Archive for April, 2011

Polishing Headlights

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

I was pretty surprised by the price of some headlight restorer kits. I really want to clean up the headlights on a few of my cars but whats so special about the kits? I have a bunch of old headlights in the garage attic so I looked around the shelves and found a bottle of Plexiglass polish and a bottle of John Deere Spray Detailer. A couple of light passes on a standard cloth buffing wheel mounted on my bench motor yielded pretty good results.  I don’t know if the rouge that was already on the wheel contributed to the shine. I have another set up there so I’ll try those too. I think I’ll post these on Craigslist now.

Here is the first one done. Pretty good compared to the other.


LAMP Servers for the big boys…

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

For those of you with a P4 class machine the best solution is a real OS like CentOS. It has a longer life cycle than Fedora and is so easy to add packages to. My favorite P4 is the ShuttlePC These are available in many different configurations and as 1 AGP and 1 PCI slot on the back. I also have a Revo. It does have HDMI out for video but works well with a DVI to HDMI adapter cable and an old Dell monitor. You could call it a netbook with no screen. I haven’t really found a good use for this yet other than BOXEE


One Linux package I would highly recommend is Midnight Commander. Its a clone of the old Norton Commander with some really neat new tricks.

Just type “yum install mc” at a command prompt and it will do the rest  Type “mc” to get started. If your functions keys wont work you can always user “esc” number instead. Hit “Esc” then “2” for the F2 menu or “esc” then “0” for f10 or exit. It works really well on a SSH session from a remote location and can even bring   up other machines in the view panes using SSH or FTP

Good Embedded Servers

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

I got asked a few questions about LAMP servers. Here are some of my favorite machines to use if you dont have a lot of space or power. Most of these are Pentium I Class machines unless noted otherwise.

The IBM Netvista 2200 I have a bunch of these used as Digital Signage and Media Players. They are very hard to make an OS for but if you Google Netvista 2200 Linux you will find one site with all you need. They dont have a real bios as a pc would have and only like to boot a specifically formatted kernel. These aren’t really suitable for running a backend database.They do need an external 12V power brick.


Then there is their bigger brother the IBM Netvista 2800. These are great for almost anything. They have a real bios and can run Dos apps pretty well.  They will also run mos flavors of Linux and I even had on loaded with Windows 98se on a 4GB microdrive. To make that microdrive fit in the CF slot required removing the top side of the CF connector. All I did was clip the top corners with a pair of cutters and fold the side over. It snapped off cleanly. I’ve done this to to a half dozen or so and never broke and thing. YMMV. I like the fact that the power supply is built in and it has pc standard serial and parallel ports and 2 PCI slots. These make great firewalls or VOIP PBX machines.


When you really want horsepower there are plenty of small form factor (SFF) pc’s out there with P4 or better processors. In the top of this pic is a 2.4Ghz P4 Netvista box and the bottom is a 2.8Ghz P4 SFF machine many of these lack space for  PCI cards even thought he motherboard will have the slots. The big Netvista has a few half height PCI slots. The middle machine is a Wyse thin client. That’s a whole different story, or at least paragraph.


I have tried many different thin clients and the HP are the best so far for my needs. The Wyse shown above is an oddity. It has a single PCI slot, a DVD and HD but is a Fat Thin Client. I like it but its external power brick gets in the way at times. The HP’s have no expansion and limited resources but can boot from a USB key so its easy to boot Linux and backup your work. I have many of these with FreeDos, DSL Linux and even one with Askozia PBX. They do run MySql pretty well but I use Monkey Web Server instead of Apache.


If you get the newer version it has a removable cover on the case that hides 2 USB slots. These can be used to hide Pen Drives and will be locked in by a standard PC cable restraint lock.

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Cute Little Micrometer

Friday, April 8th, 2011


I got this in Harbor Freight last week. I really hate taking my good tools out to the scrap pile to find the right gauge steel scrap for a project. At $10 its reasonable and has a half inch capacity which is more than enough for my needs. Can read in mm or inches with the touch of a button. Here it is on a 10mm tube.

EZGO Digital Dash

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

A long time ago I made this program to interface to my CJ7 and added a dash mode display to it.



I decided to update it for my EZGO….



Now to get this little tablet mounted to the cart


Cheap Connector for the old Curtis Controllers

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

 I needed a bunch of connectors for all these controllers when I realized the power supply adapters from an ATX motherboard were the right ones….Just cut off the smaller end and solder up some longer wires…


First Test of a Curtis 1236

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

The first test of a 1236 and my first VCL program. I wish I had a spyglass so I could make it say “Hello World”




I got this 3 phase motor out of a Printronix Line Printer.

It really surprised me when I powered it up and it flipped over.

So now it’s clamped down to the table

Bench Testing Curtis Controllers

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

 I have a bunch of Curtis Controllers I got from old Forklifts. I needed a quick way to bench test them before I tried them in a cart.


The best way to check every function was to build a switch and pot box for al the possible inputs and add a bunch of leds for the different outputs and indicators. While I was at it I added an RS232 interface.



Rather than use a resistive load I just paralleled a bunch of Auto Backup light bulbs


This worked out pretty good and let me do a coarse setup on the parameters before they got installed.  So far I’ve got three of then in use and no problems yet. I did make one little miscalculation with the load compensation while Nick was sitting in the Go Cart and the cart decided to jump up on its rear wheels the second Nick hit the throttle. Luckily I was there to push him back over. That’s why the full roll cage was mandatory on that cart.

The EZGO Gold Cart retrofit was a little more mild on the programming. I use that for bringing cut up trees to the front on my property. I also have a trailer hitch on it for moving my trailer or tow dolly around.It worked really well towing a Hyundai down my driveway when the car died.

I once brought home an engine and trans from a 71 Nova on my trailer and instead of trying to back the trailer into the garage with the car I swapped the trailer to the golf cart and ran it around the yard a few times for fun then backed it into the garage with ease.

So far these things have performed very well. I have a couple of 1236 controllers but cant really find a reasonably priced motor to go with them so for now it DC power only


Now take one Controller a Dana Axle and……. Wait for the post….

Fiero $30 Paintjob

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

I picked up this Fiero pretty cheap but it needed a windsheild and plenty of bodywork. The A pillars were damaged from the tree that broke the windsheild. After a couple of weeks and some fiberglass and Bondo I had it smooth but it needed some paint.


After a weekend and some International Harvester Red Tractor Paint and a quart of Gloss Black it came out great.


Not bad for $30 worth of Tractor Paint. This summer I want to redo my Mustang and Eileen’s Corsica. I did this with a $20 paint gun I got from Harbor Freight. I’ve been reading a lot about roller painting a car and the results are really astounding but for my cars I don’t need the extra smooth finish. My cars are all drivers no trailer queens here…..

Speaking of Trucks!

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011


I cant wait till the weather gets a little warmer. I want to convert my S10 from its old Quadrajet to fuel injection. I picked up this 84 Corvette manifold from a guy going to a Holley carb on his Vette. I got the computer, wiring harness, all the sensors and plumbing. The hardest part will be putting the EFI pump back in the fuel tank. The factory 2.8L one had to be removed when the 350 V8 went in. I picked up a nice one from Jegs. Now I just need time.