29 August 2015

My 14 Year Old Son Built a Computer

Ethan, age 14, built a computer this summer. Starting at age eleven, he began asking if he could build his own computer. He "sold" the idea to my husband by saying "this can be a father-son project." He informed me my contributions would not be required. For the past three years, we've been planning financially for the special purchase of the appropriate parts needed for the build.

Ethan researched the best parts for the best prices for the computer he imagined. Late this summer we finally purchased all the individual parts (not as a kit like at least one Negative Nancy has already suggested). As the parts began arriving via UPS, excitement escalated, and we could see our son's eyes sparkle with anticipation.
First shipment delivered by UPS
When the first shipment arrived, the project began to feel real to all of us. This is really happening--my son is building a computer! Neither my husband nor I have any experience with building computers, so we relied completely on our teenager for leading this project.

Getting Started
Ethan was sure the project would only take a couple of hours, and he and my husband both welcomed my presence with the camera snapping photos (at least for the first two hours they welcomed photos).
Wearing gloves and electrostatic wrist bands

In Ethan's research and preparation for the build he learned he should wear gloves to avoid fingerprints and wear anti-static wrist straps as a key piece of safety gear that helps prevent the build up of static electricity. He told me "highly conductive threads on the wrist band lead to a ground conductor that discharges static electricity."


Part of Ethan's drive to build a computer grew from his desire to have a better computer for gaming, so this particular motherboard was important to him. He's also previously worked on creating a computer game, and he writes code for various purposes. What you see above reminds me of the circuit kits he used to play with when he was younger.

Knowing this would be his first build, Ethan selected a rather large case to make it easier to deal with all the cords. He customized aspects of what he put inside the case and added extra fans for cooling effects. His preference was for some type of water cooling device, but that was completely out of the budget.
Ethan Boss did it--built a working computer!
The smile of accomplishment upon completion (many more hours than he expected) was worth every penny we invested in encouraging our son to pursue his dreams and passions. His patience and perseverance manifested themselves in this project, and a "father-son" experience has been added to the books. When the computer was finished and my son proudly brought us all around to see it, my husband said "he did this on his own; I was merely the person who handed him parts and held the flashlight."

Since he is a teenager and not always wanting his entire life shared by his mom via social media, I asked Ethan's permission to write about him building the computer and he granted it, even saying I could take photos. His feelings of accomplishment upon completion of the final product caused him to say "I really did this, mom, blog about it and be sure to use my name."
Gladly. Ethan. Gladly.