Category: Uncategorized

“EDC” Tool Kit

I thought for this month’s blog post, I would break down the tools I keep in my desk drawer at my main work space at home.  My desk tool drawer has a small pouch with a basic set of tools (broken down below), a fluke 87v multi-meter, x-acto knife, calipers, micrometer, imperial/metric set of sockets, and a small battery powered screwdriver.  My main tool box and tools are in the basement, two flights of stairs down and then back up.  95% of the time, I can deal with a problem, or get better eyes on it, by having these tools at hand.

Breakdown, from left to right:

  1. Mini Needle Nose Pliers
  2. Mini side cutters
  3. Pump pliers
  4. #0 Phillips
  5. 1/8″ Flat head
  6. Utility Knife
  7. Crescent Wrench
  8. Custom 3d printed bit organizer, with 5/32 Hex end, T20, T10, #1 Philips, 3/16″ & 1/4″ flat head bits.
  9. Bit insert & ratcheting handle set. I bought this originally as a bostisch but now Stanley is selling them. The Wiha 74996 is a good alternative as well.
  10. Klein Mag2 tool magnetizer & demagnitizer.
  11. Stanley 68-107 screwdriver
  12. Hakko Wire Strippers
  13. Tape Measure I got from a trade show long ago. Standard\metric.






And packed down.

This is the small tool kit I’ll grab to throw in my goruck if I think I’ll need tools while traveling.  It covers my bases pretty well.  Any more, and I probably need a work bench to.  Off to the basement.

Cloning the Fluke T-Pak

I own a Fluke 87V meter. It has more buttons and features then you could ever hope to shake a stick at. It’s probably an overpowered choice for what projects I’ve done but since I never quite know what I’m going to end up working on, I feel its better to be over rather then under prepared. I bought it because of my dad’s Fluke 83. He’s had that for longer then I’ve been alive and I wanted a one and done meter as well.

One of Fluke’s accessories for their meter line is the Fluke T-Pak, which allows you to hang the meter from any metal surface, by means of magnets.

I was browsing thingiverse, and came upon a clone I could 3d print.

So, I commenced to print the insert. Once I had printed the insert I needed something for the magnets to press in to. I had to try a few different magnets to get the size that I needed, but finally settled on these magnets from grainger. I did have to epoxy & press them into the insert.

The end result is that for about $10 of materials I had successfuly cloned the fluke t-pak. With fluke charging about $45 for theirs, well I definitely had enough left over for a cup of coffee at Starbucks to write this post. What a day to live in. 3d printing is revolutionizing our world, whether we like it or not.

And in action:

Download the Base STL for free. Viva la Revolucion!

Fedora 28 Move In Day

Fedora 28 was released this month. Here are my notes from moving into a new install. I make periodic backups on some external hard drives, so for $BACKUPDIRECTORY$ I’m using the path to my backups on the externals. The $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$ refers to where I store the key that I made for my UEFI system to self-sign my virtual box drivers.

Notes are offered, questions may be answered.

use ‘mediawriter’ (install from repos first) to make a bootable USB

when installing, delete sda8 & sda9. These are the /boot/efi && luks-encrypted root partition (Note – I’m using a guided install but not separating my Home folder from the root drive like Fedora does. Your sda8/9 will vary.)

use the guided partioning, then delete /home, and delete the partition size of /. Apply, so that /home is stored in /

Reboot to fresh os

copy dotfiles back from backup drive


pop a terminal run this:
time cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/Documents/ . > /dev/null && time cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/Music/ . > /dev/null && time cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/Pictures/ . > /dev/null && time cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/Downloads/ . > /dev/null

pop a new terminal and run this:
su -c “dnf install -y cura youtube-dl chromium firefox thunderbird wget pulseaudio-equalizer hexchat vlc geany geany-plugins-* gimp yakuake keepassx ImageMagick optipng php && dnf groupinstall -y ‘Development Tools’ && dnf -y update”

With firefox & thunderbird installed:
cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/.mozilla/ . && cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/.thunderbird/ . && cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/.config/chromium/ ./config/

Now at least you can get firefox & thunderbird back up

With thunderbird, you’ll need to do “Repair Folder” on your inboxes/folders/etc

Fixing themes:
Window Borders: Adapta
Icons: Breeze-dark
Controls: Adwaita-dark
Desktop: Adara-Dark

Install Virtual Box:
su -c “dnf install VirtualBox system-config-users VirtualBox akmod-VirtualBox kmod-VirtualBox -y”
add user to groups vboxsf & vboxusers
reloadvbox in .bashrc

And copy over all your old VirtualBox stuff:
cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/VirtualBox\ VMs/ . && cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/.config/VirtualBox/ .config/

Sign the drivers with:
/usr/src/kernels/$(uname -r)/scripts/sign-file sha256 $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.priv $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.der $(modinfo -n vboxdrv)
/usr/src/kernels/$(uname -r)/scripts/sign-file sha256 $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.priv $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.der $(modinfo -n vboxpci)
/usr/src/kernels/$(uname -r)/scripts/sign-file sha256 $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.priv $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.der $(modinfo -n vboxsf)
/usr/src/kernels/$(uname -r)/scripts/sign-file sha256 $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.priv $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.der $(modinfo -n vboxnetflt)
/usr/src/kernels/$(uname -r)/scripts/sign-file sha256 $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.priv $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.der $(modinfo -n vboxnetadp)
systemctl restart systemd-modules-load.service

Thanks to

Cura preferences – Cura does not like restoring from the backup.

Install your printer software again, HP Deskjet 2600 is still not supported:
su -c “dnf install hplip-libs hplip”
Add with the system-config-printer wizard
Change the page size – right click the printer, properties, Printer Options, Page size

Add user to tty group
will have to reboot to take effect, or you can su – $(whoami) && chirpw to get around it temporary like

Good time to make a waypoint in your backups

A Simple Pencil Cup

I just bought myself a new camera lens for my rebel.  The venerable nifty fifty.  I also just built this, so … photo time.

Smart self would have also taken photos with the kit lens to compare against, but I was not operating as smart me at the time.


Bonus feature:  my janky photo booth!  That’s three sheets of Dollar Store foam board (in eggshell or white or ivory or puce if you like) on a tv tray and a <a href=”″>Aputure Camera Light</a> duct taped to a microphone stand.  Janky for sure, but it works.  Remember, if it works, it works and 90% of the time – that’s what matters.

Another Skip Month

This time, 4 months have come and gone. What have I been doing this time?

As luck would have it, not much. I have honestly been quite stagnant over the last few months. But I’ll try to mention a few things.


To follow up on last month’s comments building a diplexer, I ended up deciding that the completed ones I have are functional. My meter shows the same amount of reflected power regardless of if an antenna is connected directly or if I have the diplexers connected into the circuit.

I did learn something. Crossing coax causes the signal to “jump” from one line to the other. How I learned was this that the line going into my SWR meter and then out to the antenna was crossed. Also, it looks like the BF-F8HP has built in SWR protection.

I do have another board with coax connected. Anyone want to buy one? I’m selling for about 1/2 the price of the Arrow diplexers – basically cover the parts and a pittance of time.

National Parks On The Air

My amatuer radio club recently did an activation for the ARRL’s National Parks On The Air. I did the 2M station, managing about 7 quick QSO’s. I did learn about band plans, in a capability I didn’t have before. I purchased a Yaesu FT-857. The event went well, and we qualified (10 LotW certified contacts).

Speaking of ham radio, I also tested and passed for the General Class license. This means I have useful HF privileges. Only an autotuner and HF antenna away from getting on the HF bands.

Oh the HandiFinder

Well, I won’t be uploading of a soldering the Handi-Finder. It works fairly well. I will try to get a video of it in use …. sometime. It’s not the best kit or instructions but it is doable.

Anything Else New?

Well, no, not really. Over the course of the summer I decided to forgo my vacations this year instead to purchase firearm parts and gear. So I did.

Nerf Maverick. None are like it, and it is Mine.


Skip Month

Another month has come and gone, so what things have I been up to?

On Building Diplexers

So, I started working on an amateur satellite duplexer. Due to the nature of the Icom W32a, it makes sense to do this. Suffice it to say, its been troublesome. My problems started like this:

  1. No SWR meter. Okay, order one.
  2. Testing with an antenna shows no appreciable change. Call success.
  3. Be paranoid! Check again! And … wait, what’s going on?
  4. The cable that I was using to get from PL259 to BNC was bad. Took a bit to figure it out.
  5. Decide that I need to check with a dummy load.
  6. Need a dummy load
    1. After going to 4 different stores find out that only one had a gallon paint can.
    2. Find out that I would need about $32 of mineral oil to fill
    3. Find a quart can at Menards
    4. Purchase $4 of oil to fill
  7. Get weird readings\behavior on SWR meter? Why does my power go up then drop?
  8. Why the feedback on 70cm?
  9. Wait, why the behaviour on a dummy load?

So, this must be a cable problem. I decided I needed to order new cables. They’ll be here Wednesday, but it will be Monday before I can test everything

I ordered all my cables from Air802. They’re quick and I’ve heard that they’re priced competitively. I can’t recommend them enough. They’re very willing to help you with finding exactly what you need. Another plus is that I get my order a day or two later, even with the cheapest shipping. After my trouble with the cheap crap I ordered from fleabay, the extra price is worth it.

Other then my issues with testing them, I have to say that Digikey did as well as they always do. I’ll have to do a full write up on the diplexer, but Lee (K0LEE) was very helpful in getting replacements for the inductors. I tried to find exact replacements and ended up giving up and contacting him for help. A prompt response later and I had the information I needed. If you build them your self (and build 2), expect to spend about $32 for each. If you’re inclined, this is quite a bit cheaper then Arrow’s list price. The paranoia in testing comes from having the Icom that I would hate to destroy.

Fox Hunting!

Went on another fox hunt with the club. We changed up the technique quite a bit. I’ll be lazy and pretty much copy\paste my after action report on the event:

One thing I did think was effective was when Kris and I were using the arrow antenna/yagi to track it (the fox) in the truck with the antenna through the moon roof. I think if we had the time, and had I brought it, my handifinder would have been a good thing to deploy paired with a baofeng in the cemetery. Since we were about two blocks away, proceeding on foot would have made it easier to note the subtle changes. This make me excited to test this arrangement a member of the club purchased. I think it be an excellent replacement for the yagi-through-the-roof arrangement. I wish I had been able to get on the parking garage in town to get an initial bearing.


Normally I don’t talk about guns here on the blog. I love guns. I even have some of the scary black ones. Now, I could like to various jokes about them, liberals, or whatever. I’ve wanted to, and that’s why there are not ads on this blog. I feel that talking about firearms could easily be misconstrued as encouraging violence. Not a thing I want to have to explain. This blog will always be ad free as a result. (If you think I deserve a reward for wrting, the homepage has my amazon wish list.)

Being a gun lover though, I feel the need to talk about Orlando. The media (and the Democratic Side of Congress) is in outrage about the events, and demanding that law-abiding citizens submit to their demands despite the ineffectiveness of those demands where implemented (stateside with California, cityside with Chicago and more). While I’d love to be brief, Orlando doesn’t lend to brevity. Not out of laziness, but due to the succinctness of what I wrote, I will quote Core Concept Podcast.

At Core Concept Podcast, its no secret we strongly support the 2nd Amendment and the right to Concealed Carry. We do not agree with the opinion of the 9th Circuit Court of California(Commy-fornia if you must). The Constitution was written as a whole to guarantee the safety and freedom of every citizen of the United States. It was not written to guarantee the prosperity of its citizens, though as a whole it has created one of the most prosperous nations in the world.

The attacks in Orlando are terrifying. Its not about being a gay, lesbian, or straight person. Its about an individual mass murdering defenseless people. Regardless of your position (a split decision here on the podcast), these attacks were, and any imitation there of, are immoral and wrong. We both believe that all people can find reason and ways to live in peace with each other.

But we also believe that a person should be ready to defend themselves. That it is better to be a warrior in a garden then a gardener in a war. That personal security is the duty of each and every individual for them to secure for themselves. Even when relaxing, you must not let your situational awareness fail. To stay “left of bang.” When your awareness fails, you’re right of bang, and being right of bang means that people will die.

Our world is a dangerous place, full of evil people doing evil things. Regardless of your religion, orientation or race, life is always precious. As the days continue (and they will), let us all remember that. Let us guard ourselves and each other. Because those who walk the path of darkness will always look to spread it.

Expect gun posts in the coming months.

And A General Update

Icom W32A/Working the Birds

The Icom is working pretty well. Ordered a replacement battery and charger from Batteries America and it seems to be in order. I was able to check into my local ham club net with the radio. However, I found out that with the stock antenna it seems to desense when carried against my body. With a NA-771 it doesn’t. I’ve started ordering parts to create a duplexer for working AO-85 and SO-50. I will also have to create an audio splitter for the handset. And I have a programming cable on the way from Amazon. With the weather warming up, I’ll be on the birds again soon.

Other Projects

I should be uploading a video of soldering a HandiFinder with my remarks on the kit.

I also have an upcoming NPOTA activation coming soon. I’ll be running my Arrow on 2M, and if I’m confident enough will try to work some satellites as well.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll start to some firearm related videos.

Gibberish Be Here

I’ve been running syncthing as backup/sync solution, then rsyncing to a drive I keep in a firebox every month or so. I seem to have managed to screw everything up and it took awhile to straighten everything out. And syncthing keeps misbehaving the whole time.

In Closing

See you later, it will likely be a few months.


The soliloquy blog is now running ssl!  All requests will be handled through the secured side, as a result of my .htaccess.

Why? Because at this point SSL is super simple to set up in CPanel, cheap to purchase, and actually makes sense.

A few years ago when the firesheep plugin was released, it was required that each server have is own IP address to implement SSL. Your traffic might be secure, but it doesn’t take much to guess where it’s going. In my mind, this defeats the purpose of using SSL on a website.

We’ve come a long way since then and now every major OS and browser (yes, this was a client side failure) supports SSL for websites sharing a server IP with other websites.

So why SSL now? Well, google damages your ranking for not having SSL. Oh, and the whole argument about whether Americans have a right to encryption and privacy. We do. Backoff. We’re citizens, not subjects.

Yubikeys and Udev Locking


I recently bought a yubikey after attending BSides LA and meeting an individual that used one to secure his gmail accounts. $30 and about a week after ordering, I had a yubikey of my own. I keep it tethered to my new fenix flashlight (which the jury is still out on) so that I can find it easily and will remember to take it with.

Now, I’ve been concerned about the physical security of my devices for awhile. If you know my simplistic password, bingo, you’re in. With the yubikey, I was able to change that. It now takes both a token and a password to log into my computer. Plus, I’ve been intrigued by the yubikey since the Fedora Project started using it a few years ago.

Yubikey toughts its one time authentication token as its primary feature, but the yubikey has more then just that. You can choose any two of the following modes:

  1. One-Time-Password
  2. Challenge-Response
  3. Static Password (32 character limit which saddens me)
  4. O-auth

Challenge-Response Auth Tokenization

When I plan things, I always plan on my internet connection not working or being unavailable. To me, the only usuable features of the yubikey are challenge-response and static password. So, I setup challenge-response in the first slot and static password in the second. Then, I set about requiring the challenge response token to log into my account.

This post from the Vermont Linux and Unix User Group has a great guide on setting up challenge-responce on your device. I’ll summarize:

  1. Install pam_yubico and yubikey-personalization-gui
  2. Edit /etc/pam.d/system-auth to include: auth [success=1 default=ignore] quiet user notingroup yubikey auth required mode=challenge-response
  3. Run the following commands after inserting your yubikey: sudo ykpersonalize -2 -ochal-resp -ochal-hmac -ohmac-lt64 -oserial-api-visible sudo groupadd yubikey sudo usermod -aG yubikey username

You should now test that everything works correctly by pressing ctrl+alt+f2 and trying to login with and without the yubikey. Do not log out of all of your sessions – if something’s broke you’re going to want to be able to fix it for sure!

Now, what I’ve implemented on my primary laptop doesn’t really secure the data, and I understand that. Sadly, I’m unable to fully encrypt my hard drive because of the triple boot with windows. If you know the harder root password, you can easily bypass my login and see the data. Or, you could boot an external USB with its own OS and view the files. When I finally purchase a new laptop next year, full hard drive encryption with a single booting OS is on the docket.

Udev Locking

Now, what if you want the screen to lock every time you remove your yubikey? You can try to do that with udev. Udev is the monitor system on linux that reacts when devices are plugged into a computer. The Vermont LUUG page has some guides on how to make it work, but here’s what worked on my system (mostly).

  1. `su -c "yum install -y slock"
  2. touch /etc/udev/rules.d/98-yubikey-rules.rules. If you do not end the file in .rules, then udev will ignore the file.
  3. Add the following text to that file: SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ACTION=="remove", ENV{ID_MODEL}=="Yubico_Yubikey_II", RUN+="/usr/local/bin/ykgone"
  4. touch /usr/local/bin/ykgone
  5. Add the following to that file: if [ -z "$(lsusb | grep Yubikey)" ] ; then /bin/su USERNAME to be your username.
  6. touch /usr/local/bin/lock
  7. Add the following to that file: DISPLAY=:0 slock
  8. chmod +x /usr/local/bin/lock && chmod +x /usr/local/bin/ykgone


While there is plenty of other posts and ways on how to get a system to lock when the yubikey is pulled, there’s very few on how to debug the udev system. The command that I found the most helpful was udevadm test --action="remove" /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.1/usb3/3-1 which tested what would have if I removed something. That helped me figure that without my udev rules ending in .rules it wouldn’t be used. You’ll need to change that device address to where ever you are mounting your yubikey. udev monitor will spit the device address whenever you remove or insert your yubikey.


I said mostly, because for whatever reason I couldn’t get my system to lock properly with anything other then slock. Also, slock doesn’t require my yubikey to unlock the system. There’s no selinux denials that I can see, and I’ve stepped through as well as I can.

At this point, I’ve decided that I’m better to remember to grab my yubikey and press ctrl+alt+l to lock the system – at least then it requires proper two-factor auth to get back into my compuer.

Ending Thoughts

The yubikey works fairly well. I’ll be able to use it as a challenge response key for full hard drive encryption in the future. I’m not thrilled that the static password can only be 32 characters long. It should be 64-128 long, or more. It’d also be nice if the company could add a third programmable slot so that you could still maintain the OTP functionality without loosing the ability to use 2 very good offline usable authentication methods. But at $30 it may be to much to ask.

Should you buy it? If you want that extra auth token on your computer? Yes. What if you want to experiment with second-factor authentication? Sure. At $30 shipped, its a reasonable start. But if you’re passive about authentication the yubikey just doesn’t make sense.