3 Cheap Hood/Hatchback/Topper Mods to Save Your Noggin

Gas Lift Fixes by Briansmobile1

This is a mod more than a hack but any time you can alter original equipment to maintain its usability is a win-win scenario for you and the environment. Everyone has or knows somebody that has a vehicle and most vehicles nowadays have some type of hatchback or hood where the support solution is gas filled struts. Inevitably these gas filled struts fail with age and the failure is accelerated in hotter or colder climates. If you ever had to replace these items you know they can cost a minimum of $20 to as much as $60 a piece. Most vehicles require two, four or even eight of these costly little devices.

[Brian] from Briansmobile1 YouTube channel documented three simple and low cost solutions. We all probably know of the vice clamp solution but that is cumbersome and still an expensive solution which is not always very handy or fast. Another solution is to cut a piece of rubber hose in a kind of special way so it is easy to put on and take off the shaft and dangles from a string so it’s always available. The best solution was to use a hitch pin also connected to a string or wire. To make the hitch pin work you have to grind a couple of notches on either side of the lift shaft at just the right spot so the pin can be snapped on and prevent the shaft from retracting at your selected height.

We are sure these solutions will come in handy at some time in most everyone’s driving career. Just after the break we will link to all three of [Brian’s] handy videos on gas strut fix solutions. And if you do your own automotive repair we can definitely recommend [Brian’s] channel of over 600 vehicle repair and maintenance videos which normally come with a dose of philosophy and humor.

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3D Printed Zipper Saves the Day!

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[Amr] recently built a 3D printer and came across his first practical application for it – his jacket’s zipper broke!

What we like about this project is [Amr] goes through the entire design process to finished product in his video. He starts by showing us the failed zipper, explaining where and why it failed, and then identifies the design features he needs to keep in order to make a functional replacement. To help accomplish this he checks out the Wikipedia article on zippers which shows an excellent animation of what happens inside of the zipper.

Now confident in his knowledge of all things zipper, he begins to model his replacement using SolidWorks, which is an industry standard among 3D CAD packages — for more information on how to use SolidWorks, we’ve been covering it in our 3D Printering articles! [Read more...]

Hacking Dell Laptop Charger Identification

Dell Charger Spoofer

If you’ve ever had a laptop charger die, you know that they can be expensive to replace. Many laptops require you to use a ‘genuine’ charger, and refuse to boot when a knock off model is used. Genuine chargers communicate with the laptop and give information such as the power, current, and voltage ratings of the device. While this is a good safety measure, ensuring that a compatible charger is used, it also allows the manufacturers to increase the price of their chargers.

[Xuan] built a device that spoofs this identification information for Dell chargers. In the four-part series (1, 2, 3, 4), the details of reverse engineering the communications and building the spoofer are covered.

Dell uses the 1-Wire protocol to communicate with the charger, and [Xuan] sniffed the communication using a MSP430. After reading the data and verifying the CRC, it could be examined to find the fields that specify power, voltage, and current.

Next, a custom PCB was made with two Dell DC jacks and an MSP430. This passes power through the board, but uses the MSP430 to send fake data to the computer. The demo shows off a 90 W adapter pretending to run at 65 W. With this working, you could power the laptop from any supply that can meet the requirements for current and voltage.

Replacing a Tire Valve Stem Without Special Tools!

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Your car’s tire is losing air from the valve stem — what do you do? Well you could take it to the mechanic and pay upwards of $30 to replace it… or you could try this MacGyver style approach!

Not wanting to take his car to the shop, [David] tried several ways of knocking the tire off its bead. Hitting it with a sledge hammer… Jumping on it… throwing it against the ground… In the end, he realized leverage would be his friend! He’s constructed a tool out of a few pieces of wood — simply place it on the tire near the valve stem, and then drive up the wood with your car. The weight of the car easily compresses the tire leaving you just enough room to pull the tire valve stem out, and put a new one in.

It’s pretty much the same method shops use, they just have a machine to do it for them — because of this, so we don’t think this would hurt your tire. As always though, we’d love to hear what you guys think in the comments! Stick around for the video to see [David's] process.

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Troubleshooting a Broken Power Supply

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How many power bricks have died on you? Have you ever tried to fix them? Sometimes it’s easier to grab another one (they grow on trees right?), but wouldn’t it be nice to save the broken ones from filling up landfills? Depending on the cause of death, it could be a super simple fix!

[Chaim-Leib] recently purchased a powered USB hub that came with a beefy 5v, 4A power supply — it worked great — until 6 months later, when it didn’t. The company sent him a new one, and let him keep the faulty one. Looking for a challenge, [Chaim-Leib] decided to crack it open and see if he could fix it himself.

No burnt caps, no fried diodes, no burn marks anywhere in fact! Luckily he spotted the culprit: One lonely resistor had lifted up from its pad. Having never jostled or dropped the power brick, this failure likely came from some kind of stress formed during original assembly — throw in a bunch of hot and cold thermal changes, and pop goes the solder pad!

It was a simple fix with some solder, and he emailed the company photos of his operation — they’ve promised to send them on to the engineering team to further evaluate the problem.

That was easy.

Oscilloscope Repair Projects Still Probing For Success

lecroy-9450-oscilloscope-repair[Luke] isn’t able to declare total victory yet. His LeCroy 9450 oscilloscope repair project has seen some success, though. The glitchy screen seen above is just one of the problems it had, but has now been fixed. When [Luke] got his hands on it, this was one of three screen states: the other two being normal operation or completely dead. Replacing the screen connector was all it took, so he moved on to the second part.

This one is much less trivial. Only one of the two channels works—which might be the point at which many would abandon the repair—but it’s still a fine single-channel scope. [Luke] continued to trouble-shoot by disassembling the bottom of the case and breaking out the device’s schematics. He traced the circuit and found one module that is suspect (and is looking for help finding a replacement). Unfortunately, the problems don’t end there. Another unknown problem is causing erroneous signals on the displayed waveforms. It’s an odd issue but it really feels like he’s close to solving this one!

The Pioneering Lifestyle in Low Earth Orbit

Current ISS Configuration

Configuration of the International Space Station in May 2011, taken by Space Shuttle Endeavour at the end of the STS-134 mission.

The first element of the International Space Station (ISS) launched over fifteen years ago, on November 20, 1998. For more than thirteen years at least two human beings have been continually living off the surface of our planet. Assembly of the Space Station is now complete. It is being utilized by its crews and scientists from around the world to execute its primary mission – scientific investigations that can only be accomplished in the microgravity environment of Low Earth Orbit (LEO). As with any structure, items age, wear out, or break and need to be repaired. What could be rather “simple” repairs on Earth can become much more complex in zero gravity. In some cases, “necessity becomes the mother of invention.”

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