HoldPeak HP-770D Multimeter

Here’s a little winner… this is a 5-digit multimeter with analog bar-graph which just came in from Banggood. I’ve only had a brief play and I love it already. On the principle that a picture is worth 1000 words, here are some pictures.


So, it’s a multimeter, it has an analog bar-graph, it measures temperature (with or without the supplied thermocouple lead), it has contact-free mains presence measuring, an AUTOMATIC backlight (that’s nice), the meter comes complete with leads and a nice cloth case. Packaging was good. Instructions come on an A4 double-sided sheet in good English.

The picture below shows both basic and general functions:

meter functions


meterHere is the actual meter… I won’t go through the basic specs, it’s a multimeter for heaven’s sake. There are a few things worth mentioning in addition to above however: the HP-770D has a nice, solid feel, runs off a 9v battery (I used a rechargeable), auto/manual ranging, transistor testing, diode checking with audio, hold, max and min hold, frequency measurement, way better than 1% accuracy except AC voltages, frequency resolution 1Khz at 10 Mhz. It also measures capacitance.

Overall I like it. To do this justice I’ll come back to this after some real world use.


Koogeek FG5 Bluetooth Smart Massager

Some weeks ago when we were still in Spain I got a call to say my new Koogeek Bluetooth massager was on it’s way. Well, it never turned up and I forgot all about it, so imagine our surprise today when we opened the mail to find an unexpected set of Apple-like Bluetooth headphones, only to discover after several attempts to fit the earphone pods on our ears (in the car during a shopping trip) that the package that arrived today was NOT in fact a set of Bluetooth headphones but the long-awaited Koogeek massager. A friend of ours in Spain had kindly shipped the package on to the UK.

Koogeek Massager

Continue reading Koogeek FG5 Bluetooth Smart Massager


Solar 90 LED Motion Sensor Light

First item in the mailbag today – a solar powered 90 LED motion sensor wall light from Banggood - https://goo.gl/6MuhMc

At £37 this isn’t the price of your average garden light, but then it isn’t your average garden light. Yes, that’s 90 high intensity LEDs with movement sensing and 4 power settings and off, all controlled by a single tiny (hopefully) waterproof button.

Here’s the (miserable autumn Northeastern UK) daylight shot… mounted on my office wall…

Garden light

and the altogether more useful night-time shot…

Garden light

Continue reading Solar 90 LED Motion Sensor Light


Fingertip Pulse Oximeter from GearBest

Here’s something you might find useful if you are interested in your pulse and blood oxygen levels (and don’t have a suitably equipped smart bracelet). For under £12 sterling, this handy device from GearBest might just do the trick.  https://goo.gl/rUD87b

Fingertip Pulse Oximeter

Fingertip Pulse/OximeterSimply pop in a finger and press the button. The gadget works in all 4 orientations and gives clear, bright readings, uses 2 AAA batteries and claims 2-3% accuracy, more I think than some smart bracelets.

How about continuous reading and a handy bar graph in the middle.

The unit works over a wider range of temperature than I do. And no, it doesn’t poke any holes in you. I had no idea my blood oxygen levels varied so much. I just happened to pop into the house do demo to my wife and as it happened a nurse friend of ours was over and explained the effect that deep breathing has on this. Now I can actually take live measurements it is a lot less abstract than before today.  Good gadget.


DIN Rail Current and Voltage Meter

MeterI just received one of these DIN-rail units from GearBest – and the price isn’t bad at £7.73 (sterling)… inc free shipping to the UK.  https://goo.gl/aQYcqU

At first I could not understand how they managed with two wires. Simple really. A pair of connections take in mains power (for the meter) and you feed neutral directly to the load and the live by a suitably thick cable through a round vertical hole and off to your load (or a breaker as required). The current measurement works like a standard clamp meter using magnetic induction. 

This unit measures from 80-300v and from 1-99 amps and hence could be used for measuring power to one device or the whole house depending on your house. Only tackle this it you are comfortable handling mains voltages and have suitable experience. If you blow yourself up, no responsibility accepted.

Personally I plan to use it to measure the appliances in our kitchen as I’m convinced that’s where the bulk of our power goes. Of course you don’t HAVE to mount it on a DIN rail.

Wiring info


K88H Smart Watch Heart Rate Monitor

In the latest postbag: K88H Smart Watcha black K88H smartwatch from Gearbest. This truly is one of the better choices in the low-cost smartwatch space.

First of all, it looks lovely.  Unlike many smartbands, the battery will easily outlast a day, I’ve not had it long enough to be more precise. Not only that but the touch-charging connection is magnetic, won’t easily dislodge and looks solid. Here’s the link -


The watch has a solid metal feel to it, is not overly thick, has a nice smooth screen and brilliance is ok for outdoor use. But this isn’t just any old heart-rate monitoring watch, it can also dial out and receive calls using your mobile phone. A number of watch-faces are built-in too. The black leather strap has a quality feel to it.

You can easily download the FunDo Wear app for Android or IOS and this is used to pair the watch to your phone. Watch packaging was unremarkable but solid and the MTK2502-powered watch comes complete with charge lead which plugs into any USB supply.

Heart rate monitoringHow about sleep monitoring, “Siri” (not a lot of use to us Android users, the watch is able to talk to both Android and Apple phones), heart rate and sedentary monitoring, voice memo, stopwatch, motion control, calculator and (obviously) clock. The watch has a choice of 2 GUIs and 3 theme options.

The strap mounting is standard and hence if need be can be replaced.

I found Bluetooth connection to be finnicky but that could well be my phone. My only gripe is one common to most of the cheaper watches – no real warning when the battery is about to die. My Samsung Gear 2 gives me several hours warning and reduced brightness before giving up bu then it does cost £200 – the K88H costs under £30

Overall, at the price this looks like a winner up to now.


The Wall Display

ESP8266 Wall DisplayThis blog has been updated as I've discovered that these displays are, after all, still freely available from AliExpress. I’ve recently spent time working on my hallway wall display, an amount of time which would be considered commercial suicide. Good job it isn’t commercial.

Of course I’ve not just been working on the pretty colours – I’ve revamped the control codes for the ESP8266-driven controller twice, discovered and fixed an OTA flaw in the code, re-hashed the Node-Red driving code, found and fixed countless other bits and pieces… you know – in other words – pretty much revamped everything just to improve a simple display.

Continue reading The Wall Display


The Death of S6D02A1 Displays?

S6D02A1 Alive and Well?

That title as it happens was a bit premature. Those of you who have been following this blog for sometime will know that the ESP-GO project supports, amongst others, little LCD displays based around the S6D02A1 chip – and has done from the beginning. This VERY inexpensive display is full colour and supports 160 x 128 pixels.

For a while, it seemed to have gone out of favour as a scour around the web for a while including AliExpress showed none of these, only alternatives which are more expensive.

Meanwhile, I ordered a sample ST7735-based board from Ebay at £2.77, GREAT but the overall size is slightly wider. There are drivers for Raspberry Pi out there, I’m not sure but I’ve not seen S6D02A1 drivers for the Pi – anyone know better?

Meanwhile, one reader said he had found an AliExpress ad for the S6D02A1 boards and since then I’ve found several, as low as £2.51 + 13p shipping to the UK. Here’s an example: https://tech.scargill.net/yourls/s6d02a1

I know some other readers use these, too. If anyone has a half decent S6D02A1 driver for the Pi (Python) do let me know.  ESP-GO supports this display.




Before we start, here is a link to the PIVPN site http://www.pivpn.io/ also to Pi-hole: https://pi-hole.net/ and thanks to Loic74 - https://marcstan.net/blog/2017/06/25/PiVPN-and-Pi-hole/

Like most normal people I find the subject of backups and secure VPNs to be torturous and boring. I’ve covered backups elsewhere since discovering the absolute importance of being able to do them easily but only now have I discovered the fun and relevance of having my own domain blocker to stop some of the ads coming in.

Recently, after months of on and off investigation into VPNs (mostly off) I stumbled across PIVPN. For the majority out there who are turned off by the subject… this is REALLY, REALLY easy and the PI does a great job of being a VPN server while doing other jobs. It also easily handles Pi-hole and hence can do blacklisting and whitelisting for your whole network.

Continue reading PIVPN and PI-HOLE


DANIU A99 2MP USB/microUSB Boroscope

Bright LEDs on this boroscopeHere’s the full item description as supplied by Banggood.

DANIU A99 720P 2MP Tube Camera -- https://goo.gl/njddmw

Good toy. In order to use it with Windows, you need to download www.kkmoon.com/pc.rar and for Android: www.kkmoon.com/an99.apk

Danui camera from BanggoodExcept when you don’t. In my case, the USB/microUSB interface is no good for my phone (USB C) but I found that as soon as I plugged the camera into my PC (Windows 10) it was immediately recognised as a USB 2 camera and the standard “camera” app on Windows ran with it, no problem.

So I didn’t need to install ANYTHING. There are attachments for checking teeth or other body parts (45 degree mirror in a tube) but I figured you would prefer I NOT demo that facility.

Initial impression: does as it says – good, stable image, (in my case) trivial installation, full colour, readable instructions. A USB C option would have been nice but I guess you can’t please everyone. The (metal) unit is IP67 waterproof, whatever that means.


Raspberry Pi GPIO Zero

For simple (and not so simple) IO control on the Pi without worrying about access control and SUDO etc. all of which can get in the way of having fun, you can use the GPIO Zero library and API – rather than go into detail I’ll refer you to the Raspberry Pi site..


Examples of use:




That lot covers everything from simple IO to SPI, I2c and serial. What more could you want (yes, I know, drivers for every device on the planet). I’ve played with PWM and digital LED output which works as you’d expect.

I’m on a roll now and having turned on SPI (SPI0 and SPI1) with the command line RASPI-CONFIG, I’ve just installed SPI-DEV (https://pypi.org/project/spidev/) using:

sudo pip install spi-dev

There are several libraries out there for driving various displays… and so now, adding displays and buttons to the PI gets very simple.


H96 Max Plus USB 3 TV Box

imageThe H96 is, how can I put it, Wonderful. It has Android 8.1, both WIFI and high speed Ethernet, 4k HD video ((yes, I have a 4K TV) 32GB storage (4GB internal RAM), USB 3.0, HDMI output and more. At the time of writing, it is a very low £38.87 at Banggood.

At this point I would normally send you off to look at the ad but in this case you might be put off as it is the usual gloss complete with language errors. The unit deserves so much more.

I’ve tried all manner of TV boxes from PCB level Android units to full blown Android TV. The former generally work but often need some technical knowledge to set up and often come with old versions of Android, The Android TV units are, in my experience, a let-down.

Quick screen grabWho wants the restricted content and stripped down Android TV Playstore. Indeed, the only thing up to now I can’t get this box to run is NowTV and I think that is a SKY restriction more than a problem with the unit as I cannot get any other Android unit to fire off NowTV to the big screen.  Netflix is fine, Amazon TV is fine, YouTube is fine and unlike the Roku, there is a VPN facility for those of us who travel overseas. The IPlayer as yet does not seem to want to know Android 8.1 but the BBC Radio IPlayer works a treat. Meanwhile my SmartTV handles the normal IPlayer no problem. I’ve installed a ton of apps such as TEDTV but it would take weeks to do justice to all of them. Thanks to the 4K RAM and 32GB built-in memory (expandable my uSD) there seems to be almost no limit in sight to what I can put into this box. I’m determined  to crack NowTV rather than buy another unit just for that.

H96 Max Plus TV Box

As usual with these units, initially I noted some edge content missing off-screen but in this case a very simple and very welcome zoom facility immediately corrected the issue – end of story – no technical knowledge required. I now have a perfect picture. I DO have a slight issue with the remote control which seems to be missing the odd useful button. I added a USB mouse into the mix until I figure it all out. In Amazon Prime I was having trouble starting a video once selected. as the OK button didn’t do what I expected it to.. I’ll get there, meanwhile I am amazed at how well this is working with my “bargain” Aldi 4K TV. The overall result is stunning and trust me, I’m no novice to HD TV.

The unit displays a “skin” but unlike Android TV you can get to normal settings and the full Android Play Store without issue.


I cannot stress enough that my crude screenshots are not intended to convey the quality out of this unit. Hopefully they do help otherwise. Not ALL of these packages were installed by default but took seconds to get from the Playstore. I should point out that the Netflix and Prime apps are free but you will need subscriptions to these services of course.


If you need more storage, the unit has sockets for both USB sticks and uSD.

Here’s the link - H96 Max Plus RK3328 Android 8.1 USB3.0 TV Box -- https://goo.gl/oS5DRB

More Android TV Boxes -- https://goo.gl/UxpC64  Continue reading H96 Max Plus USB 3 TV Box