Home Control 2019 and ESP-GO

Introduction (Latest update April 03, 2019)

HomeMinor update here - I've gone back to SDK 2.1 for now.

Sick of reading about other people’s home control? Want to make your own? Got some electronics and software experience? You’re going to LOVE THIS! Rock-solid home control, flexible, low cost, DIY.

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The Thermostat Continues

Hard to believe the amount of time I’ve spent on this thing. I’m still too deeply buried in R&D right now to fully develop another full article on my thermostat but here is some info to add to the previous blog entry on the subject. My Node-Red/ESP-GO thermostat is now in operation with three stat heads, 2 in active service as one has an issue whereby it locks up occasionally, maybe once a day, maybe once every couple of days – unpredictable – a hardware reset brings it back – but I need to get to the bottom of it – the other two units don’t do that.

The 2.5w laser engraver turned out to be less of a blessing than it first seemed, thanks to it’s inability to handle clear Perspex (does a lovely job on coloured material) I’ve had to go back to traditional DIY techniques for this project.

While I’m here, I’ve just reduced the e-newsletter frequency as we’re getting ready for the summer exodus to the sun and that will impact my writing ability somewhat until early April when I hope to have lots of new toys to talk about.

I’ve now published updates to ESP-GO-3 using Espressif Non-OS SDK 3.1 – which in itself is still only on GIT at the time of writing but seems to work a treat. My thanks to helpers on the Espressif forum – I didn’t really need this for current projects but the 5K of saved iRam gives me bags of room for expansion, so now was as good a time as any to upgrade to the latest SDK. Perhaps in the summer I’ll take a look at a better web interface and more SSID options.

Some new visuals – here is my Grafana logging – accessible externally thanks to PIVPN as is the stat itself.

Grafana Logging for Pete's Stat

Above is my Grafana info screen – monitoring and logging the two stats (main and aux – I have a third on test, all have now survived power cycling both for the stats and  Node-Red without failure or needing intervention) but I’ve seen dropout after 2-3 days needing power cycling on one of them so the jury is still out). I’m also monitoring (temperature in the hot water tank cupboard from the mains controller supplying on-off instructions to the air—source heating system.

Lots more below the line…

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Bakeey M30 Smart Watch

Update May 2019: The Bakeey M30 IP67 Smart Watch is a nice watch - BUT unreadable in bright Spanish sunlight.. this watch is cheap but importantly, it looks nice and WORKS A TREAT – in the months I’ve been using it, the M30 is already my favourite inexpensive sports watch, unless of course it is sunny.

M30 Smart Watch

Bakeey M30 IP67 Waterproof Smart Watch -- https://goo.gl/y1U2Lt

What makes this different to others? Well, given pricing, some have terrible charging facilities or poor battery life or limited features. Battery life is very good compared to other smart-watches I’ve tested… at the time of writing, I charged this watch back in the UK a week ago and the battery is currently sitting at around 80% – compare that with the (granted - technically superior) Apple watch. One annoyance: when cycling modes I can’t find a shortcut to get back to simply showing the time.

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Handy Node-Red Date

While working on my thermostat I found myself repeating the same code all over the place – as I use function nodes for inline debugging and info – far more useful at times than the debug output.

I’ve now attached this simple code here to a function in my init page. I can use the global var “handyDate” all over the place as many times as required. This function is triggered by an inject node every second. I could have converted the timestamp info from the trigger but this is just as easy.

    var date = new Date();

    var hour = date.getHours();
    hour = (hour < 10 ? "0" : "") + hour;

    var min  = date.getMinutes();
    min = (min < 10 ? "0" : "") + min;

    var sec  = date.getSeconds();
    sec = (sec < 10 ? "0" : "") + sec;

    var year = date.getFullYear();

    var month = date.getMonth() + 1;
    month = (month < 10 ? "0" : "") + month;

    var day  = date.getDate();
    day = (day < 10 ? "0" : "") + day;

global.set("handyDate"," at " + hour + ":" + min + ":" + sec + " on " + day + "/" + month + "/" + year);

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The 2019 Thermostat ReThink

Back in 2017 I wrote a blog entry called “A Thermostat Weekend” – some weekend that turned out to be. Well, to cut a long story short, the stat worked but I was at the time just finding out all about NEST and other modern stats and so my ESP-GO/Node-Red thermostat development started gathering dust.

Then we fitted a new Air Source Heat Pump heating system and it looked like my thermostat skills might be redundant. This new system came with a Salus IT 5000 Thermostat – absolutely lovely App, nice display and this I thought would well and truly bury my interest. How wrong could I be.

Stat web interface

Here is the latest version of my stat web display (Dashboard) – I removed the redundant FROST setting and improved the formatting today (29/02/2019). More soon no doubt.

I found some issues with the original QDTECH 240*160 LCD display in terms of reset reliability bearing in mind I’m short of IO pins and reset is hooked to processor reset (I just realised that I can use GPIO0 as an output with a new command, to reset the display) and I’ve changed to an ILI9341 for the final version as well as fixing some bugs with AWAY timing, VASTLY improving the web stat (Dashboard) css and adding multi-functions to the two available inputs – so that “up” and “down become “auto” if pressed simultaneously OR if either of the two buttons are long-pressed. I've done this extra functionality in Node-Red. The larger display also shows full time, day and date as well as “away” status. Also not yet shown here but in one unit I'm using cheap single-key touch panels for manual heat up and down.

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EleksMaker Pro Laser Engraver

Update February 28, 2019
Last year year I put together this excellent A3 laser engraving machine. Originally, a 500mW laser module arrived complete with its own power supply (the laser which was not included in the basic kit). It turns out that was the wrong laser and now I have the 2300mW violet laser complete with upgraded 2.5A power supply. In the photo you also see the (important) green protective glasses that came with the kit.

Cutting door signs with Eleksmaker

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Digital Mini Inclinometer

InclinometerAnother item in the post this morning – for when the old fashioned inclinometer will no longer do – how about one powered by a pair of AAA batteries… this one came complete with full English instructions from GearBest.

A neat little gadget, the “Mini Digital Protractor Inclinometer Angle Gauge” is around £12.40 (free shipping)  and while not something most of us would use every day, is a lot more convenient than my old spirit inclinometer and probably more accurate. I end up using such tools pretty much on a once-a-week basis.

Here’s the link: https://goo.gl/sBVWVT

Resolution 0.05 degree, accuracy +-0.2 degrees, repeatability 0.1 degree.

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Bosch Go Professional Screwdriver

Today in the post I received a Bosch Go Professional Screwdriver from GearBest.

Here’s the link: https://goo.gl/3FD61q

Every word of the manual was in Chinese – but thanks to Google I immediately found the multilingual pdf manual online complete with a comprehensive English section.

Bosch Go Screwdriver

As it turns out, the manual isn’t really needed, well, I didn’t need it anyway. Plug the screwdriver into any USB power unit  (or any handy USB supply) - with the lead supplied – (that’s what I did) and lo, a short time later, one fully charged screwdriver. Of course it was probably most of the way there before I started.

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BackLit Keyboard Issues

No, not a review, yet… but I can see that coming. This is about PC backlit keyboards and the problems you can have with both cheap and expensive versions.

keyboard adsMy first gripe is the number of sellers on the web who claim to be UK based, then what you get is the US-based keyboard (hash where the POUND symbol should be and other keys out of place).

That narrows your choice down a little – the next item is just as important.

It seems that despite the optimised (often pained in) photos in the ads, that some keyboards (including both of my current keyboards) use one LED per key despite having say, numbers and symbols  either alongside or above-below… and not enough light for both. Colour-sequencing is all very nice for a gimmick but after the novelty wears off and you get down to some solid typing, often at an angle to the keyboard and with less tmp6BE0than ideal background light, you’d be better off with normal white key-tops than some of the pretty backlighting out there. On one of my keyboards, the numbers (not the number keypad) are just fine but the symbols above them are all but un-readable. Similarly with the function keys.

I’ve shown one of my keyboards in the second photo here as an example – virtually no backlighting on the “ins”,”Del” and other symbols. The first photo is a typical ad with all keys brightly lit.

Finally three other points worth mentioning: make sure you get a mechanical keyboard (the cheap ones without springs are truly awful) and check for real injection-moulded keys, not just paint around letters, symbols and numbers as the latter will wear away on frequently used keys in no time. Those wonderful colour combinations are great for a gimmick but do they include the option to go for one colour for all keys (like a nice red or green)… neither of my keyboards do, so watch out for that one.

If anyone has already been through this, comments are most welcome.

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BigTimer and getMoonTimes

I just spent ages debugging issue with theSunCalc module used in Node-Red-Contrib--BigTimer.

It turns out that the getMoonTimes module doesn’t seem to handle the alwaysUp and alwaysDown methods the way one might expected – these do not return FALSE  if not TRUE – they return undefined – that took some figuring out.

I started with try-catch but that failed also. Simply checking as follows did the trick:

if (typeof moons.rise==='undefined')
moonrise=1440;
else
{
date2=moons.rise; moonrise = (date2.getHours() * 60) +
date2.getMinutes();
}              

if (typeof moons.set==='undefined')
moonset=0;
else
{
date3=moons.set; moonset = (date3.getHours() * 60) +
date3.getMinutes();
}           

I’m pretty sure this is now fixed as of BigTimer 2.1.7

Thanks to Aidan Ruff for his help in this one.

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