Monday, 24 January 2022

Open Source Software

I often see posts, on various forums, about what free software to use. Many commercial products offer a free version for home use or a limited feature version. One way or another, I usually end up moving away from those restricted versions.

The only reliably free software, tends to be Open Source products. Although there are many, lots of those do not get the commitment to be of any use however, a few become fully functional products that often rival their commercial counterparts.

The following is a list of the software, that I have found are sufficiently developed to be usable products, at least for my home use:

Photo Editing = GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)
This is the niche that Photoshop fills in the commercial world. GIMP is a very capable photo editor and has a massive community of support and development. is also an excellent photo editor. For day to day use, I prefer the simplicity and speed of

Vector Graphics = Inkscape
This is the category that Illustrator fills. Inkscape is usable and has most, if not all, of the essential features. I would not claim it is a match for Illustrator but for free, Inkscape does an excellent job and is still being developed.
I have not fond an alternative, Open Source, vector graphics editor.

2D CAD = LibraCAD
I have not had much experience of LibraCAD but the reviews are good. This is what an architect would use for drawings. It is in the same line as the industry standard AutoCAD.

3D CAD = FreeCAD
This is the solid body, parametric editing solution. There are many commercial products in this area, like Fusion 360 and Solidworks.
I like FreeCAD. It has a few limitations in the way the user interface works and the occasional bug but I have been able to easily produce any model I have needed for 3D printing.

3D Mesh Modelling and animation = Blender
The investment in Blender has been so intensive and it's been around a long time, that it now rivals the commercial products. It competes with Maya and 3DS Max and other industry standard.
If you want to create models for computer games or for an animated movie, Blender is the product. Blender can also be used to make the movie!
Like most mesh modelling products, it can be difficult to learn. 

That's my list for now.


Sunday, 23 January 2022

Defender interior lamp connector

In the process of fitting the rear headlining and specifically a lamp in the rear, I could not find anywhere to get the connector that fits the standard Defender light fitting. They have, in the past, been available on ebay, but not when I was looking. My solution, as usual, was to design and 3D print one.

Original Part

I believe that the connector is part number AMR3158.

Factory fitted connector

It is connector C357 in the 1997 electrical circuit diagram.

Luckily, the spades fit perfectly into the commonly available 2.8mm connector pins. The 2.8mm connector housings that are readily available online, have narrower spacing between the pins.

Readily available 2.8mm connectors

I designed a housing with spacing to fit the lamp, using the 2.8mm pins that I already had. The light only uses two pins 10mm apart.

Just off the printer

Snug fit

The bare roof and condensation

Threading to the front light

Pulled cables through to the rear

I threaded the cables above the front headlining prior to fitting the rear.

Honestly, it does fit... 

... just about. Needs manoeuvering

This was intended to be an article about the lamp connector but I'll mention fitting the headlining, while I'm here.

The headlining that I fitted was purchased from Simmonites. It's a thin fibreglass panel.

There are a number of trim clips holding up the headlining. I measured the one central trim clip from the centre of the row of trim clips between the front and rear sections. That avoids the risk of movement while measuring. I then marked the row of trim clip holes by offering up the two halves and visually looking at the centres. They were 15mm from the edge and I drilled 8mm holes.

I cut the hole for the lamp holder using a rotary tool and drilled a small hole in the centre spar to secure the bracket.

There are three wires, spliced in to the same cables from the front light.

The purple wire is a permanent live. I had purple 0.5mm2 cable available, so it matches the original. The correct method is to disconnect the battery but, of course, I just took care not to touch anything while fitting the crimp. I was happy when the end of the purple cable was safe in the housing.

I had blue 0.5mm2 cable available, so I connected that to the purple/blue cable of the original lamp. It's an earth via the immobiliser ECU. 

There is also a black earth cable, using a 6.3mm spade connector, plugged into a tag cut into the bracket. The bolts are the earth for the lamp.

The connector was a tight fit but worked.


Connector C357 AMR3158 STEP and STL (Zip)


Saturday, 8 January 2022

Using TDCi switches in a 300TDi

In the process of personalising Fender, I've fitted newer switches. That requires a few wiring changes.

The linked PDF document details the necessary connections for the main switches and the changes to use a TD5 or TDCi tail door harness instead of a 300TDi harness:

300TDi to Puma connectors (PDF)

Switch Mounting

I have also designed and 3D printed various panels to mount the newer switches into a 300TDi.

We have a Raptor Engineering centre dash that I had already configured to fit a specific Sony Stereo. I changed one section to fit the switches. The panel cut out is for a single DIN radio. All the switch mounting panels are in the same style as the Raptor dash.

On the drivers side the hazard and rear fog switches will just fit into the space of the original small  switch panel.


DIN button panel STL and STEP (Zip)

This is two parts. The three M5 bolts clamp the two halves together.

Small button panel STL and STEP (Zip)

This is three parts. The thin rear walls can be superglued in to place or just left free to be held in place by the switches. The middle hole is for a cosmetic self taping screw to match the mounting screws at either end.

TD5 and TDCi button blank STL and STEP (Zip)

I print this with 1.2mm thick walls standing on the button face. I have to sand it down and paint the part that is on show.


Friday, 7 January 2022

Fender is back

When Shelley's previous Defender, Fender, was written off, its remains were bought by the owner of the garage we use.

Much to our surprise he rebuilt it much quicker than we expected and we asked for first refusal if he was ever to sell it. He did and we bought it back at the end of November.

Mark at Gratech 4x4 has done an excellent job getting Fender back on the road.

Since then I've been personalising it and putting back the electrics needed now that it is a van again.

Running the wires for the tail door central locking.

I've re-enabled the central locking and added the solenoid and linkage to the tail door.

300TDi connectors are different to those on a TDCi tail door.

I've put a new connector on the old 300TDi wires to match the TDCi door wiring.

I've used TD5 and TDCi switches and updated the dash to fit those.

Plus there are some more jobs on-going.