Monthly Archives: April 2019

Homecube 1.5w Solar PIR Garden Floodlight

tmp1B04This understated gadget turned up for me a few days ago from China (free postage to UK and other places – see link below) – I figured now is as good as time as any to start updating my solar lighting here in Spain.

As happens, the usual cheap solar lights (£1.50 each from PoundStretcher and B&M) are in trouble after the winter. They really are false economy yet we keep buying them by the millions. Battery connections rarely last more than one bad winter and the other usual problem is the circuit board which rusts up badly.

I decided this year to go a bit upmarket. The Homecube shown here is around 20 Euros, i.e. under £20 yet fires off no less than 24 bright LEDs thanks to only switching on when there is movement, aided by a decent sized solar panel. The title on the ad says it all: “1.5w LED PIR Motion Sensor Lawn Light Waterproof etc.”

Despite rubbish weather here in Andalusia right now, the light came on last night as we returned from the pub and produced an astounding amount of output as we walked up to the front of the house. Both the angle of the two light panels and the angle of the solar panel are continuously adjustable. There is a solid-looking on/off button and a mode button to adjust the output.

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Blog changes

In order to minimise spam, I have removes some email subscriptions where the user names looked automated. This process is nowhere near perfect but is essential to protect valid readers/subscribers.

I’ve also changed email newsletter requests to double-opt-in – that is, if you newly request emails from the blog, you may be asked to confirm your email address. I apologise in advance for any inconvenience to registered blog readers.

While I’m here – has anyone been watching the media coverage of the new folding Samsung phone (and others)? I know this is technically neat but am I alone in wishing manufacturers would concentrate on the things we really want and in some cases need? Improved charging/battery life would be good. Better cameras, by which I don’t mean much higher resolution, but vastly improved low-light performance and optical zoom would be good – even if that means new lens technology. Do we really need higher resolution for selfies? Probably not. Let’s see real innovation, guys.

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The Summer Begins

We’re back in Spain (Galera) for the summer, time to upgrade my home control setup to the latest ESP-GO and Tasmota versions not to mention some Node-Red and other updates and improvements. More on all of that later, but first things first – new toys on the way soon include the new upgraded Sonoffs from Itead.

I understand the upgraded Sonoffs will surface in May and I have a couple on the way, meanwhile a heads-up. The casing of these (still) low-cost mains control devices looks to be improved at last – with a new smoother, more rounded finish. There is a new “DIY” API which promises to do away with the need to re-flash the devices for custom home control.. and more.  As pointed out by reader “Smithy” the new Sonoff is claimed to be “MQTT-enabled” – more on that when I get samples…

Apparently MQTT-enabled Sonoff

Sonoff R3

If you’re not familiar with Sonoff, they are Alexa-compatible mains control units. More on that in May with luck.

First of my summer toys is a Bluetooth keyboard called an “Anne Pro 2” courtesy of Banggood. This is a compact (i.e. no room for cursor keys or separate numeric keypad) keyboard, USB rechargeable, substantial and very pretty. I’m no longer a DropBox user thanks to new device number restrictions on free accounts and the realisation that I could do a better job with my Synology NAS drive and a VPN. Having moved from the UK to Spain for the summer once again I was faced with lugging my computer and bulky NAS (Network Addressable Storage)  box over here or arranging remote access. With limited room in the car for the drive over here, I chose the latter.

So here, courtesy of a combination of mobile phone, PC, remote (UK) NAS and SnapSeed for Android, are some photos to start the ball rolling.  I have no idea why the box shows a white keyboard as mine is black, but here it is…Anne Pro 2 Bluetooth keyboard

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Home Control 2019 and ESP-GO

Introduction (Latest update April 03, 2019)

HomeMinor update here - I've gone back to SDK 2.1 for now.

Sick of reading about other people’s home control? Want to make your own? Got some electronics and software experience? You’re going to LOVE THIS! Rock-solid home control, flexible, low cost, DIY.

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