A Brief Explanation And Guide To Computer Hardware

What is Computer Hardware?

Computer Hardware is the name for the collection of components inside a computer, which are collectively called its hardware. This collection of peripherals is usually housed in a case and loaded with system software, which includes a software interface called firmware. Firmware (or BIOS as it is more commonly known) allows with the hardware to communicate with the operating system, which is what we as an operator use. Examples of an operating system are the famous Windows or the not so famous Mac OS X. This whole process is communicated through a hardware bus using another piece of software called a device driver. A device driver sits on top of the operating system to finalize the communication between the operating system and the hardware.

The Components of Computer Hardware

1. The Motherboard.

As you can tell by its name the Motherboard is the main component inside the computer casing. It is the main circuit board, which connects all the other components of the computer together, such as the CPU, the Ram and the Hard Drives.

2. The CPU (Central Processing Unit)

This could be called the brain of the computer as it performs most of the calculations needs by the computer to function. Inside a CPU there are many micro-switches, which process data calculations millions of times a second. Due to the massive strain put on the CPU it gets very hot and can even seize up if not cooled properly, therefore it is cooled by a fan and a heat sink. Some PC enthusiasts even use water cooling systems to keep their previous process nice and cool. The data flowing to and from the CPU is processed by a Chipset, which distributes and communicates to all the other pieces of hardware.

3. The Hard Drive.

The Hard Drive is the storage facility of the computer This is where all data is stored until it is needed by the CPU. For instance, your favourite album will sit on the hard drive until you click it, then the CPU calls it from the hard drive, processes the data and sends it to the sound card to output from your speakers.

4. The Ram

The RAM is another piece of memory storage, which sits between the hard drive and the CPU. The CPU processes data so quickly that the slow hard drive cannot find and present it quickly enough. This then produces a bottleneck. The RAM is an extremely fast piece of memory, which also has quick random access capabilities. The RAM will call programs and data from the Hard Drive just before it knows the CPU will require it, it then waits for the CPU to access and request data at lightening speeds. Anything which is no longer required is then passed back to the Hard Drive for storage.

5. The Sound Card.

The Sound Card takes the data and translates it into data that sound devices understand, such as headphones or speakers. Many sound cards are built into the Motherboard but some professionals prefer a separate sound card. A sound card is a very powerful device, which runs the recording studios of today.

6. The Graphics Card.

The Graphics Card is the piece of Computer Hardware which produces all the visual output of a computer. The Graphics Card will take the data from the CPU and change it into image and video and send this to the display device. In today’s world, exist some very powerful graphics cards, which have their own CPU, built-in (called a GPU, Graphics Processing Unit)

7. The Optical Drive

The term Optical Drive refers to any device, which uses laser technology to read data. Common types of Optical Drive are the DVD Drive or CD Drive. An example of the latest optical drive is the Blu-Ray Drive.

Collectively this list of components are called the Computer Hardware. They work together to create the computers that we use today. Every computer in today’s world, is fundamentally the same, and has the computer components inside.

Pivot Hardware – Use and Selection Guide

I get calls every week from clients who want to install pivot hardware to hang their doors (and sometimes other items like bookcases and even refrigerators). Using pivot hardware can serve several different criteria on a job site such as aesthetics or perhaps because a door is too heavy, tall or wide or maybe just because the owner is looking to do something different or less common than hinges.

In my experience there seems to be a general lack of understanding of the use and application of pivot hardware by many home owners, contractors and even architects. Most of the time this is where the knowledge of the hardware professional is indispensable and can help save money, aggravation and even delays on projects. But first we must define pivot hardware (or sometimes called pivot hinges).

There are two primary types of pivots used in commercial / residential construction

a. Offset Pivots
b. Center Hung Pivots

The selection of the proper pivot hardware for a given application can best start with asking a simple question.

The first question I most commonly ask is whether a door is single acting or double acting. A single acting door is one that swings open in one direction only. Typical single acting doors are classroom doors and bedroom doors. Double acting doors swing open in two directions. Typical double acting doors are seen in restaurants where the door to the kitchen can swing “in and out” so as to better allow people to move into and out of the kitchen with a try full of dinner plates.

We can easily eliminate offset or center hung pivot based on the answer to the above question. If a door is single acting, then both offset and center hung are still possible candidates. But if the door is double acting, then we can absolutely eliminate offset pivots. So lets move forward with a better definition of center hung pivots.

Center Hung pivots are unique and allow for a special set of design criteria for a doorway to be met. These pivots should be considered when a client wants the hardware to be concealed as much as possible or when a doorway is double acting. Center hung pivots are mortised into the bottom and top of the door generally centered in the door in relationship to the thickness and typically about 3/4″ from the pivoting edge of the door to the center of the pivoting axis. This makes the pivot hardware very nearly completely hidden when the door is closed.

Also because the axis of pivoting is in the center the door can be accommodated to double act if the application calls for it. A typical double acting door can been seen in a hospital room bathroom. The pivot hardware on these doors is center hung. Typically this bathroom door swing in but in the event of an accident (such as a patient collapsing) the nurse can, by disengaging a special strike plate, swing the door out into the room to allow access.

Center hung pivot hardware is available for doors less than 100 lbs. as heavy as up to 1,000 lbs., range from just over $100.00 to well over $1,000.00 dollars, are available is most sprayed and architectural plated finishes and made by many manufacturers such as Rixson, ABH, Ives and Dorma.

The following are a few considerations when specifying or using center hung pivots.

a. Center Hung pivots are not for use of fire rated doors
b. May violate the warranty of the door manufacturer
c. Typically require a radius edge to one or both stiles of the door.
d. Can be used on single or double acting doors but the way a door is machined depends on this.

Now moving onto offset pivots and back to our first question weather or not a door is single or double acting. Again if it is double acting then offset pivots are not an option. But if the door is single acting the then offset pivots are required.

Offset pivots can be specified for a number of reasons but the most common are weight of the door and the design criteria set forth by the owner. Offset pivots have a much higher weight capacity than hinges and can be considered the best possible means of hanging a door. Because the weight of the door is born exclusively on the bottom arm of the pivot (which is directly connected to the pivot spindle) the weight of the door itself is carried by the floor (and ultimately the remainder of the building).

Offset pivots are visible at the top and bottom of the door and are generally only slightly more difficult to machine in doors than center hung pivots.

Offset pivots are named such because the vertical pivoting axis is “offset” from the face of the door. There are two common offsets, 3/4″ and 1 1/2″. 3/4″ is by far the most common. This means the distance from the face of the door to the pivoting axis is 3/4″. 1 1/2″ offset is also not uncommon but are generally only used when the the doorway requires a greater offset such as thicker than standard casing or when a door is set deeper into a jamb than normal.

Typical applications for offset pivots are wardrobe closets or lead lined doors in hospitals and clinics. And like its cousin center hung pivots, offset pivot hardware made made for doors as light as less than 100 lbs. as heavy as up to 1,500 lbs., range from just under $200.00 to well over $1,000.00 dollars, are available is most sprayed and architectural plated finishes and made by many manufacturers such as Rixson, ABH, Ives and Dorma.

The following are a few considerations when specifying or using offset pivots.

a. Offset pivots can be used on fire rated doors
b. Intermediate pivots can be specified so as to not violate the warranty of the door manufacturer
c. Do not require a radius edge to either stile of the door.
d. Can be costly depending on the size and weight of the door they are installed onto.

I enjoy talking about pivots, their general and less common uses and helping people determine the right pivot for their application.