Hardware for tech house calls?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by bluebomberman, Dec 1, 2006.

  1. bluebomberman macrumors 6502a

    bluebomberman

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Location:
    Queens, NYC
    #1
    I'm thinking about freelancing in computer repair until I find better work elsewhere.

    What kind of hardware do I need? I'm thinking about buying a refurbished Macbook (the cheapest model I can find), some screwdrivers, as well as an upgrade to my Treo 700p's data plan to unlimited so that my Macbook can get online via the Treo's EVDO.

    Of course, a problem is that the upfront investment will hurt the pocketbook a lot. And I already have a lovely iMac G5 Rev. A, so a new laptop solely for fixing computers might be overkill. I don't think using the Treo *as the laptop* makes sense, either.

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #2
    I have never had to take a laptop with me on support calls. THe only time I've missed one was where the customers machine was so messed up it needed recovery, not support.

    Here's a list of other things you should consider.

    A Firewire drive with a bootable OS on it (you have to do a fair bit of work to make a universally bootable system) with enough room for data recovery

    DiskWarrior, TechTool Pro and DataRescue all on CDs. Optionally, Drive Genius, other recovery tools. Retail version of Tiger.

    CD(s) of the latest OS patches, application patches, good shareware downloads and Internet application installers like Firefox, etc. (don't take for granted your clients will have fast internet access. Installing the Software Updates on a new machine with a 'lite' broadband connection can take 2 hours. Dang near impossible on dialup. Much easier if you have a current set of downloads from Apple Support and can install locally)

    The same again for OS9

    TechTool Pro has a bootable Firewire 1 Gb Keychain drive with TechTool Pro on it, it's a couple of hundred dollars, but may be worth it.

    Spare cables -- ethernet CAT5 a couple of each lengths incl. a 25 foot, USB, USB M-F Extender, Firewire, telephone, AC power.
    PRAM batteries.
    Spare RAM sticks in the most popular sizes.
    Jewellers' screwdrivers. Torx drivers of all sizes including the 0 and 00 which are not commonly included in sets. (needed for Powerbook hard drive installations),
    2 flexible putty knives for Mini opening,
    Spare internet router/gateway/4 port hub,
    2 or more USB 2.0 hubs, preferably with AC power,
    couple of surge suppressor power bars, AC extension cord,
    anti-static wrist strap,
    canned air, contact cleaner,
    iKlear or screen cleaner,
    thermal grease (for iMac G4's),
    blank CDs and DVDs.
    RJ45 crimping tool and spare cable ends. Raw CAT5 cable. Cheat sheet to remind me the colour order for crimping raw CAT5 cable. Surface mount RJ45 jacks.
    Tools (you can buy zippered pouches or briefcases with most of the common tools for computer repair, and then add your specific extras). Soldering iron, solder, electrical tape.
    Spare jumpers for IDE hard drives.
    DVI-VGA adaptor.
    Microsoft Optical Wheel Mouse (wired).

    Some of these things, of course, you will be selling to the customer... you carry them with you so that you can install them on the spot and not have to waste time on another trip.
     
  3. Aniej macrumors 68000

    Aniej

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    #3
    suggestions in terms of what hardware to get specifically for this purpose or generally starting in this industry?
     
  4. Aniej macrumors 68000

    Aniej

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    #4
    wow did you jsut throw tht together Canadian or is it a list you keep pretty readily?
     
  5. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #5
    Umm, it's what I carry in my car, mostly, except for a couple of things I don't have like the TechTool memory keychain, I just typed it out... znd it turned out to be longer than I figured...

    OK, so I'm kinda obsessive about this stuff, what can I say?

    Forgot - if you are going to be installing cable, also carry a battery powered drill, long auger bit, strong waxed nylon twine, and a fish tape.

    Also: The one time you really want a Windows bootable laptop is if you are setting up NAS storage devices or network equipment that can only be configured from Windows #^^#%. Those devices can be a pain in the &$% if you are at a 100% Mac site.
     
  6. MACDRIVE macrumors 68000

    MACDRIVE

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    Clovis, California
    #6

    Yeah it just blows my mind that he keeps all that careening around in his head. :eek:
     
  7. bluebomberman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    bluebomberman

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Location:
    Queens, NYC
    #7
    Whoa, CanadaRAM, you're way more advanced than I'll ever be.

    I guess my ambitions are much lower...I figured most of my calls would involve cleaning spyware and viruses out of Windows computers.

    For instance, I found an ad in Craigslist for fixing computers:

    Wired and Secure Wireless Networking
    Memory Upgrades, Software & Hardware Installation
    File and Printer Sharing
    Internet Sharing
    Email Problems
    Movie/Music/Picture Problems
    External Storage, Printers, Digital Cameras, MP3 Players
    New DSL or Cable internet setup
    Computer maintenance Service
    Spyware and Virus removal service
    Pop-ups removal service
    Parental Control Software
    Hardware problems
    Black berry /Palm problems
    Home Entertainment / Automation Services
    Apple Networking, File and Printer Sharing
    Apple Air Tunes / Airport
    Ipod Services

    And we can help with a lot more.

    On-Site service rates start at $35 Per hour


    So I'm wondering what hardware I need for that...I guess at the very least, I need some way to get the latest malware removers and Firefox onto these computers, tools to access the innards, and perhaps some ways to rescue and transfer data.

    Oh, and I won't have a car. Public transportation all the way for me...

    EDIT: I'm in New York City, if you're wondering why I can even consider doing computer repair for $35/hr without wheels...
     
  8. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #8
    Well obviously you will have to do without some of the larger hardware spares, etc, and you don't need all the tools if you are not doing hardware installation/repair or network installation. But for that kind of list of services, pretty much a lot of the rest of the toolkit remains necessary.

    For example, I wouldn't show up on a home theatre install without spare interconnects, speaker wire, etc. It just looks bad if you have to say "Umm, I can't complete the job unless you can drive me to a RadioShack right now..."
     
  9. bluebomberman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    bluebomberman

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Location:
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    #9
    Hmm...I guess I have to figure out how few spare parts I can get away with without severely compromising the quality of my service. I don't want to pretend I can stock on spare parts the way big chain stores can (it's a crowded market here, with CompUSA, Best Buy, Staples, and Circuit City all providing tech services...from what I've been able to glean, a new computer installation is +$130!!!).
     
  10. Flyinace2000 macrumors 6502a

    Flyinace2000

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    Sep 28, 2004
    #10
    I charge $50 an hour for onsite/inhome service. Though i am in the suburbs of NYC where a lot of people have more money than brains.
     
  11. bluebomberman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    bluebomberman

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    #11
    What kind of gear do you use?
     
  12. lexus macrumors 68000

    lexus

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    #12
    Never rip a client off.
     
  13. bluebomberman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    bluebomberman

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    #13
    Uh, thanks for the advice, except that it doesn't answer my question.
     
  14. lexus macrumors 68000

    lexus

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    #14
    I know it was just advice.
     
  15. Flyinace2000 macrumors 6502a

    Flyinace2000

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    Sep 28, 2004
    #15
    - Macbook or Powerbook
    - Several CD's: OSX, Disc Warrior
    - USB drives
    - External HD if needed for backup
    - LEatherman
    - Extra Cat5e, FW400, USB


    Thats about it. Its mostly about know how then the tools. But the tools help a lot
     
  16. bluebomberman thread starter macrumors 6502a

    bluebomberman

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Location:
    Queens, NYC
    #16
    Thanks. Maybe I can make this work out after all...

    I wonder if I need to buy something like Norton Utilities to deal with Windows computers...

    No comment on whether I have the know-how to justify charging +$35/hr. :D
     

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