Archive for May, 2023

Creating drive labels for Dell 2.5″ disk trays

If you buy used Dell servers, you may end up with a system assembled from various parts. One of the more common things is ending up with a server that has no disk trays, or where the drives in the trays don’t match the labels on the trays due to the seller swapping or adding drives.

While the labels on the trays don’t provide enough detail to tell you the exact model of drive in the tray, it at least gives you a clue what you’re looking at, like “SAS 146GB 15k”. I recently assembled a server which came with no drives, by adding 8 Toshiba PX04SMB040 SSDs (Dell part number GM5R3) which came in unlabeled trays.

A number of different solutions have been proposed – everything from writing on the tray with a silver Sharpie pen to web-based label generators. Even if you could generate a perfect printout of tray labels, there is still the issue of finding a printer that can print silver, as well as the issue of either aligning the labels or manually cutting each label to size. Dell prints enough labels (or contracts them out) in large enough quantities that it works for them. I decided I could create a simpler solution at a much lower cost.

Since I already had all of the things needed to create tray labels, I decided to document the procedure here in case anyone else is interested.

First, you will need a Brother P-Touch printer that takes “TZe” type labels and supports printing from a host computer. I have the PT-P710BT “P-Touch CUBE Plus” model.

At the time I started this project, I could not find a Brother part number for a TZe 9mm black print on silver tape. Fortunately there is a huge aftermarket supply of TZe tapes, so this was not a problem. On eBay I found one in sealed packaging for $1.99. While I was writing this article I discovered that Brother does indeed make this size and color of tape – the TZe-M921. But Brother really does go out of their way to make it difficult to find part numbers for their tapes. I think that if they had a simple PDF, updated regularly, with columns showing tape width and rows showing the color, and either a part number or “N/A” at each intersection, they’d sell a lot more tapes.

Here is the “MATTSILVER” (sic) tape I purchased on eBay:

All images are clickable to display a larger version.

Installed in the P-Touch CUBE Plus:

Next, I created an image of the desired label in Adobe Photoshop. You can download the Photoshop file here and modify it to suit your requirements. I then saved the completed image as a .png file and imported it into the P-Touch Editor, duplicating it multiple times to create a strip of identical labels. The P-Touch file for the strip of labels I created is also available here (right-click and “Save Link As…”), although it won’t be very useful unless you also have 400GB SAS SSDs. But you can load it into the P-Touch Editor to see how easy it is to use.

The varying gaps between labels are not important – these will be trimmed away later. What is important is the vertical alignment – the black strips should align across each of the duplicates:

I then printed out the completed label strip. Note that the silver is more shiny and less matte than represented by the seller, but for $1.99 I can’t complain:

The next thing I did was tape the completed labels down to an 8.5 x 11 sheet of plain paper using 3/4″ Scotch “Magic Tape”. It is important to have the black stripe side of the labels closest to the edge of the paper and to center the tape on top of the label strip so that there is excess tape on all sides.

I then trimmed the sides of the paper so that the ends of the black stripe lined up with the cuts:

The previous step is necessary so the black stripe can be lined up exactly with the cutting path of the rotary trimmer:

While holding the paper firmly in the correct position, I used the rotary trimmer to cut the label strip and remove the excess silver part from the long edge of the labels. This trimming is needed because the indent on the Dell drive tray is narrower than 9mm and the P-Touch printer cannot print all the way to the edge of the label. Trimming the labels solves both problems in one step:

I then used the rotary trimmer to trim the sides of the labels to the correct width. This is something that requires practice – trim a label and hold it up to the drive tray and see if it is too narrow, too wide, or just right.

Next, I used scissors to cut off the excess paper ‘tails’ of each label:

Here is the drive tray I’m going to apply a label to:

Peel back the paper and fold it over, leaving a short strip of tape exposed between the label and the paper:

Remove the wax paper backing from the adhesive side of the label. You may find a single-edge razor blade helpful:

Carefully align the top, bottom and right sides of the label with the indent and apply the label, using the paper “tail” to hold and position the label:

Again using the paper “tail”, begin peeling the tape off the top of the label, starting at the top right. The adhesion of the label to the tray should be greater than that of the tape to the label, so the label should remain attached to the tray while peeling:

Continue removing the paper and tape until it is completely removed:

The left edge of the label needs to be pressed down into the tray indent. Then use a razor blade to cut the small diagonal notch on the bottom left of the label, taking care to not cut too deeply – you just want to cut the label, not the tray:

Repeat as needed until you have a system full of labeled trays:

You can use a similar method for 3.5″ drive tray labels or older generations of trays.

Will the REAL Baofeng please speak up?

There are a huge variety of radios sold under the “Baofeng” (officially, Fujian [Nan’an] Baofeng Electronics Co.) name. Some are probably official private label models, some are outright fakes, and some fall somewhere in between. To confuse things further, Baofeng originally didn’t bother to register their brand trademark in the US. Someone else did some “trademark squatting” by registering it. While this was playing out at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Baofeng branded their radios as “Pofung“. Between the Baofeng / Pofung confusion, official private label models and the fakes, it is hard to tell if a particular “Baofeng” radio is legit or not.

To complicate things even further, at least two companies claim to be “the” official United States distributor of Baofeng radios: (who also refer to themselves as BTECH) state that “We have personally dealt with hundreds of counterfeit listings and have had them removed from marketplaces. Unfortunately, most sites will not prohibit the counterfeiter from creating another listing. The most effective means to stopping counterfeits is to buy direct from a BTECH authorized distributor.” claims “Baofeng Radio US is the Authorized Distributor of Baofeng products in the United States. All products ship from within the United States.”

In addition to those two, there are a large number of other sellers on Amazon, eBay, etc. who are also selling “Baofeng” radios.

The manufacturer isn’t helping the situation. Their Baofeng Official Website Announcement says “While Baofeng has worldwide distributors and resellers, products are all produced by Baofeng. The concept that radio not sold by one of the distributors is counterfeit is factually inaccurate.” Aside from that statement appearing to claim that anything marked with a “Baofeng” label is genuine, it does not provide a list of “worldwide distributors and resellers” so anyone could represent that they’re a factory-authorized distributor or reseller and the purchaser has no way of telling if that is true or not. To confuse matters further, there are many “Certificate of Authorization” letters allegedly issued by the manufacturer listing dozens (if not hundreds) of entities that are “authorized”. These letters seem to come in a a surprising variety of styles, and every one I’ve examined is expired. You can do a Google image search for yourself by clicking here.

My first experience with this situation was ordering a package of two “Baofeng UV-82HP” radios from Amazon in November 2019. This was a “too good to be true” deal with 2 radios, 4 batteries, 2 coiled combo speaker/microphones, 2 earpieces and two whip antennas. When I received them, there was no FCC ID number on/in the radio (required for them to be legally sold in the US) and after contacting the seller I was given the alleged FCC ID for these radios, which turned out to be for a different model entirely. I returned then to Amazon for a refund, stating that they were counterfeit. I also left a review saying the radios were counterfeit. Amazon approved and published my review and it showed up among several other reviews also stating that the radios were counterfeit. Apparently the seller complained because my reviews and the other reviews mentioning “counterfeit”, “fake”, etc. were removed without explanation. That product listing is still active on Amazon, three and a half years later.

I eventually ordered replacement radios on Amazon from seller “BaoFeng Tech”. This is the same seller as, also known as BTECH. In fact, their Amazon pages show both “Sold by BaoFeng Tech” and “Visit the BTECH Store”. They came with the expected FCC IDs inside and performed as expected. Since then I’ve been making sure to only order products that are sold by BTECH.

You can probably get the same radio from other sellers, particularly if you’re outside the US. But I decided to stop “rolling the dice” and always order from BaoFeng Tech / BTECH.

BTECH themselves are not helping the situation with their multiple brandings. Also, while their radios have customized battery compartment labels with their website listed and they have custom packaging distinct from any other seller I’ve seen, all of their BL-8 batteries had been mis-labeled (along with everyone else’s) as 2800mAh capacity instead of the actual 1700mAh capacity. This continued for many years until they introduced a new version of the BL-8 pack which includes a built-in USB-C charging port in the pack. That pack is correctly labeled as 18mAh. Unfortunately they didn’t change the part number, so a “BL-8” battery might or not might have USB charging depending on when it was made and who sold it. It makes me want to jump up and down and yell “You’re not helping!” regarding confusing naming.

Having said all that, BTECH does seem to be the most reliable supplier in terms of the product being exactly what it is represented to be.