Fixing a CGV TV decoder

CGV Etimo 1T-2

Disclaimer / spoiler: this post involves opening a high-voltage device. As always, it’s for informative purpose only and I waive all liability if you attempt to reproduce or imitate what I describe and pull out a Blanka special move, so do it at your own risks.


Be smart and safe, unplug your device long enough before opening it, leave time for caps to discharge, keep an eye on the fixed device for any sign of problem. Never leave a fixed device plugged and unattended, especially if you go out or sleep.

For once, there was something on TV that was worth watching and that’s obviously when my TV decoder started to fail. No surprise, the CGV Etimo 1T-2 is a Chinese piece of crap, but it allows me to keep my 11 years old HD-ready TV. Here are the symptoms: it turns on and seems to work fine for 5 seconds, then turns off and restarts, and so on. I can’t imagine it to be a firmware problem, first because those are never updated on such low cost devices, but mainly because it does seem to start. So I tend to blame power supply stability instead, which would likely be an easy fix. 230 V being sent directly inside the case, it’s time to crack it open before the movie starts.

4 screws and 2769 plastic clips later, board is exposed. Starting from the power cable, down to the power supply part… no surprise, I find an electrochemical capacitor on the verge of popping.

One fat boy

One fat boy

I’m quite lucky, it’s a 1000 uF 16 V and I happen to have leftovers of equivalents (1000 uF 25 V) from a previous guitar amp repair. Being a 25 V it’s slightly taller, but it’s no big deal since there’s enough room to bend the legs and place it horizontally. It’s kind of gross but that’ll do.

Dead cap and its potential replacements

Dead cap and its potential replacements

Removing the old one, soldering the new one in place… Putting everything back together, plugging it with a little prayer: the decoder starts and stays on, not rebooting anymore. I only missed 30 minutes of the Hobbit, saved 40 bucks for a new decoder, and most importantly, there’s one less e-waste device in a landfill.

One tilted boy

One tilted boy

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Little Dot mk2 Tubes protect

Little Dot mk2 tubes protect

Little Dot mk2 tubes protect

We do appreciate a good audio setup here. But blasting some death metal on DIY speakers through a customized amp can sometime be a firestarter with people that share your everyday life… So after all, compromising can sometime be as simple as buying more audio devices \o/


So I got myself a Little Dot mk II, a cute little tube amp for headphones. A lovely toy of which the tubes seems to call for greasy fingers and blunt objects. So while waiting for replacement tubes, I had some time to think.

It needs something to protect the tubes while being hold in place, and the power supply block is a good candidate for that function. The volume is too big for 3D printing but I can think of a nice way to do that with laser cutting.

After an hour playing in Inkscape, the model is ready, the svg file uploaded to Sculpteo, and the order is passed.

Inkscape preview

And after only 4 days, it’s here!


The assembly is quite easy. For the bars of the cage, one can use 2 mm wood sticks from a model shop, but food picks works like a charm once you cut the sharp tip. For the driver tubes, longer, burger picks can do the trick.



Measuring length of wood sticks

First, the wood sticks are cut to the correct length. 40 mm for the preamp tubes and 65 mm for the driver ones is a good choice for the stocks. It’s important that the nice, smooth side of the laser-cut rings is facing up for best results. Starting by the center ring is the way to go, filling all 6 holes with centered-sticks, followed by the top ring. Finally, the assembled part is inserted into the main board. When pushing the pins inside the laser-cut parts, a flat tool is used, not finger nails, to avoid denting the wood.


And here’s the final result!

Little Dot mk2 tubes protect assembled


DSCF8760 DSCF8750 DSCF8747 DSCF8741

Considering how popular this little amp is, I’m sure I’m not alone in that case, so I wanted to make something easily available, affordable and adjustable, so it’s obviously licensed as OSHW (Open Source Hardware), and it’s available on the GitHub of the project:

Posted in Audio, Brimbelle Lab, Crafting, DIY, Laser cutting, Non classé | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sorting pictures in Google Photos

Lately I’ve been facing a lot of problems using Google Photos. The most annoying being the sorting of photos after upload (and not having any alternative), especially when pictures come from several cameras. In my case, a Fuji X100T and an iPhone 6S.

Cameras clocks are perfectly adjusted, iPhoto – sorry Photos (the one from Apple) displays them correctly sorted, and exports sequentially as expected. But once in Photos (the one from Google), there is some kind of shifting, of several hours. This seems to be caused by the fact that Photos (the one from Google) assumes that cameras without location data shoot on GMT+0. A logic assumption that one’s arm can be 7000 km long instead of having cameras at the same place.

Until now, I was sorting the Fuji X100T pictures manually (with a lot of swearing) but when I’m shooting events resulting in thousands of pictures, that gets really nerves breaking. I couldn’t find anything on the Internet (the stupidly generic name of these software are definitely not helping), a friend eventually came up with a lead, and here is my solution.

Be aware that the names of options might be a little different, I translated it roughly from the French version of the app I’m using. Feel free to comment so that I fix it.

The first step is to select, in Photos (the one from Google) the pictures you took with the camera without location data, here the Fuji X100T. Beware of not being in “editing” mode otherwise the icon “select picture” turns into “delete without any warning”. Evil.

Clicks on the 3 vertical dots at top right of the screen > “edit date and time” > “Edit dates and times”.

Select the same time zone as your phone / other camera, in my case GMT-4, EST. Also, compensate the same amount of hours in the “hour” box above. In need, adjust minutes too. Then click on “Preview”. Now, your pictures should be sorted correctly among the photos from your phone (showing in slight transparency). If it doesn’t, click “Back” and adjust the hour compensation box. Oh, and BTW, in this window pictures are showing newest first, the opposite of your album (which is usually oldest first).

Once you validate, your album is sometimes (not always) unsorted. That’s expected (!).

In that case, without selecting any picture, click on the 3 vertical dots, and “Edit album”. The icon is now changed to 2 vertical arrows. Click on it, and then “Oldest first”.

In theory, your album should now be sorted correctly, and any time modification on a picture would be updated accordingly.

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Fixing a Dodge Challenger armrest

After a while traveling only with public transportation and on my singlespeed through the power of my calves, it was hightime to surrender to the fantasy obsessing me since I arrived in the U.S., and to eventually buy my dream car…

That’s right, I’m cheating on my Italian car, but while I’m in a country where fuel is half the price I’m use to, and since Dodge cars are not being distributed in France, it’s now or never.

My new Dodge Challenger, wouhouuu!

My new Dodge Challenger, wouhouuu!

But let’s not get crazy, so I looked for a used one, from 2010, since I like the design better (dat ass <3) than the new ones. To be honest I also can’t be rushed too much with features from the future such as wireless keys, as some friends already know. Well, my Challenger is well named, because it’s indeed a challenge. She really needs some love and care after being that neglected for years. People are unbelievable.

After this endless introduction, here is today’s challenge.

Of all the Dodge Challenger I’ve tested, Dodge really screwed up the armrest, because the latch holding it in place was broken every time. Ok, we’re talking American muscle, not ergonomic desk chair. But hearing a “clang” at each pothole (and there are like A LOT here), because the lid doesn’t close tight, tends to be irksome. Searching on the Internet, the replacement part seems to be around $300 with no hint if it’s compatible. So people usually reclaim springs from pegs, or hold the armrest during the whole trip. Lucky for us they only sell that car with automatic transmission so you have one hand free.

You’re starting to know me well if you’re following that blog, nothing some 3D printing can’t fix!

After tearing the armrest apart, I started prototyping. On the stock part, the spring seems to be provided by a plastic flap under the latch. It should then be easy to make a plastic replacement part. Also, there’s a screw nearby fitting in a blind hole, which will be perfect to hold the new part! Better, it should be possible to simply slide the part under the latch, clipping it and locking it in place, removing only a single screw. No need to tear the armrest apart!

After an hour or so, I’m playing with 2 possible designs. One is a little more expensive because bigger, but it can fit even if the original part has broken in an unexpected way. The other one is smaller and should behave as a stronger spring. Let’s not postpone any longer, I send these files for printing and wait for my order, rocked by the CLANG CLANG of my arm rest reassembled.


And when I receive the package, without surprise, there’s a wee bit of disappointment.

First batch received

First batch received

Detail of the reverse side

Detail of the reverse side

Detail of how the big part acts as a spring on the latch, on the inside.

Detail of how the big part acts as a spring on the latch, on the inside.

Once the nearby screw is removed, simply insert the new spring part in place and clip it in the blind hole.

Once the nearby screw is removed, simply insert the new spring part in place and clip it in the blind hole.

Measurements are accurate, parts fit well but… the spring effect is a little weak. And the smaller part is in fact not resting on the latch at all, because I didn’t considered the looseness in the latch axis.

Also, it seems that the hook itself is a little worn out on my Challenger, and the smooth surface of the plastic doesn’t help the grip.

Let’s face it, a new iteration is mandatory. I readjust the design of the smaller version part, extend the spring flap a little. I also do another iteration of each version with an angle on the flap, so that the spring tension is stronger on the latch.

Without angle on the flap

Without angle on the flap

Modified part with some angle on the flap

Modified part with some angle on the flap

Finally, I also design a small shell for the hook, that will add some thickness, grip, and extend the reach.

I confirm my new order and meanwhile, I hack one of the current parts with some plastic packaging leftovers and hot glue. Clearly not ready for resale but it will bring enough peace of mind until I get the new parts.





When receiving the new batch there’s again some disappointment with some parts, but one is really good!

Because of the printing orientation, I have the perfect smoothness on the surface with the logo. It was good because I had only perpendicular faces in the previous design. Unfortunately, I didn’t think about the printing resolution, and the side with a slight angle ended up with a nice stair finish (#pixelart). Bummer, since the surface needs to be smooth so that the latch slides on it. That would mean reworking each part by hand (not what I want for other potential users) or change the printing orientation of the part, but the rest of the part will suffer from the same stair pattern. Let’s throw it away.

Those parts show a stairs pattern because of the printer resolution not smoothly reproducing the angled flap.

Those parts show a stairs pattern because of the printer resolution not smoothly reproducing the angled flap.

However, the smaller part, reworked, without the angled flap, turns out to be a perfect fit. It’s very easy to install, and the spring is just enough to have the latch moving back and forth as expected.

Final version of the latch spring.

Final version of the latch spring.

Finally, the hook shell (if you come with a better name let me know!) perfectly slides and holds firmly on the latch hook, despite my doubts concerning my measurements.

Final version of the hook shell.

Final version of the hook shell.

Shell installed.

Shell installed.

Spring installed, inside view.

Spring installed, inside view.

Spring installed, inside view, close up.

Spring installed, inside view, close up.

Just a screw to put back in place to complete the install.

Just a screw to put back in place to complete the install.

The shell simply slides on top of the hook.

The shell simply slides on top of the hook.

Install complete!

Install complete!

Now that's one nice Dodge Challenger armrest fixed!

Now that’s one nice Dodge Challenger armrest fixed!

And that’s it! I’m now driving silently, unless I floor the throttle of course, but the armrest has nothing to do with it. And as I’m sure I’m not the only one in this situation, these parts are available under OSHW licence 🙂 That’s right, you can download the STL files (files updated on July 8, 2018) and print those yourself… Or order on my Shapeways shop if you’re not sure how to do, or want to support me <3


These parts have been designed for the Dodge Challenger SE 2010, but I’m pretty confident they are also compatible for the SXT, R/T and SRT models, and for years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 as well. In doubt, contact me, we’ll check together!

Edit of July 8, 2018: I updated the STL file with the hook shell V2 which definitely improves the locking of the lid.

Posted in 3D-Printing, Brimbelle Lab, DIY, Dodge Challenger, Non classé | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Improving a Jackson JS32T Randy Rhoads

Today we’ll see how to improve an entry-level electric guitar, my beloved Jackson JS32T Randy Rhoads \m/

Jackson JS32T

Living in an apartment and now playing the guitar with no other purpose than emptying my head when coming back from work, I play unplugged most of the time. And also because everything sounds desperately flat now that I don’t have my all-tubes Engl head and the gigantic cabinet it pairs with.

In my opinion (that’s a huge topic of discord apparently), when you chose a solid-body guitar, especially with entry level ones where woods are much more uneven, one of the most important thing is to pay attention to how the wood sounds. Stevie speaks about it much better than me here:

The idea is that, if the guitar sounds great unplugged, you will hear it when using the pickups (hello sustaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain). I had a high end guitar with shitty woods, I can tell you that no matter the electronics you add or the amp you plugged it in, it was deeply frustrating to listen at and play with.

So, here I am with an affordable and nicely built guitar. Agreed that pickups seem to have asthma, but that’s totally fine for my needs. I’ll buy Duncan Nazgul when I’ll plug it in something else than an iPhone.

However, the other day, ready to jam with a friend, plugging the beast for the first time in a while, no sound is coming out of the amp. Blaming the cables first, then the multi-effects pedal… Nope, turns out the guitar was the culprit.

When you’re an engineer, you can’t help yourself tearing stuff apart. Aaaand… Oh God.

JS32T elec: beforeThe horror.

No shielding whatsoever around the electronic (agreed that there are some conductive paint on the back of the plate, for what it’s worth…) or in the cables since the shielded braid is not connected to anything, an impressive number of ground loops (I can’t see where to add some…) and some soldering that are quite frankly disgusting. By the way, the issue seems to be related to one of those cold solder joint, also known as “look likes it’s soldered but nope”, on one of the wires connecting the jack connector to the volume pot. I’m mentioning this kind of problem on my blog post where I build my own speaker cabinets.

On the bright side, switches, pots and wires seem decent (the cable from the jack connector is a double wire shielded, even though it’s used completely wrong). And as pickups don’t allow to be split as single coils, there’s no need to throw the current switches away for push/pull ones.

I quick-fixed the solder and played for the rest of the night happily, although OCD-Landry knows it will be tough to sleep without taking care of that soon.

A few days later, here is my guitar back on the surgery couch. I miss my workshop.

First step, shielding that electronic cage. Several styles exist: aluminum foil (Top Chef), adhesive copper tape (Overhauling), conductive paint (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), and finally ultimate swag if you have it gold gilded by the Atelier Or Et Patine.

Mom being on another continent, let’s forget about gold leaves, and my painting skills all considered, I’ll go with the copper tape.

Shielding in progress

Nothing too difficult here, except paying attention not to slice your fingers with the copper edges (been there done that, in an attempt to increase the value of my guitar like the JEM Y2K).


Also, let’s not forget to have some copper covering one (and only one) of the screw hole, so that the existing shielding of the plate can be connected. Note that it would have been better to do that on the screw at the center of the plate, but that will do.

Shielding the cage: done.

Next, let’s address the jack connector cable shielding.

The guitar is equipped with passive pickups, so the signal going through this wire is very weak, and is thus very sensitive to noise. That’s why it’s mandatory to use a shielded cable, with some braid around the signal wires.

One can use a single wire cable, and use the braid for the ground. That’s how 99% of guitar cables on the market roll, but such cables behave as fancy low pass filters.

This amazing article (in French sorry) details everything much better than me.

That’s why it’s better to use cables made of 2 identical wires with an independent braid shield. Lucky for us, that’s exactly what we have here. However, the braid isn’t connected (and ground is the red wire here, confusing AF), and is thus completely useless: it must be connected to ground. Beware, it must be connected only on ONE side (floating ground)! If the braid is connected on both side, congratulations you just made another ground loop, that could induce some humming if both side are not at the same voltage.

Agreed that in our case, on a 5 inches length, that’s nitpicking and I challenge you all to hear the difference with a shielded single wire cable. But everything’s already here so why deprive ourselves?

Double wire shielded cable

Last step, getting rid of all ground loops.

A ground loop is a circuit where current can take different paths to reach the ground. Audio people try to avoid that as the plague as it generates humming. To avoid that, we can either use the ground plan technic (one layer of the electronic board is dedicated to ground only) or the star-shaped pattern (where all ground connections are done on a single point). Here obviously we’ll go for the star-shaped solution, the connection being traditionally done on the volume pot case.

The circuitry goes from this:

Wiring: before

to this:

Wiring: after

Practically, it’s recommended to remove all switches and pots, as the soldering temperature will likely melt the plastic plate. Be careful not to use too high a temperature when soldering (I usually go for 370 °C, but it depends on the solder you’re using, if it’s lead free you need to go higher), or to stay on a solder for too long, especially when soldering the pickups. I advise you to solder them last.

Putting everything back together…




Hello darkness my old friend

Despite all my efforts, no sound in my headphones.

Troubleshooting my assembly with a multimeter, it turns out that my volume pot is now dead, as it doesn’t shows the 500 kOhms I’m expected to see when cranked up. That means I’ll have to change it. Meanwhile, I just have to short it to be able to continue using the guitar!


After a trip to Guitar Center after work, and several months of procrastination:

Here we go! A reliable and hum-free guitar!

Posted in DIY, Guitar, Non classé | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

An iPhone 8 plus on steroids

As a disclaimer I’m often considered an Apple fan boy. Since my first iPod in 2005, then my first iMac in 2008, to my trustworthy MacBook Pro, Apple is my brand of trust, I choose their products for me and my loved ones, as it’s the only brand that seemed to focus that much on reliability and support.

But since January 2018, I’m not that sure of that anymore.

I’ve been living in the USA for almost 2 years now and obviously, this is here that I buy my Apple stuffs. Because it’s ludicrously cheaper here than in France and because I have an Apple Store 5 minutes from my house.

So before taking a month off in France for the Christmas holidays, I decided to treat myself with a fancy iPhone 8 Plus at my local retailer. So new, so shiny, myyyyy preccccccious.

But 10 days of service and feast later, I’m not the only one to feel a little tight in my clothes…



Because of my daily job (I’m an embedded systems engineer), I’m familiar with the problem. That’s the very problem you fear when you’re making a battery powered device, that can bury a brand image (remember Samsung?). In a nutshell, when a customer brings you back one of your product in this shape, you handle the situation very carefully and discretely.

Despite the situation, I don’t panic, turns off the phone, and schedule a phone call with Apple the next morning.

One hour on the phone later, I’m comforted, I have a ticket number, Apple is sending UPS to pick up the phone in the next 24 business hours and I should get a repaired (I insist: a new one) iPhone within 7 days, with maybe a commercial gesture. That sucks, I’m without a phone for a few days, I’m stuck at home waiting for UPS, but that’s fine.

After factory reset, it has expended a little more...

After factory reset, it has expended a little more…

Waiting the whole day Friday, Saturday… Monday evening and still nothing. In addition to not having received any phone call from the customer manager that was supposed to call me at 11 AM for the compensation…

Checking my e-mails when all of a sudden…

"Your repair has been canceled"

“Your repair has been canceled”

And my ticket number has disappeared from my account, everything’s erased.

At that point I’m pretty pissed and I schedule another phone call. Which will be the first of the 4 phone calls I will have today, with THE one where the Apple Store I was planning to visit transferred me to Apple Care with a delightful 29 minutes on hold, for a total of 3 hours on the phone, where I’ll get 4 new ticket numbers, and where I’m told that:
– I need to go to an Apple Store
– No, that’s ok, UPS will come pick the phone.
– No, I REALLY need to take an appointment in an Apple Store, since my phone was bought abroad it can’t be handled otherwise (WTF?!) and that all Genius Bars are booked for this week. First appointment available in Paris (my closest Apple Store: 300 km) Saturday in 5 days. Not mentioning:
– my interlocutor attempts to send me to other Apple Stores at times I patiently remind him I wasn’t available.
– the criticisms I receive for buying a phone abroad, and not in a country I’m spending less than one month a year.
– smart advices such as taking back to the USA a phone, now classified as an incendiary grenade, with me on a plane.
– the fact that a damaged, hazardous phone, despite being new, be considered on the same priority level than helping a John Doe to restore his iCloud data on his new iPhone.

I take on me and agreed for an appointment to the Louvre Apple Store in Paris for Saturday, buy my 60 € train tickets and keep a suspicious eye over the fire hazard that I have to keep in my house.

On Saturday, I’m waiting in line in the Apple Store, as my UPS pick up has obviously been canceled in the same vague and mysterious conditions.

After one week, even not using it, the battery has swollen even more

After one week, even not using it, the battery has swollen even more

Looking good at first… Until I’m told that, “but sir, your phone has been bought abroad, we can’t proceed to an exchange, we need to order one, you’ll come pick it up in about 3 days”. Sure, I’m full time available, and I get free train tickets.

So, beside the fact that seriously, Apple had every single element to get a phone ready as my appointment has been scheduled 5 days ago, I’m still in the biggest French Apple Store. There are obviously about 500 iPhone 8 plus ready behind this door across the store. And even though they need to change it by a phone covered with a world warranty, if I can’t find it in the most touristic city in the world there’s something terribly wrong in their customer support. And it’s even more frustrating when people around you leave with a brand new phone when the one they came with was an old iPhone 6 with legitimate battery weaknesses. But for a new phone with manufacturing defect, nope, not gonna happen.

And the explanation that it’s an American phone so according to the international legislation and tax reasons it can be changed only by an American model, being given by a company so famous for its tax optimization in Europe, is pretty hilarious.

I put this article on pause for a moment: I’m not blaming the Louvre Apple Store, neither its employees and manager, that are obviously facing major global company-level restrictions, and have to go through the Apple Care phone service too. It’s driving me crazy after one hour, they have to do it all day long, while buffering angry customers. Hell of a job.

On the Genius Bar table, after a few minutes powered on, the plastic clips holding the screen are breaking.

On the Genius Bar table, after a few minutes powered on, the plastic clips holding the screen are breaking.

Time to fetch a sand bag!

Time to fetch a sand bag!

I give up, surrender my cursed iPhone (that’s a fire / explosion hazard I don’t have to worry about anymore), having been told that a new phone will be shipped to my house, shipping fees being covered by the Apple Store. Not exactly what I was hopping for but after 2 hours of fighting I know I won’t get a better offer. As for the commercial gesture a commercial manager is supposed to call me next Thursday.

Breaking news 1h30 later when the moment I arrived in the Gare de l’Est neighborhood, I received a call from the Apple Store telling me that they just received a new iPhone 8 plus that can be use as a replacement, that I can come pick up.

That’s one of the fastest trip across Paris I’ve ever done. I managed to pick up the new phone, go back to the train station and board my train, appreciating the involvement of the Louvre Apple Store. I’m aware that with the restriction they had to face, they handled my case pretty well, so I’m grateful to their employees and manager.

So I had time to chill a little before the Apple Care phone call a few days later. That’s not gonna last.

At this point, I was ready to let go for the 7 hours I’ve lost in this stupid story and the associated stress. I was just willing for Apple Care to at least cover the train tickets. Such naivety…

Quite quickly, I understand that one more time my interlocutor has no power and that the only thing she’s allowed to give is a silicon case for my phone. Except that I obviously already bought one with the phone, and not as ugly as the one sold by Apple for 45 euros. Despite my attempts to get a wireless charger, that would have covered the price of the train tickets and that would be, at least, useful, I have the uncomfortable feeling to be considered an idiot again, and I’m not willing to accept that.

Let's face it, it's ugly.

Let’s face it, it’s ugly.

I tried everything but I couldn’t reach a supervisor, hidden behind their operators that take the hit for all.

My interlocutor invited me to fill the satisfaction form that would be sent shortly after, which is supposed to make things evolve. But preparing my trip back to the USA and working just after, I couldn’t open the form sooner than 10 days after, and it was then unavailable, if it ever was.


“We thank you for the interest you showed for this survey. You already answered it (nope…) or your invite has expired.”

As I can’t be heard through this mean, I’m telling this story through this blog, hoping that it will find a way to somebody at Apple that would be willing to make things better. I’m not expecting anything from Apple anymore, but maybe this advertising will help making them understand that their support sucks, especially when dealing with international warranty. I’m lucky enough to know the risks and how to handle such a technical problem and hazard, but I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for the regular tourist, visiting for a few days a country he doesn’t speak the language, and who would take the plane soon.

As a conclusion, my next phone might be a Samsung as they know how to handle this problem, or a cheap one that I can throw away every time I’m in a different country, since it’s kind of what I’ve been told by Apple!

Posted in Non classé | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fixing a Mesa Boogie Triaxis


This fix involves messing with a tube preamp running high voltage that can kill you. If you choose this path, do it at your own risk, I can’t be blamed!

Mode Erreur

A colleague I’m sometimes playing the guitar with came to me the other night with his dying Mesa Boogie Triaxis. Apparently this famous preamp works fine for 15 minutes, before falling into error mode, displaying his inner pain on the front panel display through the mysterious message “.3” which, according to the doc, stands for “Err”.

A quick search on the net shows that this is quite a common issue, but I couldn’t find a concrete solution that doesn’t involve a $400 Mesa Boogie factory return.

Come on, a 90’s rack preamp should be easy to open and fix !

Here it is, laying on the surgery table, with all the care and concern of a tubes stuff guts (high voltage, afro haircut, death, and so on).

Triaxis Guts

Without surprise, it’s designed to be opened and tweaked, so a first diagnosis is easy to get. But let’s be honest, a full disassembly will be a PITA. So let’s hope it won’t come to this.

Both symptoms and Internet comments (microcontroler failure, not serviceable) made me want to blame the digital part and not the analog part, so I focus on this.

At first sight, everything’s fine. Some tantalum caps that could be on their aging days, but nothing pops up. Let’s look under this Faraday cage that must protect microcontrolers from electric noise.

Got the micro?

As expected, here are the Triaxis chip and some Z80, that I hope are fine.

Z80 and Cie

But having a closer look, there’s this C18 tatalum cap leaking, and IC11 dressed as a smoked rib. With a more chemical smell. That depends on the restaurant though.

IMG_0667 2


IC11 is a TL7705ACP, a supply-voltage supervisor, making sure that voltage is as expected before turning on other part of the circuit. If it goes beyond limits, it can be used to shuts things off or trigger errors. And the voltage of reference is decoupled by C18, the damaged capacitor. It’s thus very likely to trigger errors after a short period of time, which could explain the message on the front panel of the Triaxis!

Let’s order a new TL7705ACP and some 100 nF tantalum cap, even though a ceramic could do the job.

A few days later, parts arrived, and I call my colleague. Yeah, 40 minutes before my train, plenty enough of time!

I start by removing damaged parts. Simplest way to do it in my experience is to cut every pin, and then unsolder them one by one. Then I clean the leaks of cap juice and carbonized dusts.


This part of the board is obviously burnt on several areas, so I don’t want to struggle and solder new parts directly. Actually I can’t because it’s hard to solder and can be damaged further. Pin 6 of IC11 in particular is just carbon at this stage, so I’ll connect it elsewhere on the circuit.

I check with a multimeter how everything is connected (GND, VCC, VREF, RESET…) and try to figure out how the part is used, based on the circuit reference from the datasheet. Again, I’m a little confused by how the RESET pin of IC11 is used, directly connected to ground. As the circuit is damaged here, I cross check my multimeter result with a visual inspection of the bottom layer of the board: that’s a match, so I’ll reconnect it like this, and will trust Mesa Boogie’s engineers (but if it was me I would have put a 10k resistor).


Visually, it’s ugly. Probably one of my worst fix, but that was fast and it avoided a full board disassembly. Anyway I can’t see any influence on sound or reliability, so who cares.

A few other checks with my trustworthy multimeter, and I plug the beast.

No smelly blue smoke, no heat, and no errors on display anymore!


A $2 fix instead of $400 🙂 Pretty sick!

The beast has been running fine for 2 weeks, and my colleague is happy!

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A painless Magic Keyboard?

iErgoKeyboard - 1 iErgoKeyboard - 4

I usually spend around 14 h a day in front of a computer. At this rate, a bad posture is merciless and pain appears quickly. As a consequence, I took a dive into the world of ergonomics years ago, and I’m always looking for this comfy peripheral that would associate geeking and peace of mind.

For long days at work, I love the Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, and I usually went back to the Apple wired keyboard in the evening, once back home. Alternating posture is a good way to release muscles.

But when I crossed the Atlantic ocean, and went full Apple, I was disappointed when I started looking for an ergonomic keyboard, Mac compatible, with French layout, and available in the USA. The best I found is a French layout Magic Keyboard, but it’s still an abomination, ergonomically speaking.

First, I wanted to mess with a Dremel, and giving it a V shape… But a negative slope, widely approved by ergonomic professionals, was easier and less definitive.

I launched my CAD software one more time, to create a pair of accessories to be clipped on the Apple Magic Keyboard, instantaneously featured with a relieving negative slope of -6,8°.

2 weeks later, the result was shipped to my mailbox. And the first days of use were delightful!

iErgoKeyboard - 1 (1)

It’s not worthy of the true ergonomics keyboard, obviously. But it’s always good to take and your wrist will be spared and ready for breathless foosball games.

iErgoKeyboard - 5

iErgoKeyboard - 6

So if you have a Magic keyboard you want to use for a long time, have a look at those cute accessories on my Shapeways shop.

And as in my opinion, everybody should be healthy and have access to ergonomic peripherals, the Brimbelle Lab iErgo Keyboards are under OSHW (Open Source Hardware) licence, and files can be downloaded here, so that you can modify or print them yourself.

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Pimp my cable

You fear people’s feet passing dangerously close to your power cable crossing the alley of the Starbucks to charge your brand new laptop? You got a 42 ports USB hub, with every single one busy, and you unplugged the very hard drive on which you were cut-pasting a back up with a gazillion subfolder and tiny files?



I might have the solution to your troubles.

I’ve thought about paint (cracks and scratch gonna happen), electrician tape (sticky cable collecting all the dust and dirt existing on Earth, yummy…), but I eventually imagined and created these little clips to be 3D printed, in all the colors you might think of.


Do yourself a favor and treat yourself with these little accessories, sold by pack of 30, on my Shapeways shopin 3.0mm (for cable from 3.0 to 3.7mm, i.e. 0.1181″ to 0.1457″) or in 3.5mm (for cable from 3.5 à 4.4mm, i.e. 0.1378″ to 0.1732″).

iPhone cable coming soon…


Plus you’re sure now that nobody will stole your charger “inadvertently”!

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New York – 1

More on my Instagram!

9-11 MemorialTrump Tower


Flatiron Building


DUMBONorthpole Bar

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Museum

Chamber Street Subway Station

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