Hardware MacGyvering


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    Late yesterday afternoon one of our largest clients calls me. They are a huge specialty veterinary hospital that also owns several veterinary clinics. It was one of the partners calling.

    Me: "Hello Dr. Smith. How are you?"
    Him: "Not well. Our CT is acting up, and the company that supports it wants us to reload the software on the machine and that is a bit out of our comfort level. Think you could send someone out to take care of that for us tonight?"
    Me: "I have something to finish up and I will head that way."
    Him: "Wonderful. Thank you very much. I will let them know you will be on site tonight."

    This CT machine is one that they had just spent $55K on replacing the controller for and the partner flew to pick up the controller in his plane to get. It can't be down or else the doctors are back to x-rays and ultrasounds which cannot always provide the clarity that they need.

    So I get there, he tells me that when they boot the machine and it gets to the OS, everything looks like hieroglyphics. We go take a look and when the BIOS starts loading, there are columns in the display that are flashing off and on. Once it gets to what should be the desktop, everything is completely artifacted and completely illegible.

    So I call the technician that services this machine (with another company. We only service it in regards to how it transmits to the PACS server and networking issues, etc) and tell him. He still wants to try loading the software. I know this is not going to work, but let's see. Same shit is happening in Anaconda, so I stop it before it wipes out the old install. He finally agrees that it is likely a hardware issue. (no shit?) I tell him I will call him back and start disassembling the CT workstation.

    Man, what a cool bit of kit. The controller and the computer tower that control everything are all on this nifty drawer that is exposed when you take off the front of the machine. The tower is just a bog standard HP workstation tower and it has two DVI leads running in to it. So I dive in deeper, undo some straps, open the side of the case, figure out how to remove the video card and it is an AGP Nvidia Quadro card. The fan is seized. I pull out the card, take it to a desk and grab the drill from my vehicle and drill 3 tiny holes in the top of the cooling fan to try to get some oil in there as a bodge fix. No go, the bearings are completely toast.

    Then I go to the server room. There are a few old workstations in there. Obviously there are no AGP Nvidia Quadro cards. But, there are a few CPU cooling fans I can scavenge. They are all huge in comparison, but they should fit in the available space. Off to the admin offices to look through some desks. I find a few heavy duty rubber bands, pull the 2-pin fan header off the board so I can fit the 4-pin plug from the CPU fan. I unscrew the cover plate to expose the entire heatsink, rubber band the 92mm fan to the video card, plug the fan on to the bare header pins. If I were a religious person, this is where I would have prayed. Instead, I just hoped for no smoke. Back to the CT machine, button it all up, put the front cover back on and flip the switch.

    No flashing columns. It POSTs, it boots, it works.

    True shit. Yesterday I fixed a CT machine with a scavenged CPU fan and some rubber bands.

    New video card should be here tomorrow. I will try to remember to take pictures of my bodge fixed video card that temporarily fixed a CT machine that is probably worth more than my house.



  • @Polygeekery said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    We only service it in regards to how it transmits to the PACS server and networking issues

    So, the video card fan is part of networking ? :wink:


  • sockdevs

    @TimeBandit if it can't connect to the network at all and can't upgrade the networking software because you can't see it, it counts :P



  • I once received a dead-on-arrival graphics card (GeForce 8800 I think) and the manufacturer refused an RMA because they've never seen a DOA before and didn't believe it possible (:wtf:). Despite no evidence at all, they were convinced my power supply was actually dead. I knew it wasn't my PSU, and I didn't have a spare, so I actually rigged up a 12V car battery to power the dead graphics card. When it acted exactly the same, I called them back and said I did testing with a different PSU, and they finally issued an RMA. And what do you know, the replacement worked perfectly.



  • @mott555 said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    so I actually rigged up a 12V car battery to power the dead graphics card.

    Good thing there wasn't a short anywhere ;)



  • @mott555 said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    I once received a dead-on-arrival graphics card (GeForce 8800 I think) and the manufacturer refused an RMA because they've never seen a DOA before and didn't believe it possible (:wtf:). Despite no evidence at all, they were convinced my power supply was actually dead. I knew it wasn't my PSU, and I didn't have a spare, so I actually rigged up a 12V car battery to power the dead graphics card. When it acted exactly the same, I called them back and said I did testing with a different PSU, and they finally issued an RMA. And what do you know, the replacement worked perfectly.

    Could you I dunno, just tell them you tested with a different PSU if you were sure it wasn't the problem?



  • @dangeRuss I was only about 95% sure my PSU wasn't the problem. I can't tell you how many times I've done stupid RMA's because I was "99% sure it's this thing and not that" and been proven wrong.


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    @TimeBandit said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    So, the video card fan is part of networking ?

    Ha. More correctly, we do whatever they need and if they want to pay $200/hour for us to do shit that we have no fucking clue how to do, we will service the tubes.

    As far as bodging a fan on a video card...I know how to do that. It is a standard HP workstation. There is an aluminum box behind it that does all the rest and it may as well be full of black magic for all I know about it.


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    @mott555 said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    @dangeRuss I was only about 95% sure my PSU wasn't the problem. I can't tell you how many times I've done stupid RMA's because I was "99% sure it's this thing and not that" and been proven wrong.

    I RMA'ed my first graphics card purchase because my computer didn't recognize it. When the replacement had the same problem, I contacted the computer manufacturer and eventually we figured out that there was a switch in the BIOS to enable use of PCIe graphics cards rather than the on-board.



  • @Polygeekery said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    As far as bodging a fan on a video card

    On one of my previous laptop, the CPU fan stopped working. Of course it was after the warranty expired. Upon inspection, the fan wasn't seized, I could spin it manually without effort.

    I supplied it with 5v, it works. It's the motherboard plug that's not giving it power.

    I welded the power leads on the nearest USB and used that laptop for another year. The only downside was the fan was spinning at full RPM, making it louder.


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    @TimeBandit said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    On one of my previous laptop, the CPU fan stopped working. Of course it was after the warranty expired. Upon inspection, the fan wasn't seized, I could spin it manually without effort.
    I supplied it with 5v, it works. It's the motherboard plug that's not giving it power.
    I welded the power leads on the nearest USB and used that laptop for another year. The only downside was the fan was spinning at full RPM, making it louder.

    That's a pretty nifty bodge fix. I would have likely thrown it in the trash can. :)


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    The most computer bodging I've done is taking a pair of tin snips to the bits that hold the hard drives in the front, so I could fit the graphics card I bought before realising it was far too big for the case.

    Then again when I replaced the card with an even bigger one



  • I'm jealous of you handy types. If my problem is underneath the software level, I'm basically screwed.



  • I had a wifi hotspot that was unlimited data (supposedly for iDevices, but could be hacked to allow any device).

    My in laws used it as their internet for many years. Eventually the usb charging connector got loose.

    My boss (who's good with hardware stuff) was able to solder it back on, and it worked until that device was no longer supported by the provider.



  • @TimeBandit said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    @Polygeekery said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    As far as bodging a fan on a video card

    On one of my previous laptop, the CPU fan stopped working. Of course it was after the warranty expired. Upon inspection, the fan wasn't seized, I could spin it manually without effort.

    I supplied it with 5v, it works. It's the motherboard plug that's not giving it power.

    I welded the power leads on the nearest USB and used that laptop for another year. The only downside was the fan was spinning at full RPM, making it louder.

    The last time I had a PC like that, back when I was a teenager with no job, I left the side panel off and stuck a box fan next to it.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @dangeRuss said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    My boss (who's good with hardware stuff) was able to solder it back on, and it worked until that device was no longer supported by the provider.

    Sounds like a cool boss.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @mott555 said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    @TimeBandit said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    @Polygeekery said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    As far as bodging a fan on a video card

    On one of my previous laptop, the CPU fan stopped working. Of course it was after the warranty expired. Upon inspection, the fan wasn't seized, I could spin it manually without effort.

    I supplied it with 5v, it works. It's the motherboard plug that's not giving it power.

    I welded the power leads on the nearest USB and used that laptop for another year. The only downside was the fan was spinning at full RPM, making it louder.

    The last time I had a PC like that, back when I was a teenager with no job, I left the side panel off and stuck a box fan next to it.

    "Wait until you see the 700mm fan I have on this bad boy!"



  • @mott555
    BTDT

    i have to take a picture of a coworker laptop. the screen hinge broke, so he bolted a new one outside the frame.


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    Why can I not upload a picture from mobile?



  • @Polygeekery Because mobile is different ™



  • @pydsigner said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    "Wait until you see the 700mm fan I have on this bad boy!"


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    Bodged card is back in. The video card that we had overnighted from Florida from a medical device service company that assured us it was the right part number for our machine, would only display one monitor.

    Which is wonky, because GEMS Linux on this machine uses a standard VESA driver as best I can tell. But the technician I have been consulting with thinks there may be some video card firmware shenanigans going on.

    No clue, but the CPU fan held on a video card with rubber bands is back in and chooching away. Time for parts swap round #2.

    And yes, the idea occurred to me to take the cooler off the card we got, put it on this one, and roll with it. But...this is a CT machine. Not my desktop in my office. Plus, if something breaks when I remove the heatsink (that has those old style clip pins that are a real bastard to get out), then the whole machine is down.

    0_1480623137419_20161201_130326.jpg


  • Impossible Mission - B

    So is this old school MacGyvering, or 2016 reboot MacGyvering?


  • mod

    About 15 years ago I had a Toshiba laptop. One day it stopped recognizing the power cord was plugged in. Since it was still under warranty, I mailed it in repairs. Turns out the solder holding the power port to the motherboard had softened and the port came loose from the board. Since it was a two week turn around, I took care of it myself the next time it happened. The third time it happened, I threw that POS in the trash.

    When I married my wife, she had a different Toshiba laptop. On this one, the pin in the middle of the power port snapped. That laptop got chucked in the bin the second time the pin broke.

    I don't buy Toshiba laptops anymore.


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @abarker Ugh. My first laptop was a Toshiba. Never bought another one due to crappy hardware. Why'd you have to bring up bad memories? :(


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    @abarker I am replying to this on a Toshiba laptop.

    Of course...I got it for free. Mostly. It was a client laptop. It died after 6 months when the hard drive crashed. They decided to replace instead of repair. I popped a 240GB SSD in it and reinstalled Windows.

    If it dies, I will pull out the SSD and the memory and chuck it in the bin.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @abarker said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    About 15 years ago I had a Toshiba laptop. One day it stopped recognizing the power cord was plugged in. Since it was still under warranty, I mailed it in repairs. Turns out the solder holding the power port to the motherboard had softened and the port came loose from the board. Since it was a two week turn around, I took care of it myself the next time it happened. The third time it happened, I threw that POS in the trash.

    When I married my wife, she had a different Toshiba laptop. On this one, the pin in the middle of the power port snapped. That laptop got chucked in the bin the second time the pin broke.

    I don't buy Toshiba laptops anymore.

    My grandparents got a pair of Toshiba laptops maybe 5 or so years ago. One of the two (identical models) had a power charger port that was DOA. By that time they'd replaced it with a slightly newer model (yes, before we even received it they had switched to a newer, almost unnoticeably different, version of the same thing). Fortunately, they didn't try to do anything funky, and my grandpa's was replaced with the newer equivalent.

    The biggest problem became apparent with time, though: the OS drive was, for Windows, a small SSD. One would think 64 GB (hardware spec) would be enough for an OS. One would just barely be correct if it's Windows. (There's a large separate drive for data, but that doesn't change that under default setup the OS drive is actually too small over time, since all user folders default to OS.)


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    @masonwheeler said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    So is this old school MacGyvering, or 2016 reboot MacGyvering?

    It is the 2020 reboot reboot where MacGyver is played by Lena Dunham.



  • I replaced our dishwasher. Couldn't get the old copper pipe to reach the new connector, so replaced it with a braided plastic line that I bought on sale recently.

    The outlet hose, however, did not fit the sink for some reason. The diameter was too big.

    I ended up connecting the old outlet hose to the sink and the new outlet hose to the old hose using the clip that came with it. It seemed to fit perfectly, and has been up and running for at least a few months now.


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    @dangeRuss said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    I ended up connecting the old outlet hose to the sink and the new outlet hose to the old hose using the clip that came with it. It seemed to fit perfectly, and has been up and running for at least a few months now.

    Check periodically that the hose isn't working loose. Avoiding a small flood is a really good idea, and bodges aren't always long-term stable…


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    @dkf said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    Avoiding a small flood is a really good idea

    As someone who's recently had to replace a cheap plastic splitter for washing machine hoses with a half decent metal one, after discovering a very damp under sink cupboard, I can't agree more



  • @dkf said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    @dangeRuss said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    I ended up connecting the old outlet hose to the sink and the new outlet hose to the old hose using the clip that came with it. It seemed to fit perfectly, and has been up and running for at least a few months now.

    Check periodically that the hose isn't working loose. Avoiding a small flood is a really good idea, and bodges aren't always long-term stable…

    It seemed pretty solid. I guess I would need to figure out how to make the new hose fit properly onto the sink. I guess there's some kind of adapter I can buy?

    We actually had a flood in that area before this due to a frozen icemaker line (which I still didn't get around to fix). I will need to open up the ceiling in the garage, patch up the line, put up new drywall and paint.

    I'm also planning to replace the kitchen faucet with one that has a filter in it and a filtered line dispenser in the faucet. Of course I'm waiting to fix the iceline first before I do the faucet, and I've been holding off on that for almost a year now. Maybe I should just buck up and hire someone.



  • @abarker said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    I don't buy Toshiba laptops anymore.

    My first two laptops were Toshiba. They had volume wheels. :nostalgia:
    My only complaint is they got hot a lot, but that might have been Linux.


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @Polygeekery said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    It is the 2020 reboot reboot where MacGyver is played by Lena Dunham.


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    #1 rule of troubleshooting:. Assume everyone is a fucking idiot. Including the people that sold you the machine, and even yourself.

    So, the technician who told me the software load procedure just said to put in the disk, reboot, at the prompt type "gems" and hit enter.

    I read through all the documentation myself and found a tidbit he missed. "Type 'gems2' for a dual head installation".

    :headdesk: :head_bandage: :ambulance:



  • @dkf said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    Avoiding a small flood is a really good idea

    Some year ago, we remodeled our kitchen, including a new dishwasher and new wood laminate flooring (and other stuff not relevant). Shortly after these were installed, we went on vacation for a week.

    We returned to find maybe 100 sq. ft. (call it 10 sq. m. — close enough; it's just a guess, anyway) of the brand-new laminate flooring buckled. Unknown to us, installing the dishwasher had flexed the old copper supply line enough that it had cracked slightly, and it had been leaking slowly the entire time we had been gone. The laminate, including the joints between the tiles, was well-protected against water penetration from above (i.e., spills), but not from water seeping underneath the edge. :( :wave: :money_with_wings:



  • Today's effort to pay homage to MacGuyver:

    0_1480697123697_IMG_20161202_141022.jpg

    Yes, that's a tea egg.


  • :belt_onion:

    @Rhywden What the hell are you do... 10 kV?

    Oh. OH!

    Next step: make it stand on end by running some AC through the plate!

    Yeah, I know, it's perfectly capable of doing that regardless, but why let that stop you?


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    @Rhywden said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    Today's effort to pay homage to MacGuyver:

    0_1480697123697_IMG_20161202_141022.jpg

    Yes, that's a tea egg.

    I have NFC what is happening there, but it looks dangerous.


  • :belt_onion:

    @Polygeekery said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    I have NFC what is happening there

    At a guess, there's a metal egg, with what seems to be a connection to a 10kV power source. Then there's this weird almost scales-looking thing. Something's hooked up to it and it shows a value of -6.46 mN.

    I would assume we have a case of floating magnetic eggs here. An EM drive that actually does produce reproducible results, if you will. :P


    Filed under: INB4 that's just how the Germans make tea



  • @Polygeekery It actually isn't very dangerous - the kV-generator is limited to 50 microAmperes when using 10 kV (and limited to 2 mA in its 5 kV mode).

    It definitely hurts but also most definitely won't harm you.

    As to what it does: The tea egg gets charged with +5 kV while the plate below it is charged with -5 kV. The tea egg's suspension runs through a high precision Newtonmeter and as you can see, the force of attraction between charged tea egg and charged plate is ~6.5 mN.

    I'll use that on Monday to define one of the methods to determine the Electrical Field Strength: E = F / Q (i.e. Force per Charge). The box behind the force measuring gizmo is a measurement amplifier - it can measure very low voltages, currents and charges (the latter of which is used here).


  • sockdevs

    @Rhywden my first reaction before I saw the people explaining it was 'I have no clue what that is but it looks dangerous and awesome and I want one for no reason'



  • @Arantor said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    @Rhywden my first reaction before I saw the people explaining it was 'I have no clue what that is but it looks dangerous and awesome and I want one for no reason'

    ...That's still kinda my reaction even after the explanations :D



  • @Rhywden said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    It definitely hurts but also most definitely won't harm you.

    Produces a feeling almost, but not quite, entirely unlike harm.


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    @Polygeekery said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    #1 rule of troubleshooting:. Assume everyone is a fucking idiot. Including the people that sold you the machine, and even yourself.

    So, the technician who told me the software load procedure just said to put in the disk, reboot, at the prompt type "gems" and hit enter.

    I read through all the documentation myself and found a tidbit he missed. "Type 'gems2' for a dual head installation".

    :headdesk: :head_bandage: :ambulance:

    0_1480710402709_upload-293f220a-9755-45e3-9cb1-7aa9804661a0

    Time to start the weekend.

    December 2nd and that client has already burned through their monthly retainer. So has another, for different reasons (Cryptolocker, on multiple machines). This will be a good month for revenue, even with all the holidays.


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    Also, the tech who fucked me on the OS install is now refusing to answer my phone calls. He called the owner. At one point in the day, I needed an answer on something and I tried calling him 3-4 times. No answer, no call back. I get frustrated and go find the owner.

    "$NAME stopped answering his phone."

    "Yeah, you pissed him off. He called me, said you were frustrated with him and said that he did not think you and he worked well together."

    "You're kidding me? Sure, I got frustrated with him, cause he cost us two days and had us overnight a part that we did not need for a cost of $900. I didn't even yell at him or anything. I was just annoyed and short with him."

    "Actually it was over a thousand bucks, and I told him that if he cannot work with you then he cannot work with us because you and your guys are what keep us running."


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    @Arantor said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    @Rhywden my first reaction before I saw the people explaining it was 'I have no clue what that is but it looks dangerous and awesome and I want one for no reason'

    Likewise. I just left off the end part.

    I watched a YouTube video a while back by one of my favorite YouTubers where he made a Jacob's Ladder with a whole bunch of 9V batteries hooked together in series.

    Jacob's ladder with 9V Batteries – 03:04
    — AvE

    My thoughts: "Holy shit that looks dangerous...I have a bunch of 9V batteries in the garage...I should try that."



  • @Polygeekery My version is a bit more impressive. Then again, I also have several coils at my disposal - a combination of a n=500 primary @230 V coil coupled to a n=23,000 secondary coil is impressive enough for my pupils. That's for demo'ing high voltage transformations.

    Sadly, I'm lacking a n=600 coil which would enable me to demo'ing high current transformations by melting an iron nail (the nail is coupled to a n=6 coil with massive copper wires). If I'm using an n=300 as a primary, the circuit breaker somewhat vehemently disagrees with me and the n=900 coil does not produce enough Ooomph to actually melt the nail, only bringing it to a (still impressive) orange-hot glow.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Rhywden said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    I'll use that on Monday to define one of the methods to determine the Electrical Field Strength

    I approve! I tried to do that sort of experiment back when I was in high school (using a slightly different experimental setup) but couldn't get the silly thing to work. And yes, 5kV hurts plenty even with tiny currents…


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Polygeekery said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    @Arantor said in Hardware MacGyvering:

    @Rhywden my first reaction before I saw the people explaining it was 'I have no clue what that is but it looks dangerous and awesome and I want one for no reason'

    Likewise. I just left off the end part.

    I watched a YouTube video a while back by one of my favorite YouTubers where he made a Jacob's Ladder with a whole bunch of 9V batteries hooked together in series.

    Jacob's ladder with 9V Batteries – 03:04
    — AvE

    My thoughts: "Holy shit that looks dangerous...I have a bunch of 9V batteries in the garage...I should try that."

    0_1480720528695_doomguy_74x74.gif

    The Metal Melter – 05:15
    — Grant Thompson - "The King of Random"

    0_1480720821824_Doom Godmode smiling - w44kx3Z.png


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