2001 Ford F-350 Radiator Replacement

My trusty old Diesel powered truck developed another issue, the radiator was leaking coolant and I couldn’t help but think about the many Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes where Geordi La Forge telling the bridge, “We have a coolant leak”

That began my task of gathering things and knowledge to get this process started. I consulted one of the smartest people I know, a buddy of mine that lives locally that is quite literally one of the smartest people I know. He encouraged me that I could do it. He also directed me to a site that provides parts at a much reduced cost. I am all about saving money.

Preparation

In order to replace my leaky radiator, I prepared by making a few purchases and gathered a few items:

  • Purchased a radiator online to save a few bucks
  • Adequate amounts of replacement coolant
  • Coolant system lubricant
  • Buckets to collect the coolant
  • A couple funnels and some tools

I watched a YouTube video and was mentally prepared for the task at hand.

Step 1: Drain The Radiator

In order to remove the radiator, I had to drain it first. There is a little drain at the bottom of the radiator that makes it super easy to open up. I opened up the cap on the overflow to allow for air to flow in as the coolant escapes.

Step 2: Disconnect the Hoses

In order to get to the overflow hose at the top of the radiator, the overflow tank, which is an interesting design to me because it also contains the radiator cap… but it’s not on the radiator… Part of the jack kit also resides at the top of the radiator and integrated into the radiator retention bracket.

Once the brackets are removed, the hose clamps are easily accessible. The hose clamp to the engine return line uses a 5/16 driver while the smaller hose to the overflow is the squeeze kind that a channel lock does a fine job of releasing the compression forces.

The next task was to remove the connections at the bottom of the radiator. Two hoses and two lines to the transmission. I want to note here that I should have removed the hoses before I removed the transmission lines. I didn’t realize that the transmission coolant lines were not filled with coolant but transmission fluid. I should have known better. The fan shroud was was held in place by 2 screws and is retained at the bottom by tabs that fit into slots on the bottom of the radiator.

Step 3: Remove the Radiator

Once the disconnected I allowed the radiator to drain a bit more and I removed it from the truck. The radiator design is rather clever in that there are pegs at the top and bottom of the radiator that retain radiator in its place. It was actually nicely engineered to be easy to service, which makes me think, how often do they expect radiators to be replaced. The only area of difficulty was that the fan shroud had to be pushed out of the way as to make clearance for the connection points. It made for a little bit of struggle to get it out but really, it wasn’t that bad.

Step 4: Install the New Radiator

I pulled the new radiator from its box and made the unfortunate discovery that the radiator was damaged. The side of the radiator was crushed enough that I didn’t feel good about installing it. I wasn’t about to put a damaged radiator and live on hopes and prayers that it works. Since I didn’t want to go another day without my crusty old truck, I called a local parts store, AutoZone, to be exact, and found that they had one radiator in stock, it wasn’t the inexpensive version either, it was their high dollar unit. So much for saving money with the online company.

Step 5: Drive to the Parts Store to Get Another Radiator

I made the trip to get a radiator that wasn’t partially smashed and since I did lose a notable amount of transmission fluid, I picked up a couple quarts. I was pretty sure that I didn’t lose more than a quart but better to have extra on hand than not enough.

Step 6: Install the Radiator, Take 2

Installing the radiator was actually much easier than removing the radiator. Probably due to the fact there was nothing to drain. I started by attaching the fan shroud, then the transmission cooler lines to stop the bleeding of fluid there. Next I put the rest of the brackets in place, bolted the overflow in place so that I could connect that to the lower part of the radiator. I attached the hoses at the top of the shiny new part and began the filling process and double checking all my connections because I was not interested in making any silly mistakes that could lead to a fluid catastrophe. I added two gallons of coolant and started the truck to get the fluids circulating. I added two more gallons of coolant and almost a quart of transmission fluid. The transmission fluid was a bit tricky as I had to shield the fluid from being blown at me by the spinning fan.

What I forgot to do was add the coolant lubricant early on. That was my only mistake

Step 7: Happy Dance

I successfully completed the radiator replacement and had no drips. I am quite happy that I was able to do it myself. I need a “win” in life in this area. Not that I want to go from playing in Linux to playing with Automobiles but I am a strong proponent in self-empowerment and owning your own hardware, in this case, owning my vehicle.

Final Thoughts

I don’t see a future in being a mechanic for me. It’s certainly not my strong suit and does require a greater level of patience than messing with computers, at least for me. I have a greater appreciation for the skill and capabilities of mechanics are are truly are a people with a special talent and grace upon their lives to do the work that they do.

References

2000 F250 Radiator Replacement video on YouTube

Broken Headband on Bluetooth Headphones | Repair Instead of Replace

I purchased a medium of the road Bluedio headset that I have been using in both Bluetooth and wired modes. It’s pretty decent and they fit my head well. Unfortunately, my Magilla Guerrilla handling of it I snapped the headband. I didn’t think I was being rough with it but I do have a track record of such things. The break was on the left side near the slide out adjustment and although the set was still wearable, it felt like one ear cushion loose enough that it would slap the side of my head at every turn.

I had three choices, buy new headphones, deal with it and get used to the gentle paddling of my left ear or lastly, fix it and see if I can return it to an acceptable, usable condition. The paddling was completely unacceptable to live with and the the headphones would no longer fit snugly to my head so this option was ruled out. The option to buy something new was also out. My budget had already been allocated and I am not interested in getting new hardware when these were still electronically functional. Why wouldn’t I at least attempt a repair?

The padded headband was well stitched together in such a way that the stitching was easy to delicately remove. This exposed the poly-carbonate (I am assuming) structuring beneath.

Looking at it, the fix wouldn’t be difficult at all to do it, with the right combination of adhesive chemicals: Loctite 444 Ethyl cyanoacrylate liquid adhesive along with Loctite SF 7452 cure-speed accelerator for the aforementioned adhesive.

The nice thing about the accelerator (a trick I learned at work), you can add adhesive and immediately follow it with the accelerator to layer on material and consequently, greatly increase the strength. This was a technique demonstrated when I fixed my broken Porter-Cable Drill some time ago.

Just a few minutes of gluing and applying the celebrator, had extended the life of this headphone set. Would a normal upgrade to something new and better? Probably but that is just not how I roll. I can’t bring myself to toss out something that is easily repaired. I have yet to sew the padded headband back together but I am no longer getting paddled by the ear pad and when I do handstands, they don’t fall off of my head.

This is not an advertisement for Henkel but fixing toys or equipment is easily accessible to just about anyone as long as you have these two chemicals. It opens up a whole new world of fixing possibilities. I have seen YouTube content creators struggle with gluing broken bits together, clamping them for hours at a time when the job can be done in a fraction of the time. Sure, these are not the cheapest of products but they are extremely effective and drastically reduces the likelihood of your project ending in frustration.

References

Loctite 444
Loctite SF7452

New Life to Rock Candy Gamepad for PS3 | Another Repair

I am not one to just toss something when it is broken. I want to give every piece of equipment a shot at another life whenever possible. Somethings do have to go to the big recycler in the sky but not without some kind of fight at my end.

I couple years back when I thrusted myself into the foray of “modern” gaming, I purchased two of these “Rock Candy” Gamepads from a local retailer. This was for my first Steam Game purchase, River City Ransom: Underground. They worked quite well but having kids with passion bubbles very near the surface, gamepads have a tendency to go flying or falling from time to time.

After some time of play, one had a fall too many and the plastic broke that held the batteries in place on one controller. Within a week, the other decided it would no longer turn on. Both controllers were put away into storage, until yesterday.

My oldest son asked if they could be fixed and I suggested that we could take the board from one and put it in the body of the other. He said he wanted to do it. I supplied some tools, provided just a bit of guidance and my 8 year old took the screw driver to task. I guided him on disassembly and used a magnetic bowl to hold the screws so didn’t roll away.

When he started to put it together, he asked how to do it, to which I gave the proper fatherly advice, “just like taking it apart, but in reverse!” Surprisingly, that was enough. I just made sure that the Left and Right Bumpers PCBs was correctly placed. He knew what screws went where and placed everything just right.

I double checked the screws to ensure that they were all snugged up properly, popped in some batteries and we were off to the races. There is only just a bit of confusion now as the blue controller now goes to the green dongle.

In another proud moment, my boy turned to a SNES emulator and played Super Mario All-Stars. Those old games are still fun to play today, even for the youth, which is a testament to the fun-gineering of yeaster-year

Final Thoughts

Technology is certainly a fun thing to play with but it is so much more fun to pass on the joy of owning your technology to your kids. The amount of confidence my boy has earned through this exercise is worth far more than the cost of both of the controllers. I am hoping this sparks a flame for a passion for technology, not just in using but in creating and imagining new ways to use technology. I am quite sure that his abilities that will far surpass my own.

Garmin Vivofit 2 Battery Replacement

A short time ago, my step tracker and watch went dead. It is a Vivofit 2 that is very plain and ordinary with no bells or whistles, as compared to other trackers. All this tracker does is time, date, steps, estimate of distance and calories burned. No heart rate or altimeter to tell you how many steps you’ve climbed, that said, this is also the first “smart” wearable that has lasted longer than 6 months. As far as watches go, this thing has lasted longer than any other.

garmin vivofit2-01-dead

This device, of which is primarily my watch, was supposed to last one year on two Lithium button cell batteries. It ended up lasting over two years which makes me start to believe that these button cell run times are all underestimated.

In preparation for this repair, I pulled out my card of CR2032 batteries thinking I could just pop in the batteries on hand. Once apart, however, an unpleasant surprise greated me beneath its dirty shell. I didn’t have the proper battery, the Vivofit 2 takes CR1632 batteries which are far more expensive. When I looked on the shelf of the store they turned out to be the most expensive batteries on the shelf at $4.99 each.

garmin vivofit2-02-opengarmin vivofit2-03-batteries

Before doing another thing with it, I cleaned the gasket and housing with rubbing alcohol because it was two years sitting on my arm and looked terribly gross. Popping out the batteries was easily accomplished with a flat-head screwdriver. Inserting the batteries, only required a bit of pressure to seat them properly. Four screws hold the body together. Upon putting the thing back together, the device immediately reactivated.

garmin vivofit2-04-fixed

I let it do its thing of synchronizing with my mobile and that was it, the job was done and I have my watch back.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see what voltage the old batteries were to know how much voltage was not enough voltage to power this wearable.

garmin vivofit2-05-old button cell voltage

5.327 volts was the magic number. Instead of just tossing the batteries into the recycling, I decided to hang onto them. Who knows when I might come up with a use.

Final Thoughts

The batteries were a bit more than I wanted to spend but replacing the batteries was still cheaper than a new tracker or even a decent watch. Since the thing is mostly a watch and I don’t need anything fancy, this will do just fine for now. The total cost of this repair was $10.58. Still far less expensive than $109 for a replacement from Garmin.

Truly, I think trackers are kind of dumb but I like the metrics it gives me and there is something fun with the dumbness… like the competitions with friends on steps. This thing is a fine watch and I don’t care about status symbols so until this thing has some catastrophic failure, I’m not likely to upgrade.

Oh, one last thing, I have also created a short video on this repair and edited it with Kdenlive. My first foray into doing video with Kdenlive and so far, I like it very much… once I figured out what I was doing. The machine I used, Dell Latitude E6440 running openSUSE Tumbleweed. I didn’t have a single crash or lockup of the software.

If you happen to like this, great, if you don’t, that’s great too. It was a fine learning experience that I enjoyed.

Further Reading

Vivofit 2 from Garmin.com

Garmin Vivofit 2 Battery Replacement on YouTube

Dell Latitude E6440

 

GB Boy Colour Repair

GB Boy Colour-10-Title.png

Last year’s Christmas present to my oldest boy (2017), started to misbehave in such a way that made playing it no longer enjoyable. This GB Boy Colour, a Game Boy Color clone, likely not made with the highest quality components started to have switch problems. It either wouldn’t turn on or turn on and immediately off, have continual reboots (is that what a Game Boy does, reboot?) or some other odd screen dimming, random lines flickering across and other peculiar behavior. This malfunctioning device was causing my boy serious frustration.

Old Tech Is Better Tech

GB Boy Colour-12.pngThese older Nintendo Game Boy games are great because they don’t require internet connection so there is no way I am being spied on and there isn’t any advertising. On top of it, these old games games are still fun many years later.

If you want to know more about the device itself just search “GB Boy Colour” and there are numerous reviews. What is particularly fantastic about this device is that it is a color screen with backlight and it not only has a bunch of built in games but it has the cartridge slot so that you can pop in those 25 + year old games and play them with an even better experience than you had in the early 90s. I wasn’t into the Game Boy when it came out but this particular unit is pretty great.

Disassembly

I turned this broken device into an education opportunity for my kids. They not only get to see the inside of this portable fun-box, they can also observe the process of soldering and the importance of taking care around tools, like the soldering iron. I consider it a huge win that I burn myself or my kids.

Easy OutTaking apart this device was a bigger headache than it should have been. The Nintendo specific screw heads could not be removed with the tool I purchased to remove it. I could have customized the tool to make it fit in the counterbore but since I don’t have a metal lathe (yet), I was not able to do so. I suppose I could have chucked it up in my drill and used a metal file or die grinder to grind it down but that seemed like far too much work. Instead, I decided to use an “easy-out” to remove the screws and replace the screws with standard cross-recess drive style.

GB Boy Colour-03-Screw Heads

Six screws is all that holds this case together. Pretty typical plastic screws you would see in devices of this type. Two of the screws are in the battery compartment which I didn’t immediately see.

GB Boy Colour-07-Back

Once the case is apart, there are three more screws that hold the main board to the front case.

GB Boy Colour-08-Separated.jpg

Once separated, you have to be careful not to let the screen dangle around and get beat up. That reveled the power switch soldered joints.

Repair

My inexperienced observation of the device reveled that the soldering of the switch was likely done too cold so there wasn’t a good bond between the board and the switch. The fix was rather easy, I was able to use my soldering iron to heat up and add a bit more solder. When I completed soldering the switch I also noticed that the switch itself was ever so slightly cracked. The metal contact was pulling away from the sliding action. I fixed this by applying a little glob of hot glue to properly support the bits to keep it from pulling apart.

GB Boy Colour-04-Switch

After reassembling this Game Boy Color Clone, I gave it a test run (read: played games instead of get work done), lost track of time for a bit until my boy insisted that he try it out himself.

GB Boy Colour-13-Super Mario Land.png

Final Thoughts

I was pretty fortunate that I was able to just re-flow the solder on this switch and beef up the walls with hot glue to hold it together. Using this as an educational opportunity with my kids made for some good family time. It brought about many questions about what the components do, how a soldering iron works and why it melts the solder. I not only helped them to understand electronics a little bit, it also created respect for the tools and the need for increased caution. From their perspective, the most important part was being able to play Super Mario Land and Ms Pacman again without the thing getting stuck in reboot cycles.

Further Reading

Nintendo Life Review of GB Boy Colour

NES SNES Security Bit Screw Driver on Amazon.com

Flashing Linksys E2000 Router with DD-WRT

No Network.png

When it comes to home networking, I have lost some “Geek Points” in the last few years. In general, I don’t find all the bits that go into networking all that interesting, I know the basics, have had my network doing what I want it to do and have basically neglected it for some time. If I need real help I will lean on my brother in-law to help me sort out the netmasks or routing tables or whatever else by which I am less excited. To the level I have come to understand I have gotten what I needed working so why think about it… That was until my router, already running DD-WRT, started to give me some problems.

Using Speedtest.net I was only getting 12 Mbps on the Wireless and around 70 Mbps on the wired Ethernet. This was becoming increasingly annoying as most of my work requires reliable internet connection so I started running CAT5 to each computer in my SuperCubicle plus one extra for a future project.

Productivity had been restored, so long as I was wired. Then one morning the wireless just stopped altogether. The wired Ethernet was still routing but the traffic on the wireless just stopped routing traffic all together.

Hardware

Linksys E2000.png
Linksys E2000

Not a very complex network and would have been something great 8 years ago for a home network but today, the idiom “long in the tooth” would be an understatement. I have a DOCSIS 3 Modem, which is new and trouble free that is connected to a Linksys E2000 router running DD-WRT. Attached to that is a Linksys 16-port EZXS16W switch. From that switch there are about 10 ports used up.

 

Linksys EZXS16W
Linksys EZXS16W 16-Port Switch

In order to bring the wirless back up, I tried to adjust some of the settings and nothing seemed to save. It was like it was working and not working in the same stroke. Rebooting the router didn’t change anything, it was still in a kind of undead state. I was unsuccessful with everything I tried. I saw only one option, factory reset the router and upgrade the firmware.

Firmware Flashing Complications

Using the DD-WRT Router Database I searched for the Linksys E2000 and downloaded the latest “Mega” firmware. Based on my understanding and referencing the wiki page, I just needed to update the firmware with the latest “Mega”. I did the initial attempt at flashing the firmware with the Falkon browser, it didn’t take. I got the “Flash Failed” error. I did it again but disabling the Ad Blocker thinking that might have been the problem but it still didn’t work. I tried Firefox and the Konqueror browser. All failed.

I downloaded the “Big” version and tried it again but with no success. What finally worked was upgrading with the DD-WRT: Factory Flash dd-wrt.v24-37305_NEWD-2_K2.6_mini-e2000.bin (at the time of writing, November 2018).

This flash was successful a since I didn’t need any of those extended features, the Mini was plenty good for what I need to do with it, at least for the short term.

Features I use

I don’t have a whole lot of requirements for my router at this time. What is important to me are the following features less common in typical consumer wireless router / switch / firewall / gateways:

DNSMasq

DNSmasq is a local DNS server. It will resolve all host names known to the router from dhcp (dynamic and static) as well as forwarding and caching DNS entries from remote DNS servers. Local DNS enables DHCP clients on the LAN to resolve static and dynamic DHCP hostnames. This is especially important when communicating with computers through the terminal or doing SFTP transfers. Rather than typing out the IP address, I can just type the computer’s hostname.

DHCP Static Lease

I have a few devices on my network that it is important that the IP address doesn’t change, specifically my HP OfficeJet All-In-One printer and my server.

DHCP LAN Domain

I like to set a LAN domain, not really a necessity but I like to have one for fun and fashion.

Next Steps

My home network hardware is aging and needs several upgrades. I think I am going to start with a pfSense Box probably use some sort of older x86 machine with a couple NICs, use the current router as a Wireless Access Point then look at changing out my 16-port switch to some sort of Gigabit Switch with about the same number of ports. Judging by my cursory review of the setup and features, I will have to make a significant time investment.

Network Cable Nest.jpg

Final Thoughts

It is remarkable how quickly one’s morning priorities can change when the network becomes largely inoperable. It is also remarkable how quickly it seems like your network components age when you are not thinking about it.

This little “breakdown” has inspired me to begin making the changes to my network. Future blatherings to come from this as I make the upgrades and figure out what works best for my home network.

Further Reading

https://wiki.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Linksys_E2000

Linksys E2000 DD-WRT Wiki page

https://www.pfsense.org/

 

Lenovo ideapad 110S Repair | UEFI Partition Currupted

Lenovo 110S Title-broken

For several months, I was happily using my Lenovo ideapad 110S running openSUSE Tumbleweed. I have had few complaints about the device, other than a lack of RAM (but I knew that going into the purchase). One day the thing just stopped working; on boot up it left me a sad looking, blank screen. No combination of key presses did anything to change its state. All I could do was hold the power button down and forced off the laptop. No matter how many times I power cycled the machine, it was the same thing, no splash or error message, not a single bit of useful information. It was a busy time for me so I just put it away in a drawer thinking I’ll get back to it and maybe dissect it for it “secrets” or something… but I really just forgot about it.

Three Months Later

I was listening to some discussion about BIOS issues and how it is possible for it to become corrupt and require some sort of reset. My mind wondered from the conversation to that misbehaving Lenovo ideapad and I thought that maybe I was having some sort of BIOS or UEFI issue. I am not sure why I didn’t think of it sooner but I thought, is it posssible that the UEFI boot partition may have possibly been corrupted?

Using my previous blathering about installing Linux on this machine, I tried to hit F2 rapidly on startup to find that it initially didn’t get me into the BIOS. I tried it a few times, all with no success. Then I remembered that this has one of those silly keyboards that defaults to having the media keys as primary. I tried it again, this time, holding the Fn key down plus F2. The trick is, just keep tapping immediately as you turn the computer on. Once it displays a black screen it is too late.

When I was able to get into the BIOS. I reordered the boot sequence to look for my USB drive but that didn’t work. It still booted into the back screen. Going into the BIOS for the second time, I switched the Boot Mode to Legacy Support. It is still set to look for UEFI first but when that fails, look for a Legacy Bootable device. This change allowed me to boot from the USB Drive.

Lenovo ideapad-01-BIOS.jpg

Using the latest openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshot, I performed the install, formatting UEFI ( /boot/efi ) and root ( / ) partitions. I figured, leave nothing to chance and just wipe the machine. The installation was uneventful and didn’t require any further intervention.

Now that I have the system back up and running, I can use it as my “go machine” once again. The 2 GB of RAM makes things a bit tight but maybe it is good for me to only have 5 or 6 tabs open at a time but as many terminal applications as I want.. It is unfortunate that I wasn’t smart enough to try this sooner as it would have been a better machine to take with me through the summer. The nice thing is, my drawer of electronic bits and bobs is slightly lighter. Thankfully, there is no need to make any effort to fill it with more junk as it seems to do that on its own.

Final Thoughts

I learned that just because a screen goes black on a computer and it becomes entirely unresponsive, doesn’t mean it is garbage. I wish I had thought of doing this to recover this laptop sooner, I would have been regularly using this machine. Not sure if this is a common problem or not but maybe, just maybe, this might somehow wind up helping someone else out with a similar issue.

Further Reading

openSUSE Linux on a Lenovo ideapad 110S Laptop

openSUSE Tumbleweed

openSUSE Tumbleweed installation media

Terminal Applications

 

Ceiling Fan Failure | Repair Instead of Replace

ICanFixIt

Not long ago, I had a ceiling fan stop spinning and start making an ever so slight buzzing noise. I thought maybe it was as a result of switching the rotation direction of the fan. Switching it back didn’t change anything either. I just shut off the fan motor to end the buzzing and pondered about how much I dread changing ceiling fans especially since the fan in the living room match this failed dining room fan. I really wanted to repair this Hampton Bay Ceiling fan rather than replace it.

Ceiling Fan Not Spinning-02

After doing a little Internet research, searching “repair ceiling fan”, I got a lot of cruft and useless information. Next I tried to narrow it down to “ceiling fan not spinning” and “replace ceiling fan motor” to only find more non-solutions. Then I stumbled upon this site that identified the capacitor as a possible cause of failure.

Then I did nothing about it until I was gifted a broken fan.

Donor Fan

I had no idea if this donor fan had a compatible capacitor not but it was worth a try. I started out by pulling apart the ceiling fan.

Ceiling Fan Dismantle.jpg

I removed the bulbs, shades then the three screws that hold the light kit in place. Upon removing the capacitor and it was very obvious that the capacitor had failed as it had very prominent bulging on two sides of it.

Bulging Capacitor.jpg

I took note that this is a 280V 4.5µF x 6µF x 5µF capacitor and decided to do some searching on the web for prices, because, I wasn’t sure how much such a thing would cost. I’m sure you can imagine my happy surprise when I discovered that the donor fan had the exact same capacitor my ceiling fan.

Donor Fan Capacitor

This was enough for me to commit fully the project. I removed the old capacitor, marked the switch side gray wire striped the wire ends to ready it for the donor capacitor. The rest of the wires were in the exact same configuration as the original so wiring this in was trivial.

Removing Dead Capacitor.jpg

I used 16-14 AWG Vinyl Insulated Butt Splice and prepared the capacitor to be installed in the ceiling fan. I tagged the gray leg that went to the switch on the donor and checked to see it was the same leg on the crippled unit.

Donor Capacitor Prepared.jpg

I realized that I wasn’t sure if the motor was damaged or not by the failed capacitor but there was no appreciable risk in trying. After crimping the capacitor into the fan, I flipped the switch and pulled the chain to have the desired result of spinning blades.

Ceiling Fan Spinning-01.jpg

I stopped, looked at my success and had a moment of smiling from ear to ear. As much as I liked this look of the light kit hanging down from the fan. I didn’t have any interest in bumping my head into it.

Ceiling Fan Spinning-02

Since the shades were off, I took this as an opportunity to hand wash the light shades, dust the blades and body to shine the thing up before completing its reassembly.

Final Thoughts

I get a lot of satisfaction out of fixing things. I call this project a great success. No money out of pocket and only just over an hour of time invested. How much money did I save? A 52-Inch, 5-blade fan of similar design is about $80 but to have matching fans, I would have had to buy two fans and spend the time removing and installing the new fans. Now, I get to keep my 6 year old fans going just a bit longer and I saved quite a bit of time too. Now, I just have to dispose of the remains of the donor fan in an ecologically sound manner.

Further Reading

Ceiling Fan Capacitors

Replace a Ceiling Fan Motor

Ceiling Fan Capacitor on Amazon

16-14 AWG Vinyl Insulated Butt Splice

Dell Latitude 15 3000, Laptop Screen Replacement

ICanFixIt

Recently, a coworker asked if I could repair their brand new laptop. I get a bit uncomfortable with repairing other people’s things because I worry that I am going to make things worse. All too often when I repair something for myself, it turns into a mess and takes longer to fix and more money than originally estimated. I help my coworker searched Ebay for a suitable replacement. She said she would order the part so long as I would fix it.

I agreed.

Fast forward a week and she, had the screen and asked me if I could install the new screen. In my lack of preparedness, I didn’t read up or search YouTube ahead of time on how to fix it. Luckily, I found this video which was very short and I could skip through to understand the steps.

This laptop is quite possibly the easiest screen repair I have ever done. The bezel removes just by puling it away.

Inspiron 15 3000-02.jpg

This will reveal the four screws needed to unfasten the screen from the lid. I placed the screen against the keyboard and disconnected the the tiny LVDS cable from the panel.

Inspiron 15 3000-04.jpgTo install, reverse the steps… 4 screws, not hard.

After turning it on, I found that I didn’t connect the cable firmly enough. It started out just fine but as it started to boot up, there appeared a vertical line then just this blank gray screen (yeah, not hard).

Inspiron 15 3000-06.jpg

Initially, I had that cold sweat where I was afraid I did something terribly wrong. Without panicking, I took the screen back apart and re-seated the connector, ensuring that it was firmly in place. This time tested that it was indeed functioning before installing the bezel.

Mission accomplished

Inspiron 15 3000-05.png

Lessons Learned

Be prepared before staring a fix-it project, especially for someone else. Have the proper tools and do the research ahead of time. Sure, this on-the-fly fix turned out fine but I have had laptop screen replacements be a giant pain and this could very well have become one. Also, pay close attention to the connector and ensure that it is seated properly and route any cables in the proper pathways in the screen assembly. That will make reassembly much easier

Final Thoughts

This computer is fairly nicely equipped for a basic machine. It has 4 GiB of RAM which is plenty for most users. I did observe that this thing is dreadfully slow in just about every measurable sense. Although brand new, it ran horribly slow. I know that Dell doesn’t just pump out garbage so my guess is it that this is a Windows problem. I will try to convince this coworker they need openSUSE installed. I am quite certain it would run much better.

Reference Links

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Screen Repair video on YouTube

Dell Latitude 15 3000

Porter-Cable 18v Drill Repair | Forward/Reverse Button

Porter-Cable Drill-02-Disassembled.jpg

I bought into the 18v Porter-Cable cordless tool system in 2009 with the 4-tool Combination kit. It came with a drill, reciprocating saw, circular saw and a rather nice flashlight. I got these tools to conduct some renovations on rental property and they all worked very well. At that time, I was a HUGE Porter-Cable fan as they enabled me to add to this system more very useful 18v tools. As more tools were being released, more were going to be available for this system and I had a project for every one.

Many Happy [Porter-Cable] Years Later

When renovating house in 2014, I broke the Forward/Reverse Button while drilling a 4 inch hole for the purpose of routing a vent for a bathroom. In my late-night cramming to complete the project, I was obviously not at my peek, exhausted and not ensuring my drill remained coaxial to the hole I was drilling. While cutting the hole, the drill jerked, my thumb hit the Forward/Reverse Button, something snapped and the button moved back and forth freely with a limp rattle. I planned to fix it after my family vacation but it ended up just sitting… for a long time.

I brought the drill to work with the intent of taking advantage of the tools in the model shop to conduct the repair. Like so many other good intentions, they start well and just end up sitting, and it did until a coworker made a comment. “Hey Porter-Cable! I love Porter-Cable! Why is it sitting there?”

I had some time at that moment, waiting on feedback from an engineer to some design of a some part or system so I decided to investigate the true failure of the drill as I explain how the drill ended up at my desk.

Porter-Cable Drill-03-DisassembledThe drill was held together with 8, easily accessible, screws but there was some significant resistance at separating the two halves of the drill. After applying what I would consider an unreasonable amount of force, the drill exploded in my hands.

Porter-Cable Drill-01-Broken pin.jpg

There really isn’t much to a drill. It is basically a handle with a trigger designed around a motor and gear box.

Upon examining the Forward/Reverse Button, it was very apparent what exactly had failed: a very small pin that protruded from the component simply sheered off. It was no longer able to move the selector mechanism at the bottom of the motor assembly. I wasn’t sure what the best solution was for fixing the switch so I took the part and its broken bit to the model shop to consult one of the many individuals, all of which are more adept and providing an effective solution.

Porter-Cable Drill-05-Fixed selector switch.jpg

The model maker I took it to, looked at the parts and said that the first course of action he would try would be to use an industrial strength version of Loctite with an accelerator. The two parts allowed me to layer and harden some more of the glue around the base for added strength. I was a bit skeptical but the model maker assured me that the rapid-prototypes that are made in sections are held together quite successfully with this adhesive. Worst case, it doesn’t hold up and I try something else so there was nothing to lose.

Reassembly

While reassembling the drill, I discovered what was causing the resistance to disassembly. A little RF theft prevention tag stuck on the inside of the base of the drill.

Porter-Cable Drill-04-RF ID Tag

I am fascinated by the placement of the RF theft prevention tag. I would like to see how they actually stuck that in that location on the assembly line. I imagine it was placed after the halves of the drill were fascinated together… but how?

The only real challenge to assembly of this drill was this black wire that seemed to be oddly short, compared to the other wires. It required some extra persuasion to get the wire in a place that would not pinch it when fastening the halves together. I couldn’t see how the wire was routed from the factory as the drill sort of spilled into pieces when I was forcing it apart.

Porter-Cable Drill-06-Reassembly.jpg

Assembled and Put To Work

I employed the drill this weekend and it works fantastically, once again. I am glad to have two functioning drills again among the rest of my 18v cordless, Porter-Cable tools. Even though this isn’t powered by one of those new, fancy brushless motors, it has the torque to do the job, every time.

Porter-Cable Drill-07-complete.jpg

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, after purchasing every 18v Porter-Cable tool, they decided to abandon the 18v platform in favor of this new 20v MAX platform. It annoys me because “20v” is technically 18v so there is no additional power gained. My 18v tools are now an abandoned platform which is quite irritating after investing all that I did in the platform. My batteries are fading and I am not prepared to replace all these tools as that would be a poor economic decision. I also do not want two different battery systems. It is unfortunate that there isn’t an upgrade path to the 20v MAX line from the 18v tools, such as battery adapters or something to encourage me to start buying the newer line of tools. So now, I am at a decision point. I either need to buy some new or refurbished batteries or possibly replace the cells in my battery packs. I have projects that do require some new tools but do I go with Porter-Cable or do I abandon the brand just as they abandoned me with the 18v line?

What’s the Linux connection? There isn’t. This is just tech I use to get other, non Linux-y, things done.

References

Porter-Cable

Pro Tool Reviews 20v vs 18v

3D Printed 20v Battery to 18v Porter-Cable Tool Adapter