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K5HRA Tech

Rechargeable Battery Tricks

So I’m cleaning up the office again, and I come across my old set of Cobra FRS radios, model 3850’s.  A while back the rechargeable batteries that came with them stopped taking a charge, so I bought a set of Amazon brand AAA batteries, and it should have all been good.  Nope, wouldn’t take a charge through the radios.  If I put them in another charger, no problem.  So that’s what I’ve been doing.  I wasn’t going to mess around if it worked that way.

This time I’m like, “nope, this is going to work the right way now.”  So a quick Google search later, and I discover that there’s a little contact in the battery bay that must contact the negative post/battery casing for the radio to charge the batteries.  Apparently the factory ones have this consideration built into them, where the ones I bought do not.  A quick X-Acto knife surgery on just that battery to remove the plastic covering, and voila.  The red-charging light of success appeared.

I’ve called out the little contact switch and the surgically modified area of the battery in the attached image.

Just an FYI to anyone who ran across this.  Shame that Cobra makes it seem that you have to buy their batteries just to make this work.  I haven’t priced them, but I bet they’re significantly more expensive.

DO NOT try this with regular old Alkaline batteries.  You’ll make a nasty hazardous mess of battery acid and probably ruin your radios.  Also be careful cutting.

Tech

Inside a Dead ioSafe

Well, my trusty ancient 1TB ioSafe solo time machine drive finally succumbed to the ravages of time.  Came home the other day to hear, “click, click, click, click” and nothing there.  Oh, well.  I have another time machine disk running, so nothing lost, but I figure its time.  Time to take this thing apart and see what makes it so special.

For those who don’t know, ioSafe makes these disk drives that are purportedly fireproof and waterproof.  So, in the event your house burns down, theoretically your data should be safe inside this heavy little bunker of bit safety.  They’re pretty pricey, too.  Although most of that I suspect is because they come with something like a year of free data recovery service should you need it.  After that, you’re on your own.  Which is where I was. The drive was at least four years old.  I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did, actually.

So let’s tear this down.  Once you get past the screws on the top and bottom, taking care to “pop” the plastic feet open with a pair of pliers first, you find yourself looking at two halves of the ceramic brick that makes it fireproof.  Actually I was hoping for some space-age foam or something.  Not an actual, literal, brick.

Disconnect the IO board from the back (more on this later) separate the two halves, and voila, you find the hard drive.  The waterproofing comes from the disk just being wrapped up in a metallic-plastic bag, similar to a static bag, with the wire-hole plugged up with silicone or rubber or putty or something.  Really, not what I was expecting.  I thought the things needed air to stay cool?  Like I said I’m surprised it lasted this long.

I order a new 4TB drive and wait for it to arrive.

[time passes]

Unpackage the new drive, install it in the case, get it all buttoned up, and nothing.  #$^@#$^ what?  Take things apart again, and realize I forgot to plug the power connector back on the board.  Derp.  One more time.

Still nothing.  But I can hear/feel the drive spinning up inside.  Great.  Disassemble one more time.  Swap in a 1.5TB drive I use as my 2nd time machine disk.

Still nothing.

So, I’m left with one of three options:  1) this control board simply can’t deal with drives larger than 1TB (most likely); 2) its specifically tied to the 1TB Seagate in some way, firmware wise and won’t let anything else run on it, or 3) The IO Board itself is fried.

Sigh.  Live and learn.  Ordered a $20 USB3.0 enclosure and had it up and running again in no time, but I still would have liked to have the ioSafe back in operation.  I may still see about fitting the newer IO in the ioSafe box, just because.  It may not be waterproof, but the weight makes it undesirable to steal, at least in a hurry.