Technology & Gadgets

Long range wireless

I finally got the time to get together with my good buddy and former roommate, the fire chief of Sunshine, Steve Stratton, and set up a long range link between our houses. He has a T1 line (1.544 Mbps up and down) and I’ve been using my Motorola V551 GPRS for internet access for the past two weeks, which is pretty painful. I used my Mac via Bluetooth to serve up the GPRS connection to my other computers. The rate is 100 kpbs which is not half bad, but the latency is terrible (2-5 seconds), and it doesn’t deal well with multiple transactions.

I bought two LinkSys WAP54G access points, and two enclosed outdoor Yagi antennas (EnteraSys RoamAbout Point-to-Point Wireless: RBTES-BG-Y14M), and actually got the link working nearly flawlessly between our houses, which are over 2200′ apart, with trees partially obscuring the line of sight and energy envelope (big oblong) of the transmission (if both were not obscured, this link could go to 8 km). The link is pretty good, but not quite reliable enough for VOIP (I think the wind moving the trees is causing problems).

The antenna is on Steve’s deck, fastened to the railing using some paper wedges, and the access point is in a baggie on the deck (didn’t have enough antenna wire to put it inside).

This is the view of Steve’s house (the roof, circled in red) from my house out the window.

The other antenna is precariously perched on the window sill inside the house I’m renting.

They’re pointed ROUGHLY towards eachother, but not very exactly. The polarization appears critical, as rotating the antenna about it’s access kills the signal. It’s a very good thing the link worked the first time, as I have no signal strength metering on either access point, so everything is binary (link or no-link).

I added WEP 128 bit encryption so other folks couldn’t tune in (also MAC address control), but I have not yet hacked the firmware to boost transmit power (x4 is possible with these APs, as they use open source Linux, and many have hacked them).

Total cost of the setup: WAP54G ($60 x 2) + Antennas ($62×2) = $244. This is pretty good, because the antennas MSRP are over $280 each.

Technology & Gadgets

Taking on DDoS

Makes good reading:

Personal Technology & Gadgets

Home theatre cabinet (modded IKEA)

Until recently, my home theatre components were on one of those glass and black metal $200 racks, with ugly exposed wiring.We decided to put our house on the market, and I decided this was not going to be good enough, so I undertook this project. Mainly it was to show off the house, and the fact that we’re selling the 42″ Panasonic wall-mounted plasma with the house.Our floors throughout the house are oak, and all cabinetry is maple, so I wanted a way of matching that scheme, and having as little exposed wiring as possible. The plasma was prewired in the wall for power and picture, and all surround speakers were similarly prewired (as was coax, phone, Ethernet, and ATSC antenna.).

The components that need to fit in this system are:

  • Yamaha RX-V1400 Home Theatre receiver
  • Hughes HD DirecTiVo HR10-250
  • Monster HTS-3500 MKII PowerCenter
  • NeuNeo HVD108 – High Definition DVD player

There must also be room for the following components, which I sometimes use:

  • Mini Mac
  • XBOX

Starting off the project was easy, we went to IKEA and bought the $99 Benno. After carefully wiring the many connections into this case with no back access (no easy feat!), I discovered the obvious: Even on a cool day, the case got far too warm to close it, and the home theatre receiver was overheating the case, making the temperature sensitive (it has a hard drive) DirecTiVo too hot.

So armed with my knowledge of convection, and my vast experience buying too many fans in my neverending quest to quiet my computer, I realized that I would need to install a cooling system into the cabinet.

Fan notes:

  • Variable speed fans are not quieter, except at their lowest speed and voltage.
  • I used to think PAPST fans were the cats’ meow, but CoolerMaster makes an entire line of inexpensive case fans that achieve similar sound performance.

My fans of choice are the extremely low revolution rate Ultra Silent 120mm fans from CoolerMaster ($14.95 from Central Computer). These are rated at 0.21 A and 13 dBA (certainly quiet), and 12V operating voltage. These are not variable speed (see note).

I picked up two fans, coupled with a RadioShack 12V 500mA supply (80 mA is enough overhead, I figured).


The next part was working out the airflow. The case is almost sealed (How would this work for almost anyone?), so I knew that my holes and ventilation system would be able to control the airflow well.

Intake had to be near the bottom of the case and not visible. Given the positioning in the room, I chose the back of the case for the intake, since it was thin particle board (IKEA!). The central divider goes nearly all the way between front and back, neatly dividing the cooling job into two sections. At the back, the shelves do not make it all the way to the back, allowing a lot of air to come up. There is also a small gap between the doors and the front of the shelves.

Outlets were also at the back, by process of elimination.

I drilled a set of 16 or so 1″ holes along the top of the case for outlets.

On the outside edges of the case, at the bottom, I put the fans, which were inlets (always use positive pressure to move air if you can).

This system is very effective at keeping the case cool, and the look is clean and matches the house. If you put your hand over any of the outlet holes, there is a constant airflow of relatively cool air. Feel free to use it or comment on it.

Personal Technology & Gadgets

Foulmouthed computer language

Check out the link above….. It ain’t pretty, but gets the job done.

Personal Technology & Gadgets

Mars Rover stuck in sand drift

Technology & Gadgets

Considering which one, WordPress or B2evo

Well, I’m starting to think I may have made the wrong choice in using B2evo (I actually wasn’t aware of the existence of WordPress until recently). What few minor modifications I had to make to the B2evo templates were extremely painful and unpleasant, and the WordPress support community seems to be larger than the B2evo support community.

Now, the support community for B2evo have been very, well, supportive, and I don’t know if I want to give that up in favor of a new unknown.

Please, comment with your opinions….

Personal Technology & Gadgets

Google adds satellite to its maps

Google’s map service added satellite pictures to its mapping software, already the best on the web in my opinion.

In other Google-related news, Google has made the gmail storage over 2 GB. If I know you and you want an account, just drop me an e-mail.

Personal Technology & Gadgets

Cordless (not cell) phone that works city-wide

Reported on GIZMODO. Looks a little chunky, but cool.

Technology & Gadgets

Making FireFox fly on Windoze

MOOX has released optimized, processor-specific builds of Mozilla FireFox that claim better speed. Here’s the link

Technology & Gadgets

Flat CAT5 Ethernet cable

I remember having a lot of problems finding Flat COAX (can buy at the greatest hardware store in the world, McGuckin’s in Boulder, CO and on eBay) for running through windows, etc.

Now here’s a great invention, flat Ethernet.