Category: General blogging

Jun 28 2012

Reminding myself

To keep myself motivated, going to try and keep track of acheivements, no matter how small.

  • Today I moved the networking cabinet down to the workshop.
  • I fitted the prototyping chassis’ into it, & repaired bus-bars.
  • I gave the electrolux vacuum cleaner part a 2nd coat of black paint, sanded away the stained area and reassembled it into a bare housing.
  • Got the scrap lens opened up and partly cleaned.

I think there was more, but I can’t remember.

Feb 04 2012

So, I have a motorbike now..

My friend Andy had told me about this a couple of weeks back and came round on wednesday to make me a deal. His girlfriend had her old bike in a lock-up they were going to have to stop renting soon, and since it wouldn’t start, likely due to a carb problem, they’d let me have it dirt cheap and on a “pay whenever” basis.

Checked with mum since it’d have to be stored on the property and she lept at the chance to help me out, so bought it herself. That way it can go on her insurance. Very handy, though admittedly this has put me in a position I never wanted to be in again; with a non-running vehicle project and no licence to drive it. But hey, I’ve been assured it should be a simple fix and I wouldn’t be going for the CBT until summer anyway most likely.

Now the bike itself is a 1999 Piaggio Vespa ET4, 125cc.

I know a few of you are bikers and at least one is a former ET4 owner. So you may be able to skip ahead if I say “ET4, turns over, no spark after battery’s ran down”.

The bike’s cosmetically a bit messy. Couple of panels are missing and the rear box mount is snapped. But the brakes were serviced before storage and it got new tires and coil.

Here’s a picture of it after a couple of days fishing for the problem;

Mechanically everything’s sound. The model however turns out to have an immobiliser, which has reset after the battery being discharged so long. And it does not have the infamous Red Key, since it was bough as an ex-trade-in from a dealership. No Red Key means the immobiliser stays locked down. The other keys need to get the “OK” from that key once it’s in.

A new immobiliser means a new set of keys and lock barrels too.

As far as I can gather this situation is the biggest of the big red warning flags for buying a 2nd hand Vespa. It may be cheap, but getting it running will cost you £150 upward on top of it.

It’s annoying that it works aside from what is basically a software problem.

There’s two choices now, since buying the new immobiliser set is well out of my price range atm (the “pay whenever” scheme was much needed).

  1. Change the CDI unit for one from another model without an immobiliser. There are several options, and aftermarket ones seem about £20-30. Looses immobiliser use entirely.
  2. Find someone with a working ET4, connect laptop to serial data line and copy the “OK to go” code to a microcontroller.

The latter seems too simplistic, but the immobiliser connects to the CDI via a single 5v serial wire. Using chassis as ground, 1-wire communications seem unlikely due to noise potential, so it looks like it’s a one-way operation. The CDI just sits and waits for the go-code. And since the CDI is interchangeable independent from the immobiliser (it’s not changed as part of the immobiliser kits) it must be waiting for a series-standard code. All it should need is a copy of that code and it’ll assume the immobiliser is present.

And of course doing so would mean I could build an immobiliser system of my own later on (keypad in the glove box maybe?)

But it does mean finding someone else with an ET4 who I can plug into. Should just mean lifting out the bucket under the seat and unplugging one cable.

Oct 30 2011

Got punched by a drunken racist

Writing this up while it’s still fairly fresh in my mind.

Got punched in the head. First time I’ve ever been punched “in the wild”. Not pleasant, but not as bad as I’ve been worried it might be.

End of Expo for the day. My phone was out of credit, so no more free texts, and my top-up card was at home. I wandered to The Fox for a drink, but saw no one I knew. With no way to contact them, I decided to head home for cheaper drinks. Once home, dumped my stuff and earnings, and went out again to prepare for Sunday by topping up the phone and Oyster.

Since the other shops in the area were closed, I went to Nisa to see if they did phone top-ups. They did and I left. Receipt is timestamped 22:24. I then popped back in when I realised I should grab some batteries too.
While they were being rung up some loud-mouth and his friend passed the window and yelled something like “Fucking paki’s!”. Me and the shop owner exchanged looks and I said what a fucking idiot those guys were. Said idiot then came into the shop and tried to buy a can of White Lightning. While the shop assistant was running his cans through the till the guy kicked off, started yelling how they should fuck off back to their own country, then threw one of the cans at him. Not hard, it didn’t hurt him. But the shop floor guy told him he shouldn’t be doing that (an understatement). The guy turned on him, swung at him (I think he hit him) then head-butted him in the face (definitely hit him).
While the shop floor guy was trying to fend him off with a broom the guy was trying to grapple at him over, I tried to restrain the guy, or at least get him off him. I only got his right arm though so he swung around and pushed me out the door of the shop, then swung and punched me in the side of the head and knocked me to the ground as a result. His apparently more sober friend then dragged him away. We think to the train station, since a train left a few minutes later and frankly it seems the best way to get out of the area fast.
The police turned up inside of a couple of minutes and took us on a speedy run around the area to see if they were still on the streets. (No such luck, though did spot that the lights were on in the old Focus factory. Very odd since it’s been closed for months now.)
After taking our details they said an ambulance would be on it’s way. A lady suggested the shop floor guy should put some frozen peas on it. He’s got a bit of a lump there, but the redness went down pretty quick. Since I figured we had a few minutes, I popped to the station to top up my Oyster as I’d been intending to after I got the batteries. Got back to Nisa, no ambulance. No ambulance for the next hour actually. At the end I called instead of the manager and found they hadn’t been able to assign one yet as they were very busy. After a short conversation to ally my worries that the police would require it for the report (apparently not), we all went our separate ways.

Then as I walked down the Broadway I got propositioned by a prostitute who asked if I liked white/wild girls (unsure, very strong accent) and assured me she didn’t cost much. I politely declined saying I’d just been punched in the head and wasn’t really in the mood for very much of anything of any description. Though honestly, while a shag might have been nice it’s not something I’d feel right paying for.

The racist cuntnick was by my memory;
Skinny, haggard, the sort of face you expect to have been drinking for most of their life. Old skin. Tattoo down most of his arm, somewhat sun-bleached. Blue and white striped jumper, arms rolled up, (narrow stripes, less than an inch). About 5’10”. White, light short shaven hair, maybe 35-40yo.
His friend had darker but also short hair and was more rounded looking. It may have been his mostly grey-brown outfit, but he looked a bit like a darker-eyed David Mitchell. His demeanour suggested where his drunken friend might be dumb enough to wander back past the place bold as brass, the “Mitchell” would probably not come within a mile of the area for months for risk of being recognised.

Police were excellent, they apologised for all 5 of us (3 officers, two of us “victims”) having to cram into the small car and mentioned cutbacks. Not mentioning any specific answer to my response over that comment, but they seemed all too aware that that the police aren’t allowed to go on strike. Noted the incident was being logged as a racist one. Aside from The Cuntnick, I was the only “white” person involved.

Ear is feeling rather warm, but doesn’t seem to have swollen up much. Going to have some hot chocolate rather than the beer I intended to have tho. Did just wipe what seems to be a small trace of blood out from inside my ear canal. Fairly dried tho and I can hear fine. Must have bust some capillaries or something. Have dabbed inside with TCP. STINGS.

Wonder if I’ve any icecream left?

Oct 25 2011

Dead on my feet

Been up for two days working. Pushing to get things ready for Expo, which has meant urgent fixes to a bunch of stuff.

Hope I’m done with fibreglass now. Think breathing mask filters are past it. Can taste styrenes when I cough.

Almost fell asleep in the bath. Hitting the sack at last now.

Oct 07 2011

Kittens make things better

To get my mind of this terrible waiting, I thought I’d throw up pictures of the kittens we’re trying to find homes for.

“Edward” has someone possibly interested in him, but not confirmed as yet.

“Tubs” there’s been no interest in yet, which is incredible. He has tonnes of personality. Active but very cuddly.

Here’s some video of them from last week;

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