Posted by: omikun | February 22, 2009

NetStumbler on Windows 7

It turns out NetStumbler doesn’t work with Vista or Windows 7 from my online searches, which began when my router’s signal strength would drop from 99% to 10% about every four hours. NetStumbler, among its many features, can find out which nearby wifi is using which channel. This way I can use the least used channel to get a better signal.

Digression: I can’t even log into the router it self through 192.168.1.1 through wire (yes it’s a Linksys, WRT54G, V8–doesn’t support Tomato b/c Linksys hacked its ram and flash storage in half) when the signal strength winks out, nor can I connect wirelessly even if I have my laptop right next to the router and get an 80% signal strength.

Anyway, found this alternative that really saved me: go to cmd prompt and type

netsh wlan show networks mode=bssid

Now I just need to write a python script to visualize it.

Posted by: omikun | January 26, 2009

Chinese New Year and Gundam celebration

We had a couple of friends over for new years. Alice and Kim made a lot of yummy stuff: fried rice, spinach, a yummy potato salad (that Alice calls Japanese). We also got a pound of Chinese BBQ and half a Chicken from First Chinese BBQ! Man that was a good dinner. We chased after it with a good game of TF2 and some Peggles Extreme. 

Kim and Alice cooking yummy stuff~~

Kim and Alice cooking yummy stuff~~

Alice and I started working on a Gundam model I got from China. It’s some model from the 00 series. I couldn’t find any from the 0080 or 0083 series so I just took the first decent one the little store had… The 1/100th scale model kit had sooo many parts! Good thing Alice loves to make models 😀

gundam_alice We took turns cutting and trimming those little plastic parts and piecing them together. Most of it is straight forward and we didn’t have to use glue once! (Although we might have to in the near future if I play around with it anymore. It’s extremely pose able!)

It's alive!

It's alive!

Slightly better posture

Slightly better posture

 

It's flying!

It's flying!

All that’s left are the multitudes of weapons this thing has. It’s a little rediculous. If you thought Trowa Barton’s Gundam was a bit excessive, you haven’t seen this bugger yet.

Posted by: omikun | January 23, 2009

TF2 Mini-LAN Party

I overhauled my girlfriend’s computer the other day. It used to be a 5 year old click-and-wait with a 1.4GHz  Athlon XP with 768megs of ram (512 of it added from my previous computer), 60GB harddrive, and a GeForce Ti-4400 (also from my previous computer). I’ve been trying to convince her to get a new computer since she loves to play Team Fortress 2. The thing was she didn’t want to spend very much money to get a new computer. So even though I could get a new computer for her for $500 she wouldn’t take it. Well, with the advent of Christmas, Steam slashed their price of TF2 by half, from $20 to $10. So I bought it for her and that has convinced her to get a new rig 😀

The hard part was lowering the price of entry of a new, TF2-capable computer. We went super cheap and bought only the parts necessary. Luckily I have an extra powersupply and 4x1gig ram, so I donated the PSU and 2 slower gigs for her use and got her to buy an E5200 (faster than mine! but for about the same price), a ZOTAC mobo, and a GeForce 9500GT. The total comes to around $200 after all the rebates. Not bad for practically a new computer! Best of all, it operates pretty smooth and fast in Windows 7 even on a slow IDE drive. Only trouble is she can either have 2 harddrives or 1 harddrive and 1 DVD drive. We might get a new SATA drive for her but there isn’t much need other than her desire to play Sims2.

Yesterday a friend came over to have me help her build her new rig. She’s been wanting a desktop forever to play TF2 (I also got her addicted). I had given her a list off of newegg a while back and she bought all the  parts to it. So here she is with her (empty) case (she’s very excited in case you can’t tell).

The case is pretty sexy

The case is pretty sexy (it's an Antec 300)

Kim wonders what those cables and “seat-belt” looking things are. (They’re IDE cables)

Gigabyte EP45-DS3R

Gigabyte EP45-DS3R

 Here is the motherboard with CPU, heatsink/fan assembly, and memory [E5200, same as my girlfriend’s, stock cooler, and 2x2gb GSkill DDR2-1066mhz ]. All of which put in by her (for the most part). She seems to be pretty happy with putting everything together, with my supervision and guidance of course. Putting the fan in was quite an ordeal. Intel really made it a workout to jam that last pin through the hole and lock it in.

Putting the motherboard in the case

Putting the motherboard in the case

Here is a shot of the graphics card. I really wish I had gotten a card with the same two-slot form factor. The extra cooling prowess probably lengthen the life time of the card.

8800GTS 320meg cause it's only $90

8800GTS 320meg cause it's only $90

And it’s finished! Just need to install Windows 7 and the game! Time for a TF2 Lan fest!

Brand new $500 pc paired up with a 15" old school 1024x768 LCD

Brand new $500 pc paired up with a 15" old school 1024x768 LCD

So a recap of the specs: E5200 (2.5GHz, 2MB L2; 4GB DDR2-1066; EP45-DS3R; 8800GTS 320MB OC; 640GB Western Digital; 550 Watt PSU)

It’s still here in the living room. It was too late for us to help her take it back to her dorm since visitor’s hours were over by then. Oh well, it shall remain here until our real TF2 Lan fest this weekend to celebrate Chinese New Years! I think we will have about 5 computers competing on a 7mb/s connection 😦

Hope there’ll be more frags than lags.

Posted by: omikun | January 21, 2009

Ultra-Cheap, Ultra-Awesome Netbook

Engadget posted this piece of awesome the other day. $200, plays 720p, 8-hr battery life, runs Ubuntu. I can’t possibly think of a better combination of specs in a netbook. I just had to post this so I can come back and look at the sweetness whenever.

How can it do all this and still keep chugging along for 8 hours? Cause of an even slower (1ghz) but power-efficient cpu architecture than the Atom! They just added a dsp chip (or it’s integrated into the cpu?) to handle the graphics workload. Genius!

It has to be said: I for one welcome our new heterogenious core overloads.

Posted by: omikun | January 21, 2009

Back from Vomit Comet!

China was wonderful! So much cheap electronics! I forgot my camera so I don’t have anything to show other than a few sketches. 

on-the-plane1

 

Bought some coffee at the Korean airport

Bought some coffee at the Korean airport; my cramped little home in Canton

Why is the title Vomit Comet? I had this great ride on the way back from Korea. The plane didn’t shake much but I felt so terrible I hurled a few comets of my own. Ended up getting an IV on the plane and then flew first class the rest of the way. Overall a very eventful ride not to be repeated.

Anyway, back at school now and gonna start working on my newly arrived Seeduino and the Nokia rip-off LCD.

Seeduino on my messy desktop

Seeduino on my messy desktop

Posted by: omikun | January 7, 2009

My Battery Teardown .2

I was so happy when I found these cheap li-ion cells that I didn’t realize they weren’t the same type as the ones I needed. To be fair, it was under the 18650 category and I just figured they were cheaper cause of the lower mAh rating. But they are of the same diameter and the same voltage so I figured I would put it together and see if it melts. Here they are in all their glory:

Just a tad shorter than the 18650's

Just a tad shorter than the 18650's

I sprang for the metal tabs so I don’t have to solder wires directly onto the batteries. I started by melting some solder on both ends of the metal tabs so maybe they’ll fuse better, or something:

Solder on tabs

Solder on tabs

I should’ve known better when it took almost ten seconds to liquify the solder at max temperature. Trying to solder by heating up the opposite side of the metal tab was almost impossible… but then after an hour or two of trying to solder the blasted things together, I managed to heat up something else, and caught it on fire:

 

Burn marks everywhere

I hope I didn't kill that cell

This isn’t the first time I soldered, but it is the first time with this uber cheap iron. I’ll need to go grab some better ones before I attempt at this again.

 

Remember these? Don't ever use them if you know what's good for you

Remember this iron? Don't ever use it if you know what's good for you

 

 

I’m heading to China tomorrow, wish me a safe flight! *afraid it’s going to asplode*

Posted by: omikun | January 5, 2009

Laptop Battery Revival Fail

There is a lot to learn from one’s mistakes, like always be cautious when playing with a $100 battery. I noticed my 9-cell 7200mAh battery wasn’t holding enough charge to let me paint 4 hours at a time in Austin’s life drawing, so after I found a helpful article on getting some lost juice back from an old battery, I thought I would play around with it.

 

Battery went dead soon after a few sparks of light

Battery went dead soon after a few sparks of light

 

 

I used the article’s power monitor to log the data, and then wrote a simple perl script to parse it into a CSV file for graphing in excel. No, I did not mix cycle 1 and 2. The second time around was much worse. I tested it by turning on wifi and playing a movie on loop. The -10% signifies gaps in the log because of standbys and resumes.

9cell_e1405_revive_fail1

Mega Fail

The first mistake I made was not letting it charge up to 100% before my first deep  discharge. Since the article didn’t mention anything about it, I just stopped at 90% thinking I only need to charge it to max the next time around. Well, that is obviously not the case since it won’t charge back past 90% now. Another interesting thing is it dropped very fast at 20% the second time around. I’m not too sure about what why that happened, but I won’t be doing that to a 6 month old battery ever again.

Now, onto the next battery… one with about 8 minutes of charge at 100%

Posted by: omikun | December 24, 2008

My Battery Teardown 0.1

My mom has a 2001 era Dell Inspiron 2500. It’s battery life is around 5-6 seconds. So after reading through a few teardowns I figured I should rebuild it. And if I mess up, she will not be missing it anyway.

So here is the before picture (almost, I started working on it at one end, bit it’s practically the before picture).

Original battery

Original battery

Using an exacto knife and as small of a flat head screw driver as I can find, I began tearing it apart. I read they use ultrasound to bind the two pieces of plastic together. Basically you get this really strong goo as you tear the thing apart. What I found to be the most helpful is to stab at the crack with the exacto knife after you shave away a few layers of the plastic. Once you manage to stab in to it, try to cut through it. You’ll have limited success but it is a starting point. Once you have teared enough of an opening for the whole exacto knife to go into it, twist it to pry it open. This works best if you are at a corner. Then alternate with your flat head to pry it apart.

Coming apart

Coming apart

Feel free to start using your hand to help with the teardown process. The whole ordeal took about an hour of intermitten struggle.

Finally opened

Finally opened

As you can see, there are 8 cells and a few wires linking to them at various points. Mine are the Sony Fukushima STG G4 US18659GR but all I cared about is that they are the 18650 kind. From an article I read megabatteries is a good place to get the 18650. On the cover of the battery the capacity is listed as 3800mAh. I traced the connections and found they have the batteries connected in a series of stages, each stage composed of a pair of cells. So eacd cell should have at least have the capacity listed or 1400mAh. I had my eyes set on these because that is the highest capacity I have found in that form factor. However, at $12 each that would make a total of $96+S&H way more than what I can buy new.

Use a soldering iron to disconnect them. I got mine from Roswill’s 90 tool kit set for $30 only to discover the iron is craptastic (it started to smoke as it warmed up) and that newegg has the 145 piece on sale for the same price a week later.

Don't use the cheap irons

Don't use the cheap irons but they'll do the job this time

 Then I found these at another site that justify purchase. But since the entire laptop, if anyone want’s to get it used, costs $25 + shipping, what would be the point to pay $30+ for new batteries? Still, I am planning on buying it anyway and use it for future projects.

Right now the laptop can’t load any OS, so if I can’t get that sorted out, I will be taking that 14″ screen out and play with it. 😀

Posted by: omikun | December 7, 2008

Charlize Theron

I kind of feel bad putting this up, as this only slightly resembles her and doesn’t do her beauty justice. Took about 30min for the whole thing.

20081207_charlize_line

Did this as warm up for tonight’s life drawing! It’ll be my last this year~
20081207_charlize_color

Posted by: omikun | December 7, 2008

OMG teh HP Mini 1000

Just saw this thing in RL today at Costco. Right next to the Acer Aspire One. I didn’t see much of a difference between the 8.9″ and the 10.2″ screen, but the keyboard was a noticeably different. The Mini had a roomier keyboard. Not only that, but it had bluetooth and the build was just nicer and sexier. They both have the crappy sideways mouse pad keys. 

The Mini runs for $100 more than the Aspire One. Both are still too expensive for me 😦 Oh if only I had a job…

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