Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Dead Battery Saga

Man, has it been 11 days all ready since I have posted? So much has happened since then.

This past weekend the family and I met up with the Discount Man at Fire Mountain for some grubbin'. Fire Mountain is a buffet style steak joint. Al you can eat steak, chicken, etc. Fun, fun, fun. DM brought with him the batteries I had ordered. They arrived in the mail! Yay! And here is what they looked like before I ripped them apart. As you can see, they are cellular phone batteries. But inside is the cells that I wanted.

That evening I got right to work at ripping them apart. Inside each pack was what I was looking for. Lithium Ion 18650 battery cells. And each one has some juice to it. About 3 volts each. Not bad. It was some work removing all the little clips to the batteries which were lightly soldered on.

It took about an hour to gut them all, destroying the crappy plastic cases in the process.

The next step was a bit tricky. When I gutted the original battery, I tore the very thin leads going to several of the battery cells. Woops. Which wasn't so bad really, because I knew I couldn't use the original guts anyway. They had been soldered on somehow, and I had decided that I would NOT be applying heat to the batteries. This makes them VERY dangerous. So I followed my own advice, and used a thin metal, with a "puched" divit. The material? A sliced up coffee can. Worked NICE! Very thin metal, and excellent conductor, and extremely easy to solder onto.

In the end, I squeezed all the batteries into place, and found that they were all applying pressure to each other, and forcing the metal strips to make good contact. It couldn't have gone better really. I was pleased. I did find it dificult to put the batteries lid back on, but that didn't really bother me yet. I strapped some electrical tape over everything to hold it in place for testing purposes.

Once into the laptop ... it was a waiting game. Immediately after inserting the battery it was "picked up" and detected by the iBook. That's good! And here we were at 0 percent. Waiting now ...

The picture sucks. But what we are looking at here is a battery monitor. Showing a long charge of nothing, and then "battery removed". But I didnt remove it. It was still in there ... and dead. Conclusion? Failure.

Where did I go wrong?
After a lot of testing with the multi-meter I came to the conlusion that it was nothing I did. In fact, my work was extremely clean. It didn't stop me from tearing it all apart, and rebuilding it again which had no effect.

So I started reading again. I came across something interesting. Someone had posted that he watched an Apple technician "spark" a battery. He pushed some pins into the first and last pin connectors on the battery and crossed them for a second. POP! This would "reset" the circuitry inside the battery which may have given up on the cells. Sounded interesting. So I tried it. I got no spark. Hrm. Not cool? But then, my battery was holding less than 1 percent of a charge.

After about the third disassembly I crossed something, causing a small electrical fire and some smoke to pour out. I blew a voltage regulator. Woops. It seemed to still be functioning, but that can't be good on the circuits.

I also found a post that said "if your battery only charges while in sleep mode, or when shut off, you have a bad circuit board in your battery". So I tried it. Several times. Popping the lid open and shut. About the time I gave up ... BANG! The battery meter jumped to 10, 13 and then 18 percent. So I unlplugged the cable, and the laptop shit right off. Low and behold, it was a fluke. I was lied to. It hadn't charged at all. It would be the only time the meter ever moved off of zero.

In the end, the project has been a waste of time, patience, and $37.00. I figure I will keep the cells around. Buy another battery that works. And if the next one ever fails, I will try this experiment again.

Bottom line? Don't try this at home. :-)

Current mood: Defeated

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Parental Guilt

I played video games with my daughter this morning. For maybe an hour. And then I thought, I wonder if ScreenSavers is coming on soon? So I get up and look, and realise it's almost 1:00PM. I needed to get out and get to the bank by 2:00, then the grocery, then work!

So I had to pry my daughter lose and get in the shower. She wanted to play! I wanted to play too. So I felt bad. I had somehow wasted all morning sitting in front of my computer. Where did the time go?

Then as I am getting ready to walk out the door, my son comes home from school. And he is disappointed that I am leaving to work. Let me tell you, nothing feels worse than blowing off your kids.

Then when I finally push off for work, I run into an accident that has the highway in a lockdown. So I jump off and try to take a detour, only I run into another jam because the city has decided to cut back some trees on a major road coming out of downtown ... DURING RUSH HOUR? WHAT THE HELL?

To make things worse, Discount Man buzzes me from work on his cell and tells me my laptop batteries were shipped to Columbus NY, not Columbus OH. The idiots made him fill out all of these additional forms, and then they aparently just re-keyed it in somewhere anyway. He e-mailed them, and has gotten nothing. At least they got the Zip code right. So with any luck, it will end up at the local Post Office, and they will just get a pen and correct it.

While sitting in traffic, I got to hear some pretty spiffy music though. Fun.

Current mood: Blah
Musical Inspirations: Take The Skinheads Bowling, and It ain't Gonna Suck Itself (from Crackers new album)

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Ray Named Moderator

Yes, this is headline news. I have been named a moderator for thebroken.org by those in power (namely Kevin Rose). For those of you who don't know what thebroken is exactly, it's an Internet based, downloadable show featuring Kevin Rose, and his buddy Dan.

If you watch tech TV you may recognize Kevin as "the Dark Tipper", who makes guest appearances on several shows and covers 'shady topics' in the IT world. It was a real pleasure chatting with Kevin via instant messaging. And after speaking with me, and collecting my phone number he honored me with the title of Moderator.

So now, Kevin, Dan, and I will be watching the forums closely. The goal is to keep them from getting out of hand in abuse, and also removing any lameness. What lameness you may ask? How about this topic ...

Poll: Are you a newb?

That translates to "are you a new-bee", or a "new user" to IT in general. Do we have a need for this? Jesus. DELETE. Last night, I axed this thread.

How do you get someone to open your trojan?

In other words, how do I send someone a backdoor, or a trojan horse program and convince them to open it. Again, LAME. DELETE. Just when I think I am abusing my power all ready, I see that the other admins are even tougher than I am on the posters. So I don't have to feel bad. Although I did message Kevin on this one. I suggested I reply to the topic with "If you find yourself a real woman, she'll tear the package open with her teeth". You know, like "Trojan condoms". Get it? Kevin laughed. He said, "post that and then close it!". Alas, I had all ready deleted it. :-)

I am tired. I stayed up way too late playing with the forums, and watching TV. I woke up this morning to find that Rotary was chasing one of our dogs out the door. He had decided to break off his chain and take off. That little bastard (well, big bastard) was not coming back. I chased him about one lawn length in my underware. But there are bus stops of kids looking at me from a block away. So I returned with jogging pants to finsih the job.

By this time Rotary was returning with the dog, and he was ready to end his adventure. I think I am still half asleep. More later. I all ready have a private message from someone telling me to "not be a dick". I wonder who pissed in hiw wheeties?

Monday, September 15, 2003

It can't be done?

I had time to waste today, so I headed first to Radio Shack, and then to the hardware store. I have a bit of a problem. I am looking for something that is conductive, yet does not require heat to affix. My first thought was a "liquid welding" compound. Problem is that JB Weld (works very well) is not conductive. In fact, it boasts it's abilities as an insulator. So off to Rat Shack I go.

I used to work at Rat Shack, so I understand when you run into a starving salesperson. But I hate it when they lurk over you. I just want to roam, and look for myself. I know that my knowledge of the parts section is a bit deeper than the Joe who keeps trying to offer help. And at this point I dont know what I am looking for. I want to be left alone!! Rat Shack only sells a small tube of liquid welding stuff (probably the same as JB Weld). This stuff is conductive, but requires a TORCH to set up. No way am I torching explosive cells. No way in hell!

So off to the hardware store. Same thing I had all ready run into elsewhere. There is not a conductive "glue" of any kind. I am going to have to either solder to the batteries (DANGEROUS) or go with PLAN B. Below is my PLAN B. I made a clever little illustration of my thoughts.

What you are seeing here is a strip of thin metal. It's symmetrical, and bends in half. On each side are two dimples. The dimples will be created by punching (or stamping) into the metal with a blunt object. These will serve as contact points to the battery cells. By making a small slice into the center somewhere, a tab will be left to hang out once the metal is folded in half. This is where I will solder a wire to run back to the circuit board which remains in tact.

Piece of cake, right? My next trick is to figure out how to apply pressure between the metallic plate and the batteries. Only thing I can come up with is tape (duct tape anyone?) or heat shring wrapping. The latter is the better option, but it will have to be order and will certainly cost me. I will most likely use tape until I find that this project actually works. Electrical tape should work well if I avoid covering the breating holes in the battery. Covering these will certainly create heat. We don't want that.

More later, I am sure. Still brainstorming as you can see. :-)

Current Mood: Content

No Show, No Cash Flow

I was due to teach a day class this week, along with two night classes. This made me pretty happy because it meant serious commission money. Instead, I end up with a student who never shows up. A rescheduling of some kind left my student in the dark as far as when he was supposed to show up.

Alas, I am alone. This sucks because it means my evening classes will not amount to 40 hours of work. No bonus this week. It's disappointing. I guess I should be happier that I have my days free the rest of the week. Although, I did show up to work today. There is no sense in going home. So I guess I will sit here until it's time to work. Which will not be for HOURS.

In Other News
I worked on disassembling my iBook battery over the weekend. I was about 2/3 of the way done prying all the batteries lose when I ripped one of the tabs from the very thin and delicate circuit trace. Ouch. So I showed my handy work to Rob, sobbed a bit, and trashed it. The following morning i was sick with myself over fucking it up. So I dug it out of the trash and assessed my situation. It was not as bad as I initially had thought. It's repairable. I will just have to create my own method for attaching the batteries in parallel, and then solder that final product to the same locations on the tiny circuit board. So ... I told Rob to buy me the batteries anyway. Wish me luck. Hopefully my $50 will not go to waste. Gulp.

A short while ago, I cropped and uploaded some more stupid photos of myself. So here goes the first test of my new emoticons.

Current Mood: Complacent
Musical Inspirations: Fight Test - Flaming Lips / Various Vocal Trance

Monday, September 08, 2003

My Tax Dollars At Waste

So I have waited several days ... probably a week to hear from this idiot that bought my PDA, only to return it and DEMAND his money back, along with shipping both ways. Naturally, I told him to bite me, and promise not to refuse this package when it comes back to him. Finally I get word from him, and this is what he says.

I am on social security and I just pai $111.00 for lawn mower prepare. I need money. Send now.

I guess this is where I drop to me knees and give in. I have taken advantage of some poor old man who can't afford lawnmower repairs. Yeah. Instead of feeling sorry for this guy I am angry that my tax dollars are keeping this dumbass alive. I think social security should be done differently. You should get to selectively pick out the old people you want to keep alive, and then the rest will be assasinated and mass buried. And why would you pay $111.00 to repair (I'm sorry, I meant 'prepare') a lawnmower, when you can get a new lawnmower for $100.00.

I got the balls this weekend to take apart my iBook battery. It was really easy. I thought it would be tougher to get into after reading all these warnings about how horribly dangerous they are. All it took was a twist and a snap of the wrist and it fell into two pieces. And here they are now.

These things are made up of 8 long Sony batteries labled 18650. This is a popular size used in laptop batteries of all makes and models. But ... the doesn't seem to make them any cheaper. I found one guy selling pairs of them for about $12.99. So I could remake this for about $52. Not bad. Thats about the cost of a worn out used battery. Or, I found another guy selling them in packs of 4 for 14.99. Unfortunately, he only sells them in bulk. I asked him to quote me a price on two packs of them, and he comes back with $58. He also makes no guarantee that they will hold any kind of a charge. Gee. No thanks.

Lastly, I found that one of my favoruite junk vendors, All Electronics corp. is selling what looks like a two pack of batteries molded together for $5.00. While that would be the cheapest route, I have no idea if they would fit in my case, or work. I think I will leave that idea alone. These things explode easily. And they release toxic burning chemicals. Not cool.

I really should be studying today shouldn't I? But damn, I just feel hung over. Fucking sinus stuff. Feels like an infection. Ick. My eyes are just swollen. Ugh.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Did you see it move?

I think it moved. Nope. Wait, it moved. Nevermind.

Cracking WEP is a pain in the ass. Especially when your neighbor just doesn't use his access point at all. Why did the bastard WEP encrypt it if he never even runs any traffic to it. He might as well let me have a turn. So here I am brute forcing it, and freezing up on the attack. Blah!

Tomorrow is work again. Yay. It was nice having a 3-day weekend. But I am now doing the math and realizing that I will be working day and night all week, but only getting bonus cash for two days. Because it will take two of my four evening night classes to make up my 40 hour week. I don't get bonus until after the 40 hours are reached. Rip off.

There should be an easier way to crack this damned access point. I think I will go searching for something else to play with.