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. 

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

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.

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

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ACEPC Intel Z8350 TV Box with Windows

Today I received a long-awaited Windows TV box in the post from Banggood. Initial impressions? Well, I’m having fun, as much fun as you can have when you’ve just been screwed over by PayPal – but that’s a different (and very frustrating) story,

ACEPC

The ACEPC T9 comes with Intel Atom x5-8350, 4GB DDR RAM and 32GB 5MMC along with 2.4G/5G WIFI, Bluetooth 4.0, USB3.0 and Windows 10.

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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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BackLit Keyboard Issues

No, not a review, yet… but I can see that coming. This is about PC backlit keyboards and the problems you can have with both cheap and expensive versions.

keyboard adsMy first gripe is the number of sellers on the web who claim to be UK based, then what you get is the US-based keyboard (hash where the POUND symbol should be and other keys out of place).

That narrows your choice down a little – the next item is just as important.

It seems that despite the optimised (often pained in) photos in the ads, that some keyboards (including both of my current keyboards) use one LED per key despite having say, numbers and symbols  either alongside or above-below… and not enough light for both. Colour-sequencing is all very nice for a gimmick but after the novelty wears off and you get down to some solid typing, often at an angle to the keyboard and with less tmp6BE0than ideal background light, you’d be better off with normal white key-tops than some of the pretty backlighting out there. On one of my keyboards, the numbers (not the number keypad) are just fine but the symbols above them are all but un-readable. Similarly with the function keys.

I’ve shown one of my keyboards in the second photo here as an example – virtually no backlighting on the “ins”,”Del” and other symbols. The first photo is a typical ad with all keys brightly lit.

Finally three other points worth mentioning: make sure you get a mechanical keyboard (the cheap ones without springs are truly awful) and check for real injection-moulded keys, not just paint around letters, symbols and numbers as the latter will wear away on frequently used keys in no time. Those wonderful colour combinations are great for a gimmick but do they include the option to go for one colour for all keys (like a nice red or green)… neither of my keyboards do, so watch out for that one.

If anyone has already been through this, comments are most welcome.

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BigTimer and getMoonTimes

I just spent ages debugging issue with theSunCalc module used in Node-Red-Contrib--BigTimer.

It turns out that the getMoonTimes module doesn’t seem to handle the alwaysUp and alwaysDown methods the way one might expected – these do not return FALSE  if not TRUE – they return undefined – that took some figuring out.

I started with try-catch but that failed also. Simply checking as follows did the trick:

if (typeof moons.rise==='undefined')
moonrise=1440;
else
{
date2=moons.rise; moonrise = (date2.getHours() * 60) +
date2.getMinutes();
}              

if (typeof moons.set==='undefined')
moonset=0;
else
{
date3=moons.set; moonset = (date3.getHours() * 60) +
date3.getMinutes();
}           

I’m pretty sure this is now fixed as of BigTimer 2.1.7

Thanks to Aidan Ruff for his help in this one.

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A good day for Alexa

Today was a good day (well, apart from the UK Northeast weather which was rubbish as it has been all year so far.  Thanks to some great help from guys on discordapp.com I discovered a cure for a phantom subnet issue that has had me worried for days now. I also found a fix to make my new Amazon Dot version 3 units work in Node-Red without being the dreaded ROOT user… so let’s get started… this blog entry is really just a record for me and a catch up for any of the guys who were helping out…

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Devices recently connected to the network

Can I give the Raspberry Pi any MORE to do? This started off as a plea for help – as I could not find a way to get reliable reporting of changed devices on my network – as you’ll see, now CRACKED thanks to readers and in particular Mr Shark.

I’ve tried Glasswire on PC, Nmap on Pi and Advanced IP scanner on PC… the latter detects devices like ESP8266 on the network no problem – but could I HELL find a way to show JUST devices connected since the last scan.

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Espressif ESP-EYE Board

I remember reading, less than a month ago, a blog entry called “The Mysterious ESP-ESP-EYEEYE" in which it is stated that there is no information on the Espressif site on this interesting little camera module. Well, I’ll correct that – there most certainly is now and here’s the link. https://www.espressif.com/en/products/hardware/esp-eye/overview

The ESP-EYE module is a little PCB with a camera and an ESP-32. Rather than print potentially out-of-date info here, I’ll just point you in the right direction for those interested. Here is a link for ordering info, the ESP-EYE Getting Started Guide and the ESP-EYE Reference Design notes all in one place. The ordering info is dated TODAY (Jan31, 2019) and the others are a few days old.

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Phone Charging Epiphany 2

Some time ago after using USB chargers (and USB battery units) since late last century and having been constantly disappointed by their performance when charging phones, I started to get very selective. At the risk of boring experts in here, a short history…

Quick ChargeThe first change I started to make was to look for short, thick USB cables…. this is always a good thing. But the real breakthrough for me was noticing that the charger that came with my phone, even though small, performed considerably better than larger generic USB supplies. Why is that you might ask? Well, you’re probably aware of “QuickCharge 2.0 and 3.0” – essentially protocols for charging those phones suitably equipped, more rapidly than normal. Though charge leads that minimise voltage drops are essential, that’s not the end of the story and there are more protocols out there than QuickCharge, not all of which are documented. See further down for QuickCharge 4.0 and car Quick Charge chargers. This is getting exciting.

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Node-Red-Contrib-Timeout

I’ve just fixed a bug in and generally improved my node-red-contrib-timeout node for Node-Red. This is as always, available at https://flows.nodered.org also at https://www.npmjs.com/package/node-red-contrib-timeout

In there, interested viewers will find that as well as the normal msg.payload showing the status, there is now also msg.countdown showing the remaining time in seconds.

tmp64E5

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K88H Smart Watch Heart Rate Monitor

Back in October 2018, I received this lovely, black K88H smart-watch from GearBest. Immediately it looked like one of the better choices for a low-cost smart-watch and here we are, months later – I’ve not changed my view.

First of all, it looks lovely.  Unlike many smart watches and bands, the battery lasts for days. Not only that but the touch-charging connection is magnetic, won’t easily dislodge and looks solid.

Follow-up 3 months + later - still not scratched, still working a treat - nice strap - here’s the GearBest link -

https://goo.gl/V3Ke95

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Adjustable Display Soldering Iron

As a DIY type you can never have too many soldering irons and this latest one has some virtues, it is CHEAP at under £18 and it has a nice display and simple temperature controls. It also uses pretty widely available bits.

Soldering Iron

Not excited about the stand but it works – and I have others. The iron however seems ok up to now and has temperature control from 180c to 480c. The cable seems substantial but of course only time will tell. Mine came with an EU plug which works well for me as I tend to lug stuff back and forth to Spain in the summer.

Adjustable Digital Display Electric Soldering Iron: https://goo.gl/188RG9

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