Blynk update

When I was here in Spain (2018) in April working on the house controller, the mobile control package I keep going back to (Blynk) was improving but the RGB ZeRGBa (RGB)control was acting up when you put two or more on a single mobile screen. I put that to one side, disappointed (and yes I did talk to the designers).


Meanwhile a new control had been added, a multi-state switch. This is very important as you may for example have lighting control that needs manual off, auto (timer) or manual on.  Back in April this was new and had issues.

I’m pleased to say that in both cases the problems have been solved. Much as I love Node-Red for the base of home control, it has to be said that the RGB controller in Node-Rd-Dashboard is AWFUL and last I heard there was little chance of a fix.

So, it looks like Blynk gets the job with Node-Red as the base. I’m hoping the local server has also improved (there was an issue with Java versions also around April. I’ll check that next). Meanwhile I can definitely recommend Blynk to anyone working on a generic home control system. I’m using it with Node-Red.


Auto Aligning Solar Tracker

My  friend Aidan who many of you will know through this blog, has just put an entry into Hackaday about his self-powered, auto aligning solar tracker. He is building a house in Aragon in Spain with no electricity but he’s compensating for that with lots of solar power – which in turn needs a tracking system. In true DIY fashion, Aidan is developing that himself.

Aidan's solar tracker PCB

If you’d like to know more, here’s the Hackaday link.


OWSOO 801 1080p WiFi IP Camera

I've had security cameras here in Spain and in the UK for many years. My original cameras, low cost Chinese models here in Spain, finally started to give up this year after around 8 years of reliable service. I chose the Owsoo 801 (also referred to as KKMoon) ONVIF cameras as replacements.Owsoo camera

Not exactly household names – and there are many cheap Chinese models out there… why these? Well, they are not waterproof but they DO have remote movement control. Together with a roof overhang here in Spain of around 8” I find this to be a good combination and the similar looking Tenvis models before them, lasted for years in the same conditions these will meet. . At first I realised I could not get to the MAC number of these which I felt might make it difficult to access them remotely.

Then I remembered my router has VPN server capability and the problem of external access went away.

Continue reading OWSOO 801 1080p WiFi IP Camera


The 2300mW Laser for EleksLaser

This is definitely looking like a good day… here’s the second item in today’s post, the long-awaited laser for my EleksMaker Laser Engraver….

EleksMaker Laser

EleksMaker Laser

See updates to original EleksMaker engraver blog entry for more. I am SO excited that this blue laser has turned up complete with upgraded 2.5A power supply and connector – and after focussing (manual) works a treat. I have it set on low power right now until I get to be good at this.
® EleksLaser-A3 Pro Laser Engraving Machine --
LA03-500 405nm 500mW Blue Laser Module With Heat Sink --\
2300mW Blue Laser Module  --
Wholesale Laser Equipment --
Warehouse --


ISDT Smart Charger C4

As you can imagine, I’ve looked at many chargers, lots of them have proven to be disappointing, many are just plain boring. Early days but this ISDT C4 charger (from Banggood) looks neither. Indeed it looks marvellous.

C4 Charger

From initial impression through to operation this looks like a complete winner to me up to now. 4 sides of the manual are in English, certainly enough to get started. The unit does charging, discharging, storage charging, activation (for batteries that look dead, I so wish other chargers would do this), analysis and USB charging (to charge phones)….

Continue reading ISDT Smart Charger C4


EleksMaker Pro Laser Engraver

Update June 29 2018

After much delay and I have to say patience from Banggood, I have now put together this A3 laser engraving machine. Originally, a 500mW 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 green protective glasses that came with the kit.


It is important to note that this is not a toy. Never fire up without the glasses and also be wary of reflective surfaces when the laser is on. It is powerful enough to do damage (obviously, it is used for engraving).

Laser Engraver

And here it is, up and running at last. I have some cardboard in there and clearly the unit has the capacity to engrave, however, it came out with vague edges so I have some focusing to do, preferably without putting my eyes in peril. I need a little more info for that.

Seemed like a good idea relying on mobile signals instead of high speed broadband for a week o so before heading off to Spain… well,, it SEEMED a good idea at the time, but now I’ve used some considerable downloads to get this laser set up precisely.


Attempt 1. Very small text (14pt in computer printer terms). Came out in reverse, but even using the LOW setting on the laser thinking I might test paper for speed, I managed to go clean through half a dozen sheets. Clearly I need to master the use of speed. However, everything worked and now I know there is no shortage of available power.

Sitting on a box, this A3 engraver has yet to be tidied up but if you want promotion pictures there are lots of websites for that.


The important thing is, this photo shows the complete Banggood-supplied EleksMaker Laser Engraver and NOW I have some decent software to run with the laser (which does not have microswitch end stops before you ask – I may add those later. I have a copy of Lightburn 0.7.02 which works a treat for me on Windows 10 64 bit. The LightBurn company were very helpful when I had questions.

Continue reading EleksMaker Pro Laser Engraver


The Tattu Wall Charger

Full of excitement, I opened the mail this morning to find my shiny new TATTU wall charger from here

Tattu charger

The excitement took a momentary hit as  I soon discovered that my Qubot Note+ smartphone does not handle the high speed Quick Charge 3 option which would have been indicated on the front of the charger in green, instead I got the normal charging blue light.

Meanwhile I tested my wife’s HTC phone and sure enough, the charger’s green Quick Charge 3 light came straight on and her phone began rapid charge. MAGIC.

Not that long after, the phone was fully charged. Perhaps my Doogee Mix 2 will similarly charge quickly when it comes back from the repair shop.

When purchased in the UK the TATTU

unit comes complete with both UK and EU detachable plugs, is small and looks well made. In the US Amazon store they have the American version which will have a US mains plug.


NanoPC T4 from FriendlyArm

I’ve been itching to say SOMETHING about this new SBC board from FriendlyArm. This  clearly is not meant to compete with the Raspberry Pi – not at the price –it is meant to blow it away. The NanoPC-T4 is “by far the smallest RK3399 based high performance ARM board with popular ports and interfaces” according to FriendlyArm.

At 100mm x 64mm the board is comparable to other SBCs out there but comes complete with 4GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, 4K video, 2 camera inputs, USB3, Gigabit Ethernet and so much more, at a correspondingly premium price.


Continue reading NanoPC T4 from FriendlyArm


Orange Pi Plus 2E revisited

I’ll not review this as I’ve already reviewed the Plus 2E.. but I recently ordered another one as my enthusiasm for the Plus2E, despite my overall dim view of Orange Pi, is a smashing board – everything  just works.

Orange Pi Plus 2E

The Orange Pi Plus2E (in brief) has 16GB eMMc, 2GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet and WIFI, IR sensor, microphone and lots more. It is an H3-based board so not state of the art but very powerful and easy to use. I tested multiple serial ports and multiple I2c channels and they just work. See my original review for more.

Continue reading Orange Pi Plus 2E revisited


DSO Module for LAP-C

Some of you will recall that last year I wrote about the excellent ZeroPlus Logic Cube PC-based logic analyser – part of their LAP-C series.  To make life easy, here’s the original article -

DSO module for ZeroPlus

The Logic Cube is a great all round logic analyser in a handy case and now is now also an oscilloscope thanks to the DSO module which comes complete with the needed connectors and a pair of quality scope leads as well as instructions in a handy box.

Continue reading DSO Module for LAP-C


Allmaybe USB Wall Charger

The last item (or pair of items) today are the strangely named Allmaybe USB wall charger (American fitting) complete with universal mains adaptor (US/EU/UK).

Maximum USB rating 3.5 amps total from the dual outputs.  Granted the name is odd, but this equipment packs plenty of power and looks well constructed. In addition the adaptor has it's own supply and four USB outputs.

Allmaybe charger with universal adaptor

Banggood links:

Allmaybe EU2-ST LCD Screen 2Ports USB Wall Charger--

All in One Universal International Plug Adapter --

10% off Wholesale Electronics (EU Warehouse)-- (code: EUELE10)