Akom's Tech Ruminations

Various tech outbursts - code and solutions to practical problems

Hardware Hacks Replacing NiCd power tool batteries with RC LIPO's

Posted by Admin • Wednesday, December 31. 2008 • Category: Hardware Hacks
I have a Dewalt 18V cordless drill, which was very expensive ($200 back in 2001), came with two batteries (heavy, NiCd packs), and I've used it extensively for just about everything when we bought our house. Now both packs are dead. I do maintain them well, as nearly 7 years is much longer than their expected useful life. So I checked out the prices - and the packs are over $80 each! ... Seems a bit expensive for a bunch of NiCd's in a nice (tough, indestructible, convenient) plastic package. I looked at NiMh cells... but then using the original charger becomes questionable (probably cannot), plus the cost of 12 cells is almost $80 in itself - not to mention soldering 12 cells together, myself??? I don't think so....

Then I thought about LIPO cells... Let's see - 18V, that'd be a 5 cell (18.5V)... Well, for a test, I figured I'd try what I have around, and what I have around are 3 cell packs.

Continue reading "Replacing NiCd power tool batteries with RC LIPO's"

Code and Hacks Blackberry suddenly missing Browser Service Books

Posted by Akom • Saturday, December 27. 2008 • Category: Code and Hacks

I have an Enterprise Activated Blackberry 8830 (World) which has worked just fine for over a year. I recently installed Opera Mini (which works great for most things), but some time after that I noticed that the built-in Browser no longer works and produces the following error message:

Your device does not currently have any Browser Configuration Service Book Entries.
Please contact your service provider to enable the Browser on your device

Took me some time to sift through the various responses on forums and various advice. In the end, it appears that they all boil down to two possible solutions (assuming that your blackberry browser should/did work at all, as in you have a data plan, etc, etc):

  • Send Service Books
    1. Click your internet email icon (the envelope with a gear in front of it)
    2. Log in to your BIS account, as needed (yes even if you are on a BES). Create one if you've never done this before
    3. click service books
    4. Click send service books
  • Register Device
    1. Click options
    2. Click advanced options
    3. Scroll down and click host routing table
    4. Press menu key
    5. Choose register now
    6. You can now exit. You should receive an happy email shortly

As for me, the first one did the trick. The second one (including resetting device) did nothing.


If your Browser and/or Email Setup icons are missing, try this:

  1. Go to the verizon BIS site with your desktop browser
  2. Log in or create account
  3. Go to help->Send Service Books (Seriously, it's hidden in the help menu!)
  4. You'll get activation emails on your device
  5. Pull the battery and it should be fine after a reboot
  6. NOTE: my blackberry stopped receiving mail after this - and after logging back into the BIS account I was asked to set up my blackberry from scratch. Never fear - just click the newly restored Email Setup on your blackberry and you'll see what to do, and voila - everything is back to normal, even the online account

Hardware Hacks Fixing Sensitive Button on Motorola HS850 bluetooth handsfree headset

Posted by Akom • Monday, December 22. 2008 • Category: Hardware Hacks

The Motorola HS850 was a very popular bluetooth headset in its day. A lot of people seem to complain that their HS850's gradually develop one of the following symptoms:

  • Dials/hangs up, randomly
  • Redials on its own, randomly
  • Hangs up or dials at the slightest touch or handling of the unit

This is what is most likely causing the problem:

Continue reading "Fixing Sensitive Button on Motorola HS850 bluetooth handsfree headset"

Hardware Hacks Replacing Garmin C330 Li-Ion battery on the cheap (with whatever is onhand)

Posted by Akom • Monday, December 22. 2008 • Category: Hardware Hacks

I have a hand-me-down Garmin C330, the el-cheapo, no-text-to-speech teletubby-looking GPS unit that every online store was liquidating a few months ago. Mine also has a dead battery, and while it used to run for 1-2 minutes on it, now it barely runs 5 seconds. I can live with that, after all - you generally use it while plugged in, but it is oh-so-handy to be able to hand it to the passenger for co-pilot... co-piloting.

So, I had to do something...

Continue reading "Replacing Garmin C330 Li-Ion battery on the cheap (with whatever is onhand)"

Reviews Vimeo vs Youtube for flight video

Posted by Admin • Wednesday, December 10. 2008 • Category: Reviews

A few months ago I posted my successful flight video recorded with on-board camcorder on my RC plane. I posted in youtube, because, well, that's what everyone does.

The video was an 160MB two-pass Xvid AVI, and once it made it through the youtube hamster wheels, it didn't look so good, especially while flying high over the tree-tops - they all meshed together into a mess of pixels. I complained, but resigned to my low-quality destiny.

Some time passed and it occurred to me to look into Vimeo.

Here are the results

Continue reading "Vimeo vs Youtube for flight video"

Hardware Hacks Toys Not all that is hackable should be...

Posted by Akom • Tuesday, December 2. 2008 • Category: Hardware Hacks, Toys

Last week I hacked up my RC transmitter and added a Dual Rate switch

Dual Rate switch

See here: (How I hacked it up).

I thought I was so cool for adding two wires, one toggle switch and two drops of solder to an RTF transmitter (oh and a nice hole too). Well, everything worked great on the ground, but once I actually flew the plane, not all was well - the control range dropped to about 60 feet!. I didn't connect the dots at first and thought it was a broken antenna wire or something, or a new flying site (coincidence). Nope.

Apparently, adding two thick wires radomly into a complex circuit and placing them along the perimeter of the case can have some unexpected results. I took the wiring and the switch out, and all is well again, control range is longer than sanity permits me to test (plane is a dot in the distant sky, but still seems to be controllable).

Continue reading "Not all that is hackable should be..."