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.

sshuttle

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?

Independence.

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

IMG_20140219_124526

Wire disappears off…

IMG_20140219_124635

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.

Bodged!

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

One month sober

Yep, one month with no alcohol. I was inspired by DW Arsement to cut out alcohol. While my experiences have been a lot less negative than his, I still felt the effects of drinking the day after. I decided that I can’t be bothered with the fuzzy head, the vomiting, the general malaise and regret any longer.

Gonna go for a whole year without booze. So why doesn’t this feel like such a big deal? Truth is, I never have been a big drinker. At a push, I drink about 5 times a year. Granted, most of them do result in negative after effects but its not like I’ve woken up in a strange place with very little clothing. I don’t drink for about 98% of the year, so the other 2% should be easy.

To my friends: no jagerbombs. Please. They really are vile. I’ll stick with water or lemonade or something else non-alcoholic.

So, 1 month down, 11 more to go. Roll on teetotal life!

Rear light bodging

I have a bike. I don’t use it. This needs to change.

Problem was, my commute is mostly during the evening and in winter, this is in the dark. So, for legal and safety reasons, I haven’t commuted under my own power for a while. Now, I can.

New light

New light

I wanted a rear light that used AA batteries so I can standardise on them for all of my kit. I will be migrating to rechargable ones shortly, once my current stash of AA batteries runs out.

The problem with this light is there is no real attachment point for it. There are some mouldings on the inside to hold bolts in place but nothing else.

IMG_20140124_103207

Internal mouldings

However, the existing reflector on the bike has some sort of bracket holding it on. Wheels began to turn and ideas were formulated.

IMG_20140124_103738IMG_20140124_103930IMG_20140124_104138Drilling commenced.

IMG_20140124_104900IMG_20140124_104917IMG_20140124_105314Job done.

IMG_20140124_105718IMG_20140124_105732I can now cycle to and from work with less excuse for drivers to hit me. Whether or not they will pay attention is another matter.