Cleaning out junk from the computer.

A month or so ago I took my wife with me to fix a computer that was riddled with spyware, malware and viruses. As I was attempting to fix it before I had to end up doing a system restore my wife asked me how do I know what file is what. I couldn’t really answer the question. It might be because I have been doing it for so long and I know what to look for and memorized about 90% of the system file names and I know what most of the typical spyware and malware programs are.

Anyway, today I will discuss on a quick way to stabilize a and fix a windows based system. Most of these tricks have been around from Windows 95/NT4 and work today with Windows 8.1.

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News 5/27/16

When I got this glass top desk I wasn’t planning to continue to use the Tinker PC. I was going to use my laptop instead to save space but after trying to use my laptop with the desk while trying to work on something the work area would be out of control of clutter.

So instead of having a chopped up light panel from a discard LCD as a lighting system for under the desk I decided to use the Tinker PC in place of the light panel. Works very simple, the LCD sits on the “Keyboard tray” and fits perfectly between the cross-members of the desk. With a bright background it works well for lighting and most of all I can read datasheets or even use social media while I work. With a Logitech K400r in the mix I can pretty much have a full wireless setup.

The only downside of this setup is it feels like I’m using one of those early B&W laptop LCDs. You have to be right on it to see everything. In other words I can’t sit back all the way. Still I prefer this setup over the old setup.


From all of the chaos of the hopes and dreams of moving but ending up staying I lost my notebook of projects that had. So from what I can’t remember I’ll just drop and keep working on what I already have thought up or wrote about on the blog. The CNC Machine is on hold since the wife has begged me to put it o hold due to space restraints. The power supply project is on hold until I can locate a new transformer, the old one I had got damaged some how.

So for now to fight the cable chaos on the bench I am putting together a power distribution for my soldering irons and also going to modify my CSI1501 power supply to have a output control. Dunno if I should have the high side controlled or the negative side.




Soldering lamp

Soldering can be tricky at times when you don’t have enough light. I have a desk lamp with a built in magnifier but I attend to cascade shadows IE: block the light.

I have a old IBM thinkpad that bit the dust recently and since I have a glass top desk I use for my work bench I got ended up getting a crazy idea on gutting the LCD from the thinkpad and use the back lighting from the LCD. So with a light shining upwards and the desk lamp shining downwards I won’t end up with myself blocking the light.

Comes in handy when I am working on something in the wee hours of the night while my wife is trying to sleep.

All I have to do is to use the bench power supply to power up the inverter and bring down the voltage until it is A. too dim or B. cuts off. So I can find a happy medium and attach a proper power supply to it.

Another benefit to this is I have a power strip on the desk and I can never tell let alone forget what direction of the switch is ON or OFF. So with the light I can have it plugged into the power strip and use it as a status light so to speak.

To attach the lighting I used black double sided tape. For the inverter when I am finished will be covered in heatshrink tubing and also will be attached with double sided tape towards the rear where I know it will net get hit let alone touched.

CSI1501 Power Supply Review

Last week I bought a CSI1501 Power Supply from Circuit Specialists. For a cheap bench supply it works quite well.

It’s a 15volt 1amp supply. It hardly takes any space on the bench.

It has a few pros and cons such as a 5volt USB port but you can not adjust the current. For $27.00 you can’t really complain. Also a nice feature is a voltage switch to select between 5 volts and 15 volts. So if you’re using it for low voltage applications you can easily dial in the voltage from 0 to 5 volts. The banana cables that have alligator clips are very cheap and I wouldn’t advise to use them but as I said the supply was $27.00.

In all I would rate this a 7 out of 10 for beginner use but for typical hobbyist I would say a 4 out of 10.

For improvement wise I would like to see the binding posts a little higher and adjustable current. The USB is a nice feature but it really isn’t needed.

Going the PICAXE route

Years ago I use to play with a PIC micro controller. This was before Micro Controllers came to be cheap and everyone jumping on the bandwagon such as Arduino.

I was going to buy a few ATmega 328 chips and a few 16MHz crystals and 22pF caps but I saw the PICAXE and thought now that is a micro controller for me. I know how to program in BASIC (I’m a bit rusty but I’ll remember it.) and it’s dirt cheap. No need for a special programmer like the old PICs and doesn’t need any additional passives to run.

So to get started out with the PICAXE I ordered a few PICAXE 08M2 and a PICAXE 18M2+. For giggles I also ordered the PICAXE 8 proto board and a RS232 cable (Found out after I could of made one.). I’m a bit excited and can’t wait to relive the old days.

Capacitor Discharge Pen.

When working with electronics you need to discharge capacitors before yo can troubleshoot a circuit. I’ve seen and done some crazy things to discharge a cap. Like using a screw driver to short out to ground a cap. Works fine but if the voltage is high enough you’ll be asking for it.

So here is a quick, easy and safe way to make a discharge pen for low voltage circuits.

Parts list:
Expo dray erase marker
Primary wire 14 or 16 gauge
Alligator clip or banana socket for bread board use.
Radial 3 watt 1K ohm resistor.

Rip apart the marker by pulling out the felt tip with some pliers. Remove the end cap as well to remove the ink sponge. Clean out the marker tube. A 3watt resistor will fit perfectly where the felt tip was. So solder on the primary wire to the resistor then insert wire first into the marker tube and push firmly to make the resistor sit in place. Drill out the end cap and push the wire thru. You could tie a knot in the wire before inserting the wire into the end cap to act as a strain relief. If you plan to use a banana socket then there is no need. Push in the end cap and add the Alligator clip.
Now depending on how long of a probe tip you want you can cut the resistor lead as short as you wish.

To use the pen you connect the end cap side to ground and use the pen tip to positive.

This can also be used crudely as a load for low power circuits.

Radio Shack is still around?

Today I was surfing around and decided to see if there was a local electronics parts store of some sort. Sure enough there isn’t however I must of been living under a rock and noticed Radio Shack is back. The nearest one was a few miles away so I went ahead and took a drive. I bought some protoboard and a much needed desoldering iron. After using it when I got home I couldn’t believe how I managed with out one of these for so many¬†years. I must say it is a must buy. Other then that Radio Shack is still over priced. They had a Arduino Uno for 35 bucks when you can buy one for like 10 something or even cheaper if you get a clone. Even the price for a five pack of 1/2 watt resistors is almost $5.00. At lest the desoldering iron was a good deal for $15.00.

Since I was in the neighborhood there is a huge used book store so I stopped in to see if I could get a used copy of “The Art of Electronics”. Sadly for such a huge book store they only had a small shelf that was mostly old core lesson books. They didn’t have the book I wanted but I still bought a couple that are mostly about Op Amps.

Trying out a few ideas

I bought some super small copper finishing nails for trying out a idea for some wire wrapping boards. I a idea of making a thin board out of HDPE plastic and drill small pilot holes and pressure fit the nails. Should work fine for Wire Wrapping and Turret style circuit boards. I could even try some iron on decals for a silkscreen.

The only issue I foresee is using the iron on decals, I might just skip that. The HDPE plastic will be a great type of medium to try so what is left over from cutting to size I can remelt and reuse for another board. This wouldn’t be ideal for high heat applications such as amps and power supplies. Should work just fine for medium and lite duty applications such as digital logic/micro-controllers.

Sad news

Sadly I am stuck in a apartment for another year. The house the Wife and I tried to get didn’t happen.

However, I was able to get a desk finally for a work bench. I can fully enjoy my vacation and try and finish a couple of projects I have placed on hold.