Author Archives: Steven

Cuckoo Bees

Last week I was in the living room when a loud, buzzing insect flew past me. I’d left a door open so I wasn’t too surprised. From the flash of blue I thought it might be a big blow-fly. I followed it into the kitchen and was able to get a close view as it buzzed against the window. It was clearly no fly but looked more like a big, dark native bee and had distinctive blue spots on its abdomen. I took a few photos, to help with identification, and then opened the kitchen window to let him go on his way.

The photos are not very good – he was keen to escape and not at all interested in posing nicely for me. But they are good enough for identification.

Domino Cuckoo BeeIt turns out he was a Cuckoo Bee.






Domino cuckoo Bee




Drain valve for Astralpool ZX cartridge filter

I needed to rearrange the pump and filter setup of our above ground pool. The only problem with the new arrangement is that the drain-hole for the filter (Astralpool ZX100) points towards the pool wall instead of away from it. This side of the pool is on the shady side, and takes a long time to dry out, so I don’t want that area getting wet unnecessarily. So I investigated the possibility of replacing the drain plug with some kind of valve or tap, so I could drain the water away through a hose.

Astralpool ZX cartridge filter

The drain plug has two threaded sections and can be removed completely if unscrewed carefully. At first I thought the plug was anchored inside the filter housing so that the plug wouldn’t come free and get lost. But the ‘anchor’ is just a second threaded section. Be careful unscrewing or re-screwing the plug – it would be easy to cross-thread it.

It was difficult to find a suitable valve to replace the plug. The plug appeared to have a 1/4″ BSP thread. (But a lot of pool equipment is designed in or for the USA so there was a real possibility the thread was actually the US equivalent: NPT). This is pretty small so I was looking for a tiny valve. I wandered around Bunnings for some time without much success. I was looking for 1/4″ BSP male on one end and a barb on the other to attach a piece of hose. Actually at first I had many possibilities in mind, including some sort of bulkhead fitting for the inside of the filter case and a female threaded valve outside. I also thought of using a home brew kettle valve but they are expensive.

I couldn’t find what I wanted so I searched ebay and eventually found a 1/4″ BSP to barb brass ball valve. It was only $3 including postage from China. Designed for use in either pneumatic or hydraulic systems it should be able to handle 12-15 psi of slightly salty water.  It took a while to arrive from China but it fits perfectly. I thought I may need to use some teflon tape on the threads but so far the rubber o-ring from the plug is making a water-tight seal.

Brass ball valve and original plug

The new brass ball valve and the original ABS drain plug.

Ball valve with hose

I attached a piece of hose from an old washing machine. Ready to screw into the filter housing.

SCG Test Matches attended

Date Match Result/Cricinfo Report/Series
3rd Jan 2006 AUS v RSA, 3rd test, day 2 Australia by 8 wickets
Australia 2-0 (3)
3rd Jan 2007 AUS v ENG, 5th test, day 2 Australia by 10 wickets
Australia 5-0 (5)
3rd Jan 2008 AUS v IND, 2nd test, day 2 Australia by 122 runs
Australia 2-1 (4)
5th Jan 2009 AUS v RSA, 3rd test, day 3 Australia by 103 runs
South Africa 2-1 (3)
4th Jan 2011 AUS v ENG, 5th test, day 2 England by an innings and 83 runs
England 3-1 (5)
4th Jan 2014 AUS v ENG, 5th test, day 2 Australia by 281 runs
Australia 5-0 (5)
6th Jan 2015 AUS v IND, 4th test, day 1 Match drawn
Australia 2-0 (4)


Cube U30GT

Last year Barbara got an android tablet for her birthday: a Cube U30GT-H. Yesterday it wouldn’t start up properly. It doesn’t have a reset button (or hole) so I decided to update the firmware. I used the method here: which is clear and in English.

It is a good idea to use a good-quality USB cable instead of that supplied with the Cube, and use a rear usb port on the PC rather than a front port. The cable from Conrad’s LG phone fits. Apparently the flashing process in very finicky so the physical connection needs to be perfect.

Firstly I used the latest stock ROM from Cube, V1.11 (, which is available from here: and used the instructions above. It worked fine but had too many Chinese apps which cannot be removed.

Encouraged by my success I decided to try a cleaned, rooted ROM from here It uses a different method to flash the firmware but the instructions and flash tool are included.

Post script, 14 March 2014

After the Cube refused to startup again I tried to reinstall the firmware but my new Win8.1 PC refused to recognise the Cube when connected by USB. I tried a few different 64 bit rockchip drivers without success. Eventually I tried using an old laptop with 32 bit WinXP and it went fine: 32 bit driver worked, flash tool recognised the device and reinstalled the supersport firmware.