Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Restoring a Roberts RD-60 Radio

My wife loves her RD60 Roberts DAB Radio, however during our recent house move it was (electrically) broken.

It was also very very tatty - the fake leather covering they used for it was very poor quality, and no joke - just lightly tapping it would cause chunks of fake red leather to fall off!

Time to take it apart and restore it!

Before photos:

First stage was to take it apart and fix the electrical fault, this was easy - the PSU was broken. Now I know I can fix the Radio, time to re-upholster it.

A trip to Dunelm and my wife picked a rather nice red flowery material. I bought a meter at £4. Bargain.

After a strip down before recovering:

And the finished product, re-upholstered, cleaned and fully working!

I still need to do the carry handle, but I don't have a sewing machine, so that will have to wait until I visit my mum.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Home roasted chestnuts the easy way

Gather chestnuts as local wood

1 Make a cut in each chestnut

2 Place in pan of water on the heat. Remove when simmering

3 Pre heat oven to 220c drain water from chestnuts and place on baking tray with. It side up. Wait 15 minutes or longer of the shells have not opened

4 Remove from oven and place in a bowl. Cover with a tea towl for 15 minutes to steam a little.

Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

SNES RGB Scart Cable Sync Mod

My SNES looks terrible on my new Samsung LED TV :-(

The picture appears to have a checkerboard pattern / interferance:

After reasearch, I have learnt that the usual RGB Scart cables use composite video as the Sync (Pin 9 on SNES to PIN 20 on scart). This creates havoc on modern day TV's, especially on Samsungs.

How to fix it? Use Luma (PIN 7 on SNES) as the Sync.

Heres what I did.

Take your RGB SNES -> Scart Cable.

Carefully cut the moulded cover down one side so you can open it up

Remove the moulded cover to reveal the insides of the plug

Now locate PIN 9 and PIN 7 (On this cable, PIN 9 is the white wire). Carefully cut around the block of plastic, unsolder the white cable and solder it to PIN 7 (Handily the PIN next to PIN 9 :-))

Replace the rubber moulding, super glue the cut, clean it up and job done!

After sync mod, no more interference, checker board pattern :-)

Friday, 11 July 2014

Custom case for the Super Everdrive!

First I started with an old cartridge, took it spat and used white spirit to remove the front and back labels. I gave it a good clean up:

Now lined up the PCB and dremelled out a slot for the SD Card (this photo was before sanding the edges of the slot!)

PCB in and lined up:

Cart bolted to gather and the rather lovely label provided by Retro Towers applied! Job done!

Perfect! Very happy with how this turned out. Composite Video mod next.

Super Everdrive time!

I received the Super Everdrive today, a nice package from RetroTowers in the UK! Even comes with a cart sticker. Ill build the shell later.

First time to install the DSP1 chip.

It needs to go here : Top marks to Krikzz for clearly marking the PCB and orientation for the DSP1

Chip soldered in, simple :-)

Powered up and working a treat. Pilotwings and Mario Kart as they are supposed to be :-)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

SNES & Super Everdrive flash cart!

Its my birthday tomorrow, one of the gifts my wife has bought me is a Super Everdrive!

In preparation for tomorrow when I can get my hands on it, I thought id remove a DSP1 chip from a Pilotwings cart.

The DSP1 chip needs to be soldered into the Everdrive PCB to allow you to play DSP1 games such as Mario Cart and Pilotwings - two of my favourite SNES games! (And yours I bet ;-))

This is the chip you need to remove:

Armed with iron and sucker, remove solder:

Remove chip, job done, ready for installation to Everdrive tomorrow!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Hack unsecured DVR's using internet search engines

The internal url for accessing my new DVR is :

The default user name is admin, with no password.

During the setup wizard, it dosnt prompt you to change user accounts and set passwords, so I assume there may be DVR's out there on the net with no password ready to logon to!

How to find them? Easy, the following google search :


Will return many, and trust me - many have no password set!

An alternate search is :

intitle:"dvr login"

Try the search in bing as well, both engines return different results.

Enjoy DVR hacking!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

DVR has arrived!

I spoke to a great supplier yesterday (Aban Tech in Birmingham) and today a DVR arrived.

Its a TekVision 8 series ( with 8 channel video, 8 channel audio in, 960H 200FPS recorder).

It dosnt come with a hard drive, so first job was to install a 2TB drive. Its a very small unit, which is excellent, and its very very quiet - a big bonus).

Ive powered it on, setup one camera and given it a good test - very fast, great playback and snappy interface - feels like a top product.

Ill do a full review in the next month or so, for now its going back in the box until moving day.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Designing a CCTV system on a budget! - Part 2 - DVR

I have my 700TVL 1/3" Sony CCD cameras, the cable, power supply, the remaining component is the DVR.

Initially I thought resolution and channels was all that mattered, so scoured eBay for a 8 Channel (to support unto 8 cameras) 960H DVR. 

960H is the resolution, this is also known as WD1 (Wide D1) which is 960x576 pixels. This is the standard higher resolution CCTV system can record at. The other resolutions available are (in order of best to worst):

960H/WD1 - 960x576
D1 - 704x480
CIF - 352x240
QCIF 175x120

Now the camera generates 700TVL so feeding a recorder that records at 960H/WD1 will yield the best possible results.

If the DVR you are looking at records in only CIF/QCIF - stay well clear. 

Next I looked at encoding formats, H264 is the standard nowadays, anything else (Mpeg4 etc) avoid!

Now things get a little confusing. Recording frame rates and resolution.

Just because the DVR on sale says "Full 960H WD1 High Resolution CCTV" dosnt mean it really is! The cheaper units (£50-£100) on eBay display live footage at  the full 960H/WD1 resolution, but generally record at low CIF resolution.

You need to find a DVR that displays 960H live and records 960H!

Next up is frames per second. If you want your recorded footage to be smooth, your DVR must record at 25FPS (for PAL in the UK).

Not too complex right? Wrong!

Many DVR's at the lower end specify in their recording specs "Records at 960/WD1 at 1~25 FPS" this is very misleading. What does this actually mean?

Well it means that if you have one camera connected to the unit, it will record at 25FPS, if you have 2 cameras, each will record at 12.5FPS, 4 cameras 6.25fps, the full 8 cameras - a pathetic 3 FPS.

This is due to the low end slow CPU's in these budget units. 

If the spec page for the DVR doesnt mention recording or mentions a variable for the FPS - stay away!

You want live 25FPS recording on EACH channel simultaneously. One way manufactures show this is the TOTAL FPS for the unit.

For example, an 8 channel unit that can record 25FPS on each channel would be a 200FPS unit (8x25FPS=200FPS).

If the unit you have in mind is for example a 8 channel unit rated at 125FPS. It is NOT true 25FPS recording per channel.

So we have covered resolution and FPS. Next is features.

A modern day DVR should have a gigabit ethernet port and allow access from anywhere in the world, even the budget low end ones allow this (although due to the slow CPU won't allow you to access remotely if its recording or record and play back at the same time).

You'll also want email notification - the system will mail you when it detects motion and starts to record. They pretty much all do this.

A RS-458 serial port? Yep, thats for connecting a PTZ camera to (Pan, Tilt, Zoom)

HDMI & VGA Out - to connect to your monitor or modern flat screen TV.

Composite out and audio out - In actual fact, yes! I will be running a simple low end composite feed to all the displays in the house, very handy for checking from another room.

Finally Audio. To start with audio in seemed pointless, the cameras don't have mics fitted. However, after reattach I discovered you can purchase small high gain mics that you can mount inside the cameras. Now I'm not going to have mics on all of them, but maybe it would be nice to have one on the front door camera, and in the future a mic on the camera in the babies room? So yes Audio in is needed. Many of the low end budget models don't have audio in at ALL. The slightly better models maybe have only 1 audio in.

You have a 8 camera system, but only 1 audio in, thats limiting.

So finally if you have a 8 Channel DVR, make sure it also has 8 Audio inputs. You'll only regret it later if you don't!

Finally storage!

Many units comes with hard drives, many come without. Id save yourself some money and buy one without a hard drive.

I have a 2TB SATA drive spare and will fit this to the system. Any drive size from 1TB up would be suited to approx 1 week of footage.

So in summary, I need a DVR that does at minimum the following:

-Record and Playback in 960H/WD1 resolution.
-8 Channels
-8 Audio Channels
-Gigabit ethernet
-Motion detect / record and notify by email
-200 FPS Giving 25FPS per channel
-RS-458 Serial port
-HDMI / VGA / Composite / Audio Out.

I have a DVR in mind, and am speaking to the supplier tomorrow. I will post again with my findings and hopefully purchase information!

Designing a CCTV system on a budget!

My birthday is fast approaching and I'm (hopefully) due to move house soon. I thought it would be a good idea to get a semi decent CCTV system - on a low budget - an easy task I thought....

Not easy! Buying a CCTV system has turned out to be a nightmare task, so much to learn, sellers hiding information and so many different specifications.

The number one thing I have learnt is - under no circumstances ever buy an all-in-one box solution from Maplins etc etc.

The number two thing I have learnt is - resolution matters - a lot.

The number three thing I have learnt is - recording resolution on all channels matters - a lot.

In court, low resolution CCTV is not even valid. So whats the point of a CCTV system if your footage cannot be used to secure a conviction? You need high resolution cameras and a DVR that can actually record at high resolution at 25FPS.

Cheap one box systems may display live footage at a semi decent resolution at 25fps, but during recording it will be low resolution and low fps. Pointless.

Ive therefore decided to spec and build my own system.

First you have to choose cameras - cmos/ccd/sensor size, number of TV Lines, IR or not, weatherproof or not.

During my research it appears that Sony 1/3" CCD based cameras are the better ones (True CCD sensor, sony technology for low lighting, larger 1/3" sensor - think when choosing a DSLR. I went for 700TVL cameras, these provide 700 TV Lines (just below 720p) and 48IR LED's for night vision.

Beware of eBay ads for cameras that are cheap (£30 or below) always check the specs. I have seen many cameras advertised as "Top quality Sony CCD Nightvision" - however the specs reveal, 300TVL, 1/4" CCD, 12 IR Leds" - it may have the same housing as a more expensive model, but the insides will let you down.

Ok so ive learnt a little about cameras. Cables next!

Cabling isn't bad at all really, just remember that you will need a dual BNC/power cable. I bought cables that are way too long - best to have them too long than two short! Once installed and run to the DVR I will shorten them and add my own BNC/Power connectors (or just bundle them up and leave them).

Next up, power!

You'll find that CCTV cameras DO NOT come with power supplies. During my research, the easiest thing to do is buy a large single power supply and split the feed from it to all your cameras at your DVR end. Ive chosen an 8 channel system, I won't have 8 cameras, but best to future proof. Each camera will draw more amps depending on CCD/CMOS/Sensor size and the number of IR Led's.

Watch out - many ads on eBay are for small phone like charger units with 8 way splitters, some of these only provide 1 amp - no where near enough for 8 cameras.

Ive gone for a 5 amp power supply. That will  be more than enough for 4 cameras, good enough for now

Finally the DVR! This is such a minefield, I will go over in another post. Im still researching....

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Remove OSX Mavericks Recovery partition to reclaim space

Im rebuilding my MacBook Pro Retina. The SSD is small (250gb) so every little bit of space helps. OSX has a recovery partition (~650mb) if you have a USB/DVD install or other method to boot and repair OSX, then its not needed - its just sitting there eating your precious space.

Removal and reclamation of space is easy:

1 - Boot into OSX and launch the Terminal.
2 - Run diskutil list to display all partitions:

3 - Note your recovery partition ID, in this case disk0s3
4 - To erase that partition type :

diskutil eraseVolume HFS+ ErasedDisk /dev/disk0s3

5 - The partition is now gone, now you need to reclaim the space it was using, type:

diskutil mergePartitions HFS+ MacHD disk0s2 disk0s3

6 - Once completed, type diskutil list to show the changes:

Note: disk0s3 has gone, and disk0s2 has increased by ~650mb

Every little helps ;-)