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LED mod for Lego Star Wars Slave 1

To wrap up 2017 here’s the near-mandatory, and-now-for-something-completely-different, holiday seasons DIY post.

This time around though I’m skipping the turkey in favor of adding LED lighting to thruster engines of Lego Star Wars Ultimate Collectors Set (UCS) nr. 75060 aka ‘Slave 1’.. Aka ‘that clothes iron looking spaceship’ with which Jango & Boba Fett transport their *preciousssss* bounty in in Star Wars movies. Read More…

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ZXDSL 931WII hacking

The stock 931WII

Recently, I decided to upgrade my ADSL subscription to VDSL, and the deal included a ZTE ZXDSL 931WII CPE box (VDSL2 modem + NAT + WLAN AP). Attached with the box were instructions stating that configuration settings could be managed from a private web page provided by the ISP. And was one able to do so? Of course not. Much to my annoyance, it also turned out that all ‘outside the box’ local configuration had been disabled in the firmware (no response to LAN http, ssh or telnet). So, a quick call to the ISP helpdesk:

Hi! I upgraded to blablabla and would like to configure it but there’s nothing else on the remote admin panel than a save -button”

“Ok let me check”

“It doesn’t accept any http or telnet connections to the local admin interface either..”

“What would you like to configure?”

“Well you know, the usual stuff people configure on their home router; static IPs, port forwarding, admin password etc..”

“Hmm well I can see that implementing the feature is pending, but I can check details about this with someone. Is it ok if I text you shortly? Kthxbye!” *CLICK*

Some minutes later, there’s a text on my mobile saying “There is no known schedule for adding remote configurability for the current firmware at this time”. W-T-F and thanks a fucking bunch! :D

Seriously: Do they think that I’m going to run this box in my home without having any access to feature configuration?

Sure I can understand that, given the increasingly technical times we live in, the need might arise for the ISP to be able to remotely check the CPE configuration of some less-technically-inclined subscriber using their ACS server. But why-oh-why disable all local configuration options? Surely, the option of configuring the hardware could be kept available to those who wish to do so?

Not happy with the situation at all, I decided it was time to take a look whether local configuration could be performed from inside the box.. I’d rather have a bit of my own fun with the box instead of paying xx€ for queuing +15 minutes on the phone just to be walked through a “Did you check cable connections” check list (or whatever). Should my “playtime” result with a bricked box, no problem. The ISP can then have the box back accompanied with a “the lights just went out” fault description and I’ll go buy something more decent :)

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SMD chip soldering

Whilst working on the Funky Flash Cart, I thought maybe some people would find a solder bridge removal how-to of use. So I promised Arto (that is, the one who designed FFC, not myself ;) to contribute one for his project. As getting grips with soldering surface mount devices (SMDs) can be rather tricky for the beginner, I figured why not expand on the topic a bit and write something like this post!.

First up, if you’re a complete beginner with SMD soldering, it’s very advisable to take whatever scrap board with SMDs (f.ex. broken VCR/DVD/CD player) and practice with that prior to moving on to DIY projects. With a little practice and a steady hand, the standard 1206 and 0805 sized parts (that’s 0.126″ × 0.063″ / 3.2 mm × 1.6 mm AND 0.08″ × 0.05″ /2.0 mm × 1.25 mm respectively) can be soldered with most generic tools. Smaller sizes are doable as well but a microscope is usually required for inspecting solder surface (quality etc). 1206 and 0805 you can manage with a decent magnifying glass.

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Battery leakage cleaning

I’m quite sure anyone who has done even the slightest bit of electronics repairs has pretty come across battery leakage damage. On such a case, some internal battery (realtime clock, memory refresh etc.) has leaked all over the circuit board and corroded traces, component feet or even the board itself! This corrosion can cause poor conductivity (increased resistance), short-circuits or cuts on signal paths. I deal with various  types of board repairs all the time, so I thought maybe my methods of cleaning up these leakages might be off interest to someone.

The case I’m about to present was actually a user-originated fault and not the more traditional type of leakage case. Nonetheless, battery acid all over the board and it had had a bit of time to work it’s magic. What had most likely happened in this case was that the end-user had replaced the internal rechargeable batteries with regular ones (the device has a built-in NiMH charger). Not sure how long the unit had actually been in use after the batteries had started failing, but the corrosion suggests it did’t happen overnight. There are two batteries inside the unit, both were rather similar in appearance, thus I’m focusing only on the left-most one. This is how the internals looked like after opening the casing:

Battery leakage case, pic 1 Read More…