TideLog Archive for December, 2009

Please follow these common sense rules to avoid any network abuse when using WinHTTrack. It’s not fair for other users or the webmaster of the site if you’re hogging all his bandwidth. Not all sites have unlimited bandwidth.

I have taken this info from http://www.httrack.com/html/abuse.html. Check back there for any changes

  • Do not overload the websites!
    • Do not download too large websites: use filters, but use them sensibly
    • Do not use too many simultaneous connections
    • Use bandwidth limits
    • Use connection limits
    • Use size limits
    • Use time limits
    • Only disable robots.txt rules with great care
    • Try not to download during working hours
    • Check your mirror transfer rate/size
    • For large mirrors, first ask the webmaster of the site
  • Downloading a site can overload it, if you have a fast pipe, or if you capture too many simultaneous cgi (dynamically generated pages).

  • Ensure that you can copy the website
    • Are the pages copyrighted?
    • Can you copy them only for private purpose?
    • Do not make online mirrors unless you are authorized to do so
  • Do not overload your network
    • Is your (corporate, private..) network connected through dialup ISP?
    • Is your network bandwidth limited (and expensive)?
    • Are you slowing down the traffic?
  • Do not steal private information
    • Do not grab emails
    • Do not grab private information

Following these general guidelines will ensure fairness for all. I’ve seen sites shut down because the webmaster was fed up of his site keep running out of monthly bandwidth, costing him extra money in server and host costs.

Use my article advice, and Xavier’s brilliant software, with GREAT care, and be considerate of others. Make donations to your favourite sites!

Many thanks to Bandit for his pointers about a disclaimer.

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I’m going to show you all my perfect way of backing up your games. I’ve been doing it this way for ages, and have never had any failures.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER

Before we start, I must make you aware that MODIFYING YOUR CONSOLE FIRMWARE IS ILLEGAL, and that you have to modify it to play backups. The backups you create MUST be for PERSONAL USE ONLY, any other distribution or use is possibly illegal, and in breach of Copyright and DMCA laws in some countries.

Secondly, I CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE for any legal action taken against you from you distributing backups from following my guide, for any failures during flashing Kreon firmware or burning backups, or simply because you don’t understand what you’re doing.

All advice in this article is followed AT YOUR OWN RISK. If your console decides to burst into flames after being modified, that’s not my problem, sue the hackers who created the firmware! Or if you like fighting useless battles, sue Microsoft (they’ll probably laugh you into a prison cell!)

Disclaimer over….. If I haven’t scared you (scaring you wasn’t my intention!), read on……

Recommended Setup:

DVD Burner on its own IDE/SATA Channel

I recommend your burner be on its own chain. This reduces the risk of buffer underruns and any other errors. having a hard drive, especially the one where images are stored for burning, or being read from, on the same cable, is a no-no.

I use SATA, so each device has its own cable, and is not daisychained.

No other programs running

This keeps your CPU nice and free, and keeps your RAM to a maximum. Your RAM is where data is stored as it’s being copied from the HDD to the burner, so if you’re running stressful programs, your burner is going to feel it, and you run the risk of ruining the disc, and DL discs are still not cheap throwaways! The flow of data needs to be constant.

Use a dual core CPU

This gives you more oomph, as any load is shared equally between cores. Self explanatory, really!

Plenty of RAM

This is a must, as I mentioned before, your RAM is the buffer between the hard drive, and the burner. Top quality RAM will make sure the data stays clean all the way from your HDD to your burner. 32 bit users should have no more than 3GB, as 32-bit can’t address more than this, and 64-bit can have as much as you want!

Defragmented hard drive

Think of your hard drive as my favourite analogy. A child’s bedroom. As toys (files) get played with (accessed/saved), they get strewn all around. This maeans the drive takes longer to find files, which can result in buffer under-runs. The files need to be re-organised into their correct places for accesses to be fast.

The Tutorial

1. Obtain a Samsung SH-D162C PC drive with Kreon

This step is really important. Normal PC drives can’t read the structure or security sectors (SS) of a 360 disk. The Kreon firmware is modified so that this Samsung drive will. The Kreon firmware will not work for other drives. I recommend you get one pre-flashed, I did my own, but that’s out of the scope of this tutorial. There are IDE & SATA versions available now, I got mine on launch, and it was only IDE at the time, so take your pick.

Once you’ve installed the drive, and flashed it (if it wasn’t already), move on..

2. Download and install Xbox Backup Creator

This is by far the easiest tool out there for doing backups, and is almost a single click. Download it from HERE and extract it somewhere. You’ll need ImgBurn installed too, so go grab a copy and install it BEFORE running XBC.

NOTE: If you’ve got a blank DVD-DL in your burner drive, the following error may come up. Don’t worry about it, it’s only because it’s trying to read a blank disc:

If you take the blank disc out, the error doesn’t appear. So, insert the 360 game you want to copy into your Samsung Kreon drive, and run XBC:

Make sure your Samsung Kreon drive is selected in the top drive list, as my SH-D162 is here. Note it does not say what Kreon version firmware is installed, just TS05, which is the Samsung firmware that the Kreon is based on. I have the latest Kreon in my drive, which is v1.00.

In the main status window, it says “Bytes used: 5.32MB”. DON’T worry, the disc is being read correctly, this is just the DVD partition that displays the “To play this disc, please insert it into an Xbox 360 console”, as this is all the PC itself can see.

Next, on the Read tab, under Image Style, choose Complete Backup, then hit Start. Sometimes the Start button is greyed out, flick between the tabs, and it should appear:

CAUTION: If you miss this step, and the Current Partition is selected, you’ll end up with just the DVD partition, which is useless!!

When you click Start, a dialog will pop up asking you for an image filename, and where to save it. My test game was Flatout Ultimate Carnage, saved into an “xbox” folder on my desktop:

Choose your folder and name, then hit Save. It’ll then start copying the image. To prove my point about the DVD partition earlier, here’s what I deliberately did:

I deliberately saved to a partition with not enough space to get this to come up. It needs 7.4GB, so it is copying the FULL game. So, here’s it working correctly:

It will also create a .dvd file. You MUST use this when burning the game later with ImgBurn. It is the layerbreak file, and without it, the partitions won’t match, resulting in an unplayable coaster. DO NOT select the ISO!

Follow me, and you’ll be fine!!

Next, should be when all is done!

Step 3: Burn your game to disc using ImgBurn!

ImgBurn is a great program. It has flawlessly burned discs for me with no problems. As long as you select the .dvd layerbreak file when selecting the image, it will burn fine. Using the ISO directly will fail.

First off, insert your blank DVD-DL (Verbatim, always Verbatim, where possible. I have used AONE in this tutorial, as they are my second favourite). Start ImgBurn, to be greeted by this screen:

Click “Write image file to disc”, and go to the folder you created your image. I’m finishing off a burn of Forza 3 here, instead of my Flatout earlier:

Select the .dvd layerbreak file, this is REALLY IMPORTANT:

Click Open. Then make sure 4x is selected as a burn speed:

After verifying your burner is correct, click the big icon of an image to disc on the left of the burn speed, and away she goes!! Until it completes, you will then be presented (hopefully!) with this dialog:

All done! Insert into your Xbox, and play away!

Note: This tutorial covers YOUR OWN backups. Backups downloaded from the internet will need to be verified by abgx360. A tutorial on this is to follow soon…

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I’ve had a lot of people ask me how to correctly rip a website using WinHTTrack on its forum. It isn’t your fault you’re getting errors, it’s the programs default settings, they’re set incorrectly, causing the copier to get booted off almost straight away in some cases. I’m here to help, because the only “person” on there, William Roeder, is the most arrogant, nasty, clueless individual I and many other HTTrack users have met.

So, to get a good copy, we need to understand several things that may STOP a copy:

Problem 1 – Browser ID (User Agent) set incorrectly as default

Every web browser has a User Agent string. This tells a web server about the browser, and details the operating system it is running on. Mine looks like this:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-GB; rv:1.9.1.6) Gecko/20091201 Firefox/3.5.6 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)

Here’s a table that shows what all that means:

This is where one of the problems HTTrack causes comes in. Many websites don’t allow website copiers, because they eat bandwidth, so they are blocked. The Robots.txt file is where specific useragents can be specified for blocking, and resides on the server. HTTrack’s default UserAgent is like this:

Mozilla/4.5 (compatible; HTTrack 3.0x; Windows 98)

So, because it contains the HTTrack bit, the copier is getting kicked, without the website being copied. We can change this so that HTTrack can pretend to be another browser! I will show you how later in this article.

Problem 2 – Spider – follow Robots.txt enabled

WinHTTrack is a web spider. It works in many ways the same as a web browser. It scours a website, and copies everything you tell it to. By default, it is set to specifically follow the Robots.txt file as detailed above, and because of this, with all default settings and User Agent, gets kicked. I don’t know why Xavier Roche (the author) has never changed the defaults, because it is causing confusion. I’m here to help!

Step 1 – One thing it WON’T do:

1. Copy files from folders that have Directory Listing disabled.

This is not a bug, it’s deliberate. If the website owner doesn’t want you to view folder contents, a copier won’t see them either! This is set in a .htaccess file on the server, and CANNOT be overridden, unless web pages on the site link to what’s in the folder.

Step 2 – Setting Options

Once you’ve set your links in the Addresses window, click Set Options. If you’re copying a subscription site, don’t just paste URLS in the text box, use the Add URL button. This allows you to enter your credentials. Otherwise, copying will fail.

Then, click the Limits tab, and set Max Transfer to 50,000. If ripping a lot of high res pictures, zips, and videos, I enter 250,000 – 500,000 in, as this is in Bytes, and not Kilobytes:

Leave everything else on this tab as is, and click the Spider tab. Here we’ll stop HTTrack following the robots file:

Set Spider to “no robots.txt rules”, leave everything else, and go to the Browser ID tab. Here we’re going to “spoof” HTTrack as another browser to fool the webserver into thinking we’re just another internet surfer!

Set “Browser identity” to anything you like, as long as you don’t pick one that’s too old, as some sites don’t allow old or obsolete browsers, due to them not being supported and possibly full of holes. I set mine to “Mozilla/4.78 [en] (Windows NT 5.0; U)”, as that’s fairly close to mine. You can add your own browser if you know how, but that is out of the scope of this article.

Also, set the HTML Footer to “None”, this removes the “Mirrored by HTTrack” footer stamped on copied pages, for cleanness.

That’s it! Click OK, then Next, and your site should rip! If you have any problems, leave me a comment, and if I feel relevant, I’ll do an article on your problem for you, and how to put it right. I’ve been using HTTrack since its first release, and can take the time to explain things nicely, in a polite manner, unlike William Roeder. His second name should be “Ruder!!”

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I hurt my back last weekend, I slipped on some black ice, and my lower back took most of the impact. It was sore for about two days, then eased off a little, but then went bad again. I went to the doctor on Wednesday, and he’s told me not to do any heavy lifting (or football) for at least another month.

I wasn’t due to restart training with Rikku and her ladies until the second week in January, so I suppose knocking it back two weeks won’t make much difference. I told Rikky yesterday, and she agreed with the doctor, as she’s team first aider as well as captain. I could do more damage, especially in goalkeeping dives and tackles, if I land on my hips, it could shock my spine.

She just sweetly told me, “Just get yourself better, we’ve got plenty of time for your training”. She must have told the girls, because this morning a Get Well card signed by them all popped through my door!

Awwww, it was really touching. I bet a lads team wouldn’t have done that for me! So, women footballers are sweet as well as cute!! But we knew that already! 🙂 I just hope all the ice is gone by tomorrow, I’ve got a bit of walking to do… RAIN! PLEASE!!! Another slip, and my back could be kaput, and that isn’t a nice thought. All internal cabling to the big computer in your head runs up your spine… 🙁

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Today was better than I expected! It’s a good job we’ve got a big house here in Birmingham, we need the space for all the presents! God knows what it’s going to be like whe Kassie and I get married with all the wedding presents! I’ve just got a few minutes out from the partying! I’m possibly the only one not drinking (alchol, anyway) as I’ve got to drive loads of people home later on! There’s more of Kassie’s friends here, than mine, and more than I expected (women seem to have lots of friends as well as handbags and pairs of shoes!!)

Wow, where do I start? The godsend is that Kassie has bought me a brand new PDA, my old one stopped being a touchscreen one a few weeks back, and I’ve struggled using it, and it’s my main worktool!! I bought her and Mika some lovely jewellery, and some really nice clothes, a gorgeous emerald green silk dress for Kassie (and some sexy silk underwear for underneath!), and Mika I bought a sexy scarlet red prom dress, with some really cute elbow length silk gloves. I have yet to see them in their new clothes, Kassie still hasn’t took off her Santa dress (nope, not even this morning, we were all too excited! She wore the velvet red one, which I thought she might, she knows it’s my favourite!)

I’ll be here all night telling all my presents, but let’s just say no-one bought me a laptop, which I’m actually GLAD of, because I’m fussy about my mobile workmate, I like to take care of that buying decision, then I’m not embarrassed or disappointed. My close friend Pete bought me some lenses for my camera, which was a nice surprise, I’ve been having trouble with wide angles for a while, and a steering wheel and pedals for my 360, I’ve been getting angry with my pad on NFS Shift and Forza in front of him, so I think he definitely is good at getting subtle hints!

Dinner was like a banquet, with all the friends here! Kassie bought this really big cooker, a massive professional industrial size one, because she has dinner parties with business associates, and it came in really handy here!

I’ll blog some more, once the party animal in me dies down, and I have settled! I’ve been really excited today, it has been lovely! I’ve used our brand new Volvo B9TL double decker today, and it is a gorgeous machine. Rikky just spent the civilian equivalent of two houses cost on it! I’m used to driving them, but this one is custom decored inside, with red, black and blue, leather seating (including driver), air conditioning, built in CD Player, and is really nice to drive. New buses always are, and it wears off on you, but I get a feeling this one won’t! It’s nice to be able to drive a bus, in a friendly situation, and relax, with all your friends chattering away as passengers, bantering with them, instead of strangers.

Tomorrow I’m seeing the rest of family, I only got the chance to see my parents, before I was due to get back to Birmingham. Isn’t family time sweet at Christmas? It’s funny how humans make time for family so special once a year at Christmas, yet work seems to stop you all other times. I never see nor hear from most of mine the rest of the year, only my parents and some of their side.

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I’m thinking of selling Ami, my Fujitsu Amilo Li 1818, for one that has better graphics, and build quality. The two that I’m thinking of are both Dells. I was geared towards Toshiba this time, but I’m sick of seeing the whole price range up to £800 that have Intel integrated graphics. They are poorer than poor, always have been, and always will be. So, I’ve got two choices so far:

Brand new Dell Inspiron 17

The Inspiron 17 has caught my eye. I’ve always loved Dell laptops, the build quality is second to none. My old Inspiron 9100 gaming laptop was built like a tank. I still have Kassie’s faithful old Inspiron 5150, and there’s hardly any wear on the casing, and no cracks whatsoever, and she’s used it in college, and in several different countries! I just HATE the power socket they use on virtually ALL their range of laptops. The big cylindrical one with tiddly little centre pin. I’m sick of repairing them because the spring clamps in the socket fail!

Anyway, the 17 has a Core2Duo, and ATi Mobility Radeon 4330 graphics, more than enough for the games I play. It’s also got a nice big screen, 17″ (hence the Inspiron 17 name), and looks to be well built, which Dell are getting known by me for. All for £499, including VAT and delivery, which I can’t grumble at.

Second hand Dell Inspiron 9400

The Inspiron 9400 is two machines newer than my old 9100, and is a lot more powerful. My 9100 had a 256MB Radeon 9800 Pro graphics card, an actual separate one, with a Pentium 4 2.8GHz socket 478 Prescott chip. The 9400 is a Core2Duo, and a nVidia GeForce 7900 GS card.

Ooh, which one? I’ll probably go for the 17, as it’s brand new, and I know what games it’ll run. The 7900 GPU of the 9400, I’m not sure, I need to do some digging….

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My favourite moment on Christmas day is when I get to see Kassie in (one of ) her Santa outfit(s). She has 7, and it has become a tradition in our household. One, because she’s a big playful kid at heart, two, because she looks really cute as a female Japanese Santa, and three, because I never know which one she’s going to slip into before she wakes me.

Take a look at my lil cute Santa. Isn’t she adorable? This is my favourite, taken in 2004 when we’d just moved into our first home together. The walls were her favourite colour, blue, because we were going through that stage of deciding whether to paint, or decorate, and her choice came first! It went rather well as a backdrop colour, too:

Awww, my lil baby angel looks sooo sweet! My second favourite is this one, her velvet red one. This one was taken at her house in Osaka, she had a lovely loft roof window, and the weather was great. We spent just 3 days there, in 2005, I wanted to see Christmas in Japan:

She has a black velvet version of this one, too. I really can’t wait till tomorrow morning when she wakes me up! She was the best Christmas present ever all those years ago, and I still get to unwrap her every Christmas, and it’s always so exciting….

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This is likely to be my last blog post before Christmas, we’re all getting ready for Xmas Day. I’ve been down to our friend’s party tonight, I organised a massive Christmas party for all my circle of friends. Kind of a way to say thankyou to everyone who has helped me over the years, I wouldn’t change them for the world. I’m always here in return for my friends, anyone who gives kindness and love gets it 200% back.

So, from this second onwards, it is my chilling time. No work, no computer problems, bus problems, or Kas’s servers. She’s on her own until the 27th with those (only kidding!).

Mitsumi is staying with us over Christmas, I couldn’t bear the thought of her being all on her own in Prestwich. She’s such a sweet little thing, Jill loves her, heck, everybody does! The sweet blonde haired, big brown eyed, petite Japanese girl from Kyoto, who can sell any computer or component with just a smile. I love her dearly, she’s been such a sweet friend to me ever since 2005 when we met at KJC. The trust we have in each other is immense! Mitsy is like a big sister to me, as Riksy is.

Jill loves our Christmas parties, she always asks me, “Dad, is Aunty Kasumi and Mitsumi coming over for Christmas?” How can I say no? They both love children! When Mitsy has a bit too much to drink in our family get togethers, she’s really, really funny! Two years ago she sang out loud on the dining table to Westlife’s You Raise Me Up, and if she hadn’t been tipsy, we should have got her a recording contract!

I absolutely love her, she’s timid, but very very loving and friendly to the right people, in the right environment. I will never let anyone hurt her, she looks to me as her Guardian Angel, and that is a very big important role, and I’m honoured to be committed to it.

The only driving I’m doing is picking all the guys up for the Xmas Day party. God forbid, any mechanical problems, I’ll scream!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year for 2010 if I don’t post before then!

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Wow, the bookies are sure eating their words now! Some of them were upping odds on bets that it wouldn’t be a white Christmas, and Mother Nature is proving them wrong!

It’s causing havoc on the roads though. I have to get the buses out of the garage for Rikku every morning. Some of them are stored outside, and would not start! Outside our yard there’s a small road leading out onto the main road, and this is NEVER gritted, I was trying my hardest to control several slides this morning. The good thing is there’s no parked cars on the road, and there’s plenty of room, so it was quite enjoyable pulling slides in a 12 ton bus. The airbrake is useless, so I use my revs, steering and brakes to control it, fighting against the TCS to slide round the corner.

I can tell when the bus is going to slide, and when the ECU will kick in. When you hit the gas, and hear it over revving over 1,500rpm, that’s the time! The great thing about the Volvo buses (B7RLE and B9TL) is the TCS can be turned off via a switch in the cab, so it’s you, 12 tons of monster, and ice!

Our Dennis Dart is a great fun little thing on ice! They’ve got the right name, for sure!

Caution: Don’t try this at home. I’ve done my Advanced PSV driving skills test, and am fully competent at controlling such a big powerful vehicle on snow and ice.

Coming Soon: Strictly Come Powersliding (in a bus!) on Ice from Matsuki TV!

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Following on from my post about the faulty acedrv09 driver, I’ve been doing more digging, because my system has just bluescreened while I was coding my new Payroll system. It’s to do with copy protection on CD’s and DVD’s, and the acedrv09.sys driver belongs to the process Filter Driver ProtectDisc, part of the software acedrv by Protect Software GmbH. It’s internal to Windows, and is starting to annoy me!

Microsoft, if I lose any more VB .NET code because your crappy affiliates can’t write proper drivers, I’m switching to Linux!!

It’s a known issue, SO FIX IT, and don’t ruin my Christmas!! I’m starting to get really blinking mad!! I don’t want to disable whatever service it is linked to, in case it affects DVD/CD burning in any way. I might, if I’m in an adventurous mood, which I’m not right now, I’m in a coding mood!

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I’m disgusted with CeX (Computer eXchange). Their online service disgusts me. I ordered an 80GB IDE hard drive from them for the eBay PowerBook. Ordered it on Monday last week, and picking the order took them until I COMPLAINED before it was shipped, which was nearly a full WEEK!

Very disgusting service. Their stores are alright, albeit their buy/sell price ratio margins are quite unfair, and the makes they buy of equipment limited. I was thinking of franchising with them, this has put me off completely.

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I lost my bet fair and square, and the little lady wins! I bet her a McDonalds that it wouldn’t snow heavily today….. and it has! We’ve spent most of the morning building a huge snowman and dressing him up! And rolling around in the white stuff like children! Well, Jill is, certainly, but only in age. She’s a far cry away from her age of 9 in her intelligence of 16!

It’s a shame Rikku is working today, Jill wanted her mum to be with us. I love Jill and her mum playing together, they dote on each other, and are best friends. It is really heartwarming stuff watching mother and daughter together. It is what makes Christmas so sweet and special. I wouldn’t swap it for the world!

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To all those campaigning for that awful Rage Against the Machine track to be No. 1 this Christmas over Joe McElderry, STOP! Have you stopped to think what you’re doing?!? You’re not annoying Cowell, but making him laugh all the way to the bank!!!

Rage Against The Machine are signed to Epic Records, which is owned by Sony. Simon Cowell is a major shareholder in Sony BMG!!! No wonder he looks so smug!!

It’s the same of the plot where everyone was urged to vote for Jedward to annoy Cowell. Simon’s company SyCo collects revenue from phone voting on X-Factor!!

Do you adolescent girls never think before screaming over karaoke rejects? Especially after two twins with haircuts like they’ve got Boeing 747 take off ramps on their heads?????

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This is a totally new one to me! It came up today while I was checking one of the rear LED stoplight clusters with Rikku as part of an MOT pre-check on our 2006 B7RLE. It seems that the computer watches the resistance on the signaling circuit too. When a light is working, the resistance is low, because it’s functional. When it isn’t working, resistance across the circuit increases, telling the control unit something isn’t right when a light should be on.

I need to get on to Volvo, the Impact software doesn’t cover the in-cab diagnostic system, or ECU error codes. The in cab errors are just generic warnings.

What gets me is, why does the system tell the DRIVER to “check diagnostics for xxx ECU at next stop“? Normal drivers don’t have the skills, experience, nor training for checking ECU faults! Nor are they employed to!

Very strangely worded messages, but very useful. I hate buses with just dash indicators, the faults could be anything! Volvo’s system is very to-the-point, and market leading, like their buses, in my opinion.

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I hate it when I hear people say, “My fan belt’s gone”. The name “fan belt” is a bit of a misfit nowadays because the belt drives much more than just a fan. Also, more engines use electric fans, rather than belt driven (viscous) fans. It is frequently called an accessory belt. The fan belt runs around a pulley attached to the flywheel and powers accessory pumps and motors such as:

  1. Water pump
  2. Air conditioner compressor
  3. Air system compressor (buses/trucks only)
  4. Alternator
  5. Power brakes
  6. Power steering pump.

Some vehicles have one large serpentine belt that drives all of the accessory motors and pumps. Others divide the work more evenly by employing the use of two belts.

In this industry, we call them either:

  • Accessory belts,
  • Auxiliary belts,
  • Poly Belts, Poly V or N belts (depending on the shape of its route)

or

  • Just engine drive belts!

I got sick of Matsuki Transport’s technicians calling them that, I took them into a meeting and told them to stop it! And all our buses do have the fans driven by belt!

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