Tech Flashback: Fujitsu M2266SA – Part 1 – It Arrives!

It’s no big secret that I just love old hardware. In some senses, it comes down to nostalgia, and in other cases, it comes down to being able to play with the expensive hardware we could never afford for ourselves at the time. It’s also sometimes quite fascinating to think of how far the envelope was being pushed given the state of the art at the time.

Early in the month, I spotted a friend on OCAU who was giving away an old AT case with two full height SCSI drives. After asking him whether he was willing to post, and parting with a little cash to cover the postage, I managed to become the owner of two Fujitsu M2266SA drives, condition unknown.

Drive Particulars

The Fujitsu M2266SA is a 5.25″ full height 1.08Gb SCSI hard drives. I haven’t ever laid my hands on a 5.25″ full height drive in my past. The closest I got was a Quantum Bigfoot, which is a 5.25″ half-height drive, so there is definitely some novelty in it.

The first thing to do is to do a little research on the model itself. As it turns out, there’s a short summary and jumper data available from stason.org:

M 2 2 6 6 S A    FUJITSU
NO MORE PRODUCED                                      Native|  Translation
                                                      ------+-----+-----+-----
Form                 5.25"/FH              Cylinders    1658|     |     |
Capacity form/unform  1079/ 1266 MB        Heads          15|     |     |
Seek time   / track  14.5/ 4.0 ms          Sector/track   85|     |     |
Controller           SCSI2 SINGLE-ENDED    Precompensation
Cache/Buffer           256 KB FIFO BUFFER  Landing Zone
Data transfer rate    3.050 MB/S int       Bytes/Sector      512
                      4.800 MB/S ext SYNC
Recording method     RLL 1/7                        operating  | non-operating
                                                  -------------+--------------
Supply voltage     5/12 V       Temperature *C         5 45    |    -40 60
Power: sleep              W     Humidity     %        20 80    |      2 90
       standby            W     Altitude    km            3.000|        12.000
       idle               W     Shock        g         2       |     20
       seek               W     Rotation   RPM      3600
       read/write    30.0 W     Acoustic   dBA        45
       spin-up            W     ECC        Bit   56
                                MTBF         h     200000
                                Warranty Month
Lift/Lock/Park     YES          Certificates

Already, we can see that the drive is 1079Mb formatted, and 1266Mb unformatted (which is really irrelevant to users as there’s no way to use it unformatted). The drive is a SCSI-2 drive, with a 256kB buffer. The recording method is a very “archaic” RLL 1/7. It consumes a monstrous 30W of power which is a lot considering it’s a 3600rpm drive with a 14.5ms seek time. It’s also decently loud at 45dBA.

The drives that I was getting sent had been weighed at 3.375kg a piece, which is about the same weight as over four Western Digital 4Tb Black drives. They were dated 1992 and 1993, which puts them at 22 and 21 years old respectively. However, I did find this page which shows one of the same model dated 1991. Apparently they were part of a bulk lot purchased at auction and have not been used since.

So, what was storage like in 1991? Well to my knowledge, my family was still using a Miniscribe 40Mb MFM hard drive right up past 1995 (mainly because we could). The machines that I have salvaged have only had, a Maxtor 3.5″ IDE hard drive with 120Mb in 1993, or the most lucky machines, may have seen even 211Mb around 1992.

As a result, a 1079Mb drive in 1991 would felt like having a 16Tb drive today, while everyone else whizzes by on 4Tb drives. That’s a massive gulf in terms of storage size!

1994-march-29 pc magHow much would one of these have cost? A lot. In fact, even in 1994, according to this snippet from PC Mag through Google Books says that the drive itself cost US$1,295. At that time, judging from the emergence of the Seagate Wren series drives which had faster performance, larger capacities, lower prices and lower power consumption, it would have been on the “way down” for Fujitsu.

It is rather ambitious that they claim a 5-year manufacturer warranty for these drives, especially when the MTBF of 200,000 hours is noted. But I suppose it is enterprise grade …

For a better idea of what it cost when new, I had to go hunting. There was an old archived document from NASA which listed some computing hardware assets which gives us a much bigger figure:

Price-NASA-Gov-Prop

That’s a whole US$4,560 for a hard drive. It makes even the most expensive of SSDs look cheap.

Say Hello to the Drives …

After an involuntary blood sacrifice by the original owner in extracting the drives from the case, and a few days of handling by Australia Post, I managed to get both drives safely within my hands. All (nearly) 7kg of drive. Never have I met such behemoths!

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The drives themselves have face-plates intended to face outwards on a computer casing. It’s pretty much the same height as four modern CD-ROM drives. There are vented slots for airflow, as these drives put out a decent amount of heat, as well as a hole for an activity LED. The top drive is the older drive, with a proper 5mm LED, whereas the bottom drive seems to have done away with it for a surface mount LED instead.

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From the top, the two drives look pretty much identical, with a button-shaped breather hole at the top. The cover is mostly fastened with Philips head screws as with many of the Fujitsu drives, along with a list of patents in the bottom right corner.

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The older drive, on the left, is serial B032510 dated April 1992 with revision B3. The later drive, on the right, is serial B050464 dated January 1993 with revision B8. I wonder what the differences in revision are?

Already, on the rear, you can see some of the configuration ID jumpers, the SCSI 50-pin connection and the molex power connection. As is common with older drives, the molex is oriented upside down (bevels down), so I had to be very careful. The SCSI connector also has retainer clips, one of which was snapped off prior to receiving it on the older drive. There is also a grounding lug present.

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The right side of the drive has a C/N sticker and an identification number sticker labelled M2266X/DE. The older drive has C/N A8RG24-A, and B0E5090084805. The newer drive has C/N A8VT2Z-A and B0E5090139146.

Notable is that the drive mounting is via rails which are affixed to the “tub” of the drive via vibration absorbing grommets. The mounting screw holes are different from modern mounting holes, especially from the side, where there are only two holes, however, mounting from the underside appears more traditional although rarely seen today.

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The left side of the drive has nothing too special, but keeps the same grommet and rail type mounting system.

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The underside of both drives houses the main logic PCB. It’s an amazing thing to behold, as it’s quite sophisticated on its own. Notable is the existence of several configuration jumper areas scattered across the board, and the unpopulated termination IC DIP slot near the SCSI connector. The two drives also have different markings on their EEPROM (older one marked 81202G, newer one marked 81202I).

Along the bottom are a number of power transistors and silicon chips which are mounted to a tab which uses the side drive rail (and by extension, the chassis) as a heat sink. The main PCB also has a number of Omron mechanical relays.

Despite the use of surface mount components throughout, there’s a few large capacitors and resistors which could easily be victim to a careless installer. There is even a fuse in case of termination power shorts.

Many of the chips appear to be Fujitsu ASICs which have been designed for the drive itself, with a Motorola MC68HC000FN12 12.5Mhz CPU controlling the SCSI part of the drive, and an Intel N80C196KB12 12Mhz microcontroller (which is probably an 80196). There are also components from NEC, Motorola(?), Hitachi, TDK, Texas Instruments and Silicon Systems (now TI). Many of them have date codes in 1992, with copyrights dating back to 1986, 1988. There’s also a package made by potting something in some conformal compound, which is pretty interesting. There’s also a 15Mhz and 73.3104Mhz (very unusual) crystal oscillator.

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The opposite side of the board is, surprisingly, fully populated with parts too. However, this is where the drives start to have some differences – for example, the older drive has Toshiba SRAM (100ns), Fujitsu SRAM (45ns) and Mosel FPRAM (70ns), whereas the later one uses Sony SRAM (70ns), Fujitsu SRAM (45ns) and Fujitsu FPRAM (80ns).

The underside also seems to house some Analog Devices components as well, and some “greenwiring” – hand-soldered jumper wires to correct for PCB errors or impossible to route connections. One of the free-standing capacitors seems to have been changed too.

That’s not all the circuitry there is external to the platter chamber, however. If we remove the plastic front faceplate, we see that it’s been built with serious shielding in mind.

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However, under this plate, is one more PCB.

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The older revision, on top, has a full 5mm LED which the bottom one has replaced with a surface mount LED. The top one also has some further greenwiring going on. Interestingly on both, there is an adjustment trimpot – I wonder what that adjusts? Given that this board connects between the heads and the logic board, it might be quite an interesting adjustment.

The white wire that runs under the label marked E is likely the voice coil motor cable for positioning the heads.

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The rear side seems to share the same sort of ICs, with slightly different passives and other components.

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Once the PCB is removed, we are left with the connector that is mounted to the flexible flat cable leading to the heads inside the platter chamber.

Interestingly, once the main PCB is removed, even the spindle motor seems to have changed between revisions – the older one has a Nidec, while the newer one is a Matsushita.

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Initial Power-Up and Run

Given these drives have seen no action for many years, it was uncertain what would happen when power was applied. Needless to say, a drive of this calibre has a very impressive noise, so I did my best with my Zoom H1 Handy Recorder to capture it:

1992 Drive:

1993 Drive:

It’s a very lovely noise – very deep and mechanical at its heart. Unfortunately, it’s a noise that bodes poorly for the 1992 drive, as it fails to calibrate and retries several times before giving up and I finally shut it down.

Common to both drives is the relay-based soft-starting procedure, in fact, it’s similar sounding to the DC resistance-based traction control systems used in electric multiple units where resistances are progressively switched out of the circuit as the motor gains speed. This manifests itself as “timed” clicking which sort of kicks in and “boosts” the speed at a particular stage of spinning up.

Under Linux, the 1992 drive was detected as:

[0:0:4:0]    disk    FUJITSU  NOT READY        0020  /dev/sdb

The later 1993 drive was correctly detected:

[5:0:4:0]    disk    FUJITSU  M2266S-512       002C  /dev/sdb

Hmm. That’s a start nonetheless. It doesn’t mean the 1993 drive is working perfectly though, although it’s a good sign.

Conclusion

The drives themselves are very much a “historical” item, and a very expensive and rarely seen one at that. Full height 5.25″ drives are things which I have never handled before, and the sheer weight and heft of it left a very lasting impression. The noise it had, while certainly not of the same musical calibre as the MFM stepper drives that preceded it, is still of a deep and mechanical nature that’s rather impressive.

Join me in Part 2 (coming soon), as we work it hard and do some “peeking” under the hood.

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Visited: Blue Mountains (10th July) and Kangaroo Valley (11th July)

There was a bit of a “family” outing, and needless to say, Sydney is a place with a limited number of attractions, so we just end up revisiting some of the places we’ve been before. I took the chance to take some photos, and play around with them.

Day 1: Blue Mountains

The first stop was the Norman Lindsay Gallery. The sun was shining, but it was a crisp day with a mild breeze.

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After lunch, we headed to Echo Point Lookout, and the winds were roaring. It was a bone-chilling sort of cold, but it was worth braving for a few good shots.

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We went further along over the mountains, and we stopped off near the Grand Canyon Track where there was a lookout and a bit of a rest area.

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I even managed a ~180 degree panorama.

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We continued all the way along to Hartley, where there are some old heritage buildings and a court house before returning.

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Day 2: Kangaroo Valley

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The second day was mainly spent visiting the Cambewarra Mountain Lookout which looks over Kangaroo Valley. There’s an amazing assortment of bird-life and stunning views. This particular mountain top also houses many radio-link transmitters and a pair of towers, which I examined quite thoroughly. The Kookaburra stood so still that you can see the moire pattern in its feathers in some of these shots … pretty impressive considering I’m using a D3200 (24.2MP) camera with the 70-300mm lens.

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You would notice that the civilization seems a little “far away” when sitting at the lookout – but I took the chance to use the zoom lens and make a four-tier panorama, which I then reduced to 25% (as haze was limiting resolution). It’s like having binoculars!

Kangaroo-Valley-Panorama-Small

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Random: Refurbished Asus Laptop, D-Link DDNS, AldiMobile Speeds, etc.

It’s been busy as always, to the point where last week, I didn’t even have the opportunity to put up a random post. As a result, this week, there’s quite a lot of “random” to talk about.

Refurbished Asus Laptop

It’s been over three years since I last purchased a laptop, and over time, despite having a RAM and SSD upgrade, it is still a little deficient when it comes to processing power and energy efficiency. Looking to scope out the cheapest bargains, it seems rather strange that new 4th-generation Intel-based laptops seem to be only of “moderate” value for money. The latest top of the line laptops based on the Intel Core i7-4700MQ begin at $849, but are more commonly seen around the $1000 mark.

Not wanting to part with that level of cash, and knowing that I had seen an Intel Core i7-3630QM based laptop for under $879 at least a year back, I went looking for a better deal. I was willing to settle for an i7-3630QM (CPUBenchmark Score 7706), because its performance is within a few percent (2-3%) of the latest i7-4700MQ (CPUBenchmark Score 7915) and it’s faster than my former main desktop anyway (CPUBenchmark Score ~6943).

So I went digging in OnlineComputer’s Asus Refurbished price list and I found an Asus K55A-SX344H for just $599. It was based around an Intel Core i7-3630QM, with 4Gb RAM, 750Gb hard drive, Integrated Graphics, DVD-RW, Wireless N, Webcam, 15.6″ 1366×768 screen and includes Windows 8. That’s pretty much the same kind of spec as the $849 HP “basic” i7-4700MQ model just with the CPU swapped! It’s a $250 saving for a few percent less performance, and considering I’d be using it mostly at a desk, the power efficiency difference are moot.

Buying refurbished is definitely going to be a bit of a dive into the unknown, after all, refurbishing means something different to everyone. The promise was that this was “refurbished” to Asus’ standards by them … surely, you can trust the manufacturer?

Purchasing the refurbished products required contacting the shop and getting the stock organized. It was a several week frustration to get it organized, but once it arrived, I sprung into action and leapt into the store to purchase it. Numbers are often very low.

CAM00752

So, what do you get? Well, for one, a very generic and uninspired cardboard box that is crumpled somewhat and taped back together. Not a good start? But at least you have the reassurance of the label …

CAM00751

… which indicates that it is refurbished by Asus themselves.

Inside, the laptop was packed with a large bubble wrap, with the power adapter cables rubber-banded together. There were some basic leaflets, but no media and manuals (as is the case for most modern products). There were no protective films over the LCD, and the underside of the laptop was re-serialled as a refurbished product.

I took the time to go over it with a fine tooth comb – for one, it was functional, it passed Prime95 torture for two days straight, it had the right specification components and there were no scratches anywhere (surprisingly). There was no bad pixels on the screen, nor any bad/reallocated sectors on the hard drive.

HDD Details

There was, however, a little bit of a high reading for G-Sense Error Rate, meaning it may have been roughly handled with the hard drive running at one point in time. Oh well, it is running just fine, and it had under 30 hours of use. I intend to get rid of it anyway.

battery-wear-17pcThe battery itself came with a wear level of 17%, which reduced to about 14% after several full cycles for recalibration. This kind of wear is expected, as the battery had probably been in storage for a while. Most batteries spend their lives around 20% of wear (i.e. 80% of capacity), so that’s not really a big issue.

For the price, I was really pleased. It was snappy-ish out of the box. I did need to run the Microsoft Fix-It to get windows updates to properly apply, but aside from that, it was a sound laptop. So what are the catches? Well there’s a leaflet that came with the laptop that documents it. It’s a bit of a shame this isn’t available ahead of time.

The catches, in general, are:

  • Not covered by DOA
  • Warranted for 1 year, but battery only for 6-months
  • 30-days limited software support
  • Bad pixel warranty – only for >3 bright/5 dark/8 bright+dark OR 2 adjacent bright or dark OR 3 bright and/or dark within 15mm diameter.
  • Minor cosmetic damage not warranted.

That’s not too bad, I suppose, but of course, I always want more from my laptops, and I don’t want to pay for the manufacturer’s price. For one, I wanted more than 4Gb of RAM, so I got another 4Gb in there for about $45.

Then I decided to go with an SSD, because I don’t want to have the mechanical liability of a hard drive, and the slowness, so I put in my spare Crucial M500 in there, which cost me $139. I did the migration with some Linux wizardry, but still had to call Microsoft up to reactivate it :(.

It is also criminal to think that they had shipped the laptop with a single-stream single-band Wireless N card, which is utterly rubbish, so I decided to grab an Intel 7260HMW AC card for dual stream Wireless AC + Bluetooth 4.0 action, setting me back $26.50.

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The funny thing? Puny card, large box. See the card? Enough said.

The battery lasts about 3-4 hours depending on load, so ideally, I’d like to have another battery. I consult eBay and grab a cheap and crappy clone for $29. Maybe I should buy a few more …

And lets just say, I’d love to have a BluRay writer in there too, since I use BD-Rs for data storage. A 6x Panasonic drive costs $75, so I decided to grab one (it’s still on the way).

So that brings the total to $913.50, but now I have a machine with an i7-3630QM, 8Gb RAM, 240Gb SSD, integrated graphics, 15.6″ 1366×768 screen, dual-Band wireless AC + Bluetooth 4.0, GbE, Blu-Ray Writer, webcam.

That’s a pretty good laptop for the price … and there’s not much more I can do to upgrade it. After all, it claims to only support 8Gb of RAM maximum. Maybe one day, I’ll go with a caddy and a second SSD. Who knows. At least it’s flexible!

D-Link DDNS Service

It seems the guys from DynDNS have decided to continue their crackdown and closure of “free” dynamic DNS accounts. This time, it’s dlinkddns.com, a “rebranded” service which is targeted for D-Link router owners.

I only became aware of this service when I purchased a D-Link router and found it as an option within the Dynamic DNS menu option. At the time I signed up, DynDNS had already retracted their free DDNS offering, and issued stern warnings that this service was provided for D-Link router owners only. There wasn’t really any firm verification, and I don’t remember them stipulating any terms when it came to the service. It seemed to be a “free” for lifetime type service.

This changed when I received this e-mail this week:

To our D-Link and Dyn Users — Action Required.

We are upgrading the D-Link DDNS platform and need to verify that you are still an active user of the service. As a user of a hostname supplied by Dyn (aka DynDNS) with a D-Link product, you are required to confirm your account within 90 days of this notice.

Go here to re-register your D-Link product. You’ll need to have your product’s serial number and MAC address in order to complete this process. During the process, we will be verifying if you are a D-Link product owner. Only one account can register per device.

Following confirmation of this process, you can continue using your D-Link registered product without interruption. D-Link’s arrangement with Dyn provides you with a hostname and free dynamic DNS for the period specified for the product (generally up to six months). Where certain products include longer periods for the free service, your service will remain free for the extended period specified. You will receive a notice by email prior to the renewal date, if applicable.

If you are unable to confirm your registration and believe this to be in error, you will need to contact D-Link Support. Note: this manual verification process may take up to 7 business days to complete.

For non-DDNS enabled D-Link product owners or owners of non-D-Link products, please visit the Dyn website for other offerings from Dyn. The D-Link DDNS service is only for owners of D-Link products with DDNS functionality enabled.

The verification process must be completed within 90 days of this notice. All unverified hostnames will be removed after the 90 day period. If you have any questions, please contact D-Link Support or visit our D-Link Registration FAQ documentation.

Thanks,

Dyn and D-Link

It looks like DynDNS are shuttering as many dlinkddns.com accounts as possible, as some of them may be fraudulent. They seem also to be making the services available for contract periods of around six months, rather than for life, to ensure the costs don’t balloon out over time.

Unfortunately, attempting to register my product, results in failure. I really can’t be bothered to pursue this, as my product is several years old, and they might claim that it’s not “supported”.

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Just another “free” service that gets shuttered …

Aldi Mobile Speeds

Good news for Aldi Mobile users, this week they were notified by e-mail that the speeds are increasing. This looks to be a “lifting” of the artificial 7.2Mbit/s cap on resold Telstra services, and likely a sign that Telstra doesn’t perceive Aldi Mobile to be a threat to their network.

Dear [Name],

We have some updates to share with you about improvements we are making to your ALDImobile service.
Increased network speed

We are pleased to inform you that from today the available network speeds have increased, allowing customers to enjoy faster Internet access.

What you need to do

To access the increased data download speed, you will need to end your current data session, and then start a new one. You can do this by simply turning your mobile phone off and then back on. Alternatively, if your phone allows it, switch to airplane mode and then switch back to normal mode again.

Please note that increased download speeds may not be available in all areas and will depend on your coverage. Download speeds can be affected by several factors, please refer to our network information statement at the end of this email for full details.
Increased mobile coverage across Australia

We are also pleased to let you know that our carrier has informed us that from the 24th July, network coverage is improving.

The mobile product of Medion Mobile Pty Ltd provides a 3G coverage footprint of 98.5% of the Australian Population covering 1.3 million square kilometres.

The mobile solution of Medion Mobile Pty Ltd has extensive breadth and depth of coverage and support by a quality network.
Turning off old WAP1 network

Finally, our carrier will be turning off their WAP1 network later this year. This won’t affect the majority of our customers, but for some people using old, non-Smartphones, it will mean you won’t be able to access WAP Internet from your handset or send/receive MMS messages.

If you think this change will affect you, you should consider changing your handset before 20th December to ensure you can still enjoy Internet and MMS access from your mobile phone. You can find out more in our help section: www.aldimobile.com.au/help?s=WAP1

If you have any queries about this notification, you can find out more on our website, or send us an eSupport message from your ALDImobile account and we’ll respond.

Kind regards

The ALDImobile team
Our network information statement

Medion Australia Pty Ltd. trading as ALDImobile uses part of Telstra’s 3G mobile network. The mobile product of ALDImobile provides a 3G coverage footprint of 98% of the Australian Population covering more than 1.26 million square kilometres. Outside the 3G coverage footprint, customers will revert to 2G coverage and speeds. The combined 2G and 3G footprint covers 98.7% of the Australian population.

Medion Australia Pty ltd’s Pay as You Go plans and Value and Data Packs have typical download speeds of 1.1 – 20Mbps across more than 85% of the population, 550kbps to 8Mbps across more than 95% of the population, and 550kbps to 3Mbps in remaining coverage areas (reaching 98.5% of the population). Typical 3G upload speeds are 300kbps-3Mbps across more than 93% of the population and in remaining coverage areas 300kbps-1Mbps. End-user speeds will also vary due to factors such as device capabilities, location, distance from the base station, local terrain, user numbers, hardware and software configuration, download source/upload destination and network management measures.

Station and Rail Network Upgrades

The station upgrades at Granville are continuing, and it seems that the old bus terminal is starting to see even further demolishing. The footpath on the terminal side is now closed, and the fenced area has expanded slightly. As a result, commuters have to make a precarious crossing across the main road, assisted by traffic controllers. One of the bus stops has been relocated too, to accommodate the change.

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This was taken from across the road from where I normally enter the station, on 17th July.

Central station has also gotten an interesting lighting upgrade, with all of the platform lighting replaced by nicely diffused LED lights of the same shape as the old fluorescent tubes. The diffusers are so incredibly opalescent!

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Further DTRS radio bases seem to have been spotted – a low-base near Villawood has been spotted, as well as another somewhere along the Bankstown line. I did have a trip to the Blue Mountains, and there are a heap of DTRS sites scattered along the line. It was so many that I couldn’t effectively catalogue them. It seems like the system is being filled in, ready for operation in the near future.

Meanwhile, the advertisements claiming the elimination of certain paper tickets have now been improved, with a more recent version illustrating some of the tickets pictorially. However, it’s still not entirely obvious at a glance, especially with a picture of what appears to be a regular myTrain ticket. Needless to say, only certain myTrain tickets (e.g. off-peak adult) are going to be eliminated on 1st September.

Ziphosting DNS Meltdown

In a rather annoying move, it seems as if Ziphosting has had prolonged issues with their European DNS server on Friday 18th July 2014. As a result, I was receiving constant messages of my site going up-and-down on the downtime monitoring service, and the number of views plummeted significantly on that day. The outage lasted several hours, unfortunately.

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But hey, at least I’ve reached over 314,159 views (i.e. 100,000π views). Yay!

Supermoon

It seems that on the 12th July, we had a supermoon or something like that. The moon was looming nice and bright, so I decided to try photographing it. Using my 70-300mm lens and a 2x teleconverter, I managed a photo, but it wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked.

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Solar Charging

You may have noticed that I’ve been doing a lot of power bank test runs lately. It seems a bit of a shame to just “waste” all that energy, so I decided to offset it a little by using some solar panels to charge my devices.

I decided to stuff two 10Wp panels and a 5Wp panel into my window for a total of 25Wp of solar power supply. This is sent to an old car battery to be used as an “infinite capacitor”. From there, I used a buck converter module and the remnants of old USB port headers to provide two 5.10v charging outputs. By charging during the day time, the output is about 15W maximum, thus the balance is usually in favour of charging the car battery allowing charging to proceed even slightly into the afternoon and evening.

By doing this, I can use some of the sunlight to provide the energy to power my experiments, rather than letting my panels sit unused! As a plus, I’ve been charging my phone off this solar-setup for over two weeks now.

Conclusion

Well, what can I say? I’m a very busy random person? … See you again sometime soon!

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