Archive for the What I learned this week. Category

Replacing an Xbox 360 Laser

Posted in What I learned this week. with tags , , , on August 19, 2011 by Jackal

My brother has an electrical engineering degree from Penn State and, needless to say, is good with electronics. And he likes to fuck with them. So when his two roommates offered him two broken Xbox 360s, he took them. Then he came up to visit me.

Like red-ring-of-death broken.

After messing around with them, we decided that one was unfixable but had some good parts and the other one’s disk drive was broken. And by “we” I mean him because, as mentioned before, I’m not exactly a handy kind of person. I have skills in other areas.

Why hello?

After he messed with the firmware and couldn’t figure that out cause they’re kind of old and Microsoft goes out of its way to make things difficult, he decided that the laser was broken. The laser that reads the discs in the disc drive. So this is what I learned how to do: take an Xbox 360 apart without breaking it.

Sort of.

There’s lots of pushing in plastic bits and wedging flat head screw drivers in to pry panels off. But then you pull out the disc drives:

These babies.

And start prying off the panels again. These are metal and involve more screws. Get that done and I wish I had pictures for this part but we already put it back together (I’ll find some on the internet). But you a green errr… chip thing. Sort of a motherboard type object (fuck, I’m bad at this) and you just pull that out, unhooking a couple things. Then you have the laser, moving between two metal poles and you have to unhook one of those poles to slide it off.

Its less impressive than it sounds...

But you have to use an Allen Wrench to unscrew the poles out. I, personally, didn’t know what an Allen Wrench was and my brother informed me it was a hexagon tool and to go look for it. I didn’t exactly come back with the right tool. And then we didn’t have the right size, which meant we went digging for it in his car.

Allen Wrench. In keychain form.

Then we unhook the poles, slide the laser off and, bam!, you have a laser. We each took apart a different disc drive and I was given the one that had the valuable laser and the useless everything else. And despite my tech slowness, I’m actually pretty good at taking things apart so I did figure it out. Then we switched the two and the Xbox 360 works! Which means nothing since I already had a working Xbox…

And that’s what I learned this week.

Car Maintenance… by an Idiot

Posted in What I learned this week. with tags , , , , on May 27, 2011 by Jackal

So its the summer now and I have copious amounts of free time. Like a ton, mostly cause jobs are hard to find and partially cause I’m not the best at figuring this shit out. And when I have this much free time on my hands I generally attempt to do things that I haven’t done before. This week’s addition wasn’t really planned so it involves changing a car battery. My car is a beautiful, piece-of-shit, ’95 Subaru Legacy and her name is Ruby (Thanks to my brother… Oh and its red) Now Ruby isn’t all that old, only about 16 in human years or the equivalent of “I have no idea” in car years, but she is basically the car version of a hobo.

Same thing really...

And she has survived through horrific trials, including driving with absolutely no oil, overheating to the point of billowing smoke (several times) and about 3 collisions (thanks, brother). But she hasn’t had that much work done, just some bolts to keep the bumper on and the muffler cracked once and I had to get that repaired.

But the point is that one day Ruby wouldn’t start and I almost cried. So I tried over and over again and because I don’t know anything about cars, I tried again. Then I tried getting a jump….Ruby wasn’t feeling it and wouldn’t start. Finally after several inquiries to my car-savvy friend I deduced that the battery was dead. Not surprising because this was the 4+ year old battery that had taught three people how to drive. If that doesn’t sound impressive to you then I’ve forgotten to mention that Ruby is a standard  and teaching people how to drive on a standard is a long road of frustration, stalling and yelling. Especially since my teacher was the stress-equivalent of a fucking tiger in the car with me.

Yeah, this is what I was rolling with.

But anyway, I tore that stupid, dead battery out of there using a lot of WD-40 and elbow grease cause there was a lot of this weird white powder hardened around all the bolts. My friend here says it was battery acid and that I’m retarded but he probably shouldn’t have bolted on me if he wanted me to be safe! So with battery acid all over me, I got another friend (this one’s a girl!) over to some sort of auto parts store that presumably had car batteries.

They had it. I checked.

After a long and arduous process, which involved this man bringing up like 15 different batteries because I wasn’t exactly sure about Ruby’s engine or color (I assumed it mattered…) I bought the cheapest battery there. I think the salesperson looked relieved to get me out of there. I believe the other people in line had pitched tents and were sitting around a campfire. The friend with me was incredibly unhelpful and kept bringing me things that were pretty like apparently there are these new spark plugs that light up pretty colors when they need to be replaced. I can’t handle the complexities of spark plugs! I pretend they don’t exist!

Get home and the friend wants to help… lets call her Ridiculously Unhelpful Ditz to make identifying her easier. RUD tried to put the battery in the wrong place and I would have agreed with her placement if I hadn’t taken the old battery out myself. There was also a very large space that didn’t used to be empty. I gravitated towards that. Alright, battery’s in the car. Physically sitting in it and I have a wrench type thing. It actually looked like… er…

...This...this is what it looked like...

And… I’m pretty sure the positive side is on the right side but this one was on the left and after some googling we figured out that cars are different and the attachment for the positive one sort of looked like the one on the left. My car friend had carefully explained that one of the ends (positive or negative) was just a ground so when taking the battery out, we had to take that one off second. So this meant we had to put it on first. And I have no idea which one was the ground. More googling! It was the positive and so we wrenched things in or whatever. Lots of swearing and hitting, its an old car… Ok so battery is connected to the car. That’s good! RUD called it a day and took off but it didn’t look quite right.

It wasn’t secured in the car with anything but the actual wires. The metal thing that braced it to the car was missing! Like not on the ground or in the engine or anywhere that my poor locating skills could find. I called RUD. “Is there a metal thing in your backseat?” “Hold on. Let me check!” I hear some fumbling and honking. “Are you driving?” “It was a red light!! And there are lots of metal things in my back seat.” I sighed “Just come back here” RUD gets back and we rummage around in her backseat, sifting through the admittedly large number of metal objects till I spotted the holy grail!

Honestly, I was getting a little delirious at this point.

The rusted piece of crap brace thing! So fumbling around and! It doesn’t fit. Well it does but its kind of short and we broke it or something. So we take the battery out again and put this funky little plastic thing they give you in case it doesn’t fit, under it. Attempt to reattach it and…. the wires don’t reach, at all. Lots of pulling and stretching later, RUD mentions that she didn’t think it was a good idea to pull so hard on electrical stuff. I conceded and we took it all out again and removed the plastic thing. Fuck this, lets just get a new bracey clampy thing. To the store we go and I swear the salesman cringed when we came in. I asked for a new bracey clampy thing and after several blank stares I managed to pantomime what I needed. Back to the CAR!

Fumbling and swearing again, RUD and I secured the battery into the car. The new, shiny bracey clampy thing stood out harshly against the dirty, rusted engine…. I reached over, took some dirt and rubbed it on the shiny. There, perfect.

Google image "rusty". This is, no joke, the first thing that comes up.

That fucking car… if it breaks down again I’m riding a bike.