DS411Slim overheating fix attempt #1

I’ve reported a problem with my nas a few weeks ago (here) and my plan to get it back to productive work in a reliable way.

As part of this plan I did order a OEM replacement fan: searching an equivalent model with the same small connector proved to be a waste of time.
After a few weeks it finally arrived and yesterday I picked it up at the shop and replaced it in the NAS.

The old fan had some substantial play in the axial direction and at low-speed failed to spin up, for this reason I had high hopes with the replacement.
It was a quick job requiring only 15 minutes and then I was ready to use the NAS.

Mirror rebuild worked fine, compressing a file with the PC CPU with source and destination on the NAS worked fine.
Active disks were at 43C and the CPU at 48C during the rebuild; a few minutes after it was completed the disks were down to 35C and the CPU at 43C.
With 19C of ambient temperature this is not an extraordinary achievement, but are manageable temperatures.

I felt confident, even if not overly confident, that the fix was going to work as desired.
To be sure that this was really the case and that the overheating was not going to hit me unexpected in the future I did a heat torture test by compressing a 140GB file using the NAS CPU instead of the PC CPU.

This time unfortunately the NAS did behave as with the older fan: after some time it died on me.
The latest reported CPU temperature in the web interface was 54C and it survived long enough to put a warning in the web interface telling me that it could not compress the file.
The NAS couldn’t be reached anymore (no web interface, no ping, no Synology assistant) and couldn’t even be restarted using the power button.

Next step will be to mount a heat sink on the current nonremovable stock heatspreader.
I have already found a suitable heat sink, now the challenge is to find the needed adhesive thermal pad.
I will lose the ability to use the 4th disk slot, but it is acceptable because future space expansions will likely come via a DS414slim for additional redundancy and performance.
And I still have the LS220D that can maintain some of the lower value data.

Buffalo LinkStation 220: first impressions

At the end of 2014 my Synology DS411slim decided to abandon me and a couple of weeks ago I have purchased this nas to store the data in the Synology until I could put some more thinking into an appropriate fix/hack/replacement.

I expected that the LS220 would be no match for the higher end brands in the SOHO area, but still I couldn’t help the first thought: cheap plastic.
Once it is filled with the two disks it feels a bit better thanks to the extra weight and reduced flex that they warrant to the device.
The setup was fairly smooth even if the quick startup guide could be better and the UI was all but exciting.
The same feeling as before: cheap.

In the end all I need in the short run is a SMB share to copy as much data as possible from the DS411Slim while it works before overheating.
For this basic use I consider the device as a good fit for a very convenient price, but then comes in the performance in my environment.

The best sustained writing rate I could get so far is 28MB/s on a cabled 1Gbit link while using disk2vhd to backup my notebook (98GB in about 57 minutes).
Compared to the 37-40MB/s that I was getting on the 4 years old DS411Slim (see this old post about encrypted vs. unencrypted writing speed I was experiencing) this is not a good number for this workload and makes the LS220D less suitable for one of my key use cases.

To conclude: if you have a pair of spare 3.5″ drives in a drawer the LS220D is an expensive way (I paid mine 69.99€) to put them to work for the benefit of the entire house.
If you are planning to purchase the drives for the purpose of putting together a NAS you should really shop for a higher class NAS than the LS220D.

HP f200 car camcorder: bad purchase

What an unfortunate purchase on my side.
I did get it using some frequent flyer miles that I could not spend on time on an upgrade, but still I could have used them in a better way.

The angle of the camera is very narrow for the intended purpose.
On my Honda Civic I need to put the suction cup in the light hub in the middle of the roof to cover the entire dashboard and in that case records also the speedometer, the driver and the passenger.
The power cable hanging in the middle of the car is not great.

The quality of the picture can be questioned too.
The algorithm utilized places a lot of noise on the footage and this happens even in full light.
I recorded around noon with the car not moving hence it’s all about the camera and not about the environment.

Maybe I will be able to repurpose it as a very costly webcam, but it will be still suboptimal.
I should do my research better next time.

My DS411slim went south

It was a while that I was traveling quite a bit and giving little attention to my home NAS.
It was getting stuck from time to time but I was not really worried.

For Christmas I had some spare time and decided to do some much-needed backup: the notebook to the NAS and then the NAS to a USB disk that I usually keep disconnected to be on the safe side.

Things did not work out as planned because the DS411Slim was not running long enough for me to complete even the first step.
Status led a solid blue, network led blinking, but no data movement at all and it will not shutdown using the physical button.
Only way to restart the NAS was plugging the power and as you know this is not the nicest thing to do to a disk with data being written to it.

I did it once.
I did it twice.
I did it one time too many and got the status led blinking nonstop.
Not good.
One of the disk’s metadata was corrupted and the mirror diskgroup in degraded state.

Situation was bad but not tragic: I decided to reverse the order of activities and do the NAS backup first using the disk still working.
This worked fine.
Then I decided to hack the fan control file to make the fan spin faster as suggested in and then did the notebook backup using from Microsoft.
This worked fine again.

I felt all my problems were fixed, but I was soon proved wrong.
Due to the scarcity of space on the share I decided to let the NAS compress the .vhd file by issuing the command through the web file manager and I got hit by the CPU overheat issue again even if the fan was clearly spinning (relatively) fast.
I did another try at the compression after restarting the NAS and it went down again: cpu in the web interface appeared to be in the 52-53 celsius last time I checked before going to sleep, but in the morning the system was stuck again.

I have almost alternatives: I have to mod the device.
One option is to replace the fan: maybe it just got tired after a few years and can’t spin as fast as it should.
Another option is to use a thermal adhesive to attach a finned heat sink to the CPU: the heat spreader (irreplaceable) is absolutely untouchable (I mean burning) when the system is blocked hence it can clearly benefit from a better heat dissipation.
Before I go down this road I need to have a failsafe solution hence I ordered a cheap Buffalo LinkStation 220 with a pair of 1TB disks where I will copy all the content of the Synology.

Miracle Istanbul Asia

The bed was very uncomfortable for my back, to the point that after 8-9 hours of sleep I was still tired and waking up with a strong back pain.
The background noise level was significant due to the nearby highway: likely the rooms not facing the road are better in this respect.
To top up the bad experience the room had a shower with a strong smell of mold every time I opened the water.

Overall it was not a miracle for me.

Apologia della cattiveria by Teodoro Klitsche de la Grange

I could not resist purchasing and reading a book that was attempting to make the point that there it is something good about being bad.

With only 32 pages (plus the notes) it is a pamphlet more than an essay.

The first important point of the author is the split of the behavior as private citizen from the one as a public officer.
The importance of being good in our private live is recognized and then the author moves on explaining why being bad as a public officer sometimes is not only acceptable but badly needed.

Then the book shows several examples of “bad” behaviors from public officers that led to a lesser damage and examples of “good” behavior that led to major public damage.
If the state, and as a consequence the people with public roles, is unwilling to use some degree of violence there it is no point at all in having a state because the individuals that disagree with the government decisions can’t be forced into accepting them.

Bad guys, without quotes, are born every day: a state that can be “bad” is needed.

Samsung S24A300B: firmware update

3 days ago the monitor that I use in the desktop setup of my office notebook decided to abandon me and started to behave.
It was turning itself off without apparent reason and then refused tu turn itself on.
The apparent trigger was the connection on the DVI port of a second PC that I was configuring.

I had already start to look for a new monitor, using the tiny built-in 14″, when my engineer mindset jumped in and pushed me to give a try at fixing the old one.
Being already out of warranty for a while it was not a big risk.

Once opened I found out that the screen has a strange design, with the electronics floating on the back of the screen, but the solder on the power plug was perfectly good and there was no indication of mechanical wear that could explain my power issues.
To be on the safe side I re-seated all the connections and then closed the plastic shell.
For no apparent reason the screen was working fine again.

During my search on internet for possible fixes I’ve found a few blog posts and videos that mentioned firmware-related issues similar, but not identical, to mine: loss of signal and dark screen.
After prying the monitor open attempting a firmware update was a minor risk and I went for it.

It worked fine and now I have a new on-screen menu (good) and a color balance that even after several attempts does not match the old one (bad); I still miss the option to turn off the power light: it is very bright and annoying when working in the darkness.

Hopefully I will have some more years of useable life in the screen.