Tech: Custom Solder Reflow Oven
Sunday, January 24, 2016
After manually soldering a few too many prototype boards I realized I needed a solder reflow oven. The problem is commercial ovens are expensive. My solution? A custom reflow oven based on a commonly-available convection oven.
BMW328is: Cover Weakness and Starter Issue
Sunday, January 17, 2016
My car cover is now in continuous use and it's doing its job well but it's not without its issues. The starter finally started to act up as well, leading me to consider my options. And for the folks that wondered what happened to my brother's toybox, I provide an update following some serious progress.
BMW330ci: E46 Fan Clutch Adventure
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
My brother's friend recently picked up a 2002 325. Turned out it was making strange noises which were ultimately determined to be caused by a failed fan clutch. Naturally, being the good brother that I am, I agreed (or was coerced, depending on how I care to look at it) to take a couple hours out of my day to acquire the parts and replace them.
BMW328is: Winter Tires Installed
Friday, November 27, 2015
Today I reluctantly put the wonderful Pilot Super Sport tires to bed for the winter and replaced them with my existing set of Winter Sport 4D. I also completed a routine oil service and a wash before finding something I hope does not become routine: more rust that will need to be addressed in the spring.
Tech: Installing October CMS
Sunday, November 22, 2015
I recently needed to build a website and ultimately wound up using a relatively new CMS called October on top of Debian 8, Nginx, and PHP5-FPM. But before you follow in my footsteps be sure to read the fine print at the end of the article.
BMW330ci: Winter Prep
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
With the E36 returned to service and the leaves largely gone from the trees I felt the time was right to put the E46 to sleep for the winter. Time for some essential winter prep.
BMW328is: HVAC Overhaul Complete
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
The E36 is back home following completion of the HVAC overhaul and carpet replacement. A few issues came up since I last reported on this topic but as usual my technician addressed everything and managed to deliver the car on time and within budget.
Tech: Installing Odoo on FreeBSD
Monday, November 2, 2015
I recently had a need for some inventory control software and realized Odoo fit the bill. The problem? It's not officially supported on FreeBSD. After investing a few days in the process I have Odoo V9 running on FreeBSD 10.2 using Nginx as a proxy. Another article strictly for the FreeBSD geeks.
BMW328is: HVAC Overhaul In Progress
Thursday, October 29, 2015
After six months of gathering parts, dealing with paint defects and finding time for my own contributions to the project I finally managed to deliver the E36 to my technician for the HVAC overhaul and next phase in the interior overhaul: carpet replacement. Lots of information to talk about, so let's get started.
BMW330ci: Car Cover
Monday, October 26, 2015
With a need to bring the E46 out of hibernation during less than hospitable weather I decided to a cover for it, just as I did for the E36 last year. A soaking rain not long after it arrived proved its worth.
BMW328is: Return from Body Shop
Friday, October 16, 2015
After a brief three week stay at the body shop the E36 is home again, but it will remain with me only briefly. Next up: to my technician for the HVAC overhaul and carpet installation. Check out the full story.
BMW328is: Clearcoat Failure
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Unfortunately I have to delay the interior work yet again as the clearcoat of the paintwork I had done last year has failed so the car will go back to the paint shop once more. For the full story and a few other updates check out the latest E36 maintenance update.
BMW328is: HVAC Overhaul Plan
Friday, July 24, 2015
A failing HVAC control module LCD kickstarts the next phase of the E36 restoration including a full HVAC overhaul, but this time my technician will be enlisted to tackle the work. Some of the parts have arrived and more are on the way. See for yourself.
Impressions of the 2015 320xi
Saturday, July 4, 2015
A couple months back I brought the E46 in for service and received a 2015 320xi as a loaner. While this vehicle isn't exactly what I'd call representative of BMW performance it was an eye opening experience that confirmed many of my concerns about the brand. If you don't mind a bit of whining feel free to read all the gory details.
BMW330ci: Spare Conversion Parts Installed
Thursday, June 11, 2015
I finally got around to installing the full size spare conversion parts and overall I'm quite happy with the results.
BMW328is: Aux Fan Replacement
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Last week while driving in some of the warmest weather so far this season I diagnosed an aux fan failure, so I ordered a new unit and replaced it one more time.
BMW328is: Windshield Replacement
Friday, May 22, 2015
Back in Februrary I noticed a small crack forming on the passenger side of the windshield. Over the last few months the small crack progressed half way across the windshield so today I finally did something about it.
Tech: Building ARMV6 on FreeBSD with Poudriere
Thursday, May 21, 2015
I recently began to experiment with some ARM processors and FreeBSD only to find that pre-built packages are not provided for the ARM architecture. So I did things the BSD way and built what I needed from source using the amazing Poudriere tool. This is strictly for ARM geeks.
BMW328is: OBC Backlight Repair
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
The OBC backlighting problem began to occur more frequently so I decided to attempt another component level repair and save the cost of a new unit. The result is promising but not conclusive. I'll have to wait and see. Read the full story.
BMW330ci: Full Size Spare Issues Solved
Monday, April 27, 2015
A quick visit to my technician provided the information needed to solve the issues I encountered trying to convert the E46 to a full size spare. The solution involves the purchase of three parts.
BMW328is: Oil Service and Analysis
Monday, April 13, 2015
With weather reasonable once again I got around to performing an oil service last weekend. A sample was taken again and, while not exactly unexpected, the results aren't particularly good. The engine has almost 260K on it now and it's clearly trying to tell me something.
BMW330ci: Airbag and Tire Replacement
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Today I had the passenger airbag replaced under a BMW campaign and also installed a set of Pilot Super Sport tires. The results are excellent so far. If you own an E46 with runflat tires you'll definitely want to keep reading.
BMW328is: Return to Summer Rubber
Sunday, March 29, 2015
With reasonable if not warm conditions forecasted for early April I decided to get a jump on spring and install my set of summer-only Pilot Super Sport rubber. I'm also still looking into the engine vibration problem and have come up with a troubleshooting plan. Read the full story.
Tech: Amp Camp Amp Project
Sunday, March 22, 2015
With initial listening tests complete I felt it was time to release an article describing the design of my customized Amp Camp Amplifier. Some unique parts developed for this project are available if you wish to follow in my footsteps. Read more.
BMW328is: Car Cover Test
Saturday, January 31, 2015
An approaching winter storm allowed an opportunity to test my recently purchased car cover in real world conditions. Although the storm didn't meet its forecasted severity the cover passed the test with flying colors.
BMW328is: Engine Overhaul Research
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Several readers emailed me recently to suggest a possible alternate cause for the recent increase in engine vibration. Even if it turns out to be correct it will merely delay the inevitable so I've started to research the engine overhaul options in detail.
BMW328is: ZKW Harness Adapter Fabrication
Sunday, January 11, 2015
This evening a set aside some time to begin fabrication of the ZKW ellipsoid harness adapters. Although I managed to blow almost two hours on the first one I think the results are worth it.
Site: New Tech Section
Sunday, January 4, 2015
On the heels of the recent site core update last month is the addition of a new technical section. I've published two new articles detailing how I now manage my website codebase using Git and another describing my recent work to produce an amplifier PCB using Diptrace. I also used the opportunity to transfer my APRS Tracking Experiment article to this section since despite it being aviation related it always seemed out of place there. Enjoy!
BMW328is: Lamin-X Installed
Saturday, December 13, 2014
I recently took advantage of a sale on Lamin-X products and installed the films on my yet-to-be-installed new foglights and Euro Ellipsoid headlight assemblies. The job took a mere 15 minutes and came out well. See for yourself.
BMW328is: The E36 in Infrared
Friday, December 12, 2014
Now for something different. A friend acquired an IR camera so during a recent visit we took a few revealing shots of the E36.