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CIT 110
A+ Hardware

Revised: August, 2010
Credits: 3
Instructor: Ed Nickel
Office: HTC 133
Phone: 753-2241 (office with voice mail)
E-mail: due to increased spam my email address will be provided the first day of class
Class Web Page:
Textbook: A+ Guide to Hardware: Managing, Maintaining and Troubleshooting Enhanced, 4th Edition (or newer), by Jean Andrews, available via the GBC bookstore or click here for some discounters/used book dealers.


CATALOG DESCRIPTION: CIT 110   A+ Hardware covers techniques of personal computer hardware maintenance and installation. This course covers hardware and software diagnostics, system troubleshooting, and methods of achieving effective system upgrades to enhance capabilities or improve system performance. Prerequisite: IS 201 or instructor's approval based on your previous PC experience.

Welcome to CIT 110   A+ Hardware. This course is designed for those who need an overview, including hands-on experience in troubleshooting, repairing, and upgrading PC hardware. The goal of this class is to acquaint you with common PC system problems, their diagnosis, and the methods to fix them, as well as helping to prepare you to take the A+ Core Hardware exam. You will also get the background knowledge to upgrade PCs for increased functionality, higher performance, and a longer equipment life. A student should have a basic knowledge of computers, operating systems and applications software prior to taking this class. You will need some time each week to do homework assignments and to practice topics covered in class. Due to the specialized and potentially destructive nature of some lab exercises required for this class ONLY THE COMPUTERS SET ASIDE FOR THIS CLASS in HTC 139 lab are available for this class's labs. Students in the online or independent study sections of this class are required to attend an all day Saturday lab session in Elko which counts for 2 lessons. In the lab exercises you will build a computer, install in OS, upgrade it, diagnose broken systems, and repair the damage.

METHOD OF INSTRUCTION: This class will be taught live in GBC's computer lab facilities with significant hands-on exercises. You are expected to participate in weekly discussions, various quizzes, the mid-term & final exams, as well as other class activities.

I can be reached at the phone number listed above or you can make an appointment to see me during office hours or at other times. Office hours are posted on my office door and on my web site. The schedule of reading assignments, homework, and tests is found below. There may be short weekly quizes covering the material for that week. Additional assignments may be given from time to time in class.

Major Objectives Of This Class

A primary objective for this class is to provide students with a working knowledge of computer hardware and how to troubleshoot problems as well as perform cost effective upgrades. To this end, system hardware terminology, diagnostic techniques, and performance cost analysis issues will be covered. The second major objective is to help you prepare for the various A+ exams, particularly the A+ Essentials.

Learning Outcomes

The successful student in this class will be able to:

  1. identify major computer system components;
  2. diagnose common PC problems;
  3. repair common PC problems;
  4. perform preventative maintenance procedures;
  5. identify special purpose components & their suitability to specific tasks;
  6. add new peripherals and components to a computer system;
  7. evaluate upgrade requirements and their cost effectiveness;
  8. perform significant upgrades, such as motherboard, CPU, RAM & hard drive.
Learner Outcome Measurements
Assessment Method Learner Outcomes
Class Discussion 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Hands-On Exercises 2, 3, 4, 6, 8
Exams 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Class Policies & Procedures

GRADING POLICY: This is a letter grade class an A=90-100%, B=80-89%, C=70-79%, D=60-69%, F=59% or less or W=Official Withdrawal if done before the withdrawal deadline. There is no curve in this grading scale. Your grade will be based 40% on class participation, discussions, and assignments, 30% on the hands-on labs, and 30% on exam & quiz results. All assignments are due by the beginning of the next class.

EXAM & QUIZ PROCEDURES: All exams and quizzes will be objective, e.g. true/false, multiple choice, fill-in the blank, etc.

ATTENDANCE POLICY: The instructor must agree in advance to any excused absences unless there are strong extenuating circumstances. Three (3) unexcused absences can result in a failing grade. In on-line sections of this class, an absence is one week when you do not participate in class or contact the instructor.

OTHER POLICIES: Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated and can result in a failing grade. The student conduct policy stated in the current GBC Catalog will be enforced. This syllabus is not a contract and is subject to reasonable changes as the class proceeds.

Course Schedule

You should have read and be prepared to discuss each week's topics by the beginning of class. We will have significant hands on experiences during most lessons.

Topics & readings by week and lesson:
  1. Essential components, & system resources Chapter 1 & Appendix A
    • required hardware
    • hardware requires software (or, whose in the driver's seat anyway?)
    • IRQs, memory addresses, I/O addresses, DMA channels
  2. Computer repair basics Chapter 2
    • the tools
    • preventive maintenance
    • safe "in case" procedures
    • give it "the boot"
    • beginning troubleshooting
  3. Form factors & electricity Chapter 3 & Appendix B
    • factors determining the size & type of several things
    • electricity essentials
    • safety: yours and the component's
    • UPS, (not people in brown clothes driving a brown truck)
    • energy star systems
    • troubleshooting electrical systems
    • power tools
  4. Processors & chipsets Chapter 4
    • processors
    • chipsets, (potato, corn, or the flavor of the day)
    • heat sinks and cooling fans
    • processor installation
  5. Motherboards Chapter 5
    • which one? (so many choices)
    • the buses, (hurry & get on)
    • configuring & supporting
    • replacement
    • troubleshooting the motherboard & processor
  6. Memory Chapter 6
    • various technologies (more choices)
    • memory upgrades
    • troubleshooting memory
  7. Hard drives (and not so hard)Chapter 7
    • floppies
    • how hard drives work
    • various standards (still more choices)
    • hd installation
    • troubleshooting hard drives
  8. Mid-term exam
  9. I/O subsystems, (i/o, i/o, it's of to work we go) Chapter 8
    • of mice & keyboards
    • specialty input devices
    • video systems
    • ports & slots
    • I/O troubleshooting
  10. Multimedia and other mass storage Chapter 9 & Appendix C
    • sound cards & audio systems
    • digital cameras & video
    • CDs & DVDs in ROM, R, RW, + or - R & RW, Blu-ray, HD-DVD, (stop the alphabet soup!)
    • backup systems
    • removable storage
    • fault tolerance, dynamic volumes, & RAID (no bugs here we hope)
    • SCSI, (pronounced "scuzzy")
  11. Networking PCs Chapter 10
    • physical architectures
    • protocol suites & Windows
    • making connections in a NIC (of time)
    • wireless networking
    • basic network troubleshooting
  12. Notebooks, tablets, & PDAs Chapter 11 & Appendix D
    • notebook support
    • upgrading a notebook
    • notebook troubleshooting & disassembly
    • tablet PCs & PDAs
  13. Printers & scanners Chapter 12
    • how they work, in their many iterations
    • installing & sharing
    • maintaining & troubleshooting
  14. Cost analysis: upgrade, build, or buy
    • evaluating the cost effectiveness of an upgrade
    • when to build & when to buy
    • what is needed (as opposed to wanted)
  15. The A+ certification, A+ exams, & class wrap up
    • what A+ certification means
    • how an adaptive exam works
    • what topics to expect
    • where to take it
    • class wrap up
  16. Final exam

Creative Commons License
Original content on this website created by Ed Nickel is licensed
under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at