Saturday, July 18, 2009

FOLLOW UP: Kenmore / Whirlpool dryer won’t stay running or heat?

You will never guess what happened?! It has been a couple weeks now since I fixed the motor relay. Well, the heat relay just went out this evening. Good thing I bought extra. :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Updating bios and/or firmware on Dell servers running Debian or any unsupported OS

These instructions will help you update BIOS, BMC, PERC or any other system firmware on your Dell system running any supported or unsupported OS.

I finally got around to updating our servers to Debian Lenny. We have 1850's and 2850's. After lots of trial and error I figured out how to go about updating the bios and various device firmware without a Dell supported Linux environment installed on the server. You should note that instructions below still require basic Linux experience. Another note is that these instructions are OS agnostic and use a livecd which doesn't care what operating system you actually have installed on the machine itself.

The first step is running the Dell Content Manager to create a custom update repository for your severs. The fun part is actually getting your hands on the thing. You will need to download the Dell Systems Build and Update Utility. I should note that I wasn't able to get the download to work until I tried with a MS Windows desktop. When/If you are prompted for a Service Tag, just enter one for one of your own servers.

Once the ISO is downloaded you'll need to mount/copy or extract the 'contentmanager' directory onto your desktop. Assuming you are moving forward with the Windows desktop route you'll want to run the 'win\wincontent.exe' (there is also a 'lin\lincontent.tar' if you want to try that, I didn't). Now go find the new directory that was created. Edit the content.ini and change the 'ftp://' url to 'http://'. After you save that, run the 'contentmanager.exe'. Select 'Create Custom Server Update Utility' and 'Next.' Click 'Browse' and select a directory to dump this repository and click 'Next.' Wait for the program to download some meta-data and then un-check 'Windows' (leaving 'Linux' checked). Now control-click all the server models you need to upgrade and click 'Next.' Go get a soda and let it download everything. Once you've got your 'CustomRepository' go into the 'repository/sysman' directory and edit the .XML files in that directory with your favorite editor and look for the 'path=' attribute(s) (one for each system type). You'll see something like 'path="sysman\..."' change the slash to a '/' so it'll look like 'path="sysman/...". Save your changes and copy the contents (not the directory itself) of the 'CustomRepository' to the root of a FAT32 formatted usbkey.

Now you need to download the OpenManage Server Administrator. Burn it to a CD and then boot it in one of the servers you want to upgrade. Let it boot up all the way (this can take several minutes while network connectivity times out etc. and you answer a couple questions) and once you login as root you need to insert the usbkey. Mount it (you can check 'dmesg' output for the device and it'll be the first partition on there) with something like 'mkdir /media/disk; mount /dev/sdb1 /media/disk -o ro'. Change directory into '/media/disk' and run the following './suu -u'. Wait for it to analyze your system and update your system to the newest bios and firmwares. You'll probably see some notifications from snmpd and other stuff, they can be ignored. After you've completed all the updates type 'reboot'. Do not power down your system, some of the updates need the system to be rebooted to complete (such as BIOS updates).

You should now have up-to-date hardware bios/firmwares for your server. I should point out that under the Drivers section for your Service Tag on Dell's site you might also see something about 'SCSI Drives' firmware update. If you are using SCSI drives in your system you might want to get these out of the way as well. There is a Windows .exe you can download which will create a floppy or ISO image which you can boot in your server to update the drive firmware.

I hope this helps out, this was the simplest solution I could find given my environment (no DVD drives, no network connectivity, and the livecd not supporting X on the 1850's). Good luck! :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Kenmore / Whirlpool dryer won’t stay running or heat?

We've got a Kenmore "Elite" dryer (actually made by Whirlpool) that stopped running when you release (let up) on the start button.  After doing some research I found out that there is a $5 relay (every other place you try to buy it is going to be $35-50 each) that USUALLY fixes this problem.

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for you spending $5 plus shipping on a part that doesn't fix the problem.

There are 2 of these relays in the control panel actually.  One is the motor relay and the other is the heat relay.  The motor relay was my problem.  Supposedly if your dryer isn't heating up then it is the heat relay. The part number for both relays is POTTER & BRUMFIELD/TYCO T9AP1D52-48-03 and the Kenmore part number is 3405281.   If you search around on the internet you'll come across a massive thread on Epinions dedicated to problems like this one.  Sears will happily send someone out and charge you $200 to fix this problem unless you have an extended warranty which they will sell you for $200 for a single year. Honestly, I can't believe there hasn't been a class action lawsuit against Sears for these relays.

Just fix this yourself!

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility if you break your dryer even more.

On the sides of the front of the control panel you'll see these plastic moldings.  Pull back on the top and remove them (they snap into place) exposing 2 screws on the bottom.  Remove the screws and lift up on the front lower edge of the control panel CAREFULLY/SLOWLY and let it hang back on the soft plastic hinges.  Make sure you don't snag on that resistor coming off the motherboard.  You'll see the two identical black relays matching the spares you purchased (I bought 3 of them total for future use).  The one on the right is for the Motor and on the left is for the Heat.  Replace which ever one is the problem (be sure to hook the wires back up to the correct contacts).  Put it back together and fire it up.  Now, go take the $190 you didn't spend on fixing your dryer and save it for buying a non-Kenmore (do some research and avoid any manuf. that produces products for Sears completely out of spite).