DrivePro 200

Product Review: Transcend DrivePro 200 Dashcam

The DrivePro 200 is the midrange model in a range of midrange cameras. The basic model is the DrivePro 100, which simply records. The 200 adds WiFi connectivity, so that footage can be streamed live to a mobile device, and the top model, the 220 has these features plus GPS speed and location recording. Clear?

The Camera itself is not particularly small or discreet, it’s about 3″ square with a large circular design around the lens. The rear is taken up mainly by a 2.4″ screen and four function buttons.

One of these buttons activates the Wifi, a neat trick that allows the camera to act as a wireless access point. Connected devices can then view the live stream from the camera or access recorded clips.

Picture quality is pretty decent, you may need to experiment with the expoure settings. I found the sky was getting burnt out, so turned it down a notch, though this did lead to slightly darker images in winter months.

The wide angle lens does mean that objects can appear further away than they really are, and also makes number plates that bit harder to read. It does give a very good overview of the traffic situation.

The camera simply starts recording when it’s plugged in, and stops when power is lost. The videos can be saved in 1 minute clips up to a maximum of 5 minutes.  SD cards up to a maximum of 32GB can be used, which gives approximately 4 hours of recording at 1080p resolution and best quality. Once the card is full it simply overwrites the oldest material in a continuous 4 hour loop. An accelerometer detects impacts and will automatically save accident footage in a separate folder that is not overwritten.

Sample videos are available on this page here.

Sony DAB Radio

Update Ford Audio Bluetooth (with Download)

What It Is

The following guide and downloadable file will help you to update the Bluetooth, Voice Control and USB module in the following Ford vehicles. The release date was November 2012, and was the third publicly released firmware update. According to the Ford documentation the update is valid for the following vehicles and build dates:

  • Fiesta: July 2008 – December 2011
  • Focus: February 2008 – January 2012
  • C-MAX: February 2008 – January 2012
  • Kuga: February 2008 – January 2012
  • Mondeo: September 2008 – January 2012
  • S-MAX: September 2008 – January 2012
  • Galaxy: September 2008 – January 2012
  • Transit: from June 2009
  • Ranger: from April 2009

The Ford Ka is not compatible, because it’s a rebodied Fiat Panda/500 and uses their electronics.

The following instructions and Zip file used to be freely available from Ford at the address www.ford-mobile-connectivity.com as described in the audio system user guide. The website was taken down some time in about 2014, presumably for one of two reasons. Either people were messing up their radios and requiring dealership service, or they realised that they were missing out on a source of service revenue by giving away the updates. I’ll not speculate…

I’ve succesfully carried out the update on two different cars, my Mondeo with Sony DAB headunit, and my wife’s Fiesta with the more basic (orange dot matrix display). The actual Bluetooth/USB module is the same throughout the range, with the exception of a few models.

Please not that if your car does not have a USB port you will not be able to do the update, and the only way to get it is via a visit to the dealership.

What Do You Get?

There are several improvements to be gained from updating your Bluetooth firmware. The level will depend on the age of your vehicle, as models later in the run will have been shipped with more up to date versions. The major differences are:

  • Compatibility. My phone (Sony Experia Z5) wouldn’t connect reliably and take calls properly in my 2011 Mondeo. The update fixed that. The same for the Fiesta (a 2009 model) which wouldn’t connect properly to any smartphone.
  • iPod Useability. The original firmware required use of a special Y-cable, which connected to both the USB port (for control and track name display) and the 3.5mm Aux in socket (for analogue audio). The new version allows use of standard Apple 30pin-USB cables, with the car stereo doing the audio decoding from the digital stream.
  • USB Playback. Allows use of MP3s saved on a USB stick. I don’t know if or how well this worked earlier, I never tried until after updating.
  • Bluetooth Audio Streaming. The update adds compatibility for Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) or Streaming Music in English. This can also be used for Sat Nav directions through the speakers when using Google Maps on an Android device.

How Do I Do It?

  1. Put the kettle on.
  2. Download THIS ZIP FILE, which contains the Bluetooth firmware and voice control files in seven European languages.
  3. Unzip the files to the root folder of a USB drive. (i.e. not in an subfolder) The USB drive should NOT contain any music files, and for best results should probably be blank just in case.
  4. Make yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee and pick up a newspaper or magazine. This stage will come in handy later, trust me…
  5. Get in the car, and switch on the radio WITHOUT TURNING THE IGNITION ON. It may say something like 1 Hour Mode on the display.
  6. Insert the USB drive into the USB port. Depending on your car model this may be in the glovebox (Mondeo), centre console (Fiesta) or armrest. The stereo will display a message saying that no valid files were found to play. This is normal.
  7. Switch on the ignition until the dashboard lights come on (but don’t start the engine). Do this by turning the key to the second position, or pressing the Ford Power button without pressing the brake/clutch for keyless models.
  8. You should now see the message “Update running… Please wait! So now you wait. This is where the hot coffee and magazine come in handy, as the update takes around 20 minutes to complete, and you can’t go back in the house to keep warm because you’d be leaving the car unlocked with the keys in!*
  9. Once the update has finished the display will say “Update successfully finished”. The message doesn’t stay on the screen for long, so keep an eye on it. Once complete the radio will come back on to whichever station was playing before the update.
  10. If something goes wrong and the installation fails you will get a warning on the display. Again, it doesn’t stay on for more than a few seconds, so keep a look out. Just start the process again from the beginning and it will eventually complete.
*Whilst updating my Mondeo the car gave a Low Battery warning, and the radio shut off. I started the engine, and was amazed to see that the radio came back to life with the update still running. It had carried on even with the radio off (the bluetooth module is a separate box behind the glovebox area). I don't recommend relying on this method though!

Here is a very useful summary video. I didn’t make it, so claim no credit for it. It’s also out of date, as it shows the original website up and running, but the update demonstration is very useful if you’re not confident.

Video produced by iNath, over at Ford Owners Club

Any questions, feel free to comment below. Thanks for visiting my site.

If this info has been of use to you please consider making a small contribution to help cover the costs of running this site. If you don’t want to that’s perfectly ok too! The button below will bill you one pound and reward you with my gratitude (and maybe some extra technical help). Alternatively you could always visit one of my advertisers 🙂

 

Hatch release switch removed

Repair or Replace Fiesta Mk7 Hatch Release Button

The Mk7 Fiesta is a very nice car, but it has some minor design flaws. One common problem is the hatchback release button. It is located directly below the rear wiper, which operates through a hole in the tailgate. Unfortunately this hole lets in water and muck, which then runs down and collects around the switch. Eventually water makes its way in and corrodes the contacts.

Symptoms of this can be confusing. In the case of my wife’s car it started releasing the tailgate every time you started the engine. or sometimes when it stopped. I’m not sure if this was a short caused by the vibration or a voltage issue, but repairing the switch cured it either way.

Before you start, please understand that any work carried out is entirely at your own risk. if in doubt consult a professional.


The first step is to remove the faulty switch. I actually found a guide on the internet that told people to strip the inside trim from the tailgate and remove the wiper motor to access it. Don’t do this, it’s just plain silly! The switch clips in from the outside, and can be easily pried out. It’s best to do it with the tailgate open, as everything is at eye level. Removing the number plate may help, as it’s a tight fit. I managed without. Use something wide and thin to prise it out, working at one side then the other in small steps, taking care not to scratch the paintwork.

Hatch release switch removed

This picture shows the location after the switch has been removed and unplugged. The plug was nice and clean inside, which was a relief. As you can see by all the gathered dirt, there was a lot of mess around the switch.



The switch is in two halves, held together by six small phillips screws. Undo these and inspect it. Mine was wet, and the both springs were corroded, one broke in half as I opened the switch. If it isn’t too badly damaged then you can dry it out, give it a good clean with an electrical cleaning spray, followed by a quick squirt of WD-40 to prevent future water penetration.

Switch in two pieces

If the switch is badly damaged, like mine was (it still works after repair, but doesn’t feel right when you use it) then it’s probably best to order a replacement. The part number is shown below:

Part No.

The code on mine was 6M51-19B514-AC

The two letters at the end are a revision code, so may vary depending on the age of the car. The part number and switch is also shared with the Mk2 Focus, C-Max and Mk3 Mondeo, so if you want a cheap repair then you may be able to find one at a breaker’s yard. The new switch isn’t expensive. At the time of writing it cost about £34 inc VAT and delivery from this Ford Dealership, or can be found new or used on.



Replace Stereo Display Screen Mk7 Fiesta

The following is a guide to replacing the LCD display screen in the dashboard of Mk7 Ford Fiestas. The images correspond to an early (2008-2012) pre-facelift model, but as far as I know the later ones are fitted in the same way. Be sure to get the right part number, as there are several different versions of the display, which may or may not be compatible. The most basic has two lines of text. I have heard that it’s possible to replace this type with the full matrix display, but don’t take my word on it, I haven’t tried it!

Take care when using tools in your car, the soft touch surfaces are easily damaged. Any work carried out is at your own risk. If in doubt stop and consult a professional.



First you need to carefully pry up the plastic trim piece that surrounds the screen. The best things to use are plastic pry tools, as these shouldn’t scratch anything. Alternatively you can use flat bladed screwdrivers. There are no screws to undo, it simply clips in. Start at the front edge, nearest the windscreen. The clips are very tight, so a strong pull is needed, but being careful not to crack the trim.

Faulty Screen

Here I’ve turned the trim panel upside down so you can see where the clips are. There are no clips at the CD player end, it simply hooks into the top of the fascia panel.

Trim panel clips

Once you’ve removed the trim piece the screen is exposed.

Exposed screen

Undo the two Torx screws marked below and carefully lift it out.

Screw locations

Now gently turn the screen over and disconnect the multiplug from the back of the screen unit. There is no need to unclip the wiring from the dashboard, it is just long enough.

screen_removed

Installation of the new screen is simply the reverse of the process, plug in the multiplug, sit the screen in place and replace the two Torx screws. It’s a good idea to test it at this stage before replacing the trim piece. Once you’re happy that everything is working, simply press the trim panel back into place. The Ford part number for the screen I installed was 8A6T-18B955-BL, this is the orange matrix display. So far as I can tell the two line display has a two letter code starting with A at the end. There are also white versions, as fitted to cars with Sony stereo systems, and blue ones on cars from 2012 onwards (facelift model). Apparently the white and orange ones are interchangeable, but the blue ones are not compatible. Again, I haven’t tried it, so don’t assume this is correct! I got my screen from a breaker’s yard via eBay.



Re-gas Fiesta Mk7 Air Conditioning

Welcome to the first in a series of How-to guides. Unlike most of the geeky articles I write, these will be about car related DIY, which is a small hobby of mine. This first one comes about because I was looking on the internet for information about the Fiesta Mk7 (2008-2017) A/C system, but there was nothing useful out there.

Ever noticed that your air conditioning is a bit slow to cool down, or maybe it isn’t as cold as it once was? The chances are that you have a slight leak in the system, and some of the refrigerant has escaped. The main reason for this is lack of use. The refrigerant contains lubricating oils that keeps the seals supple and working. If the refrigerant isn’t kept moving through the pipes from time to time then there is chance for the seals to dry out and shrink slightly, which is how you get the leaks.

The easiest way to avoid this is to run the system for about 10 minutes or so, at least once a week, even in winter. Some people recommend leaving it on all the time, but that seems unnecessary to me, as well as a waste of fuel and a drain on the car’s power.

If your A/C doesn’t get cold at all then this guide probably won’t help, your system may need repair, or at the very least completely refilling by a professional. The same applies if it won’t switch on. If when you turn the A/C on you hear a click but no change in engine note then it means the compressor isn’t working properly. If your system is working but not very effectively, read on…

A word of warning. Hot engines, compressed gas and moving parts can all cause injury or damage. Follow these instructions at your own risk, and if in any doubt consult a professional technician.

First you will need a can of DIY refrigerant like this one. When I got mine (many years ago) it came with the necessary filling hose attached. These seem to be rare/expensive nowadays, so you may also need one of these hoses that screw onto the aerosol. Have a good look at the connector you’re getting, and try and get one with a 90 degree connector, rather than a straight one. The reason for this is that the pipe you need to plug into is located very close to the panel above it, and is difficult (but not impossible) to connect to with a straight fitting.


Once you’ve got your can of refrigerant/sealer/oil mixture and attached the hose you will need to get the stuff into your A/C system. Open the bonnet of the car and you will find the Low Pressure Service Point just below the rear edge of the bonnet. The car shown is a 1.6 TDCi, other engines may have the fill point in slightly different positions.

AC_Fill_Overview

Here is the connection point close up, it’s located immediately behind the brake fluid reservoir. The service point is protected by a black screw on cap.

A/C Fill point

Remove the black dust cap from the service point, then carefully connect the filling hose to it. You need to lift the collar on the connector, slide it over the service point then release the collar. It can be quite fiddly, as space is limited. Once connected make sure that the can is in a safe place, or get someone to hold it, as you now need to start the engine, open the windows and switch on the A/C or climate control. Set the temperature to the minimum. Once the compressor is running you can gradually add the refrigerant. You should hear the engine note change as the compressor clicks on and off.  If there is any sign of leak, such as a hissing sound from the pipework, then stop immediately and refer the system to a professional for repair.

Now that you’ve added some refrigerant you should very soon notice an improvement in your A/C system.

Nikon D5100 DSLR

Product Review: Nikon D5100 DSLR

I enjoy taking photos, and I got good use from my trusty Fujifilm bridge camera, but I decided I wanted something a bit more serious, so with some money from my birthday I got myself a new camera 🙂 Originally I’d been aiming fairly modestly, for a decent second hand DSLR. After a lot of research, and a lot of eBay watching, I’d decided on a Nikon (it helps that a friend has a D3100 which he is very pleased with). I was planning to spend about £150-£200. Then I found a website that was selling the D5100 with 18-55mm lens kit for £295 brand new. So I bought that instead! Good intentions…



First impressions – lots of buttons and switches! This wasn’t my first SLR, I used to love my old Yashica FX-D 35mm, but that was like a pocket calculator compared to a supercomputer besides the Nikon.

I love the fold out screen, mainly, to be honest, because you can fold it back against the camera body to protect it from scratches, but also because I don’t normally use it. As a camera geek I try to always shoot in full manual mode, and have never actually used the live view mode either, so the screen is only used for browsing the menus and reviewing shots after shooting.

Picture quality is extremely impressive, especially if professionally printed, the images look like true film, with no colour noise (a noticeable limitation of my old camera) at all, unless using really high ISO values. A small selection of samples is shown below. Click on the small image to view the full resolution file (approx 6MB each).

 

The supplied lens is nice to use, the 18-55mm zoom gives a decent range of shooting options, from a fairly wide angle to close up. The max aperture at f/3.5 is alright for most conditions. I would like something faster, but smaller numbers cost bigger numbers. My next lens will be the Nikkor 55-200mm AF-s VR II, which should let me shoot better wildlife shots. I personally prefer plants, animals and people (in that order!!) to landscapes, so am looking forward vto getting that. Additional sample images will be uploaded once I’ve got the hang of it.

The menus are quite logical to use. One slight annoyance is that if you switch on the built in HDR mode RAW saving is disabled (fair enough) but isn’t re-enabled again afterwards.

I have’t tried the video modes yet, to be honest I’ve got a perfectly good 1080p Panasonic camcorder, which is smaller and lighter. Ironically the SLR would probably do the job better, with improved sensor size and lens.

All in all this is an extremely nice camera for me. It isn’t the best or newest model, but that’s why it was good value. A full frame camera would give better quality, but the camera and lenses are both significantly more expensive, and I find this one very nice to use.

Medion Akoya E7214

Product Review: Medion Akoya E7214

This is an unusual kind of product review, mainly because it’s for something you can’t buy! This is the official product info, and yes, I did buy it from Aldi, mainly as they offer a 3 year warranty on most electricals.

This is my personal laptop, and has been for four and a half years. That bit is important, because it’s what inspired me to write this review. I’ve just watched a 1hr45m film on my 17″ screen. From DVD, using the four and a half year old original battery. It still showed 19% charge remaining. Frankly I find that incredible! I use this machine an awful lot, all the website work I do is done on it, and I often pull bits of it apart to connect parts from other machines for testing.

It wasn’t a super cheap machine, but was very good value. It cost me £500 when new, but for that you got a mobile Core i3 processor (back when they were still very new), along with 3GB DDR3 RAM (ditto), along with 17.3″ LED 1600×900 screen and a USB DVB-T TV tuner. It also has a spare SATA hard drive bay, which for somebody like me who does a lot of data recovery from broken laptops, is an extremely useful feature.

I’ve replaced the standard DVD-RW drive with a Blu-Ray writer, as I’m a film geek, and watch a lot of movies when I’m away from home. I also replaced the standard 32bit Windows 7 installation for 64bit, mainly so I can add extra RAM if I feel the need. To be honest I haven’t yet, because this thing still feels perfectly quick enough in day to day use.

It is quite a big and heavy laptop, mostly due to the big screen, but that doesn’t bother me at all, especially as it means the keyboard is generously sized, and has a proper numerical keypad. There is also plenty of room for ports, with 3xUSB, E-Sata, Display Port AND HDMI, as well as ethernet, ExpressCard and a memory card reader, on top of the proper optical drive and dual HD capability.

I would definitely have no hesitation in buying another Medion laptop. In fact I did just that when asked by my mother-in-law to get her a new computer. In a way I want to have a reason to get a new one, because new toys are always fun, but at the same time I’m very happy with this one.

Website screenshot

nw-gas.co.uk Website completed

Work has finished on a new website for a local plumbing business.
North-west Gas & Heating Services specialises in large scale commercial and industrial gas appliances, whilst also offering a full range of services to home users.

LPG equipment is also supplied, maintained and repaired.

Would you like a website like this for your business? Click here for more information.

 

Updating Huawei E5776s-32 Firmware

This article describes the steps involved in updating the firmware of the Huawei e5776s-32 4G Router.

The necessary update files for Windows users have been uploaded to my web server, to make accessing them easier. For the paranoid (i.e. sensible!!) user the originals are available at the time of writing at http://consumer.huawei.com/en/support/downloads/detail/index.htm?id=22287 . The files needed are nested several layers deep in Zip files, along with some dubiously outdated documentation. The original Huawei download also includes Mac and SD Card update options, so is much more flexible.

It goes without saying that any attempt to update firmware is at your own risk, and if it went wrong you could render your device useless. You have been warned!

Before you start you need to have available the flash memory password, which can be calculated using this online tool. Make a note of the password, which should be an 8 digit number. Ignore the unlock code – that won’t do anything (including unlocking the SIM)!

Download firmware version 22.265.11.00.00 or get it from the Huawei link above. Connect your router via a MicroUSB cable, and wait a few minutes for the drivers to install. If this is the first time you have upgraded the firmware it might be necessary to install an updated set of drivers onto the router, shown in step one. If you have already done an upgrade (like I had) this won’t be required. The following instructions should be carried out in the order stated. If you get an “Error 10 Find Port Failed” message make sure that you have the drivers and connection software correctly installed, then try again.

  1. Run the file Update_UTPS1.12.00.414_MAC1.12.00.414.exe This will update the drivers that are used to communicate with the router. First the new files are copied to the router, then the router should be recognised as a new device and the new drivers installed on your computer. Let everything finish. A reboot wouldn’t do any harm at this stage. (This file isn’t included in the Huawei download, I got it from the German firmware upgrade package – see original post linked below)
  2. Run the firmware upgrade file E5776_Update_22.265.11.00.00.exe This is the stage that requires the password generated earlier. It doesn’t take very long, and the router will reboot itself a couple of times during the process. This is normal.
  3. Finally, once everything has settled down run the last file, Update_WEBUI_15.100.09.00.03_E5_V7R1_V3R2.exe I don’t think this is essential, but having got this far you may as well. This updates the web interface, and includes a new connect/disconnect button and support for the same feature via the Huawei mobile App

 

Screen shot

Enjoy your new unbranded router. Let me know in the comments if this fixes issues such as losing signal at random. Some things I’ve noticed:

  • The LED display now has extra symbols for when data is being transmitted/received.
  • There is a prominent connect/disconnect button on the router homepage (see below).
  • My data is provided by virtual network Globalgig, I now get their name showing instead of 3, whose physical network they use.
  • The data counter on the LED doesn’t reset after power off.
  • There is a new monthly data counter, you can set billing date and allowance to avoid going over your package limits 🙂
  • Different language options, including Arabic, Chinese and Russian (see screengrabs below for full set and monthly limit setup).

 

Screen shot 1 Screen shot 2 Screen shot 3
One more feature that has been added is support for remote connect and disconnect using the Huawei Mobile app, which may be handy for some people:
Mobile app
Some people in the comments have mentioned signal issues. This isn’t something I’ve come across personally, but an external antennamay help in some situations. These aren’t signal boosters as such, but they can be placed in positions that might help get a stronger signal, eg through a window.

If this info has been of use to you please consider making a small contribution to help cover the costs of running this site. If you don’t want to that’s perfectly ok too! The button below will bill you one pound and reward you with my gratitude (and maybe some extra technical help). Alternatively you could always visit one of my advertisers 🙂





A previous version of this article, detailing installation of firmware version 22.264.07.02.414 is available here.

Révisez Huawei e5776s-32 En Francais!

  1. Télécharger ce fichier et ouvrez.
  2. Visiter ici, entrer votre IMEI et ecrirez le mot de passe* généré.
  3. Reliez votre routeur par USB, puis attendez alors qu’installer les pilotes
  4. Exécutez Update_UTPS1.12.00.414_MAC1.12.00.414.exe – (nouveaux pilotes)
  5. Exécutez  E5776_Update_22.265.11.00.00.exe – *mot de passe requis
  6. Update_WEBUI_15.100.09.00.03_E5_V7R1_V3R2.exe
  7. Fin!

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