Coming up soon

I’ll be back at my writing desk toward the end of this week, once I recover from the transatlantic flight mid-week – back to the UK via Amsterdam. Meanwhile I’ve just been reading the pre-Christmas gadget hype, it seems we now have phones with 5 cameras (putting to shame my 3-camera Pocophone F1 – though it does have the redeeming feature of easily capturing 4K video), AI and 6.2” height, Android 9 (and soon, Android Q).

Merry Christmas

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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.

Continue reading H96 Max Plus USB 3 TV Box

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New Toys in the USA

Currently we’re over in the USA for Thanksgiving which seems to be a curious mix of reasons to eat, drink and shop even more than usual. Add to the mix Black Friday and Cyber Monday and apart from the weather (it is truly cold in Chicago right now) this is certainly a great time of the year, especially for bargain-hunting techies.

The very first thing I noticed when out shopping, was the large number of huge 4K TVs available in the likes of Best Buy. In the Northeast of England, these 55”+ monsters are still expensive and far from the norm, with a few exceptions such as occasional deals at Aldi (our latest 4K TV is an Aldi purchase). At Best Buy, 4K seems to be the norm rather than the exception.

4k tv sample

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NO.1 G8 MT2502 Blood Pressure Heart Rate Monitor Smart Watch

I just received this nice looking watch – the NO.1 G8 MT2502 Blood Pressure Heart Rate Monitor Smart Watch -- https://goo.gl/R1Dg6p

No 1 WatchYes, I agree, what an odd name for a watch – yet despite all that, this one could be a winner. At first glance, in my case, the USB connection seemed really poor and the watch seemed determined to disconnect from charging despite trying various leads using a standard size-mount microUSB power connection.

On reflection I realised that all that is needed, is a slightly longer than normal microUSB connector head. I’m sure I’ll have one lying around somewhere. The watch of course comes with a lead but I have a tendency to lose USB  leads constantly.

The strap which is of course made of plastic, looks good.

You get a choice of watch faces (not expandable) as you can see and mine came with both black and red straps. It has phone, bracelet and watch modes as well as a tempered glass screen. Continue reading NO.1 G8 MT2502 Blood Pressure Heart Rate Monitor Smart Watch

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A very busy week for Home Control

Having discovered some less than ideal historical settings in ESP-GO, today I’ve removed all commands which could OUTPUT to GPIO0. a throwback to the old ESP-01 days. I’ve also updated some default input bounce settings and improved the little-documented DEBUG2 command which lets you see the state of inputs on the serial terminal (I abandoned my own serial terminal some time ago in favour of the excellent and free YAT). The current software will be parked and esp-go-3 will appear, with GPIO 4 and 5 correctly used as boards with incorrect markings are by now likely out of circulation.  While working on using SDK 3.1 (without success as the SDK appears to use more space than before) I’ve actually GAINED plenty of RAM to continue to expand with SDK 2.1 (which works a treat).

JLCPCBCoincidentally, Aidan’s new boards are already into revision 2 to cater for the changes and to make some clearance improvements. Here are some pics. The board will be "revision 2" but this one will serve the purpose of demo.

We had these 2-sided boards made from Aidan’s design and Gerbers at JLCPCB and I must say the price and quality were just right.

Relay board

Continue reading A very busy week for Home Control

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HT-175 Infrared Thermal Imager

IR CameraI’ve wanted one of these hand held imagers since I heard of the FLIR – but could never justify the cost – NOW I have one of my very own.  I’m quite excited.

Here’s the link – be aware, I think the current sale offer dries up tomorrow??:
https://tech.scargill.net/yourls/ircamera

Even then the price - indeed it is Banggood (I'm sure they won't appreciate that). Likely there are a billion uses for these hand-help gadgets (this one comes with a spare battery pack) but my first priority as we are refurbishing the house, is to check where the highest heat losses are.

First of all, then, the box photo:

Box photo

 

Heat loss through windows

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Solar Motion Sensor Light

Why am I using a stock photo here? Because the weather in our garden right now is pretty naff, that’s why. This is the latest sensor light I’ve picked up from Banggood as we settle back down into Willow Cottage after gutting the place (if you saw the state the long-term tenants left it in you’d know why I say gutting). But I digress – not only is this sensor light solid looking but right now (Early November 2018) Banggood are having yet another sale and this is CHEAP.

Solar Sensor Light

And here is the link - Solar Motion Light https://tech.scargill.net/yourls/solarmotion

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Box Nirvana

Cheap boxes

We recently started on a new project for ESP-GO and this time made the board to fit the box – always sensible if you have the freedom to do this.

Well, here’s the box we used – from our friends at Banggood.  As Thompsons travel used to say: Much cheapness. 10 off £5.08 the lot or under £17 for 60 of them.

More's the point they are good looking and vented.

Smaller boxes https://tech.scargill.net/yourls/9

and here’s a VERY similar but larger 80x100mm version – again – CHEAP. 1-off £1.38

Larger boxes https://tech.scargill.net/yourls/8

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NEW PCB for ESP-GO

You might just like this – I do!

Standard problem number one: finding a none-home-made-looking box for the new project. Standard problem number 2: NOT taking a simple on-off light or heater design and turning it into a wife/husband-provoking nightmare with low-voltage boards needing separate mains power supplies. Collectively these have ben plaguing me for years.

The box

Well, this time we make have it cracked.. first – the box – this is CHEAP from Banggood, LOVELY and useful if you can find boards that will fit inside. Next – yes it has vents top and bottom – handy for thermostats etc. https://tech.scargill.net/yourls/9

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British v Spanish Mobile Phone Service Providers

Well, of course, everyone has their own story, this is mine. As some f you know, we spent 3 months of our summer in Spain, most of it with me recovering from illness and so probably more than ever, having a working mobile contract was very important this year.

We’ve moved home in the UK and moved in shortly before heading off to Spain. In the sleepy village of Wark on Tyne we now have excellent home broadband thanks to Vodafone who, despite having no mobile signal in the village, managed to achieve what BT could not (despite all the grants and other funding the latter has had over the years), that is, Vodafone offer a sub-£30 a month fibre80 Mb download, 20Mb upload home broadband service – and it WORKS – and their router is not a toy. Contrast that with Plusnet who gave me two toy routers which were unreliable and useless and after a year (and a new contact) gave me a decent router.

Continue reading British v Spanish Mobile Phone Service Providers

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