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yo-yo alternatives

Message #1 - Posted 2003/12/18 - Timothy Miller

Two yo-yo power supplies have failed on me in the past year or so (for my Pismo). They're getting a little harder to find on eBay, as this generation of machines fades into obsolescence. At $40 to $50 a crack, for used items, the cost starts to sting.

I'm not 100% certain, but it appears that in both cases, the power cord (from the yo-yo to the machine) was damaged, in places where it couldn't easily be repaired. I couldn't figure out a way to open up the yo yo without destroying it.

The DC power cord is stylish slender and flexible, but not exactly robust. The strain-relief grommet that this cord passes thru on its way into the innards of the yo-yo is kind of flimsy too. To make matters worse, the yo-yo itself was obviously not designed to be stepped on and survive. This doesn't make a lot of sense, because many yo-yos are going to spend most of their lives on the floor.

Finally, for many users, it's almost inevitable that someone will trip over the cord from the yo-yo to the machine. (Machines doubtlessly get damaged this way too -- a much greater catastrophe.)

So, I've got two questions.

First, I've wondered about installing a quick-release plug somewhere in the DC power cord. If someone trips over the cord, the connector separates before the machine or the yo-yo gets damaged. Good idea? Bad idea? Anybody want to suggest an off-the shelf item that would be optimal for this application? Preferably a Radio Shack-type item. (I know how to solder.)

Second, I've wondered if it's possible to use a chunky ugly conventional power supply instead of a yo-yo. I saved the plug that goes into the laptop jack from one of my dead yo-yos. The plug looks like it's proprietary. Is a yo-yo just a conventional 26 volt, 1.85 amp DC power supply, or does it also contain "intelligent charging" features?

If it's just a conventional DC power supply, can anyone suggest an off-the-shelf Radio-Shack-type power supply? 26 vdc is a bit out of the ordinary.

Should the center pin be positive or negative?

Thanks in advance,

Tim Miller

Message #2 - Posted 2003/12/18 - Mark Mentovai

Timothy Miller wrote:

First, I've wondered about installing a quick-release plug somewhere in the DC power cord. If someone trips over the cord, the connector separates before the machine or the yo-yo gets damaged. Good idea? Bad idea? Anybody want to suggest an off-the shelf item that would be optimal for this application? Preferably a Radio Shack-type item. (I know how to solder.)

Male and female RCA connectors, so as to sort of preserve the shielding through the connection, but still allow for relatively quick disconnecting? I don't know if it's worth the trouble.

Second, I've wondered if it's possible to use a chunky ugly conventional power supply instead of a yo-yo. I saved the plug that goes into the laptop jack from one of my dead yo-yos. The plug looks like it's proprietary. Is a yo-yo just a conventional 26 volt, 1.85 amp DC power supply, or does it also contain "intelligent charging" features?

If it's just a conventional DC power supply, can anyone suggest an off-the-shelf Radio-Shack-type power supply? 26 vdc is a bit out of the ordinary.

It's a pretty standard power supply. You don't have to hit the 26, or 24.5, or whatever, exactly on the nose. The output rating is nominal anyway, and the PowerBook will be happy with DC input in a fairly wide range, but if you drop too low, the battery may not charge. I'd go with any reliable power supply with a nominal 24 volts. I've fed 18V into my old Lombard in a pinch.

Should the center pin be positive or negative?

The "center pin" is actually three separate regions. In fact, the connector is just a stereo miniplug with some shielding on the outside.

If you splice into the cable, the inner conductor is the one that's positive with respect to the shield, and I believe that this connects to the ring on the plug not adjacent to the tip. The middle ring is connected to the shield, and the tip is not connected to anything.

At least that's the way I remember it. I took notes on my yo-yo when I tore it apart after it broke, and I can double-check later if you'd like.

There are also aftermarket power supplies with different plug adapters available, but they might not be worth the cost if you're electrically inclined and have a couple of spare parts around the house.

Mark

Message #3 - Posted 2003/12/18 - Timothy Miller

Hi Mark,

Thanks a bunch.

Mark Mentovai wrote:

Timothy Miller wrote:

Male and female RCA connectors, so as to sort of preserve the shielding through the connection, but still allow for relatively quick disconnecting? I don't know if it's worth the trouble.

I guess I didn't write my question very clearly. The purpose of the connectors is only to protect the machine and the yo-yo from physical damage if someone trips over the cord. Presumably the connector would separate before the power cord got yanked hard enough go damage the yo yo or the machine.

Given the risk of expensive anguish-causing damage, and the high danger of tripping over the cord, I wonder if other laptop users have home-brewed similar safeguards.

The rest of your comments are very helpful.

Best regards,

Tim Miller

Message #4 - Posted 2003/12/18 - John Johnson

Previously, Timothy Miller wrote:

Hi Mark,

Thanks a bunch.

Mark Mentovai wrote:

Timothy Miller wrote:

Male and female RCA connectors, so as to sort of preserve the shielding through the connection, but still allow for relatively quick disconnecting? I don't know if it's worth the trouble.

I guess I didn't write my question very clearly. The purpose of the connectors is only to protect the machine and the yo-yo from physical damage if someone trips over the cord. Presumably the connector would separate before the power cord got yanked hard enough go damage the yo yo or the machine.

You've got a bigger problem here than damage to the machine: someone getting hurt tripping over your power cord. Even some sort of connector designed to break free easily likely wouldn't do so easily enough to reliably prevent a person from going down. A related problem is that the machine is light enough that you have to find a connector that comes apart with less force than it takes to drag the machine off a surface (which can be surprisingly little, depending on the surface). I'm not familiar with any connectors that could reliably and inexpensively do these jobs; of course, I haven't looked for such a thing specifically, but I am familiar with most of the offerings of Radio Shack and places like DigiKey, etc.

Given these sorts of constraints, and my own background (worked as a stagehand before going to grad school-we dealt with power/audio/data cables all the time), I prefer to simply run my Pismo unplugged. My new BTI battery gives me 3-4 hours in OS X 10.2.6, and my original Apple battery will give me an extra hour if I carry it. I figure that I can get up and go somewhere convenient to recharge the machine every four or five hours, and anyway that gives me an excuse to take a break.

However, it's not always possible or convenient to run on battery only. In these cases, I would advocate selecting your location carefully so that you can avoid placing your power cord anywhere near traffic. This can usually be done. In combination with running on batteries (that's what they are for, after all), I only rarely use the power adapter anywhere other than my desk.

If you often use your power supply in a particular location that causes problems with the cord being in the way, you might look into remedies for the cord (cable tunnels/mats, re-routing power, changing your location, etc.). Many times you will find the solution to be inexpensive and low-effort (for permanent or semi-permanent locations, it's the only way to go, IMO), with the added benefit of making your location safer for other people as well as for your computer.

Just trying to provide an alternative that might be useful (since I can't offer any positive advice on your idea). HTH

Message #5 - Posted 2003/12/19 - Ira Lieberman

On Thu, 18 Dec 2003 11:02:33 -0800, Timothy Miller wrote:

Given the risk of expensive anguish-causing damage, and the high danger of tripping over the cord, I wonder if other laptop users have home-brewed similar safeguards.

I used duct tape. Just tape the AC cord down flat on the floor, carpet, whatever, and the problem pretty much goes away. (Of course, I never tried to bridge a gap so large that both the AC cord and the DC cord were both exposed at the same time.)

The kind of plastic walk-over channel that is used in offices, etc., is very effective if you can find it. Much better solution than trying to make a break-away power cord.

=IML=

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Message #6 - Posted 2003/12/18 - John Biltz

On Thu, 18 Dec 2003 17:28:39 -0800, Ira Lieberman wrote
(in message <6nk4uvse7eeift9ps7tvuhm8t14uqk2ija@4ax.com>):

I have mine encased in that tubing with a slot in it. I did it because the cats found the thin wire to be a delightful toy to play with or chew on and a sure way to attract my attention when I have been spending too much time on the computer and ignoring them. But it keeps the cord flat to the ground and you notice when it touches you. There's a reason why tripwire is a thin wire instead of a rope.

On Thu, 18 Dec 2003 11:02:33 -0800, Timothy Miller wrote:

Given the risk of expensive anguish-causing damage, and the high danger of tripping over the cord, I wonder if other laptop users have home-brewed similar safeguards.

I used duct tape. Just tape the AC cord down flat on the floor, carpet, whatever, and the problem pretty much goes away. (Of course, I never tried to bridge a gap so large that both the AC cord and the DC cord were both exposed at the same time.)

The kind of plastic walk-over channel that is used in offices, etc., is very effective if you can find it. Much better solution than trying to make a break-away power cord.

=IML=

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Message #7 - Posted 2003/12/19 - Timothy Miller

John Johnson wrote:
--snip--

I prefer to simply run my Pismo unplugged. My new BTI battery gives me 3-4 hours in OS X 10.2.6, and my original Apple battery will give me an extra hour if I carry it. I figure that I can get up and go somewhere convenient to recharge the machine every four or five hours, and anyway that gives me an excuse to take a break.

Thanks for all that other food for thought, John.

What's a BTI battery?

Thanks,

Tim

Message #8 - Posted 2003/12/19 - Razer Fazer

Timothy Miller wrote:

What's a BTI battery?

http://www.batterytech.com/

Message #9 - Posted 2003/12/19 - John Johnson

Previously, Timothy Miller wrote:

John Johnson wrote:
--snip--

I prefer to simply run my Pismo unplugged. My new BTI battery gives me 3-4 hours in OS X 10.2.6, and my original Apple battery will give me an extra hour if I carry it. I figure that I can get up and go somewhere convenient to recharge the machine every four or five hours, and anyway that gives me an excuse to take a break.

Thanks for all that other food for thought, John.

What's a BTI battery?

BTI is Battery Technologies Incorporated. Their Pismo battery is the same capacity as the Apple original. I bought mine (maybe $110US from CDW) after my original Apple battery lost enough capacity that it was irritating.

When I originally got the computer (running OS 9.1), I got around 4.5 hours using that battery. OS X cut that in half, but later versions got better life. Of course, by the time I got 10.2, my original battery was 2.5-3 years old and didn't have much life left. When I got the new battery, I noticed that the more recent versions of OS X were giving me battery life similar to what I had back in the 9.x days.

A collegue of mine has a Pismo with two batteries that he used when doing library research. He got 7-8 hours with both batteries. This was perfect: when you're out of power, it's time to go home for the day.

Message #10 - Posted 2003/12/22 - Dan K

Timothy Miller wrote:

Two yo-yo power supplies have failed on me in the past year or so (for my Pismo). They're getting a little harder to find on eBay, as this generation of machines fades into obsolescence. At $40 to $50 a crack, for used items, the cost starts to sting.

I'd suggest a calling Apple to tell them your yoyo PS is sparking and you are worried it might catch something on fire. Ask if they can replace it as you are worried what might happen if you continue to use it as is. It is (or could soon start) sparking, right?!?

I've heard numerous reports where a free replacement yoyo was sent ASAP after relating such a tale. As I understand it, Apple doesn't want to be responsible in any way if their crappy PS burns down your house . . .

Not that you really want another of the darn things but it's surely worth making the phone call.

Dan K

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