Nostalgic Rumblings
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Rooting and Unlocking the Samsung Dart

Filed under: General, Electronics Disassemblies — Charlie Summers @ 12:24 pm

As I’ve discussed before when we fixed the “low-space” warning, the Samsung Dart Android phone is an entry-level device with an older version of the Android operating system which can, if properly managed, be a perfectly fine little phone for practically no money. And I also in that post mentioned that I’d someday get around to writing a step-by-step on how to root and SIM-unlock the phone. Well, today’s the day.

OfficeDepot had this little phone on clearance for under $40, so I couldn’t resist putting one together for the Mrs. who is currently using my old feature phone. And while I’m doing everything all over again, I figured I might was well detail the procedure so that anyone who bought one from OD this weekend could quickly root the phone, preparing it for the procedure described in my previous post, as well as SIM-unlock the phone so it can be used on AT&T’s network, or a network elsewhere in the world.

One thing before we begin; the whole “to root, or not to root” question seems to me to be silly. It is my humble opinion that it should be illegal to sell any device, be it phone, tablet, or computer, without the device rooted. Sounds ominous, but all “root” means is administrator; the “root” account is the account on a un*x-like device (linux, Android, whatever) that has administrator access to the device. It is exactly parallel to the Administrator account in Windows. Think about this for just one moment…if you were sold a Windows computer, but Microsoft refused to allow you administrator access which would mean you couldn’t install applications, control the hosts file, your networking, and pretty much anything else, wouldn’t you be furious? So how comes we all lay down and let Apple, Google, and yes, even now Microsoft do exactly the same thing? Without root, you do not own your device! You paid for it, but the company who manufactured it controls it completely, and you are forever at their mercy. You really want to trust any company that much?

So now that the whole “should I root” question is disposed of, let’s get started, right after the jump.

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Fixing the espresso machine…

Filed under: Electronics Disassemblies — Charlie Summers @ 6:27 pm

My espresso machine, a Saeco Sirena, started leaking a few months’ ago…water coming out the back of the machine implies a broken hose, and also suggests continuing to use it could get the operator, and that’s me, electrocuted, since water and electricity rarely mix.

Now a sensible person would have sent the machine out for repair, but since sensibility is not my strong suit, I decided to disassemble the machine and fix it myself. I found a place on-line who sold a hunk of replacement hose at a wildly-inflated price (but then, it isn’t like I needed a thousand feet of the stuff, either), so I picked one up.

Disassembling the machine wasn’t difficult, but when I looked in I saw these weird little hose clamps…for someone more used to the common screw-tight clamps, these Oetiker things seemed to come from Mars. They are a crimp-type, requiring a special tool to properly clamp them.

I looked for the tool, and was a little horrified to discover it was in the $30-range, and not immediately available anywhere locally (although, oddly, only Staples stationary store could deliver one to my local store for pickup the next day). And I admit it bothered me a little to pay that kind of money for a tool I was unlikely to use more than two or three times within my lifetime.

So…I made one. Photos and such after the jump.

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Using the Nexus Home Dock in the Car…

Filed under: General, Radio Today, Electronics Disassemblies — Charlie Summers @ 6:47 pm

As some of you know, I’m…er…cheap. Ok, look, I’m an old man with a nine-year-old, so there’s not much disposable income anymore. And also as most of you know, I have a bunch of XM Satellite Radios around, all but the first one bought at substantial savings over “retail” (no, no, I don’t have a “guy,” I just am always watching out for sales and such). One of the radios I have is a Samsung Nexus 25…actually, we have two Nexus 25’s (from henceforth known as the Nexii); one I was given as a Christmas Present from my wife and my daughter, and the second was a killer deal from Crutchfield a while back that included a $55 XM prepay card, bringing the price of the unit down to under $15, including shipping.

(A quick explanation about how the Nexus works; there are actually three parts, all required: the Passport, the Nexus, and the cradle. The Passport is the XM Satellite Radio…it contains the Radio ID for which I pay, and is a cool system so that no matter how many Passport-ready XM radios you have, you only pay for the one subscription, and wherever the passport is, there you are (of course, thanks to the knuckleheads threatening to merge, this cool technology will probably be smashed by the Sirius overlords, assuming those of us vehemently against the merger can’t get it stopped). The Nexus is the player, allowing for recording of live XM while in a cradle, and when out it’s an XM/MP3 player only. The cradle is the piece that puts it all together. So if Annie has the car, she can take the Passport and her Nexus and listen live. When I have the Passport, she listens to recorded XM material (she still has like four hours of the St. Patrick’s’ Day Celtic Channel on it) and MP3s (her Marshall Chapman tunes, some Old-Time Radio) while I’m listening live. Both Nexii run off of the same Passport, so this only counts as one “radio.”

Each of the Nexii came with a home kit, but neither of them came with a car kit. Now we’ve had XM radios in the car for a while now (beginning with the Roady2 I activated in September 2004, running through the Tao XM2Go which was also a loyal and faithful servant), so not having one in the car now seems kinda silly. But I didn’t have a car cradle for the Nexus, just two home cradles…which look identical, but have minor differences (only in the home cradle will the radio record scheduled programming, and only the car cradle has an FM transmitter - didn’t need that, since my car is old and has a tape deck). So instead of spending $70 on a car kit for my Nexus, I decided to use the spare home kit in the car.

This sorta assumes the Nexus isn’t your first radio, and you already have mounting hardware in your car (if you don’t, this doesn’t make much sense). It also assumes you have a spare home kit, or are planning to carry your home unit back-and-forth (this is perfect if you want to record The Bob Edwards Show in your car while you’re at work, BTW). Either way, this is about as close to a “0″ on the difficulty scale as you’re gonna find…honest, this is simple. Copious photos after the jump…

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He’s at it again — Roady2 Disassembly

Filed under: General, Radio Today, Electronics Disassemblies — Charlie Summers @ 10:51 am

Yesterday when I moved my Roady2 and replaced it, I discovered a problem - no right channel. Now anyone who has studied the Roady2 knows that the one thing that makes it unique among XM radios is its one fatal weakness…the lack of a propriatary cradle connector and the use of reletively standard connectors on the side. I was pretty sure I knew what was wrong, and I have a spare Roady2 in the basement, but I didn’t want to do a radio swap right now (please don’t ask why). To make sure I was right, and to hopefully fix the problem, I needed to…you guessed it…take it apart. Photos and commentary after the jump…

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Disassembling the Tao XM2Go

Filed under: General, Radio Today, Electronics Disassemblies — Charlie Summers @ 11:12 pm

Ok, most of my faithful readers will probably not be interested in this posting. But you can bet down-the-road someone is going to want this information (I looked for it and couldn’t find an exact match, although I got close enough to work the rest out), so I’m posting it here for posterity, whoever she is.

I do not even want to explain why it was necessary for me to disassemble my favorite XM Satellite Radio, the Tao XM2Go, but it was (and I want to thank the folks at Giant, the makers of the device, and specifically Terry Uhrich, Vice President, Supply Chain Operations and Office Manager Patricia Biazzo for being so helpful in reparing my screw-up - talk about going above-and-beyond!). Anyway, since I was being crazy enough to rip the thing apart, I thought I’d take some photos so if there was anyone else out there who needed to take apart the Tao XM2Go, they could find this using whatever search engine and maybe save a little time.

Before we get out our tools, remember that this will void your warranty, so make sure your unit is at least a year old. Largish PNG photos are to follow, so for those on the front page, click the “More” to continue…

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