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published: Sunday 17 January 2016
modified: Tuesday 19 July 2022
author: a sleepy robot
markup: script

Halestrom's Peregrinations

Repairing equipment, angering software, researching unusual electronics and hiding in the internet dark ages. Several ghosts have been trapped in the machinery of this site to keep it working into the next century.

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Blog Posts

Friday 16 February 2024

NVME is so much more complicated than I expected

3 consecutive disk failures in 3 months. Silicon Power SSDs forgetting data and a Western Digital SSD that locks up under random reads. Number 3 was resurrected through a process akin to changing it from metric to imperial.

Sunday 22 October 2023

Thoughts on the unreleased Tangara audio player

A brief analysis of the Kicad source files. Surprisingly uses two 32-bit microcontrollers.

Sunday 11 June 2023

Repair adventure: A single white LED causing stuck keys on a RN988 keyboard

This was a big brain twister. The circuitry in this keyboard was completely unlike what I expected.

Sunday 29 January 2023

Desk improvements: 3d printed webcam ball socket, lightbar friction mounts and lightbar brightness controller

Heavily improving my webcam and desk lighting adjustability. Several years of work and different projects combined. Abuse of nonlinear circuits to defeat other nonlinear circuits.

Sunday 29 January 2023

Project: RJtoner, a multiway network cable toner/tracer (plus open source STC micro stuff)

For when your cabling is cursed by the light touch of a thousand techs. Uses STC 8-bit 8051 micro with an open source toolchain. Old project from 2019.

Thursday 22 December 2022

Moving emails accounts to a new host, imapcopy with actual encryption

Tunnelling Imapcopy traffic over TLS and everything that went wrong for me.

Tuesday 19 July 2022

Many indoor air quality sensor products are a scam (temperature, humidity, pressure, CO2, TVOC)

The indoor air quality industry is completely broken. A reply to an OpenWRT forum post.

Saturday 21 August 2021

Adventures using and repairing an X131e laptop from 2011

Replacing wifi coax, modifying bios to allow new wifi cards, unsticking tired clock chips, DIY custom power suppy plugs, de-flickering backlight and more. Somehow my best laptop yet.

Saturday 26 June 2021

Why I recommend CGI instead of web frameworks

Includes amusing stories about teaching and learning.

Saturday 17 April 2021

Amplifiers, horse plague, SPICE and home etching

Designs & discussion about a discrete audio amplifier, including some musings on SPICE electronics sims and my tips for etching PCBs at home.

Sunday 24 January 2021

Reply: The software of my dreams (3D to 3D capture and world reconstruction)

A reply to Ross Scott's "The Software of my dreams" video, on capturing game 3D worlds so they can be explored in different ways. Includes thoughts on technical and ethical directions, as well as too many game screenshots.

Sunday 27 December 2020

Diodes part 4: Glowing ionic diodes recreated & my ionic thesis research

Ionic diodes, failures in researching potential transistor-like devices and misdirection in transistor proofs. Lots of pretty pictures.

Sunday 30 August 2020

Meta: site comments, Minisleep 1.20 released

General appreciation + lots of bugfixes and security enchancements in Minisleep

Friday 1 May 2020

Project: Small self-powered speaker

Low power amp-in-a-box, showing off some more messy copper-tape construction.

Friday 1 May 2020

Project: Tool demagnetiser

A simple little box that defeats the ferrous furries.

Sunday 5 January 2020

Prototyping using copper tape and PCB land pads

Trying more techiques than traditional proto/vero/strip board has made things much easier, especially with SMD parts. EDIT: now with sot23.

Sunday 29 September 2019

Fake TL074 opamps - adventures in decapping

Fake greymarket parts, home chip decapping and a borrowed microscope.

Sunday 22 September 2019

Small Thien baffle dust separator

A bucket and a $50 bagged vacuum cleaner make a bedroom that no longer snows dust.

Sunday 25 August 2019

Time safety is more important than memory safety

Why I don't like people claiming you should not start new projects in C

Sunday 18 August 2019

Meta: New Minisleep, site rebased

Tales of converting bash to POSIX shell scripts and a picture of my new crazy software sideproject.

Sunday 5 May 2019

Software release: Minisleep

A tiny wiki engine, designed out of frustration of the other options.

Monday 25 March 2019

Repair: Allied Telesis AT-8000GS 24port gigabit switches

Replacing self-annihilating fans and reverse-engineering console cables.

Sunday 23 December 2018

Long range wifi with helical antennas

My experiences with various homebrew antennas and wifi chipsets. Tips and pitfalls. Also a small review of the Orange Pi Zero H2

Friday 14 September 2018

Seamonkey's gradual showdown

Finding and testing alternative web browsers and email clients to Seamonkey. An in-depth critique of Firefox, Thunderbird and many more.

Thursday 12 April 2018

Meta: Blog comment systems

Comment systems on self-run sites: methods, security, what I've found so far.

Saturday 2 September 2017

Game release: The Echidna Menace

Over the years I've dabbled making lots of small games, but I've always been afraid to release. This game isn't perfect, but it actually has some fun to it.

Sunday 6 August 2017

UI Gripes: Season 1

'HID' stands for 'Human Interface Device'. I don't think I have any of those, and if I do, then they're definately broken.

Sunday 23 April 2017

Making a bench PSU out of a cheap buck/boost module off the web

Modding a LTC3780 board to use different pots, toroidal transformer rewinding and a bit of bodging gone wrong.

Tuesday 28 February 2017

Diodes part 3: a working diode steering circuit

I've made something interesting with my aluminium and soda bicarb diodes: a 7-segment display encoder. Also includes instructions on how to make your own.

Thursday 26 January 2017

Mounting computers on wooden boards

Putting a Pentium 4 rig, power supply and all, on piece of plywood for easy hanging.

Monday 5 December 2016

Project: Wooden synchronous clock

My first time-keeping device, using a stepper motor to control the main wheels and mains frequency counting circuits to keep the time. Full schematic included with bonus errors.

Monday 5 December 2016

Diodes part 2: Homemade aluminium diodes

We're back in the lab trying some new combinations and methods to make diodes. This time: aluminium and wet electrolytes. Getting closer to the idea of just being able to 'dab' diodes onto PCBs, but not quite there yet.

Sunday 31 July 2016

Splitting apart lipo packs

Or "how I managed to do it without cutting open the lipos with a knife" this time. Total success, no lost/damaged cells.

Sunday 31 July 2016

Inside HRC fuses: cheap vs brand-name

An unrelated fuse blew in another multimeter, so I decided to buy some replacements for these white ones too. Previously I was using cheap eBay replacements. No *electrical* comparison/testing is done in this post.

Saturday 18 June 2016

Cutting open red COB Leds

It turns out that red COB leds have blue LED dies in them. Dissection and thoughts.

Saturday 18 June 2016

Repair: DIADEMA coffee machine

Problem: agressively clicking noises on startup lasting most of a minute. Investigations and repair.

Saturday 18 June 2016

Simpler PCB etching/making techniques for simpler boards

Method and results for a few different techniques. No computer/printer required, all hand tools and etchant.

Saturday 18 June 2016

Experimental homemade aluminium and silicone PCBs

Making copper-clad board substitute using aluminium foil and silicon caulk, then etching it. Partial success, lots of problems.

Saturday 18 June 2016

Meta: Quiet in the blogs

Upcoming posts (hours, days), possible changes to the site

Sunday 24 April 2016

Selectable turns AM loop antenna

Basket-woven 10-winding AM loop antenna for my radio. Number of turns selectable using rotary switch. Overview of how I made it. Works very well.

Sunday 17 April 2016

Archives: Robots and lab projects pre-2016

A selection of things I've made over the past several years. Pretty photos, lots of mistakes and a few miscellaneous parts.

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Diodes part 1: Homemade copper diodes

My method and my results. Zener-like diodes made with a candle and water-drop technique.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Moving away from Arch Linux Part 2: Looking at alternative distros

Trying out new distros: gentoo and Void. First impressions of their live environments, package management and websites.

Sunday 13 March 2016

February element14 haul

I buy electronics on the cheap. Looking around sometimes pays off -- in this case by a factor of a thousand.

Saturday 5 March 2016

Meta: Site fixes and various reflections

Atom feed dates and duplication, thumnails and post summaries. A few thoughts on the present and future. Soon to be released init system.

Saturday 5 March 2016

Repair: busted laptop hinge mounting point

Quick repair. Screws pulled, case damaged and inserts plucked. All hail Araldities, Greek goddess of glue.

Saturday 27 February 2016

State of my ARM Chromebook

After years of usage my laptop has taken a bit of a beating. Stories and solutions to problems that I have encountered using linux on an armv7h laptop.

Friday 26 February 2016

Moving away from Arch Linux Part 1: Systemd

Why I want to abandon my current distro and move to another. Stories of systemd breaking my systems and getting its tendrils into places that I'm not comfortable with. Ooh! Not there! aaaaah!

Monday 8 February 2016

Rebuilding Tankbot

Fabricating aluminium wheel adaptors from scratch. Tanks, bandsaws, custom jigs and homemade tools.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Meta: Grand site unveiling

Backstory of this website. Why I chose to write my own backend and the architectural decisions I made.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Dwarf Fortress on old hardware

Running a game fabled for its system demands on 2000 era hardware that moonlights as a magnetic descrambler. Solid state IDE and minimising memory usage.

Sunday 17 January 2016

Repair: Jena 5020 vintage radio

Repairing a hollow-state radio. Breaking everything and getting frustrated at documents that are just barely out of reach.