The Script

Regular readers will know about the script that Aidan Ruff and I originally developed to put Node-Red and several other packages onto the Raspberry Pi for our own home control purposes. This has been developed with help from several people and in particular my friend Antonio “Mr Shark”.


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Sonoff BasicR3 10A Power Controller

Sonoff BASIC R3I’m soon going to blog about the 16A Shelly One power controller and already this  summer I’ve written about the Gosund units, but regular readers will be aware that I’m a long-term fan of Sonoff and their various low cost controllers. Gosund have JUST confirmed that their current units will NOT support MQTT – and that they’d have to do some redesigning (I don’t understand why an OTA upgrade could not do that, personally)… No matter what, the Sonoff entry-level WIFI power control units are just cheaper than every one elses – it’s that simple. If only they’d all take MQTT as seriously a people like Arendst (Tasmota) and myself who have made replacement firmware for such boards. There are other good examples out there.

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Cubot X19 Budget Phone

Updated August 17 2019: The Cubot X19 smartphone arrived back in May, well packaged, complete with USB charger and lead (the ad describes charging as Type-C fast charge and with its own charger it does charge quite quickly)  and the first thing that came to my wife’s attention was the COLOUR – she LOVES it.

At just over £100 sterling (with free shipping to the UK) and other destinations from Gearbest, while taking the low cost into account, this is a good value phone, still working perfectly after being in constant use for approaching 3 months here in Spain. This is not the first Cubot we’ve had but is definitely the best looking so far. The last one was also a budget Cubot and was flawless.

The Cubot X19

If you’re used to unreasonably tarted up studio photos, these un-retouched photos should be refreshingly real. The photo above is the X19 sitting on my desk, shot taken with my Pocophone and NO adjustments made.


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RPI4 Network Lesson

I learned something new last week-ending Aug 10, 2019)…. and now MORE…

I’ve set up countless Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 SBCs over time, usually headless and using the file /etc/dhcpcd.conf to set up a static IP address, It works every time. Or WORKED every time. Read on for some hopefully useful info…

Raspberry Pi 4 upgraded from a working Stretch to BusterWhen I got my new RPI4, I upgraded all my older systems to BUSTER, not one of the easiest things to do and indeed not recommended on the RPI-forums. (Use a clean installation, they say. GREAT unless you happen to have years’ worth of complex, only partly documented code on your RPI2 or 3.

Well, I did upgrade, the change is all documented on the blog – and of course when it came to setting a static IP address I never thought twice about it. I used my Buster-upgraded installation several times on the RPI4 without issue.

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Gosund Smart Sockets

Gosund 16A smart sockets with power monitoringA pair of Gosund SP1 16A (i.w. 16 amps) Smart sockets turned up for me today.

These German smart sockets plug into your mains power outlet and allow you to control the output either locally or remotely by a variety of means.

Now, first off the bat these are not as cheap as the Chinese versions, they are made in Germany and at least to Spain I got rapid delivery. I suggest they mean 16Amps non-inductive load – so just as with the Chinese versions I’d be very wary about attaching a 16 amp heater. At 220v I’m thinking a 2KW heater should be fine – but I’ve not tested that yet as it is WAY too hot here in Spain to test any kind of heater.

There is an on-off manual override button on the top…. with a red light – OFF when off, dim RED when ON. I plugged them into the mains one at time after grabbing the Android App “Smart Life” – there is handily a QR code for this on the side of the boxes they come in.

As it happened I already had an account with this APP as I must use it for other stuff but that’s easy.

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MobaXterm Pro

tmp42CASome time ago, William Taur of Mobatek sent me the latest Pro version of their MobaXterm product, and very nice it is. Mostly in the past I used the excellent WinSCP but then I started using the free version of MobaXterm with great success. Excellent as it is, if you have lots of connections, you soon get tired of the limits to the number of saved sessions and so I’m excited to now own the Pro version.

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Xiaomi Mi 4 Smart band

~On the surface of it the Xiaomi Mi 4 looks like it’s predecessor, the Mi3, but it is NOTHING like it. The original was a fine, mono display band which my wife LOVES, but THIS is a full colour job while still retaining several days battery life (20 according to Xiaomi) and giving us a much needed watch face library as well as various independent libraries. I love it.

Xiaomi Mi 4 bandDespite the manual coming entirely in Chinese, on opening the box, I noted a QR code inside the manual and scanning that with my Pocophone, which then loaded up the Mi Fit App. I let the band (or rather it’s detachable central module) charge for an hour before doing anything – just as well as all I got was Chinese output initially. Once Mi Fit was installed on my phone this was sorted automatically

I already have a MI account but signing up is easy. Once signed in, the band started to display in English – job done. No ECG or Oxygen levels in this one – indeed facilities are basic – but the quality is good. As soon as the watch had charge in it, both the app and the firmware updated to the latest versions.

Ah but this is merely the beginning… read further on for more general information and the link at the end has the technical info – but most importantly – the Mi 4 has custom watch faces both in the MIFit Application and third party sites…

Mi Band 4 Faces

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Huawei Honor Band 4

tmp7494In this morning’s post the Honor Band 4 Smartband – and lovely it is too. It has a little USB charge lead that connects to the band and hooks to any USB supply. Sitting in the garden I just happened to have my sadly-no-longer-sold-by-Currys Mixx Charge Power Bank – and without rising from my seat, plugged in the band.

Shortly thereafter,  the band had 80% charge and came up in Chinese but with a QR Code (how did we ever manage before these were invented) and so I told my Pocophone to scan the code and the next thing the Health App was on it’s way.

Next, I registered with the App and hit the + sign to add a new device, I told the APP I have the Honor 4. The band registered by Bluetooth immediately and next, I looked at upgrade options and was presented with the option to upgrade it’s firmware. I agreed and moments later, a fully up to date band operating in English. That reduced the charge to 70%, not bad as it was a big upgrade, Lovely and there is a UK hotline for the APP. I’m sure that applies to other countries, too. I fully charged the band and I’ve been wearing it ever since – 24 hours and counting.

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Before we start, here is a link to the PIVPN site also to Pi-hole: and thanks to Loic74 –

PIVPN is setup software for OpenVPN, whereas PIHOLE is a Linux network-level advertisement and Internet tracker blocking application. Like most normal people I find the subject of 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 recently have I discovered the fun and relevance of having my own domain blocker to stop some of the ads coming in (PI-hole). as well as a secure VPN so I can access my stuff at home when I’m not there, securely.

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Xiaow Q8 1080P IP Camera

V380This entry is about the Xiaow Q8 HD 1080p 360 degree panoramic IP camera with ONVIF support, InfraRed night vision and AI motion detection from Xiaomi Youpin. No, I’d not heard the last part of that name either. Here’s a stock photo to start the ball rolling…

These cameras turned up a while ago and have been running ever since but I forgot to write about them. Now is as good a time as any.

In short an inexpensive, mainly indoor IP camera with APP, V380 Pro, the QR code comes in the little manual that is supplied with the camera.

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Watchman Solar Powered WIFI IP Camera

My ESCAM solar camera arrived In July from Banggood (links below) – marked as ESCAM Model YN88-WIFI-130W and with the simple name “Solar Camera”. Much more on that lower down but first – here is it’s replacement – the “Watchmen” Solar WIFI Camera and what a beauty:

Boxed "Watchmen" Solar Camera

"Watchmen" Solar Camera from Banggood

The above “Watchmen” camera is the replacement for my original ESCAM solar camera which works just fine but appears less than 100% reliable in hot mid-summer Spanish sun (not recovering automatically) – an issue which does not seem to apply to the “Watchman” version.

Camera with controlsThe new camera turned up in the first week of August 2019 and up to now I am OVER THE MOON. It comes complete with English instructions, WIFI antenna, much improved wall bracket, extension lead, USB lead (not that I expect to ever have to use either) and more. Setup with it’s “uBELL” APP (in the case of Android) could not be easier. ONE way to set it up is to use your phone to read a QCODE (one for Android without Playstore, one WITH Playstore) and iPhone.

I ran the scanner on my Android phone and hey presto, the APP installed. I turned the camera on with only it’s aerial attached, I made no attempt to charge it or plug it into anything and within minutes I had a working camera. A voice on the uBell phone app said to introduce a camera, a voice on the camera said it was ready for pairing. The app wanted to know if I was inside or outside of China (I correctly entered “outside”) and invited me to select one of my access points and provide the password, along with a password to give the new camera.

Here’s a picture without the controls…

Camera output

And that’s about it. Compared to the original (easy) setup for the ESCAM camera detailed below, this was even easier. What can I say – HD video (1920*1080 max, lovely colours etc. Note the clear blue sky, not at all washed as with some cameras, yet there is detail in the shade from the hot sun) this just works – 2-way audio, adjustable PIR settings, white light and IR lighting via 4 powerful LEDs, recording (with visible timeline), snapshots, digital zoo and a VASTLY, VASTLY improved wall bracket over the original. Check out the Banggood link for more and read below the break for the full story. What you see above is a screenshot from the live video on the APP. This short video might be useful when it finishes uploading (Spanish rural broadband, who would have it?)…

See also after the break…

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Bakeey Watchstraps for Xiaomi Mi 3/4

These watchstraps are pretty and more importantly CHEAP. One of the great things about the Xiaomi Mi 3 and 4 bands is that they are just a simple black module and there are loads of replacement straps out there for them. I like the lime green one personally but at this price you could have a different colour every day..

Bakeey straps for Xiaomi Mi

Banggood link for straps: