Sat Jun 14 21:42:07 PDT 2014 - Touching Base

I've been busy the last month or so, growing my team at work. I expect things will stay busy for at least another month, so there will probably be rather few updates here over that time.

Tomorrow, I'm headed over to East Bay to check out my buddy's Nova. Hopefully, that will inspire me to get my act together on the Yamahas and maybe even the Corvair. It would be awesome to have that thing in really usable condition.

Sun May 11 22:43:21 PDT 2014 - Getting Real

I heard back from 2stroketuner today. Looks like the prices on the page are pretty current. He quoted me $225 for a crank rebuild and $150 to bore and hone the cylinders -- plus parts, of course. I currently have one set of third-over pistons and rings and in theory one of the sets of heads have already been bored third-over and honed. I haven't done enough digging through parts to see if any of it is in usable condition today. 2stroketuner also quoted me $460 for an engine rebuild, not including cylinder or crank work. Right this moment, I'm pretty curious what all could be going on in this little engine to warrant $460 worth of time on top of the crank and cylinder work, so I threw him a note back to see if I can get myself educated.

As of this moment, my most likely path will be to invest in the tooling I need to split the cases and get the cranks out. From there, I'll give 2stroketuner my cranks and cylinders to refresh and I'll tackle the rest of the engine cleanup myself. We'll see what I find when I start tearing things apart.

Sat May 3 12:30:52 PDT 2014 - Getting Started

Did a little more research and I'm now pretty darn sure that the matching purple bikes are both 1972 CS5Es. Farrah has new paint and while the colors are near perfect, the pinstriping isn't exactly right. No one would ever notice without comparing to a stock tank, but that's the difference in the tanks -- not actually two different tanks like I was thinking before. Farrah also has some not-great stick-on badges that look a bit different from the originals. It also doesn't look like the mounting surface was smoothed as one of the "badges" is lumpy where the old mounting holes are.

I also reached out to 2stroketuner today to see if he's up for rebuilding a crank or three. Hopefully, he'll cut me a package deal. I was hoping I could do the crankshafts myself as my neighbor has a full machine shop, but looking through the service manual, you need an impressive assortment of specialty jigs to tear the crankshaft apart and get it back to one piece and I don't see myself going into business rebuilding crankshafts full time. Thus, I'll be farming that part out.

Thu May 1 19:02:42 PDT 2014 - Farrah and the Angels

Farrah and the other Angels came into my life on May 1, 2014. Two of the bikes are matching purple and white, while the third is blue and the bodywork looks to be shaped just a little differently. I picked up all three from a fine young couple near The Castro. The bikes have seen some work at the hands of local mechanics who weren't quite up to the task and nothing is anywhere near running. The previous owner decided that instead of tearing into them himself, he would move the bikes on to someone with the time and space to treat them right. Hopefully, I can do his dreams justice and get one or two of them back on the road.

I'm still in the research stage of what exact model these bikes are. The engine numbers are both CS3xxxxxx. Presuming both this model guide and the bodywork I have are correct, the matching pair are both 1972 CS5Es. You might not be able to notice in the pictures, but the two matching bikes have slightly different tanks even though they're both the same year. According to foy9999, some CS5s came with a 337 model large tank and others have a slim 307 tank. Perhaps I have one of each?

Sat Mar 15 14:35:15 PDT 2014 - Realtek 8192CU / Debian / DKMS

I picked up a Cirago BTA7300 combo bluetooth / wifi adaptor for my RasPi Projects and it Just Worked™. Silly me, I figured I could plug it into my Debian truckputer and it would continue to Just Work™.

After plugging it into a couple of Debian boxes and having it not work in the slightest, I started doing some research. It turns out the mainline rtl8192cu driver doesn't work for 99.9% of folks and the awesome folks behind Raspbian actually bundle Realtek's open source driver in their kernel.

Great, so all we need to do is build the vendor's driver, right? Well, yes, other than the fact that the driver only compiles with kernels up to 3.9. I'm not running an old kernel just to get some vendor driver working, so back to reseach. As tends to be the way, I wasn't the first person to run into this problem. The awesome folks over at Arch Linux even went as far as building a dkms-8192cu package to manage the Realtek driver on Arch Linux installations. Awesome. Now, if only I ran Arch.

Everyone knows I'm a Debian fanboy, so I need a solution that works there. I could just apply the patches and build the driver myself, but it seemed like a much more robust solution to make my own DKMS deb.

Having no idea what I was doing, I took Arch's dkms-8192cu package apart and some DKMS packaging instructions from the fine folks at Kubuntu and hacked together 8192cu-dkms_4.0.2.9000_all.deb. It's a source distribution, so it should build the modules for any kernel version. I've personally tested it with: Linux version 3.13-1-amd64 ( (gcc version 4.8.2 (Debian 4.8.2-14) ) #1 SMP Debian 3.13.5-1 (2014-03-04)

Sat Mar 15 14:13:11 PDT 2014 - Samsung LMS700KF07 / 32V3H-H6A Autopsy
So, the display is borked and isn't coming back. What to do? Tear it apart, figure out how it works, and document it to make troubleshooting easier for the next guy, that's what. Here we go...
We're going in cable order on the control board. Starting all the way on the end of the board, we have a 6-wire ribbon with a notch on the end. This ribbon goes up to the LED, which is the bottom layer of the display sandwhich.
Right next to that, we have a 4-wire ribbon with a white tab on the end. This one goes to the resistive touch sensor. If I really wanted to, I could use this and the control board as the world's most rediculous touchpad. Being that this is the part you touch, this is of course the top layer of the display sandwhich.

Here we have the heart of the display, the LCD. It has the fat ribbon cable with a bunch of components etched into copper foil embedded in it. No, the cable isn't supposed to be torn off like that. Oops. The actual end is dark brown with a white stripe on it.

Those who have worked with broken LCDs before will recognize the dark spot in the lower left corner. Besides tearing the ribbon when it fell off my desk, the LCD also cracked and spilled out some of those tasty liquid crystals. Even if I could surgically reattach the ribbon cable, this LCD will always have an ugly blotchy spot in the corner. No thanks.

Being that the LCD is the most fragile component (obviously) and needs light from the LED to pass through it and then through the resistive overlay, the LCD is of course the gooey center of the display sandwhich.

There you have it. Autopsy of an inexpensive eBay touchscreen.

Sat Mar 8 01:32:15 PST 2014 - Stupid ribbon cables.

I've done some troubleshooting on the not-working display, but no breakthrough yet.

My HP laptop doesn't see the screen as being plugged in under Windows 7 or Debian. Under Debian, I monitored udev during the plug and unplug events and a different monitor fires events, but this one doesn't trigger anything at all. Plugging it into my Mac laptop, OSX notices that it has an additional display and calls it 32V3H-H6A. This lines up with the identifier found here. From OSX's perspective, it looks like it works, however, nothing ever shows up on the touchscreen display. If I flip OSX to desktop-extension instead of display mirroring, it lets me drag windows over to where the extended desktop should be, but still no display. I can adjust resolutions with OSX and I tried all of them and nothing convinced the touchscreen to turn on. OSX locked refresh frequency on the touchscreen to 60Hz, which should be correct.

I took the whole assembly apart to make sure the ribbons are all seated correctly and everything there is good. My backup camera still works fine on the A/V in, so I know the panel itself works and is connected appropriately to the control board. If I plug the touchscreen USB dongle into the Mac, I can use it as a mouse. I did notice that the main Realtek chip on the board gets very hot to the touch. I don't know if that's normal or not.

As a final kick while I'm down, the panel fell off my desk and tore the main ribbon cable, so there's no way I can troubleshoot any further now. It looks like that ribbon cable is permanently attached to the LCD, so I'm thinking it's time to throw in the towel and just pick up a new panel and control board and move on with the project.

I'm waiting to hear back from Derrick now to make sure the new controller and panel I picked out are direct replacements for the kit I already have.


Tue Mar 4 22:42:31 PST 2014 - Lots of ideas. No actual progress.
I'm toying around with truckputer interface ideas. Right now, it's ugly as all get out, but it's got a surface-layer of functionality and I have a-million-and-one ideas around where I want to go with it:
  • The tiles should be cubes with different "things" on each face that can be accessed by swiping in whatever direction.
  • Tiles should be modular plugins so the system is easy to extend.
  • Tiles should "flip" when tapped, reveiling something useful on the other side.
  • Tiles should be able to contain interactive UI elements -- think Stop / Play or whatever on the other side of the album cover for the music player.
  • Dragging tiles around should automagically re-sort them intelligently.
  • Integrate with Wikispeedia
  • Screw Wikispeedia -- capture real behavior and curate a local DB so we don't need connectivity to know the speed limit of places we've been before -- basically, map speed.
  • Share curated local speed DB with Wikispeedia
  • Integrate cruise control with speed limits
  • Solve construction zones
  • Figure out if we can talk to CC using OBDII or if we need to do resistor hacking and mimick the steering wheel buttons directly.
  • Should this thing be configurable via the GUI? Probably not.
  • Support FM radio and RBDS
  • Automagically pick FM / Local Music / Pandora based on connectivity / availability
  • Scan FM in the background whenever we're not using it and map signal strength by GPS
  • Wardrive in general -- map WiFi when we're not using it
Mon Mar 3 19:30:21 PST 2014 - Audio / Visual

So, I spent a bit of time over the weekend installing Debian, then Ubuntu, then another flavor of Ubuntu, then Debian again on the Truckputer with it hooked up to a real monitor. As of now, I have no sound. This isn't the greatest thing considering 99% of the point of this thing is to make sound. I'm using a mobo with built-in surround-sound for a reason, right folks?

Anyway. Sound doesn't work. Let me be a tad more specific. Sound wants to work, but doesn't. The board (Gigabyte F2A99XN-WIFI) has two sound cards (and a kitchen sink) built in. The problem is that only the HDMI sound card is working. I don't want HDMI sound. I want four chanels and a sub working via component jacks. Some days, I don't get what I want.

In other news, I'm debating how to lay out the GUI for this thing. In my not-so-humble opinion, every single carputer interface I've ever seen sucks. Yes, that includes Ride Runner. Who wants their in-dash computer screen to look like a real dashboard with mechaanical buttons? Centrafuse has some very good ideas, but overall is still way too busy. I want my in-dash display to be simple, effective, non-distracting. I don't want people to ooh and aah at it. I want to personally have my driving experience improved without consciously noticing that it's there.

I hate to say it, but a Metro knock-off with less obnoxious colors is my top vote right now. Of course, if I'm going that route, I now need to decide if I'm going to do a native GUI or use something like Metro JS and jQuery.

Sun Mar 2 11:52:05 PST 2014 - Broken LCD Controller
Yesterday, I hit an anti-breakthrough on the truckputer project. I spent the better part of the evening troubleshooting why my new barebones system wouldn't POST and it finally turned out that my awesome LCD touchscreen decided that it doesn't like HDMI anymore. All of the other inputs work fine, but HDMI acts like the cable isn't even plugged in. I've reach out to derrick.ny and we've batted it back and forth a little. Right now, I'm pretty convinced that something between the HDMI port and the Realtek RTD2660H crapped out and I'm going to need a new control board. I'm already way over budget on this project, so hopefully Derrick will cut me some slack on price given the work I've put into supporting his hardware on Linux.
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