Category Archives: Hardware

Sonoff S20 v1.3 Programming

Like a lot of people I’ve been reprogramming the range of sonoff devices with alternative firmware for simpler Alexa control.

However the latest S20 socket I bought didn’t flash quite as easily as the first one I tried.

First of all soldering on the header was made a little bit more difficult due to the new construction.

1: Unscrew the 3 black Phillips head screws

2:  Separate the 2 halves of the plug

3: Take a 3mm drill bit and carefully drill out the top of the 2 plastic posts at the socket end which are holding the circuit board in.

4: Carefully turn over the PCB and solder on your header.

Connect your FTDI connector to the S20, in this picture orange = gnd, yellow = RX, Green = TX, Blue = Vcc (3.3v)

You don’t appear to have to reverse tx and rx to program these.

Load the arduino editor and the sketch you want to load, to program these you need these settings in Arduino IDE

ESP8266 module
80mhz CPU Frequency
40mhz Flash frequency
115200 Upload Speed
1M(128kb) SPIFFS Flash Size
DOUT Flash Mode

Monday morning hard drive woes

What a start to Monday.

Last week we had a drive fail in a disk array, no problem slap in the spare from the shelf and we’re good to go screwed damn drive gave error and was no good, ok box has a hot spare in it, hmm that’s showing as unconfigured bad lalalalalala

Spent Thursday afternoon and all day Friday going back and forth with IBM support and finally on Friday afternoon they agree to send out 3 disks.

Get to work this morning and the disks had already been delivered so by half 9 both bad disks in the array were changed, cold spare on the shelf and faulty drives at the gatehouse to be picked up tomorrow.

Then I noticed that the Thecus NAS is screaming at me with red lights and that has a failed disk in it too 🙁 coupled with the imminent death of my laptop hard drive last week and the non functioning replacement I’m going back to bed.

Testing solid state relays

Today I pulled an ssr from a versalaser air compressor and wanted to test if it was working.

l started just as you would with an electro mechanical relay, l stuck a 9v battery across it and nothing. Then l remembered it was an ssr so l wouldn’t hear anything and I put my meter across the load terminals in continuity mode and got nothing.

Hmmm a quick google reveals all solid state relays need a powered load as they use some of that power to operate and a multimeter doesn’t provide enough.

So hooking a desk fan to the load side of things with the live wire connected to the terminals and a 9v battery to switch the relay results in the fan turning on, result working ssr.

Latest Multipoint Server 2011 build


Continuing with my project to use direct attached graphics in my multipoint builds to replace multiple boxes in ict suites here you can see my latest.

I’ve had to change the motherboard to a Maximus III Gene due to the unavailability of my previous one.

They still have the same i7-870 2.93GHz cpu, 16gb ram and dual firepro 2460 quad mini dp graphics cards.

The other change I’ve made is to use the antec gamer 300 case with a 440w truepower psu instead of the antec atlas.

The new case is about the same size but around half the cost however due to it’s bottom mount psu layout brought its own problems as the 12v lead from the psu to the motherboars wasn’t long enough and I had to order some extensions.

The connection from each mini display port socket on the graphics card goes like this:

mini displayport to displayport adaptor – displayport 2m or 5m cable – Sapphire single link dp to dvi active converter, sometimes the dp cable can be left out and the Sapphire converter plugged straight into the mini displayport to displayport adaptor.

Each client station also has a D-Link 7 Port powered usb hub connected back to the multipoint server host.

All of the cabling is secured in 75m x 50mm white pvc trunking with holes cut where needed to keep it all neat and tidy.


Emptying the Brother HL-4040CN Waste Toner Box

Due to the design of these printers i.e the drum unit and toner boxes are seperate this also means it has to store the waste toner generated seperately, toner cartridges which are an all in one unit store their waste toner within the body of the cartridge.

Your printer may or may not tell you that it’s waste toner needs emptying mine didn’t but the symptoms of it needing to be done is that you will get multicoloured streaks of toner fused to the backside of your prints.

I would recommend you only follow these steps if you have a toner vacuum as a normal vacuum doesn’t have a filter fine enough and the toner particles which just fly out of the exhaust.

Open the front cover of the unit.

Pull out and remove the toner and drum tray.

Now lift up and remove the transfer belt.

Under the transfer belt is the waste toner box lift this up and remove it as well.

At the back of the unit you will see a small box held in place with 2 phillips screws, remove the screws and place this bit to one side we’ll come back to it in a moment.

Hold the main box inside a cardboard box and then start tapping it with something like the handle of a screwdriver, the toner inside is quite compacted so you need to loosen it up.

As the toner falls I use a toner vac to help keep it under control.

Once you have knocked a good quantity of toner out we return our attention to the smaller box removed previously.

Turn the small box over and you will notice it has a clear bottom, this part sits within an optical sensor within the printer and is how it knows when the waste toner box is full.

The clear portion needs to be cleaned so remove the 2 screws holding it on watching out for the foam seal and give it a good clean.

Reassemble the unit and install it back in the printer.


Server Room Environmental Monitoring

We all now that it’s a good idea to monitor the internal temperature of our server rooms and racks but I’ve been looking for an affordable network based solution to this problem and I think I’ve found it.

You will need:

1 x 1-Wire to Ethernet OW Server

1 x Temperature sensor at least I use these and these

1 x RJ11 straight through cable to connect the first sensor on each port

1 x PSU for the OW Server I used this POE splitter but had to change one of the ends as it was too small to fit the power socket on the OW Server

With the OW Server hooked up to the mains and your network it will obtain a DHCP address if you don’t have a DHCP server on your network download and configure TFTPD to do this for you.

Once your OW Server has obtained an ip address whack that in your browser and you should be connected to the web interface for the server and have the details of your sensors displayed.

There are 3 1-wire ports on the OW Server and you can daisy chain the sensors. After the first sensor is connected via the rj11 cable you can use normal rj45 latch leads to connect the rest.

The ow server supports snmp as well as it’s web interface so you could monitor it using something like nagios myself I am helping develop OP Smartdesk into a fully featured ICT support system including monitoring of the OW Server with alerting as well.

If you use a POE splitter like I have then the OW Server itself could be located up to 100m of the nearest cab and then from there you have the limits of the 1-wire bus for your sensors.

The admin login for the OW Server by default is username: admin password: eds

I’ve been doing some googling today and have found some possible options for using poe with these 1-wire interfaces, the poe splitter that I bought doesn’t seem to work when connected via a cisco small business poe switch on when used with a poe injector.

The ones I’ve been looking up today should work with a poe switch.

You probably only want to use a poe splitter if you are deploying these devices in remote areas for hvac monitoring for normal use in server room monitoring I guess you are going to have plenty of power sockets available.

I just googled 9v poe splitter.

Intel Storage Server Part 2

In a previous post I mentioned my intention to install server 2008 R2 on my Intel Storage Server and that’s exactly what I have done.

The server is an SSR212MC2BR it was originally bought and configured as a NAS/iSCSI SAN running openfiler however it never worked quite right, it then had Open-e DSS software installed on it and this was choosen because the software had Intel Storview built in. Well a cut down version which actually never gave much info.

Still it had problems the complete set of 8 x 750GB enterprise sata disks were swapped out but that didn’t solve the issues we had where the array would just fall apart and the whole server was shipped back to the supplier were at no extra cost they installed a hardware raid card and also fitted a 2 port Intel nic which I had asked for.

We hoped that the raid card would help with our problems.

The server ran fine for a while and then one day it just stopped responding on it’s network interfaces, why I never found out and it just sat in it’s rack until the other day when I decided to implement my plan.

For backup software we use R1Soft CDP and as this is available as a windows based installation I didn’t see any benifit in having a server running the CDP software and then the storage being remote.

So armed with my Server 2008 R2 dvd I prepared myself for the installation, first hurdle no optical drive on the server.

Hmm thinks I and scratches my head, I first try my ide to usb adapter plugged into a dvd drive but the server doesn’t see it as a bootable device well infact it doesn’t see the drive at all.

Next I pop the lid of to see what connections are exposed, a row of sata connectors bugger I’ll have to find a sata dvd drive. Sata dvd drive located in a machine and plugged into a blue sata connector, reboot the server and look in the bios nothing there. I guess the blue ones are for the onboard raid capability.

Ahaha I spy an ide connector lets try the first dvd drive plugged into that so after a bit of swearing to get an ide cable routed we have it connected, yes the bios sees the ide dvd drive as a boot option.

Reboot the server and the windows installation begins very very very slowly. Eventually we get to expanding files and it gets to 7% then dies, bugger.

Ok next thought I had was that the server has 2 x 2.5″ boot drives so if I remove the sata cable to one of those I can plug my sata dvd into it and install from there, a single screw frees the 2 drives from their acoustic mounting and I do just that.

Reboot and the sata dvd drive is now picked up in the bios and I boot from it, success the installation of Server 2008 continues and is a lot quicker than before it can see the 80GB single boot drive that is still plugged in and can also see the 4.0TB RAID6 array whoopee!!!!!!

After a little while the installation is finished and the server is ready to go no missing drivers and all hardware is accounted for.

In order to provide visiblity into what is happening with the hardware I need to install 2 applications, Intel Storview to be able to see the status of the server enclosure itself and Adaptec Storage Manager to enable monitoring of the RAID system.

Downloads for both apps were secured and installation began, adaptec storage manager is working great storview isn’t the problem I have with storview is that I just get an “unable to connect” error page which would suggest the service isn’t working correctly however it starts and restarts just fine, if anybody has any ideas that would be great.

I have also downloaded the stable version of CDP Enterprise 3.0 from and look forward to filling up my 4.0TB array with some lovely server backups.

This morning I configured ASM to email me with errors etc… and then I decided to pull a drive to see what happened next, as expected ASM alerted me to the fact that there was a problem with the array and the alarm on the card started beeping too. I cancelled the alarm and reinserted the drive and again ASM picked this change up and started rebuilding the array.

Thats all for now but as I start using my “new” backup server in anger there may well be a part 3.

Update: It took 3hrs 38mins to rebuild the array.

Intel Storage Server for CDP

Ok back to work on tuesday after the christmas break and it will actually be 3 weeks since I’ve been at work due to the horrible virus/flu I had before christmas.

One of my jobs is to see about installing Server 2008 and R1Soft CDP version 3.0 on the Intel SSR212 storage server that I have.

I will update this with my progress.

HP NX6325 Power On Password Removal

  1. Turn laptop over
  2. Remove battery
  3. Remove single small phillips screw from memory compartment cover
  4. Take out 2 torx screws securing keyboard
  5. Turn laptop over, keyboard facing up
  6. Flick down small latches at top of keyboard
  7. Lift keyboard away slightly
  8. Remove watch style battery and wait 5 minutes
  9. Plug AC adapter in, do not reinsert battery
  10. Power on password should now be gone
  11. Turn off and reinsert battery
  12. Done

Konica Minolta 5440DL Language Reset

If you have one of these printers and some little darling has changed the language to one you can read this is what you can do to reset it.

This procedure must be done with the menu showing ready with the bars displaying the amounts of toner left.

If your printer is in an error state you can perfom this procedure if you turn the printer off and on and as it starts up it will be at ready breifly before going to its error state.

  • Select the MENU button
  • Press the right arrow ONCE
  • Press the SELECT button TWICE

The printer is now set to english.