John Bowdre

By day, I manage a large virtualized server environment, with a focus on leveraging cloud and automat...  
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John's Adventures

What John's working on

What John's working on

2021

Oct 10, 2021
Oct 10, 2021
Competed in an autocross event
This autocross course really threw me for a loop!

We finally had pleasant weather for a lovely day of friendly autocross competition. The course layout featured an unusual section which looped back on itself along with other challenges which made it easy to lose seconds but much harder to gain them. 

Here's the footage from my best run:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtsHgUBpJAM
Oct 07, 2021
Oct 07, 2021
Attended VMworld conference
Learning Kubernetes
This week I (virtually) attended my second VMware VMworld conference, taking part in two-and-a-half days packed with solution keynotes, product demos, technical deep dives, user study sessions, and hands-on labs to learn more about VMware's latest product releases. It was an exhausting schedule for me (even without emotionally-draining awkward small talk with strangers or a picking up case of Conference Crud) but immensely rewarding.

In particular, I enjoyed learning more about VMware's new Tanzu Community Edition offering, and I've already begun experimenting with using it to deploy a lightweight Kubernetes environment in my homelab. I also learned about the latest VMware Event Broker Appliance/Application release; I intend to deploy that to my TCE instance and leverage it for event-driven automation of my vSphere environment.

And, of course, I learned even more about VMware vRealize Automation, including how to connect it with vRealize Operations for taking automated actions in response to observed events and metrics and how to use Code Stream for building development pipelines. There are a lot of concepts here I'd like to explore more in my own vRA environment.

This was a great event overall, and I'm already looking forward to next year's - hopefully in person!
Sep 21, 2021
Sep 21, 2021
Patched a VMware environment
Installed critical security updates
VMware published a pretty large vCenter security advisory today, VMSA-2021-0020. This includes a number of nasty vulnerabilities, including one (CVE-2021-22005) bearing a CVSSv3 base score of 9.8: 

A malicious actor with network access to port 443 on vCenter Server may exploit this issue to execute code on vCenter Server by uploading a specially crafted file.

YIKES.

Anyway, I've started patching my vCenter environments. You probably should do yours too.
Sep 18, 2021
Sep 18, 2021
Competed in an autocross event
It was our fourth event of the season, and the forecast called for storms all day. As a result, I didn't bother with swapping on my race tires (Bridgestone RE71s) and I instead just went with my daily-driver all seasons tires (Continental DWS06s). 

I felt pretty good with that decision during my first run, as the course got hammered with pretty heavy rain:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzzdcW7SsJ0

Of course, things cleared up a bit as the day went on and the course was mostly dry by my last run, just a few puddles and slick spots to worry about:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgmlZOr_xWM

I had forgotten how talkative my street tires are - the Bridgestones typically put up much less of a fuss!
Sep 11, 2021
Sep 11, 2021
Worked on a project car
Learned something
Worked on an air-cooled VW
+ 1
It's been a fairly productive Ghia week!

  • Remember how I don't really know what I'm doing? That was confirmed this week when I realized that I'd basically been doing everything wrong. For some reason, I had (incorrectly) assumed that the single notch on the rear portion of my crank pulley must mark Top Dead Center, when the piston is fully extended inside the cylinder; I then read something that suggested the notch instead indicated 7.5 degrees Before Top Dead Center. To check this, I removed the spark plug from cylinder 1, stuck a plastic straw inside as a feeler, and slowly turned the engine with a 21mm wrench applied to the alternator pulley. That let me feel when the piston stopped moving... and, sure enough, it wasn't when the notch was lined up with the crack on the case. In fact, this position matched with the hard-to-see dimple on the front portion of the pulley. Good to know! 
  • Of course, that also meant that my previous valve adjustments had been performed incorrectly; those are supposed to be done with each piston in its TDC position - not 7.5 degrees before. So I re-did those adjustments, and it only took about fifteen minutes this time! It didn't make a big difference, but there were a couple of cylinders that had just a wee bit (like 0.008" instead of 0.006") too much valve gap. 
  • And I think I've finally figured out what I'm doing with regards to timing the (aftermarket) 009 distributor which was installed in the car at some point. All the specs I found said to time it to ~10 degrees BTDC at idle. Since the 009 isn't equipped with vacuum advance (it just centrifugally advances the timing as it spins faster), it's actually way more important to set the peak advance to about 32 degrees at around 3500 rpm; that should drop to 5-10 degrees BTDC at idle, but the exact timing isn't as important here. I printed out a timing wheel and used that to mark the relevant points around the rim of the crank pulley (TDC, a range covering 5-10 degrees BTDC, and a hash to mark the 32 degree maximum advance).
  • And I discovered that the Innova 3340 tach/dwell (many other functions) meter I'm using seems to do a much better job of reading the RPMs when I use the inductive pickup on the cylinder 1 spark plug wire and put the meter in indistinctly-named "CON" mode rather than attaching the contact probe to the negative terminal on the coil and setting the meter to "RPM" mode. It had previous been pretty tough to read, and often indicated that the car's idle was set way too high. The measurements are much more consistent (and reasonable) when using that inductive pickup.
  • So I combined all of this knowledge to actually get the timing set correctly (finally!), with a maximum of about 30 degrees advance at 3500 rpm and a comfortable idle of 7ish degrees BTDC at ~850 rpm. 
  • And I used the improved RPM measurements to also tweak the carburetor settings a bit, per the Bentley manual: I used the big bypass screw to set the idle to about 850 rpm, turned the smaller volume adjustment screw until the engine ran at its fastest and kept turning clockwise until it dropped off ~30 rpm, and finally used the big bypass screw to reset the idle at about 850. So maybe the car is now tuned correctly?
  • I had intended to drive the Ghia to work on Thursday since the weather was going to be nice, but my pre-flight check that morning revealed that the brake lights weren't working anymore. That evening, I jiggled some wires and got them working again... hardly a proper fix, but enough to take the Ghia to work on Friday - which I did! It drove like a dream.
  • Today, my wife and I spent a few hours cleaning up the electrical connections for the front and rear signal lights. I was a bit surprised to find that each bulb only had a single wire running to it, relying on the light housing itself to provide the connection to ground and complete the circuit. We carefully cleaned the corrosion and grime off of the wiring connections and thoroughly cleaned the bulb sockets as well. Once everything was put back together, all the lights worked again (yay), and some of them even glowed more brightly than before. Hopefully this cleanup will help keep the current flowing better in the future. We plan to revisit the other end of those wires (at the fuse box behind the dashboard) soon.
I feel a bit silly for having been doing things fairly wrong so far, but I'm glad to have finally figured things out. I learned a lot this week, and the Ghia is running beautifully. I think we'll take the Ghia out for more joy rides and trips across town now that the weather is (maybe?) cooling off a bit and we're getting a bit more comfortable and confident with the car's transport abilities. 
Sep 05, 2021
Sep 05, 2021
Worked on a project car
Worked on an air-cooled VW
Now I've got a drain plug!

I noticed that the Ghia had been leaking a bit of oil in the past couple of weeks, probably because I hadn't been adequately prepared for that first tuneup and had reused the existing gaskets for the oil screen and the sump plate. I ordered several sets of gaskets, and also picked up an aftermarket sump plate with a built-in drain plug. That should make future oil changes much easier!

Plus it's shiny so that's +5hp.

I also did a bit of fiddling with the timing and carburetor settings. I realized that my car doesn't have the factory-correct single-vacuum double-advance (SVDA) distributor and instead has an aftermarket Bosch 009 unit with no vacuum advance (centrifugal only). The specs say that I should set the timing for that to ~10BTDC, but the motor really didn't seem to like that. No amount of adjustment on the carburetor would get it to idle correctly. I kicked the timing back to the ~5BTDC I was using previously and I was then able to adjust the idle with the bypass screw and the mixture with the volume screw. It seems happier now.

I'm not sure why the timing would need to be set so far off from what everything I can find suggests the 009 should be, but of course I also don't know what else might not be factory-stock about this motor. 

But hey, I'm learning stuff and enjoying the car along the way!
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