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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Aaaack! Husqvarna 7021P 21 inch mower put oil in the gas tank!

This post is really off topic for my blog, but it is useful advice and funny too, so here goes.
Now that all is back to normal I can tell the tale without extreme embarrassment.
I recommend this mower but I wanted to caution people not to do what I did!

My old Murray push mower finally rusted out, it was pretty old but still ran fine.  However the deck rusted through in a big hole and one wheel broke off.  I had to buy a new one.

After some research I bought this one.   I was going to buy one from the big box hardware store, until I realized I could get the same mower for less money, delivered to my door for free, from Amazon.  In fact I could get a model I couldn't buy in the store.

This model has a Honda motor, and is push only.  My lawn is small and self propelled mowers are heavy, more complex, and horsepower is wasted driving the wheels while it crushes your flowers.   Besides I'm a Honda fanboy.

Brand new mower.   UPS delivered and I took it out of the box.   Shiny.

The mower comes with a tag on the fuel cap that says to put the oil in first before using the mower.  However I guess I got distracted preparing to mow the lawn the first time, after removing the gas cap to take off that tag I poured the oil into the gas tank!   I thought I ruined the new mower before I ever used it.

After about half the bottle of oil glugged in, I woke up and realized what I was doing.    Quickly I stopped pouring the oil.  I hadn't put any gas in the tank yet.  I did a little online reading and this is what I did next.   I didn't have to do all complex things some websites said.

  • Flipped the mower over and let the oil drain out of the gas tank back though the cap hole.  Since there was no other oil or gas in the mower yet, flipping it over was not a problem.   Do this as quick as you can.
  • Wiped out the tank with a paper towel using a stick to move it around and soak up the oil until I couldn't see any more.
  • Bought more oil and put it in the right place this time
  • Filled up the gas tank with actual gas this time
  • Tried to start the mower.  This took about 10-15 minutes of pulling and resting.  Resetting the choke each time.  No response for a while.  Seemed dead.  Started to think I was toast.
  • Eventually I heard a little blub blub after each pull.  Kept going.
  • Trick was to hold the choke.   This model has a little choke you set that releases as soon as you pull the cord.  Easiest if you have another person to help but I didn't want to tell anyone what I did so I had to pull, hold the handle and reach over and hold the choke.
  • More and more blub blub blub each time I tried to start it.
  • Mower finally fired up and blew lots of smoke and ran really rough for a few seconds.  This is OK, it is the oil burning off.   Stalled
  • Repeated and held the choke to keep it going a little longer each time.
  • Once the oil was cleared all was good and it ran normally.  Let it run for 10 minutes to settle in.

I've used the mower half a dozen times since then, and everything is fine.   I didn't have to tell my wife I wrecked the brand new mower because I'm a bone head.  It didn't cost anything to fix either, other than the cost of a new bottle of oil, since i wasted the bottle it came with.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Intel Haswell 4770K PC build

I'm building a new desktop PC since my previous rig got killed by a lightning power surge.

This PC is for software development, engineering graphics, hardware experimentation and occasional gaming.  I run a lot of tasks at once, have four monitors and like my PC to keep up with me.

I have always built using AMD up until now. My now dead, previous rig was an overclocked Black AMD Phenom II x3, unlocked to x4.  I was still happy with it.  No use mourning the dead.   I could try to replace the mobo and hope the processor is OK, but I feel it's time to move on and upgrade.

Intel processors have been leaving AMD in the dust lately.   Although AMD still can be better value for the money in the budget segment this time I'm going to shoot for the stars this time and go high end.  I've been working for Intel lately on a project and I can use the Intel employee discount.   Sorry if that doesn't help others but I'm posting anyway because I wanted to keep track of what I bought.   This is my first Intel build!  Ironic.   I've done projects for AMD, eaten in the cafeteria and always liked the company better but I'm thoroughly Intel brainwashed now.

Me and pal at Intel HQ in Santa Clara

I worked on the 22nm process (Baytrail not on the Haswell itself) but my buds worked on the Lynx point chipset.  So I'll go with the team this time.

Intel Core i7-4770K Haswell 3.5GHz LGA 1150 84W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics
Intel Haswell was released this week by coincidence.   i7-4770K  processor looks sweet.  The K designation means it is unlocked and can be overclocked.

This is $349 at Newegg, but I can get it for $169 from Intel employee program.  That puts it in a price range where it blows away anything else on the planet.

This processor is up in the stratosphere with the Xeons!


Because of the discount through Intel, I was considering an Intel board.
Intel BOXDZ87KLT75K LGA 1150 Intel Z87 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Intel Motherboard

This is $286 at Newegg but the Intel price is $210.   I'm not sure it is worth the added price over the Gigabyte, ASUS and Asrock boards either.

 But Intel employee program was having stock problems and it was back ordered. I can't wait any longer to get this PC running, so I got the ASROCK instead.

I bought this motherboard:

ASRock Z87 Extreme6 LGA 1150 Intel Z87 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Free Crucial 8GB memory with purchase, limited offer

I picked this for a couple reasons, besides good ratings from Tom's hardware.
  • Extra USB 3.0 header on the board, so I can have another two front panel USB 3.0 plugs.  I use USB a lot for hobby applications.  Not too many boards have this.  It has fewer USB3.0 on the back, but I hate crawling back there anyway.  I want them on the front.
  • Three x16 PCIe slots for my two graphics cards, some mobos skimp here.  Not this one.
  • HDMI input port!!!
  • HDMI, DP and DVI output ports
  • Came with a free 8GB memory module.  Sweet!  That did it.

Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Profile Desktop Memory Model BLS8G3D1609ES2LX0

This website had a lot of info on this motherboard and processor combo


  • Rosewill CHALLENGER-U3 Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ,comes with Three Fans-1x Front Blue LED 120mm Fan, 1x Top 140mm Fan, 1x Rear 120mm Fan, front mounted dual USB 3.0

+ $20 off w/ promo code EMCXPXP26, ends 6/12
Bought a new case, just for the heck of it.  I wanted to get USB3 plugs on the front, plus the power lights were out in my dusty old case.  Updated audio connectors, more fans, blue lights, etc.  Only $39 and it makes me happy.   This case was a tiny bit cheap looking in places but the fans were nice and the drive bays looked good.  The cover screws don't self retain.  The gaming cases I bought before were almost twice as much and were nicer, but this is fine.

Replaced my card reader with a combo card reader and USB hub. Always need more front panel USB connectors and the card reader I had couldn't read the new SDHC cards.

  • Rosewill 5.25-Inch 2 Port USB 3.0/4 Port USB 2.0 Hub/eSATA Multi-In-1 Internal Card Reader (RDCR-11004)

Transferred the 650W Corsair power supply from the old PC.

Corsair CMPSU-650TX 650-Watt TX Series 80 Plus Certified Power Supply

Bought in June 2009
Transferred the Kingston DDR3 8GB memory I bought in July 2012

Kingston Hyper X Blu 8 GB (2x4GB Modules) 1600MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 XMP Desktop Memory - KHX1600C9D3B1K2/8GX


  • SanDisk Extreme SSD 240 GB SATA 6.0 Gb-s 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive SDSSDX-240G-G25

Decided to go with a medium sized SSD.  A friend talked me into SSD saying it was way faster than a traditional hard drive, and I don't want to slow down the rocket ship.  Paid $173. Rates upper third, 3525 on passmark.  In a meeting with Sandisk the next week, a Sandisk employee told that I had bought a great drive and his company machine used the same drive.   Too bad, he told me he would have let me use his employee discount too.

Also transferred two old regular SATA drives from the dead machine.
I think I'll roll back and load Windows 7 instead of 8.  I had upgraded the deceased machine to Windows 8, with no real benefit and a lot of waste.  I had a free upgrade from a laptop I used to move to Win 8, and I don't know if I can use it again.   Later I can always repeat and upgrade but I'll skip win 8 for now.
I use 4 monitors on my setup.  The mobo has built in support for two (actually three) graphics cards and onboard video.  I happen to have two Radeon 4890 video cards I could install for crossfire for the other two monitors.  They are getting kind of old, use a lot of juice, but I've always liked them.   One was in the previous machine, and the other is was pulled from my son's machine when he wanted an HDMI output with sound for watching streaming video and tossed the card back to me.  They only have DVI outputs.  I may swap something more modern later but have these for now.   Later I decided to bail on crossfire due to the power required and their are reports the 4000 series would choke on multiple monitors in crossfire.

XFX Radeon HD 4890 HD-489A-ZDFC Video Card


COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO RR-212E-20PK-R2 Continuous Direct Contact 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler Compatible with latest Intel 2011/1366/1155 and AMD FM1/FM2/AM3+

Spent another $29 on a fan I didn't really need.   I was planning on using the stock fan that comes with the processor, but my CPU is taking too long to come and meanwhile I read too many reviews.  Plus Newegg sent me a promo code.

Finally!  The 4770K processor came.   There was a problem with the order at the Intel Employee store, then it had to come cross country by snail.

Popped open the socket by unhooking and lifting the clamp wire

I had a little trouble with the fan's backplate.   The case has a handy hole on the back panel so you can access the back of the processor.  Only problem is that two of the holes are misaligned and are hidden beneath the metal.   A little jiggering and holding nuts with needlenose pliers I was able to get the bolts in.

I was a little unhappy when i flipped it back over.  The mounting posts are on top of some of the DDR traces, and during bolting in there were some scrapes on the board where the posts turned.  Hopefully the DDR traces are not disturbed or shorted.   There may be some impedance mismatch with the bolt on top, I'll have to wait and see if I have memory issues.

The X piece fits over the fan heat plate and screws in.  Not too tricky once you figure out how it is supposed to go.

Snap the fan on the side of the heat sink.  What a monster.

Wow.   This is one of the most crowded cases I've had.  Not sure why it is so tight, the case itself must be on the small side.

Wired and checked connections, plugged in monitor, keyboard and power.  Pushed the button.  Dead.  Cold.   Dead.  Pushed the button on the board.  Dead.  Fail.

After I unplugged everything I saw the problem.  Stupid stupid stupid.   In this case the power supply is on the bottom.  I like that design, it is in a much better place.  However that means it is upside down and the power switch is upside down.  I had it turned off.    Ha ha ha.

Wired it back up and w00000t!!!!   It boots to the ASROCK screen.  3.5G i7 3770K is reported, with all 16Gb of memory.  Sweet.
CPU temp is 38C.  Set fans to performance mode.

Problem with the DVD drive.  Detected it but wouldn't boot from it.   Strange.  Replaced the SATA cable.  Got stuck again saying to insert boot media.  I"m using a Win7 upgrade DVD which I'm pretty sure I cold booted from on my last build.  But it ain't happening.  I do remember in the past I always bought IDE DVD drives because I've never had good luck booting from SATA.  That is no longer an option, there is no IDE support.

Just for laughs I put in an old Ubuntu live CD.  8.06.  Ancient.  Same result, won't boot, says Select proper boot device.

Tried an old ubuntu boot thumb drive.  Boot error.  Arrggh.

Tried putting in the DVD that came with the mobo.   Can't boot.  Can't read.
I guess this is an old problem.  May not be my drive.  This is an old copy of windows and it doesn't like SATA drives for booting.

I hate to do it, but I may try to boot from the old hard disk, just to get going.
Plugged in the menagerie of old SATA drives.  I have one IDE disk that I'm planning to use via an adapter once things get going.

At least now it seems I can boot Windows 8 from my old hard drive.  I still want to drop back to windows 7 and load it on the SSD.  But I need to make this box do something useful.   I have the desktop!
I had to re-register windows over the phone.

Can't seem to get the network running.  Running the mobo DVD to see if I need drivers.
Now I learn I had the mobo DVD in upside down.  Idiot.  Now that windows is up, the DVD drive works fine.  Installed all drivers off the DVD.   Manually had to install LAN drivers to get the internet working.

Can't see the built in Intel graphics at all.  Seems like a driver must be missing.  Two of four monitors aren't coming up.

Windows experience index for the processor is 8.1.  Seems like it should be higher, but I haven't OC'd yet.  4890 gets only a 7.5.   The old disk drives are dragging down to 5.9 and the system seems slow as a pig.  A fairly in shape pig, but not what I wanted.  I need to figure out how to get the OS moved to the new SSD and get the garbage cleaned out.

Looks like I"m bogged down with drivers installing, each one taking half an hour then forcing a reboot.  In the background the backup software is running, etc.

After getting the machine running with Windows 8, I tried again to install windows from my CD onto the SSD from within the OS.   This should have worked.  However the drive spun and never identified the disk. Whaaa?  I opened the drive and looked at the disk.  Big smear on it.  Cleaned it and put it back in.  It works now.   I pulled the old hard drives and tried a fresh boot and now it works!!!!   OK the whole problem with the Sata DVD drive was only that the disk was dirty, and the other disk was in upside down.  Unbelievable. There is no problem booting from a SATA DVD drive for a fresh install. Geeez.

I loaded windows 7 on the SSD successfully and went through all the updates.  I needed to load all the drivers from the mobo CD to get the internet LAN working at all.  That took a zillion reboots and hours, but no major issues.

The built in Intel graphics aren't working.   The device manager doesn't even see them.  A little poking yeilds an unpleasant result.
Can I install an external PCI Express* graphics card and use it in parallel with Intel graphics? 
No, Intel graphics cannot be used along with an external PCI Express graphics controller. Installing a PCI Express graphics controller will disable Intel graphics.

Ouch!  I can't do what I wanted and drive two monitors from the mobo and two from a PCIe card.  I'm going to have to install the second 4890 card or my little 5450 PCIe x1 card to get the other two monitors.  Too bad.
I tucked the other Radeon 4890 card into the mobo after all.   Wow this build is insane.  I also put a spare case fan on the case cover because I started to worry about the heat.

A slight issue is that the second Radeon 4890 has a case fan glommed on the side because it's real fan died.   That fan is extending over and blocking one of the USB3 headers.  Until I fix that, two of the USB3 on the front panel won't be operational.

Rebooted and now all four monitors come up.  Hooray!

The SSD windows experience index is only 5.9.   No better than the old drive.  I think I need to try it in another SATA mobo slot and make sure I have a SATA3 cable on it.  
I found a couple tweaker pages that helped

Simply moving the SSD to the Intel SATA port on the mobo improved things from 5.9 to 7.9.  Whew.   Now my poor 4890 graphics card is bringing up the rear.  Strange in windows 8, the processor was an 8.1.  Now it is only 7.8.  But I haven't OC'd it at all yet.

Put the video cards into crossfire, no appreciable difference.  Graphics is the lowest number with two Radeon 4890s in crossfire.

CPU-Z results below

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Lightning blows hole in wireless router IC

Lightning strike nearby last weekend caused a power surge and destroyed a bunch of stuff at my house and tripped breakers.

One of the victims was my ASUS RT-N16 wireless router.  Overall a fine router, one of the best I've had out of dozens.

I wouldn't have expected the router to be susceptible to this sort of damage.   It runs on a 12V wall wart which I thought would have died first.   However, after the strike, the cable modem no longer thought it had anything connected on the ethernet port, the wireless was off line and none of the devices plugged into the 4 wired ethernet ports saw the network.   Lights on the front were green and quite normally flickering but nobody is home.

Strangely the cable modem in front of it was fine.  The second router plugged in back of it, an old Buffalo DDWRT router that I use as a guest network, was also working fine.  Very weird.

Tried a reset.  Tried connecting a PC through Ethernet and opening the admin page.  Nothing.
I opened it up just for fun and the pictures are worth sharing.

Here is the router

Here is the board inside the router.  Notice anything amiss?

I was expecting to find a bubbly electrolytic cap or a fried diode near the power supply.  Everything there looks OK.

Whoa!   What is this?  This Broadcom IC has a hole blown in the top of it!

Part number reads Broadcom BCM53115SKFBG
This is a 5 port ethernet switch chip.  So no wonder the ethernet lights on the front blink mindlessly and nothing can connect to any of the ethernet ports.  Strange though, I'd have expected the wireless to still be on line.

Guess there is no saving this router.  Open wallet and order another one just like it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Lightning strike killed the LG 55LW5700 TV - Fixed it!!!!!

This post is about repairing a LG flat screen TV.

Last night we heard a really close lightning strike that blew three breakers in our house.  It killed everything that was connected to my wired ethernet network.  It killed the FIOS box, my desktop computer (which was behind a surge protector), my ASUS wireless router, my son's desktop computer - just the ethernet port, the ethernet port on the Sony TV, and worst of all my fairly new LG 55LW5700 TV.

The LG 55L5700-UE TV is dark.  The standby light blinks slowly red about once a second.  Pressing the power button makes the light turn solid red.  No picture, black screen, no sound, no other life.  Pressing again and back to flashing slowly red.

I did buy this at Costco, less than 2 years ago.  I could take it back and play dumb and say that it just doesn't work.  However I know it was killed by lightning which the warranty doesn't cover.   Ethics aside, the kicker is that it is easier for me to fix it by swapping a board then haul it to Costco or ship it anywhere for repair.  It is a friggin 55" TV.

I suspect the power supply board, given the known power surge.
Some worries that the strike clearly traveled through my ethernet wires as well, my router was blown, and the set is using wired ethernet.   I might be replacing the main board too.

Found a couple boards around the net that say they are for the set, but part numbers vary.  The picture looks consistent.

  • LG 55" 55LV5400-UB 55LV355B-UA 55LV3700-UD EAY62169901 Power Supply Board(BX2)

To open up the set and check the board, I'd have to take it off the stand, unwire it, and remove about a dozen screws while I balance it on edge.   While that is unavoidable, I don't want to take it apart and let it sit there propped up for 3 weeks waiting for the part.  I'm going to pull the trigger and buy a new board without really testing or even opening the set to see which exact power supply I have.   In engineering we call this being a cowboy.   I'm going to make a 40 dollar gamble that this is the problem and that I'm buying the right board.  If it is totally wrong I can resell it on ebay.

Finally bought this one.   I'm taking a risk that it isn't the correct board.  Paid $59 + 12 shipping.  I had bought a cheaper one, but the seller cancelled the transaction saying the board was cracked.

Waiting for the new board to come... then I'll post pictures of replacing it.

The board came.

Took the TV off the TV mount and removed the brackets.   Took it down and leaned it against the sofa, so that is was still standing vertically with the screen against something soft.   NEVER lay a set like this down flat on it's face.   The glass can't support the weight and may crack.   Then I removed all the screws around the perimeter of the set.  Must have been 20+ screws.  this is the S/N tag.

The screws are all around the outside edge, and a few around the patch panel on the right.

The only tricky part is that there are a couple screws around the video connections, and the one I missed is in the middle of the RCA video plugs.

Once they were out the back comes right off.

The power supply board is right on top in the middle.

Squeeze the two sides of the power connection and it slides out.

The connectors slide out.  There are two types.  Some you squeeze the two sides and slide it out. A small screw driver can be used as a mini crowbar to separate connectors while you squeeze with the other hand.

  The others have a tab in the center you need to lift to unhook.

Luckily the part number of the power supply board was the same as the one I had bought, EAX62876201

I did notice that the new board is actually an older rev, Rev 1.0 vs the board in my set was Rev 1.1.   They look pretty identical so i'll forge ahead.

I put in the new board and powered up the set.  FAIL.  The set is doing the same thing.  The red light flashes and nothing else works.   You would have thought it was the power supply board zapped, but the surge hit the Ethernet on all the other devices so I should have known it was the main board.

This is the main board on the right.  It has a number of similar connectors requiring squeezing the outer edges and a handful of screws to take out.   The ribbon connectors on the left were the hardest.  Again squeeze the tabs on either side and use a small screwdriver to separate the connector.  Stick the screwdriver in a crack and wiggle and turn it.  A little finesse and they are out.

Here is the part number of the main board.

Found one on Ebay for $73.  Waiting for it to come.  Note that all these LG sets use the same board so it really doesn't have to come from the same type.

The new board came today.   It looked pretty much the same as the old one.  I didn't take the time to compare it exactly, I ran down and popped it into the set.  Attached the board with it's screws and slid in all the connectors.

It was not that exciting or difficult to install.   I plugged in the set before putting the cover back on.  Red light was no longer blinking.  Pulled out the remote, pressed power, and baaadaaaaaabing!   Win!  Set came right on, and the picture was there.  I had to reset up everything because of course, with an all new board it had forgotten all the internet SSID, Netflix passwords, etc.

The hardest part was actually getting the cover back on.   I propped the TV set up against the sofa and worked on it vertically since you never want to lay a big TV flat.   When i put the TV back on, it was tough to line up the screws and keep the front plastic bezel from popping out.   I had a couple extra screws when I was done.   Once I slipped and the set almost fell over.   However all was good.

Since the board was from a 47LW5600 not a 55LW5700 I need to go into the service menu and reset the set type and turn on some of the features, like the audio settings.  I covered that in another post, you need the correct universal remote and the password.   This isn't absolutely necessary, the TV works fine it just thinks it is another model.  Some of the video modes, local contrast options are turned off.

My new RCR312WR.  See the Guide button.
Put in the 5 digit code 11265 on this one.  Hold the TV button and type it in.  

Went to the TV and pressed the guide button.   Enter 0413 as the password. 
Press guide and the code box pops up.   Type 0413
Adjusted the TV model and size back to 55" and turned on the picture modes, audio, etc.

Anybody with  Philips head screw driver, some patience and an Ebay account can do this repair and amaze your friends.  Even other electrical engineers were amazed I took this on.  You have to have faith that sets are modular and easy to open and swap boards.  If they weren't they'd cost the manufacturer tons of money. Back in business for <$160.   It might have been half that if I had replaced the main board first.  I could resell the power supply board, but I'd have to put it back in and prove it was good before I could sell it, and I want to get on with life.

Since I did this I did some more googling and there are youtube videos on the process, which i haven't looked at.