Greg MacLellan

September 22, 2009

Presario Power Button Hack

Filed under: Technology — groogs @ 10:10 pm

A friend brought over a Compaq Presario x1000 with a temperamental power button (which took many many presses to turn on), so I agreed to have a look.

First thing I did was disassemble it, which I didn’t really document. I took the back (partially) off, which I don’t think helped – really, the bezel above the keyboard (where the power button is) is important, and a couple screws in the back to take the keyboard off are probably all you need. This part by far took the longest.

imgp4148 Next thing I did was verify it was in fact the power button at fault. Pressing it manually did the same as the plastic button above (which just pushed down on this) – which is to say, nothing. Using a probe to manually connect the pins instantly turned it on every time, and there was nothing visibly wrong with the solder connections, confirming it really was the switch that was defective.

imgp4150I looked around for a similar button to use, or something I could jam in that would work, but didn’t really have anything suitable. I decided instead to re-purpose the mute button (hopefully he will at least change the power settings to put it in suspend, rather than turn off.. I probably should have suggested that in retrospect). It had a ribbon cable connecting it to the motherboard, and shared a common ground with the power button, so I just had to route it over to the power button. After finding the correct wire with an ohm meter, I pulled it out from the ribbon.

imgp4154 Finally, some soldering and that’s it. The mute button now functions as power, and the old power button does nothing. I haven’t yet heard how many times he’s accidentally turned off the system..

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September 21, 2009

Cat litter room/door

Filed under: Renovations — groogs @ 8:45 pm

As I mentioned yesterday, there is another door which is access to a little room built for cat litter. This basically came about because we were trying to figure out where to store the cat litter (right now it’s in the kitchen, which is terrible). The laundry room is an obvious choice, but it’s not really that big, so having cat litter would be a bit inconvenient there. My girlfriend also wants to be able to hang black clothes in there to dry without them getting white cat hair all over them (eg, shut the door).

I basically used the area inside the crawlspace to build a 2′ x 3′ room, and then provided access to it in the lower half of the wall joining the crawlspace. Here’s a couple pictures from earlier in construction to give you a better idea:

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It’s hard to see, but it’s actually elevated a bit because there is a row of cinder blocks separating the main basement from the crawlspace, so I just built the floor of the cubby hole to the same height as the top of the blocks. The second cubby hole you see is for a bar fridge (there is a power outlet inside that one, which is not visible in this picture) – the fridge will basically just be flush with the wall. Again, this was just a way to get more out of the space I had – it adds a fridge into what would otherwise just be a plain wall.

imgp4134 I also installed a vent in the top to try and keep it not overly stinky and allow some air circulation (I may put a small fan in the vent, if necessary). There’s another vent in the fridge area to allow heat to escape out the top.

imgp4137 After cutting down the door to fit, I also installed an actual cat door (one of those flapping ones). I basically just took my jigsaw and cut out the trace of the door.

imgp4139 I had trouble finding a pet door actually, I had to go to a pet store and they only had this one and a really fancy one which used RFID tags to only allow in your pet (which is a great idea, if you are installing this on an exterior door). The problem with this is that it looks like it’s designed for either a solid core door, or a 1/4″ thick door. When you put the two pieces on, they do not connect – so with my hollow core doors, there would otherwise be a giant gap between them. I ended up using some 1 1/8″ pine to fill in around the hole, and then painted it to match the door.

imgp4142 The end result looks pretty good (considering what it is). Obviously I’d rather not have this at all, but the weird door with the cat door in it looks better (in my opinion) than a litter box sitting in the open. I’m not going to actually install the pet door yet though – I want to make sure my cat learns she has to go in there to do her business before also having to learn how the flap works. The consequences to the new carpet are just not worth risking it..

September 20, 2009

Installing Doors

Filed under: Renovations — groogs @ 9:10 pm

imgp4076 I’ve been busy getting all the doors painted, hung, and finished. There are two almost regular size doors: one for the bathroom, and one for the laundry room. There is also a bi-fold closet door in both the bathroom (leading to electrical panel, central vac and under-stairs storage) and another in the laundry room going into the furnace and hot water tank area. There’s also a couple smaller doors that I had to cut down.

imgp4092 The bi-fold doors were pretty straight-forward. One was actually one left over from the previous owners, in the crawl space, which just happened to be the right size. I cleaned and painted it, and replaced all the track hardware in it.

The bi-fold in the laundry room was a bit too big – I had a 34″ opening, but all you can get are 32″ or 36″ doors (off the shelf at box stores, at least). I bought a 36″, and cut an inch off each side. There was enough wood in the edge that I didn’t have to do anything extra to it.

imgp4095 Having installed several door knobs before, I decided to buy a kit for it. It’s basically a plastic template that guides a hole saw to drill the right places. This thing was $20, and included the template, two hole saws, a hinge template, and a router template for the strike plate. The hole saws that come with it definitely aren’t the best quality – one had a couple teeth noticeably longer than the rest – but they do work, and you could always use your own, if you have the right size.

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imgp4105 It made quick work of the door. The router bit definitely made the strike plate easy – you just follow the template, and then chisel out what is missing.

The hinge template was utterly useless for me. It was 4″ high, but 1″ deep – a standard 3.5″ hinge is 1″ deep, but a 4″ hinge is 1.25″ deep. This means using a 4″ hinge would have more of the hinge sticking out the back, and a wider swing to the door (meaning you need greater space between the door and the jamb, to make sure it doesn’t stick). I didn’t even try to use it at all, and just chiseled out the hinges by hand, after tracing them with a pencil.

imgp4144 I have a short door for access to the crawl space. This was just a standard hollow door that I cut down. I set up my table saw for 1 1/8″, and cut a few strips of pine board to fill in the gap left at the cut. It’s possible to use the piece you cut off, but I found it was glued so well to the hardboard of the door, that it wasn’t worth the effort. Since it’s also on the bottom of the doors, it’s not visible at all so the fact that it looks slightly different doesn’t really matter. I used some glue and a couple brad nails to hold the piece in place.

There’s also another little door which I’ll cover in tomorrow’s post.

imgp4143 I also had to cut down both the laundry room and bathroom doors, as they are ~74″ (instead of standard 80″) because they’re under the vent and beams for the house. I used the same technique as before and just used the 1 1/8″ pine board to fill in the bottom from where I cut.

I should also mention, I was originally going to use panel doors (the ones with the bevels you see everywhere), but quickly discovered that because of my sizing, it really made cutting the doors much more difficult, since you have to worry about keeping the pieces of panels centered. For my short doors, they didn’t work out at all, and basically there was no way to cut them without cutting at the bevel marker. Since my upstairs interior doors are also all the plain flat ones, it wasn’t that big a decision to keep the downstairs ones the same, and simplify cutting at the same time. If you have non-standard door sizes, really be aware of that before hand, especially if you are building new doors like I was (not that I had that much choice in door sizes, without radically changing the overall layout). You may end up being forced to order custom doors or change styles.