enter BIOS on at least two different kind of systems (with different BIOSes)
  • determine the speed of a processor manually and reattach the heat sink and fan without damage

Instruction Pages

The Lesson Boxes

Each lesson box should have a letter label. Each item that belongs in a lesson box should have a matching letter label. In some cases there will be multiple lessons per box.

If people follow the letters in order the lessons should more or less progress and build upon each other. More advanced and esoteric lessons could be in boxes with higher letters.

First stab:

  • A. Cards vs. Memory, Memory Sorting, (possibly Card Sorting by Function)
  • B. Card Slots, (possibly Card Sorting by Function)
  • C. Motherboard Identification and Motherboard Sorting
  • D. Different Drive Types
  • E. Hard Drives
  • F. Central Processing Unit (CPU)
  • add more here ...

Teaching Sequence

  1. Do a preliminary judge of level - beginner, intermediate,
  2. Memory, putting sticks in, and Cards vs Memory (Box A)
    • Memory sorting if needed (Box A)
  3. Card familiarization (Box A)
  4. Card slot ID and putting cards into mobo (Box A and/or B)
    • Card sorting if needed for learning reinforcement (Box A)
  5. Drives (Box D)
  6. Identifying the stuff on the mobo (Box C)
    • Power supply types, 4-pin, SATA etc (Box P)
  7. Hard drive types, where they are and sizing (Box E)
  8. CPUs (Box F)
  9. Case opening/closing
  10. Check out
  • Emphasize go-at-your-own-speed while still encouraging volunteer helping volunteer
  • Throughout prebuild, it is important to give extra attention to the volunteer who has time at a task but has been away for awhile (even if only 10 days) because unusual interpretations of the flow charts have been noticed to creep in.
  • Remember to provide definitions of terms
  • Instruct folks to read the walls - they are covered with great information - and ASK QUESTIONS. And give feed-back.
  • Ask card sorters if they can stay for longer shift if you want them in System Eval.

The Hardware Identification area

We'd like to treat this as a hands on classroom, where students could grab a lesson box (filled with cards or whatever). The lesson box would contain a laminated instruction sheet that lets the student "study up". There would also be a task that the student would need to do in front of an instructor. There would also be a list of items that need to be in the box (so instructors could make sure it's ready.)

Some of these tasks might be appropriate for online tests (like identifying which parts of a motherboard take RAM and which take cards). Some would require physical presence to accomplish (like being able to open and close up a case properly). For those that could be available online, we could have a moodle test that the student could take to speed up their graduation.

Some production related tasks could be accomplished in this area (such as testing batteries and power supplies), but the main thrust of the area would be educational.

If possible, we'd like access to the hardware identification area be open to anyone interested in joining the build program on a drop in basis, perhaps with a signup sheet for any station that is full. If that doesn't work, we'd need to go back to scheduling shifts. We might additionally want to limit how many people go straight there after a tour.

Changes to System Evaluation

Currently system evaluation identifies red light, yellow light, and green light computers, but it passes off the red light and yellow light computers to case management. Now managing all three classes of computers would happen in System Evaluation. For red light systems, this simply means pulling the hard drives. For yellow light systems, this would include pulling any item on the exceptional components list as well as anything written on the white board.