Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Tech

Dell manufactured two generations of the PowerEdge R710 server model and therefore two different revisions of the PowerEdge R710 system board. It is important to understand the differences between the system boards prior to upgrading or replacing system components.

All system boards support either PC3-8500 (1066MHz) or PC3-10600 (1333MHz) DDR3 memory DIMMS. All system boards feature eighteen (18) slots; nine (9) for each processorand will accommodate up for a maximum of 288GB of RAM.

Generation I system boards (motherboards) support Intel Xeon 5500/5600 series dual and quad-core processors up to 95W. They will NOT work with any of the quad or six-core 130W CPUs in the Intel Xeon X5600 series. Part numbers for generation I system boards include YDJK3N047H7THW3, VWN1R and 0W9X3.

Generation II system boards added support for Intel Xeon X5600 series 130W processors such as the X5680 and X5690 CPUs. If the front of your PowerEdge R710 has a Roman numeral “II”, it likely has a generation II system board. Part numbers for generation II system boards include XDX060NH4P and YMXG9.


My R710s, I have motherboards:

2G7C1L1  Ship date: November 18, 2009  Motherboard 0W9X3 Gen1
5XWYLL1  Ship date: March 03, 2010  Motherboard YDJK3 Gen1
B9T8FP1  Ship date: January 04, 2011  Motherboard NNTTH Gen1
4S361Q1  Ship date: February 18, 2011  Motherboard XDX06 Gen2

   Posted by: RobPatton   in Fixing broken stuff, Tech

I have a love and hate relationship with this printer, this is my second, the first just stopped working, and they sent me a new one.  Its been pretty good, till today when it gave me the dreaded “No Cartridge Loaded” error message. This time I decided it was getting fixed, or hitting the trash.  Here is what I found.

Easy open. the sides pop off, 10 screws


Then I noticed the little pc board that connects to a chip in the cartridge was just floating around in the box

Pushed it back to its place, added some hot melt glue to hold it in, and reassembled.




Boom! Fixed, and back printing. Saved from the recycle bin.  Hope this helps someone else…


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Tech, Virtualization VMWare FreeNAS


I boot my hosts from a usb drive (The hosts have no local storage)

This process causes this error:

fetch_fixed_disk_status: fetch VSI_NODE_storage_scsifw_devices_smart_healthStatus(t10.SanDisk_Cruzer_Fit______

4C532000061012110161) failed Not supported, reporting unknown status

Clearly I understand that you can’t S.M.A.R.T. status this usb thumb drive, but how to tell esxi 6.5 NOT to try to check it?!??!

I can find many other people asking the same question, but have yet to find an answer…



   Posted by: RobPatton   in Fixing broken stuff, Tech, Virtualization VMWare FreeNAS

After some recent upgrades:
Esxi 6.5
FreeNAS FreeNAS-9.10.2-U3 (e1497f269)

I noticed myself getting spammed with messages like:

May 4 13:21:42 2017-05-04T17:21:42.306Z vmkwarning: cpu0:67660)WARNING: ScsiDeviceIO: 6462: The Physical block size “16384” reported by the device naa.6589cfc0000005aac04099e50185e8c8 is not supported. The only supported physical blocksizes are 512 and 4096

FreeNAS acts as an iSCSI target with its LUNs backed by a ZFS Volume. This causes the blocksize to be reported as the ZFS size, which scares the host, I guess.

To help make the host feel better about itself, login to FREENAS and Sharing > Block (iSCSI) > Extents > Edit > Disable Physical Block Size Reporting

As shown here.

And it should feel better about itself.

For me, this did not work till I rebooted the FREENAS box, which means I had to vmotion all my stuff elsewhere. A fun exercise..


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Life Stuff, Tech

Charles has a Power Wheels Jeep that is about 2.5 years old.  It doesn’t get used much by just him, but when we have company or when the neighborhood kids are over, its not unusual to see kids piled all over it  till you can just about hear it cry in pain.





Like every other one, about 2 years in, despite good treatment, the battery started perform to only about 50% its rated capacity.   Earlier in the game, I had cut the wires to their proprietary plug, and added anderson power pole connectors Power Poles link so that I could connect and use my own computerized (faster) charger.




The Orig battery was a 9.5 ah custom everything battery making it impossible to find an exact replacement without going to them




In my desire to “upgrade” without actually going crazy.  I wanted run-time, not top speed.    The solution found was a pair of 10.5 ah batteries side by side on end.  This yields 2.21 times the run time of a factory battery, at about the same cost of the one they want you to buy.   Short custom cable ,and we’re good.  It worked fine.

Not willing to leave well enough alone, I had purchased some battery meters from ebay for 5$ish each.


So I added a momentary push buttom, and this to the top of the battery.




So now at any time, Charles can check his “Gas Gauge” and know what the battery status is.




And it looks good in the Jeep..




At some point I’ll consider moving the gauge and button onto the dash, but for now, this works just fine..




   Posted by: RobPatton   in House Stuff, Tech

For those that haven’t seen it in person, here is a rough version of my latest project. Normally you want your cameras looking away from the house, but during the ongoing home construction project we have, I wanted a camera to be looking at the house from a distance. My plan is to grab 1 frame per hour, and then assemble them into a movie when we’re done.

For this project, I needed to make sure I had a high end IP camera, preferably one that could do a 180 degree view, and the whole project needed to be able to run on batteries, as power cords would really get in the way with heavy equipment running.


So, for networking, I picked what I could find locally, a EnGenius ENH202 N wireless bridge. It came with its own POE injector, and its well made, and is able to handle a med length run while still keeping the connection speed high.


The camera of choice is an Axis M3007PV. Its 5MP, and is capable of a panoramic 180degree view, needed for this project.



Next, the boxes of all the electronics.

In this box you will find a power distribution terminal, 24VDC in, a 24 to 12 DC converter, since other things need 12VDC to operate, Two DC power POE injectors (the left runs from 9-36v) the right runs on 24VDC. I also have a voltage divider installed here, for use in the next item.


Box 2 contains a weatherproof location for an Arduino microcontroller. In this project, I wanted to be able to monitor the battery voltage. The Arduino can monitor 0-5VDC easily, and with a simple voltage divider, I can take input voltage, divide it by 11, and read about 2.2v. In software I do the math to convert it back, and boom, I’ve got 24.5ish volts.


And when I hit an internal (or external) IP, The arduino serves up a web page with battery info, including this.





   Posted by: RobPatton   in Tech

Finally made the jump this weekend!

I’ve spent the past 3 or 4 months experimenting with VMWare’s ESXi. For those that don’t know, ESXi is a “bare metal hypervisor” which means it can Virtual Machines without a host OS. *IT* is the host OS. Under the covers its just THEIR Linux, but its nice that its a quick install from a CD, and boom, you’re running.

Oh, no, it was not without its trials and tribulations. Not in the least. Their supported hardware (and thus drivers) are VERY limited. First option was a TOTAL bust. The second motherboard I used did not support the Virtualization option (even though the processors did) So that was out. Third system worked, but the built in RAID controller was not supported. First RAID card was supported, but motherboard did not support PCI. 2nd RAID controller and 3rd motherboard were a win, so I built two. Older RAM is mega ‘spensive, so I stuck with 16GB in each.

This is NOT a project you are gonna just grab a spare system and go to town, this supports server specific hardware, and anything less – You’re gonna have a bad time.

I used the stand alone converter to Virtualize a live machine, which is an amazing gift from the virtualization gods. This takes a live machine, and turns it into a VM running on an ESXi server. It REALLY trick. There are a few little things to watch out for (thin vs thick file system, and install VMWare tools) but its really impressive. I had been using this method to create live backups on my real running hardware. A couple years ago I had a complete RAID-5 controller failure, which caused me to loose my main server, and I was forced to go back to a backup about 2 weeks old. The data loss was minor, but the 18 hours it took to restore the backup was a hastle. This way I could go live on any machine with VMWare player or stand up an ESXi install and be back live in a matter of 30 mins.

The servers have been live for 4 days now, knock on wood no problems. I’m sure I’m just getting to a new level of headache, as I’m still fighting the licensing and naming monster that is VMWare.

They do a fantastic job of entry level desktop virtualization, and the FREE ESXi server. As soon as you want ANY other features of management/VM cloning/etc, it becomes an expensive headache. Its sad, really.


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Tech

Got my B-Square box in from Hong Kong today.  This was a project that I helped fund on Kickstarter.  It took a long while to get here, but it is now!

B-Squares is a 3D modular electronics system with an emphasis on (but not limited to) solar power and expandable energy storage.  Each Square has a magnetic contact on each of the corners which allows the Squares to easily snap together without wires.  The magnetic contacts are also used to transmit electric signals between the Squares.  This design allows users to quickly assemble Squares into arrays, with power flowing through the array via the corner contact, without wiring or soldering.  Also, due to the use of multiple magnetic contacts on each Square, the overall circuit of the array can quickly be changed simply by rotating one of the Squares – for instance, the color of the LED Square can change with a flip or a rotation.

What is “3D” about B-Squares?  The Squares aren’t restricted to being connected side-to-side in a single plane, but can also be stacked on top of or perpendicular one another.  Think of it like a deck of electric cards that you can use to make 2D or 3D card houses and have the electricity flow through the entire array.



   Posted by: RobPatton   in Humor, Tech


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Ham Radio, Tech

Since I joined the P25 crowd, I’ve kept a VHF radio in the truck almost all the time.  This has been great fun, with the exception of dealing with the antenna each day.  My parking garage at work is very low, and I was getting out of the truck twice a day to move it.

Yesterday I purcased a Diamond K9000 motorized antenna mount.  From the comfort of the truck I can UP to use, or DOWN the antenna to safety.

During install, I noted a few things.  First, the documentation for mount type is vague at best, and thus I ended up with the wrong one, though I made it work.  Second, the “control” box is lame and goofy looking.  Luckily it just sends 12v one way to raise and reversed to lower, so I can easily make something more desirable.   The unit has limit switches, one fixed, one adjustable.  This lets you set the amount of “down” and you pre-load the “up” at install time. You must hold the button on the control box down till it reaches the position you want, as there is no way to tell where it is in its travel.

Last issue I will have.  I installed an NMO mount in the K9000, The K9000LRM accepts ground-independent antennas, which I do not yet have.  I’m not sure how this will impact the SWR, but I’m not expecting great things.  More on that later.