That’s a Fine Looking Barbecue Pit…I mean keyboard

Another day, another Simpsons reference. Things don’t always turn out as planned, or as beautiful as on the front of the box.

I had my last scheduled day in clinical medicine on Monday. I was working the Easter Monday holiday, but that didn’t matter too much. It was a momentous occasion. One of my last out of hours shifts, possibly ever. And it was quite pleasant, and ended as all good shifts should, with takeaway from Bia Rebel ramen.

Newforge Studios HQ

I’m starting my academic post next, and because of the University closure over Easter, I’ve been left with a week off. It has been odd being on forced leave, but I’m definitely not complaining. I’ve spent most of the time tidying and organising Newforge Studios HQ, and fixing a variety of broken devices. I discovered one of the Yamaha studio monitors (speakers) wasn’t working, so I overhauled the setup, replacing the external soundcard with our old Sony stereo amplifier, and two floorstanding speakers. The first time I’ve used bi-wiring for speakers, too. I tried using a Denon amplifier I had lying around, but then discovered one of the channels was broken on it.

bired speakers
Bi-wiring for the new sound setup

My Linx 7 Windows tablet gave up the ghost after a long period of inactivity. It was never fantastic, but at least it turned on and worked half the time. Recently it refused to turn on, or show any signs of life other than a solitary blue LED, taunting me with what could be. I wasn’t going to be beaten that easily. Time to crack open the case. With little to no knowledge about fixing tablets, I dove in. There was no obvious damage to the PCB or any solder joints, and the probable cause was the battery. At the very least, it was something I could try before abandoning the whole enterprise. Finding the code on the back of the battery, I scoured the internet for a suitable replacement. The original was available, but it would’ve been a bulk purchase from a supplier in China. The next best alternative was a battery with the same voltage, but a lower capacity, for the purpose of testing. I picked up a remote control car battery on eBay for a few pounds. Even if it didn’t work, the cost of the repair was minimal.

Soldering time!

When the battery arrived, I desoldered the original and stripped and soldered the new wires in place. The battery was missing a yellow voltage wire used for voltage regulation, but it might still have done the job. I plugged in the tablet and turned it on. Or tried to. The blue light flashed, which was new, but it was an angry sort of flashing. A “you shouldn’t have messed with me” sort of flashing. And it failed to charge, even after a number of hours. The small battery should’ve been fully charged by that point, but it refused to work. It wasn’t as simple as I had hoped. I was ready to give up, so I desoldered the new battery, and returned it to it’s original state. For the hell of it, I plugged the power cable in again. The blue LED came on, taunting me again. But something else happened. The start-up splash screen appeared, reading “Linx”. Miraculously, soldering and re-soldering appeared to kick the tablet back into action, and it is once again working. Only then did I realise why I hadn’t used it in so long…it’s terrible.

The new battery is soldered in place

My Dell Inspiron gaming laptop was holidaying in Germany in the Dell repair centre (apparently relaxing, alongside the staff, as they appear to have done nothing and identified no fault) so I pulled my Dell Studio XPS 16 out of storage as I was getting laptop withdrawal. I installed Windows 10 and all of a sudden remembered why I bought the new laptop. To say it didn’t work very well would be an understatement. At first it appeared to behave as normal, and allowed me to install the most important programs. Until the restart, that is. Then things got weird.

It wasn’t long before I pulled the Samsung SSD out and replace it with my older 128 Gb Kingston model. I should’ve returned the Samsung SSD several years ago, as it has given me nothing but problems. Part of the Dell restoration project was replacing the F1 key on the keyboard which had long since broken off. I ordered a replacement from eBay, and after scratching my head and attempting to fit it multiple times, I realised what was happening. The key they provided me could only be fitted upside down. Perfect. That’s exactly what I wanted. And that’s what I call, a fine looking barbecue pit.

That’s a fine looking barbecue pit…why can’t mine look like that?!



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