In the past few weeks, we have gotten two long benches in place in the garage for doing teardown work. Even with that, we’re getting so many terrific volunteers that we’re pretty much elbow to elbow. It’s a great problem to have!

If you look at the previous blog entry, from January, the pictures show the one small bench we had for doing teardown, with four people working on it. We have now more than doubled the bench space and the number of volunteers using it. On the teardown benches, we dismantle computers, printers, and other peripherals that are broken or too old to be used for our build program. We break them down to four components: plastic, metal, circuit boards, and mixed. We separate the components and then deliver them to our recycling partners. Some components make us money in recycling, others cost us. So far, we’ve been able to make a bit more money in recycling than we’ve had to spend. The money then goes toward things like paying the rent.

Eventually, the space over on the right will become dedicated to testing and evaluating donated computers and components. We even managed to do a tiny bit of that yesterday.

Meanwhile, in the build room, the tight space story is the same as in the garage. A few months back, four tables were enough working space for doing builds. Then we had to “adopt” a couple of other tables in the room, as our number of volunteers grew. Yesteday we had so many people showing up to learn that we had to pull in folding tables stored in the garage to provide enough space for everyone to work on. We share this space with PPNA and other groups which use it for meetings and gatherings, so whatever we put up, we have to take down. That’s actually a good thing, as it makes us be better roommates, and enables the community to get more use out of the space. We just may have to look at getting more folding tables to accommodate all our friends and neighbors who want to get geeky. Another good problem to have!


We are slowly but most surely getting things organized in the garage. At the end of the summer we decided to vacate our old space at 3405 Chicago Ave. That meant bringing over all the computers, printers, monitors, and so on that had accumulated at 3405, to our new home in the old firestation, and it really buried us. There was hardly any place to walk. But litle by little we’ve been sorting through everything, re-using what can be re-used and recycling what can’t.

Sam and Brian sorted video cards, and later Sam & Jeremy sorted through our stock of hard drives which had become rather chaotic.

Michael tested keyboards, while on his right disks are wiped clean, at the new dedicated keyboard testing and¬†DBAN-ing¬†stations. We’ve had the equipment for a while, but never had a permanent place for it. Now we do.

Likewise, we began chipping away at our overflowing basement storage which is packed full of computer parts also from the move.

Nathan, Jeremy, and Jeff surveyed some of the computer parts brought up from the basement to be sorted. Buster the Robot supervised.

We are planning to have a garage sale in a few weeks, in which we’ll be selling excess computers, parts, and peripherals. We don’t have the date set yet, but we’ll let you know as soon as we can.

Jeff has been clearing Macs out of the hallway and getting them ready to be sold in the garage sale.
Being a former firestation, our building has an old hose drying room which is a tall narrow space that runs the full height of the building. We currently use it to store completed and in-progress Geek boxes. But our host, the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association (PPNA), is planning to turn that space into an elevator at the beginning of next year, so we need to move our stuff out. Once the Macs are cleared from the hallway, we’ll move the computers & monitors in the hose drying room to the hallway. In preparation for that, Alex & Art sorted through everything in the hose room. Alex found that we have many more flat screen LCD monitors than we thought, and we will probably sell some at the garage sale.

We had some new volunteers this week, in addition to our regulars, which always delights us all. Free Geek Twin Cities is an all-volunteer organization, and we’re getting to have quite a roster.

New volunteer Jessica dismantles a donated PC.

Volunteers Al and Steve debug a problem with build computer.

Volunteer Art helps a couple of other volunteers with their build system.

So, lots of little things happened this week, but they all add up to major progress. In fact, we are getting to the point now where we can start taking in many more donated computers. Bring us your old no-longer-used PCs, tell your friends and family to donate their unwanted computers to us, spread the word about FGTC, and “help the needy get nerdy”.