Benzina Magazine – all finished….again

Benzina magazine – a low volume magazine about old Italian classic motorcycles has once again finished.  It had a little rest last year then cam back with  another 2 issues and one again finished up.

It was a great read and has had 13 issues over the past 4 years or so.  Here is a link to what is in Benzine 13…..http://benzinamagazine.co.uk/product/issue-13/.

benzina-magazine-cover-13 benzina-magazine-cover-12

It mostly concentrated on 70′ era Italian motorcycles and was a good read given some of the bikes in the  magazine also live in our workshop so I can ride a magazine article sometime.

Any way.  We have all  13 and they will be a great reference source for years to come an to re-read.

Well done Benzina for publishing a real very good magazine with real content and almost no adverts.  It’s also a pleasure to the senses with high quality paper and printing used throughout (except issues 1 falls apart).

Anyway – here is to old Italian bikes from the 70’s.

 

DD-WRT on Asus N66U version B2

I have recently started to work from home – its great but you need a rock solid connection to the net.  I’m on a wireless connection in my office and every time someone turned the microwave on the connection dropped out – very annoying for the 2 months it took me to figure it out.

I have been using a really old WRT-54G wifi router for about 5 years, running dd-wrt.  These units are getting very old, especially as the one I have are v1 and v2 units, I recon they must be about 10 years old.  They were very good in their day but they run on 2.4Ghz band so microwaves can be an issue so I lashed out an bought the current best WIFI router – the ASUS N66U.

n66u

Its a pretty mean looking unit and by all accounts a clanger of a WIFI router but my home network has my m0n0wall router assigning IP address to the LAN (both wired and wifi).  I needed a wifi router firmware that supported forwarding the DHCP function to my m0n0wall router and as a result the ASUS stock firmware wasn’t going to cut it (or at least not that I could find) and so I needed to load the N66U with dd-wrt as well.

I bought the N66U about 3 weeks ago, read about getting dd-wrt on it and it looked pretty straight forward.  What I didn’t realise is that the unit I purchased was hardware version B2.

I tried installing brainslayers dd-wrt.v24-21676_NEWD-2_K3.x_mega_RT-N66U but it resulted in a boot loop, which isn’t good, so I flashed the stock firmware back on it by accessing the units recovery mode (you hold down the reset button while you power on the machine and then point your browser to it on 192.168.1.1 in case you wonder how you put it into recovery mode) and then put the unit back in the box for a week or so while I read a bit more about the various frimwares available and the issues people have faced.

Flashing of version B2’s is fairly thin on the ground at the moment so here is what I ended up doing.

Using the stock ASUS firmware I chose the upgrade firmware option in the web interface and upgraded to Merlins firmware which looks a lot like ASUS firmware but with a few tweaks, one of which is that you can see what version CFE is installed on the your N66U,  it also gets you ssh access to the router.  The CFE version on my brand new unit – built in 2013 was 1.0.1.0 which may explain why dd-wrt.v24-21676_NEWD-2_K3.x_mega_RT-N66U wouldn’t flash properly.

The majority of noise around the net on this unit is that you needed CFE boot loader 1.0.1.2 or 1.0.1.3 to get the custom firmwares to flash and so I resolved I had to update my boot loader to 1.0.1.3 using the method set out here.

The CFE update script assumes you already have 1.0.1.2 and so you need to make some changes to the update script (cfe_update.sh) before you can run it.  Basically you need to extract the tar ball of the CFE updater you download, then with the cfe_update.sh file you find and replace anywhere it say 1.0.1.2 to 1.0.1.0.  Once this change has been made you need to copy the CFE update files to the N66U using what ever methods works for you – I used scp.  Once the 4 files needed are in the N66U you run the cfe_update script and update your CFE.  Make sure you back up a copy of the old CFE and a copy of the new CFE, again use what ever works for you to get it off the router, I used scp again.

OK, now that you have updated the CFE boot loader you can update to firmwares that are 64MB in size, you must not flash a 32MB firmware from now on.

At first I flashed brainslayers dd-wrt.v24-21676_NEWD-2_K3.x_mega_RT-N66U however this started having some issues after a little while and so I changed firmware to Fractal’s 64K dd-wrt build which can be found here.

Of course you must do the 30-30-30 NVRAM clearing before and after each firmware flash (apparently).

The firmware has so far been running fine but, my microwave issue has not been solved.  I failed to note that the laptop I used for work doesn’t support 5Ghz WIFI so all I have gained is some experience with hacking the N66U – others on my network will no doubt enjoy the increased speeds as their machines support 5Ghz 🙁

Thanks to the following forums and links in getting me to this stage.

http://forums.smallnetbuilder.com/showthread.php?t=8259

http://www.dd-wrt.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=86437&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=otrw+light&start=1860

http://charleswilkinson.co.uk/2012/12/22/dd-wrt-on-the-asus-rt-n66u-with-64k-cfe/

 

easyDNS

I just finished migrating my DNS service and domain name registrations to easyDNS.

I started the process a year or so ago and was going to move all my domains across at that time but stopped after I found that if you migrate away from my existing domain name registrar (cheapdomain.com.au) with time left on their registration you don’t get any $$ back. easyDNS seems to be a very professional and easy going registrar, no tricky contract or crappy interface, just easy domain registration.

They recently introduces a cheaper service (CAD$15) for people like me who don’t need all the bells and whistles that their old lowest service offered so I’m really happy. Whats more – they accept payment by Bitcoin as well! When my next domain comes up for renewal I’ll be going for that option I recon.

So, if you want a great domain registrar that doesn’t make you feel like you are dealing with some dodgy mob, go with eastDNS.

Bitcoin bubble part 2- why its no good.

Wow.

The bitcoin price over the last month or so has really gone crazy, as of today its up around $43USD/BTC. It’s hard to understand why it is so high given not a great deal has changed (other than the halving of the mining reward late last year and perhaps a little wider adoption)from when it was just under USD3 in November 2011 after its crash from previous highs around $30/BTC.

A bit unsustainable but good for those who bought some and kept them when they were much cheaper (if they intend on converting back to their home currency).
A bit unsustainable but good for those who bought some and kept them when they were much cheaper (if they intend on converting back to their home currency).

At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter what the price of a BTC is if its main purpose turns into being the “transport medium” of wealth from one individual to another, it is merely the conduit by which value is exchanged. If they are USD100 each or USD1 each it will only mean that the person sending the $$$ to someone else needs to buy more or less of them. The problem with this wild fluctuation in value is that the majority of people who want to buy to store value and to later exchange for goods or services in the medium term are likely to be to nervous to do so given its volatility and as a result the usage of bitcoin as a stored value and accordingly to be used as exchange for goods or services could be limited

Perhaps bitcoin will be relegated to just a short term transfer of wealth vehicle, quickly bought, sent to another wallet and then converted back into the local currency of the receiver before any swings in the exchange rate adversely impacts the recipient.

We will no doubt see soon what happens.

Single Speed finished

Finally finished the single speed bike over the Christmas/New Year period – I recon it looks pretty good.

Compared to building motorbikes and motor-scooters it takes much less time, in fact, took me just a day to assemble once all the parts where to hand. The stripping of the frame of paint took many hours and was a real pain.

Have done around 150km on it so far over 4 outings. It rides well, very quiet but boy does it make you work on the hills!

Gear ratio I used is 46:17 which is pretty comfortable for me so far.

Some technicals specs of the bike…
Frame: Giant Cadex CFR-1 from the early 1990’s. Lugged carbon stripped to bare carbon and alumium and then clear coated in two-pack.
Saddle and post: Look Carbon post, Selle Italia Flite Gel
Rear Wheel: White Industries Eno Eccentric Hub, DT Spokes, Velocity Deep-V rim, 17T White Industries freewheel
Bottom Bracket etc: Shimano Dura-Ace 7700 Bottom Braket and cranks. Fyxomatosis 46T chain ring, Izumi Chain
Bars and Stem: Fyxation Rodeo Pursuit Bar, old Ritchey stem I had laying around, Cane Creek brake leavers.
Front Wheel: Shimano off my existing road bike till I decide what to do up front.

Single Speed

TunnFM

I’ve got many fond memories of JJJ radio in the early to mid 1990’s. Things were easier then, life was less complicated (a family and mortgage do that) and JJJ was the radio station I listened to.

One of the hosts was Michael Tunn, he hosted the Request Fest or something like that, he was very young. I vaguely recall him heading off to the UK to live for a little while and he rang in one night, apparently a little “under the weather”….

I stumbled across a site he has set up that plays just 1990’s music – I’ll have to have a listen and perhaps throw some BTC’s his way if its any good.

Benelli 750 Sei back on the road

Saturday afternoon I took the Benelli Sei for a road test for about 20 minutes.

It ran well without any problems mechanically, however, electrical system didn’t cope well with a poor battery.  Looks like the battery is failing and needs replacement after 18 months of little use and not being trickle charged continuously.

Number 2 cylinder smoke settled right down by the end of the run which is great news.

Now I just need to find a service station that has an air hose that will actually fit the valve on the wheel – after trying 5 service stations on the run none of them will fit.