Sunday, April 10, 2011

Laptop Repair

I've been on a roll with repairing things lately! This one wasn't for me, however. My client had dropped the laptop, and the monitor cable had been severely damaged. Apparently it worked for a while, even with nearly all of the insulation melted off and shorts everywhere in one section of the cable. I just replaced the section of cable with some ribbon cable.
Melted insulation, we meet again.

It works!
There was shielding over the wires before, however, and now there is none. The state of the laptop is so bad, however, I don't see the owner keeping it for longer than the circuitry will last without shielding, and it shouldn't be a problem anyway if it's kept away from interference.

Friday, April 8, 2011

I've resurrected my router!

A long time ago (December 2005 actually) I was fed up with my wireless router's crappy performance. I had a Microsoft MN-700. I later found out it was pretty much an Asus router with Microsoft plastic and firmware, and that the firmware was just terrible.

I stumbled upon this guide to replacing the router's firmware with an open-source Linux-based firmware, and got to work. In fact, I think this was one of my first excuses for installing Linux. The router came preloaded with a bootloader that wouldn't accept the firmware I wanted to install, so I had to flash a new bootloader through a JTAG connection.

I later learned that this JTAG wire was too long and was causing flash errors.

Flashing the bootloader, in Windows 2000!

New shorter JTAG cable.

After a couple tries, I couldn't get a successful flash. And with each try taking hours, it didn't seem worth it to keep trying. After all, I had no idea what I could have been doing wrong.

I recently read another guide on it, this one claiming it takes several tries to get a successful flash. I thought, why not try again? The router and JTAG cable had been sitting under a bed ever since, being useless. I needed Windows XP apparently, and didn't have it on my computer, so I actually resurrected an old PC with a capacitor replacement and new psu (the one from this post) for the flash. It went through on the first try. I couldn't believe it.

I have another router now though, so I have no idea what I'm gonna do with this one. It's not worth it to sell, new G routers are like $30. If it had a USB port (to act as a print server) I could turn it into a wifi radio, which I really want to do, but it doesn't (although the datasheet for the Broadcom 4710 says it does...).
I'll think of something.