Category Archives: Gadgets

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.

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.

Our stolen Playstation 3 and television

While on holidays we were burgled. For the record, especially Mr Google’s record, here are some details:

  • Sony Playstation 3 (slim)
  • Model no: CECH-2002A
  • Serial no: 03-27453466-5676284
  • MAC address: 00:24:8D:94:CD:5C (wireless adapter)
  • ¬†Samsung 32″ LCD TV
  • Model: LA32C650L1F
  • Serial no: NE3N3MMZ700199

If you come across either drop me a line at sabyrnes (at)

Romisen MXDL RC-G2 Cree Flashlight

I bought myself a few gadgets for Christmas including:

  • a torch (or flashlight as the Americans say), a Romisen MXDL RC-G2 from DealExtreme
  • digital vernier callipers,
  • a digital thermometer for the reptile house I built for the Blue Tongues,
  • a good quality battery charger (Ansmann Energy 8) because cheap charger plus cheap rechargeables means short battery life

The torch is amazingly bright for its size and I’m very happy with it. I’ve always liked torches but balked at paying large amounts of money for a quality brand like Maglite. So I tended to buy cheap, plastic torches that would last for a few months. In recent years I also bought torches containing LEDs instead of a bulb. These LED torches were relatively efficient producers of light, so batteries lasted well, but each LED was weak so the torch needed lots of them. Assembling lots of bits into a torch-head increases the cost so cheap LED torches were very crappily put together. But about a year ago there was a revolution in torch design. A US company called Cree Inc. produced a very efficient and bright emitter. Cree make their own torches but they also sell their emitters to other manufacturers (mostly Chinese) who have produced a large range of small, powerful torches.

sku_3607_1You can see the Cree emitter at the base of the reflector. It looks like a small pale yellow patch. This Romisen torch:

– uses a single AA battery
– has a large on/off push switch on the end, not on the barrel
– has a glass lens and aluminium reflector
– has a very bright central beam (ie a long throw) while the flood is not nearly as briight but still usable
– has good build quality.

This little torch is so bright it could be used for possum spot-lighting. We have a large water tower about 100 metres from our backyard. I can illuminate the top of the tank with it. So it is great for shining around outside. On the other hand it isn’t perfect for hunting for lost socks early in the morning – it’s blinding at close range.

At the moment I am using a standard AA 1.2V rechargeable battery in it which seems to last for about 60 minutes. Some Cree LEDs stop working if the battery voltage drops below a certain level. This is fine for situations where a strong output is critical but not so good for a household torch where a slow reduction in output over time is much better. This torch is like that. Even when the battery is approaching the end of its charge the torch is still quite usable around the house.


I took this torch with us on our 2012 ten-week trip to Europe. For a few days we stayed in a friend’s alpine hut in Vorarlberg. He liked this torch so much I left if behind in the hut as a gift.