Category Archives: electronics

G1W-H Car DVR Dashcam with Polarizer Filter

In this video I install a circular polarizer filter on my G1W-H dashcam to help reduce reflections seen on the windshield.

You will see how to select the right orientation on the filter, and also sample footage during both day and night time.

Parts used:
34mm to 37mm step-up ring
37mm Circular Polarizer filter
G1W-H car dashcam
BlackVue DR400G-HD for comparison footage

The video was recorded with my OnePlus One smartphone – I think it did a decent job.





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BlackVue DR400G-HD Lens Cleaning and Battery Replacement

After an infamous thread on RedFlagDeals regarding an insurance fraud scam foiled by a person’s dashcam, many people started installing them as their own insurance, or simply to point out and ridicule poor drivers.  Sometimes people catch some crazy events.  I ended up purchasing a BlackVue DRG400G-HD from a group buy.  It was one of the better cameras at the time, 1080P recording, GPS, and a nice sleek build.  There are more affordable ones out there now such as the G1W which I have installed for my family members.

Most recently I captured lightning striking a utility post and it took out power to a traffic intersection.  When I went to check the footage, I found that the image quality was very poor.  I knew it was getting worse but always attributed it to a degrading sensor due to summer heat.

My camera also had an issue shutting down — it would no longer say “BlackVue now shutting down” when the power was cut.

Instead of tossing it for a new one, I opened it up for a little bit of maintenance to get it running like new.






AFTER CLEANING:drg400-after

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USB Stick Repair

If you bumped your USB stick by accident and it’s intermittently or not detecting at all, don’t fret!  It’s likely a damaged solder joint. If you apply a bit of force to the stick and “bend” it while plugged in, and it starts working, crack it open!  Less than five minutes of effort and you’ll Most Likely(tm) have your precious data back.

USB Stick

Four shiny new solder joints brought this ‘dead’ stick back to life.


Pry open your stick – this one is a cheap plastic one that came apart with almost no effort. Examine the 4 solder joints to the USB connector.  You can probably see a crack without the aid of a magnifying glass.

Pull out your trusty soldering iron and reheat those joints until it is shiny.  You can add a touch of solder if it’s not reflowing easily.

Plug in, and done!

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IBM L191p LCD Monitor Repair Guide

The IBM L191P 19″ LCD monitor is an old monitor built around 2005.  It has a Samsung LTM190E4 PVA panel giving some pretty nice viewing angles at a resolution of 1280×1024.  It’s a fine monitor for business use, but we are noticing that they are beginning to fail in large numbers.  Symptoms include: Constant power cycling when plugged into AC (pulsing green power LED), taking a while to turn on (needs the power button to be pressed repeatedly), or the backlight not turning on at all (graphics can be seen if you shine a flashlight on the LCD).

It has a very common IP-35135B Samsung PSU driving the CCFL backlights, and these are very prone to failure, long before the backlight even starts to dim.  Let’s open it up to find out why!


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Altec Lansing MX5021 Modification

After making a CMoy and hotrodding my X-Fi, I needed a new project. I’ve had the Altec Lansing MX5021 speakers for a couple of years now and they’re the best ones I’ve owned so far. However there’s one nagging thing about them, speaker hiss. I searched around for modifications on this thing from Head-Fi with no results. Google however, gave me Jimmy’s Junkyard – Altec MX5021 Speaker Mod and Amplifier Mod.

I took after it and decided to first swap one of the op-amps from the stock ST 4558CN to a BurrBrown OPA2134 just as the guide recommended. I had an extra OPA2134 from my CMoy project and a bunch of extra sockets, so I figured what the hey! I’ll mod my speakers too.

The hardest part during the disassembly is unplugging the power supply and the subwoofer cables.

You can see here that I actually tore off the plastic connector. When I tried to push it back on, the traces at the back started to come off. With a few blobs of Loctite superglue, the piece was firmly affixed to the board.

The worst part, is that this glue is on the back side when you remove the panel to access the PCB. So you’ll be tugging away at the connectors and wondering why it’s so difficult to remove… They’re glued!

The BurrBrown OPA2134 in action! I put in a socket so I can later change it to an AD8620 for hopefully even better sound.

Next I will be sourcing some capacitors to replace the stock Samxon ones, and attempting the crossover modification.


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CMoy Pocket Amplifier

I woke up this morning and knew I had to finish building my CMoy. I had mostly finished the build, only I needed to mount everything in the case, an empty Altoids tin. Because I’m currently borrowing a PIMETA from my housemate, I wanted to add a DC power connector to my CMoy so I wouldn’t be burning through 9V batteries. After a quick trip to Honson Computers (Supremetronic in disguise), I came out with a wall wart, a DC jack, and some additional parts for future builds. Around the corner I picked up a $1.50 hole punch from a Chinatown dollar store and made it back home.

Punching holes in the tin was very easy, although I managed to punch the DC power hole too high so that it interferes slightly with the lid. A bit of debugging later (who knew that my 3M electrical tape was slightly conductive?), everything is mounted in nicely and I now have a completed CMoy pocket amplifier.

Next up is either an improved CMoy with less cluttered wiring and higher quality parts, or a beginner PIMETA.

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Black Gates have arrived

Thanks to Parts Connexion, I was finally able to complete my X-Fi hotrodding. I replaced the Jamicon capacitor, which are known to deviate significantly from specification over time, with Rubycon Black Gate capacitors. These are among the best electrolytic capacitors available.

Desoldering the old capacitor took forever. With my 45W soldering iron, it took a few minutes to free each leg. With the aid of solder wick, plenty of flux, and a pin, I managed to clean out the hole and push the gigantic legs of the Black Gate through the holes, and get it soldered into place. I spent nearly an hour replacing one capacitor, compared to the 30 minutes I spent replacing the opamp.

I’ve also been building a budget CMoy amplifier. Tomorrow I get to buy a hole puncher so I can mount everything in an Altoids tin.

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Hotrodding the X-Fi

Way back when I had an Audigy 2 ZS, I read about how this guy was selling modified cards with replaced opamps. After I blew up my Audigy 2 ZS, I went out and bought an X-Fi. The card sounds great, drives my headphones without need of an additional amplifier, and has amazing 3D simulation for gaming. A couple months ago I read this guide for modifying the Creative Soundblaster X-Fi to give improved audio quality. So I decided that I’d finally go through with it, finishing school, having time for projects and all.

Last week I ordered a sample of the LM4562 opamp from National Semiconductor. Today, while I was watching some Scrubs, a loud knock on the door from the UPS guy later, I have my opamps.

After some shaky soldering and mounting it slightly offset (but with good a good soldering contact), the opamp is finally in place. Now time to burn it in!

Next up is to order some Blackgate capacitors to replace the stock Jamicon.


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Finally fixed my Zen Micro

I remember when I got my Creative Zen Micro 5GB. It was amazing compared to my old Sony Minidisc player. I could use it as USB mass storage if I brought the cable with me, it played radio, it recorded lectures.

Then the headphone jack on it had to start becoming flakey. I could nudge the headphone plug around and get sound out of both sides. Other times, it would sound like half the song is missing… all of this due to a shoddy soldering job that was prone to breaking.

A couple months after my Zen started flaking, I took the opportunity to upgrade my cell phone to a Sony Ericsson W810i. This thing was only slightly larger than the phone it replaced (T637), but it had a 2 megapixel camera, an FM radio tuner, and an MP3 player. Needless to say, my Zen sat in a drawer for the longest time, until today.

Today I decided to head to an electronics store down the street to get equipment so I could be prepared to Hotrod my Creative X-Fi. As I opened my drawer to look at my soldering iron, I noticed that the tip of it was used quite heavily and in no shape to solder the tiny legs on the opamp. I also noticed the Zen sitting in a little basket.

So I went out, and came back with a few new things (like a soldering iron stand, finally!). Loaded up a really handy guide and got to work on my Zen Micro. Following the simple instructions from “Creative Zen Micro Headphone Jack Fix“, I completed the steps in about 15 minutes.

Now that my Zen Micro is fixed, I don’t know what else to do with it.

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