D-I-Y(The Bad Way): How to Hack your Electric Meter

(WARNING!!!! Doing the electric meter “hacking” methods stated herein is PUNISHABLE under existing laws.)

Tampering the electric meter is not new or at least in our lifetime we heard it once. There are many ways to hack or tamper our meter in order to get a cut on our electricity bill. But most if not all forms of tampering the electrical meter are considered illegal. Thus, tampering our electric meter is punishable under RA 7832 (RA 7832 Anti-Electricity Pilferage Act of 1994) which provides for both fine and imprisonment up to 20 years.

The various ways of electricity theft ranges from actual tampering of the electric meter to using devices that electronically or electrically slows down or even stops the meter. The following “hacking” methods are the most commonly-known but prohibited under Philippine Law.

USING A MAGNET
The electric meter is an electro-mechanical induction device. It uses electricity (consumes about 2 watts to operate itself), moving parts (like the aluminum dial), and an electromagnetic (induction) motor. The electric meter uses eddy current to regulate the rotation of the dial in accordance with the actual consumption of electricity.

Hence the meter uses electromagnetism (induction) it is also possible to interfere its movement by using magnets. The magnets of considerable sizes should be placed directly at the sides of the meter. Here’s a video clip on how to use a magnet to hack an electric meter.

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D-I-Y: Repairing an Intermittent Retractable Mouse

After two years, my retractable mouse has its first maintenance/repair work today. The small cable connecting the mouse and the USB plug have been intermittent since yesterday. I’ve discovered that the cable had an open connection somewhere at the tip near the mouse.

What i did is to cut the portion of the retractable cord that is open and strip again the cord for a new connection.

The small duplex cord of the mouse has four small wires...

The retractable cord has enough length with most part of it is wound in the scroll wheel shown above.

The four small wires in the retractable cord are insulated. It has to be soldered to achieve full contact.

And my retractable mouse is back to service again and i was able to save P150-200 for a new mouse. The featured image of this post is the latest picture of my retractable mouse after the repair. By the way, my mouse is a CDR-King brand. See my original post.

DIY: Installing a CDR-King’s P280-Outdoor TV Antenna

It’s been a while that i haven’t purchased a product from CDR-King multi-media store as a protest of the dismal performance of their products. However, from time-to-time i visited the store to check on some weird if not interesting or amazing gadgets. CDR-King’s line of products are full of oddity-either the product performs below par or it works well even at a cheap price.

Lately, i came across the store’s Outdoor TV Antenna with a price ranging from P250 – P450. This is quite cheaper than Baron antenna or any other antenna designs sold at more than P500 in any electronics stores.

So, i settled and gave a try for this 280-peso Skyra Outdoor Antenna GT-60N inside this very compact box.

 

The box contains 2 sets of directors, a UHF Dipole antenna, a VHF Dipole antenna, an antenna main boom, and some screws and bolts.I also bought earlier, a set of Precision Screwdrivers also from CDR-King which i used in assembling the antenna.

 

Assembling is easy by just following the installation manual.Just be familiar with the markings on the antenna boom.

 

The antenna boom is made of plastic material with a steel part for the pipe holder. The RF connector input jack is appropriately placed in between the UHF and VHF dipoles.

 

The longest element in this antenna design is the VHF folded dipole with a total length of 29-inches. It is placed 3.5-inches from the 5-inch UHF bowtie dipole. According to hdtvprimer, folded dipole antenna is designed to solve an efficiency problem while the bowtie dipole antenna has a wider bandwidth. These dipoles are considered driver elements in the antenna system and the only ones connected to the cable from the TV set.

 

The two directors in the design are measuring 4-inches and 3.5-inches and placed 4-inches apart.

 

A clamp for attaching the antenna boom to a pipe, an RF connector, and a waterproof cap to be placed at the RF connector jack to protect the connection from rain. Screws are provided in the box.

 

The result is a compact TV antenna suitable for VHF, UHF, and FM broadcast signals.

Specifications:

Frequency range: VHF 88-230Mhz (5-12 channel)

UHF 470-862Mhz (21-69 channel)

Polarization: Horizontal

FEATURES: (according to the manufacturer)

  • SMT technology
  • Stable performance of excellent reception for all Digital TV broadcast signals, analog signals and radio programs.
  • For outdoor use, good configuration to guarantee good reception.
  • High sensitivity and high overload resistance
  • Stable design and suitable construction to avoid bad influence
  • High reliability and firm construction
  • Waterproof and UV resistant
  • Firm aluminum elements are UV resistant and waterproof to withstand different weather conditions
  • Easy installation
  • Excellent design, small package saves space and structure fix in minutes.
COMMENT/REVIEW:
The performance of the Skyra Outdoor Antenna GT-60N is NOT OUTSTANDING on my case. However, it doesn’t mean that the antenna design is not working. TV antenna works in different environmental conditions. In my case, i installed the antenna atop the mansanitas tree where it could most likely pick up signals from the TV transmitters. My place is blocked by a high wall of a warehouse. Hence, TV signals are hampered by the concrete wall.
Nevertheless, i could already get good signal for the lower channels: Ch. 3, Ch.7, etc and my TV set could already pick up Ch, 21, Ch, 23 and the rest of the UHF channels.The Skyra antenna design is much better than the Yagi design (e.g. Baron Antenna) which is design for only one frequency (Ch. 2 Manila for Baron design).
 I am planning to buy the other series of the Skyra Outdoor Antenna, especially the one with longer elements, more directors and those with reflectors for better reception.  🙂

Recording a Radio Show on a Mobile Phone

myphone T23 Duo has a good sound recorder.

Finally, i have tried in full myphone T23 Duo’s sound recorder during my coverage with the business plan making seminar of the “Search for W.I.N.N.E.R.s” yesterday at the USC-SVD Study Mission Center.

All the voice recordings were used in yesterday’s episode of my radio show–“USC-Kapamilya Negosyo Na” over DyAB1512.

The result was amazing considering most cellphones have omni-directional microphone. Omni-directional microphones pick up sounds from all directions as its pick-up pattern.

Omni-Directional microphone picks up sounds from all directions.

Cardioid pick-up pattern is a heart-shape. The microphone picks up sound more at the front than its sides.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia: A cardioid generated by a rolling circle

The manual of the T23Duo doesn’t speak about its pick-up pattern characteristic whether it is omni-directional or cardioid which is widely-used in broadcasting. My suspicion, based on the way it picks up sounds during my recording, T23Duo has a cardioid microphone.

I have to convert first the AMR files into another format suitable for editing in my audio editing software.

Since the recording audio format was in compress and lossy format AMR, the recorded voices are a little dull. The Adaptive Multi-Rate (AMR) is common in GSM and UMTS mobile phones because of its speech format. But its sampling frequency is 8khz at 13-bit which is equivalent to the sound of a land line telephone–considered the lowest audio sampling quality.

Hence, i made a little audio enhancement on the recording using Adobe Audition to improve the quality. The tone is adjusted by lowering the low-band frequencies while increasing the mid-range and high frequencies using the graphic equalizer on my audio editing software.

The final result was amazing. It’s of broadcast quality. As if, i am using a professional voice recorder for my entire coverage of the event.

Sending FREE SMS Via Internet Apps

No cell phone load? But you have a ready internet connection anytime? Then, sending almost virtual unlimited SMS (text messages) to your contacts is possible.

There are several free applications that offers free SMS service ranging from desktop application to web-based services. I’ve tried some of it and i’m sharing it with you here.

GMAIL SMS
Google has incorporated on its free email service a free SMS service right inside Gmail. Unlike Yahoo Messenger, your contacts don’t need to be logged on to mobile setting nor required to be a user of Gmail. You just input the mobile number at the box just above the Chat box on the left pane inside Gmail as shown below.

A SMS box will open at the lower right of Gmail where you should write your message up to the standard 140 characters including spaces.

Every Gmail user has 50 free SMS. Every time you receive a reply or new message from your contact, five new free SMS shall be added to your quota with a cap of up to 50 SMS. Click here for more info about how to replinish your free SMS.

However, only Smart and Sun networks in the Philippines are supported in the service by Gmail. I’ve tried the service and the message is delivered within a minute from sending.

LIBRENG TEKS

Another web-based free SMS service is Libreng Teks which operates and based here in the Philippines. The interface of the service is simple. The user will just to fill in the fields including the security code. The actual message length is only limited to 133 characters since the sender’s name will appear in the text box. The service is open to Smart, Talk & Text, Globe, Touch Mobile, and Sun.

However, unlike the Gmail SMS, the recipient of the message should not directly reply to the message since it will be received by the SIM card of Libreng Teks. The recipient may reply to the sender’s own mobile number instead. There is no limit on the number of SMS to be sent by any user.

YAHOO MESSENGER

YM’s free SMS has been there for a quite long period of time already and probably it has not been maximized because of the cost when the recipient of the message from YM replies to it. While it’s free to send SMS message to your contacts who is on “i’m mobile” mode, replying to the message may cost the recipient P2.50/message instead of the usual P1.00 per SMS.

CHIKKA

Chikka pioneered in the Philippines by a group of young entrepreneurs who designed the application for small e-commerce business in 1999. It was the start of the instant messenger sending messages to mobile phones.

Like the Yahoo Messenger, a reply to Chikka’s SMS on the phone will cost the recipient about P2.50/SMS. Each day, some 45 mobile carriers in 14 countries are alloted with free SMS, as low as 10 up to as high as 30.

A recipient must reply to at least once to Chikka’s message in order for the user to continue sending SMS to the same contact after five messages sent. However, there’s a round around for it by deleting the contact from the list after sending five messages and add anew the number to the list for a fresh 5 messages allotment.