Monday, January 30, 2012

Just Another DIY 12v DC Charger

As Seen On Hack A Day 


In the following video it shows the steps that I took for making an alternative means of charging my ASUS Transformer TF101 after the power supply seemed to give out on me. The following charger was built from spare parts laying around the house so out of pocket cost to me was $0.00

    Nothing fancy just a simple mod by replacing the stock barrel connector from a spare 12v power supply to a USB connector, but never the less a fast a simple solution to a problem that I did not have the time or money to pick up a new one from ASUS. Yes Putting it in the freezer did correct the issue with the stock charger but now I have no need to worry with this little mod.

DO NOT Plug In USB Drives Or Other Devices Not Rated For 12v Into Power Supplies USB Port

For those without a high speed connection or who just still can't figure out what exactly it was that I did here are a few shots of the simple build

First part was finding a proper power source. As stated in the video when ever working with replacing an electronic component like a power supply for a device you should try to get an exact match if not super close. For me I used a spare 12v power supply from what was either a printer supply or other peripheral supply.  

 With the power ratings being close enough for me I proceeded to cut the barrel connector at the end of the power supply off. After stripping back some of the plastic shielding containing the positive and negative wire I stripped them back a little to allow for connection to the PCB board that whould house my 12v USB port. The USB port was taken off a older P3 motherboard that was laying around in the scrap pile. The best way to desolder on of these factory connections is a heat gun...bottom line they drop right out within 30 seconds of some circular heat gun motion to the area of the component your want to remove and saves on some desoldering braid

After soldering the USB port that I extracted to the PCB board I proceeded to hook up the 12v positive connection to pin 1 on the USB port which is normally a 5v connection and left ground on pin 4 where it should be.

A very important note on proper polarity as seen below. Notice that when the positive lead (red ) and negative (black) coming from the multimeter show just 12.17v while in the other picture with the blue arrow pointing to the negative symbol on the multimeter shows revered polarity as the multimeter leads are reversed. This is a MUST for making sure you have the proper wires attached to the correct places as not all wires are color coded black and red TRUST your multimeter not just wire colors.

After making sure things matched up properly I proceeded to tuck my wires back with a zip tie to the PCB board and place everything in a general hardware store piece of heat shrink tubing to protect against accidental electrical shock and protect my connections.


More then a handful of messages have shown up in my email box , direct message on Twitter , and Youtube. I have answered more then a handful here as your questions might be one of them

Q. See that's what you get for not buying an iPad2
A. Yes , your right cause an Apple product has never had a general hardware connection issue in the history of the tablet, smart phone, MP3 player era. By that thinking then I should dump Windows cause it can get a virus and malware.

Q. Why a USB port and not just get a USB to barrel connector?
A. The whole point of why I had to put this together was at the time I need to charge it and didn't have the time nor money to find a USB to barrel connector to charge it.

Q. What's does the freezer trick do and does it work?
A. Nothing more then allow the internal thermal fuse to cool off and reset to allow for charging. 30 minutes in the freezer will do the trick in a zip lock bag to prevent moisture from getting in the internal components. 15 minutes out of the freezer and you should be fine to try charging your device. 

Q. How many times have you had to freezer your power supply.
A. For me personally I have only had to do it once and has worked fine since the first day I tried freezing it. 

Q. Why not just charge it through your computer...duh?
A. Cause unless you have a USB connection on your PC that gives off 12v instead of 5v then it will only charge at 5V which does nothing for a charge. Maybe if I left it on and hooked up all night it might but why charge at 5v when the device can handle charging at 12v and it's charger outputs 12v.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

FTA Receiver Dongle Internalization Mod

This was a guide that was written back in Novemeber of 2009 with a friend of mine who is heavy into Free To Air testing. At the time of it's release the Sonicview iHub was a Ethernet dongle that was supposed to deliver the ability to stream MP3's over an attached network to be played back on the STB. There was also a downloads section that was supposed to be add for games , etc. However the STB dongle never delivered fully on it's promises and became just another tool for piracy. Piracy aside I always love devices that allow streaming of music , or movies over network but hate the component feeling to add-on devices. My partner in this was always moving his STB between locations and had problems with the dongle being a loose end so to speak. I had mentioned to him allowing me to internalize the dongle so it's all in one. The end result as you can see came out wonderful minus a few things I wish could have done differently but that's just the perfectionist in me. Many years later my buddy has informed me that this unit is still around , running , and still works perfect in 2012. 

This Following guide is not meant for person’s unfamiliar with soldering or electronics. This is a simple mod that anyone can do but you MUST pay attention and above all have patience.

Warning this mod if not done correctly will and can cause serious damage to your STB. This mod was done on a Sonicview 360 Elite using a Sonicview iHub. This mod is not supported, sponsored or recommend by Sonicview. This mod was done just to internalize the dongle within the unit by myself and a member of and carry’s no warranty if YOU decide to do this mod. You will NOT gain a performance increase or any other type of function ability from this mod and as stated and was just done for appearance so both the dongle and the STB would be one unit.


Tools Needed
1) Soldering Pencil
2) Dermal or rotary tool with selection of attachments
3) Solder
4) De-Soldering braid
5) Drill w/ bits
6) Tape measure / Caliper
7) Electrical Tape
8) Machine bolts w/ nuts
9) Flexible thin metal

10) Thin Wire 24 – 30 AWG
11)General hand tools , screwdrivers flat head and Phillips
12)Voltage Tester with continuity
13)Heat Gun
14)Wire Strippers

        First things first take of the cover of your STB by removing the screws on both sides of the unit and ones in the back. After the lid is removed you’re going to want to carefully disconnect the wires coming from the faceplate, USB port, and power supply from the main board. When looking at the box locate the serial RS-232 port as pictured below this is were we will be installing our dongle at.

Now on the main board there will be screws internally holding the main board in and screws on the back of the box holding the main board in place as well as four nuts around the LNB hook ups. These screws need to removed so we can take the main board out of the unit.

Once you have your main board out of the box set the box to the side. You’re going to want to now turn your main board upside down and grab your dongle. Take a flathead screw driver and pop the plastic case off of your dongle. Next step is to connect the dongle the main board. As pictured below. As you can see the connections that we will be making I have color coded for easier reference on where the wires will be going

Now this is the part where you will have to make a big choice. Since we need the RS-232
port for possible updating with or recovery, the dongle needs to have the ability to be disconnected from the RS-232 port.

For adding in your own connector remember that it must be plastic or other non conductive to prevent shorts and possible electrocution. I had used a DVD power terminal from a Xbox 1 drive that was broken, many older printers , scanners, etc have good amounts of these connectors that can be used. First things first you need to remove the serial port from the dongle as pictured below.

My soldering station was not hot enough to remove the actual terminal place holders so I ended up using a heat gun to preheat the existing solder when de-soldering the terminals. After removing the terminal you can proceed to attach the wire to the ihub that you will be using. As you can see from the examples below you will want to do your best after attaching your connector to properly cover any exposed wire or metal from the terminal.

Next step is to attach the second set of wires to the main board , hook up both connectors to make sure that your connections are reading out continuity on your tester and that you have no bridged connections that can cause a issue.

Placement of the actual Ethernet port is up to you. I had placed mine right above the RS-232 port which seemed like a good place for it but you can use any spot where you will have room to work REMEMBER you still have to attach the dongle to the case. Take the dongle unit and place it flush against to where you want to port to be and trace around the Ethernet port so you have a square. In each corner you will want to drill a small hole as not to do to much extra cutting with the dremial.

After cutting out your new Ethernet port remove any debris and sand any rough spots. Double check that the Ethernet port fits in the hole properly you may have to do some trimming as the metal will stick out enough so that to port is almost even with the backside of the unit but you don’t want to have to force it in the hole. Now that you hole is cut you need to make a clasp to hole the dongle in place.

The only flexible thin metal I had that was the size I needed for a almost perfect fit was a hacksaw blade. After some measuring I made a wrap for the dongle and be careful to wrap some electrical tape around the metal as not to cause any shorts. As you can see I bent out ears and drilled holes for attaching to the case.

After making a clasp you want put the dongle with the clasp in position, mark and drill out your holes that you will be using to attach the dongle to the case. Be sure not to use to long of a nut and bolt, if you have to use your wire strippers to cut the size down.

Now you will want to blow out, vacuum, etc your case as to make sure no small metal flakes make there way onto any circuits. Now you can start reassembly of your box by placing you main board in first, carefully fold the wire up and around the main board. You can also place a small piece of tape over where you have soldered to the bottom of the main board just to prevent shorts if worried about your solder job.

After your wire coming from the bottom of the board is up tighten up all screws. After screwing you main board back inplace go ahead and attach the dongle w/ clasp to the case with your machine head screrws and nuts.

You should have something that looks like the picture above and can go ahead and hook
up the connector and place the lid back on the case.

Congratulations you have just
internalized your STB's Dongle