Category Archives: General

Geekcreit Large Rainbow Clock Kit

If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for pretty colours, which is why I had to have this Geekcreit Large Size Rainbow Colour Clock DIY kit. I kind of glossed over the kit bit when looking at it, but never mind, I’m up for a challenge (and if you think that a couple of SMT chips and a shedload of SMT LEDs is no challenge, I invite you to try it in your mid-60s after a couple of serious operations).

Enough blether… I need to build this.

Clock kit

That’s a stock photo – I’m about 20% through putting the LEDs in and I’m still baulking at the thought of putting the larger IC on the board. Now waiting for Banggood to come back with which resistor is which. My good pal Aidan is popping over this week to give me a hand with the big chip.

partial build

partial build

More later….

Geekcreit® Large Size Rainbow Color Clock DIY Kit -- 
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Raspberry Pi RPI-CLONE Issues

As I normally rave about RPI-CLONE – I  thought I’d share the dirty laundry this time.

** Update Jan 13 2019

It is looking increasingly likely that the issues I was having were power supply related and one bad SD card. I’ve just finished my 7th successful backup-clone since removing the intermediate battery pack to the Pi and shortening the USB lead. I neglected to note that I’d recently added an Amazon Echo generation 2 DOT into the mix. It is possible that is relevant. Good timing as I’ve just moved to Blynk local server and cracked ESP8266 host names on Windows and I do NOT want to lose that.

** end of update

I have backed up both Pi 2 and Pi 3 hundreds of times, generally without issue, but the last few days I’ve had some cloning problems – generally along the lines of failure – read-only.

Here is a photo of one of my Pi3 units  - – the main controller sits at but is otherwise identical).

Raspberry Pi 3 with OLED display

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A9 Mini WIFI HD 1080P Wireless IP Camera

As some of you know I have various IP cameras dotted around both in the UK and Spain – just to keep an eye on things. I just received this odd one at the weekend  – a miniature fish-eye type camera which connects as most do via an app – in this case the free Android App HDMiniCam and claiming H264 1080p. The app can handle multiple cameras as the thumbnails are quite small. My camera is white, not black.


Well, the good news is, it works – it took seconds to connect to my phone via the free app though I’ve not tried a PC connection yet.  What I find interesting about this model is the size and the fact that it has it’s own battery. Oh, and a magnetic stand. Here you see the fish-eye effect.

A9 Camera

Since starting it up a couple of days ago it has worked 100%, plugged into the USB on my PC. The fish-eye view and inconsistent frame rate would prevent using this as a webcam but then that’s not what it is intended for. Sound in and out is fine.

A9 cameraHere is the actual white camera. There are two clearly marked buttons – one for on-off, the other for setting up etc. Yes, the green and blue indicators are bright. One of these cameras would be easily hidden but for the bright lights. Underneath you see the magnetically attached stand who’s base is adhesive, not magnetic. I’ve not tested battery life yet.

The 150 degree wide angle fish-eye lens is as you can see here on the top. For actual use, I could see this going in the car, a lot less obnoxious than the camera I have now in the car and it could be used for recording minor accidents or near misses. Along with others of it’s kind, I’m not sure the magnetic connection would stand up to a severe accident.

The camera takes a microSD, not supplied. I happened to have a couple floating about. 
More Security Cameras --

I like this camera and I think it will do well in my car, but for general use in terms of value for money, my much larger Alfawise camera previously blogged about is better if ultra wide angle isn’t important to you.



This promising looking 1080P FHD Auto DVR Camera Video recorder with WiFi ADAS G-Sensor from TomTop will apparently work in the car to take videos (rear or front) and store them on a (not supplied) SD card. I installed an SD I had lying around and plugged the USB-powered camera into my PC. Immediately I went to DEVICES in Windows, the WORLDCAM appeared. Sadly it would not show up in Skype. Nor would it show up in the Windows 10 Camera App. I can’t tell if it is working as it has no internal screen.


ToCan’t find the TomTop link for this camera so here’s a general link to their site: be fair this is not what the camera was designed for, so I elected to go look at the supplied instructions. “The recorder connects the car machine” it said. WHAT car machine I ask? “Find the ES File Browser in the car” it said. I’m pretty familiar with my car and I’m pretty sure the Sat-Nav/Control unit does not have ES File Explorer and that is the ONLY car device with a screen.

This could be the shortest review of the year unless new information comes to light.


Eachen WiFi IR Universal Remote

Eachen from TomTopFirst reviews of 2019 coming up… starting with the Eachen WIFI-IR Universal Remote (touted as Sonoff but it isn’t Sonoff).

This inexpensive unit needs USB power to run and comes with it’s own microUSB cable – the assumption being that you have spare USB supplied lying around (not a good start). The cable in fact was too short for testing (pointless testing it in the office so I took it into the living room where the TV sits – and hence the remote controls it has to emulate).

Continue reading Eachen WiFi IR Universal Remote


Bakeey NY01 HR Monitor Smart Watch

The Bakeey NY01 HR Monitor Smart Watch is looking good up to now – nice, solid looking, big display, single real touch button on the side so no fingerprints on the screen.

Bakeey NY01

1.3” display, matt black, 3 decent main time displays with calendar and other info all in one place, magnetic USB, glass screen protector (which I fitted complete with bubbles, sadly). NICE full size display.

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Lenovo HF03X SmartBand

HF03XI picked the HF03X from Gearbest because it seems to have all the right features in a smartwatch/smartband at a reasonable price. Colour, decent battery charge life, pulse, blood pressure, oxygen levels, sleep, sport, notifications, alarm etc.  The last watch from GearBest was the Xiaomi Mi 3 – lovely, gets daily use but it is monochrome. That hasn't stopped my wife loving it but I think that's about to change? Of course, one has to have a working watch and a going out watch so there's room for both.

There’s a single touch point near the bottom of the HF03X colour screen. Pressing that for 3 seconds starts the watch and the screen lights up. The green heart rate sensor is, as usual on the underside of the watch body.

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BigTimer 2.06 update questions answered

I’ve been asked questions about output from my Node-Red-Contrib-BigTimer in the 2.06 update and also the new(ish) “timer X” option. Here is a working demo, I’ve added a timer to my desk with a Sonoff BASIC attached and a lamp to test. Output 1 is as you can see working fine in this demo.


There it is. Set to come on at dusk (it is currently morning). I can do a simple manual override (using an inject for test purposes) until the next ON time or just have a quick 15 minute burst.

Here is the setup in the node itself… set to work all months and days by default.

Bigtimer code

The injects have “1”, “0”, “auto” and “timer 15 mins” in them, respectively.

And the short answer is, yes you can see the remaining time in the "timer" option and you now have a "timeoff" alternative.

I also tested the second output to ensure that 00:00/00:00 works as does a short morning burst.

Incidentally, second output – msg.precision – tells you how much time in seconds is left before the "timer" and "timeoff"  modes runs out.

Continue reading BigTimer 2.06 update questions answered


T12 Digital Temperature Controlled Soldering Station

Another potential winner from Banggood, or rather would be, if I’d had my act together when ordering. The V2.1S T12 Digital Temperature Controlled Soldering Station is a small, neat soldering station complete with iron and combined bit/element – it looks good and well built.  I would advise getting spare parts – see below.

T12 Soldering Station

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H96 Max Plus USB 3 TV Box

imageThe H96 Max+  is, how can I put it, wonderful. It has Android 8.1, both WIFI and high speed Ethernet, 4k HD video (yes, I have a 4K TV) 32GB storage (4GB internal RAM), USB 3.0, HDMI output and more. At the time of writing, it is a very low £38.87 at Banggood.

At this point I would normally send you off to look at the ad but in this case you might be put off as it is the usual gloss complete with language errors. The unit deserves so much more.

I’ve tried all manner of TV boxes from PCB level Android units to full blown Android TV. The former generally work but often need some technical knowledge to set up and often come with old versions of Android, The "Android TV" units (as against full Android which this unit supports) are, in my experience, a let-down.

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