The Umidigi F1 Smartphone

So many phones out there, so much choice, so much rubbish. When it came to updating my own phone last year, I took advice from my friend Antonio (Mr Shark) and went for the Xiaomi Pocophone F1 and as it turns out, it was good advice as the phone is an absolute winner. More of that elsewhere.

Umidigi F1

Now it is my wife’s turn and today we took delivery of the Umidigi F1 phone from Banggood – looking like a winner already.Photo taken with Umidigi F1

The phone arrived here safely in deepest rural Spain, tracked and on time along with a separately shipped glass screen protector. 16/4/2019 - Above image taken this morning with the F1 back camera – no adjustments or enhancements.

More photos and video soon but right now it is pouring down here in Southern Spain.

My experience from opening the Umidigi package through to  actual phone use is that of a high-end model phone – from the boxing and thank-you card from Umidigi themselves through the packaging effort by Banggood and to the phone and accessories, everything looks top notch. As I understand it, for the next few days at least (18/4/2019) Banggood have this phone at 170 Euros – OR  you could splash out on a new self-destruct flagship – the obscenely expensive Samsung Galaxy Fold that appears to be giving reviewers a hard time by inconveniently failing.

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The Summer Begins

We’re back in Spain (Galera) for the summer, time to upgrade my home control setup to the latest ESP-GO and Tasmota versions not to mention some Node-Red and other updates and improvements. More on all of that later, but first things first – new toys on the way soon include the new upgraded Sonoffs from Itead.

I understand the upgraded Sonoffs will surface in May and I have a couple on the way, meanwhile a heads-up. The casing of these (still) low-cost mains control devices looks to be improved at last – with a new smoother, more rounded finish. There is a new “DIY” API which promises to do away with the need to re-flash the devices for custom home control.. and more.  As pointed out by reader “Smithy” the new Sonoff is claimed to be “MQTT-enabled” – more on that when I get samples…

Apparently MQTT-enabled Sonoff

Sonoff R3

If you’re not familiar with Sonoff, they are Alexa-compatible mains control units. More on that in May with luck.

First of my summer toys is a Bluetooth keyboard called an “Anne Pro 2” courtesy of Banggood. This is a compact (i.e. no room for cursor keys or separate numeric keypad) keyboard, USB rechargeable, substantial and very pretty. I’m no longer a DropBox user thanks to new device number restrictions on free accounts and the realisation that I could do a better job with my Synology NAS drive and a VPN. Having moved from the UK to Spain for the summer once again I was faced with lugging my computer and bulky NAS (Network Addressable Storage)  box over here or arranging remote access. With limited room in the car for the drive over here, I chose the latter.

So here, courtesy of a combination of mobile phone, PC, remote (UK) NAS and SnapSeed for Android, are some photos to start the ball rolling.  I have no idea why the box shows a white keyboard as mine is black, but here it is…Anne Pro 2 Bluetooth keyboard

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Home Control 2019 and ESP-GO

Introduction (Latest update April 03, 2019)

HomeMinor update here - I've gone back to SDK 2.1 for now.

Sick of reading about other people’s home control? Want to make your own? Got some electronics and software experience? You’re going to LOVE THIS! Rock-solid home control, flexible, low cost, DIY.

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The Thermostat Continues

Hard to believe the amount of time I’ve spent on this thing. I’m still too deeply buried in R&D right now to fully develop another full article on my thermostat but here is some info to add to the previous blog entry on the subject. My Node-Red/ESP-GO thermostat is now in operation with three stat heads, 2 in active service as one has an issue whereby it locks up occasionally, maybe once a day, maybe once every couple of days – unpredictable – a hardware reset brings it back – but I need to get to the bottom of it – the other two units don’t do that.

The 2.5w laser engraver turned out to be less of a blessing than it first seemed, thanks to it’s inability to handle clear Perspex (does a lovely job on coloured material) I’ve had to go back to traditional DIY techniques for this project.

While I’m here, I’ve just reduced the e-newsletter frequency as we’re getting ready for the summer exodus to the sun and that will impact my writing ability somewhat until early April when I hope to have lots of new toys to talk about.

I’ve now published updates to ESP-GO-3 using Espressif Non-OS SDK 3.1 – which in itself is still only on GIT at the time of writing but seems to work a treat. My thanks to helpers on the Espressif forum – I didn’t really need this for current projects but the 5K of saved iRam gives me bags of room for expansion, so now was as good a time as any to upgrade to the latest SDK. Perhaps in the summer I’ll take a look at a better web interface and more SSID options.

Some new visuals – here is my Grafana logging – accessible externally thanks to PIVPN as is the stat itself.

Grafana Logging for Pete's Stat

Above is my Grafana info screen – monitoring and logging the two stats (main and aux – I have a third on test, all have now survived power cycling both for the stats and  Node-Red without failure or needing intervention) but I’ve seen dropout after 2-3 days needing power cycling on one of them so the jury is still out). I’m also monitoring (temperature in the hot water tank cupboard from the mains controller supplying on-off instructions to the air—source heating system.

Lots more below the line…

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Bakeey M30 Smart Watch

Update April 2019: Here’s a recent acquisition, the Bakeey M30 IP67 Smart Watch.. this one is dirt cheap – but more importantly, it looks nice and WORKS A TREAT – in the months I’ve been using it, the M30 is already my favourite inexpensive sports watch.

M30 Smart Watch

Bakeey M30 IP67 Waterproof Smart Watch -- https://goo.gl/y1U2Lt

What makes this different to others? Well, given pricing, some have terrible charging facilities or poor battery life or limited features. Battery life is very good compared to other smart-watches I’ve tested… at the time of writing, I charged this watch back in the UK a week ago and the battery is currently sitting at around 80% – compare that with the (granted - technically superior) Apple watch. One annoyance: when cycling modes I can’t find a shortcut to get back to simply showing the time.

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Handy Node-Red Date

While working on my thermostat I found myself repeating the same code all over the place – as I use function nodes for inline debugging and info – far more useful at times than the debug output.

I’ve now attached this simple code here to a function in my init page. I can use the global var “handyDate” all over the place as many times as required. This function is triggered by an inject node every second. I could have converted the timestamp info from the trigger but this is just as easy.

    var date = new Date();

    var hour = date.getHours();
    hour = (hour < 10 ? "0" : "") + hour;

    var min  = date.getMinutes();
    min = (min < 10 ? "0" : "") + min;

    var sec  = date.getSeconds();
    sec = (sec < 10 ? "0" : "") + sec;

    var year = date.getFullYear();

    var month = date.getMonth() + 1;
    month = (month < 10 ? "0" : "") + month;

    var day  = date.getDate();
    day = (day < 10 ? "0" : "") + day;

global.set("handyDate"," at " + hour + ":" + min + ":" + sec + " on " + day + "/" + month + "/" + year);

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The 2019 Thermostat ReThink

Back in 2017 I wrote a blog entry called “A Thermostat Weekend” – some weekend that turned out to be. Well, to cut a long story short, the stat worked but I was at the time just finding out all about NEST and other modern stats and so my ESP-GO/Node-Red thermostat development started gathering dust.

Then we fitted a new Air Source Heat Pump heating system and it looked like my thermostat skills might be redundant. This new system came with a Salus IT 5000 Thermostat – absolutely lovely App, nice display and this I thought would well and truly bury my interest. How wrong could I be.

Stat web interface

Here is the latest version of my stat web display (Dashboard) – I removed the redundant FROST setting and improved the formatting today (29/02/2019). More soon no doubt

I found some issues with the original QDTECH display in terms of reset reliability bearing in mind I’m short of IO pins and reset is hooked to processor reset (I just realised I can reclaim SS pin and potentially use it to reset the display) and I’ve changed to an ILI9341 for the final version as well as fixing some bugs with AWAY timing, VASTLY improving the web stat (Dashboard) css and adding multi-functions to the two available inputs – so that “up” and “down become “auto” if pressed simultaneously OR if either of the two buttons are long-pressed. The larger display also shows full time, day and date as well as “away” status. Also not yet shown here but I’m considering touch panels for up and down depending on Aidan’s perspex engraving skills.

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EleksMaker Pro Laser Engraver

Update February 28, 2019
Last year year I put together this excellent A3 laser engraving machine. Originally, a 500mW laser module arrived complete with its own power supply (the laser which was not included in the basic kit). It turns out that was the wrong laser and now I have the 2300mW violet laser complete with upgraded 2.5A power supply. In the photo you also see the (important) green protective glasses that came with the kit.

Cutting door signs with Eleksmaker

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Digital Mini Inclinometer

InclinometerAnother item in the post this morning – for when the old fashioned inclinometer will no longer do – how about one powered by a pair of AAA batteries… this one came complete with full English instructions from GearBest.

A neat little gadget, the “Mini Digital Protractor Inclinometer Angle Gauge” is around £12.40 (free shipping)  and while not something most of us would use every day, is a lot more convenient than my old spirit inclinometer and probably more accurate. I end up using such tools pretty much on a once-a-week basis.

Here’s the link: https://goo.gl/sBVWVT

Resolution 0.05 degree, accuracy +-0.2 degrees, repeatability 0.1 degree.

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Bosch Go Professional Screwdriver

Today in the post I received a Bosch Go Professional Screwdriver from GearBest.

Here’s the link: https://goo.gl/3FD61q

Every word of the manual was in Chinese – but thanks to Google I immediately found the multilingual pdf manual online complete with a comprehensive English section.

Bosch Go Screwdriver

As it turns out, the manual isn’t really needed, well, I didn’t need it anyway. Plug the screwdriver into any USB power unit  (or any handy USB supply) - with the lead supplied – (that’s what I did) and lo, a short time later, one fully charged screwdriver. Of course it was probably most of the way there before I started.

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