Tropical cyclone trash collector

Last year my partner and I spent a month in South America, which culminated with a few days at the beautiful Atlantica Jungle Lodge on Ilha Grande, Angra dos Reis. Upon arrival we were informed that a tropical cyclone had passed by just 2 days before, so there was still a little tidying up to do over the island, not that we could tell – it looked like paradise to us!

Ilha Grande beach
The beautiful bay outside our jungle lodge on Ilha Grande, Brazil – how a beach should look

We were advised to take a short stroll over the hill to the famous Lopes Mendes beach – “the most beautiful beach in all of Brazil” (said with an exotic Portuguese accent). However, when we got there we were perhaps a tiny bit disappointed. I guess we’re spoiled here in Australia as this beach looked like any one of a hundred beaches we’d been to back home.

They did have some nice facilities set back off the beach and, wonderfully, vendors selling ice cold cans of beer. You’d never get away with that back home in Oz, the land of over protective laws and people taking no personal responsibility. And we did have to remind ourselves that the place also looked a little rough because of all the drift wood and rubbish that had been washed up from the massive storm just a few days before.

While the missus was sunbaking, I was getting fried to a crisp so went looking for something to do in the shade. As we had walked down the beach I had noticed all sorts of stuff – useful, though somewhat waterlogged stuff. Along with plenty of junk – piles and piles of it that really detracted from that was otherwise a really beautiful place.

So I set to work, gathering bits and pieces, with no real aim in mind – just that I was going to make something. Anything to keep me out of the baking sun. I gathered old rope, shoes, a busted lawn chair, a flat volley ball, a crate, some lengths of bamboo, planks of wood – all sorts of things I thought I could possibly make something out of.

The first logical choice was our very own Wilson…

Wilson 2
Why should Tom Hanks be the only one with an inanimate friend?

With all that trash lying around I did feel a little disheartened that the locals weren’t doing a little more to restore the reputation of that beach, and a little saddened by the amount of crap us humans discard into the ocean.
I figured I could do my small part and tidy up a little, as well as trying to set a good example for others. So I set to work and fairly quickly was able to assemble what you see below.

Behold! The trash-barrow!

A slightly ugly, slightly dangerous (check that hook on the front), yet perfectly functional barrow made out of junk

It even had a removable squeegee thingy that was really good for scraping away seaweedy bits and making a nice clean spot to lay our towels on.

Whilst I did receive a few odd looks from passers-by, there were some really encouraging responses with folks asking what I was making and some even taking pictures of my cobbled together creation.

Though a little wonky, the thing was sturdy enough to carry a massive load of plastic bottles and other assorted trash about a kilometer down the beach from our cosy spot all the way back to the main path, where I left it with some local vendors to deal with the trash in a responsible manner.

If you’re stuck in a zombie apocalypse or on Survivor, you’d want me on your team.

Fixing a Breville 800 Series Professional Espresso Machine

A little while back our pricey Breville coffee machine started leaking water out of the top right hand corner, at the back – somewhere water definitely should NOT be coming out from. So I decided to crack it open and see if I could find the cause.

Started by removing the hex screws from the back and the 2 phillips head ones from the bottom to remove the back panel. The top came off by giving it a few solid thumps with my hand on the back (towards the front), then unscrewing the grounding wire.

I later found this site that has some notes on disassembly and diagnosis, which I wish I had found before. There’s also a great list of user submitted fixes here on

Removing the covers revealed some tubes and wires, as expected. Plugged it in and ran it again to find out where the leak was. Turned out to be squirting out of the top part of the ‘T’ junction you can see on the left in the image below, where the tube goes into that tan coloured plastic connector. That whole section with the black thing is the magnetic valve, apparently.

Inside Breville 800ES Espresso machine
The source of the leak

I figured it was a busted o-ring or something and proceeded to unscrew the connectors. Much to my amazement and horror, the top one just snapped with the slightest amount of force – which wasn’t much as I could undo these with my fingers. I guess there was a hairline fracture on that one, which is where the water was squirting out from.

Faulty connector - Breville 800ES
The broken connector top, compared to the ‘good’ one on the left

What possessed Breville to make these things out of plastic is beyond me. They have hot water and steam going through them under reasonably high pressure. No way plastic was going to survive that.

I considered modelling these and 3D printing them, but I don’t think even ABS plastic would have lasted very well – despite melting at 230°C+. Thankfully I was able to get some metal replacements (Part Number: BES820XL/154) from this awesome guy at Eastern Electrical Repairs in Dandenong for only $20 for 2, as I figured the bottom one would blow eventually. Would have been substantially more for him to diagnose and fix the problem though. He kindly threw in some new o-rings to boot. What a nice guy.

The alternative was to get spares from here at, but I didn’t want to wait. There is also a useful parts diagram which would probably apply to both the BES820XL and BES830XL – not sure which one mine is. There’s a more detailed PDF parts diagram for the 800ES, which is pretty similar located here too. The parts for that at would probably do the job for any of them.

Faulty connector and sturdy metal replacement (Part Number: BES820XL/154)
Faulty connector and sturdy metal replacement

So I now had to figure out how to get that broken bit of thread out, so I could put the metal one in.

Broken thread - that's a problem
Broken thread – that’s a problem

I unscrewed all the bits of the magnetic valve and removed the plastic bracket that holds it to the side enclosure, before drilling a couple of small holes into what was left of the thread.

Tiny, tidy holes
Tiny, tidy holes

That let me pop in some tweezers and unscrew it – thankfully it wasn’t too tight.

Tweeze that sucka
Tweeze that sucka

Next was to reassemble it all again. I found it was important to attach the little rubber o-rings to the end of the tubes first, instead of leaving them in the metal connector and trying to push the tube into that.

Magnetic valve and o-ring
Magnetic valve replaced and o-ring in place on the tube

Lovely – all reconnected with a solid metal connector and all new o-rings. That should last a lot longer. Just needed to slide the magnetic valve back on and reconnect the plastic ‘L’ joint and tube.

It turned out to be important to make sure the 1 on the brass section of the magnetic valve is on the top so that steam and hot water work properly.

All fixed
All fixed

With all that done, I plugged it back in and confirmed there were no more leaks. So awesome to be able to make a decent coffee again.

Sadly, the steamer was not working and sounded clogged, despite me running through a 50/50 water-vinegar mix to de-scale the machine. I hadn’t done that in ages, despite being instructed to do it every few months. A build up of pressure from that may be what caused the plastic connector to fracture in the first place.

Unfortunately, fixing that is a little more involved and is still pending. Oh well – no frothy milk for the moment.

———- Update 05/02/2014 ———-

Disassembled everything and checked all the tubes, which were all clear. Figured maybe I put something together wrong – so checked my pics from before I pulled stuff apart the first time and it seems I put the brass section of the magnetic switch in upside down.

It has a 1 and a 2 marked on it and the 2 needs to go on the bottom – 1 on the top where the wires attach to the top of the black section.  After swapping it back around everything works like it did before – steam and hot water coming out where it should. Hooray! Fully functioning machine again.

QNAP TS-459 Pro+ Memory Upgrade


I’ve been wanting to upgrade the memory in my QNAP NAS for quite some time. They are great machines, but with all the extra features in the Turbo Station UI as well as a bunch of .qpkg add on’s they can sometimes get a bit bogged down.

I had been reluctant to buy new memory as I had trouble finding much helpful info on the QNAP forums as to what to get, or if it was even possible to be done on a 459 Pro+. Eventually I got sick of performance issues and searched again, this time with a bit more luck.

There are plenty of posts around using Kingston memory, and ones that had failed, but thanks to a post on Cyconet blog I decided to go ahead and get a Samsung M471B5773DH0-CH9 module.

The install went fine, swapping out the ADATA module from QNAP as the 459 Pro+ doesn’t have a second memory slot like some of the newer models. Here you can see the memory hiding in there to the right of that big power supply plug.

QNAP 459 Pro+ memory
Memory is the dark thing with the white sticker on it, to the right of that big power supply connector

Powered up and ensure all my normal services were running and I’ve got a decent increase in speed and a lot more free memory now, with usage down from around 70% to around 45%.

Usage before upgrade
Usage before upgrade
Usage after upgrade
Usage after upgrade

This memory module has also been confirmed to work in other models, as suggested by Jamie Austen on his blog, where he was able to upgrade from 1GB to 3GB – also thanks to that Cyconet post.