MOT Results

Yesterday, Serenity my Land Rover Defender went through her annual MOT test. I learned my lessons from the first time and made sure to check more thoroughly for failure items. I replaced 2 dust covers and fitted a nut which had gone AWOL due to not being torqued down sufficiently (my fault cause I couldn’t get the tools I had into place to tighten it down).

The first attempt on Saturday was a wash, the tester was off ill. The garage had tried to contact me to no avail. I did get booked for yesterday with no issues though. After an hour and a half of stressing out I gave the garage a call to see what was up (tests only take about an hour).


Cue jumping for joy.

There were a few advisories though. Nothing serious.

  • Nearside seat belt damaged but webbing not significantly weakened [5.2.2a]
  • Offside seat belt damaged but webbing not significantly weakened [5.2.2a]
  • Nearside rear shock absorber has a slightly worn bush [2.7.4]
  • Offside rear shock absorber has a slightly worn bush [2.7.4]
  • Nearside front drag link end ball joint dust cover deteriorated, but preventing the ingress of dirt [2.2.C.1c]

The seatbelt damage is due to being repeatedly trapped in the door locks. The belts don’t retract quickly enough and tend to snag on the door latching post. Will have to replace the whole assemblies before the next MOT. In the meantime I will attempt to rig up something with shock cord to pull the belts out the way quicker.

Regarding the shock absorbers. Last test I had an advisory that one of the shocks was misting oil. So I replaced both just to be prudent. Sadly, I decided to do it based on cost which resulted in the parts being Britpart.

Those in Land Rover circles will know why they are dubbed Britpart Shitpart. Needless to say I am not surprised that they are wearing out. Quality parts my arse. Will be replaced with some proper gas shocks with proper polybushes at some point.

The dust cover issue isn’t as serious as the advisory makes out. The tester explained that the cover is missing its retaining clip but its being held in place due to friction and pressure from the bottom so its not allowing dust and dirt in. This was my fault. I managed to break the retaining spring when putting it on. Silly thing that it was. Will get a proper retaining clip at some point.

The tester also noted that Serenity “wasn’t leaking much oil”. He remarked that some of the newer Defenders can be a lot worse with regards to oil leaks so I’m pretty happy. The phrase “if its not leaking, you have no fluids” comes to mind.

I’m also happy to report that another advisory from last year got corrected. The exhaust was leaking slightly from one of the joints. Due to the sheer amount of rust on the bolts we opted to cut them off and bodge it back together with a gasket that I don’t remember ordering. Wasn’t in my eBay history and it fit perfectly. If you bought it for me, let me know so I can thank you.

Roadworthy for another year! Now, what else will break…

Bike Power

A good year ago I bought a cheap dynamo from eBay. The lights that came with it were utter garbage and I chucked them. The dynamo got installed and left to linger on the bike.

Over the past couple weeks, I have been tinkering around with the idea of getting the dynamo running and producing useful power for when I’m riding. The first generation system was simply a bridge rectifier and the largest capacitor I had in my parts crate. Pedalling by hand produced a healthy 20+ volts with no load attached.

Yesterday, my buddy Scott and I had a day off and it was decided that this project would step up a gear. We decided that the best course of action would be to get a proper power supply setup rather than a cobbled together mish-mash amalgamation of random components. There are a number of things suitable for power generation but nothing really suited 100%. We decided that a kit from Maplin was the best route to go down. It provides for potential expansion in the future, just need to swap out the regulator. Currently it is capped at 1 amp at 5 volts. If I decide I want more amps, it will cost about £2 to upgrade. Not bad.

IMG_20140403_140058We opted to alter the configuration of the components from the kit defaults. The large capacitor is moved off to the side so that it will fit in the project box and the regulator is now fitted outside the box with a heatsink for better cooling.

After fiddling with the adjustment potentiometer (tiny movements are needed to get to the right voltage) and testing with a sacrificial device, we test rode the setup.

Need to get the box fastened down properly and everything tidied up, as well as get a proper mount for my phone but for all intents and purposes, job done! Not bad for an afternoon’s work.

I think I have a minor Triple Aught Design addiction

Now own 2 pairs of TAD trousers. Force 10 AC to be precise, tan and grey colours. Best. Trousers. EVER! Hell, I may retire my DPM trousers.

Bought them from Hennie Haynes who I cannot praise enough. Ordered yesterday at about 3pm, arrived at about 10am this morning. They are bloody quick at processing orders and they nearly always arrive next day. Even with free shipping.

Now, if I could get them in navy blue so I can use them for work instead of the naff trousers provided.

Started reading Dune by Frank Herbert a few days ago. I figured that it was about time that I read one of the nerdy classics. I’ve seen the movie  and there are significant changes. Granted you can’t pack all the content in the novel into a movie. Just not possible. Enjoying it though.

I fail at subkeys

My buddy Scott and myself have been trying to get his GPG system set up. Signing to him works, he can sign mails to me, I can encrypt mail to him. He can’t send encrypted mails to me.

Long story short, my encryption subkey expired a few months ago. In my defence, “expires” and “expired” look bloody similar in a monospaced font on a terminal. I’ve extended the expiry date.
Grab my updated key here or do gpg --recv-keys BAF45865 to update.


A couple of my friends have been playing about with getting VPNs running. I have tried to do similar in the past but never got it to work very well. However, while skiving at work, I came across sshuttle which is sort of a transparent proxy, ssh tunnel and VPN all rolled into one nice package.

The neat thing about sshuttle is it doesn’t require much setup. All it requests of your endpoint is ssh access as a regular user and the ability to run python. Locally you need python and root or sudo privileges as it manipulates your iptables rules to get the job done.

The really neat thing is you can get it to capture your DNS requests so that an eavesdropper can’t tell what addresses you are looking up.

sshuttle --dns -r username@sshserver 0/0

is the command to use once you install it. You can add -v flags to make it more verbose but it is already quite verbose as it is.

The one drawback I have found is that it doesn’t use my ssh keys very easily. As it runs as root, the root user has no access to my ssh keys and wants the password to login to the remote machine. You can pass it the ssh invocation to use your keyring but if you have that password protected like I have (a good idea), it requests the password for that. Thus, you still have to type in a password no matter what you do.

Its a small drawback, especially seeing as it protects your traffic from eavesdroppers right up to your remote machine. Very handy for hostile (publicly accessible) networks.

Reading TFM does work. Fixed my bike. At least it shifts between all 3 ranges now, albeit with some delay at times. No chain rub though which was the reason for the faffing. Time to get my cycling on!

Better the devil you know?


Conjures up visions of bloody struggle and violent revolution. But this isn’t Ukraine or Venezuela. The streets don’t run red with the blood of people fighting for their lives.

No, this is altogether a much less violent affair. A bunch of middle aged men and women having childish arguments about the future of a nation.

As someone who lives north of the imaginary line in the ground that divides this island, I am frequently asked what I think of the whole deal. How will I vote?

Honestly? I have no idea.

I am fairly anarchist leaning and as a result, I would like power to be moved more towards the individual. Independence would be a step in that direction. Not being governed by a group that allows the Church of England to have a say in folk’s lives does appeal to me.

However, ideology is not the best thing to make such a decision on. Can Scotland survive being split from the rest of the UK? Do we have the economic power to make it? Oil won’t last forever and the shipyards certainly aren’t making boats any time soon.

The Scottish Parliament (Alex Salmond and co) seems to think we can. They have produced a rather weighty book which can be delivered for free for you to have a read. My Dad got a copy and when I had a flick through, it was dripping with fervent nationalism from the first page.

The Propaganda Brick. You could build a house with these.

The Propaganda Brick. You could build a house with these.

I do know one thing. If Scotland does get independence, it will make my trips to Yorkshire a hassle. The Tories have said they will institute border controls which will undoubtedly make things very difficult. The economic losses from the time taken for lorries to cross the border alone will make life more interesting.

The other issue I have with gaining independence is that the Prime Minister will be Alex Salmond. I really do not want that smug face on TV for months. The man is an arse. His sole platform for years has been “independence will fix everything”. OK, maybe a little artistic licence has been taken but you get the point.

I also take issue with allowing those 16 and over to vote on the matter as opposed to the usual 18 or over. I don’t know about you but I don’t trust 16 year olds to act in a rational matter on this subject. You just know they are gonna broadcast Bravehart the night before the referendum to whip them up and “fight back against the English, innit?” or whatever the current vernacular is.

I still haven’t made up my mind. Do I go with the same old garbage from London or do I try the new possible garbage from Edinburgh? Middle road of not voting at all?

I’m interested in what you think of the whole thing. Contact me in the usual places or leave a comment below.

My name is Kevinus Isageekus

Owner of a slow moving website, caretaker of a buggered land rover! I will get my geek on in this life, but not the next, as I’m an atheist!

–Coined by V, with apologies to Russel Crowe

Gladius machete, Training Gladius and Lanskey sharpening puck

Gladius machete, Training Gladius and Lanskey sharpening puck

Made it to work on the bike without dying. Helmet also fits in my backpack. Great success!

Dreading the ride home though. Bloody hill.

Finally fused

Finally got an inline fuse on my auxiliary electrical stuff. For a long time, the kit has just been protected by the fuse box but if the main power feed were to be shorted, bad things would happen. Until now.

Inline fuse

Inline fuse

50 amp maxi

50 amp maxi


Wire disappears off…


And comes back out under the other seat

Fuse box, reused from the previous version of the electrical system.

Fuse box, reused from the previous version of the electrical system.

Sadly I haven’t come up with a proper way of fixing the fuse box in place. It is just pinned in place with the box lid. Works well enough, not like it has any place to move to.

Relays for the lights

Relays for the lights

Only 2 of the relay bases are populated. Room for expansion.


Black is for the dash switches, white is cruise control

Black is for the dash switches, white is cruise control

Much cleaner than the corrugated sleeving that I had running about the place.


Well that was relatively easy. Found a bit of wire in my parts crate and soldered it in. Wonder how long before the other traces fail.

Ugly but it works

Ugly but it works

You can't see it very well but the LEDS on the bottom row, 4th from the right are glowing green

You can’t see it very well but the LEDS on the bottom row, 4th from the right are glowing green

All is good

All is good

“We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers. We study the mysteries of laser and circuit, crystal and scanner, holographic demons and invocation of equations. These are the tools we employ, and we know many things.”

– Elric, Babylon 5 Series 2 Episode 3: The Geometry of Shadows