Feb 252014
 

Hi all,

This is more a note to myself on how to configure stgt to talk to a Ceph rbd. Everyone seems to recommend patching tgt-admin: this is simply not necessary. The challenge is the lax way that tgt-admin parses the configuration file.

My scenario: VMWare ESXi virtual machine host, needing to use storage on Ceph.
I have 3 storage nodes running ceph-mon and ceph-osd daemons. They also have a version of tgtd that supports Ceph. (See the ceph-extras repository.)

The /etc/tgt/conf.d/${CLIENT}.conf configuration file. (I’m putting all the targets for ${CLIENT} here.)

# Target naming: iqn.yyyy-mm.backwards.domain.your:client.target
# where yyyy-mm: year and month of target creation
# backwards.domain.your: Your domain name; written backwards.
# client.target: A name for the target, since it's for one client here I name it
# as the client's host name then give the rest some descriptive title.
<target iqn.2014-02.domain.my:my-client.my-target-name>
    driver iscsi
    bs-type rbd
    backing-store pool-name/rbd-name
    initiator-address ip.of.my.client
</target>

For better or worse, I run the tgt daemon on the Ceph nodes themselves. Multipath I’m not sure about at this point, I’ve set up the targets on all of my Ceph nodes so I can connect to any, but I have not tested this yet.

To enable that target:

# tgt-admin -v -e

Then to verify:

# tgt-admin -s

You should see your LUNs listed.

Jan 112014
 

I noticed when I went looking for soundmodem that its homepage had disappeared off the face of the ‘net, and with it, its source code.

Thankfully, there were some traces of it still around. The Wayback Machine had all bar the source code, and Debian had the rest of what I was looking for.

So you can find a mirror of the old soundmodem site, along with the software at the following address.

http://soundmodem.vk4msl.yi.org/

Dec 162013
 

Patrick Lauer posted a rather lengthy article regarding the issues of clothing sizing.

In essence, it’s his struggle, having known what his sizes were earlier suddenly discovering that the new clothing he buys, with the same size as his existing clothing, does not fit, despite his old clothes fitting just fine. Presumably his old clothes didn’t have a problem, therefore the summation is that the sizing standards have changed.

AMEN TO THAT!

You’ve just hit upon the #1 reason I despise shopping for clothes online or through any sort of “proxy” (i.e. getting someone else to buy you some). You just never know from looking at a size label whether it’ll “fit”. Doesn’t matter what the clothing is: shoes, trousers, shirts, jackets, gloves, hats, helmets … you’ve got to physically go there and try it on if you want to be sure.

Workwear tends to be more consistent, particularly items that companies sell less of. If I buy a pair of overalls, they tend to be consistent. High-vis polo shirts, usually not a problem. But casual stuff? All over the shop!

Add to this, I absolutely despise branded clothing. I’ll even go as far as to remove branding from clothing I buy if possible. One cap I bought had a small metallic logo sewn to it — that disappeared within 5 minutes. Another, had their logo embroidered on the back. Once again, I found myself picking at it to remove it. Both made in China I might add, and neither particularly cheap.

What do I look for? Plain, unbranded. Some might say “boring”. If it’s a shirt, I’ll tend to want something long sleeved, maybe hooded too in some cases: good for when I’m outside since being of fair complexion, a bit of sun exposure and I turn into Caucasian lobster very quickly. (White supremacy my arse!) Hats, I’m fussy: I tend to like styles that are rare, my last two purchases were a gatsby and a spitfire, I also have a stack of coolies.

I’m not fussy where it’s made, although if I see something made in this country, I’ll tend to jump on it. Sure, more expensive, but I’m all too conscious of the ridiculous mark-ups that get put on kit made in Pakistan, and I don’t fancy lining the pockets of people running shoddy factories.

I particularly object to mark-ups when the product is poorly sized, inferior quality, heavily branded and overpriced. Some of the “cheapest” (quality-wise) clothing I’ve seen, comes from “brand” name suppliers, is designed to last until it “goes out of fashion” (3 months) and is approaching triple-figures. I don’t fancy being a walking billboard, especially when I have to pay for the privilege and the product will be in the bin by that time next year.

I have a couple of polo shirts I recall paying quite decent money for. About $60 a piece if I recall. Both have developed tears around the wrist on the sleeves. From another shop I recall buying some hooded polo shirts. They had a logo sewn on to one sleeve (soon gotten rid of). Similar price. I bought three: a white one, a black one and a grey one. The grey one promptly shrank in the wash, it was fine in the shop but now no longer fits me, I’ve only worn it once. The black one developed some strange brownish markings on it.

So I’ve spent effectively $180 for a single shirt, as the other two are no longer in good condition. Made in China. Bugger that!

No, here’s what I’m after: plain, unbranded, will last weekly wear for a period of a few years, and a size label that’s accurate if I’m to purchase online.

Plus, I hate doing this online. I refuse to own a credit/debit card: my bank account is the old-fashioned passbook type because it forces me to be organised with my expenditure. I can only withdraw or transfer money during a bank’s opening hours, demonstrating either knowledge of the account number or holding the passbook, and supplying a signature in front of the cashier. That’s triple-factor authentication: nothing electronic comes close.

This restricts my payment methods somewhat. B-Pay and direct deposit are doable, as is telegraphic wire transfer. PayPal won’t work however, because with no credit card, there’s no ability for them to draw money out of the account. And I don’t trust them either.

I might yet give Bitcoin a try, since this is the sort of transfer that it’s intended for. They’re not meant to be hoarded, they’re meant to be passed around. Seems a good way to just buy just the quantity I need (paying by bank deposit or B-pay), then purchasing the goods I require. Maybe that’ll open up a few more sources.

However, I still then have to wait for a package to arrive. I like the immediacy of just strolling into a shop, seeing something I like, doing a quick check to see if it’ll fit, then walking to the counter, handing some cash over, and walking out with the newly purchased item. No ordering, no payment hassles, no courier, no guesswork on sizing and no post sales spam.

Admittedly, shops are no fun either, I actually dislike going into a shop to buy clothing. Especially since some insist on ghastly music, and have a guard standing at the door insisting on checking your bags, even if you merely take two steps in, look around (in their plain sight), decide you can’t stand the noise and (try to) walk out.

Is it any wonder I tend to frequent charity shops?

Nov 122013
 

Hi all,

Not often I have a whinge about something, but this problem has been bugging me of late more than somewhat.  I’m in the process of setting up an OpenStack cluster at work.  Now, as the underlying OS we’ve chosen Ubuntu Linux which is fine.  Ubuntu is a quite stable, reliable and well supported platform.

One of my pet peeves though, is when some package manager decides to get lazy.  Now, those of us who have been around the Linux scene have probably discovered RPM dependency hell… and the smug Debian users who tell us that Debian doesn’t do this.

Ho ho, errm… no, when APT wants to go into dummy mode, it does so with style:

Nov 12 05:32:27 in-target: Setting up python3-update-manager (1:0.186.2) ...
Nov 12 05:32:27 in-target: Setting up python3-distupgrade (1:0.192.13) ...
Nov 12 05:32:27 in-target: Setting up ubuntu-release-upgrader-core 
(1:0.192.13) ...
Nov 12 05:32:27 in-target: Setting up update-manager-core (1:0.186.2) ...
Nov 12 05:32:27 in-target: Processing triggers for libc-bin ...
Nov 12 05:32:27 in-target: ldconfig deferred processing now taking place
Nov 12 05:32:27 in-target: Processing triggers for initramfs-tools ...
Nov 12 05:32:27 in-target: Processing triggers for ca-certificates ...
Nov 12 05:32:27 in-target: Updating certificates in /etc/ssl/certs... 
Nov 12 05:32:29 in-target: 158 added, 0 removed; done.
Nov 12 05:32:29 in-target: Running hooks in /etc/ca-certificates/update.d....
Nov 12 05:32:29 in-target: done.
Nov 12 05:32:29 in-target: Processing triggers for sgml-base ...
Nov 12 05:32:29 pkgsel: installing additional packages
Nov 12 05:32:29 in-target: Reading package lists...
Nov 12 05:32:29 in-target: 
Nov 12 05:32:29 in-target: Building dependency tree...
Nov 12 05:32:30 in-target: 
Nov 12 05:32:30 in-target: Reading state information...
Nov 12 05:32:30 in-target: 
Nov 12 05:32:30 in-target: openssh-server is already the newest version.
Nov 12 05:32:30 in-target: Some packages could not be installed. This may 
mean that you have
Nov 12 05:32:30 in-target: requested an impossible situation or if you are 
using the unstable
Nov 12 05:32:30 in-target: distribution that some required packages have not 
yet been created
Nov 12 05:32:30 in-target: or been moved out of Incoming.
Nov 12 05:32:30 in-target: The following information may help to resolve the 
situation:
Nov 12 05:32:30 in-target: 
Nov 12 05:32:30 in-target: The following packages have unmet dependencies:
Nov 12 05:32:30 in-target:  mariadb-galera-server : Depends: 
mariadb-galera-server-5.5 (= 5.5.33a+maria-1~raring) but it is not going to 
be installed

Mmmm, great, not going to be installed. May I ask why not? No, I’ll just drop to a shell and do it myself then.

Nov 12 05:32:30 in-target: E: Unable to correct problems, you have held 
broken packages.

Now this is probably one of my most hated things about computing, is when a software package accuses YOU of doing something that you haven’t. Excuse me… I have held broken packages? I simply performed a fresh install then told you to do an install!

So let’s have a closer look.

Nov 12 05:32:30 main-menu[20801]: WARNING **: Configuring 'pkgsel' failed 
with error code 100
Nov 12 05:32:30 main-menu[20801]: WARNING **: Menu item 'pkgsel' failed.
Nov 12 05:37:38 main-menu[20801]: INFO: Modifying debconf priority limit from 
'high' to 'medium'
Nov 12 05:37:38 debconf: Setting debconf/priority to medium
Nov 12 05:37:38 main-menu[20801]: DEBUG: resolver (ext2-modules): package 
doesn't exist (ignored)
Nov 12 05:37:40 main-menu[20801]: INFO: Menu item 'di-utils-shell' selected
~ # chroot /target
chroot: can't execute '/bin/network-console': No such file or directory
~ # chroot /target bin/bash

We give it a shot ourselves to see the error more clearly.

root@test-mgmt0:/# apt-get install mariadb-galera-server
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
or been moved out of Incoming.
The following information may help to resolve the situation:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
 mariadb-galera-server : Depends: mariadb-galera-server-5.5 (= 
5.5.33a+maria-1~raring) but it is not going to be installed
E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.

Fine, so we’ll try installing that instead then.

root@test-mgmt0:/# apt-get install mariadb-galera-server-5.5
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
or been moved out of Incoming.
The following information may help to resolve the situation:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
 mariadb-galera-server-5.5 : Depends: mariadb-client-5.5 (>= 
5.5.33a+maria-1~raring) but it is not going to be installed
                             Depends: libmariadbclient18 (>= 
5.5.33a+maria-1~raring) but it is not going to be installed
                             PreDepends: mariadb-common but it is not going 
to be installed
E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.

Okay, closer, so we need to install those too. But hang on, isn’t that apt‘s responsibility to know this stuff? (which it clearly does).

Also note we don’t get told why it isn’t going to be installed. It refuses to install the packages, “just because”. No reason given.

We try adding in the deps to our list.

root@test-mgmt0:/# apt-get install mariadb-galera-server-5.5 
mariadb-client-5.5
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
or been moved out of Incoming.
The following information may help to resolve the situation:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
 mariadb-client-5.5 : Depends: libdbd-mysql-perl (>= 1.2202) but it is not 
going to be installed
                      Depends: mariadb-common but it is not going to be 
installed
                      Depends: libmariadbclient18 (>= 5.5.33a+maria-1~raring) 
but it is not going to be installed
                      Depends: mariadb-client-core-5.5 (>= 
5.5.33a+maria-1~raring) but it is not going to be installed
 mariadb-galera-server-5.5 : Depends: libmariadbclient18 (>= 
5.5.33a+maria-1~raring) but it is not going to be installed
                             PreDepends: mariadb-common but it is not going 
to be installed
E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.

Okay, some more deps, we’ll add those…

root@test-mgmt0:/# apt-get install mariadb-galera-server-5.5 
mariadb-client-5.5 libmariadbclient18
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
or been moved out of Incoming.
The following information may help to resolve the situation:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
 libmariadbclient18 : Depends: mariadb-common but it is not going to be 
installed
                      Depends: libmysqlclient18 (= 5.5.33a+maria-1~raring) 
but it is not going to be installed
 mariadb-client-5.5 : Depends: libdbd-mysql-perl (>= 1.2202) but it is not 
going to be installed
                      Depends: mariadb-common but it is not going to be 
installed
                      Depends: mariadb-client-core-5.5 (>= 
5.5.33a+maria-1~raring) but it is not going to be installed
 mariadb-galera-server-5.5 : PreDepends: mariadb-common but it is not going 
to be installed
E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.

Wash-rinse-repeat!

root@test-mgmt0:/# apt-get install mariadb-galera-server-5.5 
mariadb-client-5.5 libmariadbclient18 mariadb-common
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
or been moved out of Incoming.
The following information may help to resolve the situation:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
 libmariadbclient18 : Depends: libmysqlclient18 (= 5.5.33a+maria-1~raring) 
but it is not going to be installed
 mariadb-client-5.5 : Depends: libdbd-mysql-perl (>= 1.2202) but it is not 
going to be installed
 mariadb-common : Depends: mysql-common but it is not going to be installed
E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.
root@test-mgmt0:/# apt-get install mariadb-galera-server-5.5 
mariadb-client-5.5 libmariadbclient18 mariadb-common libdbd-mysql-perl 
mysql-common
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
or been moved out of Incoming.
The following information may help to resolve the situation:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
 libmariadbclient18 : Depends: libmysqlclient18 (= 5.5.33a+maria-1~raring) 
but 5.5.34-0ubuntu0.13.04.1 is to be installed
 mariadb-client-5.5 : Depends: mariadb-client-core-5.5 (>= 
5.5.33a+maria-1~raring) but it is not going to be installed
 mysql-common : Breaks: mysql-client-5.1
                Breaks: mysql-server-core-5.1
E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.

Aha, so there’s a newer version in the Ubuntu repository that’s overriding ours. Brilliant. Ohh, and there’s a mysql-client binary too, but it won’t tell me what version it’s trying for.

Looking in the repository myself I spot a package named mysql-common_5.5.33a+maria-1~raring_all.deb. That is likely our culprit, so I try version 5.5.33a+maria-1~raring.

root@test-mgmt0:/# apt-get install mariadb-galera-server-5.5 
mariadb-client-5.5 libmariadbclient18 mariadb-common libdbd-mysql-perl 
mysql-common=5.5.33a+maria-1~raring libmysqlclient18=5.5.33a+maria-1~raring 
mariadb-client-core-5.5
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
  galera libaio1 libdbi-perl libhtml-template-perl libnet-daemon-perl 
libplrpc-perl

Bingo!

So, for those wanting to pre-seed MariaDB Cluster 5.5, I used the following in my preseed file:

# MariaDB 5.5 repository list - created 2013-11-12 05:20 UTC
# http://mariadb.org/mariadb/repositories/
d-i apt-setup/local3/repository string \
        deb http://mirror.aarnet.edu.au/pub/MariaDB/repo/5.5/ubuntu raring main
d-i apt-setup/local3/comment string \
        "MariaDB repository"
d-i pkgsel/include string mariadb-galera-server-5.5 \
        mariadb-client-5.5 libmariadbclient18 mariadb-common \
        libdbd-mysql-perl mysql-common=5.5.33a+maria-1~raring \
        libmysqlclient18=5.5.33a+maria-1~raring mariadb-client-core-5.5 \
        galera

# For unattended installation, we set the password here
mysql-server mysql-server/root_password select DatabaseRootPassword
mysql-server mysql-server/root_password_again select DatabaseRootPassword

So yeah, next time someone mentions this:

Gentoo: Increasing blood pressure since 1999.

it doesn’t just apply to Gentoo!

Sep 082013
 

Well, some might remember my time with a cheap and nasty Android tablet (some might call these “landfill Android”).  The device packaging did not once even acknowledge the fact that there was GPL’ed software onboard, let alone how one obtains the source.

I discovered it was based around the Vimicro VC0882 SoC.  Turns out, that’s the same as the ViewSonic ViewPad 10e, who do release their kernel sources on their knowledge base.

Thank-you ViewSonic, you have just helped me greatly!  Maybe I should track down one of your tablets and buy one in appreciation.

Aug 052013
 

This last week the local repeaters here in Brisbane have been rather quiet.

One repeater I used to use a lot has been acting up, and so rather than potentially try to exacerbate a possibly worsening issue, I figured I’d leave it well alone until it was fixed.

Another I lurk on, has been working fine, but many of the people I’d talk to, are away on holidays.

So, I figured I’d dust off my trusty HF whip and give the lower frequencies another crack.  This time last week I was getting nowhere on 15m.  Maybe wrong place at the wrong time (Aside: is there ever a right time to be in the wrong place?) and so didn’t get anywhere.

40m I knew worked on this particular antenna, so I’ve been lurking there… calling in on the Coral Coast net on 7060kHz in the mornings, and tuning up and down the band on the way home.  I make note of my listening frequency via APRS-IS, see my tracker or look for VK4MSL-10 on aprs.fi.

I knew the antenna worked there, not perfect, but it did work.  It works particularly well when the other station is equipped to pick up weak stations.  Earlier this evening, I set out from my workplace listening on 7060kHz where I was this morning.  I noticed it was chock-a-bloc full of stations north of us.  Indonesia and surrounds by the sounds of things.

Couldn’t make a head or tail of what they were saying, so I moved up the band, stumbled across a couple of “local” stations chatting around 7175kHz.  Turns out one was portable in Barcaldine, didn’t catch the name, but the callsign was VK2DQC, I think.  (I didn’t write it down.)  We chatted for a short while, but apparently my signal was up and down like a yo-yo.

No surprise, I started the QSO walking up Greer Street, Bardon, continued my next over riding down The Drive, Cecil Road and Bowman Parade then up through Sunset Park.  Anyone who knows that stretch knows it goes up then down then up again then down.  I finished the chat as I came down Monoplane Street, Ashgrove.

Tuning around, I found another pair talking on 7158kHz.  Bob VK6KJ and Bruce VK2??.  As they were talking a third station, Joe, W5?? called in from Florida USA.  To say I was impressed would be an understatement, all three were coming in Q5, and signal strengths in excess of S6 in most cases.  Bob was peaking S9.

Joe mentioned is misfortune of having some equipment destroyed in a storm, and this necessitating the replacement of a computer along with its OS.  Apparently he’s not a fan of “Window 8″ (as we call it at work).  I did try to call Joe but must’ve doubled and wasn’t heard.

I did though, manage to make contact with Bob.  He was located in Albany, about 400km south-southeast of Perth, and running 400W into a two-element beam pointed at the US.  With my measly 100W and stubby home-made antenna, I apparently was registering a Q5S5 signal with the odd drop-out.

Clearly Bob’s end was doing all the work, but impressive nonetheless.  Seeing as the evenings can be particularly quiet, I think I’ve found a new past-time to while away the hour-long trip home, stirring up HF on the deadly-treadly-mobile!

Jul 152013
 

Well, this year’s International Rally of Queensland didn’t go the way everyone expected. We were there with Brisbane Area WICEN, providing the backup communications for the event. Our primary role was to relay the scores given to us by the post chief in the timekeeper’s tent. They looked after scheduling the cars, getting times, and sending the cars through. We just passed on scores (start/finish times) and other traffic.

Saturday went well. My father and I were set up at Kandanga North running the WICEN checkpoint for stages 6 and 12 of the rally. After some early hiccups getting the packet radio network going, we had the scores being sent out on time and everything running smoothly. Apart from some cows holding up traffic, there were no delays.

Sunday however… just about everyone would have heard about the fatality. My father and I ran the WICEN checkpoint at the start of the fateful Michell Creek Special Stage 14.

Having now seen the ABC website footage, looking at the competitor lists and my own logs, I can say with 90% certainty which car (and therefore 45% certainty who the deceased is) the unfortunate car was and when they left the stage.

My condolences go out to both driver and co driver at this difficult time.

Update: The names have been released.

Jul 112013
 

Some time back I actually got to look at Windows 8 first hand.  What intrigues me about this, is it seems to be more a knee-jerk reaction of the rise of the tablet, and less a careful considered re-work of a user interface.

In fact, what I hear on the grape vine, they don’t seem to have any real road map forward.  This has scared the likes of Rockwell Automation, who have started baking their SCADA systems into their hardware to remove their dependence on the OS.

All this to chase the tablet and smart phone market.

It makes me wonder what their road map actually is.  Perhaps they’ve taken a leaf out of Mental as Anything’s song book?  Sure looks that way…

New Windows released last night
You could call it a blight
It’s such a shame, We never thought it was
Gonna be so bad!  They wished for something good.

They’ve had enough of that
at other times in days gone by.
Changed so much I know…
Mmm just enough, enough to make you cry.

If you leave me, can I come too?
We can always stay
But if you leave me, can I come too?
And if you go, can I come too?

We let it happen again!
‘Cause that they couldn’t take.
Ooh once was quite enough
It’s easy to forgive, harder to forget

If you leave me, can I come too?
We can always stay
But if you leave me, can I come too?
And if you go, can I come too?

(Original lyrics credit: Chuck Krumel, Jeff Raymond, James Stewart)

Jun 092013
 

Over the last year or so, I’ve done a number of improvements to the bicycle mobile station.  I’ve kept meaning to document what’s happened, as a number of people have asked about the station, and not everyone gets to see it up close.

A big move was when the FT-290RII 25W PA died, I was using the FT-897D a lot, and that thing is a heavy lump of a radio to lug around.  So I bought its smaller sister, the FT-857D with its remote head kit.

A second move was from the heavy 40Ah battery pack to a much lighter 10Ah pack.  Then, in July last year, I bought myself a new pair of wheels.  The ’09 model Boulder pictured earlier still gets regular use and is good on the road, but longer trips and on hills, it’s a drag, and the tyres are not good on dirt.

Thus I bought a Talon 29 ER 0… in contrast to the Boulder, this bike is designed with mountain-biking sports in mind, so a little heavier duty, better gearing and suspension.  Sadly not dual-suspension … they don’t seem to make one that will take a pannier rack on the back like I require.  Nonetheless, this one has been going well.

VK4MSL/BM Mk3: New and improved

VK4MSL/BM Mk3: New and improved

Rather than buying an open basket like I did on the other, I went one step further, I bought a motorcycle hard top-box and mounted that on the back.  Thus the FT-857D could live in there, sheltered from the weather.  I later also bought pannier bags: my battery, some tools, spare tubes, visors for the helmet, etc, live in one bag, my clothes live in the other.

The station is otherwise, not much different to how it was in concept.  The antennas now mount on opposite sides of the top box with right-angle aluminium.  I still have to work on grounding for the HF side but even then, the station still delivers respectable performance on 40m.

On my way to BARCfest this year, I was being heard S9+40dB in Newcastle with 60W PEP.  I’d have ran 100W, but due to the earthing problems, I found I was getting a bit too much RF feedback.

The 2m antenna is similar to previous ventures, just a 51cm length of RG-213 with the jacket and braid stripped off and a PL-259 plug soldered onto one end.  It’s a simple design that’s easy to make, easy to fix, cheap and can be constructed from readily available parts.  If you can make your own patch leads, you can make one of these.

VK4MSL/BM: 2m antenna.  Just some RG-213 and a PL-259 connector is all you need

VK4MSL/BM: 2m antenna. Just some RG-213 and a PL-259 connector is all you need

70cm remains a work in progress.  In theory, a ¼? antenna resonant at 144MHz should also resonate at 432MHz, as this is the ¾? frequency.  In practice, this has been a pain to tune.  I basically just stick to 2m and leave it at that.

As for coupling the radio to the head unit… I could use the leads that Yaesu supplied.  One distinct disadvantage with this is that it ties me into using only compatible equipment.  The other is that the connectors are just not designed for constant plugging/unplugging, and the 6P6C and 8P8C connectors become unreliable very quickly if you do this.  A solution was to make up a patch lead to go onto each end, and to use some standard cable in the middle.

Initially I did this with a 25-pin printer cable, but found the RF problems were terrible!  Three lengths of CAT5e however, did the job nicely.  Yes, I sacrifice one pin, right in the middle.  24 pins is more than enough.  I allocate six pins on one end for the head unit cable; choosing the wires so that the connections are consistent at each end.

The other end, I have a standard convention for microphone/control cabling.  The balanced nature of the CAT5e works well for microphone cabling on a radio like the FT-857D which was designed with dynamic microphones in mind.

The only other connectors I need then are for power, and for lights.  Power I just use Anderson PowerPole type connectors, the 30A variety… and for lighting, I use ruggedised 6-pin automotive connectors.

VK4MSL/BM Mk3: Rear connections onto top box

VK4MSL/BM Mk3: Rear connections onto top box

At the handlebars, things have been refined a little… the switches and push buttons are in plastic boxes now.  Here I still have to work on the front basket mount, this compromise of a former broomstick handle hose-clamped to the handlebars is a workaround for the basket bracket’s inability to clamp around the rather thick handlebars.  This arrangement is fine until one of the hose clamps slips (which happens from time to time).

For now I put up with it.  The controls from the radio are now mostly on the left side… Since the rear gear shift and front brake are on the right-hand side, I do far more with my right hand than with my left.  Thus doing this, I free up my right hand to actually operate the bike and use my less-busy left hand to operate the radio.

VK4MSL/BM: Front handlebar controls

VK4MSL/BM: Front handlebar controls

I mentioned earlier about HF… the HF antenna should look familiar.  It’s actually the same one I’ve been using for a while now.  Most distant contact so far has been into the Cook Islands on 20m.  I’ve had successful contacts on 80m, 40m, 20m and 15m with this antenna.  10m and 6m are the two that elude me just now.

VK4MSL/BM Mk3: With the HF antenna

VK4MSL/BM Mk3: With the HF antenna

It is a little difficult to see the entire antenna.  I did try to pick the angle to show it best… but if you look above the tree, you’ll see the tip of it immediately above the top box.  Below is a close-up shot to give you an idea where to look.

VK4MSL/BM Mk3: Base of HF antenna

VK4MSL/BM Mk3: Base of HF antenna

One big advantage of the new set up, is that night-time visibility is much better than before.  On the front I have a LED strip which lights up the path maybe 2m ahead of the front wheel.  Not a strong light, but ticks a box… my main headlight is on the helmet — people frequently assume they’re being filmed by it.  On the rear however, is a different story:

VK4MSL/BM Mk3: All lit up

VK4MSL/BM Mk3: All lit up

It doesn’t look like much in the day time, but it is quite bright at night.  The back uses two LED strips mounted in behind the red plastic on the top box, and one can easily read a book in the light produced.  Looking in the rear vision mirrors at night, the red glow can be seen reflecting off objects for a good 100m or so.

On my TO-DO list, is to mount switches to operate the brake light (just above the callsign).  Options include reed switches, hydraulic switches in the brake lines, or strategic placement of micro-switches.  I’ll have to experiment.  The other electronics is in place.

As to the other bike?  It’s still around, in fact if you look at the photo of the VHF antenna, you can see it in the background… along side the trailer I use when I do my grocery shopping.

I’ve done away with the basket on it, and gotten a second mounting plate, so the same top box fits on the back of the other bike, along with the same pannier bags, and same front basket.  It has done about 2800km since I bought the Talon (mid July, 2012), the Talon itself has done 2617km.

Thus I’d estimate the Boulder is well and truly past the 10000km mark, probably closer to 11000km now.  It’s still the primary means of getting around, averaging close to 100km a week and with a heavy load.  Not bad for a bike that’s designed for a little recreational riding.

May 172013
 

Hi all,

Recently I heard a story of a young 15 year old, apparently playing with a golf ball he got from a “mate” that turned out to be packed with more than what he bargained for.  What stuck me most was the suggestion that he was likely targeted.

The other thing that stood out, was that like me, he has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Having Asperger’s can make it rather difficult, depending on its severity, to judge someone’s character.  That’s why it shook me up more than somewhat — had I judged someone’s character in a similar way, that could have been me!

For those who are wondering, there is a community trust and yes, I fully intend to drop some money into it on Monday.  Given there’s apparently been about $30000 or so, maybe another $2000 into the pot.

My hope for young Michael now, is that the surgeons are able to restore enough function in his hands to allow him to resume some sense of normality.

One question I have tough is what his interests were.  A common trait among people with Asperger’s is a keen interest in one field or another.  For me it’s Electronics, radio and programming.  One of my friends, it’s horticulture, one of my cousins is into cars.

I think whatever Michael’s interest was, I think it important that as a community, we find some way that he can resume that hobby.  It’s good to know that a few fingers were saved… he apparently has a little finger on his left hand (nothing else though) and from the photos, two middle fingers and a thumb on his right.  So he can still give his bully the middle finger at least, and should be able to do many things himself with some practice.

As an example, take the band Def Leppard.  After releasing a few albums, their drummer Rick Allen, lost his left arm in a car accident.  The band found a way for him to continue as their drummer, using two foot pedals.

I have no idea how to assist, and there’s probably a lot of people rallying around him, as they should.

In short, I have been thinking a lot about this incident.  Michael, we have likely not met, and prior to your incident, probably wouldn’t have known you from a bar of soap before that fateful day… but you have very much been in my thoughts this last week, and I do hope we can find a way to give you a hand somehow (if you’d pardon the pun).