How do you know you can't do something if you haven't tried


Garage Entertainment

The garage has had a TV for a while now but finding something to watch in the garage takes away from valuable project time. I now have a Top Gear button. Pressing on the big green button will send an MQTT message that my server will then parse, select a random episode of Top Gear, turn the TV on if its not already on, switch it to the kodi input and start playing that random episode. There are also smaller buttons for the Simpsons and Futurama episodes.

I had trouble with the small buttons sticking once filled with dust. So i glued on small brass knobs so i can pull the button back out if it gets stuck.
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Rack upgrade. I found a used 4224 case, and 24 new 3TB hard drives. I have also installed a new KVM and shifted everything in the rack up a few U's to make it all fit.
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Van Rust

My Minivan was starting to rust, I have never done body work before but that's not going to stop me from trying!

I started off thinking that all i would need to do was sand off some surface rust, wipe the panel down, prime and paint. When i started to sand the rust spot started to get larger and larger. The panel was rusting from the back side forward. So i pulled out the trusty grinder with a cutoff blade and started cutting out the rust. I then welded in a new piece of metal bent to the same slope of the panel. Applied a thin layer of bondo, sanded it all smooth, and primed, painted and clearcoated. End result was pretty good.

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RV Setup Remote

We started camping with tents... allot up up front packing and setup work is required before you can open up your first beverage and sit by the fire.

We then moved up to a 5th wheel. This allowed for quicker setup and packing time by allowing us to keep items packed all the time, just hookup and go. But there were still manual jacks that needed to be hooked up, a furnace that had to be lit, a water heater that had to be lit, etc.

Then came the RV, auto leveling jacks, self starting appliances, slides that open up at the touch of a button... but it was still missing something. I couldnt operate the entire setup while at the campfile while sitting in my chair, enjoying my tasty beverage.....

Where there is a will, there is a way. I have now added a wireless remote the to RV's jacks and slides. I simply pull into the campground, get out of the RV, Grab my chair and sit down around the fire pit.

  • Button 1) Lowers the jacks and levels the RV
  • Button 3) Opens the first slide
  • Button 5) opens the second slide
  • Button 7) will open the awning when i get an electric awning.

Then to pack it all up

  • Button 8) will close the awning when i get an electric awning.
  • Button 6) Closes the second slide
  • Button 4) Closes the first slide
  • Button 2) raises the jacks

Pure bliss!

The weather pac connector is the new addition, soldered into the positive wire of each switch and attached to the ground used for this panel.
The second slide control is in the bedroom, so it gets the same weather pac connectors and wire.
Everything comes back to the cavity under the fridge drawer. There is lots of room under here, its where i keep my wireless access points and Network storage device.
The brains of the operation, a cheap aliexpress remote system. This takes 12 volts from the regulator used for the wireless access point and runs a series of 8 relays. I have wired all of this into a switch by the door so hitting a remote while driving down the highway will not open the slides or deploy the jacks.
This shot shows the screw terminals the relays use.
These are the remotes. They work fine 100 feet away without the antenna's being pulled out. With the antennas out i can get well out of view from the RV.
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More GTM progress,

For the replacement KPH gauges i think i am going to pick this one up. ( i am undecided if i want one that goes to 400KPH, less practical but does have a bit of wow factor.) They also have this one that tops out at at 300KPH which would mean i would be able to use more of the gauge during normal driving. I also like that these have built in signal indicators and high beams indicator. Makes things easier to wire up.

I now have proper crimping tools so i can make secure water tight connections. I have also ordered 10 weatherpack connector sets in each size (1, 2, 4, 6 pins). I will use them for wiring the AC, Audio system, gauge cluster, wiper, signal lights, etc.

I had to take the rear transmission support off to weld in the wing mounts, i jacked up the trans, pulled the bolts then slowly lowered it onto a socket to keep the weight off the axles. Worked like a charm.

I found this great video for wiring the Trinary switch. Seems easy enough.

Wing mounts are now welded on along with the braces that come with the kit. They look a little uneven in this photo but they are exactly equal on both sides. I ground the welds down with a flap wheel on the top before painting so it all looks like one piece of steel. I then painted the whole assembly gloss black so everything matches and nothing rusts. I also took the time to paint the AC Accumulator bracket, i found that it was easiest to mount the bracket by bending over the mounting piece and screwing it into the top of the square tube.

Before i put the rear mount back on i am going to use this convenient access to the rear end to finish securing all the e-brake cables and shifter cables so they stay clear of the exhaust. I may even pull the trans one last time to double check the clutch install.

For some reason all my other vehicles decided to cry for attention, this stack of parts will take me away from the GTM for a few days. My minivan has a stuck rear caliper, and it has a leaking heater core, my 4x4 GMC broke 2 door handles and needs front U-joints. Parts are starting to roll in for those projects as well.


More GTM Progress

I figured i would post to say that i'm not dead.

  1. I have ordered the rear wing supports from vspeed, i need these before i can throw the body on.
  2. I have ordered the trans reverse switch plug from vspeed, i need that to complete the wiring.
  3. I have ordered the rear hatch hinges from vspeed, body mounting is coming up fast, this will be important soon.
  4. I have ordered the Aeromotive fuel pump controller from Summit, the pump runs flat out all the time, its loud, this should increase it's life... and my the life of my hearing.
  5. I have ordered 2 tank vent roll over valves from Summit, this will help me not die by fire in a rollover.

While i am waiting for parts i am trying to complete the last of the items between me and go-kart.

I have the telescoping steering kit but the brake light bracket that i got with the kit was the shorter one for the non telescoping kit.... So i decided to take the new welder for a test drive and make the bracket bigger to accommodate the pillow block bearing. Finished and looks good, paint is drying now (I will get some photos up soon)

FF sent me a set of gauges with the car that are in MPH not KPH... i guess that's just what they do for some annoying reason even though they sell this car globally, I contacted the manufacturer to see if the gauge could be changed over to KPH and it cant. So i asked if they had a matching gauge i could just buy, they don't.... so if i want matching gauges it looks like i need to buy a complete new set. I have also read that you can calibrate the MPH gauge to KM, however i'm not sure how the inspector is going to like that when i go to plate the car.

Other then that i have been drawing tons of wiring diagrams on paper for the cabin/ac/lights/av,etc Once i have all the wires in place (and maybe a few spares) i will start closing up the tunnel.


Garage Changes

So while I was not spending time on the car over the last two years I did put some time into the garage...

The company i work for moved to a new building that was previously owned by an oil company. They left tons of heavy duty filing cabinets behind, I work for a tech company, we dont have much use for paper... so i was told i could take some home... cant argue with the free price tag. I have hundreds of pounds of tools in the drawers and they still roll smooth. I then took boardroom tables (also free) and cut them down the middle to create the counter tops. Each filing cabinet is bolted to the wall and to the cabinet next to it. There is also a slab of marble at the bottom of each filing cabinet. This all makes for a very solid bench that is at the perfect height for me.

If you look close you can see all the magnetic labels, these were made by taking magnetic white boards (left behind by the oil company again) and sticking label maker labels to them then cutting them out. Now i can find any tool fast. I then mounted an all in one computer to the wall for bringing up the GTM manuals and searching the internet for wisdom.

To mount tools on the wall i found a company that was going out of business that had painted slatwall in their space that they had to remove at the end of their lease. I did the work removing the slat wall for free and used the best sheets in my garage. I found that slatwall hooks are easy to find at most hardware stores and many specialty hooks can be found online for things like drills or paper towel, etc. 

I built some shelves at the end of both sides to house my larger tools and a mini-fridge for some beverages. I'm not sure if you can see them very well but i also added some hanging retractable systems from the roof that include an air hose, 2 power cords and a trouble light.

I added an Amazon Echo, and wired her into the roof speakers for some tunes and quick unit conversions.

Some car photos taken today... Kooks Exhaust

Fuel pump mounting, the wiring is temporary until my fuel pump controller comes in 

Today was seat day... this proved to be more challenging to do alone then i though so i had a friend come over to mark bracket positions while i sat in the seat while working the peddles. I am a little over 6 foot 2 and found that no matter how tried to position the sliders they took up to much valuable seat height. On top of that my legs require the seat to be as back as far as possible anyway... so i ditched the sliders and used the brackets i bought (i think i got them from Shane) without the sliders. now the seats sit perfect all the time. I don't plan on letting anyone drive my car anyway 🙂

You cant see it in this photo but we also got the AC Accumulator bracket bent, painted and installed.

Last month i finally got around to buying my own welder, its a small gas MIG, should be good enough for what i need to do.

So I had some time today to run the engine long enough for the coolant to start pumping, everything seems to cool just fine. Engine maxed out at about 210 degrees while idling, the fans never kicked on but i think that's because it didn't get hot enough. I also routed the shift cables further away from the exhaust, melting those wouldn't be good.

I have to say, i have never actually seen a finished GTM, never heard one run until yesterday... The LS1 with the Kooks exhaust sounds amazing, youtube videos do not do the noise justice.

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Back to the GTM

The GTM has been sitting in my garage untouched for 2 years now... I would like to say life got in the way, which is true to some extent but i think it was mostly a lack of motivation. The last thing i tried to do was run the starter and was greeted with a horrible metal on metal noise from inside the engine.... around that time i also switched jobs, so it sat... and i moved on to some of my other unfinished projects. 

Fast forward to this week (I started Monday morning)

  • I got some time off work
  • Figured out the engine noise (My uncle was over, he's a car guy, he asked to hear the noise, i cranked it over... 5 seconds pass as he thinks, he points to the trans adapter and says "loosen those bolts"..... sure enough, noise goes away. The bolts on the trans adapter were contacting the flywheel.... didn't think it would be that easy. )
  • I yanked off the GTM exhaust and put on the Kooks that has been sitting in its box for 2 years
  • Now the air filter wouldn't fit because it hit the exhaust, i ordered the cold air intake kit from FF but its still in the box.. i found the box and just used the rubber piece with slight slope on it to raise the air filter up. This will work for now.
  • Reinstalled the starter (it misses the kooks by about 2mm)
  • Moved the fuel pump behind the drivers head, my old location made filter changes almost impossible. I am running the Aeromotive A1000 pump and its not small.
  • Wired up the fuel pump (temporary relay setup for now, it will need a fuel pump controller)
  • Installed the Aeromotive fuel rails, pressure gauge, and all AN fittings with braided lines (bought all this 2 years ago as well)
  • Dug though boxes for hours to find the fan plugs i bought years ago and wired up the fans. (
  • Checked all the fluid levels
  • Wednesday morning, gathered the family, turned the key and crossed my fingers.

No hesitation, started right up, ran smooth. That's the first time that engine has run since it came out of the Vett 3 years ago. Had i known it would take me less then 2 days of work to get it running i think i would have done it years ago.

So, it looks like i am motivated again 🙂 Next step is to get it go-karting this week..

Before Karting, i need to:

  • Finish the AC lines and charge them. (was just going to use a cheap Walmart charge kit for now)
  • Mount the AC accumulator (right now its kind of floating)
  • Mount the seats, I bought the tabs and rails, i just have to mount them
  • Make a wiring harness for the gauge cluster wires (temp, oil pressure, tach, speed, also running a Tach wire to the fuel pump controller)
  • secure the ebrake cable assembly, right now they could get caught in the axles
  • Create a home for and secure the engine relays (fuel pump, etc)
  • Check all bolts...
  • Tear up the neighborhood 🙂

I have also had a few problems i have not been able to find solutions to yet...

  • I bought aluminum tanks, they have a vent line.... the garage now smells like gas. What is the best way to prevent the smell. Is there a smaller charcoal canister that is easier to hide then the factory unit? or do people just generally get a roll over valve and call it a day.
  • I have a check engine light and a code for EVAP. Makes sense as i have completely remove the factory evap system. How do i get rid of the code so i can trust the check engine light, should i find someone to reprogram the ECU or is there a way to trick the wiring into thinking its there?

Mini Van Toad

I have a 2010 Dodge Caravans as our family vehicle, I want to tow this behind our RV when we go on trips.

I was able to pick up a BlueOx tow bar, mounts and Brake Buddy all used over the last few months but the one piece i cant seem to find used is the lube pump system that circulates lubricant though the transmission while the van is being towed.

I took a look at the Remco system and it seems overly priced for what it is. I can handle just about anything mechanical and have gone so far as to build a car from scratch in the past so these things don't really scare me.

So here's my idea. 

  1. Tap the oil pan with a standard fitting like this.
  2. Attach a standard lube pump like this
  3. Potentially add two solenoids and a Y fitting for the return line.

now the Remco pump has an alarm in the cab, this will easily be accomplished by adding a simple oil pressure sensor like this. It is possible to buy static pressure sensors that short the terminals together when a specific pressure is met. Simply wire this into the 7 way plug and up to a light and buzzer on the dash.

I bought:

I also had to buy a tap and die to put the pressure sensor into the 3 way fitting and I had to use a chunk of steel i had lying around to make a bracket.

Creation of the cable that goes between the RV and the car. At first i made it the full length of the wire i bought knowing i would have to make it smaller when i knew the proper length. All of these parts came from princess auto.

This is the 7 way plug that mounts on the van. Its from princess auto, the light portion of the plug goes to a 4 way plug after about 6" of wire.

This is the 4 way plug that i connect to the back of the 7 way plug to run the lights. The spool of wire snakes under the car to the tail lights

This is the fitting that comes on the pump. I assumed it was threaded and would come off so i put a wrench on it.. DONT DO THIS, it was a big mistake. The fitting is pressure fit in, once it comes off there is nothing threaded that you can use.... So i had to take the pump apart, drill a larger hole, tap and thread it with an NPT thread then put in a new fitting. It would have been easier to get an adapter that adapted the larger hose from the fitting to a smaller 3/8 hose... lesson learned 🙂

This is a 3/8 NPT fitting that i got for free that fits the pump perfectly. I sealed it with Teflon tape on the threads.

I bought two of these one way valves from amazon. In hindsight i would have bought the cheaper versions that i linked to in yesterdays thread.

Bolting on the towbar, all of these holes had to be drilled.... This is very hard to do, the steal you are drilling into is the vans structural support, its quite hard and thick. All of these bolts are put on with lock tite red.... they will never come off.

These fit into the tow bar, but mine wouldn't fit on the driver side, i had to file off a very small amount of the top of the T to get it to fit and turn smoothly. I bet a piece of the interior weld is left in the tow bar side.

Tow bar installed and bumper trimmed.

I made a simple mount for the pump.

I needed a way to monitor the function of the pump from the RV cab. I drilled a hole and tapped with a 1/8" NPT. This is where the pressure sensor will later mount.

Taps and tools i used

The assembled one way valves. Fittings and valves came from amazon

This is the 3 way setup with the installed pressure sensor, this sensor was later replaced with one that has a ground lead.

A dry run test of the pump to see how much it would pump at idle

if you look down at the transmission through this hole you can see two lines, the one on the driver side is the line you need to tap as its the output line. I cut about 3" from the transmission side. followed by the first one way valve, followed by another 2" of 3/8 hose, then the 3 way, then into the factory oil cooler. The other side of the 3 way heads to the new cooler then to the pump, from the pump it then heads to the oil pan pickup (in reality the fluid starts at the pan and works its way to the 3 way valve)

This is what the pump looks like with two fittings.

Removed the oil pan from the transmission, I bought a new filter and seal because now is a good time to change them. I will try and get a picture of where i put the fitting. Its on the passenger side, toward the rear of the pan as low down as i could get. I tapped the pan with a 3/8 npt tap and then put JBweld on the fitting threads before screwing it in. i then covered the inside and outside in JBWeld so the fitting will NEVER move again.

Final pump installed and living in its new home.

Bought a battery charger box from amazon that will slowly charge the battery, wired that into the trailer plug on the van, included another diode so the pump can pull power off the RV but not off the van. (30 minutes)

There is a factory cooler on my van, disconnected it and ran the engine for 5 seconds to see which side pumps out fluid, put the first one way valve on that followed by the 3 way with the pressure sensor. The new side of the 3 way goes to the 2nd one way valve then off to the cooler and then the pump. The other side of the pump goes to the transmission pan, you will need to take off the pan and tap it low so it picks up oil.

Now we need an alarm to know if things fail. I wired the spare pin on the 7 way plug on the van to the pressure sensor I installed into the 3 way. I then picked that wire up on the RV side and ran it back to the drivers area and wired it into the buzzer and light. So if the pressure sensor stops detecting pressure the buzzer goes off and the light goes on. I also wired that into a switch so i can turn the alarm off when i am not towing the van. Thats where I sit today. Next weekend i will tow it out for its first camping trip, I leave for a 10,000K trip that will last a little over a month in about 20 days..... so that will be the true test

So all in it was around $1500 CAD... or about $1130 USD... My amazon prime account covered almost all of the shipping charges.

I was a little worried that the pressure might be a little bit to high so i added a pressure gauge. The pressure that the Van creates on its own is within 2 PSI of the MR3 Power steering pump that i used (at idle)

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Working out the Home Automation interface.

So over the last few days i have been playing with HTML5 and CSS to work out the best interface options for how automation could function.

So far I am leaning toward a node style interface. Elements could be added with a right click menu that provides inputs, outputs and decision conditions.

I still have a lot of interface work before turning my attention to the back end.

i need to:

  • Add a way to remove items. (right now you can only add them.
  • I have text boxes but i think it would be good to have drop downs, maybe check boxes or radio buttons but i am not sure about that one.
  • Create some Javascript that exports to JSON and sends back to the server on every edit. Should save the last 100 or so edits in a queue so i can add an undo button that works even weeks, months or years after the edit.
  • Create a JSON standard for how elements are added, put this in the database so adding new plugins can add new inputs/outputs/conditions.
  • The menu lists will be dynamic so i need to have an option for menu items to wrap around if they are more then 15 or so items.
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