Sunday, March 17, 2019

Happy St. Patricks Day

May the most you wish for
be the least you get.

May the best times you’ve ever had
be the worst you will ever see.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Spondoolies SP-20 and Spondoolies SP-35 cleaning

Overhauling Spondoolies Bit Coin Miners

I own both the SP-20 and an SP-35.  Recently they started getting intermittent, so I decided to clean them up and do new thermal grease (since that’s about all you can do when the OEM goes out of business).  These are the steps I took … didn’t use ESD precautions, but I know how to handle parts, so I was not too worried.  Your mileage may vary.

Make sure you have thermal paste on hand … ArcticSilver is what I use.

The SP-20 is the hardest to do from the perspective of “how to take apart” while the SP-35 takes a lot of hours.

The SP-20

For orientation, when the unit is lying on a table, the RJ-45 is at the top edge.  So, take out the three screws at the top of each side and remove the top.  Now, you will see two ribbon cables running into the controller card … slide those off … there are no clips … just pressure holds them on.

Now with the cables off, take out the next three screws (from each side) and the sub-assembly that holds the controller card with the RJ-45 connector is now loose … but ... be careful to ensure that the ribbon cables don’t get in the way as your removing it, and “hinge” it towards the rear as the rear fans are wired to the controller card.

Once removed, you’ll see the two miner cards in there, loose.  Look at the stamped metal you removed … there are guides there that the two miner cards go into during re-assembly … remember them. Now, remove each miner card and set them aside.

Now blow out the chassis metal that’s left … blow off the controller card assembly, and blow off the miner cards.

For each miner card, remove the heat sinks (2 screws each) and blow the dust off.  Clean the old thermal grease off the heat sinks with 99% isopropyl alcohol (70% will do, but 99% is best).  Then, clean the old grease off the chips … properly cleaned, the chip tops should look like little mirrors.  Never touch either the chip or heat sink with bare hands … and remember that all surfaces are only clean via an alcohol wipe down.  I used Nitrile gloves to ensure that no skin oils got on any surfaces.

Apply a small dab of new grease on each chip, and using a razor blade, spread it out over the entire surface.  It goes far so you only need a tiny amount.  Once you spread the compound out via the razor blade and the top is fully covered, re-install the heat sinks onto each chip … first screw is turned a few turns to set it, and then the other screw is fully screwed in.  Once the second screw is screwed all the way in, finish the first.  These screws should NOT be tight … just turn until it stops.

Once both boards are done, re-seat the boards back in place, in their guides and all way back so their power connectors stick out the back.  Then, put the controller card back into place, making sure the ribbon cables are routed through their cut outs and re-connect them. 
Now you need to move the boards about a bit so that they boards are into their proper position.  The controller assembly metal needs a little bit of force to get the screw holes lined up … the pressure is to ensure that the boards stay in place during movement.  Get each of the 3 screws of each side in … and don’t tighten any until ALL SIX are installed … and THEN tighten them.  Now, put the top back on and put the last 6 screws back in. 


Pull the power supplies out and blow them out.

Remove the top via 3 screws in the rear.  Once the screws are out, you slide the top back about ½ inch and remove it.

You have two platters of miner chips … there is a top and a bottom.

But first, by the power supplies you will see two metal plates with 4 screws in each.  Those connect (or link) the power supplies to the processor boards.  Remove all 8 screws (2x4) and remove the links.

For the top miner platter, remove the heat sinks (2 screws each) and blow the dust off the heat sinks.  Clean the old thermal grease off the heat sinks with 99% isopropyl alcohol (70% will do, but 99% is best).  Then, clean the old grease off the chips … properly cleaned, the chip tops should look like little mirrors.  Never touch either the chip or heat sink with bare hands … and remember that all surfaces are only clean via an alcohol wipe down.  I used Nitrile gloves to ensure that no skin oils got on any surfaces.

Now, you will see screws holding that platter down … should be about 10 of them.  Remove those, and notice that by the power supply is a shielded ribbon cable … remove it … no clips … pressure fit only.  Lift out the platter and sit it aside.

Same instructions on the bottom platter … remove heat sinks and blow the dust off.  Then clean the old grease off the chips and sinks.  You can remove the bottom platter if you want … I didn’t.

At this point, you want to blow out the chassis and blow all the dust off the platters … then wipe the chips off in case any dust got on them.

Apply a small dab of new grease on each chip, and using a razor blade, spread it out over the entire surface.  It goes far so you only need a tiny amount.  Once you spread the compound out via the razor blade and the top is fully covered, re-install the heat sinks onto each chip … first screw is turned a few turns to set it, and then the other screw is fully screwed in.  Once the second screw is screwed all the way in, finish the first.  These screws should NOT be tight … just turn until it stops.  Do this to both platters. 

Re-install the top platter and reconnect the ribbon cable and the power links.  Screw the platter back in place.  NOTE:  I found two of the stand offs that the top platter sit on were stripped out from (I assume) poor production processes … so I just left 2 screws out as I didn’t want to disassemble and tap the threads.

Install the top and power supplies and you’re ready to rock, er, mine.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Torrents and Seedboxes ...

Many people on line have tried downloading torrents, and then using a torrent engine like utorrent (read: microtorrent) to download a file (maybe the latest HOT movie?).  And inevitably you stumble upon a copyright holder who will file a C&D (cease and desist) against your ISP ... which get's you cut off (because your ISP tracks your IP address and times assigned).

Then, you think "I'll use a VPN and log in thru Hong Kong" so they can't track me ... and that is correct.  But the problem is that setting up a VPN and monitoring it 24/7 takes a lot of time and technical "know how".  When I tried a VPN (via Windows), I found that often it would drop off, and my network connection would resume "in the clear".

Finally, I found the best solution ... a seedbox.  If you don't know what that is, this article describes it better than I can.  But in brief, it is your 'friend' in some "non-tracking country", say The Netherlands, where privacy laws will keep you from ever being disclosed or discovered.  They download the file you want, and you FTP it from them, and since no one tracks FTP activity, no one ever knows you downloaded a "protected" file.

I used UltraSeedBox for over a year, and found that, while they had good pricing, over the last 6 months their Customer Support went to total crap ... so after they LOST my RSS feeds twice, I gave up on them and switched to EVO ... only $5/month, super support, and you can even pay them with BitCoin if you REALLY REALLY REALLY want to stay anonymous (I don't, but you can).  

Final note ...  if you don't use EVO and decide to use something else, make sure you ask about PUBLIC versus PRIVATE trackers.  I tried one where only after signing up did I find that they would only work with PRIVATE trackers ... and you don't want that.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Dryer Blower Wheel Stripped ... a quick solution

My dryer blower wheel shaft "spins out" every few years and rattles when the dryer runs. 

You can tell that blower wheel is lose, or stripped, pretty easily because when you turn off the dryer, you can hear the wheel spinning still ... because it's not really attached to anything now.

It's easy to see why ... plastic wheel ... metal shaft ... the plastic is going to lose every time. They tried to make the wheel more resilient by providing a spring clamp that fits over the plastic hub, but it's still not enough pressure.

Since I needed to get my dryer "back on line", I devised a pretty good solution.  I will order another one and install it but will do this same thing on the new wheel.

Take the old one off (you'll need some snap ring pliers ... like these):

Using a Dremel Drill motor with a 90 degree elbow accessory and an abrasive disk
I opened up the slots that are in the center hub, kind of shows here:
The black marks in the middle show where I opened up the slots.  Then, I put it back onto the shaft, and took a piece of snap blade (about 1/2" long)
and hammered it in between the flat side of the shaft and the wheel (be careful ... sharp ... I used the Dremel grinder wheel to grind the outside straight so I could tap it in).  Then, I took a small hose clamp with a 1/4" bolt head (don't know the exact size as it was just in my junk bin)
and put it over the plastic hub and tightened it.  You'll need a 1/4" closed end ratcheting wrench like this to do the tightening:
Yes ... I know it says 3/4" in the picture ... get one that fits your clamp ... usually 1/4" ... got mine from Harbor Freight.

Anyway, once tight, reinstall the snap ring and put it back together ... good as new ... should last 10 more years until the actual motor burns out.



Thursday, November 17, 2016

The AWS-3 Auction and the Spectrum Reallocation Fund ... ITC2016

I attended the 2016 International Telemetry Conference in Glendale Arizona.  On Tuesday the 8th of November 2016, Mr. Derrick Hinton honored us with a presentation on the funding that is occurring due to the AWS-3 Auction and the impact of the Test Ranges.  I was so impressed with the presentation, I contacted Mr. Hinton and asked for a copy of the presentation and permission to post it on my blog so that it got some additional distribution.  

I guess it starts off with a bang in that the USG thought it would bring in from 10 to 18 billion, but instead it brought in 43 billion.  So from that, funding is working it's way to the ranges.

PDF File is here

This is shared by permission of it's author, Derrick Hinton, and retains all copyright.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

GPS and Cell Phones

There seems to be some misunderstanding when it comes to GPS and cell phones.  I have found posts which say "GPS is GPS" and others that think "just ask your provider".

First ... remember this ...

In the frequency allocation filing for GPS signals, the L1 C/A power (that the commoner uses) is listed as 25.6 Watts (14 dbW).  The Antenna gain is listed at 13 dBi.  Thus, based on the frequency allocation filing, the power would be about 500 Watts (27 dBW).

Now, the free space path loss from 21000 km is about 182 dB.  Take the 500 Watts (27 dBW) and subtract the free space path loss (27 - 182) and you get  -155 dBW.  I remember reading that this is analogous to trying to read a book in the dark, but with one candle lit 100 miles away.  Bottom line ... GPS is a weak signal.

The receiver that accepts that GPS signal is influenced by software processing, cost of GPS chips, the noise that is generated in the front end receiver section of the chip, and the noise in the demodulation section, as well as the actual antenna that receives the signal (and it's size and cost).  

So, when testing and measuring a receiver, you spec things like capture performance (what signal level takes how many seconds), MDS (minimum discernible signal), and tracking performance ... and NONE of that is listed on OEM web sites.  Thus, we haven't a clue how good a phone is.  

If I were to GUESS, I'd say that the more you pay for the phone, the better the GPS performance will be.  The phone I used for my WAZE display is a LG Volt LS740, and I can tell you that it's GPS capability is worse then many other cells I've tried ... but it's good enough during dry and clear conditions.  Give it fog or rain, and the signal capture is very poor.

If you want the best GPS signal you can get with a cell, consider adding on the blu-tooth accessory ... like the XGPS150A ... it is a GPS receiver, dedicated, and provides a better GPS signal to your phone.  Or do some googling and find sites that say the iPhone has the best GPS receiver.  Bottom line ... it's a guess.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

WAZE and the ultimate display ?

OK ... maybe "ultimate" isn't there (ultimate would be a combining glass), but this is REAL close.  

I first tried mounting a 7" tablet in the center of the car console, suspended from the CD slot (holders available in eBay), but I found that to be too large as it got in the way of the radio. So I removed that and just used my phone ... which is a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (sometimes it would lose GPS lock by sitting/lying on my seat ... or being in the cup holder).  I decided that the ideal spot for a display was right above my "4 wheel drive" button, to the left of the radio, because even if it got in the way of that button, I only have to press that button once or twice a year in winter (to get in and out of my driveway).  After looking at a few ways to mount a cell phone there, I decided on the WizGear unit:

The WizGear applies a flat metal piece (using double-backed tape) to the phone, and the round mount uses a "rare earth" magnet (Neodymium), and while I don't know it's gauss rating, all but the heaviest cell phones will stay in place.

Now, with the WizGear, the mounting for it assumes a flat surface, and the RAV is NOT flat there ... it is slightly curved.  So I used a piece of 3M 5952 Black VHB double-back foam tape on one half of the existing mounting tape, which gave it an orientation closer to "curved" ... and mounted it above the "4 wheel drive" button.

I tried using my phone, but it has a 5.7" display, which puts it into "phablet" territory ... and that size was too large.

I decided the answer was a smaller phone ... but I like my "phablet" (and wasn't going to change) so decided to use a "mini-tablet" ... and that is a cell phone.  So I searched eBay for "bad IMEI" (which means it cannot be used directly as a cell phone, but it's WiFi and BluTooth work just fine) and found an LG Volt LS740 with a bad IMEI ... it only costs $30.  

While my ageing eyes cannot read everything on the display, I find that I only need to hear the prompts ... and see if the next move is a right or left turn ... which even in this crappy picture, you can see easily.

To get power to it, I ran a power cord up, but it took several days to do that because I had to use Silicon cement ... but could only apply it about 3 inches at a time due to the curves involved.  So I taped the cord in place, and would glue only 2 to 4 inches of it every 24 hours.  Then, when that would dry, I'd apply different tape and glue another 2 to 4 inches.  After about a week, the whole cord was in place and secure.

Living with the LS740 cell phone didn't work out ... that model is crap ... lousy GPS signals, bad data points (Waze would always generate bad information, assuming I had transported 200' to a side road).  But it proved that the architecture would work ... and work well.  And while GPS ratings are NOT available on cell phones, I did find evidence that the Nexus 5's GPS is very good ... so I found a "bad IMEI" Nexus for $60 and installed that in place of the LS740 ... huge improvement in reliable GPS.

This has made me a much safer driver because now I don't ever need to look down to see my cell on the seat beside me, and the GPS directions are always right ... Waze is instead right in line with my vision ... and it's easy for me to hit the necessary points on the GUI to report accidents or to thank someone who has spotted something of interest.


Other day, I was driving to work and I took this picture from the drivers seat:

You can clearly see my Waze display easily "in view" while if you zoom in on the drivers windshield in front of me, you'll see his cell phone and charger cable in his way for good vision:
LOL ... he's going to get a ticket driving like that.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

SHB, or Secure Hardened Baseline

On November 20, 2015, the DoD put out a memo affecting all computers and computer-centric systems.  It mandates that all computing equipments that runs Windows must run Windows-10 ... and not just Windows-10, but Windows-10 Secure Host Baseline, or SHB ... and security is provided by "Level 2" STIGs.

Security Technical Implementation Guides (STIGs):
STIGs are guidelines on how to setup the configurations of software, and they are available for most of the common software and applications we all use daily.  What is not generally known is that STIGs come in two (2) levels ... first, there are the STIGs you and I can get (PA, or Publically Available), and the second level at the ones that require a CAC card ...they are FOUO, or For Official Use Only.  

The Differences between the STIGs:
While I do not know (or could even talk about) are the "exact" differences, but people I have talked to say, basically, "If you implement the PA STIG,s, the 'vast majority' of FOUO STIGs are addressed".

When is SHB required?
The memo I talked about at the introduction says it best ... repeating it here:

This memo serves as notification that the DoD will direct Combatant Commands,
Services, Agencies and Field Activities (CC/S/As) to rapidly deploy the Windows 10 operating system throughout their respective organizations starting in January 2016. This applies to all DoD information systems currently using Microsoft operating systems. The Department's objective is to complete the deployment by January 2017. The CC/S/A's are encouraged to begin planning for this upgrade to include developing cost estimates.

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and National Security Agency (NSA)
are co-leading ajoint Secure Host Baseline (SHB) working group to prepare a Windows 10
Standard Desktop framework. The WIN 10 SHB will bring consistency to DoD host security
configuration management activities and will be available to CC/S/A's on DISA's Information
Assurance Support Environment Portal site at, in January.

A Secretary of Defense Execution Order will be forthcoming with details on the release
of the Windows 10 SHB. Once the order is published, it will be CC/S/A's responsibility to
implement and promulgate the image across their respective organizations by January 2017.  CC/SIA Chieflnformation Officers will have limited waiver authority over their respective implementation plans on a case-by-case basis for up to 12 months. Any waivers over 12 months must be approved by the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer (DoD CIO).

What I have been told is that waivers will be almost impossible to get, and that anything that has Windows on it, WHETHER OR NOT IT IS CONNECTED ON A NETWORK, must have Windows-10 and the SHB.  

Another interesting part is the STIG validation. As you research this, you'll find XML files to help you validate.  But what I found interesting is this ... suppose you are implementing the STIGs and you get to the STIG that says something like "Support Floppies" and the STIG says "set to NO".  When you validate your software, if you have not changed it from YES to NO, the fact that it is set to YES is a "finding" ... a point against you.  Now the interesting part ... if you don't even find the setting in the registry, that is a "finding" as well, and a point against you.  Therefore, in this case, you MUST CREATE THE FIELD IN THE REGISTRY AND SET IT TO NO ... because not having it in there is like a YES ... and it is a finding.

Hope this helps someone.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Finding Polybutylene (PB) pipe

Found a small section of PB pipe in my house ... supply to the dishwasher.  The dishwasher sprung a leak, and I decided to replace it rather than fix it.  

Researched PB pipe and found out:

1) it's mostly the chlorine and UV that caused the problem.
2) I have a well, so no chlorine
3) the only PB pipe is under the counter, so no UV
4) thus, I can leave it if I want.
5) Even though PB fittings "seem" to work with pipe thread, the thread pitch is different.
6) I left the PB connection to the water lines in place and just used the PB pipe, about 8 inches, as a stub out.
7) Slide on a SharkBite U4008LFA fitting on the PB side

So, continuing on ... 

8) On other side of fitting, installed a 1/2" PEX line (SharkBite U860R2)about 12" long
9) On the 12" PEX, installed a BrassCraft model G2PS14XC1 valve with a 3/8" compression on other end, which then goes to the dishwasher line.
10) And as most surely know, dishwashers use a garden hose connection, so you use a dishwasher connection kit with the elbow and 3/8" hose you need.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

ASIC Miner Power Connector, Alternative

But know this ... the fit is poor at best.  It will work until you get REAL and proper connectors.

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