Making Bell FibreOP Work With a pfSense Router

Atlantic Canada is very fortunate to have access to Bell Aliant FibreOP Internet. It is a legitimate Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) service, in the same price range as cable and DSL offerings. Speeds start at 50/30 (download/upload in Mbps) for $70/month without any promotions.

FibreOP Plans

As great as the Internet itself is, the wireless router they include is the bottleneck. It is an Actiontec R1000H. Our biggest headaches with it were low WiFi throughput and frequent WiFi drop, but the interface was a little lacking in advanced features.

Actiontec

The logical solution is to use another router. Unfortunately, Bell has configured the service in a way that simply swapping in a new router will not work at all!

Through some research and my own trial and error, I was able to install pfSense to a spare computer, and take control of my Internet.

Disclaimer: Do not follow these steps if you have Bell’s IPTV service, as it will no longer work. There are other sites that describe how to keep those services working, but mine does not. As well, though there should be no impact, I advise against doing this if you have FiberOP Home Phone and rely on it for emergency communications.

This is not an easy task. It requires a very good understanding of computer networking, basic understanding of Linux networking terminology, and availability of network equipment (switches, wireless access points, cables, NICs). Chances are you found this page because you meet some of that description. Just know that if it isn’t working out, you can plug in the Actiontec and pretend it never happened.

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Friday, August 23rd, 2013 computers, networking, software 18 Comments

Rhythmind – Now Free!

Rhythmind Bigger

Rhythmind was released a little over 3 months ago. I’ve decided to provide it free of charge, though of course you can still pay what you want for it.

Download it today from Bandcamp.

 

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013 music No Comments

Repairing a Projector with Tinted and Washed-Out Display

My employer came to me with a little project. The office projector stopped working properly after someone touched the pins of the VGA video cable, and presumably released ESD energy into the projector. The picture’s colours were all tinted and washed out!

Before

Note that the bottom monitor is displaying the same colour pattern
as the projector. Grey is completely missing!

He asked me if I’d like to take a look at it. My answer, as would be expected, was “of course!”

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Sunday, February 24th, 2013 electronics, projects, work No Comments

Adding Magnet Feature to a Bally Centaur

Hold SpotBally’s Centaur pinball machine came from the factory with an electromagnet, installed in the top-right corner of the playfield. It would hold the ball in place after it hit the “release” target, which initiates the multi-ball mode.

Unfortunately, as time passed and these electromagnets burnt out, it became more difficult and expensive to find a replacement magnet. Most games no longer have the magnet installed, as it was likely removed to be sold.

On our machine, we had no idea if the magnet was still there, and one day decided to look under the playfield to see if there was one. It turns out there was, but it didn’t work.

Magnet Close

After verifying the electrical side was fine, we took out the magnet to find that a screw had gone through the playfield, and through the coil!

Screw Through Playfield       Original

The price of a replacement electromagnet is upwards of $100! Thus, we decided we would remove the old coil wire and wrap our own. After all, how hard could it be?

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Saturday, January 26th, 2013 electronics, pinball, projects 4 Comments

USB Stick Data Recovery

It isn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last. Today I had a client e-mail me in some panic, as her USB memory drive had stopped working. It was plugged into the computer, and someone walked into it, bending the connector.

Initial

Breaking the 64MB, chinese-made promotional USB key was not the disaster – it was losing the files on it.

Workstation

I’ve had luck before re-soldering damaged USB key connectors, so I got my tools together and gave it a shot.

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Thursday, January 17th, 2013 electronics, work No Comments

Custom Car Bluetooth Receiver

Currently my phone is simply connected to my radio’s AUX input with a cable, and if I want to change songs I must do so from the phone. Modern raidos have integrated Bluetooth capabilities, allowing you to pair your radio to your phone wirelessly. In some cases, pausing and skipping tracks can be done directly from the radio’s buttons – safer than waking up and unlocking your phone to change songs within the music player app.

jvcradio

I could have purchased such a radio, but I already had a perfectly fine JVC unit I installed not even two years ago. It has two AUX inputs, the one in the front I’ve been using, and a special Bluetooth AUX input in the rear. Although designed for use with a JVC accessory, I decided to build my own Bluetooth receiver for my car.

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Friday, December 21st, 2012 car, electronics, projects 2 Comments

Daniel Joannis – Rhythmind

It has been 5 years and 2 days since the idea of Rhythmind was born. On November 16th, 2007, I recorded my first full-length song, “Dance Hall Dream”. It was exciting, seeing that I could write music, and knowing that I had the potential to make music I really liked.

I didn’t stop, and my Compositions folder is a testament to that, with over 100 project files, most incomplete. However, Rhythmind bundles up some of the finished songs, and presents them in an album format we are all familiar with.

All 13 songs are available, in their entirety, to be listened to at http://music.danjoannis.com. If you like them, $5 $0 or more will get you high-quality downloads in almost any format you wish. If you prefer a physical copy, send me a message.

Music has the power to alter perspective and change the way we feel, and to me, Rhythmind does both quite well. Listen for yourself.

Sunday, November 18th, 2012 music No Comments

Quick Flip Fix

After a weekend at the Ottawa Pinball and Gameroom Show ’12, I came home to find that one of my Flip HD video cameras had stopped powering on. It functioned without problem when connected to the computer to copy the videos from it, but it would not turn on to record.

Today, I finally decided to open it up and figure out the cause. I suspected perhaps the power switch was bad, since it didn’t seem to be a major system failure. When I opened it up, the problem was as clear as day:

As you can see, something isn’t sitting quite right. One of the diodes became un-soldered, perhaps due to a shock, causing an already cracked solder joint to completely give up.

Simple enough to fix, a quick test with a multimeter, two points of solder, and everything was back to normal.

You never know if a task will be easy or difficult without first taking a look.

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Thursday, October 18th, 2012 electronics, projects, video No Comments

Ottawa Pinball and Gameroom Show ’12

This year marked the second annual Ottawa Pinball and Gameroom Show (I tend to call it the Pinball Expo). On Friday, September 7th, 2012, over 50 pinball machines were installed at the Hilton Garden Inn by the Ottawa Airport, and by Saturday, there were around 60+ tables. The show spanned from September 8th to the 9th.

As per last year, I made a video of the show, but I was much more ambitious this year. I ended up creating something more documentary styled, incorporating multiple interviews, to find out the more personal side of pinball. The video is indeed a bit un-conventional, but I am pleased with it.

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Friday, September 21st, 2012 life, music, pinball, video No Comments

Modifying a Flip Video UltraHD to Add Charging Capabilities

The Cisco Flip Video UltraHD is a very basic 720p video recording device. It has a screen, a few buttons, and USB and HDMI ports. Not very much going on. Record, play back, copy to computer. However, these devices were discontinued, so my friend and I bought two to share at $29 a piece. I was very keen on using them together for 3D video.

To prepare for this weekend’s 2nd annual Ottawa Pinball Expo, I was making sure all my camera gear’s batteries were charged. The Flip UltraHD takes 2 AA batteries, which is generally enough to allow you to completely fill the camera’s 1 hour internal memory.

I noticed that there was a rechargeable battery pack you could buy for the Flips. It charges when the camera is plugged in to a USB port. This battery pack is really just two AA NiMH rechargeable batteries wrapped together, with a little tab that pushes on a switch to tell the camera that the pack is installed, and not regular AAs. When I realized this, I figured I could modify the Flips to work with my own AA NiMHs, and charge when connected to my computer.

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Friday, September 7th, 2012 electronics, projects 7 Comments