Edited 7:20pm 5/12: Added email from Amy to councillors (with her permission) Edited 7:40pm 5/12: Remembered another excuse and it's a doozy, so adding it. Edited 9:20pm 5/12: Fixing some text that was in angle brackets and didn't parse correctly (on why the NTEU Exec can't publicly support trans people) Edited 5:20pm 7/12: Changed naming of some dates below (from 3/12 to Dec 3rd).

I was at the National Council meeting, and I feel like I need to write about what I saw/experienced, and how poor it was. It’s been almost 24h and I’m still angry, in part because of what bullshit the NTEU National office is putting out online in response to the cries from their members at what they’re doing.


This covers getting a new Windows 10 instance working with an existing openpgp setup and yubikey. It doesn't cover creating the openpgp key and linking it with the yubikey in the first place.


Winget/Powershell (Core)

I use winget to install my packages, but you can grab the packages individually, or use choco or something else.

  1. Grab winget and install it (double click on the appbundle downloaded).
  2. Open up Powershell as administrator and run: winget install gpg4win, winget install putty, and winget install git (git is optional)
  3. In a normal Powershell window, import your existing key with: gpg --import [publickeyfile].gpg
  4. Run gpg --edit-key [keyhash] to go to the edit interface for the key.
  5. Type trust and trust your key ultimately. Type 'save' to save and quit.
  6. Open the Kleopatra app (installed as part of gpg4win).
  7. Go to Settings->Configure Kleopatra->GnuPG System->Private Keys->Options controlling the configuration and select “Enable ssh support” and “Enable putty support”
  8. Hit WIN-R and type “shell:startup”
  9. Create a shortcut to “gpg-connect-agent /bye”. Mark it to start minimised.
  10. Set an evironment variable of GIT_SSH to C:\Program Files\PuTTY\plink.exe
  11. Download and install WSL-SSH-Pagaent and install it.
  12. Follow the instructions here for setting it up and automating it.
  13. Set an environment variable making SSH_AUTH_SOCK map to the pipe created in step 12 ('\\.\pipe\winssh-pageant')
  14. Follow the instructions here for the WSL2 scripts (not the windows-side-setup, which was already done), however modify the socat command for SSH_AUTH_SOCK to be '\/\/.\/pipe\/winssh-pageant', with the backslashes included.
  15. Start a new WSL2 session and SSH keys and GPG should be working in WSL2.

As mentioned in the previous Maximite Colour post, the screen works, but is extremely dim. It's dim to the point where if the room is well lit, you can't see anything on the screen, but it's there. I was able to connect to the system on the serial console (baud 9600), and the base system worked, so I definitely screwed something up along the line of the display.

After studying/deciphering the electronics diagram (below) and tracing paths on the board, I think I had figured out what stuff to look at. I also again read a “basic electronics” document that came with the board. Double checking that, I realised that diodes actually have poles.

electronics diagram (diagram from Geoff's main Maximite Site)

I had two of the three VGA-based diodes placed incorrectly, as well as another one that does.. no idea. I learned how to unsolder, although I'm not great on it, and then soldered stuff properly. Powered it back on and...... same result.

The work continues.

Fixed it! It took maybe 2-3 hours of learning how to use the multimeter for testing connectivity and voltage, and then learning how to use the multimeter in an effective way when trying to narrow down my problem. To review, I soldered the whole kit together, but when I plugged it in there was no activity. The board should do a quick POST and then the green light should light up (and the screen will display stuff if it's plugged in).

I had determined I was getting a proper 9V into the first voltage regulator, and a proper 5V out from it. The second voltage regulator didn't seem to have anything incoming or outgoing, though. I ran through almost every A->B connection I could on the board, testing connectivity, all good. I tried tracing paths on the board, checking voltage between them. I never went end to end though, as I would get distracted and look at a different path or I strayed too far from the regulator that seemed to be broken.

The kit came with a diagram/layout of the electronics and paths on the board, so I started deciphering that as I looked at the board. It all started to click. At this point I started realising “hey there's none incoming, it's something higher up before the second voltage regulator”. This is a super obvious thing to experienced people, I'm sure, but I am just too new and dumb about this stuff.

So anyway, I started chasing the line from the successful 5V output of the first regulator. I finally come to the optional power switch holes on the board. The kit didn't come with a switch so I figured it must be optional. Nope! I was supposed to cut off a couple jumper pins and solder them into the holes, then put a jumper on them. Again, this is likely something super obvious to an experienced person, but that's not me!

So after a quick solder of the two jumper pins and a jumper, I plug in the board. After a second the green light comes on, and the display on the screen appears, although it's very dark. I'll debug that another day though, as I have no keyboard for the device yet (it's coming) and I'm just happy I got the board working!

I am interested in learning how to solder, so I got a cheap soldering iron from Aldi when it came out one week. I started soldering some small kits like the WeevilEye Beginner's Kit, the Badge Rocket Kit, and the Velleman Crawling Microbug Kit. I also tried the Crystal Radio Kit which was crappier (no instructions) and I didn't get to work. The solders felt good though, so I think it's more for me not understanding how it worked or not being around reception.

After those I decided to move up to something bigger. That led to me getting the Maximite Colour Kit. This is a printed board with a PIC chip already attached to it. Everything else you have to solder on yourself. This includes two things that are surface-mount soldered on, which I had never done before.

Picture of all the parts, unsoldered

I started small, with the resistors and worked bigger, except for a tiny tiny tiny tiny capacitor that I didn't even realise was something that needed soldering. About halfway through (during the capacitors) the ALDI soldering iron cooked itself. That ended all work for the weekend.

The ALDI soldering iron had a short life overall, but it taught me some stuff; enough to know what I really wanted. I had no idea what temperature it went to (hot enough, but no idea how hot) or if it was fully warmed up (no light or anything). Both were extremely annoying. Using this as an opportunity to not get stuck in that situation again, I got what seems to be a popular consumer-level soldering iron, a Hakko FX-888D from Mektronics (cheapest place I saw it). It's likely overkill for what I need (5 presets, a locking mechanism), but it has a digital temperature setting and a light to tell you when it has heated up, so I'm happy.

Weekend two of the build with the Hakko FX-888D in the picture

With the new soldering iron, I was able to continue my work the following weekend. I was mostly done with the small stuff, except for one piece I mentioned before, a 10mf capacitor. I saw it mentioned here, and once I found the spot on the board for it (it took a minute, it's near the PIC), I realised it had to be surface mounted. This was a challenge. Not only is this the first surface mount soldering I've done, the piece is tiny (1.5mm x 1mm). I did some googling about how to do surface mount soldering, and from this I realised that there was already solder on the pads (came with it). I was able to heat the existing stuff and push it down without burning the board. I think it's OK. After that, doing the surface mounts for the SD card reader was pretty easy.

Finally, I had it all together.

Soldered and put together

Of course as soon as I plugged in the power... nothing happened. So now I get to learn how to use a multimeter and test solders/components. To be continued...

I enjoy soldering. There's a nice zen-like quality to doing it. Flip on some music and zone out as I put it all together. It might be different if I was working under a timelimit or not for myself, but right now it's good.

5x86 Intro

In July 2018, I found an ebay listing for a 5x86 133Mhz desktop machine with a video card, network card, 16M of RAM, a clone Sound Blaster card, a CD-ROM drive, and a 650M hard drive.

The motherboard is, I believe, a BEK-P407. I was able to find images that are scans of the instruction booklet here. There's a local copy here.

From that, I deduced I was able to get 128M total, so I ordered 128MB (2X64MB) FPM PARITY 60NS SIMM 72-PIN 5V 16X36 DIMMs off eBay. On installation though, the system wouldn't start. Swapping around the old DIMMs and the new in different configurations, I could only get 20MB total. I am not sure why yet.

I initially triple booted it with OS/2 Warp 4, FreeDOS 1.2, and Slackware 11. I got the network card working on each install, as well as the sound card. In addition I also ordered from eBay:

  • A new serial mouse (the one I got with the computer could only scroll horizontally)
  • A new Gravis Gamepad

Then I decided I needed more disk space for the OSs and the software/games I was planning to install, so I purchased from eBay:

  • 2 compact flash (CF) card –> IDE adapter cards
  • 2 CF cards, 1x2GB and 1x8GB
  • Various splitters/adapters/cables for molex connectors, floppy-sized power connectors, and PATA IDE cables

The first extra IDE cable I got wouldn't fit the motherboard due to the cable having a blocked out pin and the motherboard not having that. It seems damn near impossible to cheapely find old PATA IDE cables that didn't have a blocked pin, so I got an adapter to handle that sort of cable. Then I set up the disks like so:

  • Primary Master: 8GB CF card through adapter
  • Primary Slave: 2GB CF card through adapter
  • Secondary Master: none
  • Secondary Slave: CD-ROM drive

In future posts I will go over the installs of different OSs I've done, as well as the minor physical restoration of the desktop.

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