So much for the 100s of hours Matthias Runne supposedly spent calculating and specifying the solar kit we needed , when I powered on the washing machine for the first time the whole system died.

German Quality

Matthias Runne Solar Panel Installation

TL;DR – Disappointing and unprofessional.

I met Matthias Runne quite by accident outside a supermarket in Mansle one day while out cycling , we got chatting about Solar Installations and he gave me his business card which boasts of “German quality for your construction and renovation projects”.

“German quality for your construction and renovation projects”

We visited him a month later and looked at his own solar installation in Cellefrouin (16260) as well as some PowerPoint presentations of his previous industrial installations which looked impressive.

He told us he wanted us to be happy with his work to the point where we would recommend him to others.

Later we decided to go ahead and asked him to quote us for our own off-grid solar installation.

His on-site survey was done without any form of notes or measurement which caused me some concern.

Matthias Runne specified 2000w of solar panels (8 x 250w) and 1680Ah battery capacity (6 x 280Ah) using a kit from the German company Bau-Tech , he later claimed it took him 100s of hours to decide on the components and organise it yet Bau-Tech offer this as an all-in-one kit. Odd.

The first week was spent erecting the scaffolding and installing the roof mounts under the tiles , then the aluminium bars that the panels sit on and eventually the panels themselves.

This all went well if a little slowly.

The installed solar panels are mostly level , the top left side is slightly higher than the rest but this is purely cosmetic.
Matthias offered to make it level afterwards but this would mean more work and more broken tiles for no benefit.

During the roof work Matthias Runne broke two wheelbarrow loads of roof tiles but replaced them with our stock of spares.

Upset that he was walking on the roof and continually breaking tiles I suggested he just move the tiles out of the way until he’s finished as this would make it safer , easier and less damaging , he ignored this advice.

During the solar panel installation I asked about earthing the frame and panels , only at this point did Matthias Runne offer to earth it.
Research on the internet later shows this to be incredibly important for safety reasons.
Shouldn’t this be done as a matter of course and included in the total price ?
I had to source and buy the earth spike and cable myself.
Matthias Runne installed the cable , it travels down the side of the barn in quite an untidy fashion , it could be much tidier.

Earth cable snaking down the barn wall.

The second week of the installation started with Matthias realising that the kit-supplied 15 metre cables were insufficient to get the power to the charge controller in the house.

As Matthias doesn’t hold any stock we had to order and pay for the extra cable from Bau-Tech , along with a 15 Euro carriage fee.

The RC4 connectors were also not held “in stock” by Matthias , once again these had to be ordered separately from Bau-Tech , even worse Matthias only ordered four connectors , if one was faulty in manufacturing or fitting then it would have meant another delay and another 15 Euros carriage fee.

These RC4 connectors are just two euros per pair , any reputable Solar installer would hold the cable and connectors “in-stock”.

One of the components in the Kit is the inverter , this converts the 24V DC stored electrical power to the usable 240V AC.
Matthias does not hold these in stock either of course.
If a problem occurs with this device we will be without power to the entire house for probably five days while a new inverter is delivered from Germany.
This could be a disaster during winter when we need electricity for the oil-powered boiler , heating , lighting , etc.

I would have thought the trunking for the solar cables would be included in the price of the installation , I was wrong.

Matthias wanted to tack the bare solar cables (24v DC) directly to the outside of the barn , this didn’t seem safe or attractive.
I insisted the cables go through the barn and when outside be put into protective trunking.

The only trunking installed was the outside section between the two buildings and only because I insisted.
We had to use old trunking that we already had on-site , Matthias didn’t offer to replace this.

These are the 24V DC solar cables emerging from the roof , they just fall to the floor , unprotected and unsupported.

Untidy cables

Above are the solar cables and RC4 connectors , this is where the original 15 metre cables join the longer cables that go back to the house.

Untidy and unprotected cables

This is not the cable management I expected from a ‘German quality’ solar installer like Matthias Runne.

Unsupported conduit between the buildings

I asked for the solar cables to be protected in trunking while outside and supported by the wire , this is how Matthias Runne has left it , very unprofessional.

In the last week I have installed the mains wiring in the house , the sockets on the wall and made the double-ended plug that connects the inverter to the house wiring , Matthias didn’t offer to do this work at all even though it is part of the installation.

Matthias arrived today to fix the dangling cables between the house and barn , instead he just got his tools out of the barn and loaded them into his car.

Before giving him the final payment we asked him to go through the issues we have with his work.
It was quite upsetting to have to tell him how disappointed we were given his claims of ‘German quality’.
He sat quietly initially but got more and more angry as we discussed it , very unprofessional.
Instead of debating my points and offering solutions he kept repeating how ‘not cool’ it was for us to bring these issues to him.
He also kept telling us he should have made sure he got fully paid before completing the work even though it was his suggestion that we paid him before and after the job , he was only interested in the money.

I wish he had been honest with us and only offered to install the solar panels on the roof , we could easily have found a professional electrician to install the cabling safely instead.

Matthias Runne seems like a nice guy , we got on well while working together and I hoped we would remain friends.

Unfortunately his unprofessional attitude and shoddy workmanship on our installation means I will definitely not recommend him.

Name : Matthias Runne
Business : Emertec Nouvelles toitures.
Address : Lieu dit Goutibert , 16260 , Cellefrouin.
Siret : 80090159700016

antiquechina2009 ebay criminals

I recently had the misfortune of being ripped-off on EBay by antiquechina2009.

I am writing this up so that others can avoid the same mistake and choose a reputable supplier instead.

The whole chain of events is below :-

I bought an Android 4.2 TV Player VGA BOX Dual Core HDMI 2.5in HDD 1080P DLNA Wifi EU Plug from antiquechina2009 via ebay.
Item ID = 300933201327 , Cost = US $82.95 , Transaction ID = 1018465368020

I had hoped to reduce our power usage by switching from old power-hungry desktop PCs to a smaller Android device.

Order Dispatched.

Item received.
I plugged the device into our Fujitsu monitors but the display is extremely fuzzy.
You can see how fuzzy it is for yourself :-


Contacted antiquechina2009 complaining of fuzzy VGA display , included photos.

antiquechina2009 replied asking for photos.

I replied with a link to another gallery of photos of the fuzzy VGA output.

No response so I email more photos of the fuzzy output via EBay.

antiquechina2009 asks me to return faulty device for a replacement.

I reply asking for a refund as I don’t believe a replacement unit will be any better.

antiquechina2009 replies saying they are on holiday until 2014-10-06

I reply reiterating I do not want a replacement I want a refund.

antiquechina2009 replies asking me to return faulty unit.

I package the faulty unit up and return to antiquechina2009 – cost 28.65 euros.

antiquechina2009 promises “if tracking shows delivered will refund.”

I reply “Its been 16 days since I sent the Android PC back , has it arrived yet ?”

I reply “Its been 20 days since I returned this faulty item as per your instructions.
I would like you to refund the $78.80 for the item and the 28.65 euros for the return carriage now.”

I start paypal dispute PP-003-495-527-938

Paypal dispute closed as its over 45 days since purchase date.

I reply via EBay – “The faulty android device was shown as delivered on 2014-10-16.
Please see attached screenshot from website.”

I wrote my negative feedback of dealing with antiquechina2009.

antiquechina2009 – “we will refund after negative feedback changed . do you agree?”

Me – “When I receive the refund I will gladly revise the feedback.”

Me – “You promised to refund me after you received the returned device on 2014-10-16 and you didn’t.”
This negative feedback is the only leverage I have that you refund me.
You have had my money for two months.
You have had the returned device for two weeks.
I have done everything you asked.
Look at my 100% positive Feedback.#
Member since: 10 Nov, 2002.
Please just refund me so this can all be completed amicably.

antiquechina2009 – “after you revise feedback .we will refund you .”

I called EBay and spent 30 minutes on hold , of course they are unable to help , so much for their EBAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE.
The EBay agent put me through to PayPal , unsurprisingly they too are unable to help as its over 45 days.
As we paid via Direct Debit instead of a credit card the Bank also cannot help.

Wrote up this blog post from notes and communications via EBay Messaging.

antiquechina2009 – “after you revise feedback .we will refund you .”
Me – “what do you want me to write in the revised feedback follow-up comment ?”

Having a read through the EBay Feedback extortion policy.

Me – “what exactly do you want me to write in the revised feedback follow-up comment that will guarantee a refund ?”
antiquechina2009 – “revise feedback and we send you request for revise .okay ?”
Me – “sure , you tell me exactly what want me to write in the revised feedback follow-up comment that will guarantee a refund and i’ll do it.”

antiquechina2009 – “ok .”
Me – Please issue the refund.

I used the EBay Feedback extortion policy page to contact EBay about AntiqueChina2009 extorting me just to get a refund. No response.

Received an email from EBay asking if I want to revise feedback – “antiquechina2009 is requesting that you revise the original Feedback you left for Android 4.2 TV Player VGA BOX Dual Core HDMI 2.5in HDD 1080P DLNA Wifi EU Plug (300933201327).”

antiquechina2009 – “I just send you a request , if you can change feedback”

I visited the Feedback Update page and guiltily changed it from Negative with a correct description of the problem to a Positive review containing just “ok .”

Me – “feedback changed , awaiting refund.”

antiquechina2009 – “we will refund full back in 1 day .”

I received an email from PayPal informing me I had been refunded for the faulty device.
No refund for the 28.65 euros for the return carriage.


Updated my feedback for antiquechina2009 – “device faulty, seller extorted positive review for refund.


Got this reply from EBay about the Feedback Extortion from antiquechina2009 :-

Hello Mark,

Thanks for contacting us again and for reporting “antiquechina2009” for a case of Feedback extortion. I appreciate your time bringing this matter to our attention and I have treated the importance of this matter with high urgency.

Before I proceed, I would like to extend my deepest apologies for the delay in our response as we are currently dealing with an unusually large number of email enquiries. Please be assured that your business matters to us and we are working as hard as possible to address all of your concerns promptly.

Based on the evidences we’ve gathered from our Messaging System, I can confirm that this member is indeed in breach of our Feedback extortion policy. Generally, Feedback extortion covers most situations in which one member threatens another with the use of Feedback unless a request is met. For this policy, the term “Feedback” includes all ratings and / or any detailed seller rating (DSR).

Should you wish to learn more information regarding eBay’s Feedback extortion policy, you may refer to this page:

Please treat this as a formal complaint against “antiquechina2009” and everything is well documented. For your reference here’s your incident ID: SR 1-38226638017. Our member’s safety is of utmost importance to us which is why we keep all reports anonymously. In the same manner, even if reported accounts seem to be active, it doesn’t mean we haven’t taken any action.

Here in eBay, our aim is to always keep you protected. We make sure that the appropriate sanction has been placed against the reported member which will affect their selling or buying privileges within the eBay community. Rest assured that close monitoring on your reported member is already in place and should there be a strong pattern of unreasonable behaviour, severe action will be taken that could lead to temporary or indefinite suspension of their eBay account.

Mark, it was a pleasure taking time helping you with your concern today and we appreciate having you in our community. Once again, thanks for taking the time to forward this information to us as we rely on dedicated members such as yourself to help us keep eBay a safe and reputable place to buy and sell.

Kind regards,

Febe C.
eBay Trust and Safety

Lessons learned

I doubt I will ever buy anything from a Chinese seller again using EBay.

DPD UK fail

On 20140818 I ordered a Raspberry Pi from New IT , unfortunately they decided to use DPD UK to deliver it.

The parcel took three days to get from New IT to our nearest depot.

The delivery person supposedly couldn’t find our house , but that’s odd as both our road and house are very clearly labelled.
This isn’t even our first DPD UK delivery , twice last year I ordered equipment from Bargain Hardware , that all arrived perfectly.

The worst part however is that they just abandoned our parcel in the warehouse , for two weeks.
DPD UK didn’t bother to contact us even though they had our address and phone number.

I contacted DPD UK yesterday via their Make It Right service only to be told their ‘International Team’ would contact me within 24 hours , this turned out to be bullshit , but the parcel is now miraculously heading in the right direction again.

I will update this post with the outcome.

HPR1528 – Wildswimming in France


My audio recording / podcast episode is up at Hacker Public Radio , episode 1528.

In this episode I take a swim along a section of the Charente river near Chatain in the Poitou-Charente region of France.

I start upstream at the bridge and go down as far as the weir , then back.

On the way I describe some of the things I am seeing , I pass some cows and a couple of French fishermen.

Apologies for the audio quality and panting, this was recorded by an old MP3 player cable-tied to a wooly hat.