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Welcome to my digital home! There are lots of articles you might find helpful buried in this site on topics such as modifying an Alfa Romeo 159, rebuilding a Lotus 7 (Robin Hood 2B), not to mention a ton of stuff on technology in general. It's all here somewhere, so use the search function or navigate using the menu structure. if you want to talk, reach out via the contact function, I usually do answer!

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RH2B Build DiaryThe original seats in the 2b were a little worse for wear when I bought the car, but I had mistakenly thought that it would be a relatively cheap thing to fix. Little did I know that trimmers charge a small fortune for their skills! In fact, I was being quoted around £200 per seat to have them fixed, and new seats were about £200 per seat! So, well, you know….. I bought some new seats! That said, I wanted to minimise the cost here as I had hemorrhaged way more than I initially budgeted to get it ready for the summer, so I set about some ebay stalking, and after several back and forth's on buying expensive branded, quality seats vs something secondhand and cheap, I found a seller with a new pair of the exact seats that were in the car currently (retro style buckets) but in plain black vinyl. The best part about this find was that the seller was clearly just a regular guy that thought he would get rich selling motorsport parts on ebay but clearly didn't have the roaring success he planned for and was sat on some stock he needed to shift. This presented an opportunity for a cheeky offer! So an offer was made, and accepted, that got me 2 brand new seats for £260 delivered 🙂 #Result! New Seats As part of the change I also wanted to put in new low profile, double lock rails, so that added another £50 to the bill but it was necessary to get the seats fitted in the best possible way. Double lock low profile adjustable rails Once I had modified the rails to fit the bolt pattern of the new seats (nothing is plug and play in the kit car world!) I offered the seat into the car and sat in it for an initial test. This is where my heart sank. I was a good 4 inches over the top of the windscreen at eyeline 🙁 Not an ideal seating position by any means. It turns out these new seats had a 6″ pad in the base that meant I was 4″ higher than the set that came out. This was not going to do, so after several emotional responses from frustration to anger to sadness, I decided there was only one option….. heat a large carving knife up till it was glowing red and trim the foam! Its not that difficult to do as it stands (although i do recommend breathing apparatus as you get very dizzy very quickly!). Just pop the staples off the bottom on one end, remove the foam seat base, heat the knife, slice (like butter) through the foam, then reinstall the foam, glue back on the cover, staple the excess material out of sight and your back in business… all be it a lot lower to the ground! Its not perfect, but I do plan on a major rebuild this winter, and I am likely to be looking for some better / more modern low profile buckets as part of that so this is just for the summer. Once I had the seats ready for install it was onto the floor. I wanted to reinforce the floor where the seats mounted to as the floor had developed flex in one corner of the seat mounting position whcih made the seat seem loose and rock. To solve this I decided to replicate what the builder had already done to reinforce the floor in the front seat mounting location. Essentially adding a 25X25x3mm angle iron from side to side. Again, this was a seasonal fix as come the winter I want to weld in a lowered floor to gain an inch of height inside the cabin. Front (existing) and Rear (new) angle iron reinforcements A purchased a 25x25x3mm 2m length of stainless steel angle iron and cut it to size. I then mounted it on the front edge of the 3mm steel subframe mounts in the rear floor location whcih was the right daytum to provide me a straight line side to side I could use as the rear seat mount. After measuring, cutting, drilling several holes, painting and bolting it all in with M8 stainless bolts, I had the perfect strengthening part that meant the weight of the passengers was spread evenly across the chassis on both sides via the subframe mounts and in the middle via the tunnel mounts, so therefore would not move. Floor reinforcement rail Now the seats, floor and seat runners were all ready, it was just a case of making a cardboard template, measuring, drilling, and then bolting it all together with M8 Stainless bolts. The finished article is great IMO. they look period to the car and are much less garish that the ones that came out, which had some interesting colours and the word “dubollox” embroidered in…. Old vs new seats Related Images: [...]
RH2B Build DiaryIn the dash of the hoody was a previously installed large cubby holder. This had been damaged at some point and one of the previous owners had used a stick on faux leather pocket to hide the damage. As you can guess, this was not going to do for me and I thought I would put my 3d printer to good use and make something a little more useful! Aside from the damaged cubby, I had a few cables dangling in the passenger foot well that I needed to do something with. Firstly I had the CTEK charge cable that I added for ease of keeping the battery tip top, then I had the ECU programming cable that I also needed to be able to easily access. Both of these needed a new home and they needed to be out of the way of a passengers feet! CTEK Charge Point The combination of broken plastic part + need to tidy cables & access to a 3D printer led me straight to Fusion 360 where I set about designing a new solution. The first design was an “all in one” unit that had to be printed with lots of supports and with the rear face on the bed. This left a less than desirable finish and was simply not going to do. This led me to my first “multi-part” design and print. Utilizing Fusions component feature I was able to design the face and all parts that connect to it as separate objects that could then be printed individually. In total the final design had 4 parts. A face, a cubby, a light box and a lens. Yes, that's right, I added LED's 🙂 The idea was to have the lotus Super 7 logo as well as the letters GBS (Great British Sportscars) cut through the face and an LED behind them so that it illuminated when the ignition was on. Printed Parts for the final cubby The face I decided to paint, which is a first for me, but I thought given it was on display and a large flat area, it could benefit from some paint. I used Plasti-Kote primer and black satin paint after some light sanding and the finish was truly impressive. Once all the components were ready for assembly, I installed a small strip of 12v LED's into the light box and painted the clear PLA diffuser lens in the same body paint that the car is painted in. This actually turned out better than I hoped for and was a very easy thing to do. Light box and LEDs The final product looks pretty cool and holds the parts I needed it to perfectly. Everything is neat and there is a more functional, better looking solution to a problem that was part my own doing and part legacy 🙂 Final Part Assembled Related Images: [...]
InfoSecOpen post to see coverage: Sheffield Star Business Monthly – July 2009 – Hacking Related Images: [...]
InfoSecOpen post to see coverage: North West Insider – August 2007 – IT Security North West Insider – August 2008 – BERR Survey Related Images: [...]
General…..after a day clearing out the garage (trust me, it needed doing), I came across the original install CD for my Stanton Final Scratch V1, which I thought was long gone. After further search through a lot of vinyl, I found the records, which meant all that was left was to dig out the interface and hook it all up. After about 4 hours of kicking an old Compaq Laptop into shape, I had a working version of FinalScratch V1.1 up and running with a bunch of MP3's ready to go…….. All of this equates to one simple thing, new mixes are on the way! I had been waiting for a suitable opportunity to purchase the new Traktorscratch V3 setup, but to be honest, this works just as well. Sure, its a little clunky, very basic and quite slow, but once you get to grips with its idiosyncratic nature, it is actually quite usable. Of course, now I have the basics back up and running, and can start to churn out some fresh mixes, which is what its all about. Stay tuned Pure Retro Sheek, FS V1.1 on an N800C!!! Related Images: [...]
GeneralI have been working with a large retailer of late who is a heavy user of Sun & Solaris. As you can imagine, this is perfectly normal, and in fact, considered best practice for what they are doing. That said though, in an area such as retail, with low margins and profits based on sheer quantity, surely a leap of faith into the “dark side” or as we prefer to call it, linux, would be a better option? Once upon a time the argument was simple, RISC architecture was simply ahead of the game, by a long way, but guess what, x86 grew up, caught up, and overtook. These days, the performance you get out of multi-core x86 is significantly more than it's RISC based equivalent. I realise that point could be considered contentious by the purists out there, but for mainstream computing in a world that is ever more cost concious, I struggle see how any argument for RISC can win over x86. Once you have your x86 base, you can go with an x86 version of Solaris (not that you would) or thanks to Sun not playing silly games, you can actually use something useful, such as Redhat, Suse, or if you so desire, Novell.This additional flexibility is core to getting the base of your platform right. Large scale architectures need solid foundations to remain stable, perform and scale as desired. Lets consider it for a moment. Sparc vs x86 & Solaris vs Linux, well to be honest, there is barley anything in the comparison except cost. Sun make x86 hardware based on multi-core AMD processors which are blisteringly fast and being manufactured by Sun, they are rock solid. Now. If I were that retailer, I know where I would be looking to spend my money, but thats not what I am there to talk to them about, so I'll keep it for my blog and not overstep my scope. Related Images: [...]
RH2B Build DiaryI had wanted a flat bottomed race wheel from the day I bought the car but other more pressing issues were ahead of the modification! The original wheel was a 280mm (small) 10″ old style wheel that was just difficult to use. It was also so far forward that your legs were right on it so it needed to be modified! That said, I bought myself a very reasonably priced 320mm flat bottomed suede OMP Racing wheel, a universal quick release boss, and a Momo steering wheel hub to fit the Sierra base. Once I had the parts, it was far more of a mamouth task than I originally thought! OMP Wheel on quick release boss. The first problem I had was getting the old hub off. I had to make a bar with a bolt in the center and bolt that to the hub then use the center bolt to push the wheel off the spline. Getting to that point took me the best part of 4 hours! Once it was off, the new Momo boss went on like butter, and then the back half of the universal boss mated straight to it. Up came the next problem though as the centre horm push was slightly too big to go into the universal boss so I had to modify it and sold the wires on the back of the horn push in order to get it all fitted. Ready to race! Once the wheel was installed I had to readjust the toe on the front end to line up the wheel and the wheels, but its going in for an MOT and a full alignment once its back on the road so I am not too worried! Related Images: [...]
Alfa 159This post covers the interior lighting modifications made to my 2008 alfa Romeo 159 TI.For the exterior led guide, click here. This modification is worth completing as a single project as the results are a dramatic change in the mood of the interior of the car at night. The original filament bulbs are very yellow so choosing a good LED that puts out a colour range around 6000K changes the feel of the car to a much cooler, relaxed and crisp feel.The parts required to complete this conversion are as follows: 7 x w5w / 501 Type bulbs (all CANBUS) (Puddles, Maps & Glove box) 2 x 42mm FESTOON type bulbs (CANBUS) (Cabin & Boot) Expected Cost: £35-40 Required : One Bojo trim removal kit “Bojo Bars” (£30) …or a few screwdrivers and a steady hand! I personally used two of these Festoon type bulbs for the courtesy lights in the front of the car and the boot and four of these 501 type bulbs for the rest of the courtesy & map lights in the front and rear of the car. These were a good balance of brightness and colour, and matched well as I did not want to flood-light the car at night. For the puddle lights and the glove-box I wanted more light so I chose these 501 type bulbs that provided much more light output than the other ones, as these were areas of the conversion that would benefit from more light output. It is important to understand that the bulbs you use must be CANBUS ready. What this means is that the LEDs have additional resistance added to them that simulates the load of a normal filament bulb so that the internal computers do not think that the bulbs are blown. This is due to the fact that modern cars put a small electrical current across the lighting circuits to check that the bulb has not blown, and to report an error if it has, so you know to fix it. While the interior lights don't report the errors, the circuit still has a small electrical current across it, so if you do not use CANBUS friendly bulbs you will find that some of the lights never turn off and instead stay illuminated (all be it quite dimly) forever! Here are some images taken from an iPhone, which explains why they look very dark. Its not actually dark at all!    The following expanding links give you the specific guides for each light unit to perform this upgrade yourself:   The front courtesy light is a single unit with several components in it including switches, alarm sensors and the B&M microphone so care is required when replacing the bulbs. The unit itself is held in place with a series of clips down each side that hold it against the roof lining (1a in diagram). You will need 1 x 42mm Festoon bulb (1 in diagram) and 2 x 501 bulbs (2c in diagram) to upgrade this component, below is the removal guide from elearn: Like the front courtesy light, this unit is held against the roof lining by a series of clips (1a in diagram). care must again be exercised so as not to damage the unit during removal. You will need 2 x 501 type bulbs (1c in diagram) for this light unit. Below is the removal guide from eLearn: The puddle lights are located in the base of each front door and provide illumination of the ground when the doors open. They are held in place using a simple clip mechanism (1b in diagram) and are a self contained plastic unit which the bulb sits inside. You will need 2 x 501 type bulbs (1c in diagram) to complete both doors. The guide below from eLearn shows how to remove the units: The glove box makes use of the same style bulb holder as the puddle lights and requires a single 501 type bulb (2 in diagram). The eLearn guide below shows how to remove it: The boot light makes use of the final 42mm Festoon bulb (4b in diagram) and is located behind a simple clip on housing (1c & 1b in diagram). The eLearn guide below shows how to remove this: Related Images: [...]
Alfa 159Before I even started this project, I spent quite a lot of time figuring out potential box sizes and planning the acoustics of the project. The overall goal was maximum SQ & Power balance with the least boot space loss possible! No mean feet to achieve. I opted to retain the stock OEM head unit rather than go for an after- double-din one as I wanted the overall look and feel of the car to remain normal, while improving the characteristics and overall frequency response. In order to achieve this I made use of an Audio control LC2i active, line level converter. A unit from the USA that is very special and literally takes speaker level outputs up to 400W RMS and then runs them through a series of electronic clean-up routines to get a perfect line level out for the sub-woofer, than can also be controlled by a remote gain control, and a perfect 2 channel full range output for a mid amp (to be utilised in a further project). This unit combined with an Infinity KAPPA Perfect 12 VQ (M3D) sub-woofer and an Alpine MRV-420 amplifier I already had was all I needed to put a little boom back into the boot! ” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″] Related Images: [...]
Alfa 159Part of any major power upgrade includes a Front Mount Intercooler conversion to enable the maximum airflow through the compression system, while maximising the cooling opportunity. The stock intercooler on the 159 is quite restrictive and behind several radiators limiting good airflow to it and also has very restrictive ports for the airflow in and out of it. All due to size and placement options at the factory. The stock pipework has an ID of 60-63mm so isn't exactly huge, but is good enough for 3.5-4bar. Its the intercooler that could use a bit of an upgrade! Once the stock intercooler is removed, all of the other radiators can shuffle around so that it goes (from the engine to the front of the car) Water Rad > Air Con Rad > Oil Rad > Power Steering Rad. All of these items clip to each other so removing the stock intercooler just allows you to put them all back in a different order without any further mods. You will likely need to have the aircon re-gassed and refill the cooling system as doing this without disconnecting those systems is extremely difficult! An optional upgrade is to remove the stock oil cooler and move that to a larger MOCAL unit located where the stock intake is, but this requires removal of the stock intake and all associated pipework and replacing with something like a BMC-CDA or Cone filter under the bonnet like I have done. In terms of the parts needed for this conversion, it isn't that many. Firstly, you need the right sort of intercooler, cheap and efficient! Fortunately, the JDM scene has us covered! They have a standard sized unit that has a 600x300x76mm core that is used in big power Supra and GTR upgrades. Its readily available on ebay for less than £100 delivered. Make sure you buy the “bar and Plate” type rather than the “tube and fin” ones. The bar and plate type have additional internal structure designed to create turbulence in the airflow and maximise the cooling efficiency. One thing I will say about these intercoolers; is they do not age well. While they turn up very shiny and polished, after about 2-3 months on the front of the car they go a horrible grey pitted colour that is quite unsightly! I therefore do recommend getting it painted black to help create the stealth look. Of course adding a layer of paint will reduce the efficiency slightly so make the layer as thin as possible. There are arguments for and against painting the intercooler here: For: Against: While the science is compelling, from experience of running the same setup painted and unpainted, there is nothing in it! I see extremely efficient cooling even with it painted black! This unit, once bought, needs to be mounted. Fortunately, due to the shape of the 159/Brera there is a huge space up front where this can live with ease! I have designed some brackets that attach directly to the lower sub-frame and provide a mount for this, or any other intercooler. You can get these brackets made up at any local machine shop for £20-30. The design can be downloaded free of charge:  Once its mounted on the lower sub frame its very solid, but you will need to make some custom tie bars for the top that secure it to the front crash bar. I used some 1mm steel I had lying around and just cut and bent it to shape: The Intercooler has M8 sockets welded onto it so you will need 4 x M8 bolts @ 12-14mm long to mount it to the brackets and the brackets will need 4 x M8 @ 50-55mm long to go through the lower sub frame. The pipework is custom, so while I can tell you what bits you need, its up to you to measure and cut them! I strongly recommend watching this video on how to cut silicon pipes before starting: You are going to need the following bits: Hot Side (pre cooler) 63mm Joiner (102mm long) 63 – 76 @90 degree reducer elbow Cold Side (post cooler) 60mm Joiner (102mm long) 60 – 63 @45 degree reducer elbow 63 mm joiner (102mm long) 63 – 76 @90 degree reducer elbow Mishimoto Constant Tension T-Bolt Clamps 6 x 2.75″ (for the 3 x joins) 2 x 3″ (for the fmic) Mikalor W2 Stainless Steel Clamps 1 x 49-63mm (Cold side metal intake pipe) 1 x 55-59mm (Hot side turbo connection) I can recommend ASH in the UK for the pipes and the joiners, I used them and they are great quality. They are on ebay here: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/autosiliconehosesoutlet/ Do not underestimate the clamps or the joiners! I have tried several different types of both and have had reliability issues resulting in boost hoses popping off at the most inconvenient times! Spend the money, get the best possible parts.The Mishimoto clamps are the best I have seen and provide an extremely good clamp with a system that allows for heat expansion and contraction without sacrificing grip.They dont make constant tension clamps small enough for the connections on the turbo or metal intake so I suggest using Mikalor clamps instead. A very strong clamp just without the heat expansion capability. You can buy the clamps direct from Mishimoto or the usual ebay sources. The ASH joiners have very significant insertion into the pipes so you can get lots of grip with the clamps and minimise potential movement that can work a join loose over time! I have used other joins in the past and they have failed repeatedly, to put that in perspective, take a look at the difference between a popular silicon joiner and the ASH one: The hot side of the FMIC only needs a single 90 reducer and can be joined directly to the OE pipe with a 63mm joiner. On the hot side you need to trim back the 90 reducer on the 63 side, and join that to the 63 side of the 45 reducer. This will also need to be cut back and the stock pipe will need to be cut back also. These are the only three cuts you need to make but measure twice and cut once! The 60 side joins to the stock pipe where you cut it as its slightly narrower in the middle than at the ends. I'll caveat that the pipes I used here had already been previously cut. Its possible that the stock cold side pipe may join directly with the 90 and not need the 45 if not cut. Its something you are going to have to test fit yourself! Make sure to place your clamps in such a way as they are easy to get to once the bumper is back on as they may need tightening in the future and this will make life much easier! Make sure you do not have any pipes catching on anything sharp. If they do they can eventually fail through the vibrations from the engine. I had a previous OE hot side pipe fail as it was rubbing on the frame and it was £100 to be replaced! Once you have the pipes all done, it should look a little like this. Related Images: [...]

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