Rack Mounting Project

MicroSD Monolith Data Recovery

Recovering Data from Monolithic Flash Media using ACELab PC-3000 Flash

These days MicroSD cards are used in a variety of consumer devices due to their tiny size and huge data capacity. Cameras, cellphones, drones, and GPS receivers all use MicroSD cards for storage. These tiny monolithic storage devices are currently available in capacities up to 1TB. In this post I will discuss the process of MicroSD monolith data recovery.

Unfortunately, like anything else, these microSD devices can fail unexpectedly. Often, failures occur involving important data (Like your wedding pictures!) and such failures could potentially be devastating.

However, all is not lost! MicroSD Monolith Data Recovery is possible!

Barely bigger than a fingertip! Modern MicroSD cards can store a tremendous amount of data!

Failed MicroSD Cards can be recovered!

But…How do you do it?

With the right tools and training it is possible to retrieve the data from your failed MicroSD cards. We start the process by removing the outer coating of the card to reveal the service pads, (or technological pads).

Just beneath the surface of the monolith’s outer coating we can see the pads we need to connect to.

To remove the coating I use a commercially available ‘fiberglass scratch pen’. The technician must be careful not to destroy the traces or pads during the removal process. It is fairly easy to scrape the traces and pads off if you apply too much pressure during the removal process. If any of the traces or pads are lost, the card may be rendered entirely unrecoverable.

Microscopic view of a failed Micro SD Card. The coating is removed to reveal the technological pads.

Connections to the pads can be accomplished a couple of different ways. Some techs will micro-solder tiny wires to the pads. Others may use specially designed adapters. I’m using ACELab’s Spider Board adapter. The Spider Board adapter employs precision contacts with needle tips that can be set upon the pads with the aid of a microscope.

Making connections to the microscopic pads using the ACELab Spider Board Monolith Adapter

The Spider Board adapter eliminates the need for micro-soldering, and saves a lot of time when the shop gets busy.

The ACELab Solution Base provided the pad assignments for this “Type 2” Micro SD Card

Monolith Database

AceLabs provides a database for all MicroSD types. The pad layouts and assignments vary by manufacturer. The AceLabs database is comprehensive. A few clicks, and we are ready to set the pins.

Under the Microscope: Placing the pins on this “6×4” Type 2 Micro SD Card

Once the pins are in place, the adapter is connected to the PC-3000. We then input which number pins are connected to which pads on the card. The PC-3000 system then verifies that the pins have been correctly set, and/or if any pins are shorted. If all goes as planned we can move on to the next step.

Next we read the chip ID and data content!

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2021 Station Upgrades!

Planning is underway for some exciting new upgrades and additions to the station for the 2021 calendar year!

Addition of the Tennadyne TD-SS90 Folded Dipole! Bigger Ears!

Addition of a 50 ft. mast to support HF operations below 20m!

Addition of the Flex Power Genius HF Power Amplifier! Legal Limit!

Addition of the Flex Tuner Genius SO2R Antenna Tuner! Improved SO2R!

There’s a lot to look forward to in 2021 here in the shack. I’m in the process now of taking physical measurements and re-engineering the rack space real estate to get the desired result with a minimum of equipment movement within the rack. The less moving the better! And…it’s shaping up just fine!

The addition of the PGXL/TGXL combo is the “Ultimate State of the Art Upgrade”

PG-XL on the way!

4/1/21 It’s no joke! These are exciting times once again! I am currently looking for a local electrician to move my 220v line from the garage to the shack in the room above. I’ll start pulling everything apart tomorrow night FRI 4/2 so there will be room for an electrician to work.

Unboxing is next!

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PG-XL has arrived!


Flex PG-XL Amplifier
Flex Power Genius PG-XL Amplifier at K6HR

The 220v line for the PG-XL will be installed on Monday 4/12. It made no sense to run it on 120v (only 1/3 power out) Luckily, all the mounting hardware arrived on time, so I’ll spend the weekend clearing the way for the electricians to work, and start rearranging the rack space.

Plenty more photos to follow!

LP-100A Dual Coupler Option

Getting ready to install the Dual Coupler board. New sensor in background.

The time has come to add a second coupler to the LP-100A. This will enable monitoring on both channels of the SPE amplifier.

The Dual Coupler option installed in minutes!

The current plan is to keep the SPE 1K-FA as a back-up amplifier. I plan to put it to use with the Flex 6500 on Chan 1 and the Flex 5000/HF on Chan 2. This will be a back-up SO2R system, or a multi-op position some time in the future. The 6500 side of the station will continue to support digital modes. FT8 etc. and the VU5K side will continue for satellite and light HF work.

Yes, I will be keeping the LP-500 after the Tuner Genius arrives, if only for the trapezoidal display!

UPDATE 4/12/21: The Dual Coupler board went in easy. The instructions were easy to follow, and it looks like it is working OK.

I can’t fully test it because Telepost only sent one BNC cable! They promised to expedite another one tomorrow.

PG-XL Installed!

PG-XL Installed at K6HR
PG-XL Installed at K6HR 04/19/21

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CalChip RAK HotSpot Miner v2

Helium Network Crypto Currency Miner

CalChip RAKMiner v2
The RAK x2 HNT Hotspot Crypto Miner

This is truly fascinating! A friend of mine very recently brought this to my attention. He says “How would you like to establish a passive income stream?” Huh? He goes on to say “he thought I might be interested since it involves radios”. At first, when I heard “Crypto Currency Miner” I was a bit skeptical, and pictured some expensive little rig like this. However, my friend Andrew knows his stuff, and explained it to me quite clearly. He pointed me in the direction of some reference and network info so I could get a better understanding of the opportunity.

In a nutshell: The Helium network (aka The People’s Network) is designed to support IoT (Internet of Things) devices like smart home appliances, logistics, and many types of tracking applications, smart doorbells, you name it.

It’s a big business emerging! There are more “Smart” devices entering the marketplace every day!

What is Helium?

Helium is a global, distributed network of Hotspots that create public, long-range wireless coverage for LoRaWAN-enabled IoT devices. Hotspots produce and are compensated in HNT, the native cryptocurrency of the Helium blockchain. The Helium blockchain is a new, open source, public blockchain created entirely to incentivize the creation of physical, decentralized wireless networks. Today, the Helium blockchain, and its tens of thousands of Hotspots, provide access to the largest LoRaWAN Network in the world.

How does it pay?

The Helium Network pays people to install network hotspots in their home and business locations. In return, the hotspot owner is paid rewards in $HNT (Helium Crypto Currency) based on the number of transactions the hotspot “hears” and participates in. They pay folks to install the hotspots so they don’t need to build all that network infrastructure. Pretty smart.

Why even bother to try it?

I’ll tell you why I decided to install a Helium Network hotspot. For me it was simple. First, I looked here and zoomed in on my location on the map so I could see where other hotspots in my area were located. Then, I checked to see what the nearest two hotspots were being paid in rewards.

Much to my surprise the closest hot spot mined 75.42 HNT in the past 30 days. Considering the current value of HNT is roughly $16.32 (as of this writing) that means 75.42 x 16.32 = $1230.85 Yep! That’s what I said too!

I thought WOW! that’s interesting, so I checked the next closest hotspot. (be sure you click on the “Rewards” tab to see the hotspots earnings!) This hotspot showed a lot more activity than the first one. This tells me he probably has a high gain outdoor antenna, and probably enjoys a significant height advantage. Whatever his advantages may be, his earnings speak for themselves.

Now for the Wow!

As you can see in the link above, the second nearby hotspot has earned 410.51 HNT over the past 30 days. Today, that’s 410.51 x 16.32 = $6699.52. The main reason these earnings are so much higher is because this second hotspot is “witnessing” transactions, issuing and responding to “Challenges” and passing IoT data onto the network, all that in addition to providing “Proof of Coverage” for surrounding hotspots. This miner also communicates with several more surrounding hotspots than the miner in the first example..

I’m entering this game to PLAY and WIN! You all know by now, I don’t usually take the ‘small’ approach to things…Hi Hi! With my planned height advantage, ultra high gain omnidirectional outdoor antenna, and my “Line of Sight” location to that high earning hotspot, I should do great, doing exactly the same things his hotspot is doing. With my advantages in place I will be conducting TONS of transactions. Not only that, my location is in the clear in a very good location for residential and commercial data traffic. Judging by my surroundings on the network map, I am getting in on the “Ground Floor” so to speak.

I’m in! I Ordered the RAK V2 Hardware!

I ordered the CalChip Connect RAK V2 hardware last week, I should get it by the end of the next quarter. I am also installing a 50 foot antenna mast to support the 915mhz ISM band (10dbi) high gain antenna. That’s right, just add some ultra low loss coax, and I’ll be ready to mine! ….errr, I mean, build the network!


If you have any questions I’ll do my best to answer, or check with Andrew for you. There’s more than enough info available online to make an informed decision. As of today, so far, there are only 36,535 hotspots on the network. This number is expected to climb to over 200,000 hotspots in the coming months, and upward from there.

They say HNT could rise in value to 10x its current value. Can you imagine mining 415 HNT every 30 days at 10x today’s value!

5G Hotspots will be next…

I’ll be in the 5G game also. I will install a 5G hotspot as soon as the hardware becomes available. I will provide network access to mobile devices in my coverage area. There are even better rewards for putting up a 5G hotspot.

Who would have ever thought I’d end up mining crypto using radios!

I’ll post results here, good or bad, for anyone interested to see how this turns out. The investment cost of the RAK V2 miner is more or less insignificant (<$500). Worst case scenario, I will repurpose the Raspberry Pi hardware into another project. However I think it’s more likely that I’ll be purchasing additional hotspots, than repurposing.

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Cellebrite UFED Touch2 has Arrived

Enhancing Our Data Recovery Capabilities

Cellebrite UFED Touch2
Cellebrite UFED Touch2 now at v7.45.1.43

I was lucky enough to find a complete kit that included the full cable set. The Cellebrite “Universal Forensic Extraction Device” or “UFED” Touch2, provides full physical extraction from many of today’s most widely used mobile devices.

Cellebrite UFED Touch2 – Service for all models, past and current.

Industry Standard File Formats

We performed our first UFED Touch2 Physical Extraction on a Samsung SM-J327A. (aka a Samsung J3) The UFED identified the device automatically, and loaded the required modules etc. required to perform the extraction. Once running, the PE process took approximately 90 minutes, as there was not much data on the subject device.

In addition to the UFED generated results, the extracted data was processed externally, using Autopsy DF software. Processing our first UFED Touch2 extraction through Autopsy was as easy as importing the UFED cellphone dump as a “Data Source” and selecting the desired “Ingest Modules“.

Then, just a few clicks later, we have everything. A complete, forensically sound image of the subject device, and, an interactive report on its entire contents.

Yes, even “Deleted” files. Autopsy makes quick work of “Unallocated Space”.

The Autopsy report generator provides a comprehensive, and easy to navigate report that enables investigators to view every detail of a device’s activity. The report is a complete analysis of all app data, and filesystem events, synced to the Timeline, and cross referenced with the Geolocation data on the device, all in a familiar “File Explorer” type GUI format.

You might be surprised at what a mobile device can reveal about a users movements, actions, communications etc.

Answers to the ‘who, what, why, when, where, and how’ of a case are laid bare to investigators in short order, saving valuable (and possibly life saving) time in the investigative process.

At PC Data Insights we are pleased to offer these enhanced Data Recovery services to our clients.

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ROHN H50 Mast has Arrived

Damaged by the Delivery Driver!

Just my luck. The ROHN H50 was mishandled by the delivery driver.


This ROHN H50 suffered a rough delivery!

Antenna Mast Project Delayed

The freight company was quick to issue a replacement. I reported it Sunday night, and on Monday morning I received a notification from DX Engineering that a replacement was ordered and shipped.

The delivery driver decided to toss it over the unlocked gate, allowing one end to smash on the ground, and left the other end sticking out over the top of the gate. So I may end up with two masts, albeit one that may be +/- 10ft shorter than the other. Earlier this evening I used a mandrel and rubber mallet, and was able to round out all but one section before I ran out of daylight.

Helium Miner / ISM Band 915mhz Antenna

Helium ISM Band Antenna
Helium ISM Band Antenna

This mast was intended to support the ISM Band antenna at the top, an HF Dipole, and a Comet GP3 2m/70cm vertical. But those plans may change now.

K7FP Metalwerks


I ordered the H50 compatible version with the antenna mount at the end. The original plan was to put the ISM/Helium antenna at the top of the mast, and the GP-3 on the end of this standoff arm. The pulleys will allow me to hoist up the HF dipole.

If I end up with both masts, I will use the damaged unit to support the HF dipole and Comet GP-3, and use the full height mast for the ISM/Helium Miner antenna.

UPDATE: 08/08/21

The Good ‘Ol Exhaust Pipe Expander

Special Thanks to Thomas Giordano KE7LSU for recommending the correct tool for this job.

Using the Exhaust Pipe Expander I was able to round out the crushed sections. I stayed behind the rubber band as he suggested, and they came out nice and round. They now move freely within each other. I also found it useful to rotate the tool a few degrees and reapply it to get the best result. Now it’s like new. My HF Dipole will finally get some height, not to mention the greatly improved take-off angle. The Helium ISM Band antenna, and my 2m / 70cm vertical will mount atop the new ‘replacement’ mast. I’ll also have better physical separation from the QRO HF antennas.

It’s easy to see how far out of round it is before I tighten / expand the tool
As you turn the stem the tool expands inside the pipe and rounds it out. This section would not extend at all.
After expanding and rotating the tool a couple of times, I was able to round out this key section
Finally, the bottom, or outermost section. Nearly perfect.
Most importantly, ROUND ENOUGH. All sections of the mast now slide freely within each other. It’s like new at this point.

Next: Anchor and Bracket the Helium Mast

I fashioned a couple of standoffs to use for bracketing the ROHN H50 to one of the uprights on my patio awning. The mast will also be guyed. With an extremely low wind load, I anticipate this mounting method will be safe and efficient.


ROHN GTMBL – Telescopic Mast Ground Mount

The ROHN GTMBL and the ERICO Ground Rod are in place. I had an issue with my handcrafted standoffs, but at least some progress was made today.

And then, there were TWO!

The ROHN H59 Twins!

The ROHN H50 Twins!

ROHN UM50 Telescopic Mast Roof Mount

The ROHN UM50 is the perfect solution for the base mount to be used on the second mast. The second mast will mount on the side of the house where there is a concrete alley way, and nowhere to use a typical ground mount stake.



The UM50 will be screwed down to a base comprised of a 2ft x 4ft piece of 3/4″ plywood. I plan to keep it in place using sandbags, and bracketing at the edge of the roof. Solid as a rock, and again, practically no wind loading on a wire dipole antenna.

A bit of re-engineering required

I hope to sort out my issue with the standoffs quickly. These standoffs are the ‘last frontier’ in the mounting process. Once sorted I will be able to get the mast in place.

Making some head way!

The mast is in place. I hope to get the second bracket in place this weekend.

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Uncle Harold’s Radio

Grundig Majestic 3045

Grundig Majestic 3045
Grundig Majestic 3045

A Great Surprise Gift!

My cousin had a great surprise for me last Saturday. This is the Grundig Majestic 3045 that belonged to her father, my Uncle Harold. Needless to say, I’m thrilled to have it (Thanks EB!) and of course, I can’t wait to see if it still works.

Super Clean!

Grundig 3045 Rear View
Grundig 3045 Rear View

I must say, it is remarkably clean for a radio of this vintage, and has been well cared for. There is a loose/broken ferrite rod with windings on it (FM antenna?) but other than that, the radio appears to be 100% intact.

I will do some research on it before powering it up. (Probably going to need a Variac) I plan to restore this unit back to full working condition.

Stay tuned, as this wonderful family heirloom comes back to life once again!

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