Sidecar Adventures: Some Hack Hackery

On Thursday I drove the sidecar to work. After work I drove it to a friend’s house where we had a BBQ and played some games.

About 9:30 in the evening I went out to the sidecar to drive home. I turned the key and it said “Rrrr click. Click.” No start. Dead battery. WTF?

Luckily one of the people there had some jumper cables and after we figured out that the battery was under the seat, and then figured out how to get the seat off, we successfully started the hack and I rode it home.

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528i Angel Eyes Achieved!

Yesterday afternoon I decided to buckle down and make the angel eyes work. I redid all the wiring, making it cleaner.

The internet told me that there would be a red wire with a white stripe in the fuse box under the passenger side cabin air filter under the hood, and sure enough there was.

The internet also told me that this wire would have power as soon as the key was inserted and the power would stay on for a few seconds after the doors were locked. This part was not quite true.

I used my multi-meter to determine that the wire was powered when the ignition was turned on and the power stayed on for about 5 seconds after the car was turned off. Close enough for me!

I used an IDC tap (as much as I hate those things) to add a fuse to the red/white wire and ran the appropriate wires to the lights. Bingo-bango. The angel eyes come on when you start the car and turn off a few seconds after you turn off the ignition.

Here is a crappy cell phone photo showing the eyes.

On to the next project.

528i Parking Light Madness

After the front end of the 528i got smashed in it needed new headlights, so I bought a set of aftermarket lights with Angel Eyes in them. I didn’t want to pay the body shop for the time to wire up the eyes, so the eyes haven’t been working.

Since it’s finally warm enough out to work outside, I decided to try and wire them up this afternoon.


Those damned Germans.

I got the wiring all cleaned up and hooked up according to the instructions. Then I turned on the parking lights. The angel eyes glowed a dim orange. That’s not right. So I re-read the instructions and checked the wiring. Yes, it’s wired according to the instructions. So I turned them on again and just for giggles I tried a turn signal. The angel eyes flashed bright white in sync with the turn signals. (They looked great, but they aren’t supposed to flash.)


The next thing to do is look at a parking light. The parking lights bulbs are also the turn signals on this car. On most cars if this is the case the manufacturer will use a dual filament bulb, with a dim filament for the parking light and a brighter one that flashes for the turn signal. This requires three wires. (Ground, parking light and turn signal.)

Sure enough, there are dual filament bulbs in the parking light sockets. But there are only two wires. One for power and one for ground. How do they flash the second filament?

Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot again?

After playing around a bit, and scratching my head a bit, I discovered that only one filament is being used in the dual filament bulb. I put my multi-meter on the contacts and it appears that when the bulbs are in parking light mode the car is sending a lower voltage, possibly A/C signal (the meter was freaking out a bit trying to read it.) And when they flash the turn signal they send the full 12 volts DC.

What the hell? Way to complicate things BMW.

They way the eyes are wired up it sends the (supposed) 12V from one of the parking lights to them. There is also a relay so that when the light is flashing as a turn signal it sends a straight 12V to them. It’s a bit convoluted and it took me some head scratching to to figure out how it was supposed to work.

Unfortunately, since the BMW engineers aren’t sending a full 12V to the parking lights, the eyes glow dimly until you turn on the turn signal, then they get straight 12V when the turn signal is on, flashing on and off.

That’s not going to work at all…

I suppose before I go all crazy trying to figure out a different way to wire these up I should contact the people I bought them from and see what they say.


Just as an update I’ve been doing some googling and just discovered that there are SIX different fuse locations in this silly car. I only knew about three of them.

The locations are:

  1. In the glove box.
  2. Behind the glove box!
  3. Under the passenger seat. (Requires pulling seat, carpet and other stuff.)
  4. Under the passenger side cabin air filter located under the hood.
  5. Behind the sub-woofer in the right rear of the trunk area.
  6. Just above the battery in the right rear of the trunk area.

Wow. Just wow.

The 3D Printer Assembly Photos

This will mainly be a photo dump with some comments.

The 3D printer arrived last Thursday and I assembled it on Thursday and Friday evening. All told it probably took me about 6 hours from opening the box to plugging it in and moving the table around.

The only real quibble I had with assembling it is that the instructions are a series of videos (not really an issue) but at the beginning of each step lay out the parts you need. The parts are clear acrylic on a white background. It’s difficult to see which ones you need and there are a few that are close to the same, but not identical.

The section about the wiring was confusing. I figured it out but there are steps missing and it’s a bit unclear.

There was a delay on Saturday when I discovered that the version of Linux I had on my laptop was too old to install the controller software on so I had to install a newer version. That took a couple hours of messing about to get that all setup.

Saturday and Sunday afternoon (with a break for a drive in the sidecar) were spent messing about trying to get a decent printed object out of this thing. Man this is a steep learning curve and the information, while out there, is difficult to track down. I did find some good things to try for calibrating the machine though.

I finally got some things tweaked in close, but I’m having an issue with the extruder. I just googled my issue and have something to try tomorrow that should fix that.

Anyway, photos!


This is the box it came in. More photos below the fold.

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Broadcom B43 WiFi card under Linux (Mint and others)

The Dell Lattitude series of laptops (D630, D830, others) use the Broadcom 43xx series WiFi cards. These have firmware that is proprietary and needs special voodoo to make work.

The answer is scattered around the interwebs and I can never find it on the first go, so here is what works for me.

First off, if you are using Linux Mint in the control center there is a Driver Manager. Do not use this to enable the Broadcom card, it does not work. (The Nivida driver does work however.)

What you need to do is as follows:

apt-get install b43-fwcutter firmware-b43-installer

Then edit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf and comment out the bcm43xx line

You should be able to unload and reload the modules with:

modprobe -r ssb_hcd
modprobe -r b43 ssb
modprobe b43

The wireless should just start working and network manager should start showing wireless networks!

3D Printer Ordered

I’m not sure why, but I just bought a 3D printer kit.

One of the bloggers that I follow just bought a Prusa i3 clone from China for a pretty good price and he said the quality was pretty good.

I found the one he bought but they wanted $90 for shipping it and that pushed the price a little higher than I wanted to pay. But then my friend Bil pointed out that there was one for $360 with free shipping on the same site.

It’s a different manufacturer but it’s still an i3 clone and the reviews were good, so I bought one.

Just what I needed, more projects. Hopefully it will arrive before my ShapeOko v3 so I can build it and play with it for a while.

Another Motorcycle?

Yesterday (yes, in January,) I drove home my latest motorcycle acquisition.

I got forwarded a screaming deal on a 1998 Moto Guzzi V11EV motorcycle with a Hannigan Classic sidecar attached. I’ve been jonesing for another sidecar and this deal was too good to pass up. So I checked with Liz, who pretty much said “a sidecar? Fun!” and I bought it.

It’s in great shape. The bike just turned over 40,000 miles on the odo as I pulled into the driveway and runs great. It pulls the sidecar down the freeway at an indicated 65 MPG with go to spare.

I’m super excited about it.

Assembling a Dust Deputy

The Oneida Dust Deputy is a small molded plastic cyclone-style dust separator for use with a shop vac. They claim it removes 99% of the dust from the vacuum flow before it reaches the shop vac filter. I don’t know about 99% but it does a pretty damned good job.

Removing the dust before it gets to the shop vac keeps the filter cleaner and thus the vacuum is more efficient. You also don’t need to clean or replace the filter nearly as often.

I finally took the plunge and bought one the other day. They cost less than $50 and Menards had a sale going on, so I clicked the buy button. Continue reading

Possible New Z Axis Design for the ShapeOko

I’ve been thinking about how to upgrade the Z Axis on my ShapeOko for a while now and I finally started drawing up some stuff in Inventor. As a side note, it’s way cool to build assemblies in Inventor and create parts in-place and on-the-fly. So much fun.

The main reason for the Z axis upgrade is to increase rigidity. There is too much flex in my current setup.

I also want to use the new v2 design that flips the makerslide around, but I had issues with the travel limitations with the stock spindle mount plate. Additionally I want to move the motor off to the side with the new Z axis pulley drive. I also purchased a DWP611 router motor (you can buy just the motor on Amazon) and a Precise Bits collet set for it.

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