Friday, June 20, 2014

New goodies

I got some money to spend last month so I bought some stuff I wanted for a long time. First there's the Lakland Skyline series Darryl Jones signature bass. After some deliberation I went with the 4 string version in Lake Placid blue. The metallic grey version is nice too but needs a tortoise pickguard IMO. The white version similarly needs a (red) tortoise pickguard. The LPB one comes stock with a white pearloid pickguard, combined with the pearloid block markers it makes for a visually striking bass. Today I applied some oil to the rosewood fretboard. Stock the fretboard is light brown and has a white-ish look. Now with Corcol oil the real luster of the rosewood is visible, it also darkened it a bit. Looks cool.

To satisfy my funky sounds hunger I bought an EBS BassIQ, a triple envelope filter. Funky quack sounds galore. Lastly to keep things in tune I bought the excellent TC Electronic PolyTune 2 tuner. With a ready made DAP flightcase (for a Showmaster 24), some wood, paint and velcro I made my own pedalboard. There's even room to add more effects in the future (UniChorus/Octabass). Too bad the Aguilar DB924 isn't exactly pedalboard friendly in terms of layout.

Fragrance-wise I bought a full bottle of Jo Malone's Lime Basil & Mandarin EDT. I had sampled this one last year and really liked it. Luckily now there's a Jo Malone counter at the Bijenkorf department store in the city center.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Samsung SyncMaster

I recently bought a used Samsung SyncMaster 215TW monitor from a friend. It's a big ass wide screen monitor that's so much better than what I had before.

Last week I helped out that same friend in replacing a bad capacitor in the power supply of his Popcorn Hour media player. We swapped the bulging capacitor with a new one and much to his joy it got his media player working again.

Scouring Youtube videos on bad caps I found quite some videos of Samsung monitors and TV's having bad caps in the power supply. Apparently Samsung power supplies in monitors and TV's were infamous for having bad quality caps. Uh-oh... My monitor is still working fine but I still opened it up just to have a peek inside the power supply. Lo and behold I discovered one bulging CapXon cap. I wrote down the values of all the other CapXon caps present, including the still good looking ones, and ordered the lot. Once they're here I'm gonna replace them all with Panasonic FC caps.

Update 1
The caps got here. After about half an hour I had my refurbished monitor up and running again. Bye-bye CapXon crap caps.

Update 2
I discovered that the Panasonic FC caps I used might not be the best choice of caps for this purpose. The Panasonic FC series caps aren't advertised as being low ESR but rather low impedance. The Panasonic FR series caps however are low ESR caps. It's all in the datasheets:

  • 1000µF 25V FC series, impedance (@ 20°C, 100kHz): 0.038 Ω
  • 1000µF 25V FR series, impedance (@ 20°C, 100kHz):  0.020 Ω

A CapXon cap I removed from the PCB:  1000µF 25V KF series, impedance (@ 20°C, 100kHz):  0.045 Ω.

For use in a switched mode power supply (SMPS) as in this and many other monitors, the Panasonic FR series is probably a better choice. Ah well, if it ever comes to changing caps again I'll be using FR's.

For an excellent, albeit low resolution, how-to watch the three part video below.

Some advice on re-capping a PCB. Put a towel on the table to prevent scratches on the screen and/or bezel. Also screws don't roll far on a fluffy towel. Write down the capacitance and the voltage rating on the caps you're gonna replace. Capacitance is a number followed by µF (sometimes erroneously written as uF) e.g. 1000µF. When shopping for caps, µF is pronounced as microFarads. The voltage rating is a number followed by V e.g. 25V. When replacing caps ALWAYS replace with the same or higher voltage. NEVER use a cap with a lower voltage rating than the one you're replacing, the cap WILL blow sooner rather than later. If you want to be really safe you could go up a step on the voltage rating but take note: the higher the voltage rating the bigger the cap will be if the capacitance stays the same, usually they are more expensive too. A 1000µF 35V is physically bigger than a 1000µF 25V cap. Bigger caps might not fit the allocated space on the PCB or be to high to fit in the enclosure. If you've got the room to mount them go ahead, it won't hurt. Capacitance should be the same as the one you're replacing.
What brand of caps to buy? I usually buy Panasonic FM and/or FC series, Vishay BC or Elna. Make sure you get low ESR, 105°C caps.
A final note, electrolytic caps, the ones I'm referring to and the ones in the video have a polarity. These have a positive and a negative terminal. Solder the new caps to the PCB in the right orientation. If you accidentally reverse the polarity the cap will likely blow.

If all this is gibberish to you take your monitor to a specialised repair service center!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Reinout Oerlemans, hartaanval

Reinout Oerlemans getroffen door hartaanval. Reinout Oerlemans ondergaat bypassoperatie. Oerlemans was 'kalm maar bang' voor openhartoperatie.

Waarom is daar geen filmmateriaal van? Dat is wellicht interessante televisie, Reinout...

La Marque Jaune now also in Portugese

Found it in a French webshop, the Portugese translation of La Marque Jaune: A Marca Amarela.

Wacom ArtPad II & Intuos P S

ArtPad II (left), Intuos P S (right)
With support for Windows XP drawing to a close I finally upgraded my XP system with a new operating system. Having seen Windows 8 and not liking it I bought Windows 7 instead. Never change a winning team Microsoft, ditching the oh so familiar Windows 95 GUI style is a bit of a faux-pas IMO.
With new software you always risk that certain hardware won't work with it. In my case it was my trusty old Wacom ArtPad II. I bought it many years ago when I was still running Windows for Workgroups 3.11 (remember that one?). My graphics tablet has replaced my mouse for so long I can't imagine having a PC without one. A quick search showed that my serial Wacom ArtPad II wouldn't work with Windows 7 *). So what do I replace it with? A Wacom of course! I pretty soon settled on the Intuos Pen Small tablet (CTL-480). Why the small version and not a bigger one? Well unlike in sex, bigger doesn't always mean better. How do I know? When I had my ArtPad I kept wanting a larger tablet. The high price kept me from buying one though. A few years ago I saw a Wacom UD-0608 tablet being offered. I bought it for €25. Long story short, I liked the ArtPad much more. Large tablet means large arm movements...

The Intuos is a sleek tablet in stylish black and silver. No more serial connector and a separate power supply but a USB connection that handles both data and power. Installing and using the Intuos is straightforward. The only real difference is the pen. The UltraPen for the ArtPad is thinner and has an eraser on its end like a pencil. The new pen feels clunky, a feeling that will soon pass I think. The UltraPen eraser didn't get much use so I don't miss it. The four ExpressKeys are a nice addition. Just like the side switches on the pen, the four switches can be set to perfom a task you assign to it. Great!
The Intuos has one major drawback IMO. The USB cable. First, the USB cable enters the tablet on the wrong side for my setup. I prefer it in the right top corner instead of the left one. Second, the cable is non standard. You can't just use any other USB cable, you have to use the one supplied with the Intuos. Lose or break it and you can't charge the battery for wireless operation and when the battery finally runs out you lose use of the Intuos all together. The cable being in the wrong corner had me going to the shop again pretty soon to buy the utter brilliant Wireless Accessory Kit. Now my Intuos is untethered and I enjoy not having the awkward cable running across my desk. For those wondering where the spare nibs are, look on the inside of the middle door.

*) apparently there's some sort of homebrew thingamajig that makes it USB compatible. However I prefer my tablet to just work instead of trying to get my tablet to work.