Designing and 3D printing a Hard Drive Spacer

One other thing I wanted to fix with the old Sony Vaio laptop was figure out a solution for the missing hard drive bracket…

It’s the sort of random part one might eventually spot an original of on eBay as the bracket (Sony Part Number 4-674-033-01) does seem to be used in quite a few different Vaio laptop models, but most likely pay far too much for.

So, I fired up PrusaSlicer to design and then print my first project - all it is a happy little cuboid to keep the IDE SSD from sliding out of place, but you gotta start somewhere! :)

Currently listening: Zorrovian - “✨Cosmic Curation✨ (Ambient, Jungle, Jazzy, 90s DNB mix)"

Finished assembling the Telephone.

The transparent telephone is all done, fairly easy kit to put together barring some steps - for example, I had to use a small file to scratch some surfaces to allow me to tin solder on, I guess after a couple of decades there was a layer of corrosion… Also, fitting the case over everything took a bit of care and adjustment.

Two observations after testing it with my Telephone Line Simulator; the ringtone produced by the piezo speaker is shrill and piercing (thank goodness there’s a “ringer” switch to turn it off!), and secondly; when it rings it also flashes these four cute neon tubes on the back! It’s funny how far LEDs have come, these days there would be little reason to use anything else…

Happy to have a transparent telephone in my collection, and certainly the “IKEA effect” applies to it!

Currently listening: FIREWALKER - “Strip Club Penguin DnB Mix”


Following on from my recent post about the OWC IDE SSD I found contained a bridge internally to a low profile “micro connector” SATA, I ordered and received a used Toshiba “THNSNC064GAMJ” 64GB SSD. After removing the metal casing, the internal PCB plugged into that SATA connector and fit inside the OWC casing, and I was able to format and mount the drive! I have since installed Windows XP successfully with the drive inside the old Sony VAIO laptop, and it is running well :)

Currently listening: LTJ Bukem - “Unknown Set (1995)"

Transparent Telephone Kit.

I had always wanted to add a transparent telephone to my collection at some point, so when I spotted this NOS (“new old stock”) kit recently on eBay with the bonus being I get to build-it-myself, I happily bought it.

Second step is having the time to put it together! I should get a chance sometime over these holidays…

There was an extensive manual with the kit that covers assembly, testing, and theory which I scanned and uploaded to the Internet Archive.

Currently listening: Mouly - “Studio Set (1995)"

This Failing SSD had a Secret!

I was installing Windows XP on a Sony Vaio PCG-FR825P (a real chunky boi!) and I kept running into issues - turned out the OWC Mercury Legacy Pro SSD I was installing it onto was failing :(

I swapped it out with a 80GB 2.5-inch old-school mechanical IDE hard drive to get the machine running, and I next turned my attention to the SSD itself… Since I had nothing to lose, I thought I’d take a look inside, and after removing four small Phillips-head screws, it turned out to have a bit of a secret! Inside was a tiny bridge from IDE to a very low-profile version of SATA called Micro connector, and so the SSD itself is presumably replaceable…

I have ordered a couple of things and will try swapping out the SATA SSD portion, hopefully the replacement will mean I can still make use of this case/bridge, the IDE bridge it uses has been quite reliable and compatible with vintage machines.

Currently listening: Jellati - “underwater JUNGLE DNB 🌊🦑 a jungle drum and bass mix”

Useful App: “Collections”

I never really had a need for something like it back when Bento was around, but a little while ago I was looking for a simple database App that works between Mac and iOS/iPadOS, and Collections really has turned out to fit the bill for me.

It is easy to use, perfect for the rather limited needs I have, and allows me to keep track of a number of things, such as my DVD/Blu-Ray’s - it is easy to forget if you already own a film beyond a certain point! I’m planning on using it for a few more things in future as well, including a tracker for what electrical circuits are for what outlets, etc, in my house.

Highly recommend the App, and hopefully the developer will keep working on/supporting it for quite a while…

Currently listening: 츠미 tsumi - “132 bpm”


Very happy to say I have finally seen Kraftwerk live!

Interesting Blog post about a new Mac ransomware variant doing the rounds……

Outsmarting a Possum… (Hopefully)

A little different in flavour to my usual posts I know, but I have been engaged in a battle of wits over the last few months with a possum - possibly multiple possums - in the roof space of my house, and I would like to now announce I am fairly certain I have finally won!

We noticed earlier in the year odd scratching noises coming from inside the walls, and I set out to figure out what manner of beastie was causing them. I was in the roof space not too long after, looked over and in the light of my headlamp, could see some beady eyes and a little fuzzy face staring back at me.

Thus began a mental battle between man and possum…

I looked over our tiled roof trying to figure out how it was gaining entry, and noticed a patch of loose tin next to the chimney. I nailed that up late at night after the possum had exited, thought I had won, but a night or two later, same noises in our walls.

I set up a spare security camera in the roof space, set to alert me on motion, and over some weeks, narrowed down the area it seemed to be passing on its way in and out. Turned out the possum was climbing out via the unused chimney. I confirmed this one night as I was outside at just the right time and saw as it emerged. I took the nails off that had been closing up the patch of tin and repositioned the camera to give me a good view of the reopened entry/exit way, had someone cap the chimney off, and later that night waited until the possum went to leave. It went up the chimney, came down, made a bunch of complaining noises, then shortly thereafter I received a motion notification on my phone and watched as it left via the tin patch.

I then hammered back down the tin patch, and it has been over a week with no signs of motion or wall noises - I declare victory!

I will have to be vigilant as I am sure the possums want a rematch…

Currently listening: at my walls, for any scratching.

No post this weekend, our NBN connection at home decided to flake it Friday evening, technician coming out Monday afternoon…

Benefit has been that I’ve been getting plenty of other things in my “To Do” list sorted :)

Juicy Crumb DockLite

So many of the iMac 27-inch Mid 2011 units suffer from a failed GPU, and this Kickstarter project seeks to give a second life to the wonderful display within. I was a backer and received my one a little while ago, and last weekend I got around to fitting it.

It is a relatively straight-forward install if you’re used to working inside these machines - I fitted many an SSD upgrade to these back in the day. What’s great is the Juicy Crumb team have made the effort to allow use of as many of the original features as possible - the speakers, iSight webcam, etc!

An impressive bit of kit indeed :)

Here’s it on their website.

Currently listening: Atmospheric Jungle DnB Songs To Take You Back In Time

Integrating audio output into HDMI for older machines…

I have some older machines that I want to use with an HDMI KVM, without having to swap around audio cables as well. One is an HP t5730 Thin Client I have previously mentioned, which is a great compact system for running Windows XP, and another is a Mac mini G4, which is great for early Mac OS X apps, as well Mac OS 9 apps through the Classic Environment.

More recent machines with built-in HDMI output both the video and audio through the one connector, and the KVM then works very well in switching between sources, so I figured the best way would be to use an adapter that converts the old machines video-out to HDMI and then additionally embeds the audio-out into that.

The first I tried was the “StarTech DVI to HDMI Video Adapter with USB Power and Audio”, but there were a couple of downsides that I ran into. The first is that the output resolution becomes 1920x1080 - not sure if that’s enforced by firmware or is a technical limitation. The second annoyance is that, due to the audio running through USB, it does mean there has to be driver support for that. I couldn’t get that working under Windows XP (there may be a way if there’s a USB audio driver that allows it). Mac OS X v10.4 does support the USB audio output natively, it comes up under “System Preferences:Sound:Output” as “C-Media USB Headphone Set”.

The next option I found was a little box called the “HDMI 2.0 Audio Embedder 4K 60Hz HDMI Toslink+Analog Audio to HDMI Inserter HDR”, which didn’t seem to have specific brand-name associated with it, other than one of those seemingly randomly nonsense names.

Strangely at time of writing, it’s half the price on eBay versus what looks to be the same product on Amazon (neither are affiliate links).

What’s great about this one is it supports 1920x1200 perfectly, and as it is just taking a regular 3.5mm line-in, it is completely transparent to the machine, no drivers required.

One last tidbit, when this Audio Embedder has no HDMI input, it outputs some colour bars (pictured below) evocative of the SMPTE colour bars. Actually kind of handy just to know that it is hooked up correctly.

Currently listening: The Beatles - “Now And Then”

Mac mini G4

I was playing around with my oldest Mac mini today (a “Mac mini (Late 2005)” revision), and one odd thing I noticed is the specifications sticker on the base lists the CPU as being a 1.42GHz G4, but it is actually a 1.5GHz G4 - turns out Apple did a stealth upgrade in the last few months before switching these over to Intel.

I wiped the copy of Mac OS X v10.5 that it was running, as I had found the correct “Mac mini Mac OS 9 Install Disc” for this machine and so wanted to install Mac OS X v10.4, as it was the last version to support running older Mac OS 9 applications through a feature called the “Classic Environment”. It is thankfully a rare application that doesn’t run in this mode - and with this machine having 1GB of RAM and a 64MB graphics card, most run quite well indeed! The Mac mini certainly takes up less desk space, uses less power, and produces less fan noise than any of the Power Mac G4 range, as much as those have a special place in my heart.

I should use this as my daily driver - things like YouTube not working would be a productivity enhancer! I can still search the web using Frogfind :)

Currently listening: “Zsauce, Jungle Here (Ambient, Jazzy, Jungle, 90s DNB Mix)"

“If it’s stupid and it works, it’s not stupid.”

The classic expression really fits what was just doing - I temporarily needed a display for a Raspberry Pi I was setting up and it was quicker and easier to use my Genki ShadowCast HDMI USB-C capture dongle with a mini HDMI to HDMI adapter and to fire up “QuickTime Player” on my Mac than hook up a “real” display.

Bonus is, I could have recorded it as well if I’d wanted to! Only downside is, it is not pixel perfect…

Currently listening: Jungle Fatigue Vol 3 (2023)

Home Networking Improvements.

I purchased a big spool of Ubiquiti CAT6 Ethernet cable for home a while back, with the intention of replacing some older cable runs as well as putting in some additional runs. Eventually I’ll swap out the current Gigabit networking equipment with 10G, but that’s a couple of years or so away…

Yesterday’s task was replacing a run under the house that goes to my wife’s office, and adding another so our printer has a wired link. Whilst I was at it, I also changed the mount for the wireless access point, as it was mounted vertically, so now it has a proper wall mount and sits horizontally.

The most difficult part of the process was getting the two cables through the brick wall and into the recess inside my garage where the equipment rack sits - there is a gap between where a rat’s nest of cables live, and even with using the previous CAT5 to pull through the two CAT6, it took some wrangling to have them where they needed to be. Eventually I got there, crimped all of the connectors, ran continuity tests, and finally was able to clean up and put things as they should be…

There are a few more runs to upgrade, as some runs have joiners halfway along - two lessons I have certainly learnt with all this is firstly, to make sure you things plan out and then have additional runs, and secondly, that I would not want to do this professionally! :)

Currently listening: “Captain Sensible - Wot?"

ADB Peripherals…

Here’s the ADB peripherals set-up I generally use these days in “The Vault” (AKA my man-cave): an “Apple Desktop Bus Keyboard” model: A9M0330, and a “Kensington Orbit Trackball for ADB” model: 64220.

Great combo as they are highly space-efficient, and aside from the somewhat cursed nature of the arrow key layout, I like the look and feel of the keyboard…

ADB is the connection for keyboards, mice, joysticks, etc used by the Apple IIgs and Macintosh between the mid 80s and late 90s. More info here…

Currently listening: low poly snow mix - (Atmospheric DnB, Jungle Mix)

iPhone 15 Pro Notes.

I have been playing around - sorry, “making legitimate technical notes of”, I mean - the capabilities of my new iPhone 15 Pro over the last week, specifically with regards to the switch to USB-C.

Amongst the things I have tried is the YubiKey with USB-C and NFC (the “YubiKey 5C NFC”) and it worked as expected, in fact I’d personally say it is easier to use via USB-C, I always found the positioning with NFC to be a bit finicky, even after removing my iPhone from a case.

I tried a Satechi dock (the “Aluminum Type-C Mobile Pro Hub” I believe) intended for the iPad Pro which has USB-C / USB-A / HDMI / Audio out, and I was able pass-through charge via USB-C, use a keyboard via USB-A, output to a monitor via HDMI, and connect wired headphones via the Audio out. Everything worked!

Then I tried a Belkin USB-C to Ethernet (Model: F2CU040), which worked, and an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter so I could connect an Apple Thunderbolt to Ethernet, but the iPhone came up with the following error when I connected the Thunderbolt adapter:

Currently listening: atmospheric drum and bass mix - (Ambient, Jungle, DNB, VGM)

Far away from my desk this week…

Looks like I won’t be installing the latest iOS version straight away, there’s a first time for everything!

On the plus side:

Floppy Drive Head Alignment.

Following on from my last post, here is the best explanatory article I have found on aligning the heads on a floppy drive:

Aligning floppy disk read heads

Also, the “TestFDC” program looks to be useful in terms of real time feedback, as used in this “5.25 inch floppy drive inspection, repair, cleaning, alignment” video by FloppyDiskWorkshop.

I am just awaiting a couple more tools and parts to take a decent crack at getting this done.

Currently listening: Cardiacs - “Is This The Life”


I’ve bought a cheap oscilloscope to enable me to align the heads on a floppy drive… Or at least, initially. Hopefully it will have more uses than just that and will prove a useful bit of kit.

The model is a “Hantek 6022BE”, and the official software for it looks like it hasn’t been updated in 20 years! There were some open-source options, but development for the Windows version looks to have been dropped a while back.

Currently listening: “Jamie xx - Gosh”

iPod Surgery

I received another kind donation at my store recently, a couple of old school hard drive based iPods! They had both been well-loved and well-used, I gave them both a damn good clean and proceeded to pull them apart to assess them.

The first was one of the venerable 3rd Gen with a failing hard drive and dead battery. The tiny internal plastic frame from around the dock connector had snapped, which I removed and carefully glued it back together.

The other was a 5th Gen where the battery had swollen and killed the LCD. I know that scenario is the cause of the “black spot” curse that a lot of the iPod nano models suffer from, but I’d not seen it happen on this model previously. Unfortunately the replacement LCD I’d had for years in my spare parts collection turned out to have some odd blotches after I swapped it in, most likely due to flexing or pressure at some point, so I have another replacement on order. The original 30GB hard drive surprisingly passed a surface scan, which is great news.

All in all, great to work on these two, I fixed so many iPods 2003-2007 that it really did bring back memories :)

Currently listening: Total Science Volume 2 (1996)

More CMOS Battery Fun…

Following on from a previous post where I replaced the RTC module on a Socket 7 Motherboard, I wanted to resolve a similar issue with a couple of other Motherboards I have; a 286 and a 486. The 286 motherboard was missing the CMOS battery when I received it, and the 486 had a dodgy barrel battery that I was surprised to see had yet to leak. Time to fix them both!

The option I went for was the “Vertical Barrel Battery Blaster”. I uploaded the gerber files of the PCB to OSHPark, ordered the battery holders and diodes, and a couple of weeks later had everything ready to assemble. Quick solder job later, ready to go. I built a few extra just in case I need a couple more.

I have just been installing and testing them both today, and everything indeed works as it should. Hooray!

Currently listening: ["Paul Allen's Mix (Ambient, Jungle, Jazzy, 90s DNB Mix)"](

Trying to get the MacSD working with Windows 98…

Today was a little frustrating, I spent a couple of hours trying to get a “MacSD” working with Windows 98.

The MacSD is a device that allows for mounting of ISO images of hard drives and CDs stored on an easily sourced/fast/cheap Micro SD card.

It was dead easy to get working with a Macintosh SE/30 - literally the very definition of plug-and-play! However, despite the webpage listing compatibility with Windows 98 and specifically the family of Adaptec SCSI cards I was using, no luck.

I know the SCSI card itself works, as I was able to connect a SCSI2SD v5.5 and format/mount a couple of virtual hard drives through that without issue.

The Adaptec EZ-SCSI utilities from that era were helpful, as they allowed me to confirm the SCSI card could detect the virtual devices I specified.

What was odd was the closest I could get was Windows displaying an Audio CD roughly the same size as the ISO, which the Audio CD player would report as a data disc…

More experimentation is required!

Currently listening: [Overdrive: A DJ Mix By Aphrodite] (

Update Time.

HP t5730 Thin Client: I received the longer IDE ribbon cable I’d ordered, which has given me enough slack to position the mSATA drive/adapter in an area inside the case with enough room. I’ve then been able to close the casing all back up and have sitting it upright on a vertical stand, thereby resulting in an even smaller footprint for the machine!

The unit I have has WiFi hardware, but I have it disabled as I prefer wired networking, especially given that it would only support older encryption types over WiFi anyway. Generally I don’t have this machine networked all the time.

Lastly, I am just waiting to try out the DVI to HDMI adapter which also “injects” audio into the HDMI output. Hopefully Windows XP will recognise that USB audio and output through it correctly. I’m currently lending to someone the monitor with an HDMI input that I use with the KVM, but I should have it back in the next 2-3 weeks, and can try the adapter then.

Pwnagotchi: All of the required hardware components arrived, I have to now print the correctly sized case (yep, the one I printed was not the right one, oh well), and follow along with the “Pwnagotchi Tutorial, Pt. 2: Software” video.

Colour SE/30: The 8.4-inch LCD arrived, and despite my concerns when I saw graphical glitches on the initial “No Input” screen, it works fine! Now to look at assembling it all inside the transparent SE/30 case.

Currently listening: Oliver Tree - “One & Only”

Intersil Intercept Junior

I had a customer very kindly donate to me an “Intersil Intercept Junior” recently, along with some add-ons cards.

I believe it was literally a “barn-find” as it is in need of a damn good clean!

One interesting thing with this is the CPU is a PDP-8 in a chip:…

I hope I can get this going, as it will be earliest system in my collection :)

Currently listening: KNOWER - I’m the President