Subaru Remote Start with Home Assistant

We own a 2021 Subaru Forester and it includes the STARLINK remote start.  Throughout our home we have a number of smart devices, Amazon, Google and Home Assistant.  

I wanted to figure out a way to allow me to remote start our car without the need to use the Subaru app.  I discovered that Home Assistant ( had an integration to Subaru, however it was only to pull data.  Then I discovered that someone else created a STARLINK integration – which supports remote start!  (

I successfully configured the integration and was able to create an Automation that allowed me to call the subaru.remote_start service with the payload being vin:MY_VIN.  I created a webhook trigger so I can call it from other services, such as Alexa or Garmin.

 I configured the APICall widget ( for Garmin to allow me to trigger the web service and start the Forester.  I also created a stop vehicle one to shut it down if needed.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Tandemkross Victory Trigger

Review of Tandemkross Victory Trigger

TL;DR – 10/10 – Worth the hassle of installation.


Yesterday I received my TK Victory Trigger and Challenger Charging Handle. I also run the Tandemkross Game Changer Pro. Last night I installed the trigger. I have zero gun smithing knowledge and after reaching out to TK they published the installation instructions and video.

The most challenging part of the install was removing the roll pins to pull the trigger assembly. Even with a punch it was a lot of work. I ended up leveraging my bearing press and some chunks of wood to press the pins out. Once I got the them out, I followed the instructions and installation was a breeze.

One thing I did notice was the instructions have you install the set screw that preloads the trigger from the top, which is what I did, but unfortunately makes it impossible to adjust without disassembling the gun. It feels like their installation was meant to have the head of the screw exposed in the trigger body but after testing, there isn’t enough clearance to do that.

With that said, expect to have to take the trigger out multiple times to get the adjustment of the preload perfect. Don’t push your pins in until you dry fire it a few times to make sure it feels good. 

Once the trigger is installed you can adjust the trigger pull with the trigger installed. I ended up breaking two roll pins installing them back in. Harbor Freight sells a set of roll pins and it includes ones that are perfect, I think they are the 5/64 x1 pins. They seemed to install fine and be more durable than the stock pins.

The Challenger Charging Handle took about 15 seconds to install. Press an Allen key in the rear hole, remove the stock peice and replace with the charging handle. 

Today I took it to the range today and I LOVE the way it shoots. The preload was always annoying, having to pull the trigger in what felt like an inch until just before the point of firing made for a not so great pull. It’s worth noting that this is a safety feature that you are bypassing.  

With the Victory trigger, I have the preload adjusted to right before the trigger is engaged, allowing me to simply squeeze the trigger and shoot. It is a VERY crisp feeling shot with the new trigger.  

The texture of the trigger is a lot more aggressive than the stock trigger, allowing for a positive and repeatable finger position.  

Was the trigger install worth fighting with the roll pins and having to buff out a few slight cosmetic scratches on the lower assembly? While I am a novice when it comes to firearms, difficulty in installation is in no way the fault of TK, and from a product standpoint, I say yes, 10/10.

NEJE Master Enclosure

Last week I purchased a NEJE 20w Master Laser from NMCLasers (LINK) and so far I am really happy with the quality of the engraving and cutting of this machine.  Having come from a NEJE 1.5w laser cube, which had a tiny working area, the open design of the Master is much nicer.


After my first project, which was to burn the grid on the cutting board I had mounted the laser on, my wife instantly complained of the smell of smoke from my office/maker space.  She is very sensitive to smell, so I had to come up with a solution.  Opening the window and blowing a fan seemed to help out a lot but wasn’t a long term solution.

I first started looking at solutions that I could build an the community provided some nice examples.  Then I started thinking of what I could use off the shelf.  That’s when I remember seeing “mini rack-mount cabinets” when I was looking at building a home lab and went to see what I could find.

I ended up stumbling upon a 6U Rack Enclosure on eBay (LINK) and it had the dimensions I was looking for, and a fan for ventilation!

After placing the order – I then started thinking about how I was going to do ventilation.  This turned into a trip to Home Depot.  I found some 4in Dryer Vent and a Square Duct in the section near the hot water heaters and duct work.  The idea was to couple the vent on the exhaust of the 120mm fan on the top of the case and vent out of the window.  Unfortunately I was not able to find anything that would fit the bill – so for testing I purchased a cheap vent and cut it to fit the top of the enclosure, as you will see pictured.  I am currently in the process of printing a 120mm to 4in Duct Adapter on my 3D Printer.  I will post an update once I complete that.

The enclosure arrived and needed to be assembled.  A lot of the reviews I read about the case said they had damage from the factor, fortunately mine only had one slightly bent rail that I was able to fix.  Assembly was easy, took me about 10 minutes and I did not install the server rails – as I was not going to need them.  

After assembly, I was pleased to find that the laser and cutting board fit perfect! 

I installed some cheap USB LEDs from Amazon (LINK) that are made to go on the back of a TV on the top inside of the case.

All of the wiring is hooked up to a GoSung Smart Powerstrip (LINK) which allows me to use my Alexa Routine and say, “Alexa, Fire the Laser” and power on my setup.  I ended up having to punch out one of the panels in the rear to fit the power cord for the fan through – which I plan on 3D printing a proper block-off to fill back in.

The sides come off of the enclosure, and the door is easily removable, making it possible to do oversized items that wouldn’t fit the width or length of the case.

I then mounted the temporary coupler on the top of the fan exhaust with double sided tape and hooked the duct hose to it, attaching the vent to the opposite end.  I was pleased to feel decent air output with the stock 120mm fan – as I was going to order a high CFM fan if needed. 

I plan on building something to fill the remainder of the gap in my window when I have the vent in place.

After everything was in place, I did a test on a piece of wood with laser at 100%, making sure to create smoke.  I could see the smoke being sucked up towards the fan, clearing from the path of the beam and vented out of the top.   I let the laser run for a bit and asked my wife if she could tell I was running my laser – SUCCESS!   I then tried some Acrylic – something that I could smell and I could not tell I was burning plastic – AGAIN, SUCCESS! 

Material List:
NEJE 20w Master Laser
eBay 6U Rack Enclosure
4in Dryer Duct
Rectangle Duct Vent
120mm to 4in Vent Coupler
GoSung Smart Powerstrip

Project To-Do List:
3D Printed Vent Coupler – In Progress
J Tech Laser Shielding (LINK) to replace the glass – Ordered

I am sure for most people who use their setup for small projects, this is overkill.  However, if you are using your laser in your house and would like to vent smells (and potentially toxic fumes) outside – this has so far worked great for me!  I will continue to update this post as time goes on and I make modifications. 


Windows 10 Clean Start

I have a bad habit of not closing applications when I am done with them. Sure, I save my work, but I will keep Word, Excel, Outlook, 100 Chrome windows (which have 100 tabs opened in each) and sometimes I just like to reboot to have a “Clean Start”. Unfortunately, one change in Windows 10 made it more difficult to achieve that clean start. The default behavior for Windows is to cache open applications and re-open them when you shutdown or reboot. I created an extremely small, simple applet to solve this. Allowing you to reboot or shutdown and have a “Clean Start” when your system starts. In the back end, it simply runs the following PowerShell commands:

Shutdown: stop-computer -force
Reboot: restart-computer -force

The tool can be downloaded at the following link and includes the .ps1 source file.
Download Here

2040 Studio – PuGoo Mini Sticky Pad Review/Preview

images (1)If you’re like me, you want to have instant access to your phone, in a safe manor, no matter where you are.  A couple years ago I discovered a magical product from a company that was at the time called UDS.  This “Magical Alien Sticky Pad” was named PuGoo, a strange name for a rather amazing product.

The original PuGoo was 8″x4″ and I owned a couple of them.  I could stick my 10.1″ original Galaxy tablet to the wall next to my bed all night, without fear of it crashing down on me, waking me up.  I also had one in my Jeep, for securing my phone, and occasionally my tablet, into my dash.  When it lost it’s tack, it was as easy as running it under cold water and letting it dry, then BAM! good as new! The PuGoo was sold out for a while, and mine had finally degraded from abuse and misuse, as well as losing one of them.

I contacted UDS, which had become 2040 Studio, a few times and expressed my want for another PuGoo. Last month, 2040 Studio asked if I was interested in testing a PuGoo Mini – after I had backed their ARC Nesting Dock and purchasing a Capta for my upcoming honeymoon.


The PuGoo Mini measures about 1.5″x2.25″ and is made for smaller applications, such as phones.  It’s the perfect size for most everything I used my larger pad for, while being a lot easier to place and transport.  While testing, I was able to affix my Nexus 7 tablet to the side of my nightstand overnight, with no problem, I could see it being able to hold larger devices as well without issue.

Currently I am using the PuGoo Mini to secure my cell phone to my dash in my Jeep, as pictured above.  I combined it with an NFC tag, and when I place my phone on the pad, it syncs to my stereo (JeePi) and opens my media application.  I have had it there for hours, without any issue, and without having to worry about my phone falling.  I have had to clean the pad a few times, and just like its bigger brother, it’s as good as new each time.   The one issue I have had, is it seems to get slightly less sticky after sitting in the hot vehicle all day, but as soon as it cools down, the tack comes back.

Currently the PuGoo Mini is only in testing stages, and is not yet released, however, 2040 Studios is gauging interest for the product, and there is talks of a future KickStarter for the PuGoo Mini.

If you are interested in the PuGoo Mini, check out 2040 Studio and email them at, letting them know you’d be interested in purchasing one, be sure to let them know you read about it here!

Thank you for reading my review/preview of 2040 Studio’s PuGoo Mini and thank you 2040 Studio for giving me the unique opportunity to test the product!


Implementing Microsoft RDP Two-Factor



If you’re like me, chances are you have a server environment at home for testing and for learning.  I have a physic dedicated server at my house running Server 2012 and hosting a Hyper-V environment.  The server, for the most part, is headless, no keyboard, mouse or monitor hooked to it normally.   Remote Desktop is essential to being able to manage the server.  Since much of my testing and tinkering is done from outside of my home network, I reluctantly have the RDP service open to the outside world.  Granted, I have changed the default port and I use a Yubikey to input my super-long password to access the server, there was still something about having it accessible from online that left me uneasy.

Last year at GrrCON InfoSec conference, I spoke with a couple of people at the Duo Security booth about their two-factor authentication system, as two-factor was something that was peaking my interest at the time.  They seemed to have a solid system, but unfortunately it wasn’t until just last week that the company pop’d back up on my radar, after seeing them as a sponsor for GrrCON again this year.

I signed up for an account at their website,, which was quick, easy, and free.  After signing up, I looked through their list of services, two of them caught my eye, Microsoft RDP and WordPress.
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Project JeePi – Raspberry Pi Car Computer!

I spend a lot of time in the my Jeep (2004 Grand Cherokee) and I normally either listen to NPR, Podcasts or Pandora while driving.  I wanted a way to interface Pandora directly to my Jeep without spending a bunch of money.  After researching I devised a plan that would get me what I wanted for about $200, a fraction of the $400+ dollar units.

I already had a Raspberry Pi Computer [LINK] laying around, 512mb model and it was already housed in the perfect case, an indestructible Cool Trays Aluminum Case [LINK].  The RPi is a $35 dollar computer with 512mb of RAM and an ARM Processor, prefect for projects like this!


Microsoft Windows 8 [Update] & Server 2012

So it’s been a couple of solid months of using the retail version of Microsoft Windows 8 and in my last review I bashed it pretty hard. I have still been using an “after-market” start menu, different from mentioned before. Pokki Menu [Link] is now my weapon of choice.  I still use the “Modern” menu on an extremely limited basis, but I have hooked up a 2nd monitor, a 20″ LCD, to accompany my 30″ Dell LCD, and having that for the menu makes it more useful, however I am still seeking a solution to make the menu always open on the 2nd monitor and stay open, suggestions?  Windows 8 seems quick and performance wise, I am extremely happy.  At this point, I would say, if you’re still running Windows 7 and contemplating upgrading, do it, get used to it, I don’t think the new UI is going anywhere soon.

A few Windows 8 Keyboard Shortcuts I find extremely useful:

WIN+X: Opens the “Advanced” System Menu
WIN+C: Opens the “Charms” menu – Essential on Windows 8
WIN+D: Opens the “Desktop View”
WIN+R: Opens a “Run” dialog

I have “upgraded” my server hardware as well.  I was running a Dell PowerEdge 2850 Rackmount server and loved it, the downside was, the CPUs didn’t support virtualization.  I decided to utilize some hardware I had around the house, namely an AMD X4 and hard-drives and buy a new motherboard and load it up on RAM and NICs.  Currently the server is sitting with 16GB of memory, but I plan on filling the other 2 slots with another 16GB in the very near future.

Software wise, I am running Windows Server 2012 Core on it and couldn’t be happier.  In it’s current state I am able to spin up 6 Hyper-V Virtual Machines on it with little effort.  Management of all the VMs are made simple by the amazing new Server Manager included in Server 2012, one centralized point to manage servers and the roles and features installed.

RunAsAdmin Tool

RunAsAdmin is an application to help adhere to the best practice of least privileges.  It creates an .exe that the user can double click and it will execute a program with elevated privileges.  Users must be in a local group in order to execute the process.

RunAsAdmin Tool


Why Microsoft, Why? Windows 8 (Part 1)

I decided to start a sort of a mini-series on my blog exploring some rather interesting and sometimes downright annoying aspects of my Windows 8 experience.

Here is a short list of aspects that I found to be counter productive in my venture:

  • Metro Modern/Non-Modern Default App Confusion. Meaning, I have had both the Chrome Modern and IE Modern application get… confused, when trying to open the “default” browser when a link is clicked. There doesn’t appear to be any indication if the link will open in the Modern window or the Non-ModernDesktop window… Which causes me to have two browser windows opened with different tabs…
  • Start menu takes up entire screen… okay, this is a given, and I’m starting to get a used to it, but its still distracting to hit the start button and the entire window gets engulfed.  I did however find a nifty little app that will actually restore the start-menu. There are actually a couple of options, one of which is Stardock’s Start8 [LINK] but that carries a $10 price tag.  I happen to find Lee Soft’s ViStart [LINK] which is free and does a great job at emulating the start menu.

  • “Mouse Gestures”. Tasks like opening the side or bottom menus in Metro apps require you to “swipe” your mouse from side to side, or top to bottom, its kinda annoying.
  • One cool feature is to be able to “snap” apps to the left or right side of the screen, restoring some of the multitasking capabilities to  the OS.  However, some “Modern” apps, (like Skype), are completely useless when snapped.   As you can see by the screenshot below, the Skype app turns into a Skype banner ad that takes up 1/6th of my screen when I snap it to the side, but if I am in a conversation it will show the chat.  Give me my contacts, or anything, is that rocket science?

Overall, I think Microsoft was way to focused on unifying their OS and forgot about the traditional hardware (Laptop/Desktop) users when they came up with the concept of the “Modern” Metro layout. The requirement of having multiple “styles” of apps (I.E. Chrome and “Modernized” Chrome) and the fact that “Modernized” apps take up the entire screen set computing back 20 years and eliminates the ability to quickly multitask via multiple windows… I can no longer have a “Skype” window open and just sitting in the background visible while I browse the web, its counter-intuitive. Just my .02′