Monthly Archives: July 2019

Raspberry Pi 3/4 Power

For one of my (up to date) Raspberry Pi (SBC) installations, I have a 5v supply able to deliver sufficient power i.e. over 3 amps… I don’t need a full uninterruptible supply, but I thought it would be nice to use one of my USB battery packs in between the power supply and the Pi in case of short term glitches… the battery unit I have is able to shove out enough power also to keep the PI happy but its stabilisation is by the look of it rubbish, as such, from time to time the Pi low-power indicator comes on.

No harm done yet but I take that warning indicator as a sign I need better power supply. Even at 100% charge, I'm getting this warning on and off.  Anyone aware of a battery unit (doesn’t need a lot of capacity) or even one supplied without batteries that is KNOWN to be stable, can put out 3 amps and charge at 3 amps at the same time??

This blog entry started off challenging battery solutions but now I’m doubting the validity of tests out there. Thoughts? A problem with the internet is that sometimes incorrect or out of date info persists, often for years out there. No doubt I’m guilty of some of that myself but I do my best to update old blogs.

So I just found Python scripts for testing the power on Pi, but they don’t look right to me. Using an RPI3 upgraded this week (July 2019) from Stretch to Buster, I’m getting power readings that don’t make a lot of sense to me. Comments?

In my office right now, the temperature is 30c and the Pi stated temperature is 78c when running tests, 58c otherwise (who would have thought a simple test with SSH output could cause such a rise). No heatsink or fan, clear plastic case. (an example of possibly old material out there, one fellow refers to the Pi3+  throttling to 1200Mhz from 1400Mhz at 60c, well, at 75c, mine is still running at 75c… and yes, I do plan to fit a fan when I find where I hid them.

import select
import datetime

epoll = select.epoll()

file = open("/sys/devices/platform/soc/soc:firmware/get_throttled")
epoll.register(file.fileno(), select.EPOLLPRI | select.EPOLLERR)
status =

    status =
    get_throttled = int(status, 16)
    print("%s 0x%08x" % ('%H:%M:%S'), get_throttled))


The above should apparently return 0x50005 when the voltage is low (whatever that is) and 0x60000 when ok. In fact, I also get 0, 0x80000 and 0x80008 out of it.

import RPi.GPIO as GPIO , time

GPIO.setup(redLED, GPIO.IN)

while True:
        print "POWER dipped below 4.63v"
        powerlow += 1
    powerlow =0
    if (powerlow  > 3):
        print "Low power for " + str(powerlow) + " seconds"

Looking at the second Python script, This one shows “Power dipped below 4.63v” almost constantly on my headless RPI3 (only a non-operating OLED display attached) even with a simple mains supply rated at 5v 5amps so I don’t think I trust that. I don’t have a scope handy but I do have a precision meter stating 4.735 volts almost while connected to the Pi3 edge connector, the red light on the PI is on constantly (visually) and green light flashing every second. My SSH display is showing “POWER dipped below 4.63v” what seems to be far more than once a second.

Thoughts, ideas, are these two scripts out of date for RPI3 and Buster or am I missing something? If I’d brought one of my scopes to Spain I’d do some proper monitoring but having confidence in a Python script would be useful.

The Pi3 here was upgraded from Stretch to Buster recently and generally works a treat, it is running Node-Red and Mosquito constantly but no display right now.


ESCAM Solar Powered WIFI IP Camera

My new camera arrived recently from Banggood (links below) – marked as ESCAM Model YN88-WIFI-130W and with the simple name “Solar Camera”.

ESCAM Solar IP CameraThis section updated July 14, 2019: Unless I find out otherwise, I’m holding back on recommending this camera as it is not reliable. We’ve had great weather here in Southern Spain and the last 2 days have been particularly hot. The last time I used the camera was a couple of days ago, no problems, then tonight at 6pm, I started up the app to check the view on our hill. All worked perfectly. I handed my phone to my wife to take a look, the camera stopped working. I reset the phone as I did last time this happened a week ago – made no difference.

This happened last week, I reset the camera and all was well. No doubt the same will happen again but clearly this is no good for remote operation. I have two other (cheap) cameras which have not failed once in 2 years.Just checked again – nope, it’s staying off until I go poke it.

Right, the camera is in my office in front of me. Still nothing, access panel open, switch to off, then on, seconds later all is well. I can’t rely on this otherwise excellent camera as things stand.

End of update

Sizes, info and more pictures are in the links over the break, suffice it to say for now that this is a monster, running entirely off the sun and talking over WIFI. I’ve not plugged it in or physically connected it to anything. After being in transit for several weeks (thanks to a pretty useless courier mentioned elsewhere) and after getting only half an hour of sun yesterday, the camera came up straight away, IR lights running at full steam, it then lasted the night and was working perfectly this morning. I am well impressed.


Continue reading ESCAM Solar Powered WIFI IP Camera


Raspberry Pi 4 + Buster

The new Raspberry Pi 4 is out and about. The new model has something folk have been screaming for i.e. 2GB and 4GB RAM options, not only that but BUSTER, the new version of Raspbian which is not only supported but recommended – and it is backward compatible. In my limited experience it is also beautiful. Read the July 9 update after the break… I wrote the original article when the Pi4 first appeared but a lot has happened since then – see also the comments in here.

Raspberry Pi 4 with dual HDMI

The Raspberry Pi site states prices (in US dollars) from $35 for the 1GB RAM version, up to $55 for the 4GB version. The new board has both USB2 and USB3 but the original standard HDMI connector has gone in favour of two micro HDMI connectors, great for 4K dual screen action, all good stuff but totally wasted if you’re planning headless operation. We are now looking at a 64-bit 1.5Ghz quad core Cortex A72 (Arm V8). There is now USB-C for power – (3 amps). The new board is supposed to be backward-compatible with previous models and the new operating system version (Buster)certainly is in my very limited experience (I’ve been using Jessie for a long time now). I’m awaiting delivery of the 2GB model of the RPI4 just to get extra RAM without losing the very useful RPI-Clone (and let’s not forget the extra speed). Gigabit Ethernet is of course built-in along with Bluetooth 5.0 and WIFI. I’m assuming that serial port remains as grim as in the past (competitors have up to 4 serial ports) but that’s just an assumption. I’ll soon report on that first hand.

Not sure about HDR yet for the video and we never did get a decent Android + PlayStore running on the Pi3 – my own Pi use case does not involve multimedia as I prefer a decent Android-9-based TV box such as the H96 Max – but that’s just me. If a TV box won’t run ShowBox then I’m not interested. As a home controller however, having tried many different SBCs over recent years, I remain committed to the Raspberry Pi so the Model 4 is likely to get at least one job, probably two or more.

Continue reading Raspberry Pi 4 + Buster


Samsung Galaxy and Gear Watches

Samsung Gear S2 Classic BlackSo the latest is that the new Gear 4 watch won’t be called that at all, just Samsung Galaxy watch – and for anyone who has been living in a cave for some time(I have, but a cave with WIFI) can there be any doubt that this is the best watch in the world?

Personally I am running the Gear S2 (photo on the right) with no urgent desire to upgrade despite spending hours of gadget envy at various stores featuring the Samsung, Apple and other watches here in Spain and in the USA, not to mention dozens of websites) because I prefer the bezel on my 40mm Gear 2 as against the later, larger versions (which are also a little thicker). My view of course may change but up to now I’ve managed to avoid putting any marks on the S2 whatsoever. I have the Black Classic version with decent leather strap. In the past I’ve had lots of expensive “real” watches and no matter what they claim, eventually they get marks on them. I’ve tried really hard to look after this one, so far, so good (2 years down the line).

Watch faces for SamsungHere’s what is so special about this watch and its variations… Depending on your mood it can be just about any watch on the planet!! I’ve reviewed many smart watches on this blog, some of which are really great. others not so but the thing they all seem to have in common is limited choice of watch faces.

Once you get used to owning the Samsung, it seems only natural to regularly change watch faces and other apps. The official Samsung App for Android phones (and no doubt iPhone) has countless faces available, many of them for free – but then there is also “Facer” – I just subscribed to their cheap “Premium” version and now I have not thousands but tens of thousands of watch faces and variations available to me, including those of well known up-market brand names and specials designed just for Samsung. I keep dozens on the watch itself at any time.

Watch faces for SamsungCheck out the Facer App and the “Galaxy Wear” app on The Google PlayStore. It costs nothing to look and it might just lead to a life changing experience. I sometimes waste more time hunting through watch faces than I do on Facebook. And today I figured out how to screenshot watch faces on the watch itself and transfer them to my Pocophone F1  (I’ve already automated phone-to-PC transfers) so that  you can see a tiny selection here. Forgive me for not showing examples of Tag Heur, Patek Philippe, Rolex, Cartier. Breitling, Omega and Montblanc, I got tired of most of those, months ago. Give me a few more months and no doubt I’ll end up back with the classics. The “Cactus” face I got this week, rather apt given the weather here in Southern Spain right now. But don’t get hung up on my strange tastes, go take a look elsewhere….

Watch faces for Samsung

Watch faces for Samsung