Replacing a Jeep clockspring

Well, for a year now I have had an airbag light on constantly and need to pass inspection this month.  So I bought a new clock spring from amazon and installed it today.  The hardest part was getting the airbag off.  I found this video pretty helpful for assistance. To get the airbag off you need a 90 degree flat head, I just bent an old cheap flat head I had, worked really well.  Was also a good opportunity to clean up the dirty plastic around the steering wheel.

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Decorating/Baby Prep

Productive weekend, Web server running, posts entered, now some baby and holiday decoration done.

So I put up the tree last night and Jess decorated it while I took a pregame nap.


After the patiots game we decided to start working on the baby’s stuff.  I started with adding a makeshift closet for his clothes (as the closet in there is still full of my stuff).  Simply screwed in some brackets, cut the 4′ bar to about 40″ added some black tape so it can’t shift off.  Put our age/size separators on that our friend Brooke made for us and tossed all his new books up there.WP_20131201_001


Webserver is now Live!

Time to start adding some of my projects here not that the web server has gone live, next project will be getting my exchange server to 100% including some UCC certs and reverse DNS entries.

Had an interesting time getting the web server working the way I want it, it’s still ugly for now but I needed to fix my uploading issues.

I followed this guide for configuring/installing, and it’s excellent.  There were some issues I ran into after the intial configuration, mostly an upload issue.  after checking numerous posts with similar “HTTP error” problems I ran into one that suggested to change the php.ini configuration and add an entry to the nginx.conf file.  I found 1 site that had both answers in 1 spot.

I am slowly starting to get used to the commands in linux such as vim and nano (I prefer nano)


Fix a busted leaf blower

Doing some yard work at the Mother-in-laws, and we go to use the blower and get… Nothing.  So I took the unit home for a hopefully  quick fix.

Found a very corroded switch.


By investigating the switch I found that it was a 3 position switch, Off/High/Low.  The low setting is achieved by connecting a resistor from the low setting to the high setting so only 1 connection was needed originally.

I bypassed the switch by adding a simple spade connector, allowing the blower to just turn on when plugged in.



Virtual Server Phase 2

After running the VM server for a bit, I wanted to add more to it including an exchange server, webserver, vCenter, and Movie database server.  I started with the Movie database server, I am using an app called Ant Movie Catalog to index all my movies, both in digital and analog format.  The server was up in no time, I have the ant movie catalog done about 1/2 way which is mostly digital copies of my movies (much faster than entering the analog discs).  Because the server is now getting to it’s limits with 4 instances running on it I decided to just add the vCenter install to the MDB server, and skip the appliance.  The Exchange server is loaded and started but needs some more time for configuration as well as reverse DNS entries added to stay off any blacklists.


With all these servers on 1 12TB Raid 6, it was getting a little sluggish.  I ended up buying a Chenbro 5 drive bay that fit’s in 3 5 1/4 bays.  It’s a sas backplane which should allow for a much faster array for OS storage.   I picked up a second Perc 6/i (Re-badged LSI MegaRaid 8408E) card for the server to control the array off ebay for $36.  It turns out 2 controllers are acceptable but the server does not like to boot if both BIOS on the cards are enabled.  So I turned off the bios and had no issue booting. I also picked up some longer Wide SAS to SATA cables (Tripp Lite S502-01M – 3.28ft) to clean up the inside a bit.  The second raid controller has a raid 10 on 15k 73gb sas drives purchased for a great price at a local computer recycler/redistributor.  Here’s a shot of the re-organized cabling with both cards and new SAS external drive bay installed.



Virtual server phase 1

I really wanted to get into running some VM’s at home hosted on ESXi.  We are using them now at work and it looks like the future is heading this way.

My previous server is an inexpensive Zotac socket 775 Motherboard with a Dual core, and 2GB of ram running my home network.  It’s a domain controller and file server which has started to have memory issues.  I have a HighPoint RocketRAID 2320 8-Port PCIe card controlling 6 2TB drives in a raid 5 array.  Sporadically I would get emails from the software notifying me of a drive “unplug” and “re-plug” which would trigger a rebuild.  I never backed up the server and without even being on a battery backup, never lost data (still amazed).  So the next step was replacing the hardware with something that could run multiple servers on one physical machine.  I looked at prices for pre-built machines and with a decent amount of stuff laying around opted to build my own pedestal server.  I had a Lian-Li case donated to me because it was “ugly” which seemed like a good place to start.  The case allows for 10 drives without getting creative so it was perfect for my file server.  Next was a Motherbaord/CPU/RAM choice.  I had 1 quad core Xeon E5420 laying around so I opted to buy and additional and find a socket 771 server board to hold them.  I ended up spending about $55 on the motherboard (Intel S5000PSL-SATA), $31 on another CPU, and $93 on 16GB of ECC DDR2 FB (4x4GB).  After the issues I had with the RocketRAID I decided to go a more familiar way with the raid card.  I picked up a Dell perc 6/i with battery for $40 and ordered 2 SAS-SATA cables from work for $14 each (Tripp Lite S502-20N).  I had a DVD drive laying around as well as a 500W (underrated) power supply.  So I assembled the server, installed ESXi and converted my old server to a VM using the live conversion tool, all went very well.

The Jeeputer!

Here is a “bucket list” item for me, I went a little overboard with it.  Total so far comes to about $1850 which includes the Tuffy console.

So, being in IT, and a computer nerd, I have always wanted an in-car PC (of course that is a general term, this is a Jeep after all), and finally I decided to pull the trigger.

Here’s the hardware I decided to go with:
i3-2100 3.1Ghz CPU
Foxconn H67S LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s Mini ITX
4GB DDR3 1333Mhz Crucial RAM
OCZ Agility3 180GB SSD
160w DC-DC power supply
Mini ITX case
Inelmatic 7” Sunlight readable screen, found a good deal on this and was the basis to start the build.
Micro Bluetooth Keyboard
GPS antenna, bluetooth dongle
HD/FM/AM radio tuner
USB wifi
NO CD/DVD drive
Hacked apart Logitech G15 keyboard with custom keys, and LCD (placement to be determined)

Here’s the unit, mostly assembled:


Next was the build plan.

Obviously the screen would go where the head unit is, simple.  But where would the amp/or head unit go.  Obviously the Jeep is lacking in space, and because I had an old alpine with an aux input, I decide to go that route. As far as placement, decided on a Tuffy Full console as it has a location for the radio and based on reviews is twice as functional and spacious as the factory console.

I am a car audio idiot, and had help with the wiring here – my Extended harness:


Console (pre wired for head unit):


Removed factory:


Console installed with head unit:


Now locating the PC, too much money to put under the seat, having no doors often and well there’s always a chance of water.  So I will be hacking apart some of the glovebox to locate in there.

Here’s the mount for the PC, wanted it to be sturdy yet somewhat easily removed if needed.


Me hacking up the dash, will be building a custom metal enclosure for screen that will allow for a removable screen and some water tight storage, possibly a second monitor…


And the system operating, with Centrafuse, next will be topo maps with GPS locations, routes and more!


Holy wires!!!


Direct sunlight shot, still readable (looks better in person than pics). This is easier to read than my iPhone.


Finished product (for now)