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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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InfoSecI have seen some comments of late about the PSN hack being due to Sony having no firewalls in place and out of date Apache instances. A brief amount of research defuncts this assertion, however, I was genuinely surprised at the level and voracity of the comments around it. Most of which related to people essentially “living and dieing” by their firewalls. This position is ludicrous to say the least, as a firewall is but one control, not the be all and end all of security, and in my own personal experience, sometimes, they are simply not up to the task and you need to think outside the box. So here is the problem…… You are designing/running a global gaming platform that is highly latency sensitive, your planning on having all the worlds gamers use your platform and push it to its limits. If you even drop one packet, you could frag someone in game and cause the most heinous flaming you have ever experienced resulting in lost customers for the company, but, it needs to be secure. What next? Believe it or not, I have personally been in this scenario during my time at EA. I had to design, build and deploy the EMEA Online Web & Game Platform, as well as co-develop the global gaming platforms for the wider business. What I can share with you is that firewalls, no matter how big/good/expensive they are suffer 2 problems…. 1) They are a bottle neck into your environment that when you scale up to millions of users, is a problem, and 2) they introduce latency by doing their job. So what are the options? Well on the one hand, you could design around the problem, spend a large amount of cash on the “biggest and best” firewalls money can buy, create smaller firewalled segments and multi-layer your network to cope with the limits of the firewalls perhaps? True, yes you could, but this additional complexity introduces more routing hops and more kit for the packets to flow through, which increases latency & degrades the overall experience for the players. Another option is to not use firewalls….. So what do you do, when you cant put a firewall in place? easy 🙂 All a firewall is doing is a) controlling the flow of IP using an Access Control List & b) looking at the packet for something malicious in it (please note, I am specifically talking about a basic statefull inspection firewall (L3) and not anything extra in the UTM (L7) space, as these add way too much latency to packets for gaming consideration). Given that the firewall is performing these two simple tasks, all you need to do is replicate them elsewhere. Firstly, all your existing network infrastructure can handle the ACL function, easier and faster, and given the packets are already going through this kit, it doesn’t add any latency to the path. Next, its all about understanding the attack and being vigilant….. Essentially, if your gonna break into a computer system, you need a few basic components: A Threat Agent (Bad guy with motivation, we will call him Fred) An Attack Vector (Something Bad he cooked up, like an SQL Injection) An Attack Surface (Your infrastructure, applications etc) A Vulnerability (Something you missed that matches Fred’s attack) So, if Fred needs all these things to line up before he can achieve success, its all about making sure that you minimise your attack surface, and keep it vulnerability free.This is going to mean that you design your environment to be simple and easy to manage, and that you have some solid, well executed vulnerability management programmes in place, typically including real time (or near real time) monitoring of services for vulnerabilities, and excellent patching programmes, fully automated. Essentially, you want one system to identify a vulnerability in one of your web services, and tell the other system to patch it. It is possible to do and works well, but your gonna have to clean up the odd system failure, so make sure your system is highly resilient (by definition of the type of environment, it would be anyway). Now, I appreciate that a 0Day is going to pwn you, but guess what, it still would even with the firewall, so don’t get all upset about it, just have your CSIRT ready to go and make sure it is well oiled! On that subject, this is one of the key controls you should have anyway, but wont. Your ability to respond to an issue, and appropriately deal with it is what people will observe. It doesn’t matter how good you are, how well you have designed something, at some point its all going to hit the fan. The other key control your going to need is monitoring, so you know when you need the CSIRT! You will need to implement full monitoring and alerting for the environment, from availability and security perspectives. You need to know everything, every device is doing at all times, because correlating this information can help you identify attacks in progress before they get anywhere near success. All your kit is already logging issues silently to itself, so your not going to add any extra burden on the environment, and typically, you would create a separate network to handle management traffic to keep it off your primary network anyway, so its not going to impact service delivery. Also, when your talking about the gaming industry, typically, aside from the usual raft of web services running, your talking about very specific, proprietary services running on random ports to facilitate multi player gaming, so your “Threat Agents” are a limited pool of elite gamers, who’s typical motivation is not to pwn your systems and steal your data, but is usually limited to 1) administrative control of the game so they can kick who they don’t like out, and b) the ability to alter scores and leader board positions! I would like to finish my brief rant/educational spout on a simple truth, firewalls don’t make you secure, they make you lazy.Related Images: [...]
InfoSecI was recently asked to comment on the new Chip & Pin attack created by Prof Ross Anderson from Cambridge University. In my original comment released to the press I make an assertion in relation to a change in process that “breaks the circuit” of this attack – see below: Jay Abbott, director in charge of Threat & Vulnerability Management, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), said:“Essentially, what the scientists have come up with is a very effective and simple way of exploiting weaknesses in the system. However, it is important to bear in mind that the fraud requires a very specific scenario to become effective. “A simple process change by the retailer of asking for the card holder to hand over the card would break the circuit, although this isn’t always possible as sometimes the card reader is fixed to a point on the other side of the counter. “At present, the customer is accountable for the fraud as banks argue that PIN verified transactions are secure. Given this attack demonstrates a clear method of bypassing the PIN system, this assertion by the banks stands on shakier ground.” With the original comment came a caveat, which as you would normally expect, was not quoted by the media, this caveat was that the process change suggested brought with it the opportunity for cards to be skimmed, which was in fact one of the original reasons behind the Chip & Pin changes. In fact, the change works in the favour of the retailer rather than the consumer, however, before you hang me, allow me to demonstrate the rationale behind this. Consider first that Chip & Pin is in fact “two factor” authentication, which anyone in the security business will explain is more secure than “one factor” authentication. The first factor is the card itself or the “chip” in this instance, the second factor is the “Pin” which in this context operates as a pass code. Given both elements are authenticators in their own right, both are required, and as such any attack must include them both. The attack designed by Prof Ross Anderson targets the Pin aspect of the authentication, and relies on the original card accessed through a series of technology components that have to be connected together in some way. The method shown in this attack makes use of concealment to hide these components on the person of the attacker, and relies on a custom built “attack” card with wires hidden up the sleeve of the attacker, back to the other components involved. The obvious way to therefore detect and prevent this attack at the retailer is by separating the card from the attacker, thus showing the wires and revealing the ruse. The cloning of cards must be treated separately as the current methods of cloning (that I am aware of at this point in time) only create “yes cards” which would not work in this attack scenario as they are not true copies and would be detected by the PoS equipment as fraudulent. As I understand it, there is no economically viable way of cloning Chip & PIN Cards effectively at this time. Any cloning would still focus on the magnetic stripe data, which can be easily cloned, but is not accepted by the retailers (usually) when a Chip & PIN card is presented. This of course is at the discretion of the retailer and out of the control of the consumer or the banks. This brings us to the counter argument, specifically in relation to the increased risk of your card getting skimmed/cloned by the retailer when you hand it over. Een if it were viable to clone the chip cards, given that a card skimmed by a retailer would typically not get the pin as well (this of course is not always the case), using the now cloned card would have to make use of Prof Ross Anderson’s attack method, which if the aforementioned process change was implemented, would not work, so in effect increasing the risk of cloning, but decreasing the risk of a successful attack using the cloned card and “breaking the circuit”. This of course relies on the premise that the use of the cards magnetic strip is in fact not viable, and therefore if anything, reinforces the use of Chip & PIN ironically. Of course in real life the Magstrip is regularly used, but that, again is outside the scope of this discussion and considered irrelevant in the face of the specific discussion around Prof Andersons attack. There is always of course the argument for using a small form factor wireless transmission device to remove the need for wires, but given the form factor of a credit card and the inability to alter this form factor without raising suspicion, I am personally unsure that significant enough range for a TX/RX comms loop could be achieved given the power that could be implemented into a credit card sized device. Again, in my original comments to the press I clearly stated that the system needed to be fixed, and that the attack was effective, so this is not me suggesting that we should brush this under the carpet, in fact it is simply looking at what we can potentially do NOW to protect the system, while its eventual upgrade is debated and planned. Don’t forget, in this context I am just as much of a concerned consumer as you. Related Images: [...]
GeneralWell it has been a while since I treated myself so the other day I stopped by West End DJ on my way into the office and I picked up an Akai APC 40. In fairness it was my birthday and I used that as a feable form of excuse for the expenditure, but I have a semi clear conciense as a reslut and another oh so sexy toy to play with! This toy really is the ultimate in Ableton Live control, extending the interface litterally to your fingertips and bringing a whole new world of possibility. You can read all about it on Akai’s site, but if you really want to see the potential, check out these YouTube links that just sum up the potential in full from my perspective: Ok, so its going to take me a while before I get  this good, but thats what its all about. ……watch this space 🙂 Related Images: [...]
Alfa 159This post covers the exterior lighting modifications made to my 2008 Alfa Romeo 159 TI. If you are interested in the interior LED conversion guide, click here. This modification can be completed as a single project or as a series of smaller projects as the cost of components is still quite high due to some of the LED types in use. If you do choose to split the project I would suggest separating the turn signals / Indicators, Numberplate lights, sidelights and rear clusters into stand alone projects. For an alternative approach to upgrade the “Third Brake Light” at position 9, click here to see the Cylon Project. Each topic area is collapsed below for your ease of navigation so either “Show All” or Expand each sub-topic as needed:   The parts you need for this conversion are as follows: 4 x Type 380 (1157) RED 13-LED Superlux [BAY15D,380,1157,P21/5w] 12v (Positions 5,6,7&8) 1 x Type 382 CREE Q5 12V/24V HIGH POWER LED BULB for the reverse light (Position 8 ) 1 x Type 382/P21W 5W CREE Q5 RED LED BULB for the fog light (Position 6) 2 x CANBUS Type 501/W5W/T10 24 LED Bulbs for the front side lights (Positions 1&2) 2 x CANBUS Type 501/W5W/T10 4 LED  Bulbs for the numberplate lights (Position 10 ) 4 x BAU15s 7507 Q5+12SMD=7W Brake/Signal Light 150° LED Bulbs Amber/Yellow PY21W for the front and rear indicators (Positions 1,2,5&7) 2 x 5 SMD LED AMBER ORANGE INDICATOR SIGNAL TURNING SIDE LIGHT BULB T10 W5W 501 for the side repeaters (Positions 3&4) 11 x 50w 10 ohm Aluminium clad wire wound resistors 2 x 25w 47 ohm Aluminium clad wire wound resistors 2 x 330 ohm 0.6w metal resistors Lots of wire & plenty of heat shrink wrap 10 x Red Scotch clips 8 x Red 3mm male spade terminals 8 x Red 3mm female spade terminals Estimated Cost: £170-200 Required Tools: Soldering iron Solder Flux paste Helping hands Hot glue gun Pro-Tip: You can remove the need to solder as well as reduce the overall effort if your prepared to increase your spend to buy the resistors pre-made from ebay. The example increase is DIY=£2 for a pair, whereas on ebay that would be £7-10 for the pair.   “CAN Bus” Most modern cars make use of numerous computers within the vehicle all connected through something known as a Controller Area Network or “CAN Bus” for short. One of these computers is typically dedicated to looking after the internal electronics such as dials and gauges etc as well as the lighting circuits, in the Alfa its called the “Bodywork Computer” or “NBC” and one of its jobs is to make sure that if a bulb blows, you are warned when you get into the car with a friendly picture of your car and a warning symbol showing you which bulb has blown. This is a great feature, but unfortunately, it works against you when your swapping a traditional filament bulb for a new style LED replacement. The reason why is that a traditional bulb illuminates by putting a voltage across a metal element, essentially shorting out the circuit, causing it to heat up and emit light. This process creates a reasonably high load, measured in amps. LED bulbs work completely differently, essentially, they produce light by pushing electrons around inside a solid semi-conductor, which is a much more efficient process that creates significantly less load. This is where the problem comes! The bodywork computer puts a small amount of electricity on the bulb circuit to test that it has a connection and that the filament has not blown, so when you swap your old filament bulb for a LED one, you get one or two issues. The first issue is that the bodywork computer thinks the bulb has blown and lets you know, the second is that the small amount of power used to perform the test is actually enough to gently illuminate the LED, so it always stays on and never switches off, even when the ignition is off! In order to fix this issue you need to use more power than you need to actually run the LED so you need to add resistance to the circuit to absorb and use extra power and simulate load. Exactly how much resistance you need is a mathematical calculation known as “ohms law” which takes a number of variables and tells you how much resistance, measured in ohms, you need to add. When you add resistance to a circuit it creates heat as the excess power is turned into heat energy to be dissipated. For this reason its important to make use of a large wattage resistor (wattage is the measure of a resistors heat dissipation ability) so that you don’t either burn out the component or even worse, create a fire hazard. For each of the bulbs I have used, I have first measured the amps that the original filament bulb runs at, and then the amps that the replacement LED runs at to determine the correct resistor to add. For most of my replacement LEDs I have needed to simulate around 1.2amps of additional load, which was achieved using a 50w, 10 ohm aluminium wire wound resistor, however for the two side repeaters I only needed to simulate around 0.3 amps, so I used a 47 ohm, 25w aluminium wire wound resistor. In this case, because the ohms was higher and the load to simulate was lower, I was able to use a smaller wattage which reduced the actual size of the resistor. As a point of note, every bulb in the 159 except the reverse light and the third brake light, has a CAN-BUS sensing circuit on it, and as such, will need to be replaced with a CAN-BUS capable LED or have additional resitors added to that circuit.   Front Clusters The front clusters can be quite difficult to work with as, depending on your engine, there may not be much room to work. As mine is the 2.4 JTDM engine, I have the least amount of room so small hands, patients and a high tolerance for pain are required. The 24LED sidelights require a small modification to them before they are installed as, despite being sold as “CAN Bus friendly”, they do not simulate enough load for the Alfa to be happy with, as such, additional load, all be it a very small amount, is required. The modification requires the addition of a 330 ohm 0.6w resistor to each bulb so that when it is installed, the computer is happy that the bulb is not blown. I achieved this by soldering the LED directly onto the bulb as per the following images. Once the bulbs are ready to be installed, the next job is to prepare two of the 10 ohm 50w resistors for the front indicators. This is done by soldering around 6-8 inches of wire onto either terminal of the resistors, heat shrinking the exposed connections, and then putting scotch blocks on the end, ready to be attached to the wires inside the headlight.       The installation process is fiddly and generally very annoying but essentially for the sidelight, follow the eLearn guide below: For the indicator, the following eLearn guide shows you how to change the bulb, however, in addition to this, you need to scotch clip the resistor to the two wires connecting to the bulb holder and place it somewhere inside the light unit once complete. In general I use a heat transfer sticky pad to affix the resistor to a suitable surface to stop it moving around:   Rear Clusters The rear clusters are by far the most involved and require the most effort. They are split into two sections per side, one fixed to each wing (Potions 5&7) and two fixed to the boot lid (Positions 6&8). As each light unit contains a number of bulbs to replace its easier to make a “loom extension” that sits in between the original connector and the light unit and adds in the extra resistors in bulk for the bulbs. As such the light units at Positions 5 & 7 require 3 x 10 ohm , 50 w, aluminium wire wound resistors each, while the light unit at Position 6 requires 2 x10 ohm , 50 w, aluminium wire wound resistors and the light unit at Position 8 only requires 1 x10 ohm, 50 w, aluminium wire wound resistor. For Position 8 it is easier to just scotch clip a single resistor into place over the “tail light” connection, as this is the only live circuit that makes use of a CAN Bus check signal. The Reverse Light does not have any CAN Bus checking (we will assume because you would notice!), and despite the type 1159 dual element stop/tail bulb being used in this position, only the tail element is wired up. I assume this was a “design feature” to save you carrying two different bulb types for the rear, although I find it quite stupid personally. Position 8 wiring is illustrated below: Position 6 requires two resistors installing and as such its easier to build an extension for that connector than actually scotch clip them in place. The extension looks like the following and is attached to the shell of the car using heat transfer sticky pads for optimum heat dissipation into the vehicles shell:     These rear clusters are accessed for this upgrade as per the following guide: Positions 5 & 7 are both the same with a three resistor unit required. The following images show the unit and the installation:       Whenever I have installed a loom extension I have coated the connections in hot glue so that they cannot come loose during driving conditions and I have used the sticky pads to secure the resistors on top of the metal surround for the light unit for optimal heat dissipation into the body shell.. The bulbs and loom extensions are then installed through the normal bulb change procedure:   Side Repeaters The side repeaters have a limited amount of space to accommodate a bulb and as such the overall size of the bulb is an important factor. The chosen bulb is as large as the unit can house and also makes use of a multi-SMD architecture to provide a good directional light output. Aside from changing the bulb, additional resistance is needed to simulate the missing load of the original bulb. These resistors can be mounted in the engine bay, and cables run through the wing to join up with the side repeaters, where they can be scotch clipped to the existing wiring and then covered in ample amounts of insulation tape to avoid any moisture getting into the joins:    I used heat transfer sticky pads to stick the resistors to the top of the suspension pillars and ran the cable through the seem at the top of the wing down through to the side repeater hole for ease. This was a remarkably easy process and required only limited “fishing” for the cable. Removal of the side repeater is a very simple process as per the following eLearn guide:   Number Plate Lights The number plate LEDs are a simple swap of the original W5W type bulbs for the 4 LED versions. The 4 LED versions have been chosen for two primary reasons, firstly, I do not want it to be brighter than the original bulbs and secondly, the bulb housing do not have any built in reflectors, so its important to have the LEDs pointing the right way. The chosen bulbs satisfy these criteria well and provide a good light output. The upgrade is simple and the eLearn guide is below: The finished product looks like this:      Third Brake Light The third brake light employs a 10 x filament bulb light bar plugged into the back of the reflector unit, so to complete the LED conversion this is going to need to change. To do this, you will need to make a replacement bulb as no “off the shelf” direct replacements exist. I have built one called “The Cylon” which runs each LED individually and has some cool effects, but if you just want a simple LED replacement you can try  the following approach. (warning, I have not done this so it needs verifying). You will need to get 10 x 5mm round high power red LEDs with as wide a viewing angle as possible, like these, but do your own research to find the best ones you can. Once you have your LEDs you can use an on-line LED wizard to figure out the best way of wiring them up and what resistance you need to add. This will give you an output like this: All you then need to do is remove the third brake light from the car, get out your soldering iron and hot glue your LEDs directly into the back of the reflector:    Once the glue is dry, make the connections as shown in the diagram, solder up all the parts and run about 18 inches of cable from the new unit to a “2 pin header row” that can be used to make a plug:    The completed unit can then be installed back into the car. There is no CAN Bus issues on this circuit so the light will just work like the original.   The complete/finished product is better displayed as a video and as such you can watch this one I made of the complete conversion: Related Images: [...]
InfoSecIts time for a small reality check. Security does not have to cost the earth. Just because your a large corporate with over a 1000 employees doesn’t mean you “have” to buy brand name security. In fact, I would argue quite the opposite, invest that money in some quality people, treat them well, and get 10 times the return on investment you planned. lets put it into perspective. First of all, you have to accept that open source software is your friend, then accept that just because it doesn’t have a “GUI” doesn’t mean its any more complex. Ok, now that you have accepted an alternate reality, it is time to look at some comparisons. Lets look at some good, typically expensive security controls, typically, usually reserved for Banks, because “they have the budget for it”. We will start with IDS “Intrusion Detection System”, specifically, the network variety (NIDS), deployed across the infrastructure, and designed to spot malicious traffic flowing across your network and highlight suspicious activity that may be happening under the radar. If you were to buy one of the very excellent and very expensive commercial solutions, on a medium size network, you could be spending 6 figures before breakfast. That’s a serious hole in a security budget, so what other options exist? Well, for a start, “snort” an open source, well maintained and mature project that’s been around for years. Its 100% free, and will only cost you the physical hardware and some administrative overhead getting it up and running. Its very scalable, equally configurable and its signatures are maintained by a community of experts in the field. What more could you ask for? Ok, so the reality is, in our scenario of 6 figures for the commercial solution, the free one would likely cost you 10-20K in hardware and specialist labour, but whats 20K compared to £200,000K, I know which one I would prefer to sign off. Next, lets look at another hot topic, SIMS “Security Information Management Solution”. This is another typically large investment to essentially, analyse logs generated by the infrastructure. Again, the concept has been available in open source for years. Syslog servers shipping logs to each other with some sort of Perl analysis scripting has been around forever, and again, its just the labour and hardware costs to consider. What about Firewalls? The staple diet of all organisations of any size. Now, these can be quite cheap or ridiculously expensive. I have built, deployed and managed most of the top end ones, and can after a career of using them, I can happily say, I would deploy a well configured “iptables” firewall in Linux over a Cisco or Checkpoint any day of the week. Ok, so you don’t get the nice gui with all your 200 firewalls in, but, there are options…. Gui’s exist, and again, a specialist can easily make this whole concept easily manageable for any organisation. Now, if a key control for limiting the impact of a hack is through network segregation, then the ability to deploy low cost firewalls can only improve the overall security of the network So, if I had a 1000 user network to protect, a budget of 500K and full autonomy. I would spend 100K on every open source solution available, home grow some of my own, contract a team of top class Linux / security gurus to get it all up and running, then sit back in my SOC “Security Operations Centre” and wait for the siren to go off! Of course, I would take the other 400K as my bonus 😉 Related Images: [...]
InfoSecI am getting a little annoyed with hearing people wax lyrical about “the cloud” and how its going to revolutionise the world. I have a news flash for you all, its not new and its not revolutionary! First of all, lets define what we are talking about. There is a simple definition for Cloud Computing, and three models of operation as held by NIST, these are: Definition: Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models. Models of Operation: Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS). The capability provided to the consumer is to use the provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure. The applications are accessible from various client devices through a thin client interface such as a web browser (e.g., web-based email). The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, storage, or even individual application capabilities, with the possible exception of limited user-specific application configuration settings. Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS). The capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages and tools supported by the provider. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly application hosting environment configurations. Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The capability provided to the consumer is to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, deployed applications, and possibly limited control of select networking components (e.g., host firewalls). Now, I am pretty sure that during my long career, I have seen a lot of companies doing IaaS and PaaS as a “Business as Usual” activity, haven’t you? In my experience, IaaS is nothing more than a traditional infrastructure outsourcing arrangement, as undertaken with IBM, HP/EDS or BT, while PaaS is just a simple hosting service offered by most ISP’s (I accept I am simplifying here). So what are we really talking about when the press pickup and pedal the term “cloud computing”. Looks to me like they are talking about SaaS, which again, has been around for a while, Hotmail anyone?, but not really taken off in the enterprise until it became “cloud computing”. So is this just a media spin to pedal Hotmail to the enterprise or just a natural progression from outsourcing boxes to apps? What is revolutionary here, I am yet to see. Related Images: [...]
3DWhy this Kit? This kit is well built and well packaged which combined with the relative cost is absolute value for money for the print size. It does suffer a number of issues though and the “community guide” is an invaluable asset in the build of these printers. The community around this printer is great and has many people both skilled and novice, all of whom seem happy to help. The community is mostly in the Facebook Group, or at least that is where I found them! There is an extremely detailed and maintained “Community Guide” that contains a wealth of information about the printer, its issues, its features and how to get the most out of it. This can be found linked from the Facebook Group or can be downloaded from this link. One of the best features for a first time builder like me was the very extensive video build guides from: ruiraptor. His 15 video series on the full build process took all the pain out of this for me. That said, It would have taken more pain out of it if I had watched all 15 videos before starting to build the printer as sometimes he will show you how to do something the “TEVO Way” and then his own way, which is often much better! The community guide also holds some key information not covered in detail or at all in the videos such as the BL Touch installation. TEVO Black Widow 3D printer – All assembly videos Aside from the support. Guides and quality of this printer, the main reasoning behind the choice was the build area. A whopping 370mm x 250mm x 300mm build area was exactly what I needed to support some of the planned projects that I will use this for. Where to buy it? Do not buy this kit off ebay! Buy it direct from the manufacturer shop via AliExpress. This will ensure you get the latest version direct from the manufacturer stock rather than an old one that has been sat in someone’s stock room for a while. At the time of writing this, V3 was the latest. A key reason for this is that early versions of this printer had some serious faults such as an earthing issue on the power switch that could electrocute you! Additional Mandatory Parts: 12 x 28mm Cast Aluminium Corner Brackets 24 x 8mm M5 High Tensile Butten Flange Allen Bolts 24 x CNBTR M5 Thread T Spring Nut 20 Series EU 1 x Red Button 4 Pin DPST ON/OFF Illuminated Rocker Switch AC 250V 15A 1 x 2 metres of 10mm Expandable Braided Sleeving 1 x 1 roll of 9mm cloth wiring tape 1 x Standard Floated Glass 400mm x 250mm x 3mm with Polished edge (from local glazier) 1 x Right-Angle USB2.0 B Male to USB B Female Socket Panel Extension Cable Cord Optional Parts: 7 x Solid V Xtreme Wheel 8 x Mini V Xtreme Wheel 1 x 24v 40mm Layer Fan 1 x 3m of 28 AWG red & black silicon wire for layer fan 2 x pair of 2 PIN JST SM Plug Socket Connectors – Soldered / Crimp 1 x 400mm x 250mm PrintBite+ Optional Tools 1 x 15 or 30cm metal ruler 1 x 8mm flexible head ratchet spanner 1 x 60 in 1 S2 Tool Steel Precision Screwdriver Nutdriver Bit Repair Tools Kit hv2n Tools & Assembly Although the kit comes with all the tools you need to build it, it does make it quite hard work if you only use them. The additional tools suggested make light work of the job and if you don’t have them, come in handy in many other places! The general assembly is straight forward, although if you are following the build videos, make sure you have watched them all first. I found that in certain videos, Rui would build something and take it apart then show you a better way to  build it! If your following the video for the first time this can mean you build somethings twice or more. Modifications Let me fist answer the question of why modify? These kits are “Open Build” based which essentially means that they are based on 100% open sourced common components that have been pulled together to make this kit. TEVO have a number of custom parts size / length and manufactured their own versions to suit this kit perfectly which makes this kit very good.   That said, a number of parts in this kit such as wheels or angle brackets are not the absolute best that are available, and as with anything built to a market price point, some compromises exist. It is these compromises I am not willing to accept and that I wanted to tackle as part of the build process. Joints I was unhappy with the quality of the L brackets given the need for a true and non-flexing chassis and as such decided to opt for the 28mm cast aluminium brackets instead. These make a much stronger connection that is less likely to flex during use. For me this was key as a chassis of this size will likely have a lot of pressure put on the joints and any flex in a joint will lead to an inaccuracy in the layer. Wheels I was not initially going to replace the wheels despite hearing about the issue of some users reporting flat spots. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a bad decision and in fact I needed to replace the stock wheels straight away. Essentially, the stock wheels will deform if they are left in the same position for a period of time due to the malleable nature of the material used. What I was not expecting in my build was for the heat bed carriage wheels to do this within the first 24 hours! Some people suggested that this is simply because they were too tight, but personally I don’t think that they are as you need to have them tight enough to stop all lateral movement or “wobble” as this will effect print quality. For me, the wheels deformed very quickly so it was better to change them for a much harder polycarbonate compound that is less prone to deformation. Rocker Switch Although supposedly fixed in V3 with a new style toggle switch, the possibility of getting electrocuted didn’t appeal. Looking at the toggle switch that comes with the kit, its metal and rated at 12v /20a which just doesn’t sit right with me given its switching the mains live wire directly :/. Instead I opted for a much better quality 250VAC / 15A plastic illuminated switch to ensure that I am insulated from any potential shorts in the switch that could give me a nasty jolt. Drag Chains Each of the drag chains can cause the wires to rub and eventually fail unless they are put into nylon sleeving. This sleeving helps to prevent the rubbing and allows the chains to keep everything neat. It is also useful for hiding the mess of cables that connects the control box to the printer and keeping everything untangled. Layer Fan A Layer fan is option but seems to be quite a common modification. Even if you are not installing a layer fan on day 1, I do recommend running  the cable for the fan through all of the sleeves and drag chains while you build it to save having to take it all apart at a later date when you decide you want one. Its worth running the wire (30 gauge red & black) from the control box to the print head and putting a 2 pin JST connector on it ready for the addition of a fan at a later date. You can also add a break where all of the other cables join from the control box to the printer and using a JST connector (male & female) to match the stock wiring setup Wiring / Controller Box. The way in which TEVO suggest to organise the controller box is flawed and Rui does a great job in showing you a much better way. Essentially you need to transpose the holes for the motherboard and mosfet from one side panel to the other, and then mark and drill holes on the original side where the motherboard and mosfet were to be located, in order to mount the PSU on its side. The result is much more space, much less cable mess, better airflow and room to work! The other major change to the controller box is the power switch. If you use the power switch I suggested you are going to have to cut a square hole around the existing round one. A Dremil some painters tape and patients is all you need. And just remember if you make a total hash of it, you can always print a new one once your printer is up and running! Firmware Upgrade I’m a subscriber to “the latest version is best” way of life and as such, job one, even before an actual print, is to upgrade the firmware to the latest version. The printer I bought came with 1.1.0 RC7, while at the time of writing this, 1.1.8 (RC8 V4) was available. The best guide on how to perform the upgrade is here from Rui: How to easily configure and flash firmware to a TEVO BlackWidow 3D printer Calibration This stage is key. Take your time on Video’s 13 & 14 and make sure your eSteps and extrusion is perfect. If you have opted for the BL Touch (recommended) then you do need to follow the community guide on how to calibrate it, but once done its ability to self level the bed before a print is so time saving. First Print The first print is always going to be nerve wracking but as long as you have taken your time with everything during the build process and especially the calibration, then it will come out just fine. Here we have my first print, a 20mm XZY Calibration cube printed at 0.2mm layer height: Key Builds Universal Spool Holder Part Cooling Duct for Tevo Black Widow & 40mm Fan Its best if you print the part cooler and one of the velocity stacks first. Then assemble that and fit it before printing the rest. Overall the quality is very good though: Build Gallery ” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″] Related Images: [...]
GeneralNative Instuments – Traktor Scratch This is the final choice and the result of much deliberation and research. It would seem that for the most part its a two horse race, Serato vs Traktor. I’ll give you the highlights to make it simple. Serato is very very stable, easy to use and generally a rock solid solution to mixing MP3’s. Traktor has less reputation for stability but so many more features and possabilities when it comes to taking your music to the next level. This is best domonstrated bythe release of traktor 3.2 and its ability to mix 4 sources in the same interface! this means you could have 2 x decks + two other input sources all up at once mixing through a 4 channel mixer, when used with the Audio 8 interface. It was this feature that won it for me. With this I can utilise Ableton Live like it was another deck, and have a 4th source as something like a standalone sequencer, drum machine or other random piece of electronic excellence. Now all I have to do is save my pennies and actually buy one! 🙂 Related Images: [...]
LiveMixesWell, this one is definatley better quality, on all fronts!! Music, mix & production. Let me know if you like it! https://jabawoki.com/wp-content/mp3/DJJD__ElectroFied__04082008.mp3 Podcast: Play in new window | Download Related Images: [...]
GeneralWell, despite wanting to spend thousands of pounds on the perfect setup, I decided I had to transition away from Vinyl completely first and get used to the fully digital interfaces. So, in my usual, straight out of left field way, I bought myself an M-Audio Xponent and some new speakers 🙂 The Xponent is an awesome tool, it is the perfect transition medium for anyone thinking of moving into digital and is very well featured. Its a little on the plastic side, and the faders feel like they are fisher price, but it works like a dream and is portable enough to follow me around the country! I now have two primary setups, home & away. Home is the Xponent, married to my main desktop feeding a pair of KRK RP6G2 Active Studio Monitors, and it sounds awesome! Away is the Xponent. married to my X200s Laptop & feeding a pair of M-Audio AV20 portable studio monitors, although it lacks base, it has punch, power and clarity and lets face it, we don’t want to piss off the neighbours in the hotel now do we 🙂 I still suffer from the age old problem of not actually having time to use this lot, but the away kit helps with that problem a fair bit, so once I get fully transitioned, expect a flurry of new mixes on the way! Related Images: [...]

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