How to setup VPN on a mini travel router

In this scenario we want to use a mini travel router to act as a VPN client so that when we connect any device to it we know the data will be safe and traverse via a VPN. This kind of setup has a few benefits. The first being the fact that we only need to load one VPN config onto the router and any device that connects to it will use the VPN. This saves us time in setting up our phone, PC or tablet with the VPN config. We can assume that when connected to the travel router we are using the VPN.

The second is portability and travel. Using the travel router in a hotel or a restaurant means that our data is safe and secure. (Assuming you connect to the local wifi with the travel router in bridge mode.)

For this demo we have decided to use the GL-AR300M Mini smart router. This router acts as an OpenVPN client which is what sets these small devices apart from any others. Not all travel routers have this functionality.


Signing up to a VPN service

The first thing we need to do is sign up to a VPN service. Yes we could run our own VPN server, but whats the point when you can get top class servers and better speeds for a few dollars a month. Not all VPN services are alike. Some keep logs, some don’t, some allow P2P traffic, some don’t (Few VPNs have been able to prove they don’t keep logs….but from a security point of view, a VPN with no logs suits us the best.) We also want to look at where the servers reside and what services we can put over the VPN. For example we do not want to connect to a server in Europe if we are located in Australia. However the Australian server may not allow P2P traffic or torrenting. These are just a few of the things to consider when signing up.

We use IPvanish, it is a reliable, no logging VPN services which we have no issues with. Feel free to give it a go. Or do a quick google search and you will be inundated with services to use.


Where to obtain the config files for OpenVPN?

As we are using the GL-AR300M and it uses the OpenVPN protocol we must search our VPN provider for an OpenVPN configuration and certificate. Without this we cannot connect securely to the VPN service. Most services will have a location and the files will be split into servers. Pick the server you require and download the OpenVPN config and certificate. In out case we downloaded every single OpenVPN config for all servers. We then extracted the config we wanted (A Melbourne based server) and created a .zip file with only that config and the certificate.


Loading the config onto the travel router

Depending on how the OpenVPN config is delivered to you, there may be an additional step to create a zip file with the certificate and the config. At times the OpenVPN config file can include the certificate. But generally for VPN services a separate VPN certificate is used.

Log into the GUI of your router and located the OpenVPN tab. From here we can either upload the OpenVPN config or our ZIP file containing the config and the certificate. Once installed, we can then go ahead and activate the VPN profile. You will see a log at the bottom which indicates if/when it is connected and how much data is passing over the VPN. You can also look into using other settings to confirm that the VPN is being used.

You may be greeted with some VPN authentication. You only need to do this once and it is most likely the same login that you use for the VPN service. For IPVanish it will be the email that you registered with and the same password you use to log into the website.

Once Authenticated, the VPN should be good to go, simply click the ‘enable’ checkbox and ‘apply’ the settings. You should then see the VPN begin to connect. If you get errors in the log at this stage it will be an error with the certificate, OpenVPN config or your Authentication. It is possible to load up multiple OpenVPN configs. Use the dropdown box to select the server/config you want to connect through then click apply.


Some assumptions we have made...

This tutorial assumes that you have already connected your travel router to a hotspot with internet ie. Hotel, Maccas, Home. Obviously this is the link that we will tunnel through with our VPN service. There are some settings to ensure that internet does not work without a VPN connection. This ensures that the VPN is being used at all times. Also we set the DNS to use Google DNS. (8.8.8.8 as primary and 8.8.4.4 as alternate.)


Confirm VPN is working

One way to confirm that your internet traffic is travelling through the VPN is to use the https://ipleak.net/ website when you are connected. You should see that ‘your’ IP address is that of the VPN server you have selected. Also can check to make sure the DNS servers being used are masked.


Powering Ubiquiti links from 12v

So it seems that I can power a Ubiquiti Bullet and Rocket directly with DC 12v. In the past I have been chasing POE and wasting precious milli-watts converting 12V to POE standard (Usually 24v or 48v) then powering the devices.  A power saving can be made by connecting direct to 12V. If using a solar setup, the power savings can mean more up-time, and better use of your batteries. Some testing will follow this blog post. However in the interim, it seems pretty stable here in the workshop.


How to make your own cable for 12v power supply.

  • RJ-45
  • RJ-35 Crimp
  • Pliers
  • Box Cutter
  • Straight through Ethernet cable

In a nutshell, the Ubiquiti Bullets and Rockets grab power from 4 pins on a standard RJ-45 connector. In our case here in Australia (Blue/White-Blue) pins 4 & 5 will carry 12v+ and pins 7/8 12v-.


Prepare your cable

If you have the resources to cut up a straight-through cable, then go ahead and cut one end off. (Otherwise you will have to complete two terminations) Strip the cable back a bit to expose the pairs of wires. Identify the solid blue and Blue-White wires. These will be your 12V Positive injection points. Now identify the Solid Brown and Brown-White wires. This will be your 12V Negative injection point. From here identify the remaining cores and insert them into an RJ-45 housing.

  • PIN 1 – White-Orange
  • PIN 2 – Orange
  • PIN 3 – White-Green
  • PIN 6 – Green

Now crimp your RJ-45 and you are all done. The bare wires can be used in anyway to inject 12v. ie Barrel jack. I would use a fuse close to the source to protect your equipment. Also confirm the pinouts prior to plugging in. The last thing you want is to fry your Ubiquiti gear.


Or Don't hack up a cable and buy some injectors

If you want that more professional look, then you can always purchase a few of these injectors. Have a look at the specs though and make sure the power inputs are on pins 4/5 and 7/8. Let me know how your setup goes? I really need to do some testing on the longevity of this type of setup. My only concern is that the fluctuating 12v from batteries could damage the Ubiquiti gear over time. Maybe I need to look at a circuit to provide clean power.



The ultimate 4wd spot from above - DRONE

On a recent trip to Kalbarri, we decided that the town was WAY to busy and we should try and go up river. We found some cracker spots for a day trip and decided to put up the drone.

I’m still a bit trigger happy on the drone, but getting smoother with the controls. It did not help sitting in the passenger seat of the 4wd whilst trying to play pilot.

Kalbarri is located approx 5 hours drive north of Perth.



How to setup OpenVPN on a RaspberryPi

Just last week I was setting up IP cameras at home and connecting the irrigation controller to the network and I was opening my network up to the internet WAY to much. (I was port forwarding all kinds of ports.) So to mitigate opening up to the internet so much I decided to setup a VPN tunnel that I could easily connect to which would allow me access into my local network. In a nutshell, instead of opening numerous ports on my router for every device I wanted remote access from, I opened the 1 port for the VPN and used openVPN software on my phone to connect back. Once connected it behaves as if I was at home and connected locally.

This post will go through the basics of setting up a simple VPN server on a cheap raspberry pi. This examples uses the older RPi2, which is more then sufficient for accessing a few IP cameras and other devices remotely.


The Hardware you will need to gather

  • RPi 2 or 3.
  • Ethernet cable
  • HDMI Cable

  • Keyboard/Mouse
  • 8Gb SD Card


The Software titles you may want to download


PREREQUISITE SETUP - Because we need to get ourselves ready!

The first step is to prepare the SD card for the PI. A 4 or 8Gb SD card will be suitable for the PiVPN installation.

You will first need to download the latest Raspian Lite image (We do not require the GUI for PiVPN) and a copy of Etcher. Etcher will allow you to install and prepare your SD card. It is super easy to use.

Select Image > Select SD card (Make sure you select Correct Drive) > Click Flash.

  1. Select your copy of Raspbian Lite

2. Select the correct drive you want to install the image on. Be sure it is the correct drive as all data will be formatted first.

3. Select Flash – You may get a windows prompt to elevate permissions to administrator.

4. Assuming no errors were found, you can now take the SD card and insert it into the Pi.

How to setup SSH for remote access from our PC

We have chosen to run the Lite version of Raspbian because we do not require the additional overheads of the GUI. The VPN server will sit hidden away and we will connect to is via SSH if we need to. The problem is that SSH is not enabled by default. Thus we require the HDMI cable, a monitor and keyboard to change this first.

Insert the SD card we just made into the Pi and connect the HDMI cable to your monitor. We now need to power up the Pi. You should see the Pi initialize and on first run it may reboot once. The first thing you will have to do is log into the Pi. The default login is:

  • Username: pi
  • Password: raspberry

Viewing the Pi via the HDMI cable and using the connected keyboard and mouse in a PITA, This is why we are setting up SSH, so we can go back to our computer and do all the configuration from the comfort of our home PC.

At this stage we need to enable SSH. To do this type:

Sudo raspi-config

  1. Select “P2 SSH”

2. Select “YES” to enable SSH

3. You will get a confirmation saying SSH is enabled. From this point. All our configuration will be done via Putty. Putty is a SSH/Telnet Client that allows us to connect to the Pi via the SSH protocol. This is common for accessing linux machines. You can get Putty here: http://www.putty.org/

How to find the IP address of our Pi so that we can SSH to it

You should still be logged into the Pi, go back to the command line and type:

ifconfig

We need this IP address so that we can log into the Pi via SSH. Look for eth0 and browse across until you see ‘inet’ This is the IP address we require. In this case the Pi IP address is: 192.168.1.154 – Write this down or remember it.

Open Putty and SSH into the Pi

Enter the IP address of the Pi from the ‘ifconfig’ command. Then Click OPEN. You may be asked to accept some authentication keys. You only need to do this once. You will now be greeted with a similar login screen to previous.

Login as per usual.

Username: pi

Password: raspberry

If you find that some of your keyboard strokes are not the same as mine, you may need to go back into Raspi-Config and change the localization settings or Keyboard options. It also can not hurt to Extend the size of the file system. This will allow the Raspbian build to utilize the full size of the SD card.


PiVPN INSTALL - Now that we are setup, it's time to install and setup!

Now to installing PiVPN. If you are looking at installing PiVPN, then you have probably already been to the website. I just want to make mention that installing software like this could be dangerous if it is not from a trusted source. Basically we are telling the pi to run a heap of commands that are located on the internet. Be sure to check the source first to ensure it is reputable.

The command we are going to run is:

curl -L https://install.pivpn.io | bash

If you have not run an “apt-get” update today the first thing that the software will do is run this for you. This ensures all packages are up to date before installing. After the install process you will see the following configuration screens:

  1. This will install OpenVPN

2. At this stage you should be thinking about making the address the Pi was given static. Or logging into your router and “binding” the DCHP address it was given to the MAC address of the Pi. This will allow the Pi to hold the lease and never change.

3. This will change the address. Remembering when it commits the change, your SSH session will drop and you will have to re-establish the session on the new IP address. For now I am going to leave it as 192.168.1.154 as I have bound that IP to the MAC of the Pi on my router.

4. Indicating that you could get IP conflicts if you dont either bind your IP to MAC or exclude that IP from DHCP.

5. This screen is asking you to choose a user to hold your ovpn configs.

6. If you had other users setup then you would be able to select them here. It is generally good practice to Change the users away from the default username and password. For now we will stick with the default.

7. Because this is our only open facing port, we really should keep all software up to date including security patches. Why not do this automatically? Unless you have some configs that you don’t want messed with. Automatic patches can have a tendency to mess with the compatibility of software at times.

8. As per the last screen. Do it! or make sure you keep on top of it manually.

9. UDP will suffice unless you have any additional configs that require TCP.

10. If you don’t want anyone sniffing your VPN out on the default port, feel free to change this default port. However be sure to port forward the new one on your router so that the VPN can be accessed from outside your network. Also remember this port for any config changes that may need to be made.

11. A second confirmation.

12. Choose the encryption type for your server. 2048bit encryption will suffice in most instances.

13. The This screen if indicating the types of keys that will now be generated.

14. Because the Pi has very little processing power it can take 30-45 minutes for it to create the 2048 bit certificate/key. Go get a coffee! If you had of chose 4096 encryption then you would get the option to download some assistance files from the internet. Otherwise generating a 4096bit key on a Pi would take a VERY long time.

15. This screen allows you to set your WAN IP address or set a DDNS account. These can be changed after the fact via the config files however because we have a static address at home, I can leave it as the WAN IP. (I have blanked out some of the IP on purpose.)

16. Here we can set the DNS for our VPN, if you are unsure, just set it to the Google DNS address. (8.8.8.8 Primary, 8.8.4.4 Alternate)

18. Everyone loves a good reboot! No time like the present.

19. Just in case you were not sure from the previous screen. Remembering that your SSH session will drop during the reboot. Simply Re-connect to the same IP address after a few minutes.

At this stage it can’t hurt to upgrade the Raspbian image. Run this command:

Sudo apt-get upgrade

This is one of those administration tasks that should be done regularly to keep the Pi image in good working order. Unless obviously you are against keeping software up to date, or you have something specific happening in which you cannot afford for it to be affected by updates.


CREATE A USER - This is how we add clients/ Users to OpenVPN

We now need to configure the server to accept connections from the client devices or computers. To do this we setup a client openvpn configuration file. (.opvn file to be exact) This client file is loaded onto the device that wants to connect to the VPN tunnel. It stores the config and encryption keys to access the VPN.

  1. If you run the command:

pivpn help

You will be greeted with the list of commands that we can now run on the Pi to configure the clients and do other administration tasks.

2. Run the command:

pivpn add

This will start the process of creating a client configuration file. You will need to set a password at this point. Ensure you do not forget it, as you will be required to add it on the Client VPN software when we try to connect.

3. That is it for creating the .opvn client config file. It can now be found as indicated at: /home/pi/ovpns


MOVING THE CLIENT CONFIG - we need to move this config file to our device

In this example we are going to move the configuration file to a windows PC that we want to be able to access the VPN and the local network. We must now use some of the additional software to move or grab this config we just created. In this case we decided to use Filezilla as the Pi image already has SFTP enabled by default.

  1. Open Filezilla FTP client. The configuration details that you need to enter in the top for “Quickconnect” are:

Host: 192.168.1.154 (or put sftp:// it will do this automatically when we select port 22 later)

Username: Pi

Password: raspberry

Port: 22 (SFTP default port)

2. When you hit “Quickconnect” you should see a successful directory listing in the right hand navigation pane. Navigate your way to the ovpns folder (Located in the Home directory, if for some reason it did not default to that) Then identify the client1.ovpn config file that was created earlier. Download this file to your desktop by clicking on it and dragging it to the left pane. Ensure you identify the area you are dragging it to as that is your local computer.


CLIENT CONFIG - We need to setup our client now using that file!

We now have a copy of the OpenVPN config file transferred to our client computer. We will need to go ahead and install the OpenVPN client software located here: https://openvpn.net/index.php/open-source/downloads.html

Step through the standard hoops for installing a windows application.

  1. After the OpenVPN software has been installed the Client1.opvn config file needs to be copied to the OpenVPN config folder located here: C:\Program Files\OpenVPN\config (For Windows)

2. Run the OpenVPN software. Most likely is will open to your taskbar.

3. Right-Click the icon in the task bar and select “Connect”

Enter your password that we set when we added the client to the Pi VPN server.

4. Once connected you should see the OpenVPN client taskbar icon turn green and the status screen should look like the above.

The VPN server should have setup your routing tables now so that you can access anything inside your local network automatically.

Give it a shot, shoot a ping through to your local router.

What you may also notice is that the VPN tunnel has been assigned a 10.0.8.# address. The VPN server runs its own network for the tunnel with its own DHCP. When another client connects they are allocated another address on this same range. The server looks after the bridging of this network to your own local network.


Building RGB LED Marquee Letters

Tara and I got married this month and whilst doing the prep work for the wedding I came across some large marquee lettering that were up for hire. After talking with the hire company and being given a quote that was absolutely ridiculous, I told Tara that I was going to build our own. Much to her dismay, I did build them, and they were a hit!

Saying that, If you were to build your own, these are the the two biggest questions I would have you ask yourself. 1. Where will you put them? (If you want to place them in front of a table, do not make them 1 meter high like I did.) 2. Cost of materials – Depending where you get the MDF, you may actually be better off hiring them. Time vs Materials.


Materials Required

  • MDF - Approx 18mm Thick
  • Plywood - 3mm or 5mm Ply (3mm Bends easier)
  • Small Tacks and Nails (For attaching Ply to side of MDF)
  • Sanding Sheets
  • CNC Router or Jigsaw (Jigsaw for Hand cuts)

  • White Gloss Paint (Rollers/Brushes etc etc)
  • Fairy light fake bulbs (You can use the lights also)
  • OPTIONAL - Pixel Pusher
  • OPTIONAL - WS2801 RGB LED strings (If you want to control light)
  • OPTIONAL - 5v PSU and travel router to control RGB lights from phone)




Cutting the Letters

Draw up the letters in your favorite CAD/CAM program. I used Aspires Vetric for this. Mostly its a CAM software but still has some good tools for drawings. Another alternative would be to draw it in illustrator and convert to DXF. If you plan to cut the shapes manually, you will need to come up with a template. For smaller letters this could be achieved in Microsoft word and printing the outlines. However for 1 meter tall lettering, your best off cutting on a CNC router.

Ensure the holes for the lighting are spaced evenly. I used a 150mm gap between each light, however you can extend this to not use so many lights, or bring them closer together for more lighting.

Bending and Attaching the Ply

It is actually very surprising how flexible Ply is. Especially 3mm thick ply. Obviously the smaller your lettering the tighter the corners will be. You may even have to wet your ply with water to make that bend. However with these letters I did not have to wet any of it down. The tightest angle was on the inside of the heart shape and the 5mm ply that I used just made it. I could hear some slight cracks, but nothing visual.

The ply is measured and cut to length, I tried to make the seams join at the apex of the cuts. However it does not matter too much where the ply joins as you can hide any irregularities prior to painting. Attach the ply with some overhang at the rear of the letters. This will help to hide any unsightly cabling/wiring later.

We used some black tacks to tack the wood on. Every few centimeters I tacked the ply on. This has held well to date. If you use nails, be careful not to split the MDF.

Painting (The Not so fun part!)

What I will say here is that you should really spend some time sanding. As with all wood projects, any imperfections will be seen if you do not deal with them now. However, knowing that these things are always turned in a dimly lit room may entice you to do a half job here. Also you may want to punch the tacks down below the surface of the wood and use some filler to cover it over. Ok so get painting! we used a gloss, feel free to change it up here.

OPTIONAL - The Electronics

This section is totally optional. I initially used the ‘Christmas’ like lights in the bulbs but found it to be boring. Thus I took it a bit further and installed the WS2801 RGB LED string lights. I acquired these from Aliexpress at a good price. I also used one of the many Pixelpushers I had lying about to drive the RGBs. Using the Pixelpusher for this kind of install is massively overkill however its what I had lying around. The bonus to this is that I could use the LEDlab App and control the lights from my phone. Let me know if you want more info on this setup.


How Do Crypto Fees Work?

Fees are basically broken down into two parts. The first are the Fees that you pay at an exchange to purchase or send crypto currency. The second are fees that are charged as part of the blockchain that are charged when moving crypto between wallets. At the lowest level, we convert our local currency by sending it to the exchange. (A fee will apply) We then purchase some crypto currency ie Bitcoin, NEO, IOTA etc etc. (A fee will apply) We then send the crypto to a wallet. (Another fee will apply). The first Fee is most likely for the service to move your fiat currency to the exchange, the second is for the exchange and the third is the fee that the blockchain/crypto itself will chew up.

So I hear you saying, if there are so many fees what is the benefit of Crypto Currency… Well at present, there is not a lot of incentive to use it. Most of those holding crypto is for investment purposes. The end goal will be to pay with items directly using your crypto of choice. Thus cutting out the middle-men. We will start to see more of this into the future. However for now this is where we are at. I hope to look back on this blog post in 2-3 years and see that we are making progress towards a system that is easy to access and easy to use.


Check, Double Check and Triple Check your Fees

  • Decide on your payment method and Check Fees.
  • Polipay $3.30 each time is not bad
  • Bpay 2% on some exchanges
  • Check wallet fees and ensure you send enough
  • IOTA = No Fees on transactions

  • Check Exchange fees
  • Coinspot 2% - 3% fee for Transactions
  • BTC Markets 0.85% for Transactions
  • Ensure the value sent is what will be received
  • Triple Check Senders Address



Transferring Fiat Currency to Crypto


Buying a Crypto Miner

In a nutshell ‘Mining’ Crypto Currency is basically verifying transactions on the network or blockchain. This happens to ensure the system remains safe, secure and reliable. The Miners are basically computers that solve a problem to verify that the correct data (or Transaction) has been sent between peers.

There are two ways to get Crypto Currency. One is to ‘Mine’ it. (Using some Mining Hardware) and the other is to purchase it directly. (Using an exchange.) When looking to mine Crypto there are a few variables to take into account. The first is the Crypto Type that you want to mine. Bitcoin for example uses a SHA-256 algorithm and is best mined with ASIC based miners (We will go into ASIC chips later!) Where as the Coin ‘Ethereum’ uses Ethash which is a modified version of SHA and some other protocols to make it ASIC-resistant and easier to verify transactions. In other words you can use your computers Graphics card to mine this coin.

The ASIC miners for Bitcoin and GPU miners for Ethereum are only just the tip of the iceberg, new technologies are coming out all the time which will change how you mine crypto and which hardware you select. Below if a few comparisons to help you make up your mind if ‘mining’ crypto is for you.


Things to consider when purchasing a miner

  • What Crypto am I going to Mine? (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin)
  • What type of hardware do I require to mine said coin?
  • Is there a calculator to determine my earnings?
  • How much maintenance does a miner require?
  • Do I need an internet connection?

  • Where shall I store the hardware?
  • How much heat will my hardware produce?
  • How noisy is the hardware?
  • How much power will my mining rig use?



Where to Start

First you need to determine the Crypto coin you want to mine. Check and make sure it is ‘mineable’ also. Not all Crypto can be mined. For example, NEO (Chinese Crypto) it is not able to be mined, but has other benefits that is outside the scope of this post. (Google it, very interesting read!) In my case, the first miner I purchased was an ASIC based miner suitable for Bitcoin (SHA-256 capable). I decided upon this because Bitcoin is the most well known of the crypto currencies and I felt at the time that no matter the initial investement amount on the hardware, the price of Bitcoin will still go up relatively quickly.

Power Consumption

We should really hit on the power consumption debate firstly as this is easily the most debated topic when mining crypto. Most of the hardware require a fair bit of power to run. The key is to figure out how much you are paying for power and to weigh this up with the rewards you get from mining your crypto. In some cases (Especially in Australia!) the price of power may not allow you to make mining profitable.

Easily the best Crypto Profitability calculator going around is this one. It will allow you to incorporate your power consumption to give you a more accurate understanding of the potential returns you could make.

Noise and Heat

As with all computer hardware, they generally produce a fair bit of Noise and Heat. Any device that is using upwards of 1000W of power is going to produce heat. A byproduct of this is the use of fans to cool the hardware, which in turn produces noise. Taking this into account you will need to store your mining rig in a suitable location so that you do not over heat the device, and that the constant drone of the fans are not annoying. Checkout the video below. This is an Ebit E9, the first miner that I purchased. Noisy AF!

Where to buy?

Generally purchasing direct from the manufacturer is always a good Idea. My first stop would be to check the Bitmain website to see what is available. They have some of the best ASIC and Litecoin miners going. At present you can’t really beat the Antminer S9 if you want o mine Bitcoin. They sell all the equipment in batches. Thus you may find them to be out-of-stock on a regular basis. Keep checking in periodically to get a good deal.

With regards to GPU miners, All these parts are available at local computer shops. See below for a small spreadsheet outlining some items you could use:

As with all tech, at the time of this post, the prices listed for the gear were pretty competitive. Once this post is 3-4 months old, you will see that other tech has come out which is better spec and a better price.


Crypto: Coinspot.com.au

Ever since 2012 I have been interested in the Crypto Currency market (Yes Bitcoin fascinated me!) however, as like many of us, we thought it was a pipe dream and did not invest in it. I did not even think about putting a cheeky $50 down. In hindsight that was a bit of a mistake. The value of Bitcoin has since gone to the moon! 2010 saw prices sitting below $1, now a single coin is worth approx $7k AUD! ($12k – 27/11/17)

So of course its at this time I decided to do what I should have done years ago! Buy some Bitcoin! or at least some Crypto.  After joining the Crypto Australia group on Facebook and reading through some posts it became clear to me that Coinspot was the most user friendly exchange to get started with. Coinspot is an Australian company operated out of Melbourne Victoria. (That was a win for me, Aussie based company for starters)

For those of you who just skim the page, see below a list of Pro’s and Cons. This will help making up your mind. What I will say quickly though is that this exchange is perfect for the mum and dad investors looking to get a foot in the door!


Coinspot.com.au Pros and Cons

  • Ease of Use
  • Suitable for First Time Buyer
  • User Friendly Interface
  • Crypto Delivered Almost instantly

  • Built In Wallet to Hold your Crypto
  • PoliPay, Bpay and Cash Deposit
  • Secure 2Factor Authentication
  • Identity Validation Completed quickly

  • High Fees (2% for Crypto Transactions)
  • Limited Selection of Coins (However getting better!)
  • Charting is basic (Good for first timers)



A more in Depth look at Coinspot

So you have decided to take the plunge into the Crypto world and you have decided to use Coinspot for your first exchange of Fiat currency into Crypto Currency. See below some more in depth info to help you get started.

Sign Up and Verification

The first step is to sign up for an account on coinspot and go through the verification process. Some might be hesitant to hand over a lot of personal information, however I do believe this added step in security only benefits the members and the community. It makes it just that little bit harder for the scammers and crims to also be involved. Some of the verification steps will require you to scan and send your drivers license, a verification photo holding a handwritten sign, and a copy of a utility bill to confirm address. This is all completed and sent to Coinspot via the secure portal they provide. I submitted my verification on a Sunday morning and it was verified that night. They even gave me a phone call to confirm that I had not given them an incorrect phone number. Once verified you are good to go to buy your first crypto.

TIP - Enable two-factor authentication on your account and get the google Authentication App on your phone. It adds an extra layer of security to your account. When dealing in Crypto and $$ you should go to this effort. It may save you later on. Especially if your portfolio grows.

Buying your first Coin

You will now be required to make a deposit into your account. Coinspot has 3 methods. PoliPay, Bpay and Cash Deposit. Polipay has the lowest Fees at $0, Bpay @ 2% and Cash Deposits at 3%. Cash Deposits are via BlueShyft which you can complete at many Newsagents around the country. At first you will be limited to $2000AUD per day. However once you have gained some “purchase experience” the cap will be raised to $10,000AUD.

No matter how you get your AUD into the exchange it will then show up as a Balance that you can use to purchase Crypto.

Now that You have a Balance in the exchange you can purchase your first Crypto. Click on the “Buy” button in the top menu, and select how much you want to purchase. Either the Crypto amount or how much you want to spend of your Balance. Click buy and you will be greeted with a summary page. This will list the fees for your transaction. Take note of the 2% fee. Once purchased it will take a few minutes, but you will see the balance pop up in the wallet of the coin you purchased.


The Scott Bonnar 45 Project

Have you ever just wanted to get the boys (and girls) away from the PS4 for a while? well I think I found the solution… My son and I decided to give the whole “reel mower restoration” thing a go. After a bit of searching I decided upon the ever popular Scott Bonnar/Rover Model 45. It seems you can still find many parts for these suckers as well as plenty of donor mowers also if required.

We searched the ever faithful GumTree for a semi cheap donor mower and came across an old chap down the road selling the exact one we were after. A 17″ reel mower with the Scott Bonnar 45 stickers all over it. The nice, but old green paint job and oil stained Briggs and Stratton engine has us in awe. I gave it a quick test cut on the lawns and we purchased it on the spot.

Without looking too close, we probably should have checked it a bit more thoroughly. It seems that these mowers have a bit of a problem with the horizontal supports for the engines. Over time the engine mount holes get cracks in them and this can spell disaster for any home restoration project. The good news for us however that after a complete strip of the engine we had zero cracks and the restoration was good to go.


Some History on the mower

Thanks to ‘Bonnar Bloke’ from the Outdoorking.com forums we were able to get this little piece of history on this particular model of Scott Bonnar 45 mower.

“Well that’s one of the early made “Eagle Farm” Scott Bonnar’s after Rover closed the Holland Street Thebarton Factory in Adelaide the previous year. Your mower was assembled in early (March) 1984 with the Engine being made on the 6th of December 1983 over in the US of A.”

“It’s a rather interesting example as the ID plate is of the first batch of green metal plates that doesn’t refer to Brisbane as the city of manufacture. The later ones do, before they changed to silver foil style ID stickers. Also this mower shows evidence that they had not commissioned their new state of the art “Powder Coating line” yet which introduced the Kermit Green coloured Rovers. So the Eagle Farm factory was still shooting Hammertone Enamel paint which was now a different colour than what was used in Adelaide (Apple Green)even though the 1984 Range of mowers brochure still showed the Apple Green colour as being current.”


Getting rid of the paint

So apparently back in the day powder coating was not a thing and the SB’s were painted with a Hammer-tone enamel paint. I can tell you that it is truly very stubborn to remove. Initially I used a sandblaster with the course garnet and it got rid of all the rust and crap. But the paint that was still good quality would not budge.

I then switched to the grinder with sanding pads, which worked pretty well. However all the small grooves proved to be a hassle with the grinder. The third method was to then use those wire brush attachments for the drill and after some time was able to bring the mower back to bare metal.


A new motor

The original Briggs and Stratton engine that came with the mower still runs, however it has seen its best days and I decided a retro fit was in order. Would you believe that you can get a direct replacement “Chonda” or Chinese Honda for $144 delivered? well you can’t really beat this and even if I get 5-6 years out of it I will be happy. The process of removing and replacing the engine is pretty straight forward. 4 mounting bolts, a throttle cable and thats about it.


Update - 29/11/17

So it has been a long time between drinks. Since I started the SB, I have moved workshops, got married and renovated some of the house. Also had a few other projects on the go recently. What I can say is that the SB is mostly stripped back and in primer. I still have parts everywhere, hopefully I’ll find some time to continue the build soon. Oh and I also purchased a “Daily” mower that has been keeping the lawn in good condition. It came with the original manuals! Check out the pics below for more details.


Work in progress

This post is a bit of a work in progress. I’ll keep updating it as we go with the resto. Wish us luck!


TapDoc (BETA)

After playing with NFC and RFID a bit in the last year I realized that the technology is really hamstrung to only a few use cases. Primarily Access Control systems and payment systems. No one has really used the technology for much more. Maybe some active tracking solutions, but really the use cases for NFC are pretty scarce.

The problem with NFC/RFID is that the tags themselves cannot really store too much usable information and storing off site can sometimes be an expensive exercise. The idea of TapDoc is to leverage consumer devices and common cloud platforms to make the technology more usable and accessible.


TapDoc

From here we did a bit of brainstorming to see what we could come up with to utilize the technology a bit differently. Thus TapDoc was born. (I have this feeling though I may need a new name….) In its basic form, TapDoc allows a user to associate files/documents to a NFC tag and place the tag onto an item or in a designated area. In its more advanced form, TapDoc allows a user to create “Pathways” These pathways are a predetermined order of basic tags. Once a pathway is created a user must scan the NFC tags in the order that was set. If your still confused, check out the info below.


TapDoc Apk

Obviously TapDoc is in its very infancy, however if you would like to give it a try feel free. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.