… and the first real appearance of BKS miscellany here in 484. I’d like to point out the genuine BKS space elevator, the Comet, and the pair of Symphonia class battle cruisers XD And no, the connection between this storyline and the BKS “saga” if you will has not bee revealed yet. Nor has the summary been updated for part 6 -_- As it stands I’ve been hella busy over the last week doing my final art project and studying for effin Circuits, though I really have wanted to continue with the story.
I’m actually writing this part of the entry right after the last one, so I won’t need to write it later. For the most part I don’t think I’ll switch topics anyways, so there’s not much to be gained or lost by writing it super-early. In fact it may be easier for me since I’m already kind of in the flow of things. I left off on the last entry babbling about making some money without working too hard and ended up turning to something I wasn’t so unfamiliar with: laptop repair.
Really, I’d been thinking about it since the entry in d173 where I described jumping a burnt solder joint on a PSX with aluminum foil and performing a similar fix on a Latitude C840. That was probably the second or third machine I’d gotten, polished-up, and resold in the past couple years, but up until then I’d really only fixed up units I got for free. I’d’ never really considered buying broken laptops, repairing, and reselling, but that changed (according to my Excel’ed dates) in early July.
Initially I had considered simply buying low and selling high: I could find some machine for $200, sell it for $300, save the margin, and re-invest the rest. I’m not totally sure why I didn’t go through with that; even in the shit economy at the moment, I still believe you can make a profit doing this, but I’m guessing I eventually discovered or calculated the margins in repair to be a bit a higher – despite requiring effort other than trolling for deals and listing items.
Now I started this summer as that was when my Paypal account actually gained enough funds for me to start (having lost a lot of funds buying my TC4200 in March). Sometime in the summer I got an influx of old laptops, all Dells, an Inspiron 1150, Latitude X200 (can’t find a review or anything o_O), and a Latitude D600. The former two were from my dad, he and my sister had recently upgraded, so we were left with some antiques that were worth about $200 to $250 each. Ultimately he agreed to let me do what I wanted with ’em given that I kept a machine on hand as a backup in case someone in the family needed it.
I ended up ponying up my already unused 500m as the backup and sold the two. Then, for about a hundred, I bought the D600 from the infamous Generalachoo. It was this machine that actually proved to me that this venture could be profitable: initially it had seemed like the D600 was only missing a set of hinges which was an easy $20 fix. It turned out the sound on the board was faulty and I had to buy a new motherboard to return the machine to working condition. What I didn’t know at the time was that I could still re-sell the old board at a considerable fraction of the price of a working one – for parts, of course – and other buyers, probably more capable repair establishments, would actually buy ’em given that at least it powered up or whatnot.
Now of course, there are strategies to buying and selling the right units at the right prices, but it’d take me entries and entries to go on about it. The end result is that even in this shitty economy, which I have already aluded to, you can still get a margin of anywhere from $50 to $150 on a particular unit, sometimes completely depending on the luck of the draw. Kind of the key idea here – I think – should be that people are willing to pay a sigificantly greater amount for a completely working unit than one that is, say, completely working, minus the sound. The same is true, of course, of individual components, but the difference between the price of a fully working motherboard and a motherboard that is completely working, minus the sound, while large with respect to the overall price of the motherboard, is small relative to the price of an entire laptop.
I’m also only repairing Latitude D600s. In general I think it’s a good idea to stick with a single machine as parts from one unit can be rolled over to the next if there are broken and non-broken components that can be interchanged. In an extreme scenario you have one unit with a bad screen and another with a bad board; you can simply swap screens or boards and you’ve got a fully functioning machine and one that’s pretty much only good for parts. You couldn’t do this if one machine was a D600 and the next was a D610. why exactly the D600 is split between having some experience with this generation of machine (the 500m and 600m are actually the last Inspirons to share a common chassis with their Latitude counterparts), the abundance of parts, the fact that I had a D830 and a 500m, and the fact that three other members of my family now have D600s. I like Dell, too, possibly to the point of fanboi-ism.
So what of the actual profits? Well, again I don’t really find it appropriate to disclose that kind of information on the Internet, but let’s just say it’s positive. It could potentially be a lot bigger, but I haven’t really scaled the operation since I started; for a most part I’ve been keeping an inventory of about two to three units in part due to the weak economy actually affecting ebay sales and due to the uncertainty of each sale at a given price. Again I could probably go on about whatever strategy there is here, but I think the main point is that you probably do learn something about business by DIY.
So yeah, some obligatory pictures:
This is a D600. For the most part, everything but the plastics are interchangeable with the 500m, 600m, and D500, though the 500m and D500 usually come with a less-featured motherboard. It can take any 400MHz FSB Pentium M and associated Celerons, up to 2GB of DDR, any PATA hard drive, and any D-Series module that’s been made between now and 2003. So yes, I could actually use the DVD drive and modular battery from my D830 if I still had it. Graphics are a “dedicated” Mobility Radeon 9000 and you can get XGA and SXGA+ screens and a plethora of shitty and less shitty wireless cards.
A smattering of parts, you can see a bunch of large plastics in the first pic, a clump of internal bits in the second, and some of the more fragile, more general components in the last. For the most part the limiting reagent here are screens and motherboards, but HDDs and ODDs seem to be harder and harder to come by in parts units these days. Sometimes you can get like a 1.8GHz Pentium M in a parts unit that’ll sell for something like $60+ on its own, but fail to raise the accepted buying price of a machine by anything. Same goes for DVDRW drives and some other bits.
Laptop bags are one item that can’t really hold their own in being sold AND don’t really raise the price of an item by much. For the most part, the extra revenue generated by adding a laptop bag to an item are offset completely by how much extra it costs to ship the damn thing. The USPS Flat Rate box is an amazing deal. $10 anywhere in the country, any weight, in 2-3 days. UPS Ground can suck it. With a bag I have to use a standard, larger box for a heavier overall package which can be up to 3 times as expensive as the flat rate.
Ok, that’s it for today. Maybe one more entry on this next time. For the record, this IS the longest entry ever at 8.5KB.