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My first sugru hack

sugru

I remember hearing about sugru last year, and looking through some of the ways people have used it, and thought I should get some of this magical substance to play with. What is sugru? Well, it’s a magical material that cures at room temperature, is self-adhesive, waterproof, flexible, and dishwasher-proof. See the blog for more info.

One thing that’s been broken in our house for a while is the electric griddle. I’ve had it for a long time, and it still works, and I’m a fan of repairing rather than replacing things, as it helps save money, as well as the planet. We’ve been using the griddle for years, but have always been annoyed at the cracked edge piece.

Griddle (before)

I ended up drilling a few small holes and twisting up some wire to bind the broken pieces together. Wire worked great for this. I didn’t want to mess around with trying to fit a small piece of metal, or any sort of screws in place. But the wire isn’t exactly pretty… and it’s got those pointy ends.

Griddle (after)

sugru to the rescue… I took the black sugru and molded it around the top of the crack, covering the wire. It’s still not the prettiest thing in the world, but it’s a big improvement.

My only complaint about sugru is that it has a shelf life of about 6 months, but then again… once you start using it, you start to see all the little things around the house that sugru could make better, so chances are, I’ll have used it all up 6 months from now anyway. :)

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Fix Your InfoLithium Battery

We’ve got a Sony PD-150 video camera which uses these “InfoLithium” batteries, and over the years, these batteries have given us a hard time, but no more… (We hope!)

See, when these batteries go “bad” they tell the camera not to work. When you power it on, there’s an error message: “For Infolithium Battery Only” which is the camera telling you it doesn’t like the battery. It should be noted that we’ve had the camera for about 9 years, and we’ve used third party batteries for years without issues, but hey, Sony is Sony, you know how they are.

Video Shoot

Turns out the battery has a processor it in, and when things are not quite right, it tells the camera, and you get the error message. Don’t worry, the battery is not dead, it’s just very sick. :)

We got this error with one of our batteries, and since we still had one good one, I tossed the bad one in a drawer and forgot about it for about 9 months. Then our good one did the same thing, so I decided to pull out the bad one and give it one more try. Amazingly enough, it worked! Seems that since it was sitting dormant for so long, it must have lost enough charge to reset itself, and it was back to normal. (So now the bad one was the good one, and the good one was the bad one…. you follow?)

So the fix is to let your battery sit in a drawer unused for 9 months.

Or… I guess you could manually discharge it.

I’ll provide the warning that if the phrase “manually discharge” scares you, you might not want to do what is described below. (If you’re careful, it’s really not that dangerous, but people love disclaimers.)

I initially did some searching, and came across this page on Infolithium Batteries which held the secret. The whole page is worth a good read.

With knowledge in hand, er, in head, I stopped by Radio Shack and picked up a two-pack of 10 ohm/10 watt resistors. (Cost was about $2.00)

resistor
Photo by Mike Krukowski.

The idea is to short the battery with a resistor (do not try it without the resistor!) so that the battery can drain it’s charge and reset the processor. This took quite a while for the battery I had, and when you read that part about the resistor getting very hot I hope you were paying attention. It actually started to melt the MiniDV cassette case I had it sitting on. It’ll definitely burn skin. Put it on a safe surface that can take the heat!

I was warned by local robotics enthusiast Royce Pipkins that I should perhaps not let the battery drain all the way, as that might render it useless. So at this point I was letting it drain and checking the voltage every now and then. Here’s where I screwed up and left it on too long, and I thought it drained completely. (I assumed the voltage would continually get lower and lower, but I don’t think that happened.) Luckily, even with the battery completely drained, I was able to charge it and the camera recognized it, so I guess it worked!

Anyway, even though the Infolithium Batteries page has been around for years and years, I figured I’d add my 2 cents about the issue, since, you know… that’s what the Internet is for.

Enjoy your (like) new battery!

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DIY PowerBook Repairs

As PowerBook (and iBook) users know all to well, those damn power adapters can go bad. Well, mine finally got to the point of not working. So for the last few weeks or so I’ve been without the use of pbox, our lovely old PowerBook G3 Wallstreet.

I looked on ebay and at some of the 3rd party suppliers of power adapters, but because I’m what you might call frugal, and a hacker, I took matters into my own hands, and in my own hands I put some tools. Pliers, utility knife, wire cutters, and some duct tape. Ah, there’s always room for duct tape…

So now the power adapter works again. I did managed to lose a tiny resistor in the hackery of it all, but as the saying goes “We got power!” I mean, what could that little resistor be doing anyway? Sure, there is a chance I might get an electrical shock when checking email, or launching Firebird, I mean FireFox, might cause it to burst into flames. Oh well, such is the price you pay for attempting to keep up with the fast pace of technology on a limited budget…

Flaming PowerBook warning label