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The Workbench

Check out what’s been on the occasionally-proverbial workbench lately.

The Veggie-Oil Powered Truck Project

This is my old Dodge truck— a 1995 Ram 2500 with the 5.9L Cummins diesel engine. What’s so special about it? Well aside from the fact that this truck made me fall in love with the elegant simplicity of diesel engines — especially the older, noisier, all-mechanical ones — it also happens to be capable of running on vegetable oil that was once used in the fryers at a nearby restaurant. That’s right, it will run on straight waste vegetable oil… soybean oil to be specific. Now there are a couple of caveats to that: Firstly, the engine has to be hot before it can burn the oil. This is because at room temperature, the oil is very thick and definitely wouldn’t properly mix with air when fired through a fuel injector. So the oil must be heated to 150 degrees Fahrenheit at the very least, because at this temperature the oils viscosity approaches that of diesel fuel. As a result, most of the modifications that are made to the truck’s fuel system are centered around getting the oil up to temperature before it goes into the engine. The second caveat, which is a direct result of the first, is that the oil can’t be left in the engine when it cools, or else it won’t start. That means to turn the engine off, I first have to purge the oil from the system by back-flushing the fuel lines with diesel fuel. I’ll explain how that’s done after detailing the individual components of the system.

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I’ve Been Using My SteamOS Box To Play… Uh… Nintendo Games.

Originally featured on KBMOD.com

I’ve ranted before about how non-open SteamOS is in practice, even though it’s built on an open-source OS. Well, fortunately, some clever hackers have found ways to customize the gaming-centric operating system, making it one of the better choices for a general-purpose big screen user interface… especially if you are like me and love your retro gaming as much as your modern gaming.

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Miscellaneous project updates

Sorry for the recent silence here folks. I have to say that I haven’t had a lot of nerdy stuff going on lately, at least nothing terribly interesting. But I figured I’d write about what actually has been going on to keep the content flowing.

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Suitcase PC, finally done after 2 years

The lovely community of folks over at KBMOD.com have a regular feature in which they describe their Bro Caves, which are the dark, comfy rooms they set up their gaming PCs in. More importantly than the rooms though, are the specs of their actual PCs. Which all blow mine out of the water. Thus, this post won’t make it onto their site, but I have been doing some finishing touches on the suitcase PC lately, and I think I can finally say — tentatively as usual — it’s finished. So here’s an attempt at writing something in the same spirit.

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Atari 2600 Guitar Stompbox

So here’s one of those projects that sort of randomly materializes while rummaging through old stuff in the attic. I was looking for an enclosure to build a sort of “multi FX analog stompbox” for my guitar rig, when I found an old broken Atari 2600 in all its faux-wood-trimmed glory. Immediately the wheels started turning and I began taking it apart to see how much room was in there. Turns out there’s quite a bit of space, so I took to fitting a Line6 power supply PCB I’d recently scored on eBay into the bottom, and fitting the guts of a TU-2 tuner pedal, A/B switch, tremolo, and tube screamer clone into the top. Never has the Milwaukee rotary tool seen so much action.

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