Category: Tech

Fixing a loose or rattling Corsair Survivor flash drive

By , November 25, 2013 11:53 am

Note: I’d originally included the Corsair Stealth, as I thought they were the same, just a different color.  I’ve gotten feedback that they’re different.  If you have a Stealth with the same problem and figure out how to fix it, shoot me some feedback on how it’s different, or send me a link I can provide in case anyone else has the same issue.

My USB memory stick of choice right now is a Corsair Survivor USB 3.0 stick.  It’s nearly indestructible when it’s all buttoned up!   Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true when it’s out of it’s little protective shell.

After a couple weeks of using the Survivor, I noticed that it was rattling whenever I shook or dropped it.  After using it for a few weeks weeks, I noticed that it was “wobbly” when it wasn’t in it’s little shell.  It turns out the the drive itself is just screwed onto the casing.  Those screws can get loose.  When they do, expect the rattles!  Here’s what it looks like and how to fix it.

If you can “bend” the device and it has a little space at the bottom, near the activity light and the threads, yours’ is probably loose.  I’ve included pictures of mine bending both ways.

Note the gap next above the threads on the left side.

Note the gap next above the threads on the left side.

There's a gap on the right here.  The "stick" wobbles back and forth on the base.

There’s a gap on the right here. The “stick” wobbles back and forth on the base.

Turn it over and gently peel back the existing sticker on the back.  Use something sharp to get under it without damaging it (don’t cut yourself).

Use something thin and sharp to get under the back label.

Use something thin and sharp to get under the back label.

Lift it up about a 1/2 inch or so and you’ll find two small phillips-head screws under it.  Use a very small set of screwdrivers to tighten them back down.  It’s probably not a bad idea to pull them out (one at a time) and hit them with some threadlocker.

Tighten the two small Philips screws under the label.  If you've got the time, use some threadlock compound so you don't have to do this again in a week or so. :)

Tighten the two small Philips screws under the label. If you’ve got the time, use some threadlock compound so you don’t have to do this again in a week or so. 🙂

Boom!  Snug as a drive in shell! 🙂

What It Really Says

By , July 13, 2012 4:32 pm

What you think it says: “There might be a small problem, hang on for a bit while it’s taken care of for you.”

An innocent looking error

What it really says: “There was a small problem.  But don’t worry, it’s only going to take about an hour to make sure that you never boot this computer again.  kthxbai!”

Birthplace of the Beastie…

By , September 7, 2010 10:31 am

As Dasy mentioned in our previous post, after leaving Colorado we were aimed for Bremen, IN.  Actually, we were going to Nappannee, but the closest campground we found was down the road in Bremen.  Nappannee is famous for two things (that we know of)…

IMG_4038

RV manufacturers and the Amish.  It just so happens that our RV is made by Newmar, which is in Nappannee and the owners are of Amish descent.  Our first full day there, we went to the Newmar plant to see how they built our RV (the one pictured above is a new 2011 model…  very nice!).

IMG_4028We were greeted by Mahlon Miller, the owner of Newmar Corp.  He gave us a quick introduction and some history of the company and then opened the floor to questions.  Some of the guests asked some pretty pointed questions about how Newmar weathered the depression and what effect it had on them as far as staffing and such.  Mahlon was pretty straight forward and didn’t dance around the bush, which I thought was pretty admirable.  They never closed, but went from making 16 units a day with 1000 employees to 3 units a day with 400 employees (that’s what they’re doing currently).  The RV industry as a whole was hit pretty hard and several well-known brands have folded.  Mahlon said that it’s finally looking like it’s picking up again.  Throughout our stay, I heard bits and pieces around the community of what the Miller family had done to keep Newmar going.  They’re the kind of folks most people would want to work for. Smile

As for the coaches, they start with a bare rolling chassis from Freightliner or Spartan, depending on what the unit will eventually become.  The fifth-wheel chassis are built in-house.  We were able to see almost every step of the process throughout our tour.

Here is the outside fiberglass shell going into place.  It’s once giant sheet that is epoxied and screwed to the superstructure.

IMG_3178 First, they do some basic prep of the frame, creating the sub-floor and basement areas, along with most of the components that go in there.
IMG_3179 Next is basic framing.  Newmars are all made with an aluminum super-structure, then several layers of wood and laminates for the basic shell.
IMG_3181 Electrical is done next, with some of the interior structural components going in while there’s still a lot of room to work.
IMG_3186 Here they are putting on the fiberglass side of the rig.  It is epoxied in place, then pressed in with an external wooden rig until it’s adhered correctly.
IMG_3193 The outside shell is then cut to allow for windows, slideouts, vents, etc.  Some more of the interior finishing is also done.  From what I could tell, they’re doing some kind of interior work the entire time that the exterior stuff is being done.
IMG_3195 Next, front and rear end-caps get applied.  They’re mostly fiberglass, with minimal framing.  Most of their structure is inherited from the RV chassis when it gets mounted.  Glass and roof panels are always handled with a vacuum system.  The roof is mounted after the end-caps are installed.
IMG_3209 Slide-outs are added and lined up.  Slide-outs are made exactly the same way the rest of the coach is, just in smaller areas.
IMG_3202 Most of the exterior structural work is done at this point.  More interior is done, cabinetry is finished up, along with tying in the wiring and plumbing of the slides.
IMG_4065 Prep for paint is started, which LOTS of stuff getting masked off.  They even go so far as to mask off everything INSIDE the basement compartments!
IMG_4064 A final vacuum sanding is done on the entire body, then the whole thing is sent over to the paint building, where it is painted.  We didn’t get to see the paint area… they said it was pretty boring and takes about a week for a unit to come back.

What comes back is basically this:IMG_3212

A nice, shiny Newmar coach!  The one pictured above is an Essex, the second most expensive model.  I want three…  in different colors! Winking smile

Below are some other interesting shots.  They show just how much wiring is involved in an RV, a little bit of the furniture being installed and a cool picture of how they move them…

When the chassis arrives in the building, they put “air pads” under each wheel.  Whenever they have to move an RV from one station to the next, they hook the pads up to an air compressor and push it over on a cushion of air.  Pretty much like upside-down air-hockey tables. Smile They said they can do it with two people, but they generally use three just for an extra set of eyes (and brakes).

There’s also a couple pictures of the furniture (which is built in-house) ready to get installed and the floor grate that is the trash system.  There’s a grate covering a conveyor belt that runs the entire length of the plant.  All trash goes into the grate, then is collected at the end of the belts.  It apparently works very well, we didn’t see any trash or scraps anywhere during out tour, unless it had just been cut off a unit they were working on.

IMG_3189[4]IMG_4053

IMG_4043IMG_3211IMG_4045IMG_4059

We also picked up a handful of parts while we were at Newmar… some light covers that had faded, a couple of switches that were missing or broken, some exterior parking lights, and various other knick-knacks needed for our RV (they were actually pretty cheap for most common parts).

If you have an RV or are thinking about getting one, it’s worth touring the RV plant to see how it’s made.  We hope yours is made as well as ours!

“Can you hear me now?”

By , January 21, 2010 4:27 pm

Since we have moved out to Central Florida we have had sporadic cell coverage with AT&T.

This week we switched over to Verizon and got the new Droid phones. And we have signal! We even have signal in the Ocala National Forest. It came in handy this morning!

It’s so good to be connected again!

Hubby got the Droid by Motorola and I got the Droid Eris by HTC.

Droid_Motorola ERIS_HTC

We are enjoying our new gadgets and the coverage. 🙂

Those of you that have our numbers, feel free to call us.

New Shoes!

By , December 16, 2009 10:50 pm

Note: I’ve gotten a number of mentions from friends and fambly that the previous post was “too much”.  I’m making this one much easier… and it has pretty pictures!   😉

MichelinNew

Our Dutch Star is now sporting a new set of tires… Michelin XZE LRHs.  They’re basically 40 inch tall tractor-trailer tires.  Since the Star is a dually (meaning that it has two tires per side on the rear), that means we had to pony up for six of these monsters.  You might be asking “why?” right about now. Take a look at the old ones…

MichelinOld

All that cracking near the rim is what made us get new tires.  The old ones only had 27,000 miles on them and they had gobs of tread left, but they were old.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they were the originals that came on the RV.  Unfortunately, old tires get brittle and start to crack… especially if they’re bombarded by UV radiation all the time (sunlight).  That’s why a lot of RVers buy tire covers.  The old tires would have failed eventually… probably with a blowout.  Not a risk I want to take!

The new ones are NEW!  Sometimes tires will sit in a warehouse for months or years before they finally make it onto a vehicle.  Even covered or in the dark, tires have a finite lifetime.  I wanted to make sure mine weren’t sitting around for two years, so I had the guy who ordered them check the date code…

IMG_8933

The important bit is the last four numbers…  “4209”.  That means the 42nd week of 2009.  That puts these off the press sometime in October.  From a factory in Canada to my door in under two months. Score! 🙂

Note: Picture of date stamp above replaced with a better one… the small camera doesn’t do a good job with close-ups.  The Canon xTi does much better.

Fight The Power!

By , December 14, 2009 6:21 pm

Lightning

Photo from Kuzeytac on flickr, under Creative Commons license

A soon-to-be RV’er posted on her blog about a couple of RVs she is considering and an issue came up about the power.  One RV is 30 amp, the other is 50 amp.  There’s some confusion about which is better and why.  I don’t have an answer for that particular question, but I can shed some light on the differences between the two and how RV electrical systems work in general.

Warning: This is going to be long and somewhat technical… proceed at your own risk! 😛

RV electrical systems

Let’s start with how RVs are wired.  As far as I know, almost all RVs have two distinct electrical systems:  AC and DC.  This pretty much applies to just about any RV, whether it’s a tow-behind, fifth-wheel, or motorhome.  Some of the real small ones may only use one type, but that’s the exception, not the rule. 

AC (alternating current) is what your house has.  If you plug a toaster into a three prong socket, it’s using AC.  Normally the AC sockets in your house put out somewhere between 110 and 120 volts.  We’ll just say 110 to keep it simple. 

DC (direct current) is what your car has.  If you plug a cell phone charger into your cigarette lighter socket in your car, it’s expecting to get around 12 volts (although it can actually be anywhere from 11 to 15 volts).

An RV is a house and a car, so it has both.  All the engine stuff is 12 volts DC.  If it comes in a car, it’s probably 12 volt DC.  This includes a majority of the overhead lights (just like a car dome light), the headlights, turn signals, radio, cigarette lighter socket, power seats, etc.  All the house stuff is AC… microwave, washer/dryer, air conditioner (the one with the thermostat… the one on the dashboard isn’t really electric and only works when the engine is running, so it doesn’t count in this discussion). 

When you’re actually staying in an RV at a campground, you’re probably using some odd mix of both AC and DC stuff.  We use our air conditioners (AC), our microwave (AC), our coffee maker (AC), our radio (DC), and our overhead lights (DC) a lot.  So, we really need both AC and DC power to be comfortable.

I’ll address DC stuff in a separate post some day, for now, we’re dealing with AC.  I just needed to make sure everyone understood what I was talking about first.

Amps and plugs

So, what’s the deal with AC and what types are there?

That’s where the “amps” come in.  IMG_0177Saying an RV is 30 amp or 50 amp isn’t technically accurate (so don’t flame me about it). It doesn’t mean that an RV needs 30 or 50 amp, that’s just what it’s set up to use.  It’s also generally used to describe the type of socket that it uses when plugged into “shore power”.    Shore power is simply what you plug it in to when your parked at a campground and need power for your appliances.  It’s normally a collection of sockets and breakers on a post right next to your parking pad (picture to the right).  We’re going to call that a pedestal.

Here’s a short table with the different plugs and sockets that are generally used:

Amperage (Amps)

Plug (male)

Socket (female)

10/15

IMG_0172

IMG_0178

30

IMG_0170

IMG_0169

50

IMG_0176

IMG_0171

 

You should notice right off the bat that the 10/15 amp looks like your normal house appliance plug.  10 and 15 amp plugs are pretty much the same, although there are some subtle differences we aren’t going to worry about right now.  I’ll also mention the odd-ball, a 20 amp plug.  I don’t have a picture of one because they’re not normally used around a house or RV and you should have to worry about them unless you’re trying to run a drill press or something.

The 30 amp plug looks kinda like your normal house plug, but has bigger prongs and they’re “tilted”.  This is to make sure you don’t accidentally put it in a 10 amp socket. 😉

The 50 amp has even bigger prongs… and there are more of them. :S

Your RV is going to come with one of those plugs, probably the 30 or 50.  So what’s the difference?  Power!  …How much you get and how much you can use.

Feel Da Powah!

Almost everything that uses electricity can be measured in amps.  Amps is simply a rating that describes how much power something can or does use.  Different appliances use different amps.  A regular 40 watt light bulb in your house draws less than half an amp.  A 1000W microwave oven can draw almost 9 amps.  A car headlight is generally between 4 – 5 amps.

So, if you’re plugged into a 50 amp outlet and you’ve got a 50 amp RV, you can use a great big air conditioner (cools quickly even when it’s real hot out), your big microwave (cooks evenly and fast), a great big TV and a sweet treadmill for working off the microwave burritos. 🙂

But, if you’re on a 30 amp circuit, you can run a smaller air conditioner (takes longer, doesn’t work as well when it’s really hot outside), use a smaller microwave (takes longer, may not cook evenly), get a smaller LCD TV (LCDs use a lot less power than tube types)… and, uh, go jogging. 😉

I mention the treadmill because I remember some RVer somewhere wanting one or having one…  Normal treadmills can draw about 15 amps… 20 if you’re “husky” and run fast (I know, but it’s the best I could come up with).  Oh, ladies… your amazing 1800 watt hairdryer can draw about 16 amps on a bad day!

So, your 30 amp RV is parked and plugged in.  You’re running on your treadmill, while drying your hair and the air conditioner comes on…  For a split second, then everything stops!  Why?  Well, you exceeded your amperage.  Treadmill, 15 amps…  hair dryer, 15ish… You’re already at 30 amps.  The air conditioner is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. 

Actually, it should have only broken a breaker.  What’s a breaker?  One of these switchy things:

IMG_0179

Those are meant to stop you from using more electricity than the circuit can handle.  Generally they’ll save you from bad things happening.  What happens when you bypass them or when they don’t work right?  Something starts melting or burning.  Different wires can handle different amounts of electricity.  If you try to get too much electricity on one wire, it gets hot and will start burning stuff.  Fire is generally not a good thing to introduce to your RV.

“So, Jonathan… if I want to use lots of electricity, I just need more amps for my RV, right?”

I’m glad you asked!  The short version is “yes”.  The long version is not so easy.  Since we’re already way into the long version, I might as well just give it to you.  Go take a look at the picture of the 50 amp plug again.  What’s different about it when you compare it to the 30 and the 10/15/20?  Here’s a hint… start counting.

It’s got FOUR prongs!!!  The others only have three.  Well, if you’ve got only three prong sockets on your pedestal, there’s not really a good way to get another prong on there.  This is where we start messing with adaptors and stuff.

I’m tired of typing, so I’ll try to wrap this up and I might explain some more later…

Adapters and Cheating

The best pedestal you can find should have a bunch of sockets and breakers…  it’ll have a 50 amp socket and breaker, a 30 amp socket and breaker, and probably a couple of 20 amp sockets and breakers.  That there is electrical gold! (Well, assuming it’s actually wired right and putting out the amperage its supposed to).  You can plug in anything into the right socket and it’ll work!  Most excellent!

But what happens if you have a 30 amp plug and only have a pedestal with a 50 amp socket?  Easy, you get an adapter.  50 amps is more than you’ll need, so the adaptor just kind of ignores the extra prong on the 50 and lets you use half of it.  But, the circuit wasn’t designed to be used like that, so go easy on what you use…  Air conditioner and microwave at the same time are probably ok, just don’t fire up the hairdryer too. 

Ok, so what happens if I have a 50 amp plug and I only have a 30 amp socket?  Err…  things just got complicated again.  What you basically have is an RV that wants 4 wires (prongs) but you’ve only got three.  You can get a single adaptor that will allow you to physically plug the 50 amp plug into the socket, but there just aint enough wires available.  One of your 50 amp wires isn’t connected.  That can cause one of two things to happen.  If you have a fairly simple electric system, you can probably run half your appliances.  Maybe the air conditioner will work and nothing else does.  Maybe it’s the other way around.  Chances are pretty good that something important isn’t going to work…

…Or, nothing works at all.  That’s what happens with our RV now.  IMG_0167It’s got some smarts and knows what you’re trying to do.  It doesn’t like it and simple refuses to do anything.  I’m pretty sure our “transfer station” is the brain behind this (picture should be over there on the right).   While it’s annoying when we don’t have a 50 amp connection, it does save us from blowing up the microwave or air conditioner, so I guess I can’t whine too much.

There is one more option for tricking the system if you really need to.  I have no idea what this thing is called, but it can work in a pinch.  It’s a weird adaptor that has two 30 amp plugs connected to a 50 amp socket.  The theory is that you can take two 30 amp circuits and combine them into a 50 amp.  It’s risky.  You HAVE to be sure that they are different circuits first.  When you pull up to the power pedestal in Uncle Bob’s Wonderful Campgroundland, do you have any idea what kind of monkey wired that pedestal?  Nope, neither do I.  Did he use one circuit and just wire each plug into it?  Maybe… it’s cheaper that way. He only had to run one wire and it works if you’re only using one plug at a time.  What happens when you use one of these funky adapter things if the pedestal isn’t wired with individual circuits?  IMG_0174I have no idea, but I’d bet that it’s not good and I don’t want to be the one to find out.  Oh… campground employees tend to get real torqued up if you use one of these “combiner” things and they find out about it.  Just for reference, there’s a picture of one over there to the left.

Shutting Down

Ok, I have more to talk about, but I’m tired of typing and you probably didn’t make it this far anyway.  Maybe I’ll go into the adaptors and stuff and how they all work in a future post.

Not An Elektrishun

Ok, I hate to say it, but I know I have to… I’m not an electrician.  I don’t play one on TV.  I didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn last night.  Any of the above is based on my limited understanding and research.  None of it is guaranteed to be accurate and I’m not responsible for anything you do or anything that happens.  I’m sure I have some bits in there that some electrician-type friend (that would be Rob) will ping me on.  I’ve probably got some of the jargon a bit whacked and I may have used amp as a verb when it should have been a noun or some such nonsense.  I’m just trying to present an idea of why this stuff matters and how to deal with it.  Don’t beat me up over it.  Oh, if anyone of our readers does have a link to a better description of this stuff, feel free to post it.  If you’re shy, just email me (addy on the About Us page) and I’ll post it up with this entry.

If you’re in an RV (or going to be), there will come a day when your plug don’t fit someone’s socket.  All I’m trying to do is stop my peeps from freaking out about it. 😉

Note from the editor: Much of the 50 amp stuff I figured out thanks to my awesome family who wired up a 30 amp connection before we got here, then had to call an electrician back a few weeks later to wire up a 50 amp when we got the Dutch Star.  You guys rock! 🙂

Additional note from the editor: If you’re the one with the treadmill, email or comment with the following information from the tag near the plug on the treadmill – Volt (V), Watts (W) and/or Amps (A).  At least two of those should be listed.  If (A) is listed, that tells you how much they expect it to use.  If the other two are listed (V and W) I can tell you how to figure out the amperage.

All your packet are belong to us…

By , November 30, 2009 11:21 am

Repeater

One of the issues we’ve had since leaving our brick and mortar house is how to stay connected to the Internet.  We make do in a number of different ways, some of which are temporary depending on what is available at a campground, others are more permanent (and creative) in nature.

On our trip down to Florida, we stayed at several campgrounds.  Some were commercial, others were parks.  The commercial ones were easy… they all had some kind of Wi-Fi available.  We just had to make sure we were close enough to the access points to use them (we actually moved sites in Hilton Head because we couldn’t get a strong enough signal).  The parks were another matter… no service was provided of any kind.  We made do with public hotspots (Panera Bread was a favorite) and with my cell phone data plan.  The cell phone option isn’t a good one due to bandwidth limits, but it works in a pinch.

Now that we’re at our “winter home” in Florida, we have a different issue.  We’re miles from any kind of hotspot, we have almost no cell phone service and the RV is too far from the house for us to snag my mom’s Wi-Fi signal.  The access point she uses is on the opposite end of the house from where we are, and there’s a lot of back yard and an aluminum framed screen room between us.  We’re about 200 feet from the wireless router and our various laptops can only see that it’s broadcasting… they aren’t getting enough signal to connect to it.

After much experimenting with other solutions, we eventually ended up with a solution that works for us.  We added a Linksys Wireless-G Range Extender to the front of the RV.  It gets just enough signal for it to work for us.  It basically connects to the Wi-Fi in the house (it’s obviously got a pretty good antenna) and then rebroadcasts whatever it receives.  It’s basically a wireless repeater.  All it does it grab packets off the radio signal, stamps them with it’s MAC address and shoots them back out.  It’s not elegant, it adds a bit of latency, but it does work.  Wireless_Networking_in_RVHere’s a quick and dirty diagram I made to illustrate (click for full sized version). 

There’s a lot more involved than what’s on the diagram, but hopefully you’ll get the idea.  Since this worked for our setup here, we’ll probably keep it for when we’re on the road.  It was a lot easier than messing with DD-WRT and the other odd stuff I tried.

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