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Search - "built-in batteries"
I have this little hobby project going on for a while now, and I thought it's worth sharing. Now at first blush this might seem like just another screenshot with neofetch.. but this thing has quite the story to tell. This laptop is no less than 17 years old.
So, a Compaq nx7010, a business laptop from 2004. It has had plenty of software and hardware mods alike. Let's start with the software.
It's running run-off-the-mill Debian 9, with a custom kernel. The reason why it's running that version of Debian is because of bugs in the network driver (ipw2200) in Debian 10, causing it to disconnect after a day or so. Less of an issue in Debian 9, and seemingly fixed by upgrading the kernel to a custom one. And the kernel is actually one of the things where you can save heaps of space when you do it yourself. The kernel package itself is 8.4MB for this one. The headers are 7.4MB. The stock kernels on the other hand (4.19 at downstream revisions 9, 10 and 13) took up a whole GB of space combined. That is how much I've been able to remove, even from headless systems. The stock kernels are incredibly bloated for what they are.
Other than that, most of the data storage is done through NFS over WiFi, which is actually faster than what is inside this laptop (a CF card which I will get to later).
Now let's talk hardware. And at age 17, you can imagine that it has seen quite a bit of maintenance there. The easiest mod is probably the flash mod. These old laptops use IDE for storage rather than SATA. Now the nice thing about IDE is that it actually lives on to this very day, in CF cards. The pinout is exactly the same. So you can use passive IDE-CF adapters and plug in a CF card. Easy!
The next thing I want to talk about is the battery. And um.. why that one is a bad idea to mod. Finding replacements for such old hardware.. good luck with that. So your other option is something called recelling, where you disassemble the battery and, well, replace the cells. The problem is that those battery packs are built like tanks and the disassembly will likely result in a broken battery housing (which you'll still need). Also the controllers inside those battery packs are either too smart or too stupid to play nicely with new cells. On that laptop at least, the new cells still had a perceived capacity of the old ones, while obviously the voltage on the cells themselves didn't change at all. The laptop thought the batteries were done for, despite still being chock full of juice. Then I tried to recalibrate them in the BIOS and fried the battery controller. Do not try to recell the battery, unless you have a spare already. The controllers and battery housings are complete and utter dogshit.
Next up is the display backlight. Originally this laptop used to use a CCFL backlight, which is a tiny tube that is driven at around 2000 volts. To its controller go either 7, 6, 4 or 3 wires, which are all related and I will get to. Signs of it dying are redshift, and eventually it going out until you close the lid and open it up again. The reason for it is that the voltage required to keep that CCFL "excited" rises over time, beyond what the controller can do.
So, 7-pin configuration is 2x VCC (12V), 2x enable (on or off), 1x adjust (analog brightness), and 2x ground. 6-pin gets rid of 1 enable line. Those are the configurations you'll find in CCFL. Then came LED lighting which required much less power to run. So the 4-pin configuration gets rid of a VCC and a ground line. And finally you have the 3-pin configuration which gets rid of the adjust line, and you can just short it to the enable line.
There are some other mods but I'm running out of characters. Why am I telling you all this? The reason is that this laptop doesn't feel any different to use than the ThinkPad x220 and IdeaPad Y700 I have on my desk (with 6c12t, 32G of RAM, ~1TB of SSDs and 2TB HDDs). A hefty setup compared to a very dated one, yet they feel the same. It can do web browsing, I can chat on Telegram with it, and I can do programming on it. So, if you're looking for a hobby project, maybe some kind of restrictions on your hardware to spark that creativity that makes code better, I can highly recommend it. I think I'm almost done with this project, and it was heaps of fun :D13
Yesterday I bought myself a PSP to relive some of my childhood memories, run custom firmware on it and so on. Unfortunately however, the battery on this one is seriously puffed up, and I need one in order to update the firmware from 5.50 CFW (the seller actually modded it too!) to 6.61 OFW (to then install CFW from there again).
I figured that I might as well have a kick at disassembling the battery for good measure, to take out its controller and power it from my lab bench power supply. I set it to 3.70V, double-checked the connections.. nothing. I raised the voltage to 4V, still nothing.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the controller from looking at it. The magic smoke is still in there, all I did was removing the housing and snipping off the battery. I measured the cell voltage and it was only some residues at 0.01V. Might be internally shorted or something, normally even dead cells settle back at 3.7V unless you keep them shorted externally.
After seeing this so many times now with controllers, I'm starting to get a feeling that manufacturers actually program these things to look at the battery voltage, and when it reaches 0V, to just make the controller kill itself. Doesn't matter if the controller's electronics are still good, just fucking kill it.
If true, that is very, VERY nasty. It would also explain why batteries in laptops especially all have different form factors, despite having used regular 18650's internally for a very long time. It would explain why they're built like tanks. It would explain why manufacturers really don't want people in there. Yes there are safety issues and you're literally diffusing a bomb. Since recently we've also got space optimization.. anything for half a mm of thickness, amirite? But doing it this way is fucking disgusting. There is absolutely no reason for the controller to kill itself when the cell dies. Yet it seems like it does.
PS: I've posted the original picture on https://ghnou.su/pics/... now if you're interested. I noticed in my previous rant that devRant really squishes these down.12
I’m pretty terrible at soldiering and small electronics in general, but I’m kind of okay with how this turned out.
That helmet is my sister-in-law’s, she drives a polaris slingshot. (It’s technically a motorcycle here in the US because it has three wheels.) and she hooked up some EL wire to her helmet and the larger black rectangle in the picture is what the battery pack looked like before. (It takes two AA batteries.) and doesn’t have anyway to recharge them natively.
I did some research and found a neat little charging board (TP4056) and got her a small single cell li-ion battery for it. Now it’s not only less than half the length of the original, but it has a rechargeable battery and a charging circuit built in. The battery is 500mAh and lasts about 65-70mins on a charge. Personally, I feel like that’s not a good enough battery life on a charge, but my sis-in-law says that her and her slingshot friends usually only run with the EL lights on for 30 minute stretches at time so they should be able to get two to three uses before needing a recharge. Which btw, only takes about 35-40 minutes from completely dead.
The box looks like shit cause I literally hacked away at the original casing with a pocket knife and then crammed all the pieces back in and hot-glued the casing together. But I took measurements of the final-ish design and will try to find a small electronics box that will be able to house everything internally. (L: 1-3/4” W: 1-1/4” H: 1-1/4”)6
This was originally a reply to a rant about the excessive complexity of webdev.
When webdev was simple, it was normal to have the user redownload the whole page everytime you wanted to change something. It was also normal to have the server query the database everytime a new user requested the same page even though nothing could have changed. It was an inefficient sloppy mess that only passed because we had nothing better and because most webpages were built by amateurs.
Today webpages are built like actual programs, with executables downloaded from a static file server and variable data obtained through an API that's preferably stateless by design and has a clever stateful cache. Client side caches are programmable and invalidations can be delivered through any of three widely supported server-client message protocols. It's not to look smart, it's engineering. Although 5G gets a lot of media coverage, most mobile traffic still flows through slow and expensive connections to devices with tiny batteries, and the only reason our ever increasing traffic doesn't break everything is the insanely sophisticated infrastructure we designed to make things as efficient as humanly possible.11
What is your opinion on eSIM (embedded SIM)?
Now that Apple has built the first smartphone without modular SIM, it is, as history shows, only a matter of time until the same vendors who mock Apple for doing this will hypocritically follow Apple in implementing it themselves. There will be an outrage, but it will fade and the new restriction will be tolerated.
To me, "eSIM" appears like an euphemistic / euphemSIMtic (pun intended) marketing term, like calling non-replaceable batteries "eBatteries" ("embedded batteries") would be. It is less modular and more locked-down.20
The moment I turn off my laptop in anticipation of an hour or two of recreational YouTube binging and then rest
- my Bluetooth headphones run out of juice, courtesy of over 12 hours of semi-constant usage and the fact that I didn't think to charge them overnight
- In a moment of perspective change I instantly realize how to solve the problem I've been struggling with for the past 3 hours, ensuring that I'll keep thinking of work for the following 5 too.9
Is any of it real? I mean, look at this. Look at it! A world built on fantasy. Synthetic emotions in the form of pills. Psychological warfare in the form of advertising. Mind-altering chemicals in the form of... food! Brainwashing seminars in the form of media. Controlled isolated bubbles in the form of social networks. Real? You want to talk about reality? We haven't lived in anything remotely close to it since the turn of the century. We turned it off, took out the batteries, snacked on a bag of GMOs while we tossed the remnants in the ever-expanding Dumpster of the human condition. We live in branded houses trademarked by corporations built on bipolar numbers jumping up and down on digital displays, hypnotizing us into the biggest slumber mankind has ever seen. You have to dig pretty deep, kiddo, before you can find anything real. We live in a kingdom of bullshit. A kingdom you've lived in for far too long. So don't tell me about not being real. I'm no less real than the fucking beef patty in your Big Mac.3