Category Archives: Projects

How To Enable SSH In Ubuntu Linux

One of the best remote access tools in Linux is SSH, a protocol that allows remote command-line interfacing with a remote computer. When setting up a system like the VCR, where the screen may not necessarily be readable from across the room or (like many “Internet of Things” applications) may not have a screen at all, remote access to terminal is essential.

Ubuntu 14.04 does not enable SSH by default, but does provide easy access to the OpenSSH service via its software repositories. On the server machine (the one you wish to access remotely), run the following:

sudo apt-get install openssh-server

Once the packages are installed, you can change settings by editing the configuration file located at /etc/ssh/sshd_config in Nano (or other text editor).

Once your configuration settings are saved, restart the service to enable SSH access from your client computer:

sudo /etc/init.d/ssh restart

How To Setup An FTP Server In Ubuntu Linux

Having reliable FTP access to a remote computer running Linux can be especially useful if said computer is to be a media server and connected to a screen ten feet across the room. For the VCR project, and for any Linux project, I recommend using vsftpd for its simplicity and active development.

To install vsftpd, simply type the following command in Terminal:

sudo apt-get install vsftpd

Once installed, you will need to edit the configuration file to authenticate users and enable write access (if you’re going to be using it as such). Use Nano (or whichever text editor you prefer) to edit /etc/vsftpd.conf and change the following values:

local_enable=YES

write_enable=YES

Reboot and your FTP server will be running in background, ready for action!

I built an HTPC from an old VCR

My latest grand project has come about from a desire to have an integrated home entertainment solution and an inability to find any off-the-shelf product that handles media the way I want it to.wpid-wp-1427424367999.jpg

My first impulse was to build an HTPC in a traditional desktop-style case, but I could not locate one that would fit in my IKEA Besta TV stand. As it happens, I had a cache of old VCRs taking up space in storage after my VHS digitising project, so I grabbed one that would suit well and got to tinkering.

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A few hours of Dremel work and the original RCA and Coaxial ports are replaced with USB and HDMI.
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The front RCA ports made a convenient location to add a couple front USB ports.

┬áThe form factor of the VHS turned out to fit an mATX motherboard and power supply side-by-side almost exactly. Thankfully, there was still plenty of clearance for fans and other internal bits as well. Best of all, the case pays homage to a time in my childhood when the VCR (actually, this exact VCR) was the focal point of entertainment–perhaps even more than the NES that sat next to it. After all, you can’t play Super Mario Bros. and build Lego models at the same time!

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Still a slightly jumbled mess inside, but it works.

With the internals completed, I set about assembling the software suite. XBMC provides the main interface while Firefox and RetroArch supplement functionality for most streaming services and video games. The biggest decision I’ve had to make was whether to build the system on Linux or Windows. I’ve completed comparable versions under both, but I eventually paid for a Windows 7 license to take advantage of the superior graphics processing compatibility provided by Microsoft DirectX as well as eliminate the headache of futzing around with Wine compatibility settings.

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Original serial number and patent labels joined by the ubiquitous “Intel Inside” decal.

The end result is an all-in-one streaming media, local media, classic and modern gaming machine that evokes an aesthetic of an era that is quickly fading into the annals of history.

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The original date of manufacture label: June 1993.
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21 years of reliable service and counting!
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The unit’s cassette door broke off sometime in the late 1990s, so I 3D printed a replacement to seal the innards from dust. I also replaced the original 7-segment display with a USB liquid crystal display.

VHS catalogue digitised. Be on the lookout for some crazy retro nonsense via YouTube in the near future! My parents MIGHT have caught a few of you at Still Elementary sometime in the late 1980s….

VHS catalogue digitised. Be on the lookout for some crazy retro nonsense via YouTube in the near future! My parents MIGHT have caught a few of you at Still Elementary sometime in the late 1980s….

Remember: Keep the tip nuts tight!

This sums me up pretty well

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A still from the never-quite-completed “Math Video.”

The long-lost “lightsaber” sequence.

Just finished a couple of new models

The Munsters’ Coach
Dragula!

Yeah, that’s right, I have an Ubuntu key

Working In The Armoury

What better way to spend a Saturday evening than in your friend’s basement cleaning and restoring weapons?

Meet Eva, a GEW Model 1888 German Commissioned rifle.

Eva is an heirloom weapon, a trophy of war that my grandfather pulled off a dead Nazi somewhere in France. She hadn’t been fired since 1944 and 60+ years in storage had taken its toll on her.

Eva’s disassembled bolt.

In addition to the years of dust and chemical deterioration, Eva’s bolt assembly had fallen apart. Adam did a little research and managed to find a compatible replacement.

Eva’s old, broken firing pin and her new, functional one.
Adam works on Eva’s bolt assembly.

After some minor restorative work on Eva, I needed to do a little work on my Tokarev. I purchased her at a gun show a couple weeks ago and needed to perform a little maintenance after taking her to the range.

Meet Shenyi, a Tokarev Model 238 Chinese 9mm variant. The “contour grips” are original, but I didn’t think they felt right.
This is one of Shenyi’s clips. That earwax-looking stuff on the spring is a substance called Cosmolene. It’s basically a preservative–keeps the metal from corroding while the weapon is in storage. This is why this clip hasn’t been actioning as well as it should.
Disassembled clip soaking in paint thinner to remove Cosmolene.
Look out! Naked Shenyi!
Shenyi with replaced “classic Tokarev” grips. They feel better and keep her balanced better in my small hands. Sure test will come at the range.