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Some Personal Projects I've Done

(except professional computer projects on my resume & Company web pages.)

by Julian H. Stacey


Page written for these reasons:
  • For entertainment [pictorial in some cases].
  • To provide hints for others trying to fix same machines I have
  • For me to refer to if my machines need repairing a 2nd time.
  • To list some DIY things a systems engineer is not afraid to do in his spare time that a programmer might less likely do (there being some programmers who claim to be software engineers, who aren't really engineers, just programmers; IMO Real engineers aren't afraid to proficiently use electronic, electrical, & mechanical tools etc, as well as software tools). Scopes, soldering irons, DVMs, logic analsers should all be light relief to programming & design, rivet guns OK for a bit, concertina rivet guns a luxury, but I admit eg I'm nervous with chain saws, band saws, & not competent with my arc welder, & not bought a 3D printer yet - so some games are left to learn !
  • Some countries eg Britain endemicaly debase the word Engineer, where they should use the word Technician
  • `Hackers Versus Crackers : There's A Difference ! Most of the public are misled by ignorant media & politicians to not know the difference between a program (code) Hacker (good) & computer / system Cracker (bad).
  • A few Projects I've done (excluding professional computer projects on my resume) & various software things on my remote servers & local computers etc

    • Stripped & rebuilt lawn mowers.
    • Analysed & re-tuned a Fiat 500/ Lucas voltage regulator.
    • Washed out & re-susitated a car battery (with goggles, but not reccomended now, risk to eyes, + pollution risk).
    • Built own super hot flame gun (Heath Robinson style ;-) , to solder a big car Volvo 140 B20B radiator: (Very hard to generate enough heat on to a solder joint of a car radiator main bracket that is designed to dump heat.) Flame gun built from back end of an electrolux cylinder hoover pipe bleeding in camping gas through a lube can nozzle clipped in centre of a copper water pipe, clamped by jubilee clips & bits of wood to brace in middle of air stream. Made a nice roaring flame, far more powerful than just gas normaly emitted under own pressure.
    • Stripped & rebuilt a washing machine,
    • Fibreglass insulated a loft. - Pig of a job ! Normal breathing mask insufficient. Sticks in hands (or write with gloves). Best for in dead of winter else far too hot & sweating.
    • Written device drivers (M6800 parallel & serial & Z80 SIO) tweaked others (inc Minix floppy).
    • Built & programmed a stepper motor driven device,
    • Designed own computer, chips upward, inc circuit diagrams, timing, wire wrapping, hand assembling, logic analyser debugging etc.
    • Installed a plumbed large hot water cylinder & thermostats for a house, ground & installed pipes & taps.
    • Removed a large Volvo B20B car engine (Not advised, can be unstable when high, esp. if front of garage slopes away sideways, could tilt & crush one), changed the clutch, & big ends, & reground the cylinder head, & re soldered the radiator (& made the enhanced heat torch to do the job), brazed the tail gate (& made a hash of learning to weld - still my weak point for decades!)
    • Soldered all own constructions & repairs (except just once, when an ace solderer friend did some really fine work at high pitch density as he was more used to it)
    • Built a pre-designed kit computer PCB, Analysed & fixed the burnt out middle layers of a friend's.
    • Repaired a colour television at least twice (dangerous that, don't do it !), & a VHS
    • Written lots of source code programs & enhancements etc,
    • Built massive satellite unfixed TV mount, & wrote code to determine position (when no others were visible in Munich & it was hard to align).
    • Repaired big TV a couple of times. Yes, & been damn scared, especially after a friend distracted me, & there was damn great bang, & then I had Twofaults to fix, not just One, but at least I was still alive :-)
    • Mastered bootable CDROMs including complete operating system installation & rescue kits.
    • Computer monitor Trivial removal & replacement of sheared screw needed unusual improvised structural support to avoid anything else breaking during repair.
    • HP ScanJet conversion from NT to FreeBSD (conversions purchasable)
    • Dishwasher repair (with a power saw on chassis).
    • Washing Machine
    • Chair upholstered (during creation of this page).
    • Fireworks & Bonfire construction periodically for GEA
    • UPS battery renewal (frequent)
    • Laptop etc repair several
    • etc
    • Tips from advent of the web:
      • Often manuals are on line now, Search, Particular use eg "PDF" + manufacture + Model Number (beware some entrapment sites). If you have a rare manual not on line, consider making it public, especialy if the manufacture stops supporting it, eg through bancruptcy or obsolescence etc).
      • Hardest part in repairing many things is gettting the cover off without breaking it, or bits flying loose ... now has lots of "How to take it apart & fix it" videos

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