Sunday, December 7, 2014

How to replace a broken screen on the Oppo Find 5

thumbI managed to drop my phone by accidentally pushing it out of my jacket's pocket and even if I had it in the 'Easy Cover' thingy from Oppo, the damn thing opened up on it's way to the ground leaving the screen completely exposed. The result can be seen on the right.

I did some research on the Oppo forums and here are the options for getting the phone fixed:

  1. Send it to OppoStyle (if you bought the phone from them) and have the screen replaced for 160EUR. This means you will need to send it by courier and wait for about a month to get it back.
  2. A better option involving OppoStyle is to ask for a buy-back which means you can trade your phone plus a cash difference for a new Oppo Find 7 or similiar (Find5's are not produced anymore so you cannot get a new one this way). At the time of this article, OppoStyle had the following deal: the broken phone + 160EUR (the repair) + 199EUR (cash difference) for a new Oppo Find 7 which costs around 480EUR. This means your broken phone would be worth around 120EUR. (Note: You can get the same deal for a Find 7a by paying a 99EUR cash difference)
  3. Buy the screen online and replace it yourself. There are lots of replacement screens available on ebay, all coming from China, but beware that the quality may vary dramatically - some screens are 1024x600 resolution which is far from the original 1920x1080, so make sure you ask the seller what resolution is the screen before buying. I bought mine from here and even though the seller was top notch, the screen is far from perfect. I'll show you why later on.

If you decide to replace the screen yourself, I highly recommend checking this video:

Before starting this operation, have the right tools for the job. I got mine with the replacement screen but not all sellers send them out.

Also, make sure you stick enough double sided tape in the lower part of the screen because I didn't and it kinda sticks out just a little as you can see from this picture.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, the screen is far from perfect, more precisely it has dead-like pixels in a matrix formation on the whole surface of the screen.  I had to modify the brightness and contract of the image in order to make them stand out, but you get the idea. They are quite unnoticeable on white backgrounds and in colored ones you cannot spot them at all. I cannot say they are dead pixels because as I remember that those stick out with any color on the screen. Well, I guess there is a small price to pay for getting the job done with only 40 EUR.

If you have any question, feel free to drop them in the comments below.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ladyfingers cake

My fitness version of the Ladyfingers cake. Replaced the mascarpone with Greek yogurt, decreased the sugary stuff and replaced it with honey.
Below you can find the original version of this recipe:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

How to change the brake pads on a Mazda MX5 (NC)

Though it might sound dramatic, changing the brake pads by yourself is quite easy and risk free. As long as you tighten back the screws you untightened and don't end up with 'spare' parts, you are good to go. There is only one trick at the rear brake pads but if you read this blog post you shouldn't have any issues.


Front brake pad

Changing the front brake pads is straightforward. 

Remove the two screws on the exterior side of the caliper - the screw heads are facing the engine and you might need to use a second wrench to hold the pin from rotating while you are unscrewing the bolt.

If you cannot figure out which screws to undo, maybe you should let a professional handle this operation.

Pull out the caliper - after removing the screws, you should be able to pull out the caliper with your hands. If you cannot do that, use a screwdriver to force it out. Pay attention not to yank the brake hoses after you set if free - place the caliper somewhere safe so it will not hang. After pulling it out, you will see that besides the brake pads, there are also two shims - don't throw those away as they are not usually supplied with the replacement kit.

The two brake pads and shims are identical so you don't need to worry from which side you pulled them from. I noticed though, that the left inside pad had a clip on the upper side, probably the ware indicator - I made sure I put the clip back on the new pad and in the same position.

Put the new brake pads in and the caliper - put back the brake pads and shims making sure you do not grease any of them (you can apply some copper grease on the brake piston where it touches the shim). As the new brake pads are considerably thicker that the old ones, the caliper will not fit that is why you will need to use a C clamp to push it back a few mm. While doing this, you should also remove the master cylinder cap in case the brake fluid level will rise.


Rear brake pads
The only difference in the rear is that the brake piston will not move when you try to use the C clamp on it. That is because of the mechanics of the emergency brake. 

Rear brake caliper piston

In order to push the piston in, you need to screw it using the cross it has engraved on it. If you don't have the special tool for this, you could try using a normal screwdriver on it's side or better still, I used the tire and jack lever which comes with the car. If you get creative, you will see that the sharp end of the lever can be used very efficiently to rotate the piston (again, on it's side, not perpendicular on the piston). After you rotated the piston enough, the caliper should fit back in and you can put everything back together. Pay attention to align the cross on the piston with the notch on the brake pad shim. 

That is all. Don't forget to take the car on a test around the block and make sure everything is good to go and road safe. The brake pads require break-in so they will not feel very strong initially. 

Good luck!

How to add MP3 support to your Mazda MX5

It's quite strange how Mazda finds it appropriate to equip it's MX5 models with 7-speaker sound systems that can only play the radio. My unit's fascia features the MP3 logo but to my disappointment I found out that the logo is present on all models even though the unit doesn't support MP3 - it's put there just to save you the trouble of buying a new fascia in case you would upgrade the unit and wanted to reflect the change.

MP3 logo but no MP3 support
As I mentioned, there are OEM head units that you can buy to handle MP3 discs and also there is the option for the CD changer you can put in the trunk - if this were 2004 then all these would have been viable options. Fast forward 10 years and you would want to connect your iPod or USB drive to your sound system. For this, I found a pretty nice device that connects to your CD-changer interface connector and acts as one but instead of playing from the CDs, it plays from you iPod or USB drive. The device I am talking about is the Audio-Link for iPod and if you don't have an iDevice then you can buy the Audio-Link with USB and Line-in

The installation of this device is a little complicated as you need to reach the back of the head unit to plug the device into the CD-changer connector. There are two ways to do that. I, for instance, managed to cram myself with my head on the pedals and squeezed my hand through the spider net of cables behind the dashboard and reached that connector - it was painful but it's doable. If you can't do that, then you will need to remove the head unit and the plastics around it. The process is explained in detail here.

I placed my device in the glove box because I sometimes have to pull the USB drive out to update my tunes, but if you use the iPod version, then you can hide the device somewhere under the dash and let only the iPod wire out. Mine looks like this:

The best part of having such a device is that you can control it from the steering wheel controls as it acts exactly like the CD-changer so it feels integrated with the car. Needless to say, the quality of the audio is crystal clear.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

DSC light always on after battery was removed

Some time ago the battery on my 06' Mazda MX5 died and I had to replace it. After I installed the new one, I noticed that the light for the DSC was always on and I became a little worried as from what I remembered it could have indicated a failure in the braking system. I searched the Internet long and hard and the solution came from a "no-name" forum on a far away page of a Google search.
The ESP light was ON even when the engine was running
It seems that when you take the power down, the computer needs to recalibrate the DSC and signals this by leaving the light always on. To calibrate it you need to do the following: while the engine is running and the car is stationary, do a full steering wheel turn to the right and then to the left. After you stop the car and start it back up again, the DSC light should disappear.

As I don't use my car in the winter time and I remove the battery throughout the winter, I am faced with this issue each year and it always works, so if it doesn't for you, then maybe it's better you see a professional.

I hope this blog post saves you the trouble I went through when I first had this issue.

P.S. It might be the case that the DSC OFF light stays on also. In this case you will need to put in reverse and restart.

How to change the oil (and oil filter) on a Mazda MX5

As I consider myself a slight motor head and I also like to get my hands dirty (and greasy), I set upon changing the oil and oil filter on my 06' Mazda MX5 (NC) by myself. The process of changing the oil is quite straight forward and can be done at home with just a few simple tools. Here are the steps I took:

Make sure the engine is warmed up. This is very important as it will ensure that the oil is as thin as possible so it will drain easily from the engine. I took it for a 15 min drive after which the engine was at the normal functioning temperature.

Jack the car on the driver's side and secure it with a jack stand. Also make sure that it's in gear.

Unfasten the oil filter. This might be the trickiest step in the whole procedure so do it now to make sure you can complete the whole oil change. In case you cannot unfasten it for whatever reason, you might need professional help, so there is no need to continue the operation.

Let's see how the oil filter can be removed. The position of the oil filter is somehow strange and you will need to get under the car in order to reach it. As reference, you can spot it near the hydraulic clutch pump, just above the front cross member.

View from under the driver's seat

The picture was taken from under the driver's seat and you can see the oil filter's position in the top left side. You don't need to unscrew anything to reach it, I was able to unfasten it using my bare hands (it was a happy scenario) but in case you can't do it, then you will need to use an oil filter wrench.

If you could unfasten it, then you can remove it completely as it will spill a very small amount of oil.

Remove the oil plug (don't forget to take the oil cap off). The oil plug is located somehow in the center of the oil pan's shield. You can access it through a hole in this shield.  If you can remove it without also removing the shield, then go ahead. I found it hard to unfasten the plug, probably because I had the car on a jack and not lifted up. Nevertheless, you can take this shield off by removing five screws (12mm), it's that easy. If you are in my situation then I would recommend taking it off as it gives you more visibility and you have larger freedom of movement with the wrench. 

Also, I found it easier to pull the wrench (my oil plug was tighten quite hard by the previous owner) after I crawled under the car from the front and not from the side. Pay attention to the aluminium washer because at times it can be stretched quite hard and might need replacement. By the way, the oil plug screw requires a 17mm wrench. 

optional - Once the oil started draining, I took the car back on the ground to make sure the oil drains completely and doesn't get caught up due to the inclined position on the jack. I marked this step as optional because I am not sure how much of a concern this actually is.

Put in the new oil filter and the oil plug. When you put in the new oil filter, you need to make sure that the contact area on the engine block is clean and that the rubber gasket of the oil filter is lubricated (you can apply a thin layer of oil with your finger). Then, after tightening the oil filter with your hand, you can use the oil filter wrench to turn it an extra quarter of a turn. After you're done with the oil filter, you can put back the oil plug but take care not to tighten it too hard as it has an aluminium washer. If you removed the oil pan shield too, then it's a good moment too put it back.

Pour in the new oil. Make sure you know the exact quantity you need to pour in for your engine's capacity and whether you changed the filter or not. For my 1.8L with a new oil filter, the manual says it requires 4.3L of 5W-30. For this oil change, I went with Liqui Moly Toptec 4500. It's a German brand not very well known but the few people who tried it were very impressed. Also, I noticed on the canister it says it's a recommended oil for Mazda and Mitsubishi which came in as a surprise. I will come back with impressions after some miles.

Start the engine and then check the oil levels. After you completed the step above, you can start the engine and let it run for a little bit - this should fill your oil filter and move the oil through the entire engine. Then, let it rest for a few minutes and check the oil levels to make sure everything it's ok.

That is it!! If all goes according to plan you should be able to change your Miata's oil in less than an hour. I hope you will enjoy the process as much as I did even if it's a little messy.