Today has been a good day. After a great Saturday down at Castril (waterfalls etc – fantastic weather) Aidan and I sat down with some wine to test his new movement sensor/smoke detector board. As is often the case the first iteration has some issues but I’m sure it won’t be long before I do a write-up in here. We have a 3d printed box and it is now sitting on my wall. In the process we found some bugs in the home control 2016 code – to do with reading the state of inputs and sending relevant MQTT messages – all sorted now so that I have Node-Red waiting for input from the movement sensor and turning lights on, on timers. All the code and the OTA (which works wonderfully) is now updated. See the relevant blog items.
In the process I’ve realised (and you’ll note I’ve recently been upgrading even ESP-01s to 4Mbytes of FLASH) that OTA is a FAR better way than flashing boards – as you don’t even have to dismantle installations – or worry about turning off the serial terminal before programming boards - just issue an OTA command and you’re off. We’ve been making ourselves a little Python code to copy the OTA files across to the web server so that as soon as the code is updated in ECLIPSE – a single button-press makes the ROMS available to others. Lots of updates tonight and the manual is being kept updated also.
Meanwhile in the process of doing this I had a need to send information from one page to another in Node-Red and the new LINK modes work just superbly for that (you need to update Node-Red if it is more than a few weeks old). I’ve now updated several Node-Red installations without a hitch.
Meanwhile as Aidan was coming over from the UK he’s brought me some supplies here in Spain – a super new keyboard – a “Tecknet” which glows blue, red or purple as needed and which has sprung keys and laser engraving. It’s like a breath of fresh air.
I’m expecting BananaPi M2 as well as FriendlyArm new boards in the near future… right now I still have a problem with the FriendlyArm NanoPC T3 – it’s a wonderful board but for the life of me I can’t get the Android installation to work other than in the 8GB image – which leaves almost nothing to work with. I plan to put a 32GB USB drive in there and want a full 32GB installation.
Aidan has also brought me a CHIP board (seen above) – and I’ll be looking at that in a future article – it is really neat, quite small and the setup is ridiculously simple. Ok it isn’t the fastest processor in the world but we’ve had Mosquitto running on it and in the process I even learned how to use the venerable VI editor! Like many boards it claims to show itself up by name on the network – and like most of them this just does NOT happen on Windows 10 at least – but again like most, the line I added to the install script:
sudo apt-get install samba samba-common samba-common-bin winbind
works every time and now I can just access it in VNC as chip:1
Chip has some smile-producing features one of which is a battery connector – so to test – just plug in a cheap battery using a standard connector. Now imagine you are communicating with it via VNC – and the power to the unit fails – makes no difference at all, just keeps on ticking with its wireless connection. Of course you can do this with loads of board but most of them need a complete battery backup system which we’ve discussed successfully in this blog recently – in the case of the Chip – nothing more than a battery is required.
No issues with the updated ESP8266s with the new ROMS discussed a couple of days ago – they work perfectly as you might hope. I’ve run out of the FLASH chips now now and sent off for some more to China (2-3 weeks). I’ve been thinking about how to use the extra 2MB RAM – I looked a SPIFFS but it is WAY too complicated and at least the original code would fail for me as I’m running short of IRAM so I’m thinking how I may create a simple system. You have to write in 4K blocks as I understand – which could prove an issue as I’m not sure I have 4K of RAM left to form a write-buffer. More on that next week as I start experimenting.