My holiday project for the Christmas / New Year Break was to complete a full service on the Hyundai Getz. A vehicle, I’ve had since it had 10,000 km on the clock. It’s now at 91k and I’ve maintained it myself since about 30k.
Now, I’m all for going to a mechanic to get the ‘big’ things done or for completing anything that I’m not sure of. In this case, the Hyundai Getz is such a great small car with minimal ‘extra’ systems. So, it makes for a great car to tinker with and learn the basics of mechanical work.
- Check – Lights and Wipers for functionality.
- Replace – Spark Plugs, Oil Filter, Fuel Filter, Air Filter for Engine, Cabin Air Filter and Automatic Transmission Filter.
- Extras – Due to the age of the vehicle, I’ve also opted to replace the ignition leads (Current ones have 30-40k on them).
- Replace Fluids – Oil, Transmission, Power Steering, Radiator Fluid.
- Inspect – Wheels, Belts, Engine Mounts
So, I had set aside a full day for completing the service as by the time you replace fluids, install new components, check for leaks it ends up being close to about 4-5 hrs. But, I added some extra time for the service as I was completing a fuel filter change as well – Which I know is a bit involved – Due to the Hyundai Getz utilising an in-tank Fuel Filter.
I utilise ramps for completing the service – As it’s super easy to just drive up on some ramps and then easily access the under-side of the engine.
Once you’ve got the vehicle up on the ramps – I simply use an impact driver to remove the engine guards. After this, everything you need to reach is easily accessible.
So, after bleeding and catching all the fluids, I then went on to installing the new spark plugs, oil filters and transmission filter.
I learnt a lot of what I know for servicing a vehicle from my father as well as ChrisFix on YouTube. I find that Chris’ video are very practical and cover all the ins/outs.
Some of the videos include:
After I had completed all the works in the engine bay, I moved onto checking the wipers, wheel condition, bearings and brakes. After all those checks were completed, I moved onto the Fuel Filter.
Now, I’ve replaced the Fuel Filter in the Getz once before. It’s a bit of an involved process. Firstly, to access it you need to lift the rear seat forward. There’s then an access panel beneath there that seals the car from the tank’s body. Once you lift this plastic cover off, there’s a service point where you can remove the nuts to then finally get to the filter. I found this video the best from YouTube.
Now, the fuel filter, I stuffed up on – It took me about 4 attempts to finally get it the fuel filter to seal and provide enough pressure through to the fuel pump. In my troubleshooting, I even went as far as replacing the fuel pump thinking that the pump had failed or wasn’t providing enough pressure.
Luckily in Australia, Repco is a well-known OEM car spares and parts supplier. They were able to fix me up with a replacement filter and pump for about $120.00.
As it turned out, I didn’t need a replacement pump – It was simply a missing O-Ring that was installed at 7:53 in the video (referenced above). After I checked I had installed this washer – I re-installed the filter / pump for the fourth time and it suddenly just all worked! I might add this whole process of checking I had done everything right took me until the next morning. Perhaps I should have done my service in two parts so I was a bit more mentally sharp!
I even went as far as pro-actively booking in a Mobile Mechanic to give me a hand. But, as I had gotten the Fuel Pump installed and working I didn’t need him to check the Fuel Filter but figured I could get him to check other areas I’m not confident on knowing what to look for.
The Mechanic’s Inspection
As I had the mechanic from AutoKing for an hour – I had him look over and check all the engine mounts, brakes, belts and fuel lines. He found some of my engine mounts had cracked. Mainly the rear – dog bone engine mount and the LH side engine mount. Other areas of the car checked out well.
He used his inspection light to check on all areas and removed components as necessary to see what was required.
I found it incredibly easy with AutoKing as well. They had availability for the next day and Nik was able to give me a quote on getting the two engine mounts replaced. I do plan on getting him booked in to complete the repair as soon as my car comes back from the Panel Beaters for an unrelated repair.
In 2021 Sophie and I travelled in a little Toyota Hiace Campervan. We hired the camper several months out from Apollo Campers in Alice Springs. This is the first time we have hired a camper van for those wondering.
Now, originally when we were researching a camper for Alice to Uluru and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) we had found that a 2WD is all that’s required. This saves many hundreds, 4WDs are more like $2000-$3200. There’s generally a few companies to hire these from some of the main ones being Britz and Apollo.
Knowing this we searched for an appropriately sized 2WD camper van. We found Apollo a well known brand in Australia for quality campers also owns Cheapa Campa. So, we figured it couldn’t be as bad as a Wicked or the Travellers Autobarn campers. Those vehicles sometimes hardly even look road worthy and have a bit of a reputation with the backpacker community.
After some research and comparing costs between an Apollo and a Cheaper Campa the cost saving was quite significant. Maybe a couple of hundred. The cost for our Cheapa Campa for 8 days was about $900 or $1200 after paying extra for the reduced insurance premiums – the package we got was the High Road. The High road package (about $50 a day) includes reduced insurance excess to $500 and the inclusion of camp table, chairs, linen and gas. It was a good deal for the reduced peace of mind.
The main difference between and Apollo and a Cheapa Campa seems to be the mileage and age. With a Cheapa Campa you’re likely to get something that’s a little worn out but still entirely usable while with an Apollo – Think of it as being in top notch condition.
So, how is the van? The van we had was great mechanically, a 2015 Toyota Hiace with approx 271 thousand kilometres. Though, after driving on the highway I did notice it badly needed a wheel alignment. So, in feedback to Apollo I’ve advised this would be good to be repaired. They were very receptive to having feedback on the condition of the van – So, don’t worry that they are going to say you’ve caused the damage for things that are clearly wear and tear.
In spite of its age and mileage it had no problems doing the 130km/h speed limits. Though, I didn’t maintain these speeds for long as it burns through the fuel very quickly! So, I recommending sticking between 100 and 110km/h. You also need to take into consideration the wind when driving in a camper as the wind can be enough to flip a van on some of the dessert flats.
The Campa from Apollo was a great way to see the middle of Australia around Uluru and Kata-Tjuta. Accommodation in this area along can work out to be $350 plus a night. While, a camper van provides you with accommodation and a vehicle. It’s by far probably the most affordable way to see the area apart from camping in a tent.
We were able to see all around the Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park as well as stop by Kings Canyon to complete the Rim Walk.
Well, that’s all that I wanted to share on our experience of hiring a Camper Van for Alice Springs to Uluru. It was a great experience and we may try this again in another part of the NT in future.
Apollo and COVID-19 Policy
So, if you’re close to us you would know that we were meant to be exploring the top-end of the NT as well. But, due to a case of COVID-19 in Darwin and the Katherine region – It meant our travel to this part of the NT was affected by restrictions put in place by our home-state Queensland. Now, usually with Apollo they will happily provide a credit much like an airline. Though, after communicating our situation to Apollo via email I was able to have a refund for our Deposit and full-booking for our top-end vehicle that was an Apollo Trailfinder camper. My main concern is an airline ticket is usually only say $300-$500 while a camper van hire can be several thousand.
Initially, when discussing the possibility of a refund with Apollo it was a no – But, I approached again in writing via email seeking a refund due to the amount being over $3k.
So, I’m very grateful for Apollo working with us on our booking. They seem to do well by their customer.
Hopefully, if you’re reading this you too can have a good experience with Apollo / Cheapa Campa.
COVID-19 Travel Advice – Apollo Campers
So, I’m with Aussie Broadband (ABB) as my ISP for my Fibre to the Node connection. Now, ABB are a young company that have invested heavily with a lot of their own infrastructure, additionally they have their own IPv6 opt-in program for their customers allowing people like me access to an IPv6 range of addresses to use for their home devices.
So, when I first signed up with ABB I opted in. Expecting it would be simple to setup – As I previously had iPv6 configured for my previous ISP, Internode.
Previous, to my Fibre to the Node connection I was running on Fibre to the Premise. This, reveals the source of my difficultly in getting IPv6 to function on FTTN. You, see with FTTP, if your Internet Provider is IPv6 capable, you would connect your router directly to the NTD and your router would negotiate the IPv6 Address. However, with Fibre to the Node, to run a separate router to your modem you need to bridge your modem. This is where I found the source of my difficulty – in not being able to have an active IPv6 network on FTTN.
You see, with the Technicolor TG-789 Modem Router – A common router that’s been provided by ISPs world-wide you need to turn on bridging. However, before doing this you need to switch off IPv6 for it’s WAN. Additionally, you also need to switch off the Wifi network that the TG-789 produces otherwise – This will continue to broadcast after bridging – In hindsight, you would think that when putting a modem into bridge mode it would just switch everything off and pass you through the connection – But, apparently, not when it comes to the Technicolor TG-789.
Below is a screenshot of browsing IPv6 Google – One of the many ways you can test IPv6 and it’s function.
Occasionally I may spend too much time looking through the endless selection of marketplace items that the local community is selling. Quite often I just look through the listings and occasionally I come across a bargain too hard to pass up.
In this case I came across a VoIP PBX Telephone System – Now, in saying that you’re likely thinking what are you going to do with a PBX? Well, the thing is it was so much more than that, there was included for the price of $75 AUD was a Grandstream UCM6102 PBX, D-Link 8-Port PoE Switch (Managed), 3 x GrandStream Telephone handsets and a MikroTik RouterBoard! Lots of value to me and an almost endless amount of ways I could test and configure this type of equipment.
I also thought I could justify the $75 in knowing I could easily likely fetch $50 for the MitroTik Router itself if I wanted to re-coop costs. I also thought of testing this as a replacement PBX for my church’s phone system – For which I maintain. The solution was this Grandstream UCM, everything else to me was a bonus.
Below is a picture of what I purchased from a business that was selling the system.
I suppose, why the price of the system was so little was because unless you know what it is – you’re not going to buy it and be honest – How many people are looking through Facebook Marketplace for a VoIP Business PBX Phonesystem? Not many in a small town.
So how did I go with getting this all going? Well actually, I already have a VoIP phone number through my current internet provider, it was a number that I had from when I was in business – So, hadn’t released it as it was included in the price of my internet package. So, I had a number I could configure as two-line trunk. I also have an account with CheapVoip.com that I use to make cheap calls to almost any country in the world.
So, I reset the PBX, Switch and phones after picking them up. In getting into the configurations I found the UCM was on an old Firmware. So, I downloaded the latest available which gave it a really awesome face-lift – That has pretty much brought it in line with the newer GrandStream UCM6202 PBX.
The functionality of the PBX has so far proved useful and too date, I’ve been able to configure a desk phone, 2 phones for my shed and a fourth cordless Panasonic TGP600. I even managed to configure a fax-line over VoIP and have sent a few test faxes.
Well, that’s about it, I’m yet to play with the MikroTik but I’m sure I’ll get there one day.
Happy bargain shopping!
Earlier this year I was watching a new documentary from Craig Reucassel, The Fight for Planet A: The Climate Challenge. Now, as I’ve had time to think in more recent years the climate has been something I’ve thought about – more since it’s big on the political agenda in Australia of late. I seem to be thinking it’s a bit short sighted to only be investing in coal fired power stations and to not invest in more renewable energy or sustainable solutions such as a wind and solar – which can be a 24/7 power source or even implementing a alternate to coal power systems such as gas – which could do the heavy lifting. Aside from the environmental considerations, I felt it was a good decision to make in choosing to go solar for not only the environmental benefit, but, the financial incentives there are in generating your own power during the day.
In generating our own solar power during the day we find it extremely helpful in being able to run items that draw large amounts of electricity such as our pool pump and air-conditioners without having to pay the utility company.
Last year in September we had solar installed from a well-known and long running company in Townsville, True North Solar. I did investigate about six alternate solar installers and True North came out on top.
The checklist provided by SolarQuotes was essentially the tool I used to narrow down the provider I was happy to go with – Solar Checklist (Excel Format)
In searching for a Solar Quote
I knew from my research that I didn’t want a cheap Chinese panel system. I had heard about how in the earlier days of solar rebates and the feed-in tariff in Australia there was a huge amount of unregulated and cheap chinese panels being installed. Some of which I had read about and found could catch on fire or even have cheap or unregulated isolation switches installed that could catch fire if overloaded.
I found that after you start looking for quotes, occasionally you’ll see an offer for say a $4000 system. Which, if you’ve been in business before – You’ll know that it must be an awfully cheap system to be $4000 installed. Because, from that you would have at least two installers (say at $450 each the day) an inverter $500-$1200, panels ($1000), marketing expenses and miscellaneous costs and profit would be the remainder. So, those kinds of quotes, rang alarm bells with me and should with many of you if you’re reading this. I’m talking about companies like Arise Solar for instance, the ones you see advertised on the TV.
Well, once I knew to rule those out, I knew I wanted a good price, so I looked around for electrical only companies that also had a solar arm, because, being a local to Townsville, I wanted to make sure I supported local where I could.
From the onset with my dealing with companies, I asked for a quality system. To which, many only gave me a quote for a JA Solar system or a Canadian Solar system. Which, don’t get me wrong, aren’t bad but I was looking for more a Q-Cell, Panasonic or LG system. Though, most did provide the inverter I was after a Fronius.
The companies I sought quotes from included, Barra Electrical which I almost went with because they offered Q-Cells which have a similar warranty system to LG panels (25 Years worth of warranty, but LG also cover the labour). Barra Electrical installed the solar at our neighbours property and I quite liked the workmanship and quality of the install.
I did have a competitive quote from Central Solar Services as well but in the end I decided to go with True North Solar. I did seek quotes from other local electrical companies but many only provided quotes on cheap solar panels and inverters – Which isn’t what I asked for in my dealings with the companies.
Why I choose True North Solar
Out of all the companies in Townsville, I knew True North Solar had been around for quite some years. I also knew they did LG Solar which I found through the LG Solar website (If you mention their add on the LG Solar website you’ll get 5% off).
The things about LG Solar that stood out to me was the 25 Year Warranty for on modules (parts and labour). This means that if there’s an issue with a panel – LG will pay for the replacement panel and labour.
The Company – True North Solar also went above the usual level a solar installed would do and recommend that all circuits in the house be put on an RCD (great for your safety) and hot water be installed on a timer.
The extra mile the company went in suggesting to put all circuits on an RCD (Something, I had been wanting done) and installing a timer was enough for me to know this company was the one. The 5 per cent discount was also a great incentive which basically meant I got the inverters for free (or what I would have paid for the solar system alone)
The main thing to consider that I choose an LG system for was the knowledge that we will likely be the residents of our current property for some years yet – We don’t intend on moving anytime soon – Which should mean our payback for the solar system (which is about six years) is acceptable for the investment that solar takes. Because, as much as one might think solar adds value to your house, it really doesn’t but with LG you can also transfer your warranty to the new owners – So, it kind of does but it’s not going to add $1000s to your property value.
The solar system itself cost about $7000 which is to be expected and on the cheaper side when looking at quality system (according to solarquotes.com.au).
The communication from the company was excellent and it was installed within a number of hours (About 4-5 hours). True North had about 6 crew working on the install, which if you know how much labour costs, that’s allot of crew to have at one job on a residential property.
After the install, one of the installers led me through the inverter, including showing how to shut the system down safely and power it back on. They also connected the cloud part of the system for monitoring and checked the meter for showing usage was also communicating with the inverter.
After the installation within about a week, I received a 25MB zip file with all images of the panels and their serials along with a copy of the invoice, warranty certificates, manuals and a recommended maintenance and inspection schedule. Which I intend on following as close as possible.
As a customer I felt well looked after and setup for solar success.
I would highly recommend True North Solar for their Solar system and their parent company KDP Electrical.
The other week the security screen arrived for the shed window. So, while installing it I thought I might put the extra effort in and also install some tinting to help control the temperature.
The budget for this project was $50.
As I’m new to tinting I of course watched many YouTube video detailing the process. I determined after watching that yes of course, I’ll need a squeegee, a soapy water solution and a blade.
So, as you can see from the above video, it’s possible to do if you haven’t done it before and as it’s a shed, I knew I wouldn’t mind if there was a minor imperfection in my tinting application.
The tinting I got was 20VTL (Dark Smoke) that I purchased from Supercheap Auto on Special for about $40.
I purchased the spray bottle and squeegee from Woolworths.
So, the tinting is 3m x 50cm which was plenty for my window which was about 30cm wide for each panel by about 50cm tall. I of course failed with my first cut of tint before even applying it as I made the mistake of not spraying the tint enough – so, it stuck to itself like a huge piece of tape. Not a pretty site.
I didn’t mind failing on my first go, as I still had another 2m to go.
My go at applying the tint – it went down alright – but I removed the tint thinking I had sprayed too much solution – As the tint just kept sliding – Stupidly it would have actually been okay – I just needed to cut it and keep pushing the solution out.
Anyhow, by this point in time – I was down to my last 2 piece of tint. Which I successfully managed to apply with minimal errors in the application.
The end result is below – But, it was well worth-it compared with getting a professional out to do it at the cost of approximately $200.
The finished product.
So, it’s been quite a quick week for me! As I go into the show holiday weekend I know it’s coming at a convenient time. You see this last week the shed has been finished, all rectification works have been completed and I’m currently just awaiting the final paperwork before paying the final invoice (as it was paid in stages).
So, I started on about Tuesday wiring up what I needed with the alarm system and network connection. I installed an AP on Tuesday and a Security Camera on Wednesday. I’m quite pleased with how well and easily the network was able to be deployed to the shed. As I’m running OM3 Multi Mode fibre to the switch back in the house. Don’t worry, I did run two backup Cat5e cables.
But, since I’ve done that I’ve started moving shed items back in – You know such as the typical mower, shovels, paint brushes and power tools that one tends to acquire after completing work around the home for a few years.
You can see my progress below.
Setting up the Shed Creates Cleaning Opportunities.
Setting up the shed has reminded me that I need to try and not keep things indefinitely, but from experience I know that I’ve sometimes thrown things out and then realised a few months later if only I didn’t throw something out. But, now I believe is a good time to cut back on some of the gear I’ve acquired over the years.
To give you a picture of what I had, I had numerous spare ‘jug’ leads for powering desktops and monitors. Numerous cheap ‘Sricam’ IP Cameras that I used before my HiLook/Hikvision system. I also had some old Wireless N routers straight out of 2010! One was a Linksys/Cisco which I think was one of their first consumer revisions.
You’ll notice in the images that I’ve got some really nice shelves setup. I purchased them from a Brisbane based supplier who was able to ship 2 x 2m shelves with a load rating of 150kg a shelf and a workbench (2m long as well) for just under $700. Which, I found to be about a third of what any local supplier was going to offer me on price.
I’m very pleased with the shelving which appears to be of a commercial grade. There’s not one bolt just a safety pin and everything just clips together. So, designed to be quick to setup.
I opted for metal shelving as most of the items we’ll be storing in the shed will all be in plastic storage tubs. So, I’m not concerned about damaging the protective paint coating. If I do find I need to be storing too many metal items on the shelf I’ll likely lay a barrier such as a non-slip mat to protect the surface and help to prevent rust.
If you’re interested in acquiring garage shelving like the ones I’ve got here or the workbench and you’re in one of Australia’s Eastern or Central states – I would encourage you to check out Superrack.com.au.
So, I believe I’ve finally finished our Home Alarm System. I haven’t went for an off the shelf cheap solution. Rather, I’ve opted for a fully cabled and customizable setup using a Raspberry Pi and a PiFace Digital 2.
Hopefully at some point in the future, I will publish a YouTube video on the system so that others could implement it.
Here’s an image of the system.
So with my work I’ve got a Toyota Rav4 (2018) model that I drive within the region. This vehicle, I’m also responsible for ensuring it’s taken in for a service at the dealer when it’s due (Every 6 months). Which, after going to a few times, I’ve come to enjoy it and wish I could bring the vehicle in for a service even more regularly! Maybe every 3 months as you can get a barista made Coffee and Arnott’s Biscuits! How awesome is that.
It’s made me consider purchasing a Toyota as our next family vehicle.