Interesting

Reuse: CA-200 Card Reader

Recently I had a need to work with a micro SD card, read and write data for STM32 project. While I used my Macbook Pro to do this it got me thinking about having a backup. How about reusing some of the old parts I had laying around?

Working with various organizations I often wipe and recycle equipment. Usually this is obsolete or non functional equipment. Over the years I have saved some parts as potentially useful. Turns out I had collected  three different card multi-readers from various computers. In the end one worked out very well: the TEAC CA-200.

The TEAC unit model CA-200 is something found in various Dell computers or workstations. A unit designed to fit in 3.5 inch floppy drive bays. It has a Dell cable to interface with the system motherboard. Some googling found a relevant discussion on the very useful pinout.ru website. I built a cable using that information just to test things. It worked in Windows 10 much to my surprise (no extra drivers needed). 

Knowing this I decided to make a more permanent wiring connection. Opening the unit up its trivial to wire a USB cable directly to the card reader board eliminating the rear connector. Below is a photo of the unit I rewired:

CA-200 Internal layout with cable interface removed

The board is clearly marked for the standard Red, White, Green and Black USB wires. 


Final step was to connect this to a Dell laptop and flash the card readers internal firmware to version 4.08. You can find that on Dells website here. This provides support for larger SD cards. I don’t know the exact limit yet but I did read a 32GB micro SD card successfully. I don’t know if you have to run the utility on a Dell computer but it happens I did.  Now I’ve got a handy card reader that works not only on Windows 7 or 10 but also on OS X.


Recycle and reuse.


High Sierra Upgrade

I upgraded a Mid 2012 MBP to latest macOS High Sierra today. While this is an older model the process went smoothly. The unit was running El Capitan (10.11). It should be noted that the hardware had previously been updated. It was running:

  • 16gb RAM
  • 500gb Samsung EVO SSD

The SSD drive is a solid investment anyone should make on older Apple hardware. Not only is it a performance boost it also sped up the upgrade process significantly.

The first step in any upgrade is to make sure you have a backup. Whether that is a disk clone, time machine or other third party application (like BackBlaze)

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Disk Rebuild Crashes T420

A Dell T420 with at a small office crashed on restart. The Dell Red Screen Of Death (RSOD) was happening at boot.

This single processor unit with a H310 controller had internal non hot swappable IDE drives.  Pretty standard setup for light duty use. On reboot examining the RAID controller screen showed a drive in rebuilding state. This situation caused the RSOD.

Simply waiting for the drive to rebuild (about 6 hours) and then restarting the system fixed the RSOD. Unknown if a BIOS or other firmware update will correct this problem.

New Raspberry Pi Announced

On the fourth anniversary of the Rasperry Pi the foundation announced the release of Pi 3. Happy borthday and congratulations on releasing the successor to the Pi 2 model B.

Pi3-M

What makes this model most interesting to me is the built-in wifi. While I’ve not had a chance to work with it yet a Reddit thread suggests AP mode is supported. This means it can work as a wifi hotspot, albeit with very short range.

While it’s always been possible to built a Raspberry Pi hotspot using USB wifi adapters not all worked reliably and many adapter chipsets didn’t support AP mode. Having a built in wifi chip suggests the codebase will be stable and easy to work with.