Old Point Of Sale Printer

A while back I got ahold of a Epson TM-88II. It’s a typical thermal receipt/ticket printer used with POS (Point of sale) systems. The printer I have has the RS-232 adapter. Sadly no power supply came with it but after digging around in my parts box I found a laptop charger that has the correct voltage and current rating. So I hardwired the power supply leads onto the printer’s motherboard after probing what was positive and ground.

The only PC I got running at the moment that has RS-232 is the junk system running Windows 98SE. The printer can’t natively work in Windows 98SE however since it is a serial device you can use the Generic text only driver.

To figure out what the serial port settings are on the printer you can hold down the FEED button while powering on the printer. This will print a short report of the printer settings and the serial port configuration.

For giggles I tried hyper terminal and connected to the printer. I can use it as a mini teletype system.

Just thought I was share my boring day.


Fixing computers (Software)

In the old days it was super easy to fix a software fault. From since the Internet the battle front has changed and can be daunting from Malware, Spyware and Viruses.

Today I am passing on some quick easy ways to fix such things and tips from keeping your computer in shape.

Typically most users end up with what I call a downloader. I use this term with clients so they can better understand when they ask what is wrong. It’s typically a fake program that runs in the background constantly spreading Malware and Spyware. It causes havoc on system resources. This is where you need to know your software. For an example you look in the Software list of what is installed. Any odd third-party software you never heard of and know the client or yourself would not use. For a example a Coupon Finder program. This will create unwanted Ads to pop up and also install other programs like WeatherBug and the fake AVG Antivirus and so forth. The best bet is to reboot in SafeMode and backup data such as Pictures, Music and Documents to a Flash Drive. If you have a big enough Flash Drive you could save Video.

You want to uninstall everything that is third-party as much as possible. Do not reboot if it asks. Next you need to run MSCONFIG and remove pretty much everything from the start-up. You can leave things such as nVidia, ATI and RealTek stuff that goes to the hardware.

Go into Task Scheduler and remove any third-party programs from that list.

Next you need to edit the Registry. Most people are afraid to do this but if you know what you are doing and follow the directions you will be fine. Run RegEdit and run as Administrator. Under HKEY_CURRENT_USER select Software then Microsoft Then Windows then CurrentVersion then Run. From this section you can remove pretty much everything. on the right side of the screen. This section controls on what loads up third-party wise as a typical user level. Now we need to do this again but under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. That section controls system wide including the Administrator login. So you would go HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, Software, Microsoft, Windows, CurrentVersion, Run.

Next we need to manually remove some files. Most programs default into C:\Program Files (x86) or C:\Program Files. Just delete the folders that contain the same names as the programs you deleted. in the beginning. If it doesn’t let you delete them then that means they are still loaded/running. Reason being the Registry still has the location of the files in memory. You can however move the Folders/Directories to the desktop so when you reboot you can get to them quicker and delete them since the Registry entry is wiped. After doing much as possible of deleting them you can now finally reboot. Just boot in Normal mode and see if all is well and finish deleting the files. Now I recommend cleaning the Registry with a program called CCleaner. While you’re at it go ahead and delete the Internet history and Cookies to avoid the same mishap happening again. Also run a program called Malwarebytes. They offer a free 30 day trial but I would recommend to buy the full version. Clear out the Downloads Directory as well for the sake of the client reinstalling the program that started it all.

Now this is a typical clean however there are many more such as www-searching and some new Virus or Trojan. About 90% of the time you can just Google the issue for an example”remove www-searching”. Read blog posts or message boards for the solution. Avoid websites that have an all in one free scanner, those will add more problems.

I’ve been asks so many questions over the years about Identity theft if a user’s system gets infected. The chances are very slim unless they know for sure of they are attacking and they typically will use Social Engineering instead of breaking into your home system. Hackers/Attackers attend to only go after huge companies such as Sony, Target and so forth.

Anti-Virus programs are also a huge debate and honestly I don’t like them. It’s like a person buying Optical Insurance when they have perfect 20/20 vision. When a Anti Virus picks up a virus warning it is an old virus that has been around. New Viruses and Trojans will not be detected until it has hit the mainstream and companies such as Norton and McAfee have created a patch/update for the Anti-Virus. In all reality they just bog down the system and some times be annoying. When you come into contact will a old virus you can typically download a removal tool from Norton for no charge. Or you can google a removal process. Same deal most of the time with new Viruses.

If this is your personal system then keep this in mind. When you install a program do you honestly need it to start when Windows is loaded? Chances ar not really so you can always delete the entry in MSCONFIG. If you need a peice of software to load when Windows loads up I would recommend to put a shortcut under the StartUp section on the StartMenu or whatever Windows calls it these days (I don’t use Windows 8 or 10). Make backups or invest in a Google Drive account. Do not turn off the Firewall. Do not add your system to a DMZ list on your router. Run CCleaner and Malwarebytes once a week. If you really want to see what is going on in Windows there is a awesome Task Manager replacement called Process Hacker This will give full detial on what is running.

However if a client demands of a Anti-Virus then I would Recommend Atvast It’s very user friendly and is updated weekly. Not to mention free.

Also advise everyone you know to do not trust the Ads that contain “Flash Update”, “Java Update”, “Driver Update” and the little fake computer lock Ads that claim you need to call Tech Support or send money to a Government Agency. All of this will screw up your computer and your wallet.

DIY Ultrasonic cleaner idea

If you clean a lot of parts from Automotive to Electronics you can use an Ultrasonic cleaner to do the job. Some people think you can toss on an Electric Sander to a bucket and think it works the same but not really.

The frequency of the transducer under the tank that causes the cavitation of bubbles that is nothing more than high frequency pressure sound waves to agitate a liquid to beat the dirt off. From Wikipedia on the subject an Ultrasonic Cleaner can output 20 to 400 kHz. These bubbles collapse with enormous energy; temperatures and pressures on the order of 5,000 K and 20,000┬álbs per square inch. So a Sander wouldn’t do the job or depending on what you’re cleaning it can destroy the item you’re cleaning.

From my findings a typical circuit for this just takes a AC source from your wall outlet and converts the 50/60Hz frequency and increases it to somewhere in the kHz range.

You can build a cleaner from off the shelf parts but it can cost hundreds of dollars and in the end you could have bought one from Ebay or Craigslist. However I found an easy cheap solution to build a small one for electronics, jewelry, coins such.

A simple 555 Timer in a Stable congratulation with a LC filter on the output to convert the square wave to a sine wave. A set of old mono amplifier such as computer speakers to amplify the output and modify a speaker much like the Tactical Transducer I talked about before and mount it to the bottom of a food service pan or a thin gauge stainless pot. There are also a couple of other ways to do this by using an old cellphone and a Function Generator App so you can have an adjustable frequency. Instead of a speaker as a transducer you could go to a junkyard and use a Knock Sensor from a car. You might even be able to use a Sawtooth wave instead of a Sine wave. I honestly don’t know if it would make a difference or not.

It will be a while before I try this myself. I’m just passing along an idea.

New Job

Well on December 30th I will no longer be working for McDonald’s. I got a new job that I can somewhat use my technical skills with. I would be running cabling for security systems for homes that are still under construction.

The downside however I would have to use my own vehicle but they will pay for Gas. It’s also piece-rate pay but the more I do the more I get paid. As long as it’s more money I’ll be happy.

A friend even gave me a power inverter, for the life of me I can not find mine. It’s only a 75watt unit but it should be enough to run a battery charger or a small power tool for a few minutes.

I’m just excited really. My current Boss is kinda pissed and told me I wouldn’t be able to recall my notice. I don’t care if I can’t recall my notice honestly I’m just glad I can leave that forsaken job.