Posts tagged Hardware

STM32 Developments

Recently I have been a little quiet on the post front. Work has been busy and I’ve just not found the time to write anything. Behind the scenes I have been tinkering with an STM32F103 and connecting some WS2812B LEDs. Progress can be followed on GitHub.

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HDMI Monitor Problem & Fix

The recent warm weather had made using my 3 monitor configuration a little uncomfortable. To make things a little more bearable I decided to turn off two of the monitors to reduce the amount of heat output into the room. I disabled the monitors using the display settings in Gnome 3.28. All was working well.

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Fixing the Printer

I finally reached the point where I needed to fix my Laser Printer. My Kyocera FS-1030DN has been serving me well for years and whilst the print quality is as good as they day I bought it I have had a problem with the page alignment. I have been loosing the top and bottom of pages which has been irritating.

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Stable System?

I think I can finally say I have a stable system once again. After the Ryzen RMA replacement of my Ryzen CPU to fix the “Performance Marginality Problem” I noticed that I was still getting some regular system lockups/freezes when it was left idle.

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Ryzen RMA

This week I finally decided to send away my Ryzen 1800X CPU for a warranty replacement. I had a CPU made early in the production cycle (2017 Week 12) and it was affected by the “Performance Marginality Problem”. Once it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be fixed by a bios microcode update a warranty replacement was always going to be an option.

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ARM Update

Over a year ago I wrote up some notes on setting up an ARM development environment. Since then a change has occurred. Low Level libraries have been made available for the STM32F103. These should fit between the HAL library and the code I was writing. How well the Low Level libraries work is currently an unknown. I haven’t found the time to investigate. The tool chain should largely be the same. A few additional includes may be required to add the Low Level libraries. I hope before too long to try them out to see how they compare to my current method.

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A New Computer

This month I gave up on waiting and ordered the remaining parts for a new PC. The build process was as easy as expected. Having learnt my lesson of having to maintain a system over many years; I took my time when routing the cables around the case. The result is one of the tidiest case layouts I’ve ever put together. Less obstacles means cleaner airflow inside the case and less noise.

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The Wait

The problem with buying technology is that there is always something better on the horizon. I am about to build a new PC. I have been about to build it for over a year. I have been buying some parts that will stand the test of time case, fans, optical drive etc. Some of these parts are 12 months old, some 6, some a matter of weeks. But I need to get the important bits, the CPU, the Motherboard and the RAM.

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Closing Windows

Today I finally made the decision to close down my Windows 7 machine and remove it from my primary computing location. It was February when I last used it and since then it has only been used for the occasional game or to run a PCB design tool.

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ARM Research

This month I have been spending some time putting together a simple development set-up for 32bit ARM devices. Whilst not yet fully complete I am making steady progress and have begun to document the process. This is easier said than done. I set out to do the simple task of making an LED blink to test my set-up. There is a lot more to learn than what I had originally expected. The 8bit Atmega 328P was simple by comparison.

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New Projects

This month I have started a couple of new projects. It began as one but soon split. The primary project was to make use of a 128x64 I2C OLED display. It has been sitting on the side for a few months after an impulse purchase. It soon became apparent that I needed a way to generate static images for the screen. Although there were programs out there that would convert a bitmap image into the hex code I needed, many were for Windows. So I decided to have a go at converting it myself.

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Damn You ISR!

I am sat here on a Sunday evening trying to debug embedded C/C++. For the most part all has been going well and the code has been behaving as expected. I have however run into one of my least favourite problems, the interrupt service routine (ISR). I have a couple of ISR’s and they are presenting an unexpected start-up condition. The flow of the main body of the code is fine. I just can’t understand why I am getting the current output.

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SPI Bus Problem Solved

SPI_Protocol_Decode SPI_Protocol_Decode

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SSD Research

I had a spot of luck this week when I purchased an early Black Friday deal on Thursday evening. I wasn’t intending to buy anything but I knew when the deals were starting and decided to have a look. I am currently awaiting delivery of an Intel 730 Series 480GB SSD. I had seen this earlier in the year (around March) and it looked a nice drive but too expensive. A 50% price reduction can change my mind.

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A New Keyboard

Over the last couple of weeks I have been using my new keyboard, a Corsair K70 (Cherry MX Blue Switches, Red Backlighting). I had been eyeing up a mechanical keyboard for some time; putting off the purchase due to cost. Finally one of my considered options appeared on offer and I finally parted with some cash.

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Chromebook to Ultrabook

Over the weekend I spent some time removing ChromeOS from an Acer C720 and replacing it with Fedora 20. Although I still need to add a few more tweaks to the setup I have ended up with absolute bargain. I purchased the C720 as a refurbished model, this was to save a few pounds and to get a 32GB SSD rather than the 16GB version available from the Google Play store. The Fedora install and handful of applications I needed only take up around 5GB of space leaving plenty to work with. Battery life is excellent. General desktop usage easily manages 6-8 hours, streaming video/using the wifi would appear to reduce this somewhat. So for £165 inc delivery (plus a weekend of setup time) I can say I am very happy with my purchase.

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Cooling Things Down

Summer is approaching and the weather is getting slowly warmer. This brings with it the annual problem of having a computer in the bedroom kicking out heat and making it too warm. Another issue that had been causing me some bother for a few years is the power settings on my graphics card, a Radeon HD6850, when running Linux. I use the open source radeon driver as keeps improving overtime and has enough of the performance of the closed source official driver for my needs. The one thing that has been lacking in my particular case has been the dynamic adjustment (radeon.dpm) of the card to keep it running cool. I have been forced to manually set the card to a low power state each time I reboot the machine. Failing to do this means the card boots up running full speed and quite happy to warm the place up. The downside is that I am always in the low power state and any tasks that might make use of a bit of extra power never get it unless its specifically enabled.

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Neighbours Wifi

I had noticed the odd wifi dropout on my laptop over the past week. It seems I have now found the cause. I have new neighbours and they have set their router up to broadcast at high power on the adjacent channel to me. I have had to move to another channel to restore my signal. I am not happy about this, experiments may need to be conducted.

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My Raspberry Pi Is Almost Here

I have had an email today informing me that my Raspberry Pi has been dispatched. Hopefully it will be in my hands within the week.

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Fixed: Fedora 16 Printing

During my upgrade from Fedora 15 to 16 several things broke, this is nothing new there were alot of major graphical components updated. Those issues were resolved in the week following the F16 release. What I had not expected to break was my network printing setup. In all the years I used Gentoo and upgraded over and over I never had many issues and when I did it was usually my fault.

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Fedora 15 - Initial Thoughts

I took the plunge a few days ago and updated my machines to Fedora 15. The results have been mixed. My netbook and laptop were the first to be upgrades with Intel and Nvidia graphics respectively. Both upgraded fine and the Gnome 3 experience was ok, if a little strange. The problems started with my server with an AMD/ATI graphics. The screen was tearing in places and the smooth experience I was getting on the netbook and laptop had been lost. I still have not fully resolved this problem and it proving difficult to use gnome 3 without it.

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Experiences With Windows 7 & SSD

This week I took delivery of a 40GB Solid State Drive (SSD) an a copy of Windows 7 Professional to give a boost to my quad core box. Windows XP has had a good run and it is getting to the point where an OS upgrade is needed to get the best out of the underlying hardware. The system has 8GB RAM but the 32bit nature of XP meant that only 4GB of memory could be addressed. In addition Windows 7 supports newer versions of DirectX. There are games on the horizon which I plan on getting which will require a newer graphics card which will use the newer DirectX. So that is the reason for the upgrade, now onto the installation itself.

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Arduino + Ethernet Shield + Linux 64 Bit = Headache

I have been trying for the past few hours to get the simple web server sketch working with an arduino board and my recently acquired ethernet shield. All seemed to be going well the sketches were uploading to the board and I was able to ping the ip address over the network. Why then could I not connect to the device to see the generated output? Much time has been spent looking at different libraries and other peoples sketches looking for alternative ways of doing the same thing. Each time my sketch would stall whilst trying to read the client data. A single line of code which for some reason would stall the program execution.

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The Rodent Confusion

For the past few weeks I have been having some performance glitches with the way my mouse interacts with my Linux machine. The mouse would move and the buttons operate normally except for when trying to press and hold the left button for example. The action would appear to terminate after a few seconds and reinitialise. This behaviour was making it impossible to move windowed applications around the desktop. Today however I have solved the problem, which is good from the point of view that it solves the issue and also it means I don’t have to spend the next 48hrs recompiling Gentoo and all my applications.

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Battery Failure Season

Let me start by outlining the recent issues I have been having with electronic devices. Usually they behave as expected and under normal circumstances and change in this normal behaviour is easily recognisable. Problems occur however when multiple events coincide and reveal a change in behaviour or problem. Such an event recently occured; my previous post explained the issues I was having with Xorg Server. When updating my sever and power desktop I ran into an intermittant issue with sporadic keyboard lag. I initially attributed this to the usage of Synergy to share the keyboard and mouse between the server and desktop. The synergy setup used the linux server as the host sharing it’s keyboard and mouse with the Windows/Linux Dual boot desktop.

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Xorg-Server Upgrade Nightmare

Recently when applying the updates to my Gentoo Linux machines a new version of Xorg-Server was presented. Normally package updates are straight forward, this one on the other hand needed a big change in drivers and config files. My main issue with the upgrade is the poor upgrade documentation, there is a lack of detail surrounding the conversion of the old config file into the new config file. Now I can see the reasoning behind the change in config file syntax, it now provides fine grained control of options on a per device basis whilst allowing for common options to be applied to mutiple devices.

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December 2008

Well it’s that time of year again; the time the wallet starts to strain as money is removed from it. To ease myself into the spending spree which will happen over the next few weeks I have treated myself to a Gigabit Switch and a toner cartridge. They may not be exciting items for most people but I feel I need them. I was also feeling the need for another 24” monitor but the reviews of the intended model have put me off for the moment.

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September 2008 Hurt My Wallet

Well its the end of September and it has been an expensive month. Part of this is down to my wreckless IT spending the other down to an automotive parts supplier.

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Low Power Processors

Low power CPUs are a big thing at the moment with the surge in popularity of netbooks and mobile devices. I found a very good review of the parts on offer from Intel and VIA.

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Another One Bites The Dust

It’s that time again when another peice of my IT equipment has died. When I say died it’s more akin to requiring the replacement of several major organs at the same time. Thurday night I was going about my usual activities of checking email and surfing the web with my windows desktop and 24/7 linux server.

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Gentoo Linux - Toshiba Satellite X200/X205 (part 6)

I have been happily using my notebook without problems since I posted my last update. I was enjoying using it so much I decided to take advantage of the low RAM prices and upgrade from 2GB to 4GB.

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Gentoo Linux - Toshiba Satellite X200/X205 (part 5)

SOUND!!! Yes it is now possible to get the ALC268 hda-intel audio chipset working along with the headphone jack. It has taken a few hours trying to hack a solution together from notes relating to other distros but I finally have something acceptable. I guess you want to know how to do it, instructions now follow.

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Xorg Mouse Configuration

Yesterday I purchased a mouse to use with my notebook; I lead such an eventful life. Ordinarily this wouldn’t be worthy of mention, most mice are plug in and use. My mouse however needs to work with Linux and here in lies the problem. Getting a mouse to talk to Linux is getting easier the left, right and middle buttons usually work as well as the up down scroll. It’s the additional buttons that cause the problems.

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Gentoo Linux - Toshiba Satellite X200/X205 (part 4)

Time for an update on my progress of installing Gentoo Linux on my Toshiba X200-20S. I have been managing to get audio playing out of the integrated speakers, so I assumed it was all working and setup correctly, wrong. When I tried to plug in my headphones the audio continues to be played out of the speakers. The problem appears to be an unsupported codec chip (ALC286). Now the good news is that support for this chip has been integrated into the 2.6.23 series of kernels. The downside is that they have not yet been marked for testing as gentoo-sources. I could try a vanilla kernel but I’d rather have the gentoo tweaks. Once it’s available for testing I shall give it a shot and see if it solves my problems.

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Secure Hard Disk Erase

When a hard disk dies the main priorities are to ensure that there has been little or no data loss and getting the effected system(s) back up and running. The faulty drive is removed and placed to one side. What happens to this drive next? Is it casually discarded, finding its way into the nearest bin?

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Belkin Switch2 & Linux

The Belkin Switch2 is a range of KVM switches to switch between 2 computers. Some of the range support usb keyboards and mice and include stereo audio switching, it is these particular models which are of interest.

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Gentoo Linux - Toshiba Satellite X200/X205 (part3)

The Frame Buffer/Nvidia/Xorg problem

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Gentoo Linux - Toshiba Satellite X200/X205 (part2)

Kernel Config [gentoo-sources, 2.6.22-gentoo-r5] Still alot of uneeded things in there and probably a few needed things that aren’t. It does boot though and will provide a base from which to expand from.

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Gentoo Linux - Toshiba Satellite X200/X205

I have recently acquired a Toshiba Satellite X200-20S laptop. Whilst it shipped with Windows Vista it was never my intention to run it as the primary OS. The primary OS for this machine will be Gentoo Linux.

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Can A Person Have Too Many Computers?

I built myself a Gentoo server some time ago now but I have never used it to its full potential. It has certainly been useful as far as learning experiences go but it spends most of its time powered down. My problem would seem to be my attachment to my windows machine. It still runs all the 24/7 services I need and all I do is turn the speakers and monitors off when I don’t need it.

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Home Server Build

The recent release of the Intel Core 2 Duo has resulted in a price war with AMD. The result, falling processor prices on both sides. I’d been monitoring the situation for a couple of weeks and this weekend the prices were right for me.

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What Happend To Project Zombie?

Well it didn’t exactly rise from the dead as planned. I got to the stage where I was in need of a desktop machine, the laptop was becomming a bit restrictive. The release date of Galactic Civilisations 2 was closing in too which wasnt helping my struggle with less than optimum hardware.

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Project Zombie: Update #3

It’s dead again, I went out of the house only to find it had shut itself off whilst I was out. The best bit is it didn’t just shutdown, it fucked the new powersupply too. So I am having to RMA the powersupply back to DABS.com where they will take 4-6 weeks!!! to resolve the matter and give me a refund.

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Project Zombie: Update #2

Well the new powersupply seems to have done the trick as I am writing this on the resurrected machine. I’m still not 100% happy with it though. When powered down the IDE status LED on the front of the case stays dimly lit, as does the LED on the CDRW. My investigations lead me to believe this to be a fault on the Secondary IDE channel and/or problems with one or both of the CD/DVD drives. The IDE LED is related to the actual IDE cable, where the drive LED seems to be related to the molex power connector. I suspect some damage to the drive from the old power supply or degrading capacitors leaking a little. I am going to monitor the situation, hopefully it will not be an issue and the system will run for another few years.

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Project Zombie: Update #1

Well the new motherboard arrived this week, so it got installed and improved the situation. It failed to solve it though. The new motherboard enabled the system to post info on each reboot, even though it proved not to be the solution it enabled testing of the other possible causes much much easier.

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Project Zombie

Well an interesting development has taken place on the dead computer front. Whilst browsing for some new case fans I located clearance motherboard nearly identical to the one that I belive has failed on me. When I say nearly identical I mean a slightly better model than the current one. The best bit is the price, about £23 including delivery. It’s an ammount I can afford to lose on a chance like this. If it works however it could keep the system running for another 3 years or longer. The item isn’t due to arrive until next friday so I wont have any news before then.

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The Computer Saga

Well after the death of the computer and yet more attempts to fix it I finally gave up on it. On the plus side I now have a case free to build a new system in. I removed all the components and cleaned it all out. It’s almost like new again.

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R.I.P. Computer

It had to happen at sometime it’s just an inconvienience that it happened now. My primary computer has passed away, :(. It started to make the odd noise that had me concerned about the status of the main hard drive. I rebooted to run scan disk only for it never to successfully boot again. I suspect the hard disk controller on the motherboard to be at fault. My data is safe and has been backed up. I tried repeatedly to revive it, with cold starts, resets and a clean out with compressed air but with no sucess.

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WG511T Config with Gentoo

17/10/05 - Matthew Tunstall

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Quality Hardware

A thunderstorm provided some interesting activity on the power grid. In the home the lights briefly dimmed and a few appliances were caused to reset/reboot. One surprise however was my main computer which remained unaffected. I initially thought this was down to the surgeprotected extention blocks. However i concluded this was not the case as an audible power discharge was heard through my speakers and through the rebooting of a freeview box both of which were surge protected.

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HGST Explain Perpendicular Recording

Perpendicular Recording, even if you don’t care what it is the link is worth following.

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Shocking Statistic

I was browsing through the Web Builder(Issue 5) section of .net magazine (Issue 127 September 2004), when I saw a statistic on screen resolutions people use whilst surfing the web.

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Lack Of Net Access

Its been a troubling Sunday. Problems with the Netgear DG814 ADSL Modem Router have resulted in a loss of conection to the net. I was suffering withdrawel symptoms. Not because I sit on the net allday, but because I coulnt use it for things when I wanted to.

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Laptop Keyboards

Computers maybe getting smaller and faster but keyboards are getting slower. The keyboard on my laptop cant seem to keep up with the rate at which i type :(. This is a problem with web addresses as it tends only to recognise 2 or at worst 1 of my w’s in www.

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LCD

Today I was pleased to see my package had arrived. Quite a surprise as I had not expected quite so soon a delivery. Still after hooking up to my serial port I can now display things on it. The current setup is the time and winamp song list, looks very nice. But it can also do pc stats and anything else i can be bothered to get it to do.

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Here It Is

Here is my new bloo PC, Its called Heather cos its blue like Heather’s eyes.

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Parts Arrived :)

When I had about given up hope of ever seeing my parts anytime soon, they arrived. At about 7:30 this morning the delivery chap turned up and handed over the parcel. Inspection of the Parcel revealed that the delivery chap was not entirely to blame as my street name had been incorrectly printed on the lable. The Address was however correctly displayed on the invoice which was also visible. Still they are here now and this makes me happy:).

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Where Are My Parts?

According to the website i ordered them from the order is now complete. It gave me a delivery date of the 14th (5 days ago). I am beginning to panic. There is alot of value in that package and I don’t want to loose it. Me thinks a phone call to them might be in order. They are not going to take money out my account and give me nothing in return.

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Solved?

Last night I spent a few hours repairing my receive data partition on one of my hard drives. This drive is on my problem machine. The faulty partition structure, I hope, was my problem causing the blue screens. If I can maintain 2 weeks of up time without any blue screens I will assume my problem is solved. Until then the clock is counting.

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Lets See If This Makes You Happy

In yet another attempt to debug my pc and eliminate the Blue Screens of Death I have installed yet more new drivers. This time its chipset drivers for the IDE channels and AGP slot. If this doesnt fix it I have a good mind to insert a large quantity of H2O directly into the case to see how it likes that.

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I Am The Bargain Hunter

Great news everybody!!! Well not that great but not that bad either. I have just placed an order for a powersupply for my new pc. Wow!!!, I know its not quite what your thinking but stay with me on this one. After shopping about a week ago I found it available from an online store at the maximum saving of £8.24 after delivery. So you can guess that i was going to order from here anyway.

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Danger!!! Danger!!!, Mains Voltage

Today I was foolish enough to put a metal object across the two metal rods which support the bulb of my desk lamp. Suddenly it stopped working, Oh bugger. After investigating the base of the lamp I found the warning lable. “Dont place metal objects across the two arms of this product else it will blow the internal fuse and render the product useless” or words to that effect. Anyway, not gining up that easily i opened up the lamps inner workings. I found the elusive fuse. It was wired in series on the low voltage side of the transformer. So i cut away the heatshrink around it to reaveal the blown component. Hmm, cant replace it. So i decided to remove it all together. It now works again but I might endup frying the transformer if i decide to do it again in future.

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PSU

Today I have been looking at purchasing a power supply to sit in my case which should arrive next week some time. Having decided on the Antec 480W True Blue PSU i ventured round several sites selling the product. Overall when priced up with VAT and Delivery costs I could save a maximum of £8.24 by purchasing from one retailer.

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New Case

I have placed an order for my new pc case today. I am purchasing the Lian-Li PC75 Aluminium Full Tower case with side window. It may be a costly purchase but this is a case thats gonna last and has space for me to fit a water cooling system in the future. I just need to finalise the rest of the internal components then I will be ready to start building a monster of a system.

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Busy Few Days

Well my new CD-RW has arrived along with my 120GB HDD. They have been installed and hardware swapped between my machines. I will need to update my system specs on this page.

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My CD-RW Has Died

A sad day indeed. My CD-RW appears to have died. Its lasted well and burned many dics. Now though it seems it will burn no more although it continues to read discs fine. I will have to start searching for a replacement. On the bright side however I can get a much faster writer. No longer will I be stuck with an 8/4/32 drive.

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