Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Page Speed Insight: Java Script

Page Speed Insight: Java Script - Introduction

If you adminester your own website then you may be annoyed as I am at the apprent change of heart google have had with reagrds to placement of java scrpit in your pages html.

I do not have much java script in my website just "plus one" and some feed convertors.

Page Speed Insight: Java Script - The Problem

Upon running page speed insights you will see the following:

"Your page has 12 blocking script resources and 2 blocking CSS resources. This causes a delay in rendering your page."
Now this is annoying becuase when I added the java script google gave the following guide for placemnet:

<!-- Place this tag in your head or just before your close body tag -->

So now it has decided the "head" is no good and I have to go through and move all the code down the the bottom of "body"? 

Al that is require is to move:

<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

to just above the close body tag.

So a simple fix but maually applied over 100 + pages this is a ball ache of the highest degree.

Tektro 984 Calliper Brake Review

Tektro 984 Calliper Brake Review - Intro

I while back I purchased a small folding bike with very poor brakes ( giant conway ), I am not overly fussy about stopping power but the front calliper brake on the bike is terrible.

Probelm is the bike has 1.75" tires and as such a calliper brake with very long reach is required. Idealy I wanted a dual pivot calliper as I belive these create a greater braking force, but depsite looking I could not find a dual pivot with the required amount of reach.

So after trawl of ebays finest offering I decided on the Tektro 984 which has a reach of 70 - 80mm.

Tektro 984 Calliper Brake Review - Build Quality

I purchased this brake as new but taken off a BMX, complete with lever.

Tektro 984 - Left Side

Tektro 984 - Right Side

Tektro 984 - Front

The finsih is good, and the bolts and nuts are of good quality. When attached to the bike the brake arms do flex under load, but with arms this long I supose that is unavoidable.

Tektro 984 Calliper Brake Review - Performance

The Tektro 984 provides more stopping power than my old calliper but I think this is mainly due to the change of lever. The lever supplied is a short pull lever for use with cantilevers or callipers, whilst the old lver was a long pull.

I suppose that the maths of the brake has not changed, still a single pivots, still the same length of drop, so really can I expect any improvement . .. not really.

Tektro 984 Calliper Brake Review - Specifications 

  • Long reach: 70-80mm
  • Post length: 51mm
  • Cable length: 700mm
  • Weight, caliper: 205g
  • Weight, lever: 83
Tektro 984 Calliper Brake Review - Alternatives

For a long reach application I think a single pivot calliper will always give limited stopping power. But unless you have braze ons for v brakes what are you to do?

Option 1 - A hub brake is always a good option, but this require a re-build of the wheel, most hub brake are 1000m wide which whilst OK for some BMX are unlikely to fit a folding bike.

Option 2 - Another option might be to replace the front forks, perhaps some off of a childrens bike that do have v brake mounts.

Option 3  - some sort of adaptor. You can get u-brake plates and some times v brake ones which might enable the fitting of a better brake type v or u to increase braking power.

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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

DIY Longtail Cargo Bike - Chapter 4

DIY Cargo Bike - Chapter 4 - Intro

Having built the frame and installing a minimum number of componenets for the maiden voyage there were a few niggly bits to sort out;

  1. Gears
  2. Lighting
  3. Test for Strength

Did you miss Chapter 1, Chapter 2, or Chapter 3?

DIY Cargo Bike - Chapter 4 - Gears

I only ever intened to have a 1 x 9 setup on this longtail cargo bike, as I don't like front mechs. So I ordered quiet a small chainset, a 34 tooth M-ighty chainset from SJS cycles.

34 teeth and a tight chain, just about OK

This would have been fine if the chain tension was very high, as with a single speed or hub gear bike. But the "flop" of the chain using my deriallier gear system caused immediate problems with the chain rubbing on the foot plates of the bike in all but the lowest gear (larger rear spocket gives more clerance).

So I tried to add in a chain "support which was a jockey wheel from a rear mech, and some peices of metal welded to the frame, to lift the chain up over the rear foot deck, this was a very noisy soluitoins with tons of rub in all but 5th (central) gear.

So in the end the soluiton was to get a larger chain wheel up front, not idela on a bike designed to ccarry heavey stuff, but I do value peace a quiet.

On ebay I found a single speed chainset with a 44 tooth chain wheel, so I bought that.

This works OK. I also had to trim back the inside edge of the foot rest to allow a little more clerance for the chain.

DIY Longtail Cargo Bike - Chapter 4 - Lighting

I am a fan of hub dynamos and the front wheel I had spare has a  got one, a Shimano DH-3N20 which is a good bit of kit, for lights I pinched the Busch and Muller Lumotec Lyt Senso Plus from my main bike, and purchased a Axa / Basta Ray Steady LED nothing to say other than a thank youto busch and muller for the extra long cables thery oprovide with there lights which reached from the front wheel all the way to the back.

DIY Longtail Cargo Bike - Chapter 4 - Test for Strength

There is quite a bit of flex in the bike, from side to side that is. But the loads will be applied downwards so I wasn't too worried abot that. I way 80 - 85 kg so I knew the bike was good for that.

Next load up was me plus a 20 kg parcel, which was strapped on to the foot plate at the rear , so that was 100kg.

Next load up was me and my two daughters (leap of faith I know) so that would be 110 - 115 kg. As you can see they are both very happy, as am I.

So happy days. All done. Expect some stupid pictures of me taking fridges to the dump in a few weeks. . . .

Update: 10/02/2014

After a few months of riding I have a small update. All there is to say is that the bike is doing well. We have had various family excursions on the bike, and I have taken numerous large parcels to the post office using it. The only modification since this post has been to reduce the size of the chain ring from 44 (yes I know) to 38 teeth. A lot easier on the knees.

Some pictures below of a large load.

Went about 3 miles with this load. An antique(ish) foot locker type thing.

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Monday, 4 November 2013

Replacing a Light Switch with a PIR / Occupancy Sensor

Replacing a Light Switch with a PIR / Occupancy Sensor


Replacing a Light Switch with a PIR / Occupancy Sensor - Intro

A few months after moving house, and I have finally got round to replacing the very noisy (click, clonk) pull cord light switches in the bathrooms that wake everybody up. I opted for PIR motion sensors with adjustable "on" time, and sensors that keep the light off during daylight hours.

I purchased them from Total Warehouse an ebay shop.

Replacing a Light Switch with a PIR / Occupancy Sensor - No Neutral

I have replaced loads of light switches before, but guess what a PIR / Occupancy Sensor is not a light switch!

Nearly all generic PIR / Occupancy Sensors require a neutral wire to operate, and nearly all light switches do not have a neutral wire. the typical light switch works by breaking the positive side of the lighting circuit, so effectivly at the switch you have 2 positive wires (and an earth wire).

Replacing a Light Switch with a PIR / Occupancy Sensor - DO NOT DO THIS

These PIRs do not have an earth connection, ie they are un-earthed.  So this means the earth wire at the light switch is spare, and potentially could be used for a neutral wire. Of course there are numerous dangers with doing this, the earth wire is not insulated separately as it is not meant to be in constant use. It is also dangerous because it is not blue in colour and so future users my identify it wrongly. DO NOT DO THIS

So in theory (although I would not do this) you could swap the switch earth over to the neutral side of ceiling light rose, and then without crawling around in the loft you will have a neutral at the switch. You can check that you have the right wire by checking resistance from the switch to the rose along the chosen earth wire, it should be zero. DO NOT DO THIS

Replacing a Light Switch with a PIR / Occupancy Sensor - Solution

Hire an electrician and he . she will probably replace the switch wire with a 3 core + earth alternative, which will allow a properly insulated neutral wire to be sited at the switch.

Also there are PIR / Occupancy Sensors that do not reuqire a neutral, but these are around 10 times the price.

Replacing a Light Switch with a PIR / Occupancy Sensor - In Use

So is having a PIR / Occupancy Sensor useful. Errrr . . . .yes I guess it is, although you will need to carry a s small screwdriver around with you for a few days. The sensor switches on when you come in the room which is good, but how long it stays on for after that initial detection is set by twiddling the adjustment dials on the side of the unit.

Of course if you keep moving around then the light will stay on but if you are sitting down reading book then after a while the light will go off, a PIR would work well in say a kitchen where people are moving round allot, but in lounge I should imagine they would not be very useful. They are OK in the bathroom, on about a 2 minute delay.

Another problem with replacing light switch with a PIR is that light switches are tucked away in corners, where they can not "see" the whole room, 2 out of the 3 installed PIRs in our house had to be sited in central locations resulting in holes in the ceiling.

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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Fixing Loose Kitchen Taps

Fixing Loose Kitchen Taps - Intro

If you have loose kitchen taps then you can follow the below instructions to tighten them up. Obviously anyone can tighten up a nut, but under a sink the nut is often hard to get too / hard to reach. But with a few tools you can do it you self.

A nut too far.

Fixing Loose Kitchen Taps - Tools

You will need:

  1. Ordinary / Plain Screwdriver (Flat Head)
  2. Hacksaw
  3. Pliers or Vice
  4. Socket set (11mm socket - may vary).

Fixing Loose Kitchen Taps - Method

Snug up up brass nut using your fingers, this should be possible in all but the tightest spots. Also check that the threaded  bar, is snugged up. When the nut and the bar are finger tight, remove thme together by unscrewing the threaded bar from the base of the tap, DO NOT LET THE BRASS NUT MOVE.

ordinary screwdriver slot at base of thread

Once you have removed the bar and the nut you will be looking like something in the diagram below.

As you can see there is a lot of spare threaded bar sticking out which stops you getting a socket on the nut. We need to reduce the amount of bar that protrudes.

Measure the thread that was poking out on the upper end of the bar (say 42mm in my case). Move the nut down the bar until it is flush / parralel with the end that has the screwdriver slots. Then cut the threaded bar so you get back to your original measurement (mine was 42mm).

You can now use a scredriver to screw the threaded bar back in to the base of the tap until tight, and then tighten the nut using a standard socket set.

The nut is brass so you will have to be a bit carefull not to overtighten.

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Monday, 28 October 2013

Checking for Correct Drivers

Checking for Correct Drivers - Intro 

Sometimes a piece of hardware on you PC might start to misbehave, or perhaps it doesn't work properly from the outset. A common cuase is incorrect drivers. A driver is a small piece of software that help you operating system undetsand what a particular bit of hardware does.

Checking for Correct Drivers - Download Fresh Drivers

Before you start the reintsall process check that you have the correct drivers to hand. For example for a graphics card made by nvidia or perhaps ATI vists there website and download a fresh set of drivers. You then have 2 options.

Find out which drivers to download can be tricky and you may need to open up you PC case, which is fine if done carefully, and write down the part number on your hardware. 

SO above we have a graphics card and you can find out which driver you will need by do a google search for part number.

So if I search for 180-10283-A02 on google it will tell be that the video / graphics card is an NVS 285, so type "NVS 285 driver" back in to google and you should have some good results.


You now have 2 options.

Option 1 - Run Intstaller

In the file you dowenloaded there may be am install file, this may install the driver for you (just follow the on screen prompts). or

Option 1 - Install Maunaully

Sometimes the drivers will not be installed and just "unzipped" to a director somewhere on your PC. In this instance you will have to make note of where there are stored durung the unzipping process.

For example when you unzip drivers sourced from the HP website, the are normally stored in a folder called "SWSETUP" found in the root of the "C" drive (My Computer > C:).

So once you have figured out where the drivers have been stored open device manager.

(Start > Control Panel> Device Manager)

Right click on the hardware you are having trouble with (it may have a yellow question mark next to it), and choose update driver software. Some people say uou should unistall the drivers before updating.

Choose browse computer, and then navigate to the folder where the drivers were unzipped to.

Then click next. 

One of twop thing will happen, either you will see so animated incons saying install is happening, and you will have to restart computer (perhaps), or you will see a message saying that you drivers are already OK. If it is the later then perhaps somthing else is the matter and not your drivers.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

P0299 Fault Code on Audi A4 1.9 TDI BRB Engine

P0299 Fault Code on Audi A4 1.9 TDI BRB Engine  - Intro

Our Audi A4 1.9 TDI  suffered an obvious loss of boost and the engine light showing. I plugged in the OBD scanner and it flagged up a P0299 fault code described as "turbo booster under boost".

So armed with this code I went on various forums here and there to see what I could find out. However, I should have opened up the bonnet first, as the problem would have been immediatly obvious. THIS MAY HAVE ULTIMATLY BEEN DUE TO A WORN CAM SHAFT.

P0299 Fault Code on Audi A4 1.9 TDI BRB Engine  - Forums and Other Sources

1 - Apparently a common cuase for this code is a faulty pressure convertor valve.

"I would look at the Pressure Converter Valve (N75) located above the brake booster. It controls vacuum to the turbo. The part number is 1K0906627A. Here is a link to a picture of it . Hope that helps you out, mine was doing the same thing - no boost, no cruise control, and same code."

2 - The BRB engine has a variable geometry turbo, with bits that move inside, these moving bits are pulled / pushed by an actuator.

"Check your boost actuator with a vacuum pump from the autopart store. Autozone sells one that will be perfect for what you are testing. I guess I should do the test just to rule it out but I don't see how that could possibly be the problem given the fact that when it goes into "wimp mode" (that’s what I call it cuz it's not "Limp Mode") all I have to do is unplug the MAF sensor and Whaaalaaaa, got all my power back. The boost actuator is a mechanical device that I don’t believe can be fixed by unplugging the MAF. Please correct me if I’m wrong."

 3 - If the Actuator is the problem, then you will need to figure out which brand you have, actuators can only be sourced from specialist companies and not from your average parts place, they may require that you make a custom brcket for them to fit!

Borg/warner turbo rod extends with applied vacume.

Garret Turbo rod retracts with applied vacume.

Actuator type blck box = electronic – silver and round = mechanical.
P0299 Fault Code on Audi A4 1.9 TDI BRB Engine  - Actual Problem in my Case

There is an exhauist gas pipe that comes out of the EGR cooler, and upon opening the bonnet it was immediatly obvious that this had broken (stress fracture) and there was soot every where. The host gases had also melted a hole in the plastic engine cover.

It is unclear as to why this pipe has failed and one reason is :

"Good call Tom_B...EGR cooler was loose. The engine is doing some serious vibrating and some of the bolts had been damaged from the vibration so they replaced the mid and the rear bolts. I hadn't opened the hood with the engine running in a while and I was surprised by how much vibration was going on in there. I guess I got accustomed to it."

SO check that.

I found a loose bolt on the EGR cooler essembly, see below, so I teightened that and had the EGR pipe welded up by a local fabricator. I will post back in a few months and tell how things are going. There are other bolts that should be checked for tightness, but they are hard to get to.