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Friday 29 July 2016

Dual WAN at home

I've had a dual wide area network (WAN) router for a long time at home. The Draytek 2920n router that I use is now an old model replaced by the 2925 series but still being supported with updated firmware from time to time.

The idea of having a dual WAN router is because my Internet connection at home is so poor I could improve reliability and gain a bit of bandwidth for multi users by using two Internet connections from different providers at the same time.

When I first tried it, I found that the load balancing feature did not work very well with my Sky Internet router. The performance was about half the bandwidth that I got with load balancing disabled.

The result of some research I did was that for load balancing a bridged Internet connection worked better than a routed one. This was not just for Draytek but for all the multi-WAN routers in my price range. Unfortunately, Sky remove the bridge option from their routers.

Due to on-going Sky performance problems I recently decided to change ISP. PlusNet had been very good for my Mum for years and they allowed me to select my own connection equipment. Their setup was painless and I selected to use an ADSL modem instead of a router.

The Draytek Vigor 120 was one of the very few choices. Exactly what I wanted and worked plug and play. All I needed to do was add the settings in my 2920 router to use PPPoE to authenticate via the Vigor 120. The Vigor then uses those credentials with PPPoA to authenticate over the ADSL line to PlusNet.

I was a little disappointed because from time to time the ADSL Internet connection would drop and required the Vigor 120 to be manually restarted to get things working. After some investigation it appeared to be the Internal link that went down between the Vigor 120 bridge and the WAN port on router. The ADSL line was still up according to the link lights and incoming traffic would trigger a working connection.

I firmware updated the Vigor 120 but that did not fix it. I am fairly certain the problem was solved after I forced the network port on the Draytek router WAN port to be fixed at 100 full duplex instead of auto negotiate. A common network conflict with auto-detecting port speeds.

The bridge connection has been working reliably for 4 days now, so I am confident enough to say it's fixed.


As a side note.  The Broadcom chipset is often recommeded over the Vigor's Infineon chipset. I could not find an ADSL modem with a Broadcom chipset but a low cost way would be to get a second hand router with a Broadcom chipset and use that in bridge mode. That was trickier to find than I first thought so one option would be to get an old Sky Sagem 2504N router from ebay, unlock it with the non-Sky firmware that is available and enable the bridge feature! I've not tried that yet.


Where to buy?
If you plan to buy any of the things mentioned on this page, please consider using one of the following links as they pay me a commission:
DrayTek 2920 dual WAN router
DrayTek 2925 dual WAN router
Sky Sagemcom 2504n router

Monday 18 July 2016

Door mechanism repair

Just as we wanted to go out last Tuesday the locking mechanism on one of the pair of our back doors refused to move. One bolt was stuck out and the other dropped in.

This is the mechanism on the door that has to be closed first or opened last on a pair of uPVC French doors. I now know that this is called the slave gear box.

We had a quick look on the Internet but the videos we found only mentioned the first door not the second, so we called out a locksmith.

To cut a long job short, we were not impressed by the guy that came to fix the door. He took a very long time to fiddle with the door and eventually take it apart only to say he didn't have the part to fix it. I saw him take loads of measurements.

Eventually he struggled to put it back together and I suggested that as he needed to take it apart to fit the replacement part when it arrived, that he should simply close the door and use a screw to hold the locking mechanism fast. We could still use the first of the two doors to go in and out and the thing would still be fully secure when closed.

He contacted his office to put the order through for the necessary part and I had to pay for the call out.

From one photo I had already found the make and exact part of the bit that was broken and I could have had it delivered next day. There was no reason why a professional locksmith company should not have already got the part.

3 days latter I called up their office to find out when the replacement part would arrive.

They could not give me any information about the status of my order. I have no patience for this sort of thing and cancelled the order there and then.

This was 4pm on a Friday. By the middle of Saturday, I had received and fitted the part.

I now know that these locks are measured as the distance from the centre of the lock barrel to the front face of the lock and from the centre of the barrel to the centre of the handle spindle. In my case it is a 35-92 lock, 35mm and 92mm.

I have written off the call out fee as training for me to know how to take a uPVC door apart. It is very unlikely that I will be calling a locksmith again.

The little bit of knowledge I did not have at the start was that the overlapping plastic lip on the door was a complete unit simply held on by 4 long screws. Once that is off the slave mechanism is visible and easy to remove, just lots of normal screws.

Before removing anything, mark the exact positions of the metalwork for the latches. This will save a lot of time when re-assembling the door. In my case the locksmith and the original fitters had already put those marks on.

The lock barrel has to be removed. That is one screw going through the centre of the barrel assembly. Then the lock cam needs to be aligned with a bit of trial and error until the whole thing can slide out past the escutcheon.

Two screws from inside the house to undo the pair of handles and then the connecting shaft can be pulled out. That frees up the slave gearbox mechanism so it can be removed.

The bolts at top and bottom remain in the door, only a slide fixing needs to be removed to take off the flat geared connector rod assembly.

The lock came with the connector rods but they were a different pitch gear at each end, so I swapped over the rods from the old to the new gearbox.

Refitting the door is the reverse of taking it apart.

If you put back one connecting rod at a time, it is fairly easy. I started at the bottom, the slide fixing just sits over the end of the geared section preventing it coming out. A single screw stops the slide dropping down. I then did the same at the top. Took me a couple of minutes. That is the bit that the professional locksmith struggled with and I eventually told him not to bother!

At each stage I tested that everything moved the correct distances before proceeding to the next bit.

Job done, everything worked and I even made a quick adjustment to make it open and close a bit better.

Sunday 10 July 2016

Benches and stools

Today has been working on the production line to complete the stools and the benches to go with the garden table.

Bits cut and drilled in advance ready to assemble.

Clamped while pre-drilling with the SDS auger bit

The feet are simply attached with stainless steel facia nails.

Everything is done except for the light sanding which I will do when the linseed oil on the table top is eventually dry.


Update: Another week has gone by and it is now sanded and ready for dinner.

Saturday 9 July 2016

Chunky garden table

Yesterday the timber arrived for our garden table. English oak. Apparently this will last the longest outside.

I got started in the afternoon and the basic structure of the table was complete by a little after 8 in the evening.

Just off the lorry
I'm glad I ordered it all cross cut to size. That has saved a lot of time and effort. I ordered the timber from Brooks Bros.  Their branch near Grantham specialises in the hardwoods I needed. The staff were very helpful with the choice.

An old door and wedges as a clamp

Stainless steel is required for use with green oak. The natural chemicals within the oak rot normal steel quickly and tarnish the timber. I used A4 marine grade stainless steel M8 coach screws and washers. Most of the screws are 120mm long, with the heads sunk using a 25mm cutter and then pre-drilled with a 6mm hole. I have some SDS auger bits for wood which are needed to get through the oak.

Legs :-)
Did I mention, it's very heavy

Keith and Shelley, still a long way to go

Keith and Vanessa came round and they got co-opted in to moving the table to the patio! When we first tried to lift it we all gave up instantly, it was so heavy even with four of us. With some planning, some levers, some boards and a hell of a lot huffing and puffing, we manged to move it 6 inches at a time until we got it there. We guess it took an hour to move.

Vanessa with some well earned wine

It got used for the drinks that evening.

This morning I've covered the top in linseed oil and when that is dry it will get a light sanding.

Chunks of rubbed nailed on for the feet

This afternoon I made the first stool and tomorrow I will continue with these.

Sunday 3 July 2016

Spray Booth

Following on from my previous post, about upgrading my work bench, I have continued to tidy up the sheds and my workshop to make space for a permanent spray booth.

I always seam to have something to spray, it could be a model, a sign or a quick coat of black to cover a repair.  It is usually more convenient to use a rattle can rather than my air brush or even my spray gun.

It takes longer to setup and pack up than I ever spend with the spraying.

Hopefully that will change.  The idea is that the booth will be clean and ready to go.

The design has evolved. I always intended that it would be constructed out of leftovers I already had in the shed. That helps with my current tidying up and making space trend.

Here are some of the designs in the order I thought of them.

Compressor boxed in under the booth

Added a shelf to store paints and bits
By this point I had built the cupboard for the compressor with the shelf under a longer worktop. 

The balance of the worktop will make space for a belt and disc sander I expect to get for my birthday in a few weeks' time :-)
Angled sides and a flip up lid with compartments
Showing the construction based on the materials I have available
How I could add an extractor fan if I need one

The end result does not have an extraction fan. Partly for simplicity, partly because the workshop is already well ventilated but mainly because the area is always full of sawdust and I don't want to draw that towards the paint work!

When sitting in front of the bench to decide the exact placement and final sizes, I replaced my fixed partition plan with a hinged wall and made the whole booth narrower to leave more space at the end of the bench. The hinged partition covers the water filter regulator and the various air tubes and allows for a larger spraying area.