Category Archives: Hardware Devices

How to change DNS settings on your local PC

Have you ever been working on a website, changed your DNS settings over to a different server and later needed to access that server again from the old domain name for some reason? Well if you are an active developer, this situation is somewhat common. I'll explain or you can skip the rest of this paragraph to quickly learn now to do it. Let's say you own the domain name example.com and a web server with an IP address of 111.111.111.111. Now assume you have a WordPress blog on that server that you had to move to another server with IP 222.222.222.222. Let's say you already changed the DNS settings for domain.com to point to the new server with IP 222.222.222.222 but you need to go back to the original WordPress site on the other server with an IP of 111.111.111.111. What do you do? We all know a WordPress site won't function properly with just the IP address, so that is out. What you need to do is repoint example.com to 111.111.111.111 in order to access that WordPress site again. What a PITA, right? Well read on and I'll show you a fast and easy way to make the site on the original server work with example.com even after you've pointed it to another IP address or web server! It's as simply as controlling a local host file on your local PC to make example.com route to 111.111.111.111 even though the internet routes it to 222.222.222.222! Here's how:

Using hosts file to override DNS settings for your PC

A lot of people don't realize that when you make a request to the Internet using your local computer it first checks a local copy of the hosts file for an entry and only if one isn’t present it goes out to the Internet DNS servers. Therefore there's an opportunity present for you to redirect example.com only for your own PC if you wanted to! Here are the easy steps:

  1. Open file explorer and navigate to C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc.
  2. Open the file named "hosts" in notepad or another text editor that could be used as a code editor such as Notepad++, which is what I use.
  3. Now simply add a line to the end of the hosts file that contains the IP address of the server you want to route the domain name too followed by a space and then the domain name you want to reroute. So in our example scenario above, you would enter a new line that reads simply: 111.111.111.111 example.com
  4. Save the hosts file and open your browser and navigate to the domain which in our example was example.com. Note that there is a difference between example.com and www.example.com, so if you want it to work with www, you have to add another entry for www.example.com.

If you're using Notepad++ or similar as I was, you'll need to open it in administrator mode in order to be able to save the hosts file. Good luck! That's all there is to it.

How to change local DNS settings on a Mac

If you're on a Mac, the instructions are basically the same but do this instead:

From the terminal, type:

nano /private/etc/hosts
and then add the IP and domain name as described above, so the only real difference between Mac and a PC when it comes to changing DNS settings is that you will use a different editor and the hosts file is located in different places.

 

 

Make a Bootable El Capitan USB Drive for Mac from Windows PC

After a couple days of random Google searches, I finally was able to put together enough information to figure out how to make a bootable USB drive to restore my Mac using a PC. Yes, my Mac took a dive, a huge one. It won't even start up, so I found that the only possible way of fixing it on my own without taking it into the shop and spending hundreds of dollars I can't afford, was to try to re format the Mac's Hard Disk and install the latest version of OS X on it. I am crossing my fingers it will work! TIP: before you start, you might want to get the os x software .dmg file download started because it's over 6gb and takes a while. Click on the first link under the Download OS X Software heading below to get that going and you can take your time with the rest.

Download OS X Software

The first thing you want to do is download the El Capitan Software from one of the following links:

The best option for me was to download the .dmg file directly from:

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B8s8_mgNDN5scDI4R0VTUVpkQUU&

usp=sharing

Beware that it is a 6.2GB file and will take quite some time to download in most cases.

If the above link doesn't work for any reason, you can try this second one if you are good at piecing together the .rar archives:

https://goo.gl/8CGh5L

 

 

Download TransMac

The first step to creating your El Capitan USB dongle using Windows is to download TransMac, which can be done free of charge using the following link:

http://www.acutesystems.com/scrtm.htm

Click the above link and then click on the hyper link that reads " tmsetup.zip" towards the top of the resulting page.

Once you have the TransMac .zip file downloaded, if it's not already on yoru desktop, move it there so you can follow this tutorial easily. Unzip it to your desktop and click on the setup file to install it. You can accept the defaults while going through the GUI. It's nothing very important, just get to the "install" button at the end and click it and you are golden. Before clicking on "Finish" however, you should uncheck the "read me" and "run" options because we have to run it a certain way as you'll soon see.

Now's a good time to insert your USB stick, thumb drive, dongle or whatever you call it. Backup any files you want to save and erase them from the USB drive to be safe.

Next, right click on the new shortcut icon for TransMac the install process should have created on your desktop and select "run as administrator". You will want to then run the free trial.

Once TransMac is running, select your USB drive from the menu on the left by right clicking it and choosing the "Format Disk for Mac" option and clicking "yes" to continue if a warning pops up about losing files or formatting etc...

You'll be asked for a Volume Name next, enter something like "EL Pwn Version" and click "ok". Soon, it will say "Format Complete" and click "ok" again.

Again in the left side of TransMac, right click on your USB drive and this time select "Restore with Disk Image" and then select the copy of the "EL Pwn Version.dmg" file you should have downloaded to your desktop earlier.

 

 Summary and Credit

If you follow along with this tutorial closely, hopefully you were able to get a copy of El Capitan installed on your Mac using only a Windows machine to build your bootable USB flash drive. I have to give credit to the YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjTLYJXM8u4 because it was the only source I found online that even remotely covered how to do this successfully.

 

 

How To Take a Screenshot in Windows

I just upgraded to windows 10 and thought maybe I wouldn't have to download a screenshot application like I've always done to-date, so I Googled how to take a screenshot in Windows 10. Supprisingly, I learned that Windows has had a screenshot keyboard shortcut even before Windows 10. I tried this on Windows 8 and it worked too!

How to take a screenshot in Windows

All you have to do is hold down the windows key(on the lower right side of your keyboard between the fn and alt keys. It's the key with the window symbol on it.) and simultaneously press the "prt sc" key(found in the upper right portion of your keyboard, normally not far from the f12 key).

Fix Asus Touchpad After Windows 10 Upgrade

Today I spend a few hours trying to figure out how to fix the touchpad on my Asus laptop after installing the new Windows 10. It was not easy to find this fix, so I am posting it here. All you have to do is download the Windows 10 version of Smart Gesture and you will be able to control your touchpad once again after installing it.

Problems this fixes include:

  • Not being able to turn of tap to click
  • scrolling problems
  • no controls for your touchpad after windows 10 upgrade
  • Control panel link to smart gesture not working
  • many other possible touchpad issues after installing Windows 10

The download:

dlcdnet.asus.com/pub/ASUS/Commercial_NB/Apps_for_Win10/SmartGesture/SmartGesture_WIN10_64_VER405.zip

Summary:

If you're having any problems with your touchpad or with touchpad settings in particular, try downloading and installing the software from the above link. It has worked for many!

 

 

 

 

Home Made Battery

This is intended to be the beginning of a series of posts about making batteries from home. It is going to include a series of test in order to determine the best types of home made batteries to use to power my home. The basic objective is to make a battery bank large enough to power several 12 volt lights and appliances throughout my home. I don't intend to power any large appliances yet, however that may be a goal for the future. For now, my intention is to be able to power at least  enough lights for up to 5 rooms, two internet routers(a cable modem and a wireless router), a 12 volt cooler for food, a PC and a TV. For me, those are the bare necessities and I can live quite comfortably with just those things. Others may require more, but this is my house, not theirs lol.

General experiments

I have already performed some general experiments with different sized containers, different types of container materials, different metals and various electrolytes. Below are my basic discoveries to get us started.

How to make a basic home made battery

To make a general purpose home made battery you generally need to make several cells. For this demonstration, we will use one 12 oz pop cans for each cell in our battery and we will probably use 6-8 cells depending on how much power is needed.

Materials

  1. 6-8 12 oz pop cans(preferably generic and not Coke cans) I find that generic soda cans are less likely to have a coating on the inside that prevents effective corrosion which is needed for the battery to work. If you have to use cans with this coating, you'll need to remove the coating with sandpaper somehow first. I've heard of using hydrochloric acid, but I cannot safely recommend that here, so don't do that unless you know what you're doing and understand that it is strictly at your own risk!
  2. roughly a 6 feed length of 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter copper tubing or another equally substantial amount of copper with similar or greater surface area.
  3. approximately 4 feet of medium gauge wire that is between 10 and 20 gauge.
  4. Either solder or aligator clips can be used to fasten your wires to the battery's electrodes
  5. A decent pair of wire cutters and strippers.
  6. Water. Good old H2O or Plain tap water works fine.
  7. Bleach. Any kind will work, but I use the concentrated type for better results. I've heard using Clorox brand works better too, but I refused to buy a name brand bleach for testing.
  8. Salt. Regular table salt. You'll need several tablespoons or about 2 tablespoons for each cell at the most.

Those are the things I"ll be using for my first experiments and these items were selected based on my preliminary testing.

Putting it all together:

It's not really hard to build home made batteries, but it is time consuming because you have to produce several cells and run some parallel and some in a series until you get the voltage and amps required. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Take 1 of your 12 oz soda cans(you could use larger or smaller ones too) and clean it out.
  2. Measure your can from top to bottom and cut a lengh of copper tubing(or other copper material) to approximately 1 inch longer than the can.
  3. Wrap one end of the copper tubing with electrical tape so that when you stick it down in the pop can, it doesn't ground out to the bottom of the can(or make sure it just doesn't touch the bottom if you don't want to take it. Then place a mark on the copper tube where it meets with the top of the pop can.
  4. Fill the can with plain tap water from your sink.
  5. Using the mark you made on the copper tube from step 3, wrap enough electrical tape around the copper so that you can fit it firmly in the mouth of the pop can. It should be a little snug at least with the tape around the mark keeping the copper from touching the can at any point. It is important the the two metals never touch or your battery will never work!
  6. After inserting the copper tube into the can, solder or clip a 2 inch length of wire to the portion of the copper tubing that sticks out above the top of the can.
  7. Solder or clip another length of wire 2 inches or longer to the rim of the alluminum can. This will be your negative lead and the one on the copper will be positive.
  8. Hook your leads to a multimeter and record the voltage and amperage from the single cell bettery you have just completet. You should get about 1/2 volt and very little amperage.
  9. Continue to make a total of at least 6 cells by repeating all the above steps. Label each cell you have made from 1 to 6 or 1 to 8 etc., depending on how many you made.
  10. Connect the positive lead(from the copper tube) of cell one to the negative lead of cell 2. Then the pos lead from cell 2 to neg lead on cell 3......continue until all cells are wired together in a series.
  11. Measure the voltage from the negative terminal on cell one and the positive terminal of the last cell and you should have between 6 and 16 volts so far.

That's basically all there is to it, but now you will know if you need more cells in series or in parallel depending on if you need more voltage or amperage. Add more cells in series to increase voltage and in parallel to increase amps. Also increase the amount of bleach and/or salt in each cell to increase voltage, but remember that the stronger the solution is, the faster the battery terminals will corrode and eventually need maintenance and/or cleaning to keep them producing the optimal voltage and amperage needed.

Size of container

I've tried everything from Popsicle trays(like larger ice cube trays), aluminum cans and 5 gallon buckets. What is the difference in the size of the battery you ask? Surprisingly very little. Whether using a 5 gallon bucket with large electrodes and 5 gallons of electrolyte or using a pop can, both batteries produced roughly the same amount of voltage ranging from 0.4 to 1 volt depending on the strength of the electrolyte solution.

Increasing Voltage

Electrolytes is the key to more volts within a single cell I discovered. While other factors can alter the amount of voltage only slightly, the strength of the electrolyte was the main factor that effected the amount of voltage the batteries Ive made so far produced.

To increase the overall voltage produced by your home made batteries, you need to increase the number of cells in the battery. A battery is often a series of several cells unless it is a single cell battery, but usually when I refer to "battery", I am speaking of the entire group of cells making up a single batter. A home made battery will often consist of 6 or more pop cans or other containers wired in a series or in parallel. To increase voltage we would run them in a series which means to attache the positive lead from the first cell to the negative lead of the second cell then continue until you reach the last cell. At that point the negative lead on cell one and the positive lead on the last cell will be open and those will be the two terminals used to power your device.

Increasing Amperage

The key to more amps seems to be in the general size of the battery. I was able to product significant;y more amps using a five gallon bucket as opposed to a 12 oz soda can.

To increase overall amperage a battery produces, several cells are required just as with increasing voltage. To increase amperage however, we have to wire the cells in parallel instead of in a series because batteries wired in parallel will cause the amperage to increase and the voltage to remain the same. Often times batters consist of a combination of cells ran in a series and cells ran in parallel to product the desired volts and amps. The general idea we are using will be to wire enough cells in a series to get 12 volts  in a single battery and after that we will increase the amperage by making several of these multi-cell/12 volt batteries and connecting them in parallel.

My First Battery

After testing large & small containers, a few different metals and several combinations of electrolytes, I ended up making my first batter with a series of 8 cells to product 12 volts at