Archive for the ‘Electronics’ Category

Acura TSX DVD Read Error

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Just last week, I found my ’04 Acura TSX’s navi unit inoperational.  The screen showed “DVD Reading Error”.  I went googling a bit and found that I wasn’t alone.  Some people suggested to send the unit back to Alpine (1-888-NAV-HELP) for reconditioning.  That would have cost $160.  Another option was buying a replacement unit off of eBay.  That would have cost about $500 – $600.  Last option was going back to the dealership to have the entire unit replaced.  That would have cost $4000+.  That’s kinda outrageous.  Even $160 to recondition the unit is too expensive.  What would they do to recondition the unit?  Replace the DVD drive in the unit?  I think the first thing they would do is just cleaning the lens to see if that fixes it.  That’s exactly what I did to fix my navi.

I forgot to take pictures when I cleaned the unit.  Taking it back out for photograph is kind of a hassle so no pictures in this instruction.

This is what you need to start:

  • Philips screw driver
  • Flat screw driver
  • Alcohol pad (you can also use cotton and rubbing alcohol, just be careful about cotton getting stuck inside the unit)
  • Toothpick (or a very small screwdriver with the same girth as a toothpick)
  • Flash light
  • Radio code

Here is the steps:

  1. Locate the DVD unit in the trunk (that should be very obvious)
  2. Unplug all wires behind the unit.  The plugs should be very easy to pull out.  If you have to use a lot of force, you are pulling it wrong.  There should be a little thing on top of the plug where you push it with your finger to pull out the plug.  You may have to crawl behind the unit to see the plugs.
  3. Unscrew the four screws from the harness that holds the unit.  Make sure you hold on to the unit when you take out the last screw.  Otherwise, it will just slide right out and may damage the unit.
  4. Now that you have the unit on your hand, take out the screws that holds the top cover.  After you take out the screws (there are like 10+ of them), use a flat screwdriver to loosen the cover.  You will need to wiggle the cover a bit to pull it apart from the front cover plastic.
  5. The DVD drive should be exposed now.  The lens is very close to the center.  Use a flash light to shine into the unit to find the lens.  You will see a purplish reflection off the lens.
  6. Once you locate the lens, it’s time for a clean-up.  Stick the alcohol pad into a hole that’s closest to the lens, use the toothpick to rub the alcohol pad against the lens.  Make sure the toothpick doesn’t touch the lens.  Otherwise, you may damage the lens.
  7. Lens should be cleaned now.  Put the unit back together and back to the car.  When you turn on the unit, it will prompt for a radio code.  Make sure you have the radio code already because if you don’t, the unit will not be functional.

The whole process shouldn’t more than a couple hours.  I hope this information helps and save you some money.

Lexmark C543 Review

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

I just purchased this low-cost laser printer for work for less than $300. I have to say most of the reviews I read about this printer is true. It’s slow on startup (about a minute) and noisy when printing but print quality is excellent. The best part, it came with a full cartridge set instead of a starter pack. The cartridge set would cost a couple hundred dollars alone. You can’t really go wrong with this printer for the price.

One thing of warning though. The print server on this printer is wide open by default and the FTP port is also opened (you can print stuffs by ftping stuffs to the ftp port). I would suggest disabling FTP and set up a password if you are on a shared network in case some deadbeats may discover the FTP port and start dumping stuffs there for backup.

Intel X25-M 80GB MLC Solid State Drive

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

I finally took the plunge and bought this drive from Amazon after days of research.  What pushed me over to actually make the purchase is after I used it on a friend’s Macbook.  I hesitated to buy because I read a lot mixed reviews about SSD.  There are two types of SSD.  One type is called SLC and the other type is called MLC.  There are a lot of info about SLC vs MLC out on the net so I’m not going to try to explain the technical difference between the two.  Basically, SLC is the holy grail because it’s fast in both read and write.  MLC is as fast as SLC in read but not as fast in write and most of the MLC drives slow down dramatically with concurrent writes.  SLC is suitable as a boot drive and MLC is generally not recommended to use as boot drive because of slow write speed and performance degradation on concurrent writes. Also, SLC has longer life than MLC.

Currently, Intel is the leading vendor that makes a reliable and reasonably fast MLC SSD.  Some people commented that Intel’s SLC drive is the only way to go for SSD and their MLC drive is only good for data storage.  I have also heard that Intel’s MLC drive is passable as a boot drive.  The SLC drive costs almost twice as much as a MLC drive.  It’s really out of the question for me to even consider a SLC drive.  For me, the 80GB Intel X25-M is the only thing that’s affordable (around $325) with reasonable performance.  Luckily, a friend of mine installed the 160GB version on his Macbook so I got the chance to see it in action.  I was really amazed by its performance.  Photoshop loaded in less than 10 seconds and Eclipse (a Java IDE) loaded in less than 5 seconds.  Both Photoshop and Eclipse used to take about a minute to load in the same laptop when it was running on a hard drive.

I ordered a 80GB Intel X25-M immediately after testing on my friend’s Macbook.  I use Ubuntu myself on a Lenovo Thinkpad X61 (an excellent laptop btw).  My boot time reduced from couple minutes to 30 seconds after I switched to this SSD.  I’m extremely happy with the performance.  Contrary to what some people claimed that the drive would slow down a lot with concurrent write requests, I barely noticed any slow down.  Everything loaded instantaneouly.  I feel like I missed out a lot for spending the past few weeks doing research on SSD.  I should have just take the plunge when the price dropped to $325.  If you are still undecided, I say just do it because it totally worth the money.  It’s not cheap compare to a hard drive but the performance improvement will sure help in your productivity to make up for it.