Sunday, March 28, 2010

WRT54G and Tomato Firmware, a New Chapter...

Readers will recall that I was running an ancient Linksys WRT54G v1.0 router with the excellent Tomato firmware to move all the data packets into and around the home network here at Casa de' G-98. I'd modified the router a smidgen by installing heatsinks on the internal ICs, adding a squirrel-cage fan, and placing a Linksys WSB-24 downstream to boost the 802.11g signal strength a smidgen. It worked flawlessly, and logged 430+ days of continuous use before I recently unplugged it.

Why, then, did I unplug it? Charter Cable performed a free upgrade from 20/2 to 25/3 service earlier this month, and I wasn't seeing anywhere near that kind of throughput on the LAN side of my network. I was lucky to see maybe 15/500k on a good day even before the free Charter upgrade, which left me scratching my head for answers. I attributed a lot of the slowdown to heavy usage of Charter Cable in my residential neighborhood, but I figured I could still see decent speeds in off-peak hours. Such was not to be the case, and I considered downgrading to Charter's 10Mbps service if I wasn't going to realize the speeds they promised. Then I received an email from Charter, telling me I needed a new DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem, please authorize their shipment of the modem to my household to better take advantage of the speed upgrade!

Well, of course I was all over that like white on rice. The new Ubee modem arrived, I installed it, and then went through the steps of having Charter provision it through their website. Once it was flashing all the lights in a happy pattern, I ran a speed test. Better, but not great. I saw 18/2, sometimes peaking at 20/2.5, but nowhere near the 25/3 advertised. Hmm...

Drilling through all the myriad posts over at led me to believe I was simply asking too much of the 125Mhz processor and lesser memory capacity of my early-model WRT54G v1.0. Comparisons of WAN-to-LAN speeds of all the home routers showed that the Linksys WRT54G-TM was the one I wanted, with more memory and a faster 200Mhz Broadcom CPU. I bit the bullet, bought one already flashed for Tomato 1.27 on eBay, and waited for it to arrive. Once in my hot little hands, I installed heatsinks on all the ICs that looked like they could benefit from additional passive cooling, placed the router in my basement comm rack, and let fly.

Voila'! 25/3 speeds now came up in the speed tests, although prime time network usage in my residential neighborhood can still put a crimp on that. Overclocking the WRT54G-TM to 225Mhz let the speed tests spike closer to 30/3, so for now I'll hold at that vs. overclocking to 250Mhz. (The router does feel noticeably warm to the touch at 225Mhz) My trusty WRT-54G v1.0 is still around, but it's getting transferred to my sister's home network to run on their Charter 5Mbps service, where it won't have problems compared to what I was asking it to do. In the meantime, here's what the Comm Rack looks like now, I fully expect to see another 430 or more days of uninterrupted service from the "new" router:

And the whole thing still looks pretty cool with the lights turned off, too!

Muzzle Blasts, Pt. III

The last rifle I posted was a difficult one to figure out, and one reason is that folks don't see many of them in this day and age compared to other milsurp firearms. I don't have really concrete numbers, but I'd wager there were no more than a few thousand 6.5x53R Mannlicher Model 1895 Dutch Cavalry Carbines imported into these United States over the last century or so. I haven't even seen more than a couple of the full-length M95 rifles during my travels, and find myself fortunate to own a similar M95 Artillery Carbine as a mate to the Cavalry Carbine pictured below. Of note, this is NOT the same carbine as the Model 1895 Steyr-Mannlicher rifle in 8x50R, which was a straight-pull design. The Dutch Mannlicher was a rimmed 6.5mm turnbolt creation which also saw service in Romania.

The cavalry carbines are unique in that the box magazine and stock have asymmetrical wood on the left (horse) side of the gun, with the exposed box magazine on the right side conspicuously sans wood protection. I suppose that was a modification for the sake of the horse and scabbard, but few sources explain the rationale now. Mine has a date of 1896 on the receiver, and sees non-combat service on range day, since I scored both carbines, dozens of en-bloc Mannlicher clips, and several hundred rounds of reloadable brass when I bought the guns about 15 years ago. Reloading for the 6.5x53R round is straightforward, and the gun likes 155gr roundnose projectiles in front of a powder charge very similar to the later 6.5x54 Mannlicher-Shonauer, which it predates by all of a year or so...

For this next chapter of Name That Muzzle, I give you this out-of-focus teaser (still learning to use the Nikon DSLR, sorry):

If you're gonna make wine...

You'd best have a place to put it all. This is a piddly little 180-bottle wine rack. It has 92 bottles of wine that I've made since last fall, which is but a fraction of my total output. (The remainder has been distributed to family and friends) Looks like I have some work to do to fill it completely, but we're getting there, slowly but surely...

Next up, 3 gallons of Bernie's Best Blush...

Which makes 15 bottles as seen below. This was something to keep all my glassware busy during the "off" season, and it worked just fine. The neat thing is, this blush started life as Welch's frozen grape juice concentrate - 2 cans dark Concord, 6 cans white grape, water, sugar, tannin, acid blend, pectin enzyme, and Montrachet yeast. Save for the lack of serious sediment, it behaved exactly like other wines I've done before during the fermentation and clearing process. It finished as semi-sweet, with just a hint of Concord fruitiness. Now I'm really tempted to try a white wine from frozen concentrate.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Raspberry Wine!

It's all bottled and ready to go. I used 5lbs of raspberries per gallon, with the berries provided by my folks from their farm in my Wisconsin hometown. After filling the 24 bottles, I had about 1/2 bottle left over, so I "sampled" the remainder tonight. Mmmm-good!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

For my dear friend in Northern California...

Whom I understand is not in the best of health these days. Richard "Dirty Dick" Bancroft is a mentor to me, and taught me much in the way of blades and John Moses Browning, amongst other things. Many a night we would sit up and solve the world's problems, while he ground a knife blank from ATS-34 or 154-CM, or milled a flat top on a 1911's slide in preparation for a Bo-Mar cut. I am still in awe, and cherish my meager collection of his handiwork, be they blades:

Or things of the 1911 persuasion, like a 3.5" Caspian Officer's ACP w/Kart barrel, tapered cone lockup, and his own design Bancroft sights:

A 5" Norinco 1911A1 w/ Kart barrel, Bo-Mar sights, Videcki lockwork, etc:

If you happen upon a knife, 1911 variant, or S&W revolver with a D/D rollmark, you've got something that should be kept very close for you and your subsequent generations to cherish.

Muzzle Blasts, Pt. II

Kudos to all who guessed the make of the rifle from last week's episode of Name That Muzzle! I've got some sharp readers, it was indeed a SMLE, more precisely a NoIMkIII* produced at RSAF Enfield in 1917, with plenty of history I'm sure between then and when I acquired it in 1999. Here's the complete rifle image, taken on the first day the snow melted here in our part of Wisconsin:

Here's the next installment. This one might be a bit more difficult, but I'm sure someone will get it right. I've left considerably more than just the muzzle in the picture to help out:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Name that muzzle!

I've been thinking about a little game I can do on this blog, in which I take an image of a rifle's muzzle, and folks can hazard guesses as to the make of the entire rifle. Since I have oodles of rifles to do this with, it can become a regular feature. As I take them out of their respective safes to clean and oil them on a regular basis, I'll just take a snapshot and let fly. So, without further ado, here's Mystery Muzzle #1:

To assist and put today's Mystery Muzzle into further perspective:

The fog, it was thick!

Warmer temperatures are great for melting all the snow, but they also bring the clouds really close to the ground at times. Note the car headlights looming towards me as I try to silhouette the trees against the streetlight:

My "new" Nikon DSLR is teaching me how to take pictures. I've got a steep learning curve ahead of me...

My new garden tractor?

Spring is in the air, and I saw a really big Deere. (It was filling up at the local gas station...)

My wife says it's probably too big for our back yard, so I'll have to stick with the Bolens tractor for now. Bummer.

Monday, March 08, 2010

A gorgeous AR-15 variant!

I've had this pre-'94 Olympic Arms lower sitting in the safe for about 11 years, and wanted to build it up into something unique. Thanks to the folks at I now have an idea what it'll look like!