Thursday 28 December 2017

ID-card Lanyard Headphones

I, like a lot of people, work in an organisation that uses access control cards that we need to carry at all times - usually on a lanyard around our neck. I also like to listen to podcasts and music while I work, so that often means having a pair of earphones around my neck too. The combination of the two often results in tangling and general annoyance, so I thought I could combine them.

I revisited the cable tidy that I previously created (it was one of the first 3D printed objects I created, and definitely in need of some improvement).
I've since moved away from OpenSCAD in favour of Blender as my 3D skills have improved - The new design can be found on Thingiverse.

The plan is use a scaled down version of the cable tidy to control the part of the earphone wire from the connector to the split

and then have each earphone attached to the lanyard, coming out at the top with enough slack to reach my ears.

The cable tidy is straightforward enough, there are three pieces - the two halves of the inner section, and the outer ring. They all friction fit - once printed, just lightly sand necessary edges until a snug fit can be achieved.

A post shared by Anthony (@darkmidnight_diy) on

To create the lanyard I started with two promotional ones I'd received (they tend to be a common hand-out at conferences and trade shows). The main one also has a side-release buckle just up from the dog clip (the clip that holds the card... yes, I had to Google what it was actually called), which would also solve another annoyance - having to remove the lanyard while driving to get through the car park security gate.

The second, sacrificial, lanyard, is slightly narrower. This lanyard was cut into strips which would be stitched to the main lanyard to create a channel to contain the earphone wire.

I stitched up one side, put the earphone wire in place, then stitched down the other side to lock it in place. The length of wire was too long to begin with - this was partially by design - I didn't want to leave the top (earphone side) just open, as I could forsee wear and tear putting too much strain on the stitching. What I did instead was stich it 'too high', then cut down the middle of the sacrificial lanyard to pull the earphone through and create enough slack, and then stitch up behind it, so that there was more, stronger stitching supporting it.

I repeated this exercise for the other earphone, and it was done. One snag was that the earphones had a small button halfway down the wire for the right-hand earphone, which was a little too big. A dab of contact cement held this in place, and unless looking closely, it's not noticeable.

I tested using the lanyard at work before the Christmas break. As with all wearable tech, there's always the concern that it looks too goofy, so I picked a day where the office wasn't too busy, to see what, if any comments were made. All the feedback I heard was positive - for the most part it just looks like I have the headphones resting around my neck, and as for the cable tidy, a lot of others have keys and other items hanging from their lanyards, so it doesn't seem too out of place.

Saturday 2 December 2017

Dual booting Fedora 27 and Windows 10

I recently built a new desktop PC.
My previous machine has been in use for nearly a decade, so it seemed like time, and I've been wanting to experiment with watercooled systems.
I wasn't planning on making a post of it, but there were a couple of unexpected issues I ran into that I felt were worth documenting for future reference.

Dual Booting

I usually dual-boot Fedora Linux and Windows.

Unfortunately this time round, that was not as straightforward as usual.
After quite some time of searching, I found the answers, but it was a lot more hassle than it should've been, so I'm writing up my experience here in the hope that it may help others who are trying to achieve a similar setup.
The TL;DR of the problem is that it only ever seemed to be able to find the Windows boot loader, or the Fedora one (When I've done this in the past, it would find the GRUB loader, which would detect the windows one and add it as an option in the boot list, but this time it was not detecting the windows loader.)

There were quite a few failed attempts, so I'm not including an entire history, but this is the setup that worked.

Firstly, I used parted from a Fedora live disk to format the SSD into 2 partitions (a 50-50 split), one ntfs partition, one ext4.
Then I rebooted and installed Windows 10 to the ntfs partition. The installer actually complained about a lack of space, so to fix that I ended up removing the ntfs partion and letting Windows create it's own in the free space (it ended up using it's 50% of the drive to create multiple partitions.).
Another reboot to Fedora 27 live, and worked through the anaconda installer, specifying that it use it's ext4 half of the drive. Again, it wanted to use that space to repartition in it's own way, which is fine.
The bit that appears to really matter is to ensure that Fedora creates a /boot/efi partition in the same place that Windows creates it's /boot/efi partition (see screenshot)

The "Unknown" partitions at the bottom are the ones created by the Windows installation.
The /boot/efi partition is sdb4, as is the Fedora-created one (highlighted).

I was concerned about them being the same partition and whether or not Fedora would overwrite what was already there, so I created a backup image of that partition onto the other storage disk in that machine before proceeding with the installation.
Then began the install.

Once complete, I rebooted, and the GRUB menu appeared, with the Windows option available.

Networking Issues

The motherboard that I have chosen is the ASUS Strix Z270F.
It has onboard ethernet, which worked absolutely fine out of the box on Fedora, but on the clean Windows 10 install, the LAN controller was not detected.
Again, there's lots of forum posts with people suggesting various solutions, none of which seemed to work for me.

For some reason, installing the LAN driver direct from the ASUS-supplied driver disc didn't work - it failed because it couldn't detect the hardware.
Even opening up the disk, navigating to the LAN folder and running the Intel setup application from there didn't work.

The only way I found it would work is opening up "This PC", going to properties, then Device Manager, and finding the hardware there (it will be under "Other devices" and have a yellow "!" marker to show it's not working)
Right-click on it and select Update Driver Software.
Then "Browse my computer for driver software", and navigate to the driver disk's LAN folder.
Windows then detects and installs it and it works fine.

I can't begin to guess why installing it that way works and the other ways don't, especially as it's the same driver, but whatever. It's fixed.


MotherboardASUS Strix Z270F
ProcessorIntel i7 Kaby Lake 4.2Ghz
RAM32GB DDR4 3200MHz Corsair Vengence LPX
Disks500GB SSD, 4TB HDD
GPUGigabyte GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
CoolingCorsair H55
OSFedora 27 & Windows 10 Dual Boot