I really hate working with visionaries, most specifically The One Whose Stuff Always Changes. To be more precise, I hate having to base production environments on TOWSAC's ever-morphing APIs and semi-complete implementations of things.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Fri 20.06.2008 12:30 | filed in interests/anti | ]

I dislike throwing away repairable things. Like this old, very cheap but quite good knife (originally from Ikea): after more than a decade of daily use and the associated dunkings, the wooden handle had finally rotted away and split.

So I made a new grip: reused some wood reclaimed from a door frame, shaped it with my router, glued-and-screwed the grip halves on, sanded and lacquered the thing multiple times.

 new knife handle

Why? Because I can, because it is fun to (re)make things and because a well-made thing gives me satisfaction.

[ published on Sat 14.06.2008 18:36 | filed in interests/tinkering | ]

Rob gave me some promising (i.e. ring of fire) chili seeds a while ago, for planting behind my house. I successfully got them to sprout (I have anti-green thumbs and can kill off most types of plants, without meaning to but still easily), and a few days ago I planted them in 14 or so small batches.

 chili plants chili plants

This is how they looked like before I planted them. I'll keep you updated on how this planting experiment fares.

[ published on Sat 14.06.2008 18:04 | filed in interests/au | ]

Ebaypal are not allowed to go forward with their paypal-only scheme, says the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission aka the consumer watchdog. Schadenfreude is what I feel right now; in my opinion ebaypal deserve all the flak they get.

This pending ruling is welcome news, because (as I mentioned a few weeks ago) the extra mandatory fees make ebay vastly more unattractive to sell one-offs like I do occasionally. (What also sucks is ebay's sugary political correctness bullshit but that's a separate story.)

In the meantime I've gotten me an account at Oztion, the biggest(?) local alternative. As they only charge fees on successful sale (so far) and offer auto-relisting that's a vastly nicer environment for people like me who sell only odds and ends occasionally.

[ published on Sat 14.06.2008 17:19 | filed in interests/anti | ]

My Wheely King RC toy was a tad fast for crawling over obstacles and also lacked torque and endurance with the stock motor and batteries. Simple fix: I cooked up a cheap brushless motor setup.


  • one cheap Chinese 2830 outrunner (850KV, 58g, 3.17mm shaft): $20 with shipping
  • one fairly cheap Chinese/German ESC (speed controller) for brushless motors, $35 plus $15 shipping
  • smaller pinion gears, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 17 teeth: $20 plus $10 postage
  • some time for filing down the motor mount: dusty but free

Install the 14 tooth pinion. Mix and stir well. Season with absolutely incomprehensible Chinglish instructions for the ESC. Simmer on "Medium Angry" for a week. Find the German partner company who's responsible for the design of the ESC, and who has a manual in Real English. Turn off the heat, install, enjoy the slooooow speed at full blast. Up the pinion teeth, to 16. Reinstall, enjoy both the torque and fast-walking speed on full throttle.

 wk modded tranny plate brushless wk modded tranny plate brushless

Mounting the brushless dwarf was interesting, because it doesn't have the same screw pattern as the big 540-size original motor. It comes with a converter plate but using that the shaft is too short. So I made do with the smaller screw spacing. I simply filed away a fair bit of the motor mounting plate and then used a drilled steel washer as counter-piece for fastening the motor.

Getting the ESC to stop beeping and start working was almost as horrible as having to learn vi without a clue and a manual (ie. it beeps a lot but doesn't work, no matter what you do). Extremely frustrating. The thing being a very no-name non-brand, I even cut off the heatshrink to have a peek at the circuit board looking for manufacturer clues, but to no avail. Eventually and only because of a few really odd, happy circumstances I finally found out that it's one of these and got a working manual. Wohee, this actually works! I glued on an old heatsink block to the ESC's metal back plate and then closed it up again with transparent heatshrink tube. Looks neater than the original.

 wk brushless esc heatsink

Overall the result is very pleasant. Torque is way up, this ESC has a proper brake (which the original didn't have) and with the tiny brushless motor (a powerhouse despite weighing only a measly 58g) I get very nice long run times even with the old original nicad battery. The reduced weight up top helps too.

 wk brushless wk brushless
[ published on Fri 13.06.2008 01:06 | filed in interests/tinkering | ]

As mentioned a few days ago I've just escaped the clutches of our telco monopolist - successfully I should say. Here are my experiences with the Telstra Elimination Project.
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Fri 13.06.2008 00:15 | filed in interests/au | ]

We're back, connected once again: some techie must have been in the neighbourhood saturday night, because Saturday 2138 line-sync suddenly reappeared, and today I finished setting up the remaining bits (e.g. inbound POTS-to-VOIP etc.) and verified that Internode didn't make a mess of their part of the service conversion.

Looks all mostly good, except line attenuation has jumped up 10dB (without the previously required inline filter), which makes little sense, and sits now at 50dB downstream. This sucks as it severly limits the achievable sync speeds and makes things a tad more brittle. Ticket open, we'll see.

[ published on Sun 08.06.2008 20:44 | filed in still-not-king | ]

Actually it's not just low on blood but stone-dead, but it'll come back -- eventually (like in the film Reanimator...).
click here for the rest of the story...

[ published on Fri 06.06.2008 09:55 | filed in brainfarts | ]
 ex-huntsman ex-huntsman

When Conny went to brush her teeth tonight before bedtime, I suddenly got a fairly urgent/distressed Request for Assistance: she stood mesmerized at the bathroom door, and a meter from her sat an (equally mesmerized) huntsman spider of less that minimal size (maybe 10x10cm with the legs). She strongly dislikes spiders.

And so do I. Usually, smaller specimens I don't bother; they eat bugs and thus are not exactly welcome but tolerated household members (if they stay hidden and out of the geckos' way). But this one was too large for my liking, so it got the bucket-on-top-and-then-poison-inside treatment (huntsmen are very fast). Sorry fella!

Conny asked for this note to any future spider visitors to be posted on the web (maybe spiders use google? dunno): Small and tiny spiders tolerated, large ones very unwelcome. May be dealt with harshly!

[ published on Mon 02.06.2008 00:18 | filed in still-not-king | ]

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© Alexander Zangerl