Repurposed Monitor

Just wanted to pop in and post a quick update to my little repurposed laptop LCD screen project. Quite frankly I’ve become disillusioned with this whole “blogging thing” in general, and so I’ve changed the motivation behind it. But enough of that, here’s what’s going on:
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Sometime last year I stumbled upon this great DIY project for the budding tinkerer. The MintyBoost: a portable AA battery-powered phone charger concealed within an unassuming Altoids tin.

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So it’s been 6 months since I breathed life into the machine I’ve come to know and I’m immensely pleased with this project. For me it represents the culmination of several skills I’ve picked up over the years, and there’s still much to learn (can’t wait). There’s something really gratifying about turning a stack of parts and instructions into something that actually works. I guess anything one builds with their own two hands takes on special sentiment.

The “CustoMac Mini 2011” is probably the easiest hackintosh project for beginners, all due of course to the good work of people like tonymacx86, MacMan, toleda, notshy, and a host of others. The price is low and the rewards are many. Sure I’ve had a few hiccups, but nothing catastrophic (yet). Read the rest of this entry »

Success! After a month of trial and error (and more error), I’ve finally found a way to reliably turn on Trinity over the internet. Wake-on-LAN—you know, that feature where your computer’s onboard ethernet adapter listens to the internet for a magic packet of data telling it to wake up your computer. Why do I want to do this? I want to access Trinity on the go and on command via LogMeIn, without running her 24/7. That wouldn’t be very green now would it? I was really close after reading a guide on lifehacker, but somehow I couldn’t crack it. I could only achieve my goal from within my own wireless network at home, not very useful when I cross the pond. It seems after a period of about thirty minutes, dormant devices disappear from the router’s ARP cache, making it invisible to magic packet bursts sent from the outside of your home network (or so I’ve read). The solution? I needed better tools.

The stock Linksys firmware of my WRT54GS2 is ok, but it lacks several advanced features, mainly WOL. TomatoUSB is free*, open source firmware, written by third parties giving you greater control of your router’s settings and capabilities. I’ve heard good things about DD-WRT, it seems to reign in popularity, but TomatoUSB is a bit simpler to install so—yea, I went with TomatoUSB. The great thing about it is there’s a WOL feature built right into the interface. Simply log into the router, click the “WOL” heading, find your machine, and click on it to wake it up. Easy peasy. It seems the trick to doing this from outside your network is setting up remote access to your router. Doing so requires knowing your external IP address, the one given to you by your ISP [You can check it at whatsmyip.org]. The other problem with that is, sometimes they change it without telling you, and if you’re not at home to spot the address change you’ll be essentially locked out. No matter, that problem has been solved.

Want to know how to do this for yourself? Read the rest of this entry »

Soon after successfully getting Trinity up and running I was already thinking of ways to improve her. One of the things bugging me were those two front facing USB ports.
Plugging-in my keyboard and wireless mouse left me with no open ports up front for say, a quick external hard drive transfer. I noticed that the motherboard had an extra internal USB header and thought adding more ports should be a snap. While I was at it, I could throw in an SD card reader for off-loading my camera or phone. There was one problem: How would I implement it? Most SD card readers on the market come in the form of USB dongles or 3.5″ bay devices designed to fit inside the case. I was already using the one 3.5″ bay I had for the hard drive and I really hate dongles. This needed to be built-in. Read the rest of this entry »

By what was probably my fifth teardown/revision, Silvia had a new lease on life. Maybe I was just used to slow, agonizing hours of talking to an hourglass, but by comparison the performance boost was like night and day. The only trick was getting her started. That darn power button. My earlier attempts at applying pressure to force the connector into place didn’t hold up over time. The connection was intermittent and got worse as it slipped in and out-of-place, getting more and more loose. I fiddled with it so much the connector actually ripped right off the motherboard (yikes!). But I maintained my calm, scraped off the excess solder with an Exacto blade (Mr. Sharpee) and carefully re-soldered it with my fresh new skills. For good measure, I also anchored it with some krazy glue. I really hope that doesn’t come back to bite me later. Read the rest of this entry »

—Silvia (part three)…

December 24, 2011

(image credit: Home Theater Shack)

I stopped by my local Home Depot and bought my first soldering iron. When I was little my uncle had a soldering gun he used for small car related projects. I thought the concept of fusing metal was pretty cool. The pins on the faulty power button connector were so tiny I was afraid of shorting out the board. My early practice attempts at soldering ended in a fruitless, sloppy, unattractive heap on my workbench. Since I was such a novice I needed to learn some basic skills. I found a web tutorial on the proper soldering techniques. By this time I had also learned I could have purchased a better soldering iron and kit from Radio Shack, one of many regrets.

In any case, I had another project in mind that I figured I could hone my skills on Read the rest of this entry »

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