Logitech QuickCam mod to fit a standard tripod

I have a Logitech QuickCam Communicate Deluxe webcam. It’s a decent webcam apart from the non standard mounting holes. I wanted it to fit a standard tripod so I did some modding. Here is how.

Webcam before mod

I started out by splitting the screen clip from the cam. It’s a bit scary but I pulled until it released.

Split clip from cam
Split clip and cam

We will going to use the plastic part with the screws so just unscrew it from the screen clip.

Removed the plastic part from the clip
Removed the plastic part from the clip

A standard tripod is just a 1/4″ screw. I found the following two.

I found the following two 1/4" screws that could work
One of these two could work

Here is how they would look. Not sure what the right one was used for but I think it would be easier to attach to the plastic part so I chose that one.

Trying out my options
Trying out my options

I’ll glue the plastic part with the metallic part so I’ll polish both to make the glue stick better.

Polish to make the glue stick
Polish to make the glue stick

Time to glue. I used a double sided tape but glue would work just as well.

Glue together
Glued together

Put the plastic part back to the webcam attach it to you tripod and we are done.

My modded webcam attached to a Gorillapod
My modded webcam attached to a Gorillapod

Replace batteries in Philips Philishave 5890 and Philips Hair trimmer HQ-C280

Recently the batteries in my shaver (an old, but working, Philishave 5890) and hair trimmer (an old, but working, Philips HQ-C280) died. I looked around online for replacement batteries but didn’t find any specifications. I opened the devices but they didn’t tell what to use for replacements.

The 5890 uses two serial connected batteries. I measured the original size for each battery to: 42.5 x 14 mm. A little bit too long for being an AA. But I took a chance and replaced it with two NiHM AAs (47 x 14 mm). You’ll have to shoe horn them in to fit but it does.

PhilipsPhilishave_Shaver_5890

The HQ-C280 uses one battery. I measured the size to match an AA battery exact so I just replaced it.

PhilipsHairTrimmer_HQ-C280

All the replacement batteries are standard AAs (for mounting) 1,2 V and 1500 mAh. I charged them for 20 hours and it worked fine!

Move Your Operating System to a New Hard Disk

Some years ago I wrote about how to create a Windows Rescue CD. Today I was stuck with a similar problem. I wanted to merge all data from one disk to another without needing to re-install my computer.

My first thought was to create a new rescue CD that I could restore to my new drive. But that didn’t seem like the easiest solution so I looked up a tool called Clonezilla. I started out by setting up similar partitions using GParted and boy am I glad I did? It turned out that you can use GParted to copy one partition to another. It took some minutes, I rebooted and it didn’t work.

I was a bit clueless until I remembered that you need to write a Master Boot Record (MBR) to the disk before it’s possible to boot from it. I booted up from an old DOS cd and wrote fdisk /mbr. Rebooted and still no luck so I fired up GParted again and saw that I had forgotten to set the bootable flag on the drive. I rebooted and everything went fine.

When knowing about MBR and the boot flag it’s a no-brainer and I can’t recommend it enough! At least if you aren’t on a mac where Carbon Copy Cloner is available!

Kinesis Advantage – Customization for International Layouts

I have been using a Kinesis Advantage keyboard for half a year now and I think it’s a great keyboard. My hands feels more relaxed now than before and my RSI symptoms have decreased dramatically.

Since I mostly use a Swedish variant of Dvorak (Svorak-A1) I had some problems finding the built in shortcuts for selecting different settings on the layout (the shortcuts mentioned in the manual doesn’t work the same way on a Swedish layout as on a En/Us layout).

On a Swedish version of the Advantage, use the following shortcuts instead

Turn on and off audible tones (sounds for Caps Lock / Num Lock)

  • Program + (?+)

Turn on and off key clicks

  • Program + (*’)

Instant Configuration

  • (´`) + (w) for ”Windows mode”
  • (´`) + (p) for ”non Windows mode” (use this for international Windows layout and in Linux)
  • (´`) + (m) for ”Macintosh mode”

Reset (there are several different resets, see the manual for more info) the keyboard:

  • Program + Shift + F10

Kinesis On-Board Dvorak Layout (on a Swedish computer)

  • Program + Shift + F5

Kinesis On-Board Dvorak Layout (on a Swedish computer)If you are using a Swedish layout and switch to the on-board Dvorak layout your layout will look a bit different than the layout presented in the manual. The attached image shows how my layout works or download the SVG of the layout.

Update: Thanks to Alind for providing a good remapping method. Here is how I switch CapsLock and Shift:

  1. Progrm + F12
  2. Shift
  3. Caps Lock
  4. Caps Lock 
  5. Shift
  6. Progrm + F12

Tomato Router – Quality Of Service (QoS)

In my previous post I requested you to help and seed the new Ubuntu Gutsy release. After having my torrent client seeding for some hours I realized that my DSL connection (8Mbit/1Mbit) wasn’t as keen as I was on the high network load it created. It made my computer almost unusable.

Luckily my router running the Tomato firmware had great support for Quality Of Service. I set it up according to the screen shots below and the network problems went away. It might be worth looking into!

Tomato: QoS - Basic Setup
Tomato: QoS – Basic Settings

Tomato: QoS - Classification
Tomato: QoS – Classifications

Tomato: QoS - Graphs
Tomato: QoS – Graphs

I’m not sure if I managed to set it up properly so all comments are appreciated!

S-Video to Scart (with color!)

Having the computer hooked up to the TV has always been a hurdle for me. Sometimes you get black and white, sometimes a lot of disturbance and other times nothing at all. I have been escaping the problem for several years in hope for it to be sorted out once I need it. Well it hadn’t…

I bought a new S-Video to SCART cable today and attached it to my (old) TV. The image came (of course) up in black and white. Luckily there are an easy fix for it! Just attach a tiny conductor to short circuit some connectors and you are fine. If you like to do it the hard way there are the solder-your-connector solution as well. There are even instructions for S-Video in!

Happy hacking!

Project: Making My PowerMac G4 MDD quiet

Noisy computer on my balconySome weeks ago I got my hands on an old PowerMac G4 (Mirror Drive Door). It’s no speed monster but two 1.25 GHz CUPs and 1 GB RAM it’s more than enough for my usage. There’s only one catch – The MDDs are really noisy. For a while I kept it on my balcony but that will only work when it’s not raining (and it rains a lot in Sweden) so I decided to make some modifications to get it quiet.

Computer specifications:

  • Power Macintosh G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors) – model number: M8570
  • 2 x 1.25 GHz G4 PowerPC (7455) CPUs (with ALU sink)
  • 4 x 256 MB (PC2700) RAM (max 2 GB)
  • ATI Radeon 9000 Pro (64 MB)
  • 1 x 120 GB HDD
  • FireWire 800
  • DVD Reader / CD-burner (combo drive)
  • USB 1.1 (I must get hold of an USB2 PCI card)

Preparations

I started out with some research to find out if there were any existing modifications and found the following great articles:

This was a good starting point. Both for inspiration and information.

I tore apart the mac to find specifications for all my fans. I didn’t search for any disassembly instructions which I recommend you doing. The computer is a pain to work with. I put together data (airflow, noise levels, RPM, etc) for all original fans by reading data sheets from the manufacturers web sites and tried to find replacement fans with similar air flow capacity but with lower noise levels. The specifications for both the original and new fans are put together in this Google Docs spread sheet.

Time for Modding!

Standard thermometerWhen the fans were ordered I started to gather some temperature data with the original configuration (except for the speaker which was removed). I used the program Temperature Monitor to get the CPU and HDD. Since the MDD can’t measure other temperatures I used a standard indoor/outdoor thermometer to measure PSU, room, DVD and PCI temperatures. Just attach the fan with tape where you want to measure. Having some different data was really valuable (as comparison) to find out which fans that are necessary and not. I also measured the energy (Watts) the computer used for normal desktop use to about 120 W and 130 W when burning CDs using a (UPM PM300) power meter. I compared this data to a friend’s new computer (that was quite even though it consumed 200-250 W). I thought that if that computer is quiet mine can be as well.

I’ll describe the different configurations I tried below. All data is available in the following Google Docs spread sheet.

Test 1 – Original configuration apart from removing the speaker to let air flow through that.

One 92 mm fan replacing the 2 60 mm PSU fansTest 2 – I removed the two 60 mm Nidec fans from the PSU and replaced that with one 92 mm Zahlman fan running at 7 V that I attached (temporarily) using tape. The temperatures rose a bit, but not too much whilst the noise level was lower but still too disturbing.

Custom built connector cableTest 3 – I kept the 92 mm fan attached to the PSU (from test 2) and connected the DVD fan at 5 V (instead of original 12 V). To be able to attach the DVD fan to 5 V I built a connector cable using a standard connector socket. You can cut the cables to the fan and solder these on a standard 3 pin fan connector (or 4 pin Molex connector) if you want but I thought it was better to build the custom connector. I noticed a tiny temperature drop but no real drop in noise.

92 mm chassis fan (bottom front)Test 4 – I put the DVD fan back to 12 V and attached a 92 mm fan running at 5 V in the bottom front blowing air in to the computer. I hoped that this could help the CPU fan getting some cold air from outside the chassis and thereby letting it run at as low RPMs as possible (and thereby being quiet). This mod didn’t do any difference in noise or temperature.

Ultraslim 80 mm fan between chassis and CPU sinkTest 5 – When the 92 mm fan (from test 4) didn’t do any difference I wanted to try to put a fan between the CPU sink and the chassis. The idea was that this fan should draw hot air out from the box. I had ordered a slim (15 mm instead of standard 25 mm) 80 mm fan that I hoped to fit perfect. It didn’t. The RAM was in its way. I decided to try to use a Dremel and remove as much plastic as possible from the new fan. After a whole lot of cutting (in the fan) I could attach it (using stripes). I noticed a drop in temperature but no drop in noise. The CPU fan had to be removed.

Test 6 – The final mod! I kept the 80 mm fan (as in test 5). I replaced the 120 mm CPU fan with the PrimeCooler fan. And put back the original two 60 mm fans in the PSU. Since I had ordered a quiet 60 mm fan I replaced the original chassis door fan with that as well (even though it didn’t do any difference). I ran the computer for a while and found out that both noise and temperature was ok so I put back the speaker and crossed my fingers. After some hours I realized that this configuration was more than good enough! The noise level is ok. The computer is not quiet but it doesn’t disturb me anymore and that’s good enough. The temperatures are almost normal so I decided to stop here. For now at least.

Conclusion

It was a fun project to get this computer quiet even though it required about 10 h of work. I can’t really understand why Apple decided to make the computer so loud when it’s possible to make the “windtunnel” macs quiet. It’s like they wanted it to be noisy to make people feel that it was a really powerful computer or something.

If you aren’t into modding I would recommend you just changing the 120 mm Delta CPU fan with a new one and keep an eye on the temperatures. I think that would be enough. If it isn’t try to find a slim 80 mm fan that you attach between the CPU sink and the chassis as well.

Happy modding! Comments and questions are more than welcome.

Lenovo recalls my Thinkpad battery

Some days ago I booted up Ubuntu Gutsy (the next Ubuntu release that’s due October 2007) and it was kind enough to tell me that the battery in my Thinkpad T40 was being recalled. That’s so nice of Gutsy to tell me that; I don’t want a battery blow up in my head!

Gutsy Gibbon tells me that Lenovo is recalling my battery

Beside from being nice it’s also innovative that my computer tells me about this without me having to search it up myself.

SanDisk SDMX1-1024R – Disassembly Instructions

After fixing three different mp3-players with the same problem I’m starting to see a pattern of bad soldering on the connections for the ear phones plug. Fortunately the fix is easy if you have a basic knowledge about soldering.

I’ll go into detail for how I solved the problem with a SanDisk 1GB, MP3-Player (model number: SanDisk SDMX1-1024R).

Before you begin, remember that if you have warranty for your product try to get it replaced before. This fix will void your warranty!

Start by removing the three screws as in image 1 and 2.

Unscrew 1
Image 1

Unscrew 2
Image 2

Then you remove the plastic shields on both sides as in image 3. This was a bit tricky, but if you are careful and try to lift it up in one side you should be fine.

Remove the plastict shields.
Image 3

Image 4 and 5 shows how it should look once the shields are removed.

Plastic shield removed 1
Image 4

Plastic shield removed 2
Image 5

Then you lift up the plastic body on one side, this was also a bit tricky, so be careful! Image 6 shows what it should look like.

Remove the plastic body
Image 6

Remove the ”main board” as in Image 7.

Mainboard
Image 7

Then you remove the card that holds the ear phones plug by lifting it. Image 8 shows the ear phones card removed.
Ear phones card
Image 8

I could then see the bad soldering on the connector for the ear phones plug and I replaced that. Once I was confident that my new soldering was good I put the mp3-player together again and it worked.

Cellphone stuck in headset mode!

Today my cellphone got stuck in headset-mode. I mean really got stuck. Nothing seemed to work (reboots, hard reboots, all the ”standard” trix) .

I found out that there are some switch inside the hole for the headset plug that every now and then gets jammed and keep the phone from understanding that there are no plug in the hole.

So I ended up pouring olive oil on the plug to the headset, then inserting it into the hole, jamming it around a while and removing it. Voila! It worked! You could probably use some other oil, but olive oil was the best I had ^_^

Pouring olive oil on the head set plug
Olive oil on the headset plug.