ASUS TF300 Charger Magic

So here’s something. I realize that no one really cares, but I’m posting this as a public service to some intrepid internet traveler facing the same problem.

Yesterday I discovered that the charger for my ASUS tablet had suddenly quit working. It’s a typical liitle black block with a USB outlet, but when connected to the tablet (or its dock) it puts out 15V @ 1.2A (as opposed to the USB spec of 5V @ 500-900mA). I have all sorts of USB power adapters, but none that put out the voltage/current the tablet requires.

Soo… panic-stricken, I go online and order a replacement. A bit of Googling reveals that this is a fairly common issue which a number of people claim has a novel solution: Put the charger in the freezer. This supposedly resets some sort of thermal-overload breaker, returning the charger to working condition. (The charger in question is for the SL101 Series, TF101 Series, TF201 Series, TF300 Series, TF700 Series, and their docks.)

Dubious, but having nothing to lose, I put the charger in a Ziploc bag and place it in the freezer. Much to my surprise and delight…
It worked! Thanks interwebs!


iPod with Ti stylus prototype
Click to embiggen.

Here’s a photo of my iPod and the stylus I made for it out of “surplus Russian aerospace titanium tubing”. How cool am I?

The next step will be deciding if I want a brushed or highly polished finish (I’m leaning toward polished) and finishing it accordingly.

How to get placed on a watch list

A few days ago I saw an article detailing how to make a stylus for an iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch and became enamored with the notion of making a stylus for my iPod out of titanium. Titanium tubing is, of course, rather expensive and you have to buy it at least a foot (or several) at a time. Despite this I pressed on, undeterred. Finally I found a really good price on 6mm OD Ti tubing on eBay. Not just any Ti tubing, this is “surplus Russian aerospace titanium tubing”! From a seller in Latvia, no less.

Shipping from Latvia will take at least 10 days, so it will be a while before I have photos of the finished product to post. That is, if “they” don’t come and haul my ass off in an unmarked van before then.

The Cigarette Case Full of Irony

First some back story. My maternal grandfather died in 1982, when I was 16. He hadn’t made any attempt to contact my mother or myself since roughly 1970. Anyway, after he died, the son (TS from here on, for the sake of brevity, clarity, and anonymity) of the woman (TW) he’d been living with (but never married) contacted my mother, seeking permission for TW to stay in the house they’d shared. My mother said yes and basically didn’t think of it again. That is, until recently.

Come to find out, TW died a few years ago, but no one bothered to tell my mother. Since then the house has been sitting vacant and now the state is looking for someone to pay the back taxes. Here’s where this portion of the story gets weird.

My mother has an older half-brother, Hank (same father), who was raised by their fraternal grandparents. Mom was always told growing up that they had taken him in when my grandparents married rather than burden my grandmother. What she’s only now discovering is that they actually adopted him. So my mother’s brother is also her uncle, and his father is actually his brother (on paper)!

What all of this means is that the state of Texas is coming after my mother for the back taxes, since she is, as we all just learned, the only next of kin. As my mother was finding all of this out, and trying to decide upon a course of action, she talked to Hank for the first time in ~15 years and he tells her that he’s sending a box of their father’s things that he got from TS.

The box comes and it’s apparent that it’s basically just the things that no one else wanted, which is fine, she really didn’t want the stuff anyway. So, she brings the stuff to see if I want it. “Sure”, I say, “I’ll take it.”

Ok, so that’s the back story. Which leads us to the real story.

The Cigarette Case.

One of the items is a silver (in color) “ejector cigarette case” which I discovered didn’t really work.

The foot that does the cigarette ejecting was only moving about 1/8″ when the button was pressed but the slot that it travels in is nearly 1 inch long.

Closer inspection revealed that it appeared as though the whole thing was held together without any fasteners and could be opened up and disassembled.

I got it apart and found that a piece that’s supposed to serve as a pivot point for the mechanism had slipped out of place.

I won’t bore you with the fiddly details of reassembly, but I was thrilled to get it back together and working as it was intended.

The funny thing is this: At the instant I realized I had fixed it, my memory flashed to the person who taught me, when I was about 9 years old, that sometimes you can fix things just by taking them apart and putting them back together. Admittedly there was more to this than just that, but anyway…

That person? my uncle Hank, as I was “helping” him fix my grandmother’s Mr. Coffee coffee maker.

Multi-tasking Bike Tools

So, I’ve got one of those PUR faucet mounted water filters. I always struggle with replacing the filter as there’s really no good way to get a grip on the rounded, perpetually wet (thanks to my dripping faucet) front part that unscrews. Today I had to replace the filter and couldn’t budge the cover. Suddenly inspiration struck.

What about the one pronged end of my Park Tool HCW-5 (1 and 3 prong hook spanner)?

Sure enough, the prong fit perfectly into the water outlet, effortlessly unscrewing (and then re-tightening) the cover as if it were designed with this purpose in mind.

So there you have it. If you have a PUR faucet-mount like mine, a hook spanner will make child’s play of changing the filter.

I’m Far Too Easily Amused (Or: Ooooh… Flashing lights!)

When I was younger I used to love tinkering with electronics, but I haven’t done much of it in years. A few months ago when I broke out the soldering iron to solder up a wiring harness for a new car stereo, the smell of hot rosin and solder reawakened something.

So anyway… I came across this page. Having always been a sucker for pointless flashing lights, I was particularly drawn to the 16 Stage Bi-Directional LED Sequencer. If you’re old enough to remember the TV show Knight Rider then you can probably picture exactly what this looks like. If not, I’ll help you out: It’s a row of (16!) LED’s that chase back and forth, from side to side (thus the “bi-directional” part).

I got to thinking; “why couldn’t I mount the LED’s in a 5 1/4″ computer bay cover, power the circuit with 5VDC from an unused Molex (hard drive) connector, and have groovy (KITT-style) flashing lights on (one of) my computer(s)?” (Yes I know, I’m a dork.)

Unable to think of one good reason not to, I ordered the necessary parts and assembled the circuit on a breadboard. Reasonably satisfied with my handiwork, I powered it up. The lights flashed, in sequence, but alas, in only one direction. After carefully going over everything again I found my wiring mistake and was as giddy as a school-girl when I hooked it back up and the lights sequenced in a bi-directional fashion, just like they were supposed to.

Now I just have to decide if I want to stick with traditional red LED’s of if I should switch to violet or insanely bright blue for the final installation. Even Der Hasselhoffer himself will be envious!

Yep, I’m just an over-grown 12 year old with a job and too much free time.

Things people say without thinking

So, I’m soldering up this wiring harness for a new car stereo. Everything is going fairly well, when suddenly I run into a roadblock. I’m color-blind and could not distinguish the ‘gray’ and ‘gray/black’ pair of wires from the ‘green’ and ‘green/black’ pair on one of the harnesses. I scrutinized and squinted, I tried looking at them under a variety of light sources, all to no avail. Finally I go knock on my neighbor’s door, wiring harnesses in hand, explain my predicament, and ask which wires are which. She says to me “Are you really color-blind?” then points out the green and the gray wires for me.

Am I really color-blind? Why in God’s name would I make that up? When this topic comes up (which is infrequently, I try to keep it to myself) people invariably either:

A) Ask if I’m really color-blind.
B) Argue with me about it (“Oh, you are not!”)

I’m just thankful that my neighbor didn’t want to:

C) Play the “what color is this?” game.

That one really annoys the piss out of me.


So, here in Ohio (in some counties) we have emissions testing. I suppose I’m in favor of this, what with decreasing pollution and all. The thing is this; my “new” car, the ’96 Maxima’s check engine light was on, and my temporary tags expire May 13. According to the Ohio EPA website, a vehicle automatically fails ECheck if the check engine light is on.

So, anyway… I get the codes from the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) and they are:

1) Front/Left O2 sensor… this isn’t too bad, it’s at least the easiest one to reach (~$75 for the part).
2) Knock Sensor… this one’s a fairly monumental PITA, it’s located in the “V” of the engine, under the intake manifold, thankfully I have small enough hands that it’s at least feasible without removing the manifold (~$115 for the part).
3) EVAP control system/Flow… this is one of those “jackpot” codes, could be any of about 12 different things, probably not terribly expensive, but potentially very time consuming to track down.

Hmm… this presents quite a dilemma, indeed. I decide to reset the ECU (and thus, the check engine light) and try my luck at the E-Check place; the worst that can happen is the car doesn’t pass, and that’s free!

So, I go, I pass (with flying colors), I pay my $19.50 and I’m reading the printout; it says “your vehicle received a tailpipe test because its OBD system was not ready”

I don’t know for certain why it (the On Board Diagnostics System/ECU) “was not ready”, but I have a strong suspicion it may have been because I just reset it. Somehow it just seems wrong that my car was WELL below the limits for hydrocarbons and NOx (like 1/10 of the allowable amount) but it would have failed had the “check engine” light been on.

What this all means that I now have plenty of time to address these issues, rather than knocking myself out trying to scrape together the money and get it done in the next month.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a bit of knowledge and a screwdriver!