more bass #2

The new subwoofer has bass, I’ll give it that. But sounds like a trumpeting elephant somehow. Well, it’s probably not the speaker itself. The broken crossover / connection panel is already removed. Hmm, let’s have a look at the mods of the previous owner.

He reduced the volume by adding an enclosure for the connection panel, added some foam isolation and adjusted the length of the vents. Alright, the enclosure lowers the volume (obviously), the insulation increases the (virtual) volume of the enclosure (not so obvious). Measuring inside the box is difficult, I’d estimate the volume about 70 litres so with the insulation it’s probably somewhere between 70 and 80 litres. The original vents have 75mm diameter and are 120mm long. The previous owner extended them to 350mm / 360mm using pipes from the hardware store and claims to have calculated everything with some software.


The vents should be the same length. They are extremely close to the rear wall of the box but I couldn’t find proof that this is an issue. Let’s start with the obvious: Some designer made this enclosure and even if it’s a cheapo they probably put some thought in it. The vents adjust the resonance frequency of the box. Changing them by a factor of three means either the engineer who build it was way off or the one doing the modification. I used an online calculator to run the numbers. With the extensions the resonance frequency (fb) of the enclosure is around 29Hz, without approx. 43Hz. The manual of the speaker comes with 12 suggested enclosure dimensions ranging from 36 to 50Hz fb. The interwebs suggest it makes some sense to go for a “bass shelf” by tuning fb to Fs (30,83Hz) or even lower. One formula I found suggests 31Hz being ideal for this setup.

The manufacturer of the speaker and the manufacturer of the enclosure obviously don’t think so. I removed the extensions and the setup is quite close to the “Standard Tight Bass” box design of the speaker manufacturer. Afterwards I had to reduce the amp setting from +7 to +3 (probably db) and it sounds pretty tight.

I guess I’ll rig up a setup to actually measure the resonance frequency to check my estimates and tune the box to “optimal sound quality / flat response”.

Adventures on ebay / more bass

My Desktop Stereo isn’t quite performing as I want it to. The JBL Control One are awesome but have no bass. Bi Amping with a leftover subwoofer from my station wagon didn’t really do the trick, a 25cm speaker is ok for a confined space like a car but sucks in bigger rooms as for example my office. Ebay provided some auctions with interesting items and I got lucky: A Hifonics OLM 1615 38cm Monster with a vamped up enclosure of a much cheaper omnitronics speaker.

0,33L beer bottle for size comparison..

0,33L beer bottle for size comparison..

DIY at it’s best, so it went cheap. 76€ for something that’s worth a couple of hundreds is more than alright. Then something weird happened:

Seller: I would like to cancel the deal because I dropped the speaker and there’s some rattling noise inside / something broke even though there’s no visual damage. I’m willing to pay some compensation for your troubles.

Me: Well, I can totally understand if you’re not satisfied with the price but it’s not my problem if you don’t keep track of your auctions. These speakers are designed to take quite a beating so it seems highly unlikely you broke it by dropping it. Are you really sure it’s broken?

Seller: Yeah, it’s broken. I’d send you 50€ if you cancel the transaction.

Me: Maybe I can repair the speaker. How about we take the 50€ off the price, so I pay you 26€. If I can’t fix it I still got the enclosure and you got rid of the broken speaker…

Seller: No thanks, I’d rather bring it to my dealership to get it fixed and then sell it on ebay again.

Me (to myself): Gotcha!

Me (to seller): Sorry to say but you raised my suspicions. By german law we have got a contract so you dropped my speaker and not yours. You owe me compensation for the difference between the 70€ and the normal street value of the item. In addition I’ll contact ebay’s customer support and they’ll probably ban you.

Seller: Alright, I’ll get the speaker fixed and then send it to you but it will take some time.

Seller (next day): It’s fixed, a large paperclip somehow got stuck inside. It’s on it’s way.

So yeah, there are quite some dickheads on ebay. The speaker arrived in the meantime, it’s got some minor scratches and the crossover is fried. The capacitor blew and the circuit board got cracks. Luckily I’m using active crossovers anyway, so I realized that while removing it. So I already fixed one problem. The sound is still not where I want it but the vents of the enclosure are loose and possibly to close to the back of the enclosure. I guess I’ll do the math on it as well, just in case the previous owner fucked it up.


Book: The Martian by Andy Weir (spoilers!) #1

I hate nagging about stuff. The book really seems like a good read. Robinson Crusoe stranded on mars. But the scientific stuff drives me bonkers. It’s really not my area of expertise so I’d actually would like to learn stuff. But plenty of stuff just seems wrong.

For example producing water from Hydrazine (rocket fuel) and Oxygen. Yeah, it works more or less the described way by using Iridium as a catalyst to split Hydrazine into Hydrogen, Nitrogen and some Ammonia. Then burn Oxygen and Hydrogen to get water, no biggy…

But… While working in the habitat with earth-like conditions with an open flame (and a hot catalytic converter) he ends up in an Atmosphere of 22% Nitrogen, 9% Oxygen and 64% Hydrogen and flees the habitat because he fears it might explode. If you mix normal air with hydrogen it ignites at 4% H2, explodes around 18% and will stop igniting around 78%. These numbers shift due to the low Oxygen Level but still, these numbers are still way past boom. Maybe his open flame didn’t burn all the time and he really kept to catalytic converter below 560C, at least the book doesn’t mention it.

After fleeing the habitat and figuring out a plan he reduces the oxygen level of his home to 1% and puts on an oxygen mask (quite like the ones in hospitals) which enriches his breathing air to normal oxygen levels. Like this, he ensures to keep everything from exploding while burning the hydrogen with controlled o2 bursts. And then, there is a big explosion. Dafuq? Yeah, his exhaling is claimed to have risen the O2 level high enough for an explosion. Well, standing there with an O2 hose for the short bursts in one hand and a spark generator in the other he managed to exhale enough O2 to get an explosion. More likely he’d literally breath fire due to the proximity of hydrogen, oxygen and ignition source.
But even if he manages to exhale somewhere else, a human only exhales like 12m3 of air per day with a little more than 1m3 of O2. His habitat has 90m2 and I’d guess at least 2m in height leading to 180m3 of volume. In just a couple of hours he can’t make a significant raise, even in a day he would only get from 1% to 1.something %…

I soldiered to that part but then it came to electronics. Fuck. That’s where I decided to do a blog post about it..

Alright… He needs to cover some distance on mars and has two battery powered mars rovers. Each has a capacity of 9000Wh allowing 35km of travel. Well, my van in comparison has 2400Wh to power the fridge, stereo, laptop and such. A Tesla Roadster has 60000Wh allowing approx. 300km of range. So a mars rover has a much smaller battery than a electric car on earth and a much worse mileage while driving much much slower. For comparison the Apollo Lunar Rover had 8676Wh lasting for 90km. Let’s just say future NASA isn’t exactly packing big batteries. Maybe they’re just more efficient in using them… Wrong! The use them for heating the rover as well. It drains 400W per hour for heating. My van is using gas (LPG) for heating because of the immense amount of power needed for the job. My heater produces 3200W of heat when running. Let’s say 11kg of LPG last for a week in Winter. That’s 141570W of heat per week or 842W per hour. So heating my van on earth takes twice as much energy as heating a rover on mars. Future NASA is really good on insulation!

The solar panels on his Habitat have an “astounding efficiency level of 10.2%” (quote)

Yeah, in 1975 this would have been astounding… I guess even the cheap Polycrystalline Panels on my van are more efficient but I couldn’t find some numbers. Good mono cells have around 18% though..

The habitat has 100m2 of solar panels and 700W of sun energy per m2, harvested at 10% efficiency. that’s 7kW or about 84kW/h energy harvest per day (12h of sun). That’s not bad at all…

Alright, I’m loosing it. The 9000Wh battery of the rover is so heavy and huge he can barely move it and there’s no place to store it inside the second rover. Tesla for example packs around 200Wh per kg for their roadster, so 45kg for the rover battery if future NASA shops at Tesla… At martian gravity that comes down to 17kg. That’s a crate of beer. I’m no engineer but that seems manageable.

The rover recharge port of the Habitat runs at 36V / 10A so it takes 25 hours to charge a rover. Since there’s an abundance of solar power this makes no sense. For comparison, my van charges at 20A peak.

He completely fries his radio by electrical current. The housing of the radio is connected to ground (quite a common measure) and the radio is powered by the habitat. By accidentally touching the radio housing with another plus wire he fries the radio. Since electrical current is quite a lazy son of a bitch this seems unlikely. The current would go directly from the housing to ground, not taking any detours through the circuitry.

to be continued…

Being Sick / Linux Audio Stuff

"He is dead, Jim" -- Leonard McCoy

(posted a week or so after writing…)

I thought this might have been the first winter (ever?) without getting sick. Didn’t work out :-( Whatever… After even netflix became boring I had to something else.

My stereo hasn’t been the same since I moved home. Today I finally looked into the issue. Some peak performance testing before moving to Hannover fried one tweeter completely and hurt the other one badly. The automatic eq / analyzer of the amp covered this failure up somehow (being a four way system the mid speaker range is overlapping with the tweeters). Since I use the amp mostly for surround sound, the other speakers helped covering it up as well. But after I bought some JBL Control One for my Desk it became quite obvious that some frequencies are missing. I still had some tweeters from the stereo of the 190 series ( a car…) catching dust so I went for a quick fix. It turned out they are too noisy but I got them more or less under control thanks to the equalizer.

Linux provides some great tools for audio testing and they are for free. So I cobbled together an audio analyzer using the mic which came with the amplifier for setting up surround sound. The following are all frequency diagrams, x-axis is frequency, y-axis is output volume. The actual numbers don’t matter, what we are looking for is a more or less straight line indicating that the pink noise is reproduced by the speakers “as is”.


From left to right: original tweeter, audio system, gradient


The Speaker with the completely fried tweeter. Note the drop!


Quick fix: The audio system tweeters are a little bit small for the Infinity Reference 61 Mk II Chassis


Audio System tweeters removed from the old Merc. Not too bad at all but a little bit too much. Probably because they are build for a two way system there’s too much overlap on a four way.


Bildschirmfoto vom 2014-03-02 12:47:26

Fancy Gradient Tweeters from ebay, used. I don’t like the peak around 8k.

Up to now the audio system + duct tape did a superior performance than fancy (and well fitting) Gradient Tweeters. Since both speakers have different volume levels on high frequencies (which you can’t see on the diagrams) there’s still something wrong. More investigation has to be done I guess. To be continued…

Counterintelligence TV Streaming

Alright, streaming TV Series legally in Germany sucks for different reasons: You have to wait ages and they are mostly dubbed. I already tried who thankfully got the orginal voice available on most programs but it still sucked. failed me as well. So where to go next? Some friend suggested netflix (from the US) which apparently is not available in Germany. Hmm, I guess I read about it on the interwebs. Some research turned out netflix produces about 30% of the internet traffic in the united states, that’s No. 1 for sure and about three times youtube. Sometimes I really believe we’re living under a rock over here… I think my research into TV Streaming should include the leading product I’ve barely heard of. Also the US offers other great sites with “geoprotection” as,, … and last but not least the annoying “this content is not suitable for your country” stuff on youtube is unknown over there as well.

Bildschirmfoto vom 2014-01-28 08:22:19

Wherever Psy got his clicks from, it’s not Germany. Video unavailable because the GEMA (german copyright annoyance) has not granted (as in sold) the suitable rights to youtube (rough translation).

Gathering a Greencard and moving over to the States seems a little bit over the top for just watching some telly. But what does it actually need to be “inside” the USA? I mean, we are speaking about the interwebs where national borders are blurry at best. So a US-based Server with a reasonably fast Internet Connection which is acting like some kind of proxy seems sufficient. There are services like who offer this for about 7-12USD / month depending on the length of your subscription. A root server costs in the US is about five USD / month payable by credit card. Hmm. Netflix also accepts my (german) credit card. Hmmmmm. All available sources suggest that this is legal as well. Hmmmmmmmm!

One thing which is bothering me as well as others is the fact that the US is spying & recording data on everybody. Being german that reminds me constantly of the STASI (eastern German intelligence) and of course of the Nazis. Not so much about spying but about having data and using it. Say what? Well, to pull off the holocaust they needed to identify Jews. So the Gestapo (Nazi intelligence) started to pull all data already available in different registers which turned out to be quite extensive on stuff which must not bother a government like religion for example. To cut a long story short: I don’t like governments to have more data as they need to fulfil their job. So the NSA kind of pisses me off. The options from here are quite limited, all I can do is to encrypt my communication. And if I do that the NSA stores any traffic they encounter indefinitely (if you don’t believe it check out Jacob Appelbaum’s talk on 30C3 and/or the documents thankfully provided by E.Snowden.). Well. If that’s not an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: Watching HD Television though an encrypted VPN while spamming NSA Harddrives at 3GB/hour.

I wonder if this activity would trigger Quantum-whatever attacks on my networks. Hmmm. Memo to self: install suitable honeypot. I’m a security researcher after all and there may be a third bird being interested in some stones…

Ah, and dear NSA: If you happen to cut me off from US television somehow I might get tempted to get two servers with unlimited traffic and do some research on VPN performance and possible usage caps for servers with “unlimited” traffic. :-)

(most likely reaction of the NSA I can imagine) Dear Andi: The NSA datacenter at Bluffdale (one of our approx. 40 centers in the states) is believed to have a capacity somewhere in the range of exabytes up to single digit zettabytes (it’s so secret we don’t know for ourselves). Even if you produce 1TB of traffic per day it would take between 1 Million days to 1 Billion days to fill up the harddrives. Or in other words: With just ordinary TV consumption (say 100GB/month) it’ll be at least 10 Million months to fill our storage (if traffic scales as well as HDD Space). So as long as there are not millions of people using VPN we don’t really care…

Hmm, netflix alone has about 40 Million subscribers, 10 Million of which are not stateside. Please folks, encrypt your traffic. Just for a couple of months…

Mercedes 310D vs 307D

Last weekend I got the chance to drive a Mercedes 307d campervan. It’s the same model as mine, but being ten years older it was one of the first versions build while mine is the last stage of evolution. They look the same from the outside, but boy, these are totally different animals. The design of 4cyl OM616 65hp 137Nm@2400RPM from the 307 dates back to the sixties and the engine was first deployed in the /8 model. It loud, noisy, rough and doesn’t produce any power. It’s a sturdy little fella though, it was revived in the 90s for the MB100 and is still being produced today by Force Motors in India for their license builds.

The OM602 is a 5cyl engine of the 310d has 95hp and 192 Nm@2400RPM. 30hp more isn’t that much but 55Nm is. Combined with a true five speed gearbox it makes a completely different car (normally you start off in second gear with these cars and use first gear only for steep hills and full load. Due to my gearbox/differential combination I have to start in first gear). The design is from the 80s and the famous direct injection version of the engine (OM 602 DE 29 LA) was used till 2000 in the Mercedes Sprinter and the G-Model.

Since there are no acceleration figures for the campervans, let’s compare the sedans with the same engines. The W123 240D takes 22 sek from 0-100km/h and weights 1395kg.  The W124 250D takes 16,5 sek and weights 1320kg. So almost the same weight but 5.5 sek faster. On top of that, the OM602 in the sedan has 400ccm less displacement than the van version (2497ccm vs. 2874ccm). So in real world experience I’d wager the 310 is almost twice as fast in acceleration than the 307. Keep that in mind when comparing raw hp figures. There is more to the magic of acceleration than just horsepower…

Adventure XBOX 360

Already owning a kinect for hacking purposes and wanting to play GTAV let me to the adventure of getting a XBOX 360. Buying it in sweden, registering it online in the UK and finally moving it to germany is not exactly a common case. After an account migration (which disturbingly is a “new” feature) to germany my xbox menu was a funny mixture between english and german, language- as contentwise. The only real problem was that it advertised only british apps (yeah, bbc and netflix) which wouldn’t work due to my german IP. And I couldn’t install any german apps due to the marketplace still thinking I’m in the UK. In short: Almost all Apps rendered useless and I was unable to use my watchever account.

Even magic support codes like “clean the cache for three times” and uninstall updates by pressing “LB RB X LB RB X” while highlighting the harddisk did nothing but making me remember some windows vodoo from back in the days and streetfighter special moves…

After an hour with the microsoft support chat they delegated my problem to the technical support because something with my account migration went wrong. Quite an educated guess, actually that was my best guess BEFORE I contacted the support. The adventure continues in approximatly three business days…

Wireing done wrong #4

In Scandinavia I really understood why everybody over there has a couple of extra head lights on their cars. It really helps to see where you are going if you’re driving through remote areas when dark. (Disclaimer: I’m talking about additional high beams and not the fog lights some young guns think are cool).

So I bought some lights from Hella, a German company and was expecting good quality. The lights are alright but the manual is putting people to danger.image

They connect the relay directly to the battery. Guys, have you ever heard of something called fuse? It’s a pretty handy invention preventing people from accidentally setting their car on fire…

Working on the van

Still not too much happening over here. I’m keeping myself busy with different kinds of stuff. For example fixing & improving my van.


Inserted the new & shiny lash adjusters



camshaft back on

After Scandinavia I decided to switch my Propane supply from bottles bought in special stores to LPG. Due to some weird german laws the replacement gas bottles which you can refill at gas stations have to be fixed to the vehicle. Since my gas bottle is just behind the wheelarch this wasn’t too easy and demanded some creative welding.


The bracket to hold the metal tie downs for the gas bottle



The whole setup attached to the van


The refillable bottle (green) including a hose for filling from the connector at the end. And a grey 5kg spare bottle, just in case…


New lash adjusters for the van…

The engine started to make a rather disturbing ticking noise when cold a couple of thousand km ago. After some enquiring a lash adjuster seemed to be the culprit and the issue was put on hold since I didn’t want to do the fix roadside and it didn’t need immediate attention. After removing the valve cover one adjuster could easily be pushed down (meaning it’s broken) while the rest were rock solid. Tdoay I finished removing the camshaft and the old adjusters. Five were changed at about 210000km and aftermarket versions produced by INA, the other five are originals (also produced by INA but with a merc part number) and hence running since 290000km. Now one of the old ones gave up. I HATE THE PREVIOUS OWNER FOR NOT CHANGING ALL LASH ADJUSTERS. They are about 13€ a pop and now I have to do all the work again…


The engine without camshaft and lash adjusters and exhaust manifold which was removed because of a broken gasket.


The missing Parts. The camshaft looks amazingly good, almost no wear and tear despite running for almost 300000km. That’s what I like about Mercs…

Now I have to wait for DHL to finally deliver the new parts and then I can put it back together…