Monthly Archives: October 2018

British v Spanish Mobile Phone Service Providers

Well, of course, everyone has their own story, this is mine. As some f you know, we spent 3 months of our summer in Spain, most of it with me recovering from illness and so probably more than ever, having a working mobile contract was very important this year.

We’ve moved home in the UK and moved in shortly before heading off to Spain. In the sleepy village of Wark on Tyne we now have excellent home broadband thanks to Vodafone who, despite having no mobile signal in the village, managed to achieve what BT could not (despite all the grants and other funding the latter has had over the years), that is, Vodafone offer a sub-£30 a month fibre80 Mb download, 20Mb upload home broadband service – and it WORKS – and their router is not a toy. Contrast that with Plusnet who gave me two toy routers which were unreliable and useless and after a year (and a new contact) gave me a decent router.

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Victor 606B Clamp Multimeter

Victor 606B

I’m quite excited as I’ve never had a clamp meter before. The 606B turned up this morning, well packaged.

First, the stock photo…The Victor 606B Clamp Multimeter with overload protection, Digital NCV, Auto off and data hold. I’ve considered buying a battery company given the number of batteries I go through in a typical year… anyway the 606B uses two AAA batteries – not supplied. Fortunately I just happened to have a couple handy. Alkaline, of course.

I was expecting a very basic clamp meter with voltage and current measurement but in fact, this one has AC/DC volts, 4A/40A AC ranges and a 60/600A AC range which seems a high value but what do I know. I don’t have anything using even remotely near 600amps to try out. The instructions of course came entirely in Chinese.  The Banggood price is MUCH, MUCH cheaper than RS Components but then isn’t nearly everyone cheaper than RS? See the BG link after the break.

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Mustool MT8206 2 in 1 Digital Oscilloscope Multimeter

The MT8206 multimeter came from Banggood, falls at the cheaper end and is fairly basic but is non-the-less pleasant to use. It has 200k A/D sampling and 4000 count auto-ranging. Always a good start, there is a useful, printed 34 page manual with the meter.


The MT8206 has 1-button switching to graphical waveform measuring while taking a reading and can display historical data and real time measurement on the same screen.

DC/AC voltage/current, resistance, capacitance,  frequency/duty cycle and the usual diode.continuity testing.

meter showing graph

The meter came in a nice box, complete with soft case and decent leads.

Here’s the link:


More relevant links:
Wholesale Oscilloscope — 
EU Warehouse —


Cubot Power 128GB Mobile Phone

This is my brand new Cubot phone and replaces the excellent Doogee Mix 2 I bought in November last year. I never stick with any phone for too long (I kept my first iPhone for 2 years and first Samsung for well over a year) but no longer wanting to contribute to the wealth of Samsung and Apple who I’m convinced are taking everyone for a ride, I’ve tried a number of Chinese phones over recent years. Doogee and Cubot have shown to be winners.


Picture below shows my Doogee Mix 2 …

Doogee Mix 2

Continue reading Cubot Power 128GB Mobile Phone


The Thermostat revisited

ThermostatRemember this? I put this Node-Red Dashboard (+ images) stat together January 2017 then promptly forgot about it – thank heavens I blogged the lot, having recently moved home.

I find I need a thermostat for our home and yesterday I was in the process of re-inventing the wheel when I came across my Node-Red stat.

All documented in the original blog entry and apart from a minor change to Node-Red Dashboard’s default cell sizes from 48×48 to 52×52, it just works. Lovely.

Here’s the link – I can’t believe I put all that work in then just ignored the design – it’s marvellous even though I say it myself and setup (end user0 could not be easier.


HoldPeak HP-770D Multimeter

January 2019 – Update – was I just unlucky or have others come across this? I just found that  the clever yellow blinds which stop you putting the leads in the wong holes stopped working – then I discovere that the main control wheel had a loose bearing. In the process of opening up, a small bit of spring steel dropped out – and I’m not entirely sure where it goes… that can’t be good and to be sure, there is no-where near that much defaul in the “manual”. Could this be the end of this meter?

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

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Solar 90 LED Motion Sensor Light

First item in the mailbag today – a solar powered 90 LED motion sensor wall light from Banggood –

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

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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.

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.

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


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