Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 2

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 2 - Intro


In chapter 1 we saw me taking apart a 20 year old system I knew nothing about and trying to retrofit new components (which I knew nothing about), with some exciting but disastrous results.

Summary: Unless you spend some hours looking at you old and new parts and really understanding what things do then you will likely not succeed.

Cheap class D amplifier boards are quite reliable for building active portable speakers, where a casing is wood or plastic, and the amplifier is always attached to the speaker. I have done this 3 or 4 times with no problems. But building a amplifier, has proven far more vexing.

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Reusing an Old Power Supply

Even the title of this section underlines my ignorance. I measured output voltages from the old transformer only, and as such there were many unknowns. Although a power supply may supply 12V or 24V what current can it support?

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Speaker Terminals


Although there were eight wires leading to my 8 speaker terminals, some were bridged. This created a short circuit when I used them with my modern Class D amplifier which cannot (i liveable) have shared grounds. 

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Un-Painted Metal Cased

For a beginner a plastic or perhaps wooden case is more forgiving than a metal case. A dropped wire, or a miss-placed screw can create all sorts of problems. 

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Conclusion

If you really understand electronics then it may be possible to reuse some of the old components out of an old amplifier. The less you understand the more you should disassemble. 

For example a capacitor pulled from a boards will likley behave predictably as per specs printed on side. But. . . .

A module such as speaker terminals module with PCB may hide surprises that you can so without! 

So in ultimate summary reusing base components is less likely to get you in to trouble than trying to fit new modules in with older modules, they may not "play" nicely. 

Lastly I had some help with this project from folks over at DIY Audio Forum.  So thanks for that guys. Link to post below:


Other links not related to this post:

Flood Risk Reports

Environmental Permit Applications

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Numo S10 Review

Numo S10 Review - Intro


My iphone took a dip in the sea recently. Dead. £700 for a iphone X (£60 a month with Vodafone). So I took a punt on a Numo S10 for £100 from Amazon. Findings below:

Numo S10 Review - Screen

I can find no difference between the screen on this Numo S10 and my iPhone 6s. It is a clear screen, sensitive to the touch, I have no problems with it.
Screen is Perfectly Adequate in Size and Quality

Numo S10 Review - Buttons

There are volume buttons and a power button. . . and that it. They are stiff to operate but I like that. I should imagine it would annoy some people though. The rubbery feel is quite nice. I have no problems with the buttons on the S10. 

Buttons are Heavy but have a Quality Feel

Numo S10 Review - Performance

Snappy! Lag free Android experience, works A OK. Loads apps in a snap. The Numo S10 has a quad core processor, and 2GB of RAM. I haven't done any gaming on it but its seems fine. I have no problems with the performance on the Numo S10. 

Numo S10 Review - Port Covers / Flaps

Oh Numu! It was going sooooo well. These port flaps were obviously designed last thing on a Friday. There are 3 in total that cover:

  • Charging Port
  • SIM / SD Card Port
  • Ear Phone Port
The biggest faff is the charging port, it is hard to get the slim fit micro USB connector to fit in the port, without put the port cover / flap in the exact right position. Its very annoying. 

Add caption

Dual Sim or Sim & Micro SD . . . handy!

Deep Recess and Annoying Falp Make Plugging in Ear Phone  Bit Tricky

Charging. . . . 

. . . again Wrestle with the Flap / Cover in order to Plug in Cahrger

Numo S10 Review - Conclusions

A good value android phone, supposedly water proof, quick performer, excellent screen and build quality. . . apart from the port cover / ports flaps which let it down somewhat.

Would I recommend. . . not sure. It price is a big plus point.

The port flaps on an Otter Box Armour are fine to use despite being large and chunky. Here we have a nicley implemented phone, let down at the last minutes by overly small and fiddly port covers. 

Oh no Google Pay. . . which would have been handy. Lack of NFC assures this.

Close Up of Moulding

Pencil for Scale

Rear of Phone - I like the colour Orange!


Fire Prevention Plan

Waste Transfer Station Permit

Illustrator Devon

Monday, 14 May 2018

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 1 - Intro


I am not overly interested in electronics I find it fiddly and not very satisfying. However, to me throwing a large complicated piece of electronic equipment in the bin is a literally a crime. . .  or it soon will be. E Waste in Ghana



For someone with low skills such as myself the percentage of what can be upcycled / reused is fairly low. But it saves some waste at least. It may also save you some money, by re-using the case, power supply and connectors you are perhaps saving £50 / $100 on a DIY build. . . . . . I hope to complete this project for about £20 / $40. Bear in mind you can buy a cheaper amplifier for £30! But where is the fun / satisfaction in that I ask. . . . .

Watch Chapter 1 You Tube Video on Upcycling an Amplifier. 

I should point out that my first attempt at this build went horribly wrong. I did not understand the power supply and some of the other wiring. I fried all of my new circuits! So more rubbish for the scrap heap! So you know where you stand perhaps use a modern switching power supply. . . but then our goal to prevent waste is very much reduced. I am only really reusing the case, and a few connectors. Hardly worth the effort. 

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 1- What You Need


A minimum kit list of attempting this project is:


  • Voltmeter / Multi-meter
  • Soldering Iron
  • Screw Driver 
  • Wire
  • Replacement Circuit Board with Suitable Voltage


Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 1 - Whats Inside?


The below amplifier is an old friend I bought this when I was 18 (over 20 yeas ago) and it has been used for countless parties, outdoor raves (linked with friends amplifiers), run on generators, used as a seat at bus stops. . . . . hence dent in lid! But alas it no longer works, and having checked the side I found the circuit board had a large crack running through it, and some of the leg have been torn from one of the large Class A Amplifiers.

WARNING: On the back of you amplifier there will likely be a message saying "Danger of Death" or "Risk of Electric Shock". This is there because there are bits inside that will kill you if you touch them. So if you do take the lid off you amplifier, that is what might happen. I am just explaining what I did. Only copy me if YOU choose to do so. 




So next I took off the lid, and had a look inside and found the following (click to enlarge):


You will note the large brown circuit board that cover most of the inside of this amplifier. I have no idea how to repair this, so will be replacing this with a small circuit board purchased from eBay. The boards look like this:


There are lots to choose from I will deal with which one later in this post. I am using the TPA3116. As I have some past experience with this board.

Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 1 - Which Bits to Keep

So after removing all of the bits you do not need you will end up with this (click to enlarge):



I have removed the large heat sink because I am using a Class D Amplifier so  I will not need the large heat sink, if you are choosing a Class A or Class AB amplifier then it would be a bonus to reuse your heat sink. 

A good quality power supply will cost quite a lot, so the one you have is worth keeping. The power supply might be AC rather then DC current, check this with a multi meter. If it is Look out for the bridge rectifiers and keep those too so you can make DC current for new amplifier board! 

This power supply gives out multiple voltages, which is very handy. I suspect most amplifiers will have this arrangements as they will need to power low voltage lighting and higher voltage amplifier chips. The voltages from this supply are "non" standard. They are not 12, 24, 36 etc. they are 17, 27 43 etc. thye go up to 93V so risk of a shock there if I am not careful!

Also the RCA inputs and Output Terminals and any other input / out put parts might be worth keeping. There were also some large capacitors, which may come in handy for decoupling.  


Upcyling / Recycling an Old Stereo Amplifier - Chapter 1 - Watch a Video Summary




I have tried to summaries findings in Chapter 2. . . although for a full description of what went wrong perhaps head over to DIY Audio






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Monday, 30 April 2018

Reasons to Switch from iOS to Android

Reasons to Switch from iOS to Android - Intro


OK! I have already made up mu mind to leave iOS, but here for those who are considering it is list of reasons why you might want too, and some reasons why it is probably easier then you think.

This comes from the perspective of a PC user who just wants a working phone, and does want to kneel on the door step of his local Apple Store in a trance like stupor every time they release a new model.

Reasons to Switch from iOS to Android - The Stick


I have been driven away from the iPhone and iOS by two events in the last year. . . . .


  1. The Slow Update Thing. . . . . I do not like to waste things. The thought of African kids picking apart my old electronics and dying early deaths weighs on my mind. The first thing I do when I get a new phone is put it in a bomb proof case. My iPhone 4S was in a otter box armour for it entire life, and was pristine. So you can imagine when Apple broke it (on purpose it seems) with an an update, I was a bit miffed. It was so laggy I just had to upgrade, and being a fool I went for and iPhone 6 which had. . . . . 
  2. The Battery Thing . . . . . . I did not update my phone this time around, which is hard work because Apple nags you to update, just like a spoilt child might nag you for the latest games console. So I expected long life, but alas my phone started cutting out at random intervals, when the battery was below 50%. Very annoying, often in the middle of calls, or when relying on navigation at a traffic junction. . . this is the battery problem Apple were trying to hide with their slow slow update. 
So that's it. I now have 2 bits of e-waste likely bound for India, or Africa because of Apple. I also paid £500 - £600 for these, bits of junk. I am not going back for more. 

Reasons to Switch from iOS to Android - The Carrot


I have been tempted by Android Phones for the following reasons . . . . 

  1. Waaaaaaay Cheaper . . . . You can get a cracking Android Phone for £200, you can get an OK one for £120. You can get a absolute rocket ship for £400. And we are still only half way to the price of last years iPhone. 
  2. Freeeeeedom. . . (of a sort) You can actually choose your OS version. Imagine that! Being able to install what ever software version you like on your phone (which you own). Amazing. Very Novel.
  3. Expand Memory Cheaply. . . Apple charge you £100+ for extra memory. Most android phones have a slot for a SD card, so you can add extra memory for £11.
  4. Take Music With You. . . . with iTunes and a few click you can export all your purchased music to MP3 and then put it on you new phone, often using the windows file system.
  5. Take Some Apps Too . . . . some apps are available on google play as well as iTunes, it is possible to transfer licenses on some, such as copilot GPS.
  6. Battery Life . . . . my latest phone lasts for 3 days between charges. Imagine that. 
  7. Knowledge of OS not specific to brand. Many many companies OS android OS, so once you have learnt to use it you can change manufacture without having to learn a new system.

Reasons to Switch from iOS to Android - Further Discussion

Apple used to make market leading phones. But others have now caught up. Save some money and buy and Android Phone. 

Thursday, 26 April 2018

VW Polo 9N 1.9 TDI or SDI - Power Steering Observations

VW Polo 9N 1.9 TDI or SDI - Power Steering Observations


The VW Polo 9N 1.9 TDI or SDI variant has a power steering pump that is located in a strange place.

To top up the fluid you will need to remove the battery (13mm socket set with extender) and also the battery tray (13mm socket with extender and perhaps knuckle).

The a battery tray is also partially attached to the air filter housing, so you will need to wrestle around that too. This video shows the location:



The pump is a 12v electric pump, and is accessed from underneath the car it looks like this:


In the video above you can only see the green cap poking up. The rest is tucked away and is accessed behind the bumper.

VW Polo 9N 1.9 TDI or SDI - Stiff / Lumpy Steering


If you have lumpy / stiff / intermittent power steering then it is likely that you have low power steering fluid levels. You should top up your power steering fluid level. BUT. . .before you do have a look under the car, is there oil dribbling out near the power steering rack. You may have a leak.

If you do have a leak you could either take it to the garage, and pay them £400 for a new rack, or you can use some power steering sealant. I have used the "Lucas" branded stuff and it is good. It gets consistently good reviews by everybody that uses it.


VW Polo 9N 1.9 TDI or SDI - Without Power Steering


I am a fit, well fed, 6ft tall man, who liked wrestling alligators (made up that last part) the steering in a vw polo is reeeeally heavy without power steering. Much much heavier than an old car designed without power steering.Forums are full of storey of people installing manual racks and then going back to power steering.

Environmental Permit Applications  


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Can You Jump Start a Car with a Motor Bike?

Can You Jump Start a Car with a Motor Bike? 


This is a common question on the web, with lots of dissipated information between you tube, forums and product reviews. So I have tried to summarise here.

In short this will work if you have a large bike and a small car. You will not be able to jump start a pick up truck with a scooter.

Its all about amps (CCA). A motor bike battery of any size will likely provide a maximum of 300 amps, but more often will be 200 amps.

A car will need 200 amps as a minimum, so the larger your bike, hopefully the larger its battery, and the better luck you will have.

Damage to Either System

The main thing to watch here is voltage. Both system should be 12v otherwise you will damage teh lower voltage one. Bear in mind that most 12V system runs at 14 - 15V (which is confusing).

The only problem I can foresee is that if after you jump start the car, the jump leads are left attached for too long, causing the car's alternator to charge the bikes battery too quickly.

Case Study 1 - Jump Start a Large Pick Up with a 250cc Bike

PROBABLY NOT - This doesn't doesn't work. A large diesel engine will require 500 - 600 amps plus current to start, and a small motor cycle battery will not provide enough current.

Case Study 2 - Jump Start a Small Petrol Car (1.5l) with a Power Bike (900cc)

PROBABLY YES - This would likely work OK, as the two systems are more closely matched in terms of their current requirements at start up. 

A Note on Battery Chemistry

The above applies for all types of Lead Acid battery which are the norm in most bikes and cars. However some upgrade batteries for Motor Bikes use lithium technology. The graph below shows that  lithium batteries but out more amps for their size than lead acid equivalent. 


The (red) line above shows lithium performance, vs lead acid performance (blue). So we can see that whilst a small lead acid battery will not get above 300 amps, a lithium battery can supply up to 1000 amps. Which would be plenty for even a moderate diesel engine start up.

Illustrator Devon

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

8GB or 16GB of RAM for Heavy Multi Tasking

8GB or 16GB of RAM for Heavy Multi Tasking - Intro


RAM is fairly cheap and easy to install. But how much do you need for heavy multitasking?

8GB or 16GB of RAM for Heavy Multi Tasking - Observations


Prior to my upgrade I was running 4GB of RAM, but owing to 32 bit limitations of 3GB and two 500MB graphics cards, I can only see 2GB of available RAM in performance manager.

This 2GB of RAM was always maxed out, hovering around the 1.8GB mark most of the time during day to day use. I use a 4 monitor set up so can have a awful lot of stuff open.

I recently upgraded to a 64 bit system, and so now I can use more RAM. I have installed 16GB, but how much of this will get used.

Typically I have open:


  • 4 Browser Windows (3 or 4 Tabs Each)
  • 3 MS Word Windows
  • MS Outlook
  • >10 Large PDF Files
  • MS Publisher with lots of Photos
  • Modelling Software or,
  • Sketch Up or,
  • AutoCAD
So how much memory does all this stuff take up? Just 3.67GB:




Windows is actually using a lot more memory standby memory, if we look in resource monitor we can see only 1.4GB Free with around 11GB used in standby. Standby memory hold on to applications that have been closed, in case they are needed again, this will gradually "fill up" the longer you have your machine switched on and you open and close programs.



8GB or 16GB of RAM for Heavy Multi Tasking - Conclusion


8GB will almost certainly be plenty for heavy multitasking. Any more than 8GB and really you are looking at server amounts of memory that give no real benefit. 

Would I have bought 16GB of RAM knowing what I know now? Probably not. But its would still be tempting because the more available memory for standby the better. . . . and there in lies the rub.

As a note aside the best performance upgrade you can ever make (in my opinion) is a solid state drive SSD. Even a old, low spec computer will work twice as fast with an SSD.