Category Archives: Uncategorized

Free Dials and Buttons

I wonder if we can all do each other favour here.  Every time I go looking for buttons, slide switches, gauges etc for my projects – like the Nextion – at least 90% of the so called FREE ICONs and PNGs – by the time you get to it – it’s owned by Getty and Corbis or similar and they want ridiculous amounts of money for them.

Can those who have links to DECENT, free home-control/IOT style icons please put links in here so they’re all in one place… 

I found these,,

But they are PSD and I’m afraid GIMP really does not like them – large transparent PNG files like this would be marvelous – the first set of on-off buttons on that page look great – and free but I for one don’t have the tools to turn them into transparent PNG……


Enter the Pixie Pro

This morning I went off to the post office to pick my new new Pixie Pro – making sure that the tax man got his share and that the post office got their rip-off “handling fee” of £8 – yes that’s £8 pounds not dollars.   Not that you have any alternative but to let them “handle” the package. You’d think the government would give them some of the duty or VAT!

Anyway I digress with my deep-seated dislike of being ripped.. Opening video – well, you have to have an opening video..



The Pixie Pro – so firstly – this is NOT one of the cheapest small PC boards  indeed for the cost of it you could buy 2 or more of the others – but then it is not just another Raspberry Pi!

Heatsink on the Pixie ProMy Pixie Pro came with a HONKING great heat sink – which bearing in mind that my Orange Pi could cook eggs, is a welcome addition. This will end up in Spain with me where it gets very warm and so a cool running board is a good start. 

Taking a look at the specification, not 512meg of 32 bit RAM, not one gig but 2GB of 64-bit DDR3 RAM!! The processor offers a quad-core ARM Cortex A9 running at 1Ghz plus 2D and 3D GPUs. The wireless interface is described as state of the art, offering 802.11b/g/n/ac. Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS and mobile broadband interfaces.  Not your average Pi then.

Underside of Pixie ProThe board measures 52mm by 91mm and has 2 USB type A ports, one OTG port, a micro-HDMI output, 2 microSD slots and a 3.5mm line out with TOSLINK optical.

No, I’m not finished – Gigabit Ethermet, PCIe, SDIO, 2 MIPI, SATA II, RGB555, USB2.0 HS, CAN, SPI, 2 Uarts, 2 I2c and several GPIO ports.

I’m done now.

So there it is – a veritable powerhouse – but is it any good – that will be the subject of my next related blog – you can have as much power as you like but without the software -  what use is it?  Now, normally I tend to put Debian on these things but I’m half inclined given the claims above, to start with Android.  Until the next time.


Monday Update

Node-Red-Contrib-UI: Just a quick update … not heard anything from Andrei re: node-red-contrib-ui recently – I could not get his experimental version to work and I’ve heard nothing since. I do hope the project is still alive. I have high hopes for it but right now the display is a bit messy.

Blynk:  the one remaining issue with that UI for me was the fact that when paused it was unaware of changes to your target board. So my assumption is that the designers figured you would ONLY control, say your Arduino or ESP from Blynk itself – the reality is that you might have a second user on Blynk – or a completely separate set of control instructions going on – so in my case I have Node-Red controlling the boards – and talking to the local Blynk server. The SERVER is aware of changes – as logging into the APP updates the display – but when the app is paused it seems unaware of changes when brought back online.  I say WAS – because as of this evening – there is an update to the APP – and you need the updated server.jar file if you’re using a local server. I’ll do a new blog on this but it all seems to work just fine… Could this be the one??

Coming soon a review of the Roseapple Pi which looks to be very powerful with 2GB of RAM and USB 3!

And that’s it for now.


Orange Pi PC Setup

Here's a new  video  as we've changed the script since the one I had up here yesterday - it takes a long time to do the install and so here is what you get when you've done the install.

The script now does it all. So - take a look at the previous blog on the subject where I refer to a Debian installation  which you need to put onto a microSD - and then copy 2 files over before utilizing it. Once you start the Orange Pi PC up - it will appear on your network as "orangepi" - you should be able to access it without referring to the IP number.

On it's own it will come up in graphical mode but I did not use that - instead I used winSCP to open it up and started a terminal session - at which point it asks you to type something in to re size the image - and reboot. Do that and come back to the terminal.

Grab the above script and put it in the /home/orangepi directory on the OrangePi - go in as that user (password orangepi) - don't vary from this - don't set up a root user or use other images etc....   once in - change the permissions on the script to give the owner execute permissions.

Then run the script in the terminal ( ./ -  at the first set of questions select a for all - and then grab coffee you will need it.  Occasionally you might be asked to select directories - go with defaults - you will also be asked for passwords - if it is the orangepi password it is orangepi - if it is for something that has been installed I suggest the same but you can use any password - I use the same one throughout.

Don't deviate - it will take over half an hour likely.  At the end the unit will reboot and you are all set - other than password security on Node-Red which you may not need anyway.  Everything should just work - ignore WARNINGS and some daft npn errors.... they look awful but it all works.

The only thing I've not been able to get working is node-red-contrib-ivona - it anyone wants to work on that I'd appreciate it.

As for ports – well I’ve installed GPIO and so this can be called from an EXEC node. Here’s a simple example:-


On power up – initialise a global variable (let’s call it to 0.

When trying to output to a port – (lets’ say 14 -  where the command is GPIO WRITE 14 1) check first to see if it has been used and if not – send a MODE command first (ie GPIO MODE 14 OUT).

Here is the code for that function.

if (( & (1<<msg.topic))===0)
    { |= (1<<msg.topic);
      var tmp=msg.payload;
      msg.payload=" mode "+msg.topic + " out";
    msg.payload=" write " + msg.topic + " " + msg.payload;
return msg;


Update October 2016 - Bill Price wrote in to comment that someone had fixed an issues with audio and so I'm including this link....



Raspberry Pi hanging on reboot

PiOk, this is a favour for my pal David Miles. He’s struggling with a PI which stops right at the last minute when powering down or rebooting – as per the image here.

I’ve never had this trouble so I’m not a good one to comment – anyone struggled and overcome this issue? If so, if you leave comments in here I’m sure he’ll spot them and respond accordingly.

And before you ask, no – still no sign of the little ESP8266/Nextion boards we ordered from China to play with.  I think they’re all on holiday over there.


Obsolete Fixed IP Tutorials

I’ve just spent half the day trying to fix the address of one of my Raspberry Pis. No matter what I did, it kept the address that it was assigned some time ago.

I even tied the IP address to MAC in the router – and THAT didn’t help. Countless resets of the router and the board got me nowhere until I read this:

My /etc/network/interfaces file didn’t look like that so I updated it… turns out in Jessie you have to update the file /etc/dhcpcd.conf

Here’s mine..

 interface eth0
       static ip_address=
       static routers=
       static domain_name_servers=

Even getting this far, some tutorials said you needed far more information than this or the Pi would not be able to contact the outside world. Well, mine does now and the address fixing works. Worth keeping that link in your bookmarks.


Happy New Year


Just wasted part of the day trying to get Python 3 working properly on an upgraded Raspberry Pi 2 updated from Wheezy to Jessie without luck – very depressing – so I think an early night (yes, on NYE – having seen the fireworks in Moscow and the “special” fireworks in Dubai I’ve had enough for one night Smile

(Update: I did get it working - I have TWO Node-Reds in there now but the latter one works).

So – to everyone  – lots happening soon, more reviews, new interesting kit, more new ideas and hopefully more exciting feedback in the new year!

Thanks to everyone looking in and I'd like to point out that I regularly go  back to older posts and update if I think something is hopelessly out of date so do look around when you're in here, I don't think the system sends out emails for such updates.



New ESP Boards

Are these new? Reader Christian brought these to my attention this evening – price is ok – and if size is at a premium….

tmpD351Small footprint,  USB-to-TTL is on the underside. This is quite interesting when space is an issue. Supplier also has a DHT11 shield:


Next is a piggyback development board with an RGB LED, a photo resistor and three buttons:




The more I dig into Node-Red the more I end up coding my own routines – and the internal function has nice colour coding etc but eventually you start to get a little frustrated with the internal editor especially if you are used to using an IDE.

tmpA7E2It just so happens that some enterprising chap has come up with a function node that allows you to use functions held in separate documents! It is called FILE FUNCTION. And so it was that I went looking for an IDE that would ease programming of the Node.JS code and hopefully other stuff as well. Code Lobster describes itself as “PHP Edition” but has plug-ins for various other languages including something that is new to me – AngularJS. So off I went for the free edition – you’ll find that here.

I ended up with the pro edition but the differences are not as marked as you might think. I was impressed by the intelligent lookup – though when editing a .JS file a little bemused as to why SOME intellisense didn’t work – for example “msg.payload.” only offered “switch” whereas I was after .substring, however it was nice to be able to look at structures I’d created and have the facilities of a full IDE – something I miss a lot when editing in Node-Red editor itself (I’m not complaining – it’s free for heaven’s sake but one always wants more).

That of course is not what Codelobster is about … it’s a PHP editor and allows for full debugging and visual development. It did catch me out – when I wrote a simple one-liner PHP program and tried to “run” the program in the preview mode. That failed of course because at least by default, Codelobster assumes you have a working local webserver “http://localhost/whatever/php” which I don’t – but that will be rectified soon.

There is FTP support – which is just as well as I edit everything on my PC and then fire it off to the Raspberry Pi!

I could rant on for ages and no doubt will at some time – but for now if you are interested in playing with their free version (which needs a key but I understand that will soon disappear) it’s in the link above.