Thursday, October 26, 2017

Better to sell using Auctions instead of fixed price on eBay!

A while back eBay offered me a deal on fixed price 30 day listings, they were free.  I always look at the "buy it now" prices because I do not want to wait for an auction.  On top of that auction listings are 30 cents each so it made sense to switch, right?  Wrong!  My sales tanked.  So I have gone back to auctions.  First here is a picture of my 30 day listings after 15 or more days with typically 10-20 views over that time.

Now compare that to some auctions that are only 1 day old with 60-150 views per 24 hours!
So forget about the 30 day fixed price listings they are free but a total waste of time!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

More problems and another solution to the Head Gasket Problem with Bar's Leaks Professional.

My HHR overheated again only two months after the last time that I tried to fix it.  The radiator was down two quarts of fluid.  This time I decided to spend some more money and get something that stays in the radiator.  It is called "Bar's Leaks Professional", and runs about $45.

Its only been a few days but so far so good.  I might have to change the oil once again. It looks a little brown.  There was no foam on the oil fill cap this time.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

What my Lab/Office looks like

I thought I would update what my office looks like.  Maybe I am bored or lacking in posts this year so I thought I would post something.  My F-550 is hanging from the ceiling with only its legs visible.  I am now using a rolling desk for my 3D printer 24 inch monitor and tools.  There is another book shelf to the right but it has not changed any.  My CNC found itself hidden in the closet....
I have a "New to me" notebook computer.  Its a EliteBook 8560W.  It was $5 at a Hamfest because of a bad screen.  The necessary repairs are elsewhere on my blog.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Lancaster NY 2017 Hamfest

I think this was my first time at the Lancaster NY Hamfest.  It was also the first time I used my latest LED sign.  I had to misspell Arduino as I had a 6 character limit.  Here are some pictures of my stuff for sale.  The sign is running off a car battery with a 5 volt 10 amp regulator module.

Here are some pictures of interesting items for sale.

Friday, August 4, 2017

E470i LED Back-lit TV Repair

I picked up a 47 inch LCD TV with LED back-light that was no longer working.  I discovered that these LED back-lit TVs have the LED's wired in series and that eventually one opens up and the lights go out.

To dissemble the TV start by removing the back cover.  Then remove the metal cover in the foreground of the next picture it covers the LCD Connectors.

The cables need to be un-taped before they can be disconnected.  There is a black lock that flips out to release the cables.
Then remove the front bezel.  Besides lots of screws on all four sides there are some tabs across the bottom as can be seen in the front center of this picture.

Then there are several catches that will need to be unhooked.

The screen lifts out, being careful about the ribbon cables that are still connected to it.  Then there are four metal strips that hold the back-light filters in place.  There is a solid plastic filter and three flexible filters that will fall out if you are not careful.  Be careful to keep them in the right order but set them somewhere out of the way.
 Next is to remove the last layer covering the LED strips.  You will need to remove the pins that hold the plastic back and control the spacing to the front.  Two of them are under the power supply board.
 They are removed by pinching them with needle nose pliers on the back side.

Now to remove and test the LED strips.  They can be carefully pealed up with a flat blade screwdriver.  I used my fingernails to get underneath them to start the process.  Each strip has 4 or 5 three volt LED's (12 to 15 volts).  You can use two old 9 volt batteries to test them.  There should be a 100 ohm resistor in series with the batteries.  The end strips are tested by applying power to the test points near the connector.  The middle strips are tested the same way but you will need to short out the opposite end connector.

You will likely find 2 dead strips and maybe some dead LED's as well.  I actually broke one LED strip in the process of removing it.
Once you have the LED strips replacements you can test them out by removing the power distribution bad and testing them out like in the following picture before reassembling everything.  Remember that there are two sets of LED strips.

Here is a video on testing LED strops with 9 volt batteries:

HHR Head Gasket Repair

Update - After two months the car lost 2 quarts of antifreeze so I am trying another solution.  To be honest I did not follow the K&W directions completely.  Like you cannot leave the thermostat out of an HHR or it will leak badly.  See

My HHR overheated at a red light.  With the heat on I was able to get the temperature down to 235 degrees.  I added a gallon of water but two days later it needed more water.  Then I noticed that it was leaving puddles of water in the driveway under the exhaust pipe and spraying water 2 feet out from the tail pipe.  Then I saw the water bubbling in the radiator cap.  Is that absolute proof that the head gasket is blown?  After some praying and searching I used K&W Head Gasket Repair and now it is running fine again.

The directions require that you drain the radiator first and fill it with water.  Finding he drain in the HHR is next to impossible.  You cannot see it from above or below.  If you pull back the radiator plastic cover on the left side you might see one white plastic ear.  It is barely reachable but it can be removed.  

This video shows the bubbling.

The thermostat is also next to impossible to reach.  You will need a 10 mm socket and several extensions to get to the bolts.  You cannot leave the thermostat out as it will leak.  The seal is part of the thermostat.  But opening it up makes it easier to flush the cooling system.

After running the car for a while you once again drain everything and refill the cooling system. I did not think it was fixed because it was still running over 210 degrees.  However the radiator cap now had a seal when you try to open it.  Over the next few days of running the temperature slowly came back down to normal 196 degrees.

These cars run hotter than normal because the thermostat is on the return line from the radiator.  If the radiator offers 16 degrees of cooling then a 180 degree thermostat will allow the water to run at 196 degrees.  It gets even hotter while sitting still because the radiator fan does not come on until it reaches about 220 degrees.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

FlameWheel F-450 with KK5.5 Controller one ESC went up in smoke!

I was flying my F-450 this time with a KK5.5 Flight Controller and one of the ESC's went up in smoke.  This is what the guts of the ESC looked like afterwards.

Here is the video.  I am still learning how to fly this thing.  It takes lots of practice (and crashes).

Monday, July 31, 2017

My New To Me Huskee LT-3800 Mower

I picked up a three year old Huskee LT-3800 Mower for $220.  The seller thought it was dead but I was able to start it, so I bought it.
The first thing I had to to fix was the cable for engaging the blades.  It is a 55" cable found on eBay for about $12.  The replacement cable works great.
The next problem was that it would quit after one lap around the yard and would not restart for several minutes.  There was a clog in the intake to the carburetor.  I completely rebuilt the carburetor but all that needed to be done was to remove the clog with a jewelers screwdriver and then clean it up with a pipe cleaner.  The red arrow shows where the problem was.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

2017 Batavia Hamfest

I forgot to take my camera to the Batavia Hamfest.  My cellphone took some poor quality pictures.

Here is a picture of my stuff.  It was kind of rainy so I had to move it back under the rear hatch later on.

Here are some of the other vendors.  As you can see it was a little muddy.
I only took one picture of a unique piece of electronics.  This is an antenna tuner.

My laptop computer died again

Sunday evening my laptop computer died again.  It was one of those HP laptops with the graphics chip that has to be resoldered with a heat gun.  This time it only lasted for a year. See:

However at the Batavia Hamfest I picked up a really nice quad core laptop for $5 that needed a hard drive and a screen.  I ordered the replacement screen on eBay but the post office has sent it all over the place.
Out of desperation I hooked up a screen from a laptop that had been replaced a while back because it has a black "hole" on it.  I was amazed that a total mismatch worked!  Now to add some duct tape to hold it in place until the correct screen arrives.
The problem with the non working screen is that the LED back-light connector is burnt up.  I do not know how common that problem is or if it can be jury rigged somehow?

Here is a better picture of the fried LED back light jack with its cover removed.

I soldered wires to the cable and the LED strip still did not work so I opened it up and it is toast.  I think it overheated, perhaps like the LED back lit TV's the LED's are being pushed to the point that they short out and "China Syndrome".
The problem with the overheated LED backlight went all the way through to the motherboard!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Have you ever broken a socket while changing a spark plug?

The other day I broke a socket while changing a spark plug!  At first I panicked. How do I get the broken piece(s) out from way down in there?  First I checked the remaining part to see if it was magnetic, it was.  Then none of my magnets would fit down in the opening.  So I used a magnet and ran it across the end of a flat blade screwdriver.  That did not work.  Then I took a stack of magnets and ran that across the end of the screwdriver.  That gave the screwdriver just enough power to just so lift the part up to where I could get a hold of it.  Whew!

After breathing a sigh of relief I then changed all of the other spark plugs with a different socket.
It looks like the socket was made with powdered metal.  Somehow there must have been a weak spot that gave way.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Arduino Powered F-550 Hexacopter my biggest drone yet!

I am currently upgrading my F-450 QuadCopter to a F-550 HexaCopter.  Besides buying the frame I bought two additional motors and ESC's.  So far I have all the motors working and am getting close to having it ready to fly.  The frame kit comes with two bags of screws but no instructions.

It is assembled much like the F-450, you solder the ESC's to the base then assemble the legs to the base.  Note that the power connections to the battery are the opposite of the ESC's power connections.

The top piece does not have the holes for mounting the flight controller.  I think they wanted the controller to be mounted on the bottom piece.  The holes in the bottom piece fit a KK Controller nicely.  I tried several other controllers and they all failed to work properly.  Finally I tried a KK controller with LCD and it works almost every time.  Sometimes I need to re-calibrate the gyros.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ZMR250 or QAV250 Racing 250mm QuadCopter

I am building a ZMR250 quadcopter.  It came as a frame kit and I added the ESC (Electronic Speed Control) and Motors.

It did not come with a lot of instructions but I managed to get it together but not working.
This is what it looks like assembled with a MultiWii controller.  I had to countersink the propellers because otherwise there is not enough threads to get the top nut on.
The problem now is that only two of the four motors spins up.  I replaced a motor and now suspect it is the ESC's that are defective.  

After replacing one of the ESC's then calibrating all of them it was ready to fly.  But it would not even lift off the ground.  They are 1000 KV motors and they should have been 2000 KV motors!  The RPM is not high enough to lift the quad off the ground!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

2017 Chaffee NY Hamfest

Sorry I did not take a lot of pictures.  This is still a smaller Hamfest.  I took along some broken big screen TV's as well as a 3D printer but did not sell much of anything.

The biggest problem was that the shutter button broke on my camera.  I had to use a pen to take pictures!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Peavey PV20 USB 20 Channel Mixing Console repair

Recently I needed to fix a Peavey PV20 USB 20 Channel Mixing Console.  The main volume sliders had worn out.  It took a while of searching but I found the needed parts.  They are Panasonic 10K ohm 60 mm slide potentiometers.

To get inside you have to remove the security screws and the screws that hold the power supply to the bottom cover.  Then you have to remove the knobs, nuts and screws to remove the main board.  There is one screw hidden under the reverb board.

The new sliders were a little shorter than the old ones so I had to mount them above the board as can be seen in the following picture:

Then there was another problem.  The new controls did not work at all!  They are stereo controls and the old ones were mono controls.  So there needs to be two jumpers installed on the bottom of the mixer to make it work.  Those jumpers are shown in the following drawing:

Here is a picture of the jumpers on the back side of the main board.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Arduino Powered WS2812 LED Strips turned into 8x75 Array

I found out that there is a 512 LED limit on running continuous LED arrays from one output of the Arduino.  Then I discovered an alternate setup that can run 1200 addressable LED's from an Arduino.  The alternate method uses the parallel output mode to run 8 strings at the same time.  So far I am just testing the setup to see if it works.

This picture shows the  wiring, it is much easier than any other method of running the addressable LED strings.  Since I only have four strings of 150 LED's they are split in half to make 8 strings of 75 LED's each.

Here is my first test program running.  I changed the default array of patterns into some text.

I have improved the code to support longer strings:

It now has the ability to do 8 colors and use a character generator!

Here is the video on YouTube:

The sign now breaks down into sections that are each 40 inches long.  That is done with eight 3 pin plugs that are identical to what comes on the LED strips.

Here is the code so far:
// BOB Davis Enhanced Version for sending data to 8 Parallel WS2812 strings

// PORTD is Digital Pins 0-7 on the Uno change for other boards.
#define PIXEL_PORT  PORTD  // Port of the pin the pixels are connected to
#define PIXEL_DDR   DDRD   // Port of the pin the pixels are connected to

// These are the timing constraints taken mostly from the WS2812 datasheets
#define T0H  400    // Width of a 0 bit in ns
#define RES 6000    // Width of the low gap between bits to cause a frame to latch

// Here are some convience defines to generate actual CPU delays
#define NS_PER_SEC (1000000000L)  // Note that this has to be SIGNED
#define NS_TO_CYCLES(n) ( (n) / NS_PER_CYCLE )

// Actually send the next set of 8 WS2812B encoded bits to the 8 pins.
// We must to drop to assembler to ensure proper timing
static inline __attribute__ ((always_inline)) void sendBitX8( uint8_t bits ) {
    const uint8_t onBits = 0xff;    // to send all bits on
    const uint8_t offBits = 0x00;   // to send all bits off
    asm volatile (
      "out %[port], %[onBits] \n\t"   // 1st step - send T0H high
      ".rept %[T0HCycles]     \n\t"   // Execute NOPs to delay
        "nop                  \n\t"
      ".endr                  \n\t"
      "out %[port], %[bits]   \n\t"   // Set the output bits to their values
      ".rept %[T0HCycles]     \n\t"   // Execute NOPs to delay
        "nop                  \n\t"
      ".endr                  \n\t"
      "out %[port], %[offBits]\n\t"   // last step set all bits low
      [port]    "I" (_SFR_IO_ADDR(PIXEL_PORT)),
      [bits]    "d" (bits),
      [onBits]   "d" (onBits),
      [offBits]   "d" (offBits),
      [T0HCycles] "I" (NS_TO_CYCLES(T0H) - 2)   // 1-bit width less overhead

// Set default color for letters 1=red, 2=blue, 0=green
int color=0;

static inline void __attribute__ ((always_inline)) sendPixelRow( uint8_t row ) {
  // Send the bit 8 times down every row, each pixel is 8 bits each for R,G,B
  for (int c=0; c<3; c++) {
    for (int bit=0; bit<8; bit++){    
      if (color==c)sendBitX8( row );
      else sendBitX8( 0x00 );
byte cha[]={  // Can be hex or binary-easier to read
  0x80, 0x80, 0xff, 0x80, 0x80, 0x00, //T
  B11111111,  B10010001,  B10010001,  B10010001,  B10010001,  B00000000, //E
  B01100001,  B10010001,  B10010001,  B10010001,  B10001110,  B00000000, //S
  B10000000,  B10000000,  B11111111,  B10000000,  B10000000,  B00000000, //T
  B00000000,  B10000001,  B11111111,  B10000001,  B00000000,  B00000000, //I
  B11111111,  B01100000,  B00011000,  B00000110,  B11111111,  B00000000, //N
  B01111110,  B10000001,  B10000001,  B10000101,  B01100110,  B00000000, //G
  B00000000,  B01000001,  B11111111,  B00000001,  B00000000,  B00000000, //1
  B01000001,  B10000001,  B10000111,  B10011001,  B01100001,  B00000000, //2
  B10000001,  B10010001,  B10010001,  B10010001,  B01101110,  B00000000, //3
  B00011000,  B00101000,  B01001000,  B10001000,  B11111111,  B00000000, //4
  B11110001,  B10010001,  B10010001,  B10010001,  B10001110,  B00000000, //5

void setup() {
  PIXEL_DDR = 0xff;    // Set all row pins to output

void loop() {
  cli();           // No time for interruptions!
  for (int l=0; l<72; l++){  // 66 is number of bytes to send
  delay(10);      // Wait more than RESET timeout to latch into the LEDs