Saturday, July 13, 2024

How to do a Tune-up/Clean-up with Virus Scans for your PC!

General PC Tune-up/Virus Scan Procedures:

Uninstall/Install Software:

  1. Uninstall Obvious Bloatware:
    • “Free Trial” software
    • Obvious junk programs & toolbars (One Search, Driver Support, One Bar, etc)
      1. Use the PNW Computers “Browser Hi-jack” blog article as a reference to find and remove software malicious Adware Programs.
      2. Computers that are heavily infected should be checked with ‘TDSKiller’ to rule out the presence of a Rootkit BEFORE any cleaning procedures begin. Unless cleaning is needed to run the utility.
  2. Install/Update Essential Programs:
    1. Security Clean-up Software List ( can be used for installing most apps):
      1. Chrome, Firefox, Edge - Update
      2. Java, .Net & Silverlight Runtimes - Update/Install
      3. Malwarebytes Antimalware
      4. Malwarebytes ADWCleaner
      5. BleachBit

Security Scanning & Virus/Malware Removal:

  1. Virus and Malware Scanning:
    Run FULL (not a quick/fast) Virus Scan with Local AV as well as Malwarebytes and ADWCleaner

  2. Web Browser Clean-up:
    • Check all Installed Web Browsers’ Extensions/Add-ons for anything unwanted/needed.
    • Check the general browser settings (Start Page, Default Search Engine, Etc.) for any tampering or modifications and reset to defaults if needed.
    • ADWCleaner is an excellent tool for finding and removing browser hijack apps.

Performance Tune-Up:

  1. Junk File Clean-up - Bleach Bit

  2. Paging File Optimization

    1. Set the PC's paging file to either 1.5 the amount of RAM or set to 4096MB.
      1. Settings > System > About > Advanced System Settings
        1. Select the “Advanced” tab at the top
        2. In the “Performance” section click on “Settings”
        3. Click on the “Advanced” tab
        4. Under “Virtual Memory” click on “Change”
        5. Set the paging file accordingly
  3. Optimize System Performance Options

    1. Right-click ‘My Computer’ > Properties > Advanced System Settings> Click ‘Advanced’ tab > Click ‘Settings’ under the “Performance” area.
    2. Un-check all of the PC's visual effects performance options except for:
      1. "Use visual styles on windows and buttons"
      2. “Smooth Scroll List Boxes”
      3. “Smooth Edges on Screen Fonts”
      4. “Show Translucent Selection Rectangle”
      5. "Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop"
      6. Start-up Program Entries can also be managed using the Task Manager.
      7. Disable all unnecessary start-up items
        1. Typically leave start-up programs related to:
          1. OneDrive/MS Office
          2. iCloud Drive
          3. Printers
          4. WIFI Software
          5. Audio/Video Software
          6. Specialty apps such as Garmin, Fitbit, etc

Windows Updates:

  1. Access Windows Updates through System Settings
  2. If the Microsoft Update feature is not/has not been enabled, enable Microsoft Updates in the Windows Updates “Advanced Options”. You can also enable the “Notify me when a restart is required” option too as well.
  3. After the Microsoft Update feature has been enabled, Windows Updates will now check for both Windows and Microsoft Updates.
  4. Allow the computer to check for new updates.
  5. Once checking for updates is finished, download and install all available updates.
    1. You may need to do this process more than a few times to make sure the system is fully updated.
  6. Some Windows Updates may fail. Do not hyper-fixate on failed updates, as they will likely resolve on their own after a few update/restart cycles.
  7. Verify Installation of all currently available Windows Updates AND Upgrades

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Fake Tech Support Scam: What You Should Do!

A fake tech support scam is a type of fraud where scammers pose as legitimate technical support personnel from well-known companies to trick victims into giving them access to their computers, personal information, or money. Here’s how these scams typically operate and how to clean up your system if you did/do fall victim to this type of scam!

How Fake Tech Support Scams Work

Initial Contact:

  • Cold Calls:
    Scammers often call victims directly, claiming to be from reputable companies like Microsoft, Apple, or a popular antivirus provider. They usually say they've detected viruses, malware, or other issues on the victim's computer.
  • Pop-Up Warnings:
    Victims might encounter alarming pop-up messages while browsing the web. These pop-ups often claim that the computer is infected and instruct the user to call a provided number for immediate support.
  • Emails:
    Scammers may send phishing emails that appear to come from legitimate companies, warning about security threats and urging the recipient to call for support.

Convincing the Victim:

  • The scammer tries to convince the victim that their computer is at serious risk. They use technical jargon and alarming language to create a sense of urgency.
  • They might ask the victim to open certain files or run specific commands that produce harmless but alarming-looking results, reinforcing the scammer’s claims.

Gaining Remote Access:

  • The scammer persuades the victim to install remote access software, such as TeamViewer, AnyDesk, or LogMeIn. This gives the scammer control over the victim’s computer.
  • Once they have access, they might pretend to run diagnostics or show fake errors to maintain the illusion of a serious problem.

Exploiting Access

  • The scammer may install malware, steal personal information, or use the computer to commit further fraud.
  • They often demand payment for their "services," claiming they can fix the issues they "found." Payment might be requested via credit card, wire transfer, gift cards, or other non-reversible methods.

Continued Exploitation

  • Even after payment, scammers may leave behind software that allows them to regain access or continue monitoring the victim's computer.
  • They might sell the victim's information to other scammers, leading to further fraud attempts.

How to Protect Yourself

Be Skeptical of Unsolicited Contact

  • Legitimate companies rarely contact customers out of the blue about computer issues. 
  • If you receive an unsolicited call or message, be wary.

Verify Claims Independently

  • Don’t trust pop-ups, emails, or calls without verifying their legitimacy through official channels. 
  • Look up the company’s official contact information and reach out directly.

Do Not Allow Remote Access

  • Never give control of your computer to someone you do not know or trust. 
  • Legitimate support personnel will not ask for remote access unless you have initiated the contact through verified means.

Use Reputable Security Software

  • Keep your antivirus and anti-malware software up to date. Use reputable programs like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect your system.

Educate Yourself and Others

  • Learn about common scam tactics and share this knowledge with friends and family, especially those who might be less tech-savvy.

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you ensure your computer is secure and free of any unwanted remote access software if you did fall victim to a fake tech support scam/scammer.

Immediate Steps To Take If You Have Been Scammed

1. Disconnect from the Internet

  • Unplug your ethernet cable or turn off your Wi-Fi to prevent further remote access.

2. Identify and Remove Remote Access Software

  • Check Installed Programs
    • Go to `Control Panel > Programs > Programs and Features`.
    • Look for any remote access software (e.g., TeamViewer, AnyDesk, LogMeIn, RealVNC).
    • Uninstall any suspicious or unfamiliar programs.
  • Check Task Manager
    • Press `Ctrl + Shift + Esc` to open Task Manager.
    • Go to the `Startup` tab.
    • Disable any suspicious entries that start with Windows.

3. Scan for Malware and Adware

  • Malwarebytes Anti-Malware:
    • Download and install Malwarebytes
    • Run a full scan and remove any detected threats.
  • ADW Cleaner
    • Download and run ADW Cleaner.
    • Follow the prompts to clean any adware, toolbars, or PUPs.

Additional Steps You Can Take...

Network Settings

  • Ensure no changes have been made to your network settings:
    • Go to `Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center > Change adapter settings`.
    • Right-click your network connection, select `Properties`, and check for any unfamiliar protocols or services.

Check for Suspicious Services

  • Press `Win + R`, type `services.msc`, and press Enter.
  • Look for any unfamiliar services that are running and set to start automatically.
  • Right-click and stop these services if they seem suspicious

Update Your System

  • Ensure your Windows operating system is up to date:
  • Go to `Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update`.
  • Install any available updates.

Reset Passwords

  • Change the passwords for your computer accounts, especially if they have administrative privileges.
  • Change passwords for any online accounts accessed from this computer.

Enable Firewall and Antivirus

  • Ensure Windows Firewall is enabled:
    • Go to `Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Defender Firewall`.
    • Make sure you have an antivirus program running and up-to-date.

Monitor for Unusual Activity

  • Keep an eye on your system for any unusual behavior or performance issues.

Final Steps

Consider Professional Help

Data Backup and Recovery

  • Backup your important data to an external drive or cloud storage.

System Restore or Reinstallation

  • If you suspect deep-rooted infections or issues, consider performing a system restore or a clean installation of Windows.

Feel free to reach out if you need further assistance or if anything is unclear. Stay safe!

Monday, July 8, 2024

How Did I Get Infected!?!

For those of you who think, "Well, if I don't install random new programs from the internet or download random EXE files, I won't get infected" that's not really the case today. Most people are not infected because they browse the internet and accidentally click on an EXE file. That was more common several years ago.

Nowadays, most people get infected because the malware comes to them. 

You don't have to go out on the internet and have to "find" viruses or malware to get infected.

The malware arrives in your inbox, in your private messages, from a trusted source, a hacked website, or inside a program you use, whose company got hacked, like in the case of 3CX.
  • The 3CX hack, which came to light in late March 2023, was a sophisticated supply chain attack. The incident involved the compromise of 3CX’s Windows and macOS build environments, allowing hackers to push trojanized software to 3CX customers.
  • The breach began when an employee at 3CX downloaded a trojanized installer for the X_Trader trading software, which had been compromised by North Korean threat actors. This malicious installer gave the attackers access to the employee's device and corporate credentials, enabling them to infiltrate 3CX’s network and insert malware into the 3CXDesktopApp. The attack was likely carried out by a North Korean hacking group tracked as UNC4736, linked to the financially motivated operation dubbed AppleJeus​ (Security Week)​​ (Security Week)​​ (CISA)​.
This doesn't mean there aren't still things like malware advertising (malvertising), where you see ads on Google to entice you to click on or download something malicious. Another major source of malware now is also social media platforms! YouTube videos as well!! 

For instance, if you look for any kind of cheat, crack, or mod for a popular video game, you will often find videos with external links. Many of these links, especially if they're password protected, contain malware.

Sometimes, it's literally the first search result when looking up something as harmless as "sewing patterns and templates"!!

Here are further examples of common ways people can get infected:

  • Phishing Emails:
    One of the most prevalent methods. Attackers send emails that appear to be from trusted sources, tricking recipients into clicking malicious links or downloading infected attachments. These emails often mimic legitimate communications from banks, social media platforms, or even colleagues.
  • Compromised Websites:
    Legitimate websites can be hacked to serve malware to visitors. This method doesn't require any action from the user other than visiting the site. Drive-by downloads exploit vulnerabilities in browsers or plugins to install malware without the user’s knowledge.
  • Software Supply Chain Attacks:
    These involve compromising a trusted software vendor to distribute malware to end users. The 3CX hack is a prime example, where attackers infiltrated the development pipeline of 3CX, a business communication software, and inserted malware into the software updates, affecting thousands of users.
  • Malvertising:
    Malicious advertisements, or malvertising, are another common method. These ads can appear on legitimate websites and redirect users to malicious sites or directly download malware. Even major advertising networks have been exploited to serve malvertising.
  • Social Media Platforms:
    Attackers exploit the popularity of social media to spread malware. They create posts or messages with enticing links that lead to malicious sites. YouTube videos offering cheats, cracks, or mods often include external links that direct users to malware. These links can appear highly ranked in search results, making them seem legitimate.
  • Messaging Apps:
    Private messages on platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and others can carry malicious links or attachments. Since these messages often come from known contacts, users are more likely to trust and click on them.
  • Trusted Sources:
    Sometimes, malware is spread through channels that users inherently trust. This could be through an email from a known contact whose account has been compromised or through a popular website that has been hacked.

We always recommend installing and using good, trusted, and reliable antivirus and antimalware software for your system. While they are not a silver bullet, these tools provide essential layers of defense against various cyber threats. Antivirus software is designed to detect and remove viruses, while antimalware software targets a broader range of threats, including spyware, adware, and ransomware. 

In addition to antivirus and antimalware software, browser add-ons can enhance your online security by providing additional protection against malicious websites and phishing attacks. One such recommended add-on is Malwarebytes's Browser Guard

Benefits of Using a Browser Guard: 
  • Blocking Malicious Websites:
    Browser Guard blocks websites that are known to host malware, preventing you from inadvertently visiting harmful sites.
  • Protection Against Phishing:
    It helps identify and block phishing attempts, protecting your personal information from being stolen.
  • Ad Blocking:
    The add-on can block unwanted ads, which can be a source of malware through malvertising.
  • Improved Browser Performance:
    By blocking malicious content and unwanted ads, Browser Guard can enhance your browsing experience and speed.

Pacific Northwest Computers Practices Combined Protection; What is That?!

No single solution can offer complete protection against all cyber threats. Using a combination of antivirus, antimalware software, and browser add-ons provides multiple layers of defense, significantly reducing the risk of infection and data breaches. 
Here’s why combined protection is essential:
  • Layered Defense: Different tools specialize in different areas of protection. Antivirus software focuses on traditional viruses, while antimalware software targets newer, more sophisticated threats. Browser add-ons provide real-time protection while you browse the web.
  • Reduced Risk of Zero-Day Attacks:
    Zero-day attacks exploit unknown vulnerabilities. Having multiple layers of protection increases the chances of detecting and stopping these attacks.
  • Comprehensive Coverage:
    Combined tools cover a wider range of potential threats, from viruses and worms to phishing attempts and malicious websites. 
  • We recommend using an Antivirus, 1-2 "stand-alone" scanning tools for general malware and adware scanning, as well as a maintenance/clean-up utility for removing junk/temp/cache/cookie data. 

In today's cybersecurity landscape, simply avoiding the download of random programs or EXE files is not enough to protect against infections. Malware delivery methods have become more sophisticated, targeting users through phishing emails, compromised websites, and even trusted sources like popular software vendors, as seen in the 3CX hack.

Malicious advertisements and social media platforms have also become significant vectors for malware distribution. Given this complexity, it's essential to use a multi-layered defense strategy. This includes installing and regularly updating trusted antivirus and antimalware software to provide essential protection against various threats.

Additionally, browser add-ons such as Malwarebytes Browser Guard offer critical extra layers of security by blocking malicious websites, protecting against phishing attempts, and enhancing overall browsing performance by removing unwanted ads.

Combining these tools creates a robust defense system, significantly reducing the risk of infection and providing comprehensive coverage against a wide range of cyber threats. By staying informed and proactive, users can better safeguard their systems and personal information from evolving cyber threats.

Monday, July 1, 2024

While we understand that prices on Amazon can be very competitive, there are several reasons why our prices might be slightly higher...

1. Quality Assurance: 

We source our parts from reputable suppliers who meet our strict quality standards. This helps us ensure that you receive reliable, durable, and high-quality parts. Amazon sellers can sometimes be not very well established 3rd sellers. There is also the risk of receiving "counterfeit" products from online sellers such as Amazon as well:

2. Expertise and Support: 

Our team offers personalized service and expert advice that you won't get from an online marketplace. We can help you choose the right parts for your specific needs.

3. Warranty and Returns: 

We stand behind the products we sell. If you encounter any issues with a product or part, we make the process of replacement or return smooth and hassle-free by taking care of it for you.

4. Supporting Local Business: 

By purchasing from us, you are supporting a local business that contributes to the community. Your support helps us continue providing high-quality service in our area.

5. Value-Added Services: 

In addition to selling parts, we offer a range of value-added services such as maintenance, repair, and installation, which can save you time and ensure the job is done right.

We believe that these benefits provide significant value that justifies the price difference. We are committed to offering you the best possible service and ensuring your satisfaction with every purchase.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Easily Zero Fill a Hard Drive for FREE through Windows!

How To Zero-Fill A Hard Drive
via the Windows Command Prompt

Windows 7,8,10 and 11 actually can zero-fill a hard drive through the built-in Command Prompt utility. The Command Prompt adopts a special 'format' command to achieve writing zeros to the hard disk/partitions.

How-To Zero Fill a Hard Drive in Windows:

  1. Click the “Start” button

  2. Input “cmd” in the “Search” box, and then right-click the Command Prompt icon and select “Run as administrator”.

  3. At the prompt window, you are going to use the following command to format each partition on the hard drive. 

  4. The command is (without quotes):
    “format DRIVE: /fs:NTFS /p:1” 
  5. However where it says "DRIVE:" you will need to provide the drive letter of the hard drive you wish to format/zero fill.

  6. Once you know the drive letter of the hard drive that is going to be erased, enter it in the command as follows: "format E: /fs:NTFS /p:1"

      You cannot undo a format! So ensure that you choose the right hard drive and back up any required files! If you format the primary drive by mistake, the operating system will be deleted and your computer will not work again until you reinstall it.

  7. If you are 100% positive the drive letter is correct for the hard drive you would like to erase, with the command properly typed out in the Windows Command Prompt, you can now hit “Enter” to format the selected drive with the NTFS file system. 

  8. Type “y” and press “Enter” to confirm erase data.
    • This process will write zeros to every sector of the drive for a single pass.
    • For a twice-pass, you can input “p:2” instead.

  9. Wait for the process to be completed. 

  10. After erasure/zero fill is completed, you'll be prompted to enter a Volume label. 

  11. Type a name for the drive if necessary, or just press "Enter" to skip.

  12. Wait while “Creating file system structures” appears on the screen.

  13. Then repeat the above steps to format every partition on the hard disk; if/as needed.

  14. After writing zeros to each partition, you can type “exit” and press “Enter” to close the Command Prompt.

That's it! 

You have now successfully erased and zero-filled a hard drive for FREE through the Windows Command Prompt!

Friday, May 17, 2024

LoRA / Meshtastic & Unlicensed ISM

What is LoRA?

LoRA (which stands for Long Range) is a wireless communication technology designed for long-range, low-power communication in the Internet of Things (IoT) applications. It operates on unlicensed radio bands and is known for its ability to transmit data over long distances while consuming minimal power. LoRA technology is often used for connecting devices that need to communicate over long distances, such as in smart city applications, industrial automation, agricultural monitoring, and much, much more.

The official organization of LoRA is called the LoRA Alliance. The LoRA Alliance is an open, nonprofit association that has a mission to standardize Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies to enable Internet of Things (IoT) applications worldwide. The Alliance collaborates with various companies and organizations to promote and advance the LoRaWAN protocol.

There are also different LoRa frequencies available for use. LoRa technology operates in different frequency bands depending on the region. The most common frequency bands for LoRa are 433 MHz, 868 MHz, and 915 MHz. These frequencies are used in different parts of the world to comply with local regulations and standards for wireless communication. Europe mainly uses 433 Mhz and 868 Mhz. 433 Mhz is still used in the United States, but just not as common. One project in particular that primarily uses 433 Mhz is TinyGS.

What the heck is TinyGS?!

TinyGS is a project that aims to create a global network of ground stations to receive and decode data from small satellites, also known as CubeSats. These ground stations are designed to be low-cost and easy to set up, allowing for a decentralized network that can support communication with a wide range of CubeSats. The project focuses on enabling communication with small satellites to enhance their capabilities and increase the accessibility of space technology.

Then who/what is Meshtastic?
When I hear about LoRA, I hear a LOT about Meshtastic.

Meshtastic is an open-source project that aims to create a long-range, low-power mesh networking platform using off-the-shelf hardware and open-source software. It allows users to communicate with each other over long distances without the need for cellular networks or internet connectivity by creating a mesh network using radio frequencies. Meshtastic devices can communicate with each other directly or through other devices in the network, enabling communication in remote areas or during emergencies where traditional communication methods may not be available.
Meshtastic Wiki:
Flash Meshtastic to a Compatible Device:

So how does all of this work?!

The LoRa technology typically operates in unlicensed ISM bands, such as 915 MHz in the USA. Unlicensed ISM (Industrial, Scientific, and Medical) bands are radio frequency bands designated by regulatory bodies, such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States, for use without the need for a specific license. These bands are intended for industrial, scientific, medical, and other applications that do not interfere with licensed services. Devices operating in unlicensed ISM bands must comply with certain technical requirements to ensure they do not cause harmful interference to other users. Common examples of devices that operate in unlicensed ISM bands include Wi-Fi routers, Bluetooth devices, and microwave ovens.

What does a typical LoRA device setup look like?

First Things First: Set your Device's Region

In order to start communicating over the mesh, you must set your region for your Meshtastic/LoRA device. This setting controls which frequency range your device uses and should be set according to your regional location.

Channels, Frequencies, and Frequency Slots:

The specific frequency settings you would use depend on your region, the LoRa module being used, and specific network configurations. For instance...

The Long_Fast LoRA "Channel" is the common/public frequency all LoRA radios can communicate on/through. However, the Frequency might be 902.875 Mhz or it could be using 914 Mhz. To determine what frequency will be used for sending and receiving data, a "Frequency Slot" is used to calculate what specific frequency data will be transmitted. Most LoRA radios will automatically set the needed frequency, based on the "slot" that has been selected. However, sometimes you will find that you will need to manually configure the frequency.

An easy way to figure out what frequency you need that is correlating to the "slot" that is needed/being used, is to use Meshtastic's Frequency/Slot calculator:

You can also create your own channel, using your own slot, and even using an "overriding frequency" to help with the privacy of your communication. But that is all for another blog post :)

Radio/Device Role:

  • Router:
    A device acting as a router helps in forwarding data packets within the mesh network. It plays a crucial role in routing messages between different nodes in the network.
  • Router/Client:
    A router client device typically refers to a node in the network that is not actively involved in routing or repeating messages but rather consumes data or interacts with the network for specific purposes. But it also serves the role of a router and helps in forwarding data packets within the mesh network. It plays a crucial role in routing messages between different nodes in the network.
  • Repeater:
    A repeater device extends the range of the mesh network by receiving messages from one node and then retransmitting them to reach nodes that are out of direct communication range.  
  • Client:
    A client device typically refers to a node in the network that is not actively involved in routing or repeating messages but rather consumes data or interacts with the network for specific purposes. 
  • Gateway:
    A gateway device serves as a bridge between the mesh network and external networks or the internet. It facilitates communication between the mesh network and other networks. 
  • Tracker:
    Some Meshtastic devices can also act as trackers, providing location information that can be shared within the mesh network. Each of these roles plays a vital part in ensuring effective communication and connectivity within a Meshtastic Lora mesh network.


MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) is a lightweight messaging protocol that is commonly used in IoT (Internet of Things) applications for efficient communication between devices. In the context of LoRa (Long Range), MQTT can be utilized to facilitate the exchange of data between LoRa devices and a central server or cloud platform. By using MQTT, LoRa devices can publish data to specific topics or subscribe to topics to receive relevant information, enabling seamless communication and data transfer in LoRa-based IoT networks. MQTT also helps with reporting device location and allowing long-distance communications over the LoRA network, even if your radios are out of RF range. Your LoRA device can also report to MQTT by proxy, through the device that the LoRA radio is connected to.

Creating a Private Primary, and Secondary "Public" Channels:

  1. If you'd like to connect with other Meshtastic users but only share your data with trusted parties, you may create a private PRIMARY channel and use the default "Long_Fast" network as a SECONDARY channel. 
  2. Ensure you have not changed the LoRa Modem Preset from the default unset / LONG_FAST.
  3. On your PRIMARY channel, set anything you'd like for the channel's name and choose a random PSK. Save this information and/or take a screenshot of the information and/or the QR Code so you can connect other devices to your private channel.
  4. Enable a SECONDARY
  5. Name the secondary channel "LongFast" with a PSK of "AQ==".
  6. If your LoRa frequency slot is set to the default (0), the radio's transmit frequency will be automatically changed based on your PRIMARY channel's name. 
  7. You may also manually configure the frequency slot for your radio as well.
  8. The most commonly used frequency slot in the US is Frequency Slot 20.
  9. After doing all of this, you may have to manually set your LoRA radio back to your region's default settings (in LoRa settings) in order to interface with users on the default slot again.

Channel Uplink & Downlink:

  • Uplink Enabled:
    • The channel can send messages from the local mesh to MQTT
  • Downlink Enabled:
    • The channel can send messages from the MQTT to the local mesh.

What kind of device do I need to get started with LoRA?

ESP32 Based Boards:

The ESP32 chip is older and consumes more power than the nRF52 chip, but is equipped with both WiFi and Bluetooth. Supported ESP32 devices include:

nRF52 Boards:

The nRF52 chip is much more power efficient than the ESP32 chip and easier to update but is only equipped with Bluetooth. Supported nRF52 devices include:

RP2040 Boards:

The RP2040 is a dual-core ARM chip developed by Raspberry Pi. Supported RP2040 devices include:

To learn more on how to get started with Meshtastic and LoRA, as well as much more in-depth setup and configuration instructions/documentation, please check out the official Meshtastic Wiki:

Monday, April 29, 2024

Microsoft Battery & AC Adapter Driver Issue(s)

Laptop Battery/Charging Issue(s):
Microsoft AC Adapter & Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery Drivers

I have run into a few laptops lately that have been exhibiting some issues with charging their batteries and the issues have actually been related to Microsoft's Battery and AC adapter drivers! 

It's an easy to fix, and you just have to do the following:

  • You can open the "Device Manager" by searching for it through Windows search or by right-clicking the "Start" menu button and selecting "Device Manager."
  • Click on "Batteries" in the device list to expand it, and you will see two items: 
    • Microsoft AC Adapter
    • Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery.
  • Right-click ON EACH ITEM (BOTH) and choose "Uninstall Device". 
    • Yes, you are uninstalling your laptop's battery drivers. But don't worry, they will automatically be reinstalled when you restart your laptop.
  • Shut down your laptop.
  • Unplug the power cable from your laptop.
  • If your laptop has a removable battery, remove it. If it does not, you will need to remove the bottom panel and then disconnect the battery from the motherboard.
  • If you removed the battery, put it back in, or reconnect it if you had to physically disconnect it.
  • Plug your laptop back into power.
  • Power on your laptop.
  • Once you have booted back up and logged in, click the battery icon in the system tray, and you should see that your laptop is plugged in and charging!


Monday, April 22, 2024

SDR Radios - Hardware & Software Links

A Software-Defined Radio (SDR) is a wireless radio system that uses software to process radio signals instead of using hardware components. SDRs use software-based algorithms to configure radio parameters like frequency, modulation, and operating modes. This eliminates the need for hardware components like mixers, modulators, and demodulators. 

A basic SDR system consists of a computer with speakers, headphones, or some other analog-to-digital converter, preceded by some form of RF front end; such as a USB radio transceiver and size of antenna. 

Commercially available SDR hardware can transmit and receive signals at various frequencies depending on its internal hardware, and the type (and size) of antenna that you are using. The aim of these SDR devices is to reduce the overall cost of access and use of RF hardware technologies and provide end-users with access to ubiquitous wireless.

SDR Radios:

SDR Radio "Add-Ons":


What Size Antenna Do You Need?

Di-Pole Antenna Size Formula:

468 / Frequency = Antenna Size in Feet

  • Divide 468 / by the frequency you want to tune in to:
    The answer you get will be your needed antenna size in "Feet".
    468 / 443.2Mhz = 1.06ft
  • Multiply the "Feet" total by 12 to convert your antenna size into inches:
    1.06ft * 12 = 12.67"
  • Divide your Antenna Size in inches by 2 to get your "Per-Element" size, in inches:
    12.67" / 2 = 6.34" Each Side

SDR Radio Software:

SDR Software Add-ons:

Radio Programming:

Radio Websites:

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Cyberdeck: "System In A Box" Build

Cyberdeck v1 Build

The goal of building this "system in a box" was to put something together that was a full-fledged portable network, had a mini-server, SDR/radio capabilities, GPS, and Bluetooth, all on the go! But it needed to be powered by a portable battery (such as a Jackery) or via a power inverter from a car. 
This is what I came up with and is my first attempt at this "system in a box" Cyberdeck! This build has been working MUCH better than I expected and has come together very well, but I am still tweaking and modifying stuff over time and am open to suggestions :)

The main parts used in this build...

Flipper Zero: Tips & Tricks To Help Get You Started!

Flipper Zero: Tips & Tricks

So what is a Flipper Zero anyway?
The Flipper Zero website describes the device as "a portable multi-tool for pen-testers and geeks in a toy-like body. It loves hacking digital stuff, such as radio protocols, access control systems, hardware, and more. It's fully open-source and customizable, so you can extend it in whatever way you like."

I do own and use a Flipper Zero, but I do NOT use it for anything nefarious and don't plan on ever using it for anything like that. But I do find it VERY handy to learn about digital security risks around me with my own systems, as well as help identify and secure weaknesses for my clients! 

If you do end up purchasing one of these devices, I have a few tips to help get you going!

  1. You NEED to have a micro SD Card to be able to set up and use your Flipper Zero, but the Flipper Zero unfortunately does NOT come with an SD card.
    • Use a 32GB or smaller micro SD card; the higher the quality the better!
    • I typically format an SD card with exFAT, FAT16, or FAT32 on a computer before installing the MicroSD card into Flipper Zero. I have run into issues formatting a micro SD card through the Flipper Zero itself. So I recommend formatting your micro SD card using a computer before you install it into your Flipper Zero.
  2. Install the qFlipper software and with your Flipper Zero connected to a computer installed with qFlipper, update your Flipper Zero's firmware and databases:
  3. Next, I like to install third-party firmware. Lately have been a BIG fan of the Flipper Xtreme firmware due to its pre-installed features and tools: 
  4. Next, I recommend going through the FlipperZero Online Documentation to learn how to use the different/various functions of the FlipperZero:
  5. There is also a YouTube channel from a creator called "The Talking Sasquatch" that has some great guides to help you get going using a Flipper Zero as well!

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