Saturday, June 9, 2018

Setting up my 'new' used computer

This is my story about a new computer, well new to me anyway. A friend of mine passed away and willed me his HP computer and electronics stuff. Over many years he was a source of help, thoughtfulness and inspiration on my electronic issues. 
I received my old Dell Inspiration 518 Computer December 31, 2008. Today is June 9, 2018 making the computer almost 10 years old. Over the years the DVD drive failed and was replaced and the power supply failed and was replaced. The computer came with Vista operating system and over the years Microsoft has allowed free upgrades to its present Windows 10. When upgrading to Windows 10 my old sound driver was not accepted by Microsoft so I lost all audio for six months. In the meantime I loaded Linux Mint free operating system where the sound card worked fine. I really did not mind using Linux at all. Eventually I found a sound driver that I could use with Windows 10 so all functioned well once again.
My friend’s HP computer was purchased 6 years ago and is faster with 8 MB of installed memory compared to my old computer with just 4 MB. Also the hard drive is 1 TB which double the memory of my old computer. My old computer is almost full with pictures and home movies.
I did not know my friends Windows password so I entered the Safe Mode on his computer by depressing and holding the Shift key while restarting the computer. From this mode I selected the Reset option and the computer returns to the initial build configuration however retaining the upgrades including Windows 10. I then selected a new password. All the personnel files go away and any software added since purchase time go away. I then transferred all my personnel files, (documents, pictures, videos and music) to this computer. Then I went on-line and installed all my software programs I like, all free. ( Fotosizer, Audacity, InfranView, Movie Maker, Apache Open Office, Notepad++ and EML Viewer) I have an old disk of Works 9.0 from 2013 that I also installed. Works was a $10 program from Microsoft that was a fine alternate of Microsoft Office. No bells and whistles just simple word processing, spreadsheet and stuff. Very easy to use but not as powerful for sure. Since I use hotmail all email looks exactly the same along with face book. All my web sites show up in my favorites list. In the end all works normal except this computer is a lot faster. My old monitor and keyboard I continue to use as they are bigger and better.
Now to operate this new configuration for awhile and then maybe Reset my old computer for use by someone else.
(And this is the first item I have completed on this computer.) 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Repair a 10 year old Maytag dryer

I noticed a 10-year-old Maytag dryer was being given away and it had been on-line for several days without a response. So I picked it up with lots of help from the owner. He said they had not kept the vent clear and now the unit spins and all but does not heat. He said they replaced the heating element two years ago.

I was hoping the thermal fuse had blown but after disassembly and diagnosis, I found the heating coil had opened up. There was a lot of lint inside almost an inch covering the bottom, including the motor, the roller wheels holding the drum and also on the heating element case. The lint on the heating element case shows signs of smoldering.

I was able to find a new element for less than $20 on eBay which ships from California. P/n 3387747. Maytag model number MED9600SQ.

I cleaned everything real good even taking the drum roller wheels off and lubricating them with Tri - something or other. Now just wait for the new heating element to come in.

Found the light inside the drum was broken off so will get a replacement for that as well. If all works I will replace our 39-year-old green Maytag dryer even though it is working just fine.

Lint on the motor. 

See burnt lint which was sitting on heating element can.

 Lint on inside of vent tube inside dryer. 

Lint on drum rollers.

Bad heating element. The break is at the bottom left. 

See the breaks in the metal holding the element due to overheating. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Washing Machine did not spin all the water out.

On one load 2 inches of water remained in tub after all the spin cycles. This is a Kirkland Signature Washing Machine made by Whirlpool. With a little internet research it seemed the clutch assembly is the likely culprit for this problem. Nice you tube video’s of the repair were available. I ordered a new clutch assembly of Ebay and received in in 3 days at a cost of $14 including shipping. I also ordered a motor to transmission coupler for $5 with shipping which also arrived in 3 days. The coupler appears to be in great shape so I did not replace. With the new clutch in the washer spun the clothes dry perfectly at least for this first load. We purchased this washer in 2004 and with the new clutch appears to be working like new. The Maytag “green“ Clothes Dryer was purchased in 1975 and also runs as if new; although the timer dial is out of align some due to an earlier repair. Linda has used it out of align easily for many years.

The old clutch, not totally worn out but failing sometimes, slowing the spin cycle. I found it not too hard to spin by hand. The new clutch was much stiffer. The pads appeared to be about half worn down.

The gear box is still looking new, almost. (13  years old.)

The motor and drum shaft still lock in great shape.

Some removed parts on top of our old perfect running green 1975 Maytag dryer.

New clutch installed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Jim’s Temperature Controller

The purpose of this device is to regulate some item like a fan or a heater by temperature accurately. The Digital Thermostat circuit board is available from Marlin P. Jones ( for about $5. (Part #32184-MP) They would also have the wall-wart power supply with an output of anywhere between 14.5 to 27vdc.

In this circuit I used a 20 amp relay that was re-used from an old hot tub controller. The standard outlet is modified by breaking the hot connection between the two outlets so that the one outlet is hot all the time for the wall-wart and the other outlet is hot when the circuit board commands.

This Digital Thermostat circuit board should be extremely accurate. One can purchase either the Centigrade or Fahrenheit model. There is a probe that comes with the board which is attached to about a foot length of wire. The board has an accuracy of 0.1 degree Centigrade and can control with just a 0.1 degree of change. It can be configure to energize the relay if it either gets too cold or too hot. The board has memory even after power is removed so that one does not need to reset after power is reapplied.

Completed project
Relay on right side

Digital Thermostat board

Power on 

Temperature probe 


Thursday, December 8, 2016

PrimFilm 1800u slide and film scanner

Since Windows 8 my PrimFilm 1800u slide and film scanner will not work. Apparently the PrimFilm driver is not certified by Microsoft and neither PrimFilm nor Microsoft care. I did finally find a workaround fortunately.

 I followed the instructions on the youtube video named "How to install unsigned drivers on Windows 10 - By TotallydubbedHD". ( I used the old driver "SF_Eng_1.3".
I followed my handwritten instructions below which are real rough -

Windows key + I
Get charms bar.
left click on power
   shift - reset
Get Troublelshoot screen
   startup settings
  Press 7
Go to device Manager
       find scanner
      double click
       right click
        find driver
       Get red message not digitally assigned

After this Windows 10 worked fine with the scanner. It has been a long time.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Screen cable replaced on laptop computer

Linda’s older Toshiba laptop had an intermittent dark screen which got worse as time wore on. By raising or lowering the screen the screen will light up at times. The internet had examples of this happening and indicated the screen cable was bad. So finally getting to Toshiba by phone they provided the part number for the new cable. And then after less than $15 through Ebay the new cable arrived.  

I do not like to take a laptop apart unless we believe the laptop to be dispensable. I did find a good video on how to take this one apart.
(Laptop model L355D; cable V000140130   Toshiba phone 1-800-331-4829)

I was able to dissemble this unit. One screw failed to remove and broke the metal insert from the plastic upon loosening the screw. But the remaining 20 screws removed properly. So I was able to remove the keyboard and then the whole top showing the motherboard. Then take apart the screen assembly. I did break out two screws near the hinge which I think was my fault of not removing them early enough. But I did get the new cable installed and all back together and it looks like it works perfect and opens and closes normally.

Maybe a few more years of operation?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Obtaining a new key for the 2002 Prius, (long road)

We lost one of our Ignition Transponder Key to our 2002 Prius. Toyota wanted $36.21 for a blank key and an additional $105 to program the key. I took our good key to Henry’s Hardware in Kingston and had them cut and program a new key for $69 however the key did not open the locks or turn  the ignition. No charge. I found and ordered an Uncut Un-programmed Transponder Ignition Chip Car Key on Ebay for $6.24 which included shipping.

I took this Uncut key to Coast to Coast Hardware in Poulsbo and they cut it but it would not open the doors but did rotate the ignition but the programming did not work. They cut another key which did open the doors but had no Transponder so could not start the engine. They charged $11 for the two keys.

I was eventually able to program the Transponder Key using the below program so now all works however I need two keys instead of just the original one key. We did not loose a FOB Remote so we could use that with the new Transponder key and all should work fine.

The below key programming worked. (From
This is something you can do yourself and really only takes a little more than a minute.
1. Begin by sitting in the driver seat with all the doors shut.
2. Insert your working master (black) key in the ignition.
3. Very Quickly, turn the key from "LOCK" to "ON" 5 times. (You will end with the key in the "LOCK" position)
4. Immediately, open and close the driver door 6 times very quickly. (End with the door closed)
5. Immediately, remove your working Master Key and insert your new Master Key
6. Turn the key to the "ON" position and leave it there while you wait for 1 minute.
7. After the minute, if you want to program another key, just remove the first one and insert the next one, turning it to "ON" and leaving it in position for 1 minute.
8. When you are through programming keys, just take the last one out, open and then close the driver door to lock in the programming, and your done :)
You can erase all the keys and start over by turning a working master key 6 times and then opening and closing the door 7 times. Then remove the key and reprogram again.
Remember : You only have a few seconds to perform each maneuver so don't waste time. You will know when you have done it right when you insert the blank key and the security light on the radio stops blinking. If it does not work, try completing the sequence faster, time yourself. And don't worry, if it doesn't work the first time, just do it again :)