Archive for the ‘gadgets’ Category.

Makita 9500d Cordless Angle Grinder on Steroids

I wanted one for a long time, but getting one wasn’t easy. I don’t think that they were good sellers at all, most of them most likely went to trash several years ago. Anyway, I was able to find one on ebay kleinanzeigen in Germany. Seller told that it is in good working condition, battery was missing, and the shield was missing as well. I didn’t care for the battery, as I wanted to do a Li-Ion conversion. For the shield, I’ve found a solution on Aliexpress, the Chinese sell shields that you can attach to your drill, and then do ridiculous things with it… It was quite easy to adapt one to the Makita.

When I got it, I tested it out with

my existing Makita NiMH battery, the performance was a lot worse than expected, and the motor was pretty worn, or at least it sounded like that. I looked in my parts that I’ve salvaged from cordless drills, and found a matching motor out of a green bosch drill (don’t remember the model, but it was a 12v NiCD model that I got for free because of the dead battery). This one felt quite beefy (strong magnets, compared to the original), and felt like new. I’ve removed the pinions and pushed the Makita pinion to the Bosch motor using my vice.

I’ve built a battery out of 3 18650 cells (Warning: you need to know what you’re doing, you cannot use normal 18650 cells, it needs to be high discharge cells – like the ones used in cordless tools). There’s no over discharge protection, I’m able to handle this by myself, worst case I would have to replace the battery, if  I run it too low.

Makita 9500D Complete

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Blendwirkung V2 – The Uetliberg descent bike light

Blendwirkung V1 was a road light, that was built based on a Luxeon 1 LED (which was relatively new back then in ~2005). I have used it for a while, until I’ve decided that it was just too big and heavy.

Many years later, after I’ve moved my Magicshine from the handlebar to the helmet, and added the beautiful Lux-RC / Easy2Led Light to the handlebar. I began to think about a cordless solution on the helmet, as I really didn’t like the battery in the backpack, running a cable to the helmet. I’ve decided to go old school with this, and use NiMH, as I don’t want any LiXX battery on my helmet. This could be paranoid, but I just don’t like the idea at all.



I only use this light for the descent of our weekly Uetliberg-Run, so runtime wasn’t a big criteria.  I just wanted high output for about 20minutes on the existing 2/3 sub C NiMH cells that I’ve had lying arround. In the end I went for these components:

  • 2x Nanjg 110 Boost driver, ~950mA each – so Output is almost 2A
  • 1x CREE XM-L2 T6 4C LED – this is warm white, you gotta love it in the woods.
  • 1x TIR Optic, it’s either 20 or 25 degree, I don’t remember.
  • 2x 2500 mAh Sub-C NiMH high power cells.
  • Various Alloy sheet + part of an old heatsink

The light pulls arround 6Amps from the battery, which makes it difficult to find a good switch, since the one I initially installed was fried after about 10 toggles, I’ve removed it and don’t have a switch at the moment. It’s no beauty, but its brighter than most other lights I’ve seen on the Uetliberg, and it was most likely the cheapest as well. Have been using it many times – still love it. This light cannot be used stationary, as it needs some air flow to keep the temperature down.

Cordless drill in the kitchen


A new case for an old Squeezebox (v1) – The SpaceDock


When one of my V3  Squeezeboxes died recently, it meant that I’ll have to find a solution for the sticky (probably the softeners in went crazy after all those years) case of the working v1 unit, that I was given by a friend. The whole case was so sticky, I did not see any solution in reusing it (others have had the same issue).

Anyway, I have decided to draw an acrylic plate that a friend who owns a company that has a co2 laser can then cut for me. That plate with the attached Squeezebox internals + some magnets went behind a cabinet, so that only the display + IR receiver is visible.

The name SpaceDock is coincidence, it’s the name of the track that was playing.

Squeezebox Boom DIY wall mount made of bicycle parts

I finally got myself a SB Boom for the bedroom. It was clear that I need some kind of a wall-mount, and as the Boom has 4 mounting holes, that didn’t seem to be too complicated. Only problem here is the threading, seems to be 2 or 2.5mm (sorry didn’t measure), I have found some screws out of an old computer hard drive that fit.
The mount itself is made of 2 bicycle stems, connected through a piece of 1 1/8″ steering tube of a fork.

Hugsby P31 Disassembly / Driver replacement / All flood MOD

In case you’ve ever wondered how to disassemble the Hugsby P31, here’s how it goes:
IMG_0956 IMG_0959 IMG_0960 IMG_0961

I did that because of a malfunctioning driver, and while i was at it, I’ve replaced the reflector with an all flood TIR lens. This makes the little Hugsby a perfect near field flashlight.

Eberspächer heater 24V to 12V conversion

The previous owner of our boat installed an Eberspächer Air heater, which was meant for a lorry, and therefore 24V. Our boat only has 12V Batteries / Alternator. As far as I know he used another battery in series with the auxiliary battery to power the heater, but this battery obviously wasn’t charged when using the heater – I didn’t like that solution, the heater wasn’t used for about 10 years, and now I’ve decided to build a solution.



The heater has a small controller unit + the heater itself. My idea was to find a 12V to 24V step up converter, and run everything on 24V. This didn’t work out, as I didn’t find an affordable 12V to 24V converter, the one I bought said 150W output power, but that just isn’t enough for the initial glow.

2nd idea:
I thought, why not just replace the glow plug, with a 12V version (didn’t know if it exists back than), and use a relay to switch a 12V line with the 24V from the controller unit.

Doing it:
At this point I’ve decided to unmount the heater, as i needed to find out what kind of unit I have, and which glow plug I actually needed.

What I found was even better:
There’s a huge resistor (or call it a spring) in series with the glow plug – the glow plug is actually a 12V plug, you just need to rewire it to not use the resistor, and install the relay as mentioned above (I obviously don’t know if this is with all the Eberspächer heaters, but it’s worth looking).



Open controller unit:


Controller unit with attached step up converter + relays:





Close-up of the modification:

The yellow line goes to the glow plug (already connected directly on the picture, the yellow line in the background goes to the resistor and back):

Controlling your Sqeezebox Volume with your PC Keyboard

Now, this is something that I should have done a long time ago, as I was missing it for the last 8 years or so, that I have Squeezebox music players. The original remote is pretty weak, and if you don’t have your SB on your desk, you’ll probably have to turn yourself around if you want to change the volume using the remote (if you can actually find it on your desk), of course, controlling it through the web interface is also an option, but I sometimes prefer hardware keys.

As you might know, there’s a Squeezebox Server CLI, so it’s obvious to use it. Then, there’s the possibility to assign a “shortcut key” to a shortcut in Windows. The missing part is the Windows version of Netcat, some shortcuts, and a small “parameter” file for each function.

Step by Step, for volume Control:

1. Download Netcat, extract it to a folder, that you want to use for the whole thing.

2. Create the parameter files, my volup.txt looks like this:

XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX mixer volume +1

Be sure to add an extra line break, because otherwise, Netcat will stay open. Create config files for every function you want to use.

3. Create the shortcuts, my volume down shortcut looks like this:

C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe /c "C:\Program Files (x86)\squeezevol\nc.exe" aese-02 9090 < volup.txt

4. Add a "shortcut key", like CTRL ALT +

Set it to run minimized.

It's working good and fast, I hope you enjoy it too.


Yet another Lux-RC / Easy2Led bike light

Training off-road during the colder days often also means that it’s getting quite dark. There are lots of bike lights on the market, most of them are either too expensive or not 100% satisfying. There’s however a simple solution using components from Lux-Rc and Easy2Led.

Lux-Rc light engine:

A small board, 3 leds and a boost regulator is already integrated, different configurations are available

Easy2Led light housing:

A good fit for the L33X light engine from Lux-Rc, in addition you’ll need a handlebar mount (Lupine or the Chinese equivalent that can be ordered at Lux-Rc), cables, battery, a momentary switch.


Input voltage depends on the light engine, mine is optimized for 2s Li-Ion batteries, I’m not going into detail about building a Li-Ion battery pack. This is dangerous, and you should know what you do, or better leave it. My battery pack has some additional heat-shrink tubing over each individual cell, heat shrink tube over the whole pack, and then a layer of plastidip liquid rubber on top of the heat-shrink tubing. Additionally, I’ve added some foamed rubber on the side that touches the frame when the Pack is mounted to my bike.

Oh yeah, and please use a little less thermal glue, maybe 1/3rd of what I’ve used should be enough.

Project FireStarter

I’ve always wanted to have a battery powered BBQ fan. The plan was to make it small/portable, but it all went wrong:

Having a cold beer on a boat.

I prefer having a cold beer when I’m on our boat, but since this is usually on the sunny days, the performance of our fridge (Waeco CF-18) was too weak to cool one down in a short time (temperature in the cabin goes up to ~35° C if the sun is burning down).

I’ve been thinking about some kind of a GSM-based remote control, and actually found a nice product called microguard. The product seemed perfect, relatively cheap, easy to implement, available, but there was no time-out that could be set. Even if I have a separate starter-battery, it was key to find a solution that turns off the fridge after a given time without user interaction. Luckily, the guy who runs microguard was very cooperative, and added a timeout feature for me (and everyone else of course).

The module now turns on a relay for two hours after it’s been called from my or one of 4 other predefined phones. this is a bit on the short side, but I can live with calling twice.

This is how my installation looks:

From left to right:
Charge split diode / Rear side of main switches / Fridge fuse / Microguard module with relays, cables, mounted on an a plastic case / RedBull cup as holder for a Siemens S45.
The Cat5 network cabling goes directly to the voltmeters on the dash, this was made to show the exact voltage without loss due to load on the cabling.

As mentioned before, I have two separate batteries the starter is a traditional lead/acid battery, and the domestic is an AGM type, which allows deep cycles.

This is how the battery compartment looks:


The switches on the left are starter / jumper / domestic. This allows maximum flexibility. The domestic main switch actually doesn’t kill the microguard / fridge, so it can be off, and I can still call the fridge.

iPod 32GB Flash the hard way…

It all started with my dying 20GB iPod harddrive, which was out of a 2nd gen iPod and then put into a 4th gen. I didn’t use it very often till my DMP3 Car MP3 player died, and i bought the Becker iPod kit for my car stereo. It seems like I’ve shook the drive to death.

Now that a new harddrive based iPod, or a new harddrive wasn’t a solution, I’ve decided to buy an adapter from CF to 1.8″ ATA connector (search ebay, you’ll find some) and a 32GB CF card from PQI (PQI Hi-Speed 120).

The parts arrived soon, but I’ve had no luck with it. I’ve used the standalone iPod software updater, because I don’t use iTunes, but i always get the !Folder icon after my restore attempts. I then realized, that the default setting on my adapter was slave instead of master, but changing that didn’t help. After some research, I found an article, which explained that it won’t work with the hardware revision (820-1525-A) of my iPod. It’s possible to do it manually, but it looked like a lot of work, and since the quality of my adapter didn’t look so good, I’ve decided to go for an iPod Mini, which already has a CF interface.

The Mini arrived some days later, and i was sure that its’ all plug and play from now on, but it wasn’t. I was getting the same !Folder icon as before, no mater if I’ve used the standalone iPod updater on my PC, or iTunes on my PC or Mac. I don’t like to give up on things like that, but after using Ghost and Acronis, to create images of the original Microdrive, and putting them back to the CF card with no luck, i was sure that my CF card won’t work with any iPod, or at least not with the restore options Apple gives.

Now that was a long story, with a short end: Update your iPod with iTunes first, (to version 1.4.1, version 1.3 won’t work), replace the drive, restore using iTunes, and there you go…..