Archive for category Hardware

Emerson Portable Ice Maker Doesn’t Work – Possible fix!

We bought an Emerson Ice maker about two years ago because the built-in ice maker in our freezer stopped working, and I'm a huge consumer of ice. So, I wanted a dedicated ice maker. It worked well for a few months. Then it decided that it didn't want to make ice. I should have sent it back but I decided to tear it apart and try to fix it.  I wasn't able to really get anywhere with it. So, I put it back together and plugged it back up and miraculously enough it started working again.

Since then, I discovered why it was failing to make ice. I post this because there may be someone else out there with the same problem from their Emerson Ice Maker.

The problem I have stems from the 120mm exhaust fan used in this device. I'm no expert on refrigeration, but I think this fan has to be running in order for the thing to make ice correct. It puts out a lot of heat. With my very basic knowledge of thermal dynamics, I'm assuming that this is how the ice is made. It removes the heat, thus reducing temperature and creating ice.

This fan is the exact fan used in a lot of computers. So if it isn't running, you may need to replace it. However, I took a shortcut that seems to have worked, a little trick I've learned from working on computers. You can give it a try if you want. It's pretty simple.

The fan has a sticker in the center. This should have some sort of logo on it, but it also has a second purpose. It holds a little rubber cap in place. Under that cap are the bearings for the fan. If you oil the bearings and replace this sticker, the fan may start to work again. You can get to the fan by removing the cover. I won't go into details here how to do that, because I don't have enough time to write the detailed instructions. It's pretty easy to do. In my case the fan grill was almost broken completely out. So, I just finished it off for easy access to the fan.

"What can you use to oil the bearings", you may ask. I used baby oil, because it's basically mineral oil with a little fragrance. You can use mineral oil and there are some actual products that are made for greasing fan bearings. There are a ton of videos on Youtube on how to do this to a regular computer fan.

I hope this helps. If it does, leave a comment! I like to hear when I help.

 

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My Latest Computer Build

I just ordered the parts for what will be my newest main desktop. I decided to go with an AMD processor this time around. My current desktop has a Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 which is a quad-core process running at 2.4ghz. I've had this quad-core for about three years and it still has a lot of life in it. I'll be giving it to my son. This current system also has 8gb of RAM. My new system will have 16gb. The AMD process I went with for the new build is an FX-8150 eight core running at 3.6ghz. It's supposed to be a very good process, though I've read some reviews that claim it bottlenecks games.

Even though I'm getting into game development, I don't play a lot of the mainstream games. Most are first-person shooters, and I've grown tired of that genre. I do play some FPS on the PS3 from time to time, but about the only games I play on the PC are Minecraft, Portal, and the occasional Empire Earth I/II. I've been using Windows 7 on my main desktop for quite some time and my new build will be Linux all the way. I venture into Windows from time to time to play Portal and Empire Earth, but I've decided that Windows uses way too much of my hard drive. I have a 128gb SSD as my main drive and this just isn't enough for Windows these days. It's plenty for Linux, however, as I'll be using network shares for most of my saves and using the SSD for the OS only. I detest platter hard drives unless they are in a hardware RAID configuration because I've lost about ten of them in the past five years. I have terrible luck with mechanical hard drives.

At any rate, I bought a pretty nice system for around $660 after shipping. I'll be using it for rendering some 3D work I'll be doing as practice for my game development endeavor. Hopefully the 8-core CPU will shine when it comes to this type of work. Here is a list of the components that I bought:

Antec Three Hundred Gaming Case External 3 X 5.25; Internal 6 X 3.5 2*Usb2.0

ASRock 970 EXTREME3 AMD 970 & SB950 ATX DDR3 800 AMD - AM3+ Motherboard

Rosewill RG630-S12 630-Watt Green Series 80 PLUS Certified, Single 12V Rail Power Supply Compatible with Intel Core i7 and Core i5

AMD FX-8150 FX 8-Core Black Edition Processor (FD8150FRGUBOX)

G.skill Ripjaws X Series 16gb (4 X 4gb) 240-pin Ddr3 Sdram Ddr3 1600 (Pc3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800cl9q-16gbxl

Lite-On IHBS112-04 12X Internal Blu-ray Writer(Black), Bulk w/o Software

It should be noted that I didn't get a video card because I have a few spare AMD/ATI cards (though I really prefer nVidia). I plan to use my AMD HD6950 in this new computer. I also don't have a hard drive listed in this build because I will be using my current SSD along with a NAS and a rack mount server which has a nice RAID as well. That's the one good thing about having all this extra computer equipment laying around. New builds are usually pretty cheap because I usually reuse at least a few components. A comparable computer with the same components would run me well over $1000. I would guestimate that it would cost at least $1500 with the same specs.

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Best Gaming Mechanical Keyboard

Mechanical keyboard are great for gamers. Most people agree that Cherry MX black switches are the best for gamers, as they allow for great double-tapping. As a proponent of the Rosewill RK-9000 keyboard, I suggest checking out the Rosewill RK-9000BL which is the same keyboard but with Cherry MX black switched instead of the standard blues. If you want a rock solid keyboard that's great for gaming, check out the Rosewill RK-9000BL.

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Edwin Jagger DE89 Review

I've written about my experience with double-edge safety razors in the past, but I felt that I should write another post detailing the advantages of the safety razor over the popular multi-bladed razors of today. You could chalk it up to growing old, but I've realized that a lot of the technology of the past was superior to the modern technology. This is especially true when it comes to razors.

Shaving is one of those fascinating things for the young. I remember wondering what it was like to shave when I was a kid. It seemed like fun. As far back as I can remember, my dad used an electric razor. So, when I grew up, that was what I first tried. Electric razors are great when you first buy them. They don't shave as close as other methods but they are at least simple. I found that after a few uses, they more or less just ripped the hairs out rather than cutting them. They also require lots of cleaning and make a mess.

So I switched to Gillette Sensors. This was one of the first multi-bladed razors, and I liked the results. I would get ingrown hairs and slight irritation, but I was younger then and it didn't bother me that much.

Then I started losing my hair, and I promised myself at an early age that if I ever started going bald that I would help the process along and just start shaving my head. So I started shaving myhead. My hair is very thin on top now but the sides are still rather thick, which makes shaving difficult in those areas at times.

The problem with shaving your head is that ingrown hairs suck on your head. So that problem became a major issue for me. I started reading around and found that the cause of the ingrown hairs was the type of razor I was using.

Multi-bladed razors were advertised as having the ability to raise the hair up before cutting it. This process causes the hair to be cut below the top of the skin. When the hair grows back, it can sometimes grown back into the skin at an angle, especially in areas where the grain of the hair goes in various directions. I have this problem on the back and front of my neck. If I let these hairs grow out, I would have an areas of curly hair.

So I switched to a double-edged safety razor back in September, and I've had great results.

Advantages

Safety razors are good solid tools. The one I bought is chrome and very solid. It is a Edwin Jagger DE89. It is the first and probably the only safety razor I'll ever buy. I bought it, a bar of shaving soap, 100 blades, and a badger hair brush for around $50. That sounds like a high price for a razor, but I've not had to spend another dime on shaving equipment since then and I won't have to buy anything for at least another year. The soap lasts a long time and costs $1.00 a bar. I'm still using the same bar after more than four months. I've only used around 20 blades or so. One hundred blades costs around $9. I still have a lot of blades and they should last me another year or two. Ten bucks for enough blades to last you over a year is awesome, especially if you've ever bought a 4-pack of MachIII or Fusion blades. So cost is a major advantage with the double-edge.

Another advantage is the shaving experience. I take my time. I pay close attention to the shaving process, and it's relaxing. To me, it turned shaving from a chore into a rewarding activity.  I lather up my face, make a single pass with the grain, wash it off, lather again, make another pass against the grain, wash it off, and then do the same thing for my head. I get a super close shave.

I also don't have a problem with ingrown hairs like I used to. I rarely cut myself. There was one occasion when I was shaving my upper lip sideways and ended up cutting my lip a bit, but that was my fault. I don't shave my upper lip very often, and normally keep a Van Dyck. So I wasn't very used to shaving there. Other than that, I get very little nicks from shaving with a double edge. The main thing is to keep your face wet, your razor wet, add lots of lather, and don't press on the razor. Also, take your time.

Disadvantages

"Take your time" leads me to the one and only disadvantage of shaving with a double-edge razor. It takes longer. Shaving with a multi-bladed razor is really fast. With a double-edge you need to take your time and concentrate on what you are doing more. Some people won't like this, but I very much enjoy the added time. I usually take around 10 - 15 minutes to shave my face and head. I always finish it off with an aftershave lotion (non-alcohol-based).

Conclusion

Like old keyboards, old razors are just better than their modern equivalents. You don't have to buy an old razor though. There are plenty of manufacturers still making double-edge razors. The Edwin Jagger DE89 was the razor I selected after much shopping online, and I have been very pleased with it. The weight makes it feel like a knife through butter when you first shave with it. You may be used to pressing down with a Mach III or Fusion razor. With the Edwin Jagger it'll feel like you are just letting it cut the hair for you at first. I was very happy with it from the beginning, and it hasn't let me down since. I strong recommend it. There are many good double-edge razors on the market, but I know you can't go wrong with the Edwin Jagger DE89.

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Rosewill RK-9000 Review 2

After a day of using the RK-9000, I can say that it is definitely the best keyboard I've ever typed on. The couple of problems I had with it in part 1 of my review have cleared up. There have been no more issues with sticking keys, and I've gotten used to the smaller keyboard size. The smaller size has actually increased my typing dexterity and speed.

I've been using http://typeracer.com to calculate my overall WPM speed. I started our around 58, which is a bit low for me. Since then, I've brought my average typing speed up to around 75wpm which is about the same as my Unicomp average. However, I've spiked on some races with 89wpm, and it's not uncommon for me to hit over 80wpm in a race. This is faster than my Unicomp speeds. I think the speeds will gradually increase as I become more accustomed to using the RK-9000.

Overall, this may be the best $100 my sister has ever spent on me. The keyboard is an absolute joy.

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Rosewill RK-9000 Review 1

Well, as promised, I will be reviewing the Rosewill RK-9000 mechanical keyboard. However, I will be doing the review in multiple parts. This is the initial review of the keyboard.

I just received it via UPS and I was too excited to video the unboxing. So, I'll not be doing that. Let's start with the pros of this keyboard.

Pros

This is perhaps the best keyboard I've ever typed on. If not the best, then it's right up there with my Unicomp Endurapro and my friend Lynn's WASD keyboard. The Cherry MX blue switches are very nice. This is the first keyboard I've owned with blue switches. They are responsive and loud. I wanted a quieter keyboard, but much of the loudness of this keyboard comes from bottoming out. It's actually relatively quiet if you learn to not bottom out. I find that the hardest key for me to not bottom out is the space bar, and it's very loud when bottoming out.

The keyboard is slightly smaller than my Unicomp, which places the keys closer together. This will be listed as a con as well, but I should point out that it will probably make the keyboard a bit faster to type on. It actually has a real good action for my hands. I find that I don't have to stretch my fingers nearly as far to type on it. So this is both a pro and a con. The con being that I have to get used to it.

The overall action of the keys is very pleasing. They are light compared to my Unicomp, and they require less of a keypress distance. I'm going to spend a lot of time practicing to not bottom out the keys. There's a very noticeable difference in the sound, when they aren't bottoming out. I'm usually a very powerful typer. My uncle commented that I sounded like I was going to push the keys through the bottom of his laptop, when I was working on it. If you are forceful with your typing, the blue switches will be a good switch on which to practice lighter typing.

The LED lock indicators on this keyboard are a nice blue color and are easy to see. The keyboard is 100% mechanical, unlike the Corsair Vengeance K90 which uses rubber dome keys for the F keys, the macro G keys, and the group of keys right above the arrow keys (insert, home, page up, etc).

The font used for the lettering on this keyboard is very pleasant. The letters are largish. The bracket keys are very distinct. For a programmer this is actually important. The square braces have a wider look than most keyboards. This makes it easy to distinguish them from the normal parenthesis keys. However, most programmers know where these keys are located, so it's not really a big deal. I just thought it was nice that you could tell what the keys are better.

The red metal base plate is a nice touch. It adds contrast to the keyboard and makes a rather dull keyboard actually look unique. The detachable mini USB cord is a nice touch as well. As an aside, I think that it would be awesome if this keyboard could function as a wireless bluetooth device and charge through the detachable USB cable, similar to a PS3 controller. I would love to see this as an option for a keyboard, but I've not seen one yet. The USB cable is very sturdy. Rosewill ships these keyboards with both a USB and a PS2 cable, both connect to the same mini USB port on the keyboard. I connected mine via PS2 because I wanted to try out the full NKRO (n-key rollover) of the keyboard. This means that every key on the keyboard can be pressed at once, and it will send to the OS. This keyboard does, in fact, have NKRO, and it works very well.

The normal keyboard height adjustment feet (or legs, can't remember the term) on the bottom are perfect. Some people have suggested that these are too short, but I find their height to be perfect for my typing. In fact, I've often found that most keyboards are too low when the feet are collapsed and too high when they are extended. This keyboard seems to have been built with the sweet spot in mind. I love it.

Typing on this keyboard is a dream. I've been coming up with new things to say in this post just so I can type on it more. It's giving me a nice chance to check it out. It's not all good though, as I'm about to point out.

Cons

There are at least two things about this keyboard that I didn't care for right away, but both of these issues may go away with time.

First of all, the keys are closer together than I'm used to, as I describe earlier. The ctrl, win, and alt keys are smaller than usual, especially the ctrl key. This places these keys in an abnormal position for me. I'm sure I'll soon get used to them, but this has presented a problem with alt + tab. I have a problem getting my left thumb over to the alt key without looking. Like I said, this keyboard is a little bit smaller than your normal keyboard.

Lastly, I've had a couple of incidents with stuck keys. The "A" key and the "T" both have stuck, once each. I was unable to replicate the issue, and I think that it's just a case of the switches getting broke in. I'll report more about this issue in a later review, but I don't think this is going to be an ongoing thing. I've been using the keyboard for about two hours now and that's only happened those two times. Plus, that only happened within the first 10 minutes of typing on it.

Conclusion

This is by far a better keyboard than many higher priced keyboards. I returned a Corsair Vengeance K90 to get this keyboard, and I'm glad I did. The K90 had a nice back light on the keys and some very well designed media keys, but the macro software was lacking which made the macro keys a terrible "feature", and there were other issues that I wrote about in my review of that keyboard. This keyboard is more like what I was looking for. It's a joy to type on and it just works. It doesn't have extras like a back light or media keys, but it makes up for that in build quality and performance. Since I'm going to be using this keyboard in Linux primarily later on anyway, I can say that the media keys aren't that big of a deal. I usually set up keyboard shortcuts in Linux that perform the volume, play, and pause functions. The main thing I wanted was a good quality keyboard, and this is definitely it. If you are coming from a rubber dome keyboard, this will feel completely different. It will take a day or two to get fully used to it, but after that, you won't turn back. These things are a dream to type on.

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Rosewill RK-9000 Review Coming Soon…

After recently returning a Corsair Vengeance K90 keyboard, due to some issues after a firmware update and general problem I was having in Linux, I'm awaiting the delivery of my new Rosewill RK-9000 keyboard with great anticipation. I believe this will be a great keyboard and I can't wait to give a review of it. Check back in a couple of days, as I'll be giving the review after a few hours of use. I may even post a video review/unboxing of the keyboard as well.

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Typing While Drunk Speedtest

I recently tested my typing speed on various different keyboards and thought it'd be a good idea to test that typing speed while drunk. I'm typing this while pretty tipsy, as a matter of fact. Disregard any typos.

This isn't a scientific test but after about 7 beers, my typing speed is around 58 WPM. I average around 74 WPM, depending upon which keyboard I'm using. I recently average around 81 WPM on this particular keyboard. So that is a 23 WPM (drunk math) decrease in typing speed due mainly to mistakes. My actual speed is probably about the same but there's a definite increase in mistakes.

I'd like to hear from others. What's your drunk typing speed?

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Corsair Vengeance K90 Review

After a day of use, I can finally give a review of the K90 keyboard. I will say that I'm thoroughly disappointed. Here's why:

First of all, my board came with the wrong keycap on the "1" key on the top number row. The key cap was the same as the key caps used on the letter keys but it was printed with the correct "1" and "!". This key is at a different angle than the other keys. The top of the key is on a different plane than the rest of the top number keys. This was the first noticeable defect.

Secondly, the caps, num, and scroll lock indicators don't work correctly in Linux. I've tested this on two of the keyboard. Neither work correctly. So you have no of knowing whether the number locks, caps lock, or scroll lock are on unless you type or test them out. This makes them useless in Linux. This was a major turn off for me.

Finally, giving the keyboard the benefit of the doubt, I decided to install Windows on my main computer and try it out there. The locks indicators worked correctly here. I downloaded the latest software for the keyboard and proceeded to upgrade the firmware on the board, hoping that the firmware would contain a fix for locks keys in Linux. However, after the firmware update the back lights on the board no longer function, the volume and other media keys don't function, and the macro keys don't do anything either.

With all of these flaws, I can say that this keyboard is pretty much not for me. Some people love it, but I've found build flaws in mine that speak of faulty quality control, and the software for the board is terrible. Why does the keyboard software control the functionality of the locks indicators? Every other keyboard I've ever used in Linux could handle this. I feel like there's way too much software dependency on this board. In order to use the macros you have to use Windows.  Even old IBM dummy terminal keyboards had hardware controlled macros. If you are a manufacture of keyboard and you decide to put macros on them, make those macros record and save to the hardware itself.

The one thing that I was worried about when getting this keyboard was whether I'd like the Cherry MX Red switches that it comes with. These were great. They aren't what I personally go for, but they are great switches. The linear nature of them make them fast. There's little resistance for you fingers and I upped my WPM typing speed by 6WPM. I went from 74WPM to 80WPM just by switching from buckling spring to the Cherry MX Red switches. I think that my speeds would be comparable on MX Blue or MX Brown switches as well.

So, I'm sending this keyboard back and I'm getting a Rosewill mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX blue switches. I will probably order some o-ring dampeners from WASDKeyboards to go on the keys. That will make them much quieter. Sure, I'm giving up the back light by going to the Rosewill keyboard. However, I'd rather have a solid keyboard that works as it should than have a keyboard with a ton of features that don't work.

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Designing the Ultimate Keyboard

I've posted a lot over the last month about mechanical keyboards. I've owned two buckling spring keyboards, a host of rubber dome keyboards, a Dell AT101W with Alps slider switches, and my latest keyboard, which uses Cherry MX Red switches. I think that it's time that I evaluate what I'm looking for in a keyboard and give manufacturers something to base their next great keyboard design from.

First of all, the keyboards need to have a selection of switch types. WASD Keyboard gives you a lot of control over the type of switches they install on your customized keyboard. Props to them for this option. After evaluating many key switches, I want more. I want to try out Cherry MX Brown switches. I think that they would be perfect for my typing preferences. I like Cherry MX Blue switches but they are probably the loudest of the Cherry line. I'm not sure they are louder than my buckling spring keyboard, but they are still rather loud. My Corsair Vengeance K90 keyboard with Cherry MX Red switches is relatively quiet, but I still tend to bottom out on them since I'm used to the buckling spring.

So I think that the ultimate keyboard would come with Cherry MX Brown switches by default. These switches are best for typing. They have the tactile bump but no click. I would also prefer that the keys have o-ring dampeners to greatly reduce the noise level of bottoming out, but I think that the manufacturers should make all key switch combinations available as WASD does.

Secondly, macros are great for gaming in Windows but they are useless in other operating systems without software. Now, this doesn't have to be the case. I remember working with old dummy terminals at one point and they had macro keys for storing repetitive keystrokes. This didn't use a driver. The macro functionality was build into the keyboard and it saved all the macros in on board memory. It was OS independent. If manufacturers are going to put macro keys on a keyboard, they should make it self-contained. Recording macros and playing them back should be handled by the keyboard itself, not the operating system.

Thirdly, the ultimate keyboard would be built very well using good parts. The one thing I can positively say about the Corsair K90 is that it's built very well. However, I think someone used the wrong keycap type on my "1" key (across the top row). At first, I wondered if this was an error or a feature. Looking at videos on Youtube, I found that the on most boards is exactly like the other number keys across the top row.

Fourthly, another good point to the K90 is in how the keys are raised off the brushed aluminum base. This will allow for easier cleaning. The K90's volume drum is a great design. It would be even cooler if the grooves on the drum had holes in them that allowed light to show through. So build quality should be amazing on our hypothetical ultimate keyboard.

Also, NKRO (n-key rollover) over USB is a must. The Corsair Vengeance K90 has full anti-ghosting and 20 Key rollover over USB. There are very few keyboards that offer NKRO over USB. 20KRO is plenty enough for anyone.

Finally the keyboard should give the customization opens of WASD Keyboard. This includes laser etching of lettering and custom key caps. The ultimate keyboard could also use LED back lights like the K90.

So my ultimate keyboard would be a Corsair K90 with hardware set macros, custom key caps, Cherry MX Brown switches with o-ring dampeners. It should be fully mechanical (not a hybrid). Media keys are a waste since keyboard shortcuts can be created to handle the same functionality. I'm getting used to the rubber key cover on the K90 as well. I would include that in my ultimate keyboard.

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