Having stumbled across your site I read with interest that you've been looking at a promise fasttrak sx4000 ata raid controller, where do you get these from? I've spent some time searching and can't find anyone who lists them for sale in the UK. I'm building a small workgroup server and one of these would be just the ticket for some redundancy in the disk subsystem.

- matt

Can't help, I'm afraid - the things seem completely unavailable (in the retail channel, at least) in this country, and pretty rare worldwide, for that matter - it may be just a supply-chain problem, but I've been wondering if they're having problems with firmware or drivers and haven't actually released a final version yet... Reviews are sparse, too, it seems...

It looks great on paper, though, so I suggest that you say "to hell with it", import one from the US, and let me know if it fries your data or not.   :-)


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Sleeving to the Max

First, congrats on your Infinity2 project. Iím also trying to mod my PC so reading your article was very interesting, a real guide for me. However I would like to ask if you still remember what sizes (diameter) of Expandable Braided Sleeving did you ordered from RS? Iím asking this because I also would like to cover the cables of my Enermax.

- Pedro

The RS part numbers for the sleeving were 389-886 and 389-892.

The wider braid will fit over the Molex connectors on the loom, but it's a fiddly job... I think you'll get the best results by removing the Molex connectors from the wiring loom and using the smaller braid - it's not a significantly more annoying task than wiggling the braid over all the sharp edges, and is a much better fit than the wider one. In the end, I ran out of time and energy and used split loom instead of braid, but next time I'd definitely pull the connectors and do the job properly.


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Paint It Black

just starting Revell's international space station and have a question. in your opinion, what would the effect be if i left the colored plastic parts unpainted, that is, leaving those plastic pieces, which the instructions say to paint, the same color they already are? i don't know the effect of painting a gray plastic part gray and a black plastic part black versus leaving them as is - unpainted.....

 - tim

I know what you mean, yes - it shouldn't make that much of a difference, but unfortunately it does seem to. I was planning on doing this with the Mir kit, but within a few minutes of starting to paint the other sections I realised that it wasn't going to work - a painted surface somehow has a different "tone" to unpainted plastic, even when ostensibly the same colour and finish. I suspect that to an extent it would depend on from how far away you'll be looking at the finished product - the difference was very obvious (and jarring) from a few feet away, but if you were thinking of hanging it from the ceiling you might well get away with it...

Good luck with the kit - it's certainly a major effort to build, but the result is well worth it... Take care with the internal supporting beams, though - I found it best to epoxy them into the joints, as when they were just push-fitted the overall structure was rather too creaky and flexible - although that isn't really an issue if you're intending to display it on the stand rather than hanging. Oh, and the main solar panels are very tight in their sockets on the truss, and their "pin" is surprisingly fragile. Don't count on being able to turn them much when they're fitted, as standard, but I'd recommend enlarging the hole a touch before assembly - I broke two trying to reposition them later on, and making repairs was quite hard.


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KU Confusion

Hi.........i see you have the same reader as me, I need drivers for it to work on XP, I have d/loaded the win 2000 version but they crash my machine. Can you help me please??

 - Bernard

I only use Windows 2000, so I can't be sure, but in theory (and according to Kingbyte's home page) you shouldn't need drivers for a USB card reader under Win XP at all! The OS is supposed to have native support for all the available types of flash card built in, so if you're not seeing the additional drive letters when you connect the reader, and there isn't an entry in the "Unplug or Eject Hardware" applet, then something else is probably wrong with your setup...

However, Kingbyte seem to think that there might be stability issues with early versions of the reader's firmware under WinXP, and they offer an upgrade here - it's worth a try, but be careful to remove any traces of the failed Win2K driver before experimenting further... and it might be a good idea to make liberal use of XP's "System Restore" facility while you're working on this.

In general, Windows 2000 drivers won't work at all on WinXP at all, so I'm surprised that it actually let you get as far as installing them and crashing! If you're feeling especially adventurous you might try the Windows ME driver, which ought to use the same Unified Driver Model as Win XP - in practice, though, I wouldn't be particularly hopeful.


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Unravelling The Tactical Sling

Hi there! Many greets from Austria ! As you can see I have some troubles to fit my tactical sling on my M16A2. Could you help me ?

 - Black Hawk alias Johann Wolf

Yes, it's hard to figure out, isn't it! These might help -


There seem to be differences in the various designs on the market, but with mine it's like this... Basically, you should end up with three straps running in parallel for most of the length of the gun, with the quick-release buckle at the front end and one length running freely through the rear mount. In other words, it looks like a needlessly complex regular sling, and you could just put it over your shoulder like that.

To use it properly, though, with the gun horizontal at your right side you put two of the straps over your head onto your left shoulder, and the third (nearest to the gun) runs under your armpit between the slider on the rear mount and the quick-release buckle at the front. This carries the gun securely at your hip, and when you want to fire from the shoulder you release the buckle, the straps slide through the sliders getting longer, and you can bring the gun upwards and forwards with the new slack.

If it doesn't seem to work, try choosing a different two of the three straps to put over the shoulder - it will be quite obvious when you get it right, as it will feel right. It's much easier to do than to describe, but I hope this has helped a little.


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Adventures with an obsolete Pioneer CD library

Hi Dominic

By chance, I ran across your website today and saw the July 28 entry.

I have been playing with a Pioneer DRM-5004X, too and I acquired it around the same time. Have you had much more luck with it? I am still trying to get the thing to work with XP, and I'm almost there. I can move the changer all right, but right now, I am having trouble getting XP to read audio data from the CD Roms.

What software are you using? I would love to trade notes with you. Respond to this e-mail and let me know. Excitedly awaiting your response!!

 - Brian

This has turned into something of an epic, and ended up with its own page...


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Tactical sling revisited

Hi, as a member of the Swedish equivalent to the British Territorial Army, I'm currently trying to update my antiquated equipment. For weapon slings, I found the Guarder sling interesting, and which could be purchased for a reasonable price from a Swedish mail order company.

Now, you claim to have found a way to properly fit and handle this sling, so my question is HOW ? I would also like to know if there is a device included, that easily lets you expand the sling for quick right/left shoulder switches?


 - Lars Wiberg

As the saying has it, "I refer the honourable gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago" - only this time I sent pictures, too, as even I had difficulty in understanding the written explanation a few months later. This really is one of those things that is easier to do than to describe - and it wasn't that easy to do, either...


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More on the DRM-5004X

I saw on your website where you said some people have purchased this unit with DVD drives installed. I have been looking for information on upgrading this unit to support DVD drives forever. I was wondering if you had ever received any positive information in this regard.


 - Cody

I only have anecdotal evidence, I'm afraid - the first page I found on this hardware, describing how to use the changer with the Linux MTX media manager, mentioned that he'd bought his unit with DVD drives already fitted. Unfortunately the page disappeared back in the autumn, and I've never been able to track the author down.

I didn't actually own a 5004 when I first read the account, and assumed that it would be a relatively easy upgrade, but having examined mine the drives are obviously wildly non-standard and unless DVD hardware in the same unusual form factor was available (which Pioneer seem to deny) I can't see how the replacement could actually be performed.

My gut feeling is that he was mistaken - he never claimed to have used them to play DVDs, so maybe MTX reported the media type incorrectly and he never actually tested it!


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Replica Hi-Power

Hi, Any ideas where I can get hold of a really good Browning Hi Power replica, i.e. correct weight, field strippable and preferably a blank firer. Have looked every where but no joy.


 - BH

Well, what you've described would be a rare beast, I'm afraid - and unfortunately I haven't heard of anything that matches your description exactly. I think you can rule blank firers out straight away, if you're set on the ability to field strip - I've never seen a blank firer that could be stripped at all (well, without a centre punch and a bunch of fuss, anyway) let alone having an accurate take-down ability. Aside from the external appearance, the designers of blank firers are pretty keen to avoid making their replicas too close to the real thing, to avoid the chance of swapping components etc to enable (however briefly!) the use of live ammunition.

The gas blowback airsoft replicas can usually be field stripped fairly accurately, and with the addition of after-market metal components can be made into a close approximation of the "real steel" weight and appearance - but if you're after the sound effects then of course they're always going to be a disappointment.

I wonder if you have considered a deactivated firearm, though? They don't go bang, of course, and could never be made to do so - but apart from that they are as close to a real handgun as you're going to get in this country. They should field strip 100% (although beware of the very cheapest deactivations that have been thoroughly mangled inside) and of course they look absolutely perfect. You might try checking these links, although it's something of a growth industry since the handguns ban and there are many other suppliers:

Classic Firearms
Badb Ltd
Target Arms

Another possibility would be the Japanese "Model Gun" type replicas  - they usually look pretty good, and certainly have all the sound effects - I don't know about field stripping (it may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer) but the two links below might start you off:

Model Guns Ltd
Den Trinity




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