Monthly Archives: March 2022

Trek (Bontrager) BLENDR system – Piece Of Fucking Shit

Bought a new Trek bike and I’m one of those weirdos with a busy cockpit.  Lights, Cameras, Computers (shoulda said “Action”, I know), coffee holder.  I’m definitely predisposed to an Urban Commuter style of riding.

But the new bike is a fancy Carbon bike (FX Sport Carbon 4) and I decided to clean things up a bit.

Trek BLENDR

So basically the BLENDR system is a clip that sits between the useless space in the handlebar stem which allows you to mount a couple of items.

Cool.  I had to try it.

I have an Elite Stem so I made sure to order the right stuff for it.  They have a compatibility chart.

So I wasn’t sure if I wanted to mount one thing or two things so I bought both a Mono base and a Duo base.

IT’S A PIECE OF FUCKING SHIT.

First of all you can’t find them anywhere.  That implies 2 things.   It’s either really popular or its a piece of fucking shit.

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Bicycles, Tech, and Wokeness

Make no mistake.  I fancy this as a Tech Blog.  Bicycles are surprisingly high tech, especially these days.  Heck, even when I was a kid the owner of the Schwinn bike shop wore a LAB COAT. That was a statement.  It meant a PROFESSIONAL was there in support of your bicycle purchase.

I’m turning 60 this year and one thing has almost never changed in my life.  Put me on a bicycle and I get positively HAPPY.  I love riding a bicycle.  Rain, no problem.  Wind, no problem.  Okay, I lied about the wind one.

I go through periods when I want to read, dream, and think about all things BICYCLE.  I just bought a new bike and I’m in that phase again.   Got the bike, got some lights, got some pedals and shoes.   And it is about the reading and research for me as it is about the stuff.  I want TECH stuff.  I want to read reviews from users.  I want to saturate myself in bicycle culture.

That is until I picked up a Magazine…………
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Trek FX Sport 4 Carbon Review (2021)

Trek FX Sport 4 Carbon

I recently was in the big city of Charlotte NC and swung by a local cycle shop and to my utter shock and amazement they had an FX Sport 4 Carbon in stock.  This bike shop also asked if I were a veteran and gave me a 10% discount off retail price as well.

Ever since the pandemic hit one of the first things to disappear from the earth, after toilet paper, were bicycles.  IF, and I mean IF you could find a bike it wasn’t one of the higher end bikes.

Much like a lot of other people in the world I decided to whip myself into shape after being allowed to telework which gave me a solid two extra hours in the morning to exercise.  And what I most wanted was a Carbon Trek FX Sport 4, 5, or 6.  They have been unobtanium, at least in my parts, for over 2 years now.

I decided to buy the bike despite the fact that I have an FX2 and a Verve 3.  Here are my thoughts on the bike after dabbling with it for a few days.

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Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 Boards – Where Are They?

Pi Compute Module 4

The Raspberry Pi Compute Module is an interesting concept mostly designed for embedded solutions.

A regular Raspberry Pi gives you an HDMI slot, a camera slot, GPIO Pins, USB, audio, etc. but a CM4 with the proper board can give you a PCIe slot, onboard SATA, or onboard NVME M.2

But where are those boards?

I’m looking for a board that will do NVME M.2 natively for a 3.15″ SSD.  I simply can’t find one.

You can take the official Raspberry Pi IO Board and add a PCIe adapter to achieve this but it is kind of a kluge the way it sits in the slot and to date I’ve seen no specific cases that would hold the board securely.

Plus if you give up that PCIe lane to the adapter you can’t use it for other cool things.

What’s a geek to do?

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It’s That Time Of Year Again – Egg Printing

This is just a cut and paste from my old blog which I hope to make go poof one of these days.  Just moving the content here for posterity.  The content might need to be refreshed a bit but, you know, I’m a busy guy.

 

Printing on Eggs and Shit.

So I’ve got a couple 3D printers and a vinyl sign machine and I’m always looking at related forums and reading the industry magazines. One day on Thingverse.com I stumble across the Sphere-O-Bot which shows a 3D printed frame with a couple of NEMA 17 motors and an arduino. And I think “I have to make that”. Forget that I have absolutely no reason to print on eggs or ping-pong balls but just as a man climbs Everest because it is there so it is with me.

There is a kit from a place called J-Robots or you can source the parts yourself. The software is open source. The thing is that an Arduino Leanardo, a Brainboard, and two stepper motors and drivers will set you back over $60 maybe more with shipping. Then you need the hardware and the other related stuff. Might as well get the kit.

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Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 NAS With SATA Card

I got the inspiration to build up this Raspberry Pi NAS with a Compute Module and SATA adapter from Jeff Geerling.  His blog page is here (linked with permission).  If you like Raspberry Pi even a little bit this guy pushes the Pi to the extreme.  His computer, networking, and Linux skills are exceptional and his delivery is easy to understand.  If you visit his blog click the YouTube icon on the right side of the page and visit his channel.  

Decided to turn my Pi Compute Module 4 into Network Attached Storage (NAS).  A real NAS.  While a Raspberry Pi NAS won’t light the networking world on fire it is more than adequate to serve up files.  I want to put this NAS out in my Shed for two reasons.

  • Redundant backup in case the house burns down
  • Use Squeezelite client to stream audio to my shed stereo, a circa 1980’s Technics Receiver.

I have a mini-ITX case and guts to put a “real” server out there but my shed is a woodworking shop and push come to shove I’d rather gum up the fan and overheat  $100 worth of Pi and Compute Module IO board than to blast a $450 server motherboard.  Besides lots of sawdust it gets wicked hot and wicked cold in the shed too. This computer is going to get dirty and this is a choice of economics as much as anything.

Making a Pi NAS is easy but it also ends up being a spaghetti mess and unless you design and 3D print a custom case the Compute Module just isn’t organically designed to fit any standard case out there.  We gotta get creative.

My cheap case is a Mini ITX case.  How I dealt with the installation was to keep the 500 watt power supply intact and to 3D print a case for the Compute Module IO board.  Then I just double side taped that to the inside of the enclosure.  Here’s a quick video of the build with details to follow.

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Pi Compute Module Build

I built my first Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 project.  A 1TB NAS Drive using an NVME drive.

CM4 with NVME on PCIe Connector

These are the required parts:

ITEMDescriptionCost
CM4 2GB RAM 32GB eMMCRaspberry Pi Compute Module 4 CM4102032$55
Carrier BoardRaspberry Pi Compute Module CM4 IO Board$35
Power Supply (various sources)12 volt minimum 1.5 amps, 5.5 mm barrel plugHad one laying around. Maybe $10-$15
PCIe to M.2 AdapterXiwai Low Profile PCI-E 3.0 x1 Lane to M.2 NGFF M-Key SSD Nvme AHCI PCI Express Adapter Card$8
NVME SSDSAMSUNG 970 EVO Plus SSD 1TB, M.2 NVMe $109

Let’s talk about the parts somewhat.

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Raspberry Pi Compute Module IO Board and PCIe devices

I’m writing this blog because of something I learned the hard way and that I just did not understand.  I, of course, hopes this helps someone else.

I just start playing with the Raspberry Pi Compute Module and Carrier boards and I recently received the Official Pi IO Board for the Compute Module 4.  I decided the first thing I wanted to do was make use of the PCIe slot on the board.

And that’s where the trouble began.

There are LOTS of great web pages on Pi Carrier Boards and PCIe configuration but this issue slipped me up for over a day.

I ordered an NVME adapter and a Samsung EVO 970 Plus NVME drive and the adapter arrived first.  So I decided to go ahead and get it set up and ready for the NVME drive.

And this is really where the trouble began.

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