Dell WD15 vs TB15

WD15 on Top of TB15 Front View

In the time since I picked up my XPS 15 9550 and TB15, Dell has introduced a new USB C docking station, the Dell Dock WD15 (450-AEUO). It appears that this dock has officially replaced the TB15. The product page for the TB15 is no longer available, searching for “TB15” brings up the wireless dock and the WD15, and on the XPS15 page the TP15 is listed as “Currently not available”. Additionally, from some quite harsh reviews, it appears Dell had some issues with reliability and drivers for the TB15.

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LED Turn Signals and the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK2)

One of the original turn signal bulbs in the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK2) burnt out last week. While getting into the taillight assembly is not too difficult, it isn’t something I really want to do again. So replacing the fragile incandescent bulb with a LED based bulb seemed like a great idea. Luckily, there are several options for replacing the 3057 flasher bulbs. I picked the Sylvania Zevo 3057R, which contains red LEDs that match the lens cover.

LEDs happen to be a double edge sword. They are more efficient, so they draw less current, which is cool. But, that reduced current draw can cause problems with turn signal flashing circuits—typically referred to as hyper-blinking. In older vehicles the flasher module can be replaced with a solid module that supports LED and incandescent bulbs. However, in the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, this functionality is taken care of by the vehicle’s computer system. Now, this should not be a problem, except there is current detection circuitry to determine if the bulb is burnt out (and then emulates the hyper-blinking of traditional systems). While this is good for alerting the owner that the bulb needs replacement, its current threshold is set too high for LED bulbs. Thus, I get the hyper-blinking issue.

There are two potential solutions to this. One is a hardware hack, the other involves hacking the vehicle’s computer. The popular solution is to place a high wattage, low resistance resistor in parallel with the LED blinker bulb. This will fake out the current sensor and will result in the normal blink rate. The issue with this is the resistor needs to sit somewhere, and this is incompatible with re-installation of incandescent bulbs. The other option is more ideal, though it requires hacking the computer responsible for the current sensing. Naturally, I am looking into this second option.

As an interesting aside, the hazard flashers blink at the standard rate with the LED bulbs. Additionally, when set to accessory mode, the first three flashes will be at the correct rate. There appears to be a delay in detection or communication of the ‘burnt out’ state. These two behaviors could possibly be exploited to deliver the expected behavior with LED bulbs via a module plugged into the ODB port.

It would be nice if Jeep made available the source code for the module responsible for this, and provided documentation for it. Modifications for off-roading are an integral part of Jeep culture, why can’t this be extended to the software running on its electronic modules?

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Seagate 4TB Expansion and Backup Plus

This is the first in a series of posts regarding a new server build one is working on. The current local server, a HP Proliant Microserver (Gen 7 with a N40L) is four years old. While it can still handle print and file serving, it is having issues with its newer tasks. Specifically, transcoding Plex streams to Chromecasts and Fire TVs is a stuttering affair.

To start the build, one needs to have a case. Finding a good quality rackmount case, with hot swappable drive bays, at a reasonable price leaves just one option, the Supermicro SC216. The problem with the SC216 is it has 24 drive bays for 2.5″ drives. Most manufacturer’s only have 2TB drives in the 2.5″ formfactor. However, there is the ST4000LM016 made by Seagate.

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Dell’s Thunderbolt Dock 240W (450-AEVM)

When Dell released the XPS 15 9550, they also announced a Thunderbolt docking station to take advantage of the 9550’s Thunderbolt 3 port. Dell referred to it as the TB15. However, one does not simply purchase the TB15, it comes packaged with a power brick. The 450-AEVM is a TB15 packaged with a 240W power brick. A package with a 180W power brick also exists.

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XPS 15 9550

When the last generation of XPS 13 laptops came out with the infinity display, I eagerly awaited an update to the XPS 15 that offered the same minimal bezel design. The Dell XPS 15 9550 is said machine. I had been looking for a 14″ laptop back when looking to replace my Vostro 1400. While I settled for the XPS 15 9530 in the last go around, the new XPS 15 9550 is best described as a 14″ laptop with a 15″ screen.

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