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Archive for the ‘Instructions’ Category

Replacing the Batteries in an APC UPS Battery Tray

Posted by Russell Wright on January 11, 2017

There comes a time when you need to replace the batteries in your UPS and, like most consumables, sometimes they can cost more than the acquisition cost of the UPS…if you don’t know what you are paying for.  Here’s what I did for an APC UPS 1400.

For a mere $230 you can order a new tray with batteries.

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Or for about $60, you can purchase four new batteries and reuse your tray.

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When you purchase these batteries, make sure you know whether you are getting F1 or F2 connectors on the batteries.  I ordered some with smaller (F1) tabs so I had to order some F1-to-F2 adapters.

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Here are the batteries exposed, after removing the label.  Nothing special about these sealed lead/acid batteries.

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First thing is to remove the batteries.  I had to think about this for a bit.  They are held in place with double-sided tape.  I ended up getting my heat gun out and heated up the metal side of the tray until I could pull them loose.

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You can see where I first attempted to pry the batteries loose.  Much easier to heat up the double-sided tape and pull them out!

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Just be sure to hook everything up as it was.  Basically, each battery pair is wired in series and then the pair are in parallel on the connector.  That would make the battery tray 24v output.  I found I could pull the fuses loose from their double-sided tape on the top of the batteries.

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Now all you have to do is “stick” them back in the tray.

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Posted in Computer Repair, Instructions, Misc Repair | Leave a Comment »

Installing a SanDisk ReadyCache 32GB SSD in an Older Desktop

Posted by Russell Wright on February 17, 2013

Most of my laptops (we have several in the house) have 256GB or 480GB SSDs in them, but I am still operating a desktop (affectionately known as “BigBertha”) that functions as a general use computer and backup station.  It runs a pair of mirrored 750GB Seagate NS drives along with a couple of front access bays in which we can plug in various other drives for backup purposes.  BigBertha is home-built Windows 7 computer running an ASUS P5Q-EM motherboard with 4GB of memory. 

I was in Microcenter and was looking at their selection of SSDs when I ran across this SanDisk ReadyCache device.  I went home and did some research and found a good article on HardOCP, read some posts on Tom’s Hardware and read some reviews on Amazon.  Most of the reviews were favorable, so I thought I’d invest the $40 (one of the few things at Microcenter that appears to be a good price) and see what happens.

The hardware installation was pretty straightforward.  It is a 2.5” drive sized device that comes with an aluminum bracket to extend it to 3.5” for inside a desktop.  All the screws (8) are provided, as well as a SATA cable.  However, you’ll need to make sure you have an available SATA power cable and perhaps a Y power adapter (I had to go up to my supply in the attic and find one) to supply power to the device. 

After hardware installation, you have to download and install the ExpressCache software.  I actually downloaded it prior to installing the hardware (good planning, huh?).  I was looking for a link, not a picture, so it took me 30 seconds or so to find the download “picture.”  If it was a snake…

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The software requires an activation key, which is provided on the software instruction sheet (I’m assuming it is a generic key, since it was not “after printed” on anything).  It’s on the back, right under the Turkish translation of the s/w installation instructions.  Obvious, eh?  You have to pay attention!

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I’m running an Intel disk mirror on C:, and at the time I started I didn’t notice my mirror needed to be rebuilt, so my first attempt at getting it running wasn’t successful.  However, after rebuilding the mirror (overnight) I was successful.  If you are looking for the ExpressCache GUI, you’ll find it in your Programs under Condusiv Technologies.

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The GUI can minimize to your tray where you can easily right-click it and open it to view your stats, or to clear the cache.

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The device (which is essentially an SSD) shows up as a disk volume.  I had to go into Disk Management a couple of times and delete the volume, because when you initially install, it seems there can be some timing issues between windows identifying the drive and installing device drivers and ExpressCache being able to “see” and use the drive.  However, after a couple of times, all was good.  Here’s what it looks like in Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc).

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I have to say, after starting some apps a couple of times, the response is extremely noticeable.  In fact, this might be as good or better than a hybrid drive.  For example, Outlook loads as fast as on my machines with a full SSD and other Office apps “pop” almost instantaneously.  From a boot up perspective, the time to get to a login prompt from when Windows starts to load went from 38-40 seconds to around 20 seconds.  After entering a password, the time to be able to “use” the computer (after all my crap loads) went from 70+ seconds to about 30 seconds.  I acknowledge this as a great success!  Best $40 I’ve invested all week.

Posted in Computer Repair, Instructions | Leave a Comment »

Setting Up RDP (Remote Desktop Connection) Through Verizon Fios

Posted by Russell Wright on January 15, 2012

I see lots of discussion about getting RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) to work on a Verizon network.  Much of this discussion is pretty harebrained and doesn’t speak logically about the issues.  Here’s my process and discussion on the subject.

Why do you want to do this?  Because there’s are not many reasons to pay GoToPC or other companies for the privilege of accessing your computer remotely.  Most Windows computers have RDP built in, unless you get one of the “Home” versions of Windows 7, in which case you’ll have to work around that.

The main idea is you want to take RDP traffic coming from the internet (TCP default port 3389) and route it to a machine in your house on your local network.  This will be TCP traffic on port 3389 if you use the defaults.  It’s not much more complicated than that.

I have the Actiontec mi424wr router and my brother-in-law has the Westell 9100em.  I’ve got it working on the Actiontec and next up is the Westell.

This is what you need to do:

  1. Enable RDP on the machine for remote access
  2. Insure you have an account with a password that is an administrator or in the Remote Desktop Users group
  3. Add a port forwarding rule on the router (the hard part) to forward the RDP traffic to a specific machine
  4. Provide rules for any firewall(s) you have running to allow the RDP traffic to your computer
  5. Make sure your ISP or the router is not blocking the RDP port (TCP 3389) universally
  6. Change the RDP listening port to another port if 3389 is being blocked and adjust your port forwarding rule

Enable RDP on the machine for remote access

Type sysdm.cpl in the Start prompt to start the System control panel applet.  Select the Remote tab and allow connections using whichever method you want to allow.  The less secure method refers to the original RDP client on Windows XP and other prior operating systems (might also be the Mac RDP client).  The more secure client can be updated on XP and is part of Windows 7.  Don’t ask me about Vista…just like Windows ME it never existed in my book.

You can add users for remote desktop action if they are not already in the administrators group.

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Insure you have an account with a password that is an administrator or in the Remote Desktop Users group

To enable remote desktop, you must have an account that has a password, otherwise you’ll never connect.  Unless, of course, you start the Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc) and make some adjustments to the Security Options (Accounts: Limit local account use of blank passwords to console logon only).  You can also adjust the User Rights Assignment and Allow log on through Remote Desktop Services to other security groups.  But I digress…

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Add a port forwarding rule on the router (the hard part) to forward the RDP traffic to a specific machine

On the Actiontec MI424WR router, log  in as admin and click on the Firewall Settings icon along the top.  Select Port Forwarding and select the machine to which you want to forward the RDP traffic. 

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Next, select custom ports, as there is not a rule for RDP traffic.

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Here’s how you have to define your port.  Protocol is TCP, Source Ports is Any and Destination Ports is 3389 (or whatever custom port you want to use).  I have performed some tests to change the source port from Any to 3389 (which would seem to make sense for me) and it no longer works. 

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If you use a custom port the only difference is what you enter in the Destination Ports field.  There are some limits of allowable port numbers, so be aware and don’t enter something like 99999!

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Provide rules for any firewall(s) you have running to allow the RDP traffic to your computer

You need to make sure the Windows firewall (or whatever extra firewall crap you have running) does not block the RDP traffic on your port to your computer.  Here’s the Windows Firewall version.

Start Windows Firewall (firewall.cpl).  You can simply start typing “Firewall” in the Start box and it will be displayed.  Or you can get at it through control panel.  Whatever…

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After some testing (turning each profile on/off), I found that the Private Profile on the firewall is what does the blocking.  It makes sense, because the traffic coming from the internet is actually forwarded to the local network, hence it is traffic on the private network.  You open the Properties dialog on Windows Firewall with Advanced Security to easily turn the firewall scopes on and off to check them out.  You might want to turn them off until you get it working.

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To allow the RDP inbound traffic on the standard port of 3389, you can enable the Inbound Rule called “Remote Desktop (TCP-In)” in the inbound rule set.  Simply right-click and enable it.image

If you need to create a custom rule for a custom port (in other words, you don’t want to use 3389 or it is blocked) you must create a new inbound rule.  To create a new inbound rule, select Inbound Rules and the right-click to start the Rule Wizard.

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Select Port rule.

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Select TCP for the protocol.

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Select Allow the connection.

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Select Private.

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Give it a name.  This is for a custom rule I was using on port 5207.  

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Your finished rule should look something like this. 

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Make sure your ISP or the router is not blocking the RDP port (TCP 3389) universally

Now you need to make sure the port makes it through your router.  To do this, use the CanYouSeeMe.org web tool.  If you have set up your port forwarding rule an your firewall rule, the traffic should go to the port (3389 if the default port is used) you’ve set up.

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Before I created and enabled the port forwarding rule.

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Here you can see I’ve created the port forwarding rule.

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Specifying the source port in the port forwarding rule as 3389 instead of An which, I think, should work, but doesn’t):

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Response from Canyouseeme.org:

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Specifying the source port as Any:

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Response from Canyouseeme.org:

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Change the RDP listening port to another port if 3389 is being blocked and adjust your port forwarding rule

If you want to change the listening port from the default of 3389, you can do this in the registry.  HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\WinStations\RDP-Tcp\PortNumber is the key name.  Change it to the Decimal value of your choice (within limits, of course).

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No need to reboot.  Simply start the services.msc applet and restart Remote Desktop Services so it picks up the new port.

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It will also restart the Remote Desktop Service UserMode Port Redirector (which really makes sense).

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Related links:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Connect-to-another-computer-using-Remote-Desktop-Connection

Posted in Computer Repair, Instructions, Networking | 14 Comments »

Replacing the Inverter Assembly on a 2002 1st Gen Prius

Posted by Russell Wright on September 18, 2011

As my wife and I were driving to Lowe’s the other day in my 2002 Prius, it suddenly started to shudder and run very rough.  We weren’t but about a mile or two from home, so we immediately turned around and limped home.  After we made it home, the car wouldn’t even start…it would simply shudder when starting was attempted. 

I went to the local Auto Zone and “borrowed” one of their code readers and found P3125 – Bad Inverter.  A quick search on the internet and I found the price for a dealer replacement was about $4500.  Ouch!

After further reading I also found that it may not be as simple as replacing the inverter, as P3125 can also mean other things.  So I decided I’d take it up to the Toyota dealer and let them diagnose the problem to see if our diagnoses agreed.  I got my brother-in-law to hook me up behind his Toyota Tundra with my tow strap and haul me the 8 miles to the dealership in Richardson.  $54 later, the dealership confirmed my diagnoses and quoted me about $4400 to replace it.  I asked if they would consider using my salvage part I purchased for $350 and they said, “No, too much liability.”  OK, I thought, I guess I’m on my own…

So we hauled it back and I finally got a round-tuit yesterday.  Since I couldn’t find a good procedure that anyone had documented online, I decided I’d document it and take a few pics along the way.  Here’s my result.

Disclaimer:  I R an electrical engineer, so I am comfortable working around electricity.  If you aren’t, perhaps you should befriend someone who is.  Engineers need friends, too!  Also, anywhere there were big orange HV cables I always checked the voltage between all connections with my meter before touching anything with a wrench.

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Before you start working on this car where you’ll be dealing with the high voltage (HV), you need to disable all the power and let it sit a few minutes to insure all the HV capacitors have had time to bleed down.  I’ve heard many time tables on this, such as “let it sit an hour,” but the Toyota dismantling manual states five minutes, so I figured by the time I got to working on that part plenty of time would have passed. 

First, disconnect the 12v “auxiliary” battery (located in the trunk) and pull the safety plug on the high voltage.  I disconnected the ground (-) battery cable.  Here are a few pics in the trunk showing the location of each.

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Pull the lever down to unlock the safety plug.

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Me pulling out the HV safety plug.  Hmmm, perhaps I should’ve worn insulating gloves (and a bunny suit).

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Now drain the inverter coolant.  It’s kinda’ scary because you might think you are going to drain the transmission fluid.  Oh, wait!  You will if you remove the wrong plug!  Don’t do that!  There are others that have much better photos of this.  Check out YouTube.

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Now you can remove the hoses to the inverter cooling system.

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As I started this process, I did things in the wrong order (of course) and found there were a couple of bolts I couldn’t get to.  I sent a text to the nice folks at Luscious Garage asking how I get to the bolts and they texted back (amazingly!) to remove the windshield wiper cowl.  Duh!  Should’ve done that at the very beginning.  My loss is your gain!

Remove the seal.

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The windshield wipers are held on with nuts that should be pretty easy to remove.  After the nuts are off, remove tension on the windshield wipers by pulling them away from the glass and see if you can’t easily remove them from the shafts. 

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The cover is essentially held on with two phillips screws (one on either side) and the fasteners that snap in the rubber seal.

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You do have to remove both sides of the cowl cover. 

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Once you get all this windshield wiper stuff out of the way, you can remove the cowl pan it sits in.  I didn’t get a picture of this for some unknown reason, but it’s pretty easy.  It just takes 5 or 6 bolts and you lift it out.  Be careful not to cut yourself (I did) on the sharp edges.

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Once you get the connectors out of the way you can get to the two gray connectors on the back and have easier access to the HV cable connectors (which can be somewhat difficult to wiggle loose, but be patient).

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Posted in Auto Repair, Instructions | 40 Comments »

Disassembly and Assembly of a LifeFitness x5i Elliptical

Posted by Russell Wright on July 4, 2010

Here are some pics and procedures for taking apart your x5i and reassembling it.  It’s not comprehensive, but it will give you the main idea if you need to take it apart for any reason.

The bottom shroud that wraps around the back end of the machine can be removed without taking anything else off.  It is held in place with six machine screws and, once they are removed, you simply pull it back to remove it.  The power jack is attached to the metal frame, so it doesn’t get in the way of the removal of the shroud.

BottomShroud

If you want to remove the long “arms” on the elliptical you need to remove the bolts (9/16”) at the front and back of the arms by first removing the covers.  Each cover half is held in place with a single machine screw.  You can take either side out first, as the order doesn’t matter.  This will expose a bolt with a self-locking nut that can easily be removed.  Here are some pictures, but they are not very good.  Hopefully you get the idea.

 

BackArm

 

FrontArm

Once you have these bolts removed, you need to remove the bolt holding the stride length adjustment mechanism on the crank.  This bolt is accessed by removing a plug that covers it.

RemovePlug

Now you can remove the 9/16” bolt, lock washer and flat washer that hold the mechanism on the crank.  I found that using a magnet to retrieve the hardware from the hole was very handy. 

StrideAdjustmentMechanism

After removing the stride length adjustment mechanism, you can remove four machine screws that hold on a plastic cover.

CrankCover

Once the cover is out of the way, you can remove the two screws that hold the metal plate on the crank and then remove the bolt that clamps the crank on to the flywheel.  To pull the crank off the flywheel, you may need some kind of puller.  I used a sliding hammer/puller that is used for doing bodywork.  These things have a knack for being wedged on so this may be the hardest part of the disassembly unless you have a puller to help you remove it.

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Now you can finally remove all the screws that hold one half of the shroud in place.  These are a mixture of machine screws that attach the shroud to the frame and plastic/wood screws that screw into the other half of the plastic shroud.  Once you remove all the screws on a given side (this is the left side we’re working on) you should be able to remove half the shroud and expose the innards. 

To expose the other side simply repeat the process.  It’s a lot of screws, but nothing very difficult.

Posted in Instructions, Misc Repair | 4 Comments »

Installing Batteries in a Bell Night Shield Multi-Purpose Light

Posted by Russell Wright on June 26, 2010

I received a Bell Night Shield tail light for my bike on my birthday and of course, it requires that batteries are installed.  Two AAA batteries is all it needs. 

After removing it from its packaging, I read the measly instructions.  You can see them here…and I quote:

  1. To install batteries, wedge a coin into the groove in the bottom of the cabinet and twist – install 2 AAA batteries as indicated in the cabinet.
  2. Stretch bracket around seat post.  Use rubber inserts to fit as needed.
  3. Serrated bracket fits to clamp.  Insert knob and tighten.
  4. Slide light onto bracket.  Adjust light so it faces rearward using twist knob.
  5. To remove the light from bracket, push back tab and slide.

So step 1 is/are the entire battery installation instructions.  I did as instructed and off popped the red cover.  Underneath are the LEDs and silver cover for the circuit board.  Somehow I was determined that all of that would lift out and I would see the battery “cabinet.” 

Luckily I stopped before going too far.  After looking closely, I could see that there appeared to be another piece that could be separated/removed.  Sure enough, the piece on the left is what really needed to be separated from the battery compartment, not the red cover.

When you insert a coin to split the case, make sure you go under the red gasket and don’t catch the red light cover…which is really easy to do.  I think the red light cover comes apart more easily than the battery compartment.

SDC14006

Posted in Instructions | 6 Comments »