Friday, January 28, 2011

Pro-Lite PL-M2014R Multi Color LED sign

I recently purchased two Pro-Lite LED signs on Ebay.  They were easy to fix, I just needed to replace the capacitors in the power supply. The old ones were 4700 at 16 volts, all I had was 2200 at 25 volts so I used them and they worked fine.  They are the blue caps on the left in this picture.

Here is a picture of both of the signs working.
Now to make a 9 pin to telephone jack cable so I can program them from a computer.

Getting the Pro-Lite signs to work.

The instructions say to make a 4 conductor telephone cable to a 9 pin female serial connector.  Red and Green go to pin 2 and 3 then the yellow wire goes to pin 5.  Well I tried 300 baud, 9600 baud, a sign ID number of 1 to 10 and nothing worked.  I reversed pins 2 and 3 to no avail.  I got out my voltmeter and checked pins 2 and 3 and they were right to begin with.  When they are wired correctly they should both meter about negative 2 to negative 5 volts.  I also found out that both the yellow and the black wire are ground and can connect to pin 5 of the 9 pin serial connector.

There were two solutions to my dilemma.  In spite of what the notes say both signs were configured to 2400 baud.  I figured that out by trial and error.  You are supposed to get a remote control and use that to find out what the baud rate and the sign ID is currently set to.  However if you select a sign ID of  ‘0’ it sends your message to ‘all’ or in this case ‘any’ sign that you have connected.  Telling it to display the time is an easy way to test the communications setup.  Once that is set you can move on to more advanced programming.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Silent Radio LED Sign

I have obtained two Silent Radio LED signs on Ebay and I intend on rebuilding them. To get one of them apart I had to reach through a hole in the back and cut the wires to the power transformer. To remove the logic board I had to use pliers on the screw head and pliers on the mounting shaft. In one case the screw broke off rather than come out. Tin sheers or heavy duty wire cutters can be used to remove the connectors between the sign and the logic board.

Once the board is removed the reverse engineering can begin. The pin-out is quite simple;
1. 5 Volts
2. Ground
3. Seven common Anode lines (5 volts to light up)
4. Seven common Anode lines (5 volts to light up)
5. Seven common Anode lines (5 volts to light up)
6. Seven common Anode lines (5 volts to light up)
7. Seven common Anode lines (5 volts to light up)
8. Seven common Anode lines (5 volts to light up)
9. Seven common Anode lines (5 volts to light up)
10. Ground
11. Data
12. Clock
These same 12 lines are available at both ends of the sign.  I broke a couple of runs when removing the logic board.  Maybe un-soldering it would have been a better idea?

My objective is to make a very simple straingtforward interface to run the sign from a PC. Perhaps use the PC's serial port directly, a 8051, a Basic Stamp or some other simple common controller.

Here is some of my old work on LED array signs;

I have several posts on LED sign modifications. 
Check this one out for more on the Silent Radio Modifications:

Here is part three on Silent Radio signs:

And here is part four:

Here is a simple column driver adapted from one of my old schematics. The problem with this setup is that you cannot turn off the columns while updating the shift registers.  Perhaps another IC would work better? 

This is the error message it displayed on arrival:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Look@lan - a good network tool

Today while looking at the logs I saw that a computer was misbehaving however I could not identify the computer name.  I tried Nmap/Zenmap several times and several settings to no avail.  Then I tired look@lan and instantly got the answer! 

After looking around a while I discovered another feature.  If you click on an IP address it gives lots more details about that computer including all the open ports!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

IPCop bit the dust again back to Netgear FVX538

Our IPCop server quit working again.  Network traffic slowed to a crawl so I called Time Warner and we determined that the problem was here.  I switched in the Netgear firewall instead of the IPCop computer and the network came back up to speed.

When looking at the Netgear firewall logs I saw that flood control was being activated by a computer about every 4 minutes.  So the problem may have just been that computer.  MBAM found and removed a virus.

The big complaint about Netgear is that the default configuration allows everything.  So you have to configure it to block everything then enable what protocols that you want to allow.  When you get done it should look something like this:

The 'any' 'block always' and 'log always' at the bottom is so that any attempted violation of the rules will be logged.  This is a big help for troubleshooting when something is blocked from working just check the log then add it to the list of allowed protocols.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stuff to sell

I am selling a lot of my stuff on Ebay. Look on Ebay under bob_davis321 to find my stuff that is for sale.  My email address is bobdavis321(at)  Make sure yo replace the (at) with @ so it will work.

Besides the stuff on Ebay I am also selling these three things;

1. Sold - My 'Super Thumper', washer launcher or 'Electromagnetic pulse device' based on the Bob Beck design.

2. Sold - My Improved 'Doug Coil' device with the capacitor switch box (QSC Amplifier is NOT included)

3. Sold - My 24 KV Power supply that is used for a Rife Tube driver (Rife tube is NOT included).

All of my devices are improved, cheaper, and simpler than the original designs.  For example the Super Thumper runs off an ac adapter making it much safer electrically.  The 'Doug Coil' uses 14 Gauge enameled wire making it much more powerful than when you are using one that is made with insulated wire.

Here are pictures of version 3 of the Super Thumper that is up for sale for $250, first a picture of the insides. 
 Then what it looks like on the outside, note the 24 VAC adapter on the left to power it..
I am looking for a cover for the coil to make it look nicer.  A mayonnaise jar lid might work nicely. Here is an updated schematic.  The input is 24 to 30 VAC at 1 amp.  Sorry that the schematic is so small, you can click on it and then it will get bigger.
Super Thumper Specifications;
Capacitor bank: 8 x 390uF at 400 volts
Power source: 24-30 VAC at 1 amp
Voltage Multiplier: 4 x 4A bride rectifiers and 7 x 220uF Capacitors.
SCR: Minimum 100 Amps at 400 Volts
Coil: approx 50 feet 14 Gauge enameled wire 3" in diameter.
Coil plug: 4 pin Cinch-Jones connector
Wire to Coil: approx 5 feet of 16 gauge stranded wire
Box size: approx. 8 inches by 6 inches by 2.5 inches

The Doug Coil Setup, the Capacitor is in a switch box to select the correct value.  I will include the coil and switch-box.  You can use a frequency generator program on a computer and the QSC amplifier can be purchased on Ebay.   I hope to have pictures soon. It works with as little as a 100 watt amplifier but a 250 watt model is highly recommended.  The QSC amplifiers can run into a 2 ohm load so they hold up better when running a coil that is only 1 ohm!

Here is a picture showing a 'normal' green Doug coil (I have 2 of them), my smaller coil (14 gauge enameled wire 9 inches in diameter) that is many times more powerful even with a smaller amplifier) and my switch box. The switch box I am selling is smaller (around 8 inches by 6 inches) and only has 6 switches on it.  Normal Doug Coils are made with 12 gauge insulated wire and they are very hard on your amplifier.

My modified Doug coil specifications;
Coil: approx 500 feet 14 gauge wire (enameled or insulated)
Wire to coil: approx 5 feet of 16 gauge stranded to 1/4 inch plug
Switch box: approx 8 inches by 6 inches by 2.5 inches
Switch box jacks: 1/4 inches input and output
Capacitors: Non polarized 1/2/4/8/16 uF at 400 VAC
Switches: 15 amp SPST switches

Capacitor values for several frequencies;
300    32
400    18
500    11.5
600    8   
700    6
800    4.5
900    3.5   
1000    3
1100    2.5
1200    2
1400    1.5
2000    1

Last of all is my 24KV Power supply.  Here it is shown running a Rife tube.

 Here is a picture of the guts.  The unit for sale is about 1/3 this size.  As you can see there is a lot of extra space inside.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How to get rich on the Internet - Part 2 -Link Farms

Or should I title this 'How a bunch of scum bags are destroying the Internet'.

First of all lets get our 'terminology' correct.

Link Farms - Worthless web sites that are just links to real web sites.

Dead end Link Farms - their links go no where.  The oldest I remember is motherboards.???  They just had a list of motherboard models down the middle of the page and lots of adds on both sides of the page.  The adds were for adult dating sites or worse.  The idea is that you are looking for help with your motherboard and you end up there where they will sell you help with your sex life.  Of course the advertisers were paying for referrals to their web sites.

Circulatory Link Farms - Their links go in circles.  Like if you misspell Staples you will find one, then you will go in circles that go nowhere.

Live Link Farms - These somehow follow sites like Ebay and create pages of links to live Ebay stuff.  How it works is that you are on Ebay and see something that you might like.  So you then Google the device name to get more information.  However the first ten pages of links all go to sites that in turn link back to the the Ebay ad that you started with!

Real Link Farms - These have real links to pages that you were looking for in the first place.  You might call them a 'monkey in the middle' Link Farm.  What is the point, if they did not exist you would have gone where you wanted to go in the first place.

PDF Link Farms - these scour the web for PDF files, then they sort them and then they create web pages of links to these PDF files.  These mess with Google's ranking by skewing search terms towards the pages with the pdf files because 'linked pages' are rated higher by Google.

All of these link farms have one purpose in mind.  To get you to see their advertisements for 'Pay Per View' or 'Pay per Click' so that they can make money off your searching usually without giving you want you wanted. 

The other day I came across one that really 'got my goat'  I was searching for some SEO help and I noticed that several of the sites all went to the same web site in one way or another.  So I was talking with one of their salesman and he said that they own over 1,000 domain names that have only one page and they in turn all point to their 'real' web site.

So there it is, follow these terrible examples and you too can be the next Internet millionaire!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Super Thumper rebuilt again

I was using my 'thumper' the other day and the diodes shorted out.  After looking at the schematic I realized that the diodes were taking the full force of the reverse EMS off the coil.  I changed the schematic to fix that bug.

Also I was able to purchase on Ebay about 50 of 390 uF 400 volt capacitors.  Thats enough to build five of these devices.  Here is what the rebuilt one looks like.

This is what it used to look like before I rebuilt it.

I hope to build another one that will use a 24 VAC AC adapter to power it.  This change will make it even more electrically safe that the current setup.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Targus PA248UI laptop cooler repair.

My daughters Targus PA248UI  laptop cooler stopped working. The problem was that the AC adapter jack had become completely unsoldered.  Click on the picture and you can see that all three pins are no longer soldered in.

The secret to getting it apart is to remove the 8 screws that are located under the rubber bumpers.

New bathroom to replace cast iron tub.

 My brother decided to replace the cast iron tub in his bathroom.  The old tub had to be broken into pieces to be removed.  Needless to say the project grew to replacing the floor under the tub and redoing the entire bathroom.  Here is the empty bathroom.

The new tub was designed to fit together precisely and not leak.
While he was at it a new sink was a good idea.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Dodge Caravan fan only works on high.

I have come across this problem a couple of times.  On a 2000 dodge the resistor block is to the left of the engine just below the wiper assembly and mounted onto the firewall.  It has 2 clips that hold it in place.

On the 2001 or 2002 grand caravans it is located behind the glove box.  There are two catch pins at the top sides of the glove box that push in and then the glove box drops down revealing the fan control resistor block.  Some fan controls use resistors (That resemble coils) and some have the new solid state version.  They are interchangeable.   The resistor model may be repairable.  I think it is the thermal fuse that goes bad.  Just replace it with a new on from Radio Shack.  The fan speed control block is dead center in the picture below.  Remove two wire plugs and two screws to remove it.