Cool Engineering

Info on some cool engineering projects

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Fix-it 4: ADSL connection

Another simple job I had was out in Caulfield - about an hour from home, but a tolerable deviation from work - so this was a job on the way home from work from work albeit in an indirect way.
The problem: The phone and fax in the bedroom don't work, but the phone in the kitchen does. Previously there was no ADSL filter in the bedroom and it worked OK up till a couple of months ago (they have had ADSL for years) - this shouldn't really be the case but it was - possibly they didn't notice the noise and the exchange was recently upgraded to ADSL 2. The filter that had been installed when this problem started was simply installed incorrectly - the fax was plugged into the phone output - ok there, the phone was plugged into the ASDL output - a no-no. After putting in a double adapter and a second filter that problem was quickly solved. Besides my 'consultancy fee' I got a free dinner - bonus!

Fix-it 3: Computer recovery

I was recently called out to finish off the final stages of a computer reinstall. Apparently there were problems with the video card drivers as well as the ADSL modem. First the video card.
After consulting the manuals the appropriate drivers were downloaded and installed - at which point the computer promptly rejected them. After opening up the computer it quickly became apparent that the manuals were from a previous computer - doh! After downloading the correct drivers relating to the actual hardware it was all sweet. To get the modem working the ISP software was promptly installed and was off and away.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fix-it 2: Laptop power connector

A good friend recently asked me to take a look at his laptop – it seemed that it would intermittently charge. Having had a look at the power connected it was revealed that the wires were a little frayed (and had been previously patched up) so I assumed this was the main problem. After replacing the connector with a brand new one, the same behaviour manifested itself – wiggling the connector in certain positions would allow the laptop to charge – and others would result in nothing. Time to open up the laptop – a job not for the faint hearted as getting to the power connector basically means removing everything (including the keyboard, screen and heaps of screws). Having got to the power socket on the motherboard it was clear that it needed replacing – cracked in several places (see pic) and intermittently making and breaking the power connection as the plug was wiggled. A new connector and some fancy soldering resulted in a most satisfactory fix.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Faster ... and more efficient

Having gone through quite a few cans in the past week testing various alcohol stoves I recently built a variant of the penny stove. Rave reviews had been written about this stove and they seem to be well founded. In tested it brought by 500mL of (uncovered) water to near boil in about 5 minutes, and used significantly less fuel than the previous version. It looks like the penny stove is going to be the one I'll be taking out camping. The only hassle is to ensure there is a good seal between the penny and the can - otherwise all the primer fuel runs out into the base. This stove is actually easier to built - no rivets required (I tried putting rivets in the side - just to ensure it stays together, but because of the increased pressure flames come out of these - so no need to worry about rivets).
It should be noted no snails were hurt in the testing of this product.