Monthly Archives: May 2019


BigTimerNodeRED is a fantastic and powerful yet easy to use programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. For more information on Node-Red go to the Node-Red site.

BigTimer is the the most BigTimerpowerful and best-ever, most comprehensive timing node for Node-Red, providing a general purpose timer as well as handling summer/winter correctly as well as (importantly) lighting-up time (for which you should provide your longitude and latitude from Google maps or similar).

After all you probably don’t turn the outside lights on at 6pm!! You most likely want them on when it gets DARK.

At it’s simplest, BigTimer can be used as the equivalent of a simple mechanical timer, deeding other Node-Red nodes or directly manipulating devices by, for example, MQTT protocol.

BigTimers can be used singly or in groups. Full support is provided for dusk/sunset dawn/sunrise and variations also for day/week/month (and special days) control.

BigTimer has three outputs, the first of which updates when there is a change of state and presents one of two messages (for, for example, MQTT or other control mechanism)

The node offers outputs suitable for MQTT, speech and databases (but you don’t HAVE to use any of these). You can also manually over-ride the UTC time setting on the host computer if required.

The second of three outputs offers a simple 1 or 0 every minute in the output “payload” and also presents additional information reflecting the status message in msg.state, message.time and others – see the entire msg object output in debug for more.

The third output presents a message which could be used for speech or debugging.

There is also real-time status information displayed below each BigTimer node.

As always, the latest node-red-contrib-bigtimer is available at node-red-flows and at – put “scargill” in the search and you’ll see all my nodes and flows.

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Sonoff S26 Wifi Smart Plug

You may well have seen plenty of reviews and adverts for the Sonoff S26 WiFi Smart plug so I won’t go into too much technical detail here other than to say this VERY inexpensive wall socket can easily be re-flashed to run alternative software for those not to keen on relying on Chinese servers.

Sonoff S26

The S26 can be reflashed with nothing more than your PC and an inexpensive FTDI (USB to serial convertor) and can then run the excellent, free Tasmota software (sonoff release). Just be wary that the soldering connections are small.

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ESP GO update and more

A minor update for ESP-GO – still working on the Espressif SDK 3.1 version as RBOOT is still not OTA-ing reliably (everything else does)– but the SDK 2.1 version is working a treat – very reliable. There WAS an issue due to some recent updates, with the web setup – this crept in as I use serial to set up boards and didn’t notice a problem – that is now resolved thanks to efforts by Aidan Ruff who DOES use the web setup. See the main ESP-GO blog entry in here and also my Bitbucket repositories for more info on this well-developed and tested ESP8266 general purpose code – especially useful when using “the script” and for example a Raspberry Pi as a home automation centre as I and others do.

tmpCC3EQC3.0 Fast Charge Multi-port 5/9/12v Smart Travel Phone Charger
The rest of today’s postbag included a great little inexpensive Quick-charge-C wall charger (EU plug).  I now only use wall chargers which include a QC-3.0 output (you can never have too many) – as our phones charge much more quickly with this than normal USB output (which no matter WHAT the claimed output current at 5v,  will not fast-charge phones).

The orange output is Quickcharge, the other two are normal 5v USB at 2.1 amps – total output at any time, 3.1 amps. These units are available in a range of country plug fittings. I chose European 2-pin as I can use them in Spain and in the UK. The Gearbest website details the different types available. Pricing in the UK is 3.83 sterling with free shipping – but as I write this they may be out of stock so check.

QC3.0 Fast Charge :

tmp8467I also received a tempered glass front protector for my Xiaomi Pocophone F1 phone (don’t even think of using phones like this without a decent protector and these are DIRT cheap at around 2.70 pounds sterling and free postage to the UK and other countries such as Spain, France, Germany, USA etc. The unit comes in a nice box and is called Glass Pro+ XS. As my current plastic protector is scratched, this looks like a great upgrade with black surrounds.

Glass Film Screen Protector :

Umidigi F1 caseOCube Case for Umidigi F1 Play – Transparent
And last but not least a new back for the Umidigi F1 and F1 Play – this is a solid (as against soft rubber) case – clear with slightly frosted back – a nice rough finish which should last longer without scratching than many I’ve seen.

The thing is – you can’t beat the price –   around 2.30 pounds sterling and free shipping (at least to the UK, check for your region). Please note however that the shielding wraps fully around the sides but not fully over the top and bottom. However, the phone won’t fall out.

Phone Case for UMIDIGI F1 Play :


Brelong HT033 Desktop fan with Time/Temperature

This little number turned up from Gearbest today in the postbag here in Spain. The “Subute 4 inch display fan” is a USB-powered fan which tells the time and temperature using a set of LEDs on one of the blades – and I have to say it does it very well. Instructions came in English and Chinese and all you have on the back is a small on-off switch – and a time set button.

USB clock fan Gearbest

Easy-peasy, press the time-set button for 4 seconds then single press for every minute you want to advance or long-press to go through hours and minutes. Leave the button alone for at least 5 seconds when you are done. The actual time/temperature image is clearer than shown here, I had to do a slow exposure to show the time without strobing effects. There IS a seconds hand too.

And here’s a thing – I just tested this here in Southern Spain, you can read the time in bright sunlight, handy for the beach with a USB battery pack. I guess it’ll be a little while before readers back home in the UK can try this. Here, temperature is nice but when sitting at the computer it can get a little stuffy – hence the fan is on my desk.

Continue reading Brelong HT033 Desktop fan with Time/Temperature


21st Century Mosquito Killer

In today’s post, a simple insect killer from Gearbest. When I say simple, it has a couple of things my old fly killer didn’t – indeed it LOOKS a lot better than the last one.

When I say “fly” I mean of course flying insects and here in Southern Spain, some of the most troublesome are much smaller than your typical fly. This “Mosquito Killer” from Gearbest looks GOOD and uses UV LED lights as against older fluorescent tubes. It has a light sensor so as not to utterly waste time running during the day when the insects have better things to look at – and has a fan to ensure that once the gnats are daft enough to look in, they can’t get out.

This definitely appears to put my previous Chinese insect killer to shame visually. The ad says “Free shipping to the UK”. You’d need to check for other countries, mine was shipped to Spain.

Smart Home Mosquito Killer

Smart Home Mosquito Killer Link

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I’ve just fixed a startup bug in  my node-red-contrib-timeout node for Node-Red. This is as always, available at also at

The current version then is 1.1.3 which puts out the SAFE message at start-up and starts the default count-down.

Interested viewers will find that as well as the normal msg.payload showing the status, there also exists msg.countdown showing the remaining time in seconds.


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