Restarting a Verizon Home MiFi

If you remotely administer a Verizon Home MiFi, and need to reboot it, there is a way without having to factory default the modem (the only method I was given by Verizon after working with multiple Tier 1 and Tier 2 technicians on rolling out nearly 60 of these devices).

  1. Sign into the web console of the MiFi with the administrator password
  2. change the url to http://192.168.1.1/restarting
  3. wait for the device to reboot

Honda Pilot Automatic On/Off Lights

I surprised my wife with a new (to us) Honda Pilot. It has been a great vehicle, but it was missing a fairly simple feature that her base model 1999 Chevrolet had. The omission of automatic / day time running lights seemed odd for a high-trim Honda. I looked around for solutions and came up with nothing that was reasonably priced or that I was willing to do. My solution turned out to be adding a set of TIP41C transistors (two) in the steering column in series with the existing wiring/switch so that the switch may be left in the on position and the lights will turn on and off with the ignition, and you still have control to turn the parking/head lights on and off with the switch on the stalk should you so desire. The transistors are rated for 6A, and with the switch in the signal stalk only controlling ground to the relays under the hood, I expect the transistors will not need a heatsink.

The TIP41C transistors have three pins:

  • Base – connects to the positive run lead coming off of the ignition, serves as the “signal” input that connects the Emitter and the Collector “together”
  • Emitter – connects to the lead coming from the turn signal stalk harness
  • Collector – connects to the lead going into the dash

The lights are controlled in two stages: parking lights and headlights.

The parking/headlight switch in the stalk works by connecting the red/yellow and blue/black wire to ground (larger black wire in the harness). In most of my testing the parking lights must be on first for the headlights to turn on.

In the steering column there is one wire to tap into, and two wires to cut. For the cuts, be sure to leave plenty of room to solder or connect some sort of a splice to the wires.

Tap: large black wire with yellow stripe coming off of the back of the ignition. This will connect to the Base pin on both transistors, and acts as the signal that will turn the headlights on and off with the ignition.

Cut: Red wire with yellow stripe – controls parking lights (front and rear) and the interior dash light.

Cut: Blue wire with black stripe – this controls the head lights.

Connect the Emitter pin to the blue/black wire lead coming off of the wire harness.

Connect the Collector pin to the blue/black wire lead going into the dash.

Connect the Emitter pin to the red/yellow wire lead coming off of the wire harness.

Connect the Collector pin to the red/yellow wire lead going into the dash.

I would recommend using a voltmeter to test your ignition voltage and alligator clips to test that you have the Emitter/Collector hooked up correctly before soldering your connections into the wiring harness. This saved me the hassle of doing and redoing the connections and ensured that everything worked electrically before making the connections in a more durable manner. In all the project could be done in about 30-45 minutes by someone taking their time, and less than 30 minutes for someone experienced with automotive wiring and electronics.

I performed this project on a 2003 Honda Pilot EX-L . Looking at my Haynes manual for the vehicle and it should apply to the 2003 to 2008 Honda Pilot and possibly the 2006 to 2014 Honda Ridgeline. If you have the same color wires in your harness, you can test connecting the red/yellow to ground to see if your parking lights turn on, and then connect the blue black to ground to see if your headlights turn on. If they do then you should be able use this guide to wire in auto headlights.

Disclaimer: Be sure you know what you are doing and that you are comfortable with the changes outlined above before starting this project. The wiring changes should be easy to put back to the way they were before should something not work, but incorrect wiring could result in permanent damage to the relays or other sensitive electronics in your vehicle. I am not responsible for any damage you do to your own vehicle.

If you found this helpful please leave a comment below. I like to know that my tribulations have helped someone ūüôā

Add Wireless AC to Early 2013 13″ MacBook Pro

A few months ago I figured out how to add Wireless AC to my Early 2013 13″ Retina MacBook Pro. I replaced the WiFi module with one from a Late 2013 13″ MacBook Pro (looking around online, and the same module may be in the 15″ Retinas as well).

The installation was simple (make sure you have a pentalobe screwdriver available), and the hardware was automatically recognized because the drivers were already in OSX. I did see some odd behavior when managing the preferred WiFi networks on my laptop, so you may want to delete the WiFi interface in System Preferences before shutting down and doing this swap.

I have seen some descriptions on eBay that say that the module from the newer model will not work in the Early 2013, but I can assure you that mine fits and has been working very nicely for several months. You will want to make sure you open your laptop and visually identify your WiFi module, and compare the size, shape and connector in the eBay/online source of the new module as I cannot be sure that there was not a mid-model internal change. I got mine several months ago for less than $25 shipped, and the prices are around $15-20 shipped now.

My MacBook Info:

  • Name: MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2013)
  • Model: A1425
  • EMC: 2672

Original WiFi Module Info:

  • Part Number: 607-8360, 661-7013, 607-9689, 653-0194 (unsure what the original part number was, and I am not sure where my original module went to)

Replacement WiFi Module Info:

  • Part Number: 653-0029
  • Late 2013 Model: A1502

DIY 12v MacBook MagSafe Charger

IMG_0795

As I get more 12v devices setup in my home office/ham shack I have started venturing into more and more electronics projects.

I started researching alternatives to the Apple MagSafe power adapters and did not come up with much. There seemed to be few willing to experiment with powering their expensive laptops from alternate sources.

In looking at my power adapters and Apple laptops I determined that a power source of 16.5v into a MagSafe cord would work. With none of my available power sources supplying 16.5v, I had to purchase a voltage step-up converter that would support the 3.65A load of my 13″ Retina MacBook Pro is rated for. I found one on Amazon that would support a 6A continuous load. I tested it on my bench and verified the output voltage on the built in display with a¬†multimeter and found that it was off by about a tenth of a volt, not a show stopper.

While holding my breath, I connected it to my laptop and… the green light indicating charger was connected lit, and the charger was recognized in OSX. I drained the battery a few percent, and it charged up. I then drained the battery down to about 50% and successfully charged it up. Recharge times were roughly the same as using the AC Adapter. The only apparent difference I have found is that the Apple adapters only put out 6v until a load is present. This no doubt saves power on an adapter that is always plugged in, but I turn my 12v power supplies on and off as I use them.

I mounted everything up in a project box with some hot glue, a PowerPole lead, and a switch. I drilled a few vent holes around where the heatsinks of the voltage step-up converter are to allow for heat dissipation. I rarely feel the housing get more than just warm to the touch, but plan to drill more for a margin of safety.

I used the adapter for several days in my home office with no issues to report. I believe I will be switching back to the AC adapter for day-to-day operations, and will use this adapter for portable operations.

IMG_0796 IMG_0797

Word of warning – fuses are your friend

One time while checking the voltage at the MagSafe connector I shorted it against the magnetic collar. No permanent damage occurred to the power supply, voltage step-up adapter, or the MagSafe connector, but I have since decided to add a fuse to the output to prevent this from being an issue. With the MagSafe pins exposed, using a traditional quick-blow fuse may become an issue because the likelihood of shorting is high. I am going to try out a self-resetting poly fuse and see if the response times are adequate to prevent damage to the electronics.

IMG_0799

Project Materials

Voltage step-up converter: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HVD1XU0

MagSafe2 Cord: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B0U5F2W

Project Box: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CSRW6UU

Power Switch: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0087YAHOK

Good reason to run as a standard user in Windows

I have been running my computers with my daily-driver account being a standard user, with a separate administrator account on my Windows and Mac OSX computers for a few years now.

This has not been without headache, as it requires a username and password when doing some actions on the computer. Sometimes the prompt came up with the most innocuous of actions, but usually it happens when installing software, applying updates, or making changes to system parameters.

Analysis by a company called Avecto has revealed that my efforts have not been in vain. They have reason to promote these findings to get your business to use their solutions, but anybody can take the fundamental approach of granting only the access that is needed without a costly solution. Their findings are specific to the Windows operating system, but the idea can, and should, be applied to all operating systems.

92% of Windows critical vulnerabilities were mitigated by removing administrator rights, and 60% of all Microsoft vulnerabilities were mitigated by removing administrator rights.

This breaks down to the following critical vulnerabilities being mitigated by removing administrator rights:

  • Windows operating system: 96%
  • Internet Explorer: 100%
  • Microsoft Office: 91%

Their methodology took the Microsoft executive summaries and tabulated the number of critical vulnerabilities that Microsoft had identified as able to be mitigated with standard user rights against the total number of vulnerabilities published in 2013.

By mitigating between 60 and 100% of vulnerabilities, you can bet that I will continue to use a standard account as my “daily-driver” login on my personal computer for a long time to come.

Source: http://learn.avecto.com/2013-microsoft-vulnerabilities-report-c

Amateur Radio Update

I have been quite busy since my last post. I have:

  • built an adapter that allows me to utilize inexpensive ATX power supplies for HAM radio use¬†(more on this to come soon)
  • become the New Ham Board Member of SLSRC. I look forward to exploring how amateur radio can serve our community and developing new leadership skills as I serve in this role
  • built an emergency power backup so I can remain on the air during power outages (more on this to come soon)
  • received a Yaesu 7900R for Christmas. I do not current have much need for the additional power over my FT60, as I am able to hit most of the repeaters in my area with 5 watts, but I am going to start looking into digital modes soon
  • got my General Class ticket on December 30th, the last testing day of the year
  • many miles of driving to see family and friends over the holidays. I used this time to familiarize myself with repeaters available in the areas of travel and how to use my equipment when away from home

I have also been looking into a few things.

  • Inexpensive Chinese radios, mostly interested in the BaoFeng line of products. After returning my first radio to Amazon, I now better understand the limitations and capabilities of these radios after reading up on them. I may purchase a few models of these radios to try them out again for myself and put them in my vehicles for emergency use, or use them as (effectively) disposable kick-around radios. Not going to get another UV-5R, but maybe a UV-B5. I have read that they have better intermod rejection.
  • What HF radio to purchase. I have pretty well bought into the Yaesu product line already, so I am considering a Yaesu FT817ND or the Yaesu FT857D. I am primarily interested in portability and emergency communications so the 817 is currently my front runner. It certainly has it’s limitations, but I have not ruled out a ¬†yet.
  • HF in confined spaces. I’m thinking I may have to do a random wire antenna out the window of my townhouse to a nearby tree to get on the air. I’ll have to make adjustments to this setup for the time being and look forward to a better setup when I purchase a house in the next year or so.

Problems with Intermod

I had to return my BaoFeng UV-5R+. Living near multiple kilowatt TV transmitters and multiple emergency response dispatches I have found that the radio electronics are just not up to the task of tuning a signal in such a radio dense environment.

At the Halloween Hamfest in Kirkwood I picked up a Yaesu FT-60R and have had no issues. There is still too much interference in my apartment complex to use it with a rubber ducky antenna, but I have had very good results using one of N9TAX’s Dual Band Slim Jim J-Pole antennas. They are available at¬†2wayelectronix.com for a very reasonable price.

Unlike the BaoFeng I have not needed the programming cable for the FT60 as it is very easy to program local repeaters and the automatic repeater offset is very handy.

KD0WWR On the Air

My amateur radio license has been processed and I am in ULS.

I made my first contact last night with my BaoFeng UV-5R+ on the SLSRC 149.94- repeater. The connection was very static-filled, but Tom was very nice.

Today, I spoke with Scott, K0ATC, on Echolink on the W9AIU 146.76- repeater.

I look forward to exploring all of the facets that this hobby affords.

Getting started with amateur radio

After listen to the local police and fire departments on a scanner, I decided I wanted to get into amateur radio.

It is something I have been interested in since I was a boy at summer camp and the staff used two-way radios to communicate. After speaking to a ham that was involved in our local Boy Scout Council we purchased a police scanner and listened in at events they held, at summer camp, and to the police and fire departments in my home town on a few occasions. Then FRS radios came about and the interest in getting a license died off, until recently.

When trying to tune in different entities on my scanner I started making antennas. I started with simple dipoles, and now have started making quarter wave antennas, and will be attempting other designs and purchasing things online that I find interesting or useful for the hobby.

For now I am going to start with an HT, the Baofeng UV-5R+, to get on the air with the local repeaters. It is far from perfect, but it affords the same basic functionality and power of a name-brand radio for only $40! That is an incredible value, and for that kind of money I can afford to have a few spares to kick around.

My goal is to have communications available in an emergency, should Internet and cell phones fail to work. I am also going to look into getting involved with Skywarn and ARES to provide storm spotting from the comfort of my home, and assist with emergency communications in the event of a disaster. There is also some interesting things happening with amateur radio with internet relays, digital voice, packet data, and mesh networks.

As time permits I hope to be able to post some interesting things I have found while pursuing this hobby.