Thursday, 25 October 2012

Put BenF firmware on DSO201

I have a DSO201, serial E1BE8DE3, Licence 1818C8BC, Device Firmware Upgrade V3.22A

I did the following to put on BenF's firmware packaged by Alf (5th post down):

I held '-' (down? key) while turning on. I got a firmware upgrade screen.

I connected my DSO to my Linux laptop USB port. I got a "DFU V3_22_A" mounted device in Nautilus file manager.

I extracted 2 hex files: V353_LIB.HEX and V364_APP.HEX from Alf's zip file.

I copied (dragged) V353_LIB.HEX to DFU V3_22_A device. After a second, my DFU device vanished and then reappeared. File name had changed to .RDY.

I copied (dragged) V364_APP.HEX to DFU V3_22_A device. After a second, my DFU device vanished and then reappeared. File name had changed to .RDY.

I ejected DFU device.

I disconnected USB cable.

I turned off DSO and back on a few seconds later.

Beautiful! BenF Firmware now running.

Thanks Alf.
Thanks BenF.
Thanks to whoever designed and made this open hardware, open software DSO!

I got mine from this seller on ebay: ljstore2009

Sunday, 21 October 2012

On-line printing photos should not be this hard!

Are there are any other ways to store, manage, share and print our photos without being locked in to a single or subset of 'approved' suppliers?


( for those that are bored with their life and want to be bored by ours )

My wife wanted to send a lot of photos to a company of her choice to be printed into a book. This time we chose BIG W Photos.

Should be easy.


Our digital photos are as well ordered as a junk shop: everything is in one place but no one knows exactly where.

To avoid having photos and duplicated photos spread across 20,000 devices in our family I have been trying to get all photos de-duplicated and uploaded to a cloud - I choose Picasa but it could have been any service.


Getting photos there was not easy. Our cr48 ChromeBook would not work either by plugging in our camera or its SD card. So I switched to a laptop running Ubuntu. This worked but it was tedious.


Our chosen printing service is not on PicasaWeb's list so we now needed to download all photos to be printed and then upload them to our printer.

You can not do this from PicasaWeb unless you have a Picasa application installed. Google stopped supporting Picasa for Linux some time ago. I think this is good as we should be using web apps to become more device independent.


I discovered that I can download a zip file of all photos in an album from Google+.

Why can't I do this from PicasaWeb?

First we had to move or copy selected photos from one album to a new album because you can not download selected photos using Google+ - just an album.


Now we have our selected photos in a directory on a laptop (again!), we could now upload them to our book printer.

None of this makes sense. This is daft!


If our printer was truly a cloud printer then we should be able to one-time-share or one-week-share our photos with them. They could then download what we selected and shared, print them and post a book to us.

This would be a bit closer to 'cloud' printing.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Installing Ubuntu 12.10 on MacBookPro9,1 and all is good

Short Version

You need rEFInd, Ubuntu 12.10, 3.6 kernel, macfanctld.

All is good - except Nvidia drivers that did not work so well, especially by breaking resume which is something I must have.


This is what I am doing:

Getting Ubuntu

Download ubuntu 12.10 - why not consider donating as well?
Burn to DVD.
Eject DVD.

Booting to Live Ubuntu

Shutdown MacBookPro9,1 (MBP).
Hold down 'option' key from here on.
Turn on MBP.
Push in DVD.
Hold down 'option' until you see pictures of hard drives and perhaps CDs and USBs.
Wait a while. Eventually you will see two DVDs: 'Windows' and 'EFI Boot'.
Click on 'EFI Boot'.
Select 'EFI Boot' with arrow keys and hit Enter.
Select 'Try Ununtu without installing' and hit Enter.
Ubuntu Live will start. This will take a few minutes.


Double-click 'Install Ubuntu 12.10'.
I then selected English and due to my own special requirements, I selected 'something else'.
You might like to try 'Install Ubuntu alongside...'

Note: if you select 'Erase disk and install Ubuntu' then you will get exactly that - my guess is that you DO NOT want to do that.

Here I have to setup my partition manually - you will not have to do this.
If you are interested in my setup, I have this:
sda1: efi 209 MB (EFI partition)
sda2: hfs+ 70 GB (OS-X)
sda3: hfs+ 650 MB (OS-X recover?)
sda4: biosgrub 200 MB (don't remember)
sda8: swap 20 GB
sda5: ext4 20 GB (linux root)
sda6: ext4 20 GB (linux root No. 2)
sda7: ext4 350 GB (/home)

(Boot loader on sda)

Selected Sydney, English(US) keyboard layout, created my user account, selected an icon, and Ubuntu started to install.

It was very quick to install for me.

Shutting Down

Hit 'Restart Now' button.
DVD ejected.
Hit Enter.
Hold down 'option' as soon as you here your MBP starting up.

Booting into Ubuntu

Hold down 'option' until you see pictures of hard drives and perhaps CDs and USBs.
Select 'Windows' and hit Enter.
I got an unhelpful 'Grub Recovery' prompt.

Fixing Grub Recovery

I suspect that grub could not read or find my Ubuntu partition. Just a guess.
Odd. It is not as if there aren't very many MacBookPro9,1's around...
I have rEFInd installed so I tried that.
You can install rEFInd from OS-X. See here.
You may be able to use rEFIt if you have that installed, but I recommend rEFInd.

Booting using rEFInd

Power on.
Select Ubuntu.
After some dodgy screen effects, Ubuntu booted to a blue background.

Getting 'Everything' Working

Ubuntu first wanted me to install language support.
To do this you will need a wired Ethernet connection to your Internet router.


Install these packages
  • b43-fwcutter
  • linux-firmware (this should already be installed)
  • linux-firmware-nonfree

Note: I think a friend suggested bcmwl-kernel-source instead of these files, but it did not work for me - perhaps I misunderstood.

Kernel Upgrade

My previous experience suggests that a 3.6 kernel works better.
So I have installed four files from here - you can pick what kernel you want. Install the 'all' file, then the other header file followed by each image file.

UPDATE: I have found that only 3.7.0 and 3.7.5 (so far) work.

After a reboot, I noticed that my initial screen was no longer corrupted.


You have to have fan control or else your MBP will run too hot.
I used macfanctld from mactel support PPA (precise version).
I also have also written my own for a MBP4,1 that I'll test someday.


You need rEFInd, Ubuntu 12.10, 3.6 kernel, macfanctld.
Since Fan and sleep/wake are working now, I'm happy to turn this MBP into my daily compute.

I have also tried various Nvidia drivers - some work, but at a high cost of not resuming after standby. So I have removed these.

This works fine, but requires rEFInd. This is not a bad thing as rEFInd is really good, well documented and seems to be maintained by someone who knows a lot about EFI.

But, I want to try to boot to Linux without rEFInd. This may not be possible.

Another Attempt

Boot to OS-X.
Instructions taken from here - Read these. Below is just what I did, not something you should just blindly copy.
Download and install gdisk.
Open a terminal.
sudo gdisk /dev/disk0
I deleted my unwanted Linux partitions from previous attempts.
I created a new partition: id 99, 128M, type ef02 as per instructions.
Restart OS-X, hold down 'option' key and insert Ununtu DVD.
When available, select 'EFI Boot'.
Select 'Install Ubuntu'.
Select 'Something Else'.
Setup a 1 GB reiser boot, 19 GB ext4 root, 19 GB spare, 20 GB swap and rest is ext4 home.
After install, boot to OS-X.
sudo gdisk /dev/disk0
Follow instructions to remove hybrid MBR.
I made a Super Grub 2 Disk but it could not identify any grub 2 installation.

This got me no where, except I no longer have a 'dangerous' hybrid MBR.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Ford Fairlane NL Idle Problem

I have a March 1998 Ford Fairlane NL. It has dual fuel (petrol and LPG).

It also seems to have a special version of Ford's 4.0L straight six engine.

I recently had a significant head gasket leak which rendered my car unusable, but leading up to this I had slight coolant consumption and an increasingly annoying idle problem.

Coolant Leak

I had the head gasket done 3-4 years ago. About a year or more after this we noticed that coolant was slowly disappearing. It was just an annoyance so we put up with it. By loosing my radiator cap 1 notch we hardly ever had to add water or coolant.

Idle Problem

Leading up to my second head gasket failure, my Fairlane started to stall at seemingly random times - usually when my wife was driving and usually at a corner or intersection.

Over time, our Fairlane started to stall more and more until my wife would not drive it.

Blown Head Gasket

One day, after a trip to get some wood, my head gasket failed - very dramatic smoke screen.

I was not happy - head gaskets should last longer than this - but also supposed that my idle problem was probably linked to coolant being sucked into engine cylinders.

I decided to replace my head gasket myself this time, but that is a story for another blog.

After replacing my head gasket, it was obvious very quickly that my idle problem had not been fixed - in fact it seemed far worse.


Once my engine was at normal operating temperature it operates normally until I release my throttle. At this point my gear box is driving my engine so nothing happens, but once I begin to slow or brake and revs drop my idle problem begins.

Sometimes my engine revs drop below idle speed (about 750 RPM) and keeps on dropping until it stalls or I tap my throttle - so braking becomes a two foot process.

Recent Work

Due to other faults, I have recently replace these parts:

Fuel filter (Old one was full of rust)
Fuel rail, regulator and fuel injectors.
No.1 Cylinder spark plug - cracked
Distributor (suspect failed PIP sensor)
Ignition coil (cracked)
ECU (computer)
MAP sensor
ISC valve (but I put back original one because I need to modify my new one for LPG)

A few more parts and I will have a new car!


I was fairly confident that none of these recently replaced parts were at fault. I was concerned that it could be my ISC valve, but a replacement one seemed worse.

I accessed my engine's ECU fault codes. It reported 'all ok' (code 111) but also 'engine running lean' (code 172).'

After some driving I noticed that when on LPG and when my engine would begin to stall, my LPG 'lean' light would be on. This seemed to confirm code 172. But when my LPG 'rich' light was on my engine would behave normally and it would not stall while moving or stopped.

I decided to try to test my oxygen sensor. This seems hard but I also came across people suggesting that water/coolant damages oxygen sensors - one person recommended replacing oxygen sensors when a head gasket is replaced - presumably because it is likely that coolant would be pumped into exhaust ports and would naturally come in contact with an oxygen sensor. Another suggested that moisture damages oxygen sensor heaters.


So my theory is that my long term coolant leaks have slowly been damaging my oxygen sensor, causing my engine to increasingly stall on occasions.


I have ordered a new oxygen sensor.

Oxygen sensor has arrived and is installed.


There was some 'change' but nothing dramatic.

I installed my new ISC valve (That isn't what I bought - I paid about $95 AUD) and engine rarely stalls but it hunts - overshoots and undershoots and eventually stabilizes at 700 RPM.

But when idling to a stop, revs slowly drop to about 500 RPM. If revs drop below this something happens and revs pickup and my engine will sit at about 700 RPM.

What is now different is that on LPG my gas controller is indicating rich mixture when idling slow whereas before it was reporting lean.


* new ISC valve might be 'sticking' instead of moving smoothly - later testing casts doubt on this.
* ECU may not be driving ISC correctly - later proven ok.
* I wonder if I need to reset idle stop point? - later I did a small adjustment.
* some vacuum leak I have not found - found a few but nothing significant.
* ISC needs to be modified to LPG - I have not done this yet - now done.

More Results

For LPG, a gas pipe fitting was drilled into my ISC valve. This takes fumes from crank case via a one-way valve and burns them.

What seems odd to me is that it sucks very hard and I can not see how this is a controlled flow of fumes. It is only regulated by hose size (about 6 mm and a weighted 1-way valve that seems by design to leak).

Constricting this fume flow (squeezing hose with pliers) does seem to improve idle behaviour. I also recall inserting two 5 cm bamboo skewers into the hose to restrict flow so I decided to investigate this further.

PCV Valve

As I mentioned, this valve is closed by gravity and a light spring that does not seem to work unless it is open at least 3 mm.

Engine suction at idle is very high and it easily opens my PCV valve causing a lot of air to enter, bypassing ISC valve. Being an old engine, it 'breathes' a bit and this variation in air flow might be enough to cause idle instability.

I looked at my ISC signal using an oscilloscope and I could see it changing width of pulses to increase or decrease air flow - so ECU and ISC seem to be working.

My oscilloscope is a DSO201 worth about $70 AUD - it shows signals and calculates duty cycle, frequency, hi and low-pulse width - very handy.

I decided to re-design this by taking crank case fumes and injecting them in front of my throttle valve (this is when I found a small leak in a rubber bung).

My old ISC didn't like this change, but my new ISC was much happier - but I still had to adjust idle screw by 1/4 turn.

So perhaps my old ISC is not quite right.

Anyway, I have purchased a new PCV valve for $17 as well.

Vacuum Leaks

I found  a large tear in a flexible intake pipe. This could cause sudden loss of vacuum and cause instability - but this is not my problem.

I found a rubber bung had a small tear - this might affect LPG operation a tiny bit, but it shouldn't affect idle on petrol - so this is not my problem.



Sort of.

There is a slight rev increase when coming to a stop. I had adjusted throttle stop 1/2 turn so I have moved it back 1/4 turn to see how that goes.

Engine does not hunt; it does not drop below about 600 RPM; it starts and idles ok (perhaps a little fast).


After more trips, it was clear that all was not well. Idle speed still hunts and occasionally drops very low. My adjustment to throttle stop had also resulted in harsh gear 1 to 2 change.

I purchased another ISC (a second-hand one) and idle behaviour seems normal.