Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Wii Zapper the Outlet Store Built.

Since the majority of my Nintendo Wii was pieced together from the Goodwill Outlet store I firmly held on to the hope that one day it would also give me the Nintendo Wii Zapper. After holding on to that hope for a few years it finally happened! I think patience and persistence had more to do with it than fate, although I could be wrong, but at last I finally have one.


The reason I wanted a Wii Zapper was because I had found a copy of Link's Crossbow Training at the outlet store many, many years ago. I actually found it floating in the bins before I even had a Wii to test the darn thing with, so I was completely unsure of whether or not it even worked. Once I had the Wii, and tried to test the game, I found that the game had a scratch that prevented it from being read, even though the scratch was nearly invisible to the naked eye. After a short round of buffing the disc with my special method I was able to get the game to load properly.


After playing the game for a little while I realized I was getting tired of holding the controllers the way I had to, just to play the game. A quick Google search brought to my attention that there even was such a thing as the Wii Zapper, and most of the time the Link's Crossbow Training was packed in with the Zapper. Well that could only mean one thing, time to find the Wii Zapper at the outlet store!

All these years later I'm fairly elated to finally have one, but what's even more fantastic is the controllers the outlet store provided for me to put into the Zapper, which is just a shell waiting for the Wii controller and nunchuk. A Nyko Wand (yes, that one) and a rather beat up nunchuk were found at the outlet store before I even found the Zapper, but once I found the Zapper I knew this would become their destiny.


After putting them all together (the Nyko Wand will not fit without removing it's battery cover) the Zapper felt like a well oiled machine. This time I popped in Link's Crossbow Training and after playing with the Wii Zapper the game actually brought nostalgic waves of playing Duck Hunt on the NES. I used to have so much fun, even though Duck Hunt is such a simple game, but back then my little mind was blown away with how it all worked.

The poor, beaten nunchuk I saved from the outlet store. At least it works!

The Wii Zapper is by no means expensive, but I chose to piece mine together from the outlet store. What I didn't expect was to find the Nyko Wand and OEM nunchuk to place inside of it. So far this Nyko Wand is doing well, it still isn't as good as the OEM controllers, but it's been doing well. I already did a review on this one, but I'm not confident on just how long it will last.

I'm not sure how many games Nintendo intended the Zapper to be used with, but it actually made Link's Crossbow Training more fun. Imagine if Nintendo would have done more marketing around the Zapper and brought out games that weren't just an FPS or hunting game, but was actually fun! So many ideas that could have been, but never were. It's just a shell of white plastic that holds the controller and nunchuk in a more comfortable way, but it truly made me feel as if the game I used it with was really more fun than I had felt before.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

55,000 Games? Lies!

As a fan of those Chinese multi-carts and hardware clones that boast trillions of games in one, I figured I would give this disc a try. I found it at the outlet store, otherwise I wouldn't have bought it, and reassured myself that among the supposed 55,000 games there had to be at least one worth playing. Not only was there not a single game worth playing, there aren't even 55,000 games on this disc, which is no shock to me.

If I buy a Chinese console clone that has 55,000 games built in, I know there will be at least a handful of classics on the console to help boost the sales. In the case of this disc, it seems, everything is a cheap Facebook app like game that really has no purpose even being on a disc, especially considering this disc was published in 2008.


One of the main issues I have with this game is that on the disc itself there is a racing car. I figured at least one of the games would be a racing game that I could at least try to stomach for a few good laughed. No, not a single racing game to be found, only stupid puzzle and card games. The only good thing about this game is it doesn't require any DRM or codes, although it does have an install that helps you install other games, which seems a bit much.

This is just one of those situations I figured I would try something for a laugh and ended up wasting a few cents. Was it worth it in the end? No. I can safely say I wasted money that I truly wished I hadn't. It's not worth a laugh, it's not worth the plastic it's burned into. It's simply and totally junk. Another lesson learned!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

It Came From the Outlet!

It's no secret that I find some weird shit at the outlet store. Most of the time I buy them, while in some cases I decide that it's not really worth the novelty factor and I just leave it there. Strangely enough this time I found something so strange that I picked it up and carried it around for a while, before finally deciding I would rather just take photos of it and write a blog entry. Shortly after putting the item down, one of the infamous flea market vendors picked it up and ran off with it, as if they had found a pot of gold.

The item in question is a sealed Cabela's Big Game Hunter II for the PC. Immediately your minds are flooded with questions, so let me get right to the reason why this item is an oddity. Firstly the game seems sealed with a receipt stuck to the box, inside the clear plastic. Secondly the receipt says it came from an Electronics Boutique in Hamilton, ON, Canada; that's a long way from home. Finally, it wasn't a receipt at all, it's a defective slip stating that inside the box was, in fact, two disc 2s, but no disc 1, which makes it pretty difficult to play a game if you don't have the proper discs to install it with.


The person who ended up picking the item up is a local flea market vendor. They're usually rude and dig through the bins like I imagine a child would, if thrown into a bin of M&Ms. In their haste to buy something they thought was sealed, and therefore worth a whole heap of cash in their market booth, they clearly didn't read the defective slip and realize this is completely worthless. Not to mention the fact that I'm pretty sure the game itself is worthless, even if it was a brand new and sealed copy.


For a very short while I told myself that I should bring to their attention that the item was defective and wasn't even worth buying at the outlet store's by the pound pricing structure, but I decided that it would be best if I kept my mouth shut and not seem as if I was trying to nuzzle between someone and their treasure. I didn't want to start any trouble while trying to be a good Samaritan, so I just let them learn on their own. Yes, I do feel bad, but I have to imagine it didn't cost more than 50 cents, so it's not a huge loss.

Perhaps I'll continue chronicling the odd stuff I find at the outlet stores. Throughout the years I've seen some REALLY weird stuff and it may be interesting to do a quick write up on anything yet to come. Regardless, this time was a pretty good tail of something weird and proof of just how greed can make flea market vendors oblivious to how worthless an item truly is.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Gateway LE1936 Repair.

In early 2012 my friend gave me his old PC, along with a pretty darn snazzy monitor. Up to that point I was using a laptop and before that I was using an ever dying Dell PC with an HP Pavilion vf17 monitor. The HP monitor was the very first plat screen monitor I had ever seen and used, but when I got the Gateway LE1936, which is significantly wider and looks better, I put the old vf17 away.

After only a year and a half in service the Gateway eventually started acting up. When I would start the computer and start up the monitor the power indicator LED would flash on and quickly off, as would the display. After a few minutes the monitor would heat up and work perfectly fine the rest of the day. As time went on the time it took for the monitor to start working increased and eventually the monitor quit working completely.

I couldn't afford a new monitor, I didn't want a new monitor! What was I to do? I couldn't go back to the vf17, it wasn't as good as the Gateway. At this point I had no choice but the pull out the HP vf17 once again and use it as my monitor. To be fair, the vf17 has worked like a complete and utter trooper throughout this whole thing, an amazing feat once you realize this monitor is the better part of 15 years old. Sure it's not as wide and the colors aren't as vibrant, but the monitor did exactly what it was asked every single time it was asked, without fuss.

After taking a while to adjust back to the HP monitor I decided it was time to figure out what I could do about fixing the Gateway. It turns out Gateway has quite an array of monitors that are now infamous for having bad capacitors. Ah ha! Well then, it's only a matter of taking the thing apart and seeing what I could find inside.


After a quick and careful tear down I finally reached the power board, where I immediately found the root of the problem. If you have keen eyes you can clearly see the two big capacitors up front are bulged and have been spewing brown gunk. You may also notice the two rotund capacitors in the back are also quite bulged.

After changing only two of the four bulging caps I put the board back into the monitor and hoped for the best. Much to my surprise the monitor came to life and worked for quite some time. I wouldn't say it's going to last very long without taking care of the other two capacitors, but the ones causing the main power failure seem to have been cured, for now.

If you run across this blog entry because you too are having issues with a Gateway monitor let me assure you that as long as you can find the capacitors and have a soldering iron, you can easily replace them and fix your monitor. Soldering isn't difficult, just prepare yourself and test your skills on some smaller things if you need to boost your confidence. Also taking this monitor apart was far harder than any of the tutorials I watched would lead you to believe. Most of the other Gateway monitors are simply screwed together, as where the LE1936 is snapped together. All I did was take a guitar pick and careful pried the snaps open.

For now it seems to be fixed but I know someday I will need to get back in there and replace the other caps. Hopefully using it, sparingly, won't do any further damage that I can't repair, but I'm satisfied with the results I'm currently getting. This monitor is a pretty good monitor, all it needed was some caps repaired, a job I'm all too willing to do.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Nyko Wand, Round 2.

Needless to say my first go-round with a Nyko Wand didn't go so smoothly. I chalked that up to having found it at the Goodwill outlet, assuming it was just used and worn out. After acquiring my second Nyko Wand from the outlet store (I'm a glutton for punishment I guess) I've decided that the first Nyko Wand I owned was either a terrible controller from the start, or it saw heavy abuse in it's day, before I mercifully put it out of its misery.


I'm not saying this other Nyko Wand is working wondrously, but at least it works, kind of. The thing looks like it's been sitting in the middle of a highway for a few summers, all ugly and pitiful, but as a Nintendo Wii remote it's a passable option. It works with the games I've tested it with but for some reason it absolutely refuses to work with Netflix. Whether this has something to do with the Netflix app or something within the controller's programming that shuts it off when things load to save on battery power I still don't fully know.



This Nyko Wand is hideous, it's dirty, it seemingly chews through batteries like hot dogs at a July 4th hot dog eating competition, but this one does work. The main feature that I adored about the purple one was that I could turn the controller off at-will by simply clicking the power button really quick, so I didn't need to wait the 3 minutes the official Wii remotes do to shut down. That feature seems to have been removed from this Nyko Wand, although maybe it only works with Netflix, and since this controller doesn't work with Netflix at all I can't see that feature in action, who knows.



This Nyko Wand isn't perfect but it works, coupled with the worn out looking Wii nunchuk I know exactly what I'll be using these things for that won't show off all of their battle scars. But that's for another article, at another time. Something I've been wanting for a while now that I finally found, and I have the perfect controllers to use with it!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My DIY LED Tester.

It never ceases to amaze me, the stuff I run across at the outlet store. Perhaps it's not so much the things I run across but maybe the ideas that deluge my mind when I find these items. Ideas of what they could be used for, outside of their already apparent purpose.

My spare parts box is overflowing with LEDs, something that I often find and even more often wonder why I continue to pick them up, considering I have no immediate use for them. I guess LEDs are always a useful thing to have around, just in case. With so many LEDs I needed a way to test them. It's cumbersome having to hold something to a AA or AAA battery, and 9 volts will almost certainly burn the LED out within seconds, so what is a man to do to make sure he preserves the LEDs but also makes sure they work?


The answer to that came in the form of some weird little contraption I found at the outlet store. I'm completely unsure of what this thing originally was but I found it almost as you see it, only needing some slight modifications. The LED was originally soldered to the resistor and straight to the battery post, which I changed out for a terminal for easy LED placement and removal.


It uses three small, watch style batteries, it already has an on/off switch and a resistor, so it was only a matter of adding the connecting terminal. After an extremely easy swap out the LED tester was ready to test LEDs of all shapes, sizes and colors.

Yep, this LED works.
Whatever it's original intended purpose was it's now my LED tester. It's not great, but it does the job. The only oversight I may have had was replacing the batteries, because those small batteries are often expensive. It works for now and maybe sometime in the future I'll find a better alternative.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Apple Mighty Mouse: The Wireless Connection

After finding the wired Mighty Mouse at the outlet store I ended up finding a wireless version too. Yes, that's right, I paid twenty cents for the first and slightly less for the wireless version, after taking out the dead batteries. I am as shocked as most that I found the wired version, let alone the wireless one.

However, there is a little bit of a funny story that goes along with this purchase. I've been conditioned to assume that all wireless mice need some sort of USB dongle to get them to work. I spent quite a while searching for some form of wireless dongle, to no avail. It was only once I came home and poured my goodies out onto my bed that I realized I had forgotten that I had the mouse in my bag when I paid for my items. I quickly went to work trying to find out just how much a wireless dongle would be to get this thing to work. Turns out all it needs is Bluetooth to connect to a computer.

After hooking up the only computer I have that has a built-in Bluetooth connection, I gave the mouse a test. The first thing I notices was just how heavy and unwieldy this thing is with two AA batteries. Couldn't Apple have sprung for a single AA or perhaps AAA batteries? Secondly the wireless Mighty Mouse takes forever to connect, which seems to be a common complaint about this mouse.

Another common complaint about the Might Mouse, both wired and wireless, is the mouse wheel, or in this case ball, didn't work at all, as where the wired version works quite well. I could occasionally get the wireless one to scroll upwards, but never could I get the mouse ball to scroll down, so I went to work on trying to find a way to fix that. After haphazardly skimming through some tutorials on how to clean the Might Mouse, I cracked the thing open and cleaned out the mechanisms that made the thing work, which were quite grimy indeed.

After throwing it back together the roller ball didn't work at all, even the occasional upward was no longer working. Upon opening the mouse again I found that the ribbon cable wasn't attached properly, and once it was the roller ball worked like new. This time the roller ball tracked very well with very good precision! I also found that the little plastic trim ring around the bottom was essentially broken off and would not snap back in place, as I had hoped. Welp, that's what I get for skimming through the tutorial.

After using the mouse for a while I find that it's just more trouble than it's worth to be a daily mouse, at least for me. The connection takes nearly 2 minutes after the computer has been booted (yes I boot tested the mouse), and it's heavy and harder to control because of the batteries, but otherwise it's a very nice mouse, albeit with fatal flaws.

Where I've grown slightly affectionate toward the wired version, I wholeheartedly can not use the wireless Might Mouse. I've read there may be a single AA version out there, and if I do find it I will pick it up, but I just can't see myself trading in the ability to easily glide across any surface with the lighter, wired version for stumbling across it with a heavy, battery loaded mouse simply for the convenience of it being wireless.

Twins!