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  • Fixing a broken latch on the Yaesu YSK-100 Separation Kit

    Posted on December 27th, 2010 Lee Devlin 8 comments
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    I’ve maintained the Yaesu FT100 FAQ for about 10 years. For those of you not familiar with ham radio, the FT100 is a popular mobile transceiver. I’ve talked to people from all over the world on it. As time went on, the FAQ stabilized and I rarely have to do much updating to it now other than to fix broken links. This FAQ still sees a fair amount of traffic.

    My FT100 is mounted in my Durango using a YSK100 separation kit. The separation kit makes this radio easier to mount in a vehicle by separating the user controls, called the ‘head’, from larger body of the radio. The head then can be installed on a faceplate that is connected to the radio’s body with long cables. The body of the radio can be installed wherever you find room in the vehicle. Mine is hidden in the center console.

    About a year ago, the latch that holds the head on to the face plate of the YSK-100 separation kit broke while I was removing the head.

    I’ve never been happy with the YSK100 faceplate design since the latch requires an excessive amount of force to deflect when installing or removing the head. Without the latch, the radio could still be used, but it would fall off easily whenever I brushed against the head. Since the radio has been out of production for a few years, spare parts hare hard to find. So I decided to fix it myself.

    YSK-100 faceplate with broken latch

    The plastic latch had cracked off of my faceplate.

    There had been several reports of this problem on the FT100 Yahoo Group, but no one had ever reported figuring out a fix for it. You can’t just glue it back in place, because the part is highly stressed and a glue joint would not hold up to those extreme forces.

    YSK with cracked latch

    As you can see in the above image, a small portion of the latch is still on the wall of the faceplate. I sanded this off with a small belt sander. Next I took some measurements and started bending some .032″ thick aluminum sheet metal to make my own latch. I have a small metal brake/shear, but in this case, I just ended up using a vice to bend the sheet metal since the brake has a limit on how small the bends can be. I drilled some small holes and with attached it with M3 screws and nuts.

    Sheet metal replacement latch for the YSK100

    Here is a top view of the latch.

    It works pretty much like the old latch in that it’s very stiff and holds with a lot of force. I suppose a thinner material, perhaps a lighter gauge steel, might have worked better, but this one can be bent to get the desired feel. If it ever breaks again, I know how to make a new one.

    Here is a side view of the latch.

    YSK-100 with metal latch

    New metal latch with head installed.


    Now that the radio is fixed, I plan to spend more time using it. When it was in that state of falling off the faceplate whenever I touched it, I frequently removed it all together and stowed it so it wouldn’t get damaged. But now I’m looking forward to having a properly functioning radio again. I tend to avoid using something that doesn’t work the way I want it to and then when I get around to fixing it, I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner.

    I hope that others are able to take advantage of my description and pictures to help them to fabricate their own latch in the event that they break the plastic one that comes on the faceplate.

  • Finding the OBD port on a BMW E36

    Posted on December 27th, 2010 Lee Devlin 4 comments
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    A few weeks ago my wife’s 1997 BMW 328i illuminated the ‘check engine’ light and she called me asking if she should immediately take it to the dealer to see what was wrong. Since I had just changed the battery on the car and thus the electrical system had lost power a few times, I thought that it might be a false alarm and told her I’d like to look at the diagnostic trouble code (DTC) on its OBDII port before spending any money at the dealer. Taking a car to the dealer with a ‘check engine’ light is giving them permission to charge your for an hour’s labor for what might turn out to be nothing.

    I had purchased an OBD scan tool at Amazon.com that hooks up to a USB port on a computer and it’s based on the ELM327 chip, which means it can read any of the standard protocols available on the OBD connector. However, when I first tried to use it on the BMW just to satisfy my curiosity after purchasing the tool, I recall not being able to locate the connector. On U.S.-made cars like my Dodge Durango, these OBD connectors are located under the driver’s side dash and are usually exposed and thus easy to locate. In looking through a few BMW forums for help on where the port is located, I found some conflicting advice about the port being under the hood and having a special round plug that was unique to BMW. Some forum responses assured me it was down there under the dash next to the clutch but it was covered.

    After getting a flash light and putting my head under the dash, it was almost embarrassing that I didn’t find it sooner. BMW put a cover on it that was clearly labeled OBD, but unless you’re a contortionist and get your head under the dash, you won’t be able to read that cover. The cover is easily opened by turning a screw head with a coin and the cover will hang down from a tether. Similarly, the connector itself has a cap over it which can be pulled off and it is also tethered. After pulling off these covers, the OBD plug was plainly visible.

    Please note, the photos below are taken from the driver’s side floor looking up at the bottom of the dashboard.

    BMW OBD port under dash

    The BMW’s OBD port is covered

    BMW OBD port opened

    BMW OBD port shown with covers open

    BMW port with cable attached

    BMW OBD port with cable attached

    After connecting the scan tool and running the software to check the codes, I found out the check engine light was complaining about a past event where the coolant sensor had reported too low a value. I checked the radiator fluid level and everything looked fine. I figured the car’s computer may have gotten confused when I was replacing the battery. I used the scan tool to turn off the check engine light. It’s been a few weeks and the light has stayed off, so the little device has paid for itself several times over just for that one usage.

    I wanted to document this here in the blog in case someone goes searching for how to find the BMW’s OBDII port since a few pictures of it sure would have been helpful to me.