Monday, 28 December 2009

Using Gendan Engine software in Linux

Some time ago I bought a Gendan USB OBDII engine management code reader, which I needed to check some fault codes on the Civic.

Anyway, the software that comes with it is Windows only, and since I upgraded my laptop to Ubuntu, if obviously stopped working. A quick Google didn't show up any data on getting it to work, so I took a punt, and tried it in Wine.

It installed OK, and ran, but couldn't find the USB reader, so some more googling to find out how to map the COMn style ports ID's to the Linux device provided the following information. You need to symbolically link the ~/wine/dosdevices/COM1 port to the /dev/ttyUSB0 device (where the reader hardware appeared when plugged in - check the /dev/ folder for more information). This allows the Windows program running under wine access to the USB reader, and Hey Presto. The software worked!

Removing labels from beer bottles

I've been experimenting with making my own beer since October time, with some acceptable beers being produced. I've tried making Woodefords Wherry, which took ages to clear, but is now drinkable, and some Coopers Bitter, which fermented very quickly, and was drunk almost as quickly.

Anyway, I have a batch on the go at the moment which I want to bottle, and I had a load of used bottles from which to remove labels and clean. I soaked all the bottles (and they are from a number of different breweries), and on some the labels just fell off, and the remaining glue was easily removed using hot water and a small scrubbing brush. However, the bottles from Adnams proved to be a total nightmare. They are plastic, and peel off OK but left a really sticky residue. I tried, in this order...
  1. IPA (not the beer - Isopropyl Alcohol)
  2. Brake and clutch cleaner.
  3. Meths
  4. MEK (Metyl ethyl ketone - this usually shifts anything)
  5. Petrol.

The petrol finally did the trick! Using a cloth and plenty of petrol, the glue dissolved quite quickly, and a quick wash in detergent finished them off. Use gloves for this - not latex as this dissolves in petrol - use nitrile gloves.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Servicing my 2002 Honda Civic

The Civic seemed to be down on power, so a good service was planned. A quick look at air filter showed it was pretty cacked up, and I cannot remember the last time I changed the plugs, so new bits ordered for both. Oil was very low -this is probably the main culprit for lack of power!

Anyway, did the jobs last weekend - the plugs that came out were completely knackered - 1.6mm gap so 0.3mm out of spec, and the electrodes were very rounded. Air filter was a really quick job. Service list also says value clearances should be adjusted at this mileage (140k), so thought I would give it a go. Getting the rocker cover off isn't too bad, the only difficult bit was removing the TDC sensor plug so that the cam belt cover could come off. I had to use a mirror to see how it was attached, then used a right angle circlip pliers to compress the clip on the fitting so it could be removed - the gap between it and some piping meant I could not get my hand in. The service manual just says "remove the connector". Ha Ha.

Once off I was amazed how complicated the valve system is. The VTEC doesnt help, nor the 4 valves per cylinder. Still, adjustment was pretty easy, one inlet was too tight, and a couple of exhausts were a bit loose, but nothing too bad - amazing given the mileage on the engine!

Bolted it all back together and hey presto - engine much torquier at low RPM, and almost silent at idle. Hurrah!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Koala again

Well, Ubuntu is still finding ways to upset the apple cart. Had a usual upgrade window come up, so pressed OK, but it also included a kernel version upgrade, and once again, I ended up with a system that wont boot. Eventually I had to boot from a LiveCD, edit the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file and change "nvidia" to "vesa". Once back in to Ubuntu, I cleaned out a lot of rubbish from said file, and then reinstalled the nvidia drivers.

There does appear to be an issue with my system not recompiling the nvidia stuff for any new kernels that get installed, yet other people seem to be OK.

Most odd.

Although this was on Koala, I did have the problem with the previous version Jaunty as well, so its probably time to reinstall the OS from scratch to get back to some sensible setting. Possible that cleaning out xorg.conf may have helped though.