Dock Dock!

DockDock!I’m not really sure what to make of this one though it is starting to grow on me. A Paris-based start-up company with website just sent me a sample of their new product. The slogan on their website is “Make Your Tablet Great Again!”.

What you get for €28 is essentially 4 magnets that hold your tablet to your fridge door, along with a magnetic adaptor and 3 metre charging lead for your tablet with a LED light at the end.

The tablet end of the lead is micro-USB – I’d have thought offering USB-C as an option might’ve made sense.

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Solar HD1080P IP67 Camera

tmp83C3To give my latest gadget its full title – Solar powered HD 1080p Wireless PIR waterproof security outdoor IP67 camera. Originally I received an ESCAM solar camera which was GREAT but which would not operate reliably in the outdoor heat despite its other great features. This is is my alternative pick and after several days of un-interrupted, external solar operation it is proving to be 100% reliable.

So, straight off the bat, I LIKE this camera, I also have a couple of MINOR gripes about the Android "i-Cam" app - no volume control on the sound… I like the idea of talking to the postman from thousands of miles away… .but to offset that –  there are ways around the lack of sound control as I have a fully remotely controllable Raspberry Pi here in Spain. The camera, as well as being fully solar operated (it came minus batteries and I just fitted 2 cheap Lithium batteries  - it only actually needs one but I thought better safe than sorry)  is fixed lens and has a wide field of view complete with 2-way sound.

There's a video I made here:

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Bakeey H8 Blood Pressure Diamond Bracelet

Bakeey H8Ok, so it isn’t real diamond, but the Bakeey H8 Blood Pressure Stainless Bracelet does a good job of looking the part for an inexpensive band.

My wife has a nice Mi3 watch – good battery life but a tad boring and like most of these cheap bands, it is plastic, no two ways about it.

Time for something different then.  Shipped from various countries, in my case as the cost was lower I had it shipped from China but delivery was still pretty good.

There are several models, they do black, bright silver or gold(ish). I went for the rose gold look in this case. It REALLY does look different to the other bands. I’m putting this up now as I think Banggood’s promotional sale ends August 4th.

We’re looking at heart rate, blood pressure, sport mode, turn light, alarm, sedentary reminder, sports, sleep, pedometer, anti-lost (whatever that means), find band and camera trigger.

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RabbitMQ MQTT Broker

RabbitMQHere’s a guest post by my friend and collaborator Aidan Ruff. You’ll usually find him talking about his solar home in Spain or the kind of IOT stuff I do, in this instance, where I swear by Mosquitto MQTT, Aidan has always had a preference for RabbitMQ. Here goes:

When using “The Script” to setup a Raspberry Pi as an IOT controller, you have the choice to install Mosquito as an MQTT broker. Regular readers of the blog will know that an MQTT broker is the essential heart of the kind of IOT setups we usually discuss in here. Without MQTT, there iss no channel for ESP-GO! devices to communicate with each other.

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BigTimer and Amazon Polly Notifications

Sometimes it can be helpful to think outside of the box and I just did. We were discussing getting Amazon Echo to give out arbitrary notifications from a Raspberry Pi + Node-Red installation and after messing about with this for a while I remembered I have an Amazon AWS account in which I use POLY speech synth (see relevant blog entry).

Bigtimer controlling speech on the Pi

I originally put in place a Node-Red sub-flow to play the RED ALERT message and similar from Star Trek as well as arbitrary speech (high quality English female voice is my preference hence the use of Amazon Polly) from the Pi. Essentially I’m using the command line tool MPG123 (via Node-Red) to play MP3 files and Amazon Polly to create new voice files as and when needed. 


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Alexa, Raspberry Pi and Sonoff

Updated July 26, 2019: I am using a combination of Echo Dot generation 1 and generation 3 here in Spain.  

Amazon EchoAmazon insist on using port 80 for gen 3 Echos, a port already used by something else on my Raspberry Pi 3-based home control system.

I  am using port 8980 to avoid being the hated Linux ROOT user and so now, on my main Pi 3,  I moved the web server to port 86 and using “iptables” have redirected port 8980 traffic to port 80 to keep Amazon happy while continuing to use port 8980 to keep Linux happy as user Pi. This all seems to work well.

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I7E Alfawise Fitness Tracker

Alfawise Fitness tracker from GearbestThe I7E Fitness Tracker bracelet is my second bracelet of the day – this one came from Gearbest and comes in an adequate if basic case.

As you can see, the bracelet is quite attractive. The App is the freely downloadable Zeroner Health Pro app available in both the Android Playstore and the iPhone equivalent. OwownPro does the same thing – you can’t link to both apps at once so pick one or the other.

Setting up the watch/bracelet took no time at all and getting the Zeroner App running and watch connected was trivial.

The bracelet has a choice of 4 watch-faces – and it shows the temperature and weather though I can only imagine it must get that from the phone.

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Alfawise T9 Bracelet

tmpFC92To give it the full title, this entry is about the Alfawise T9 Body Fat Fitness Tracker (or Smart Bracelet). With a 0.96 inch screen, the T9 uses an App (Android or IOS) called Gloryfit (I use the Android version from the Playstore).

The bracelet uses an NRF52832 CPU and offers Body fat, Heart rate monitor, Sleep monitor, Pedometer, Multi-sport mode, notifications, camera remote, find-the-phone, alarm clock and much more.

The bracelet came from Gearbest and has detachable strap and comes with USB charger which works in any USB port. Note the readout (fat, water, protein) as well as time.

The bracelet/watch arrived completely flat and so I stuck it on charge for an hour.  So now, it is around 75% charged and I can give it a test. Here (above) it is on my wrist.

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QC 3.0 Car Chargers

QC3.0 Car ChargerThat’s it, all my “normal” USB chargers are gone – worse than useless for charging modern phones – and today the mail brought the second of a pair of purchased QC3.0 car chargers – I believe from AliExpress or Banggood. Look up this model in their ads based on price and colour/shape. These have two outputs, one is 3.1 amps max at 5v USB, the other is QC3.0 USB at whatever voltage up to I think 12v (in a car, more on mains power) that the phone requires – trust me – the difference between that and standard USB is staggering.

If your smartphone does not handle Quick Charge you will see little difference when charging the phone in the car, if it DOES, then typically the phone will say “Charging Fast” or similar and will charge even while being drained by you using the SatNav capability in the phone.

And the thing is, these cost under £4 from China (or Hong Kong, can’t remember what the invoice said). One took under a couple of weeks to arrive here in Spain, the other took maybe the same time to the UK. Build quality looks good and the first one has  been running for months. I needed two as we have two cars and are forever forgetting to swap gear over. Short (1m or less), thick leads are assumed but QC3.0 is the real game-changer.

If you don’t know what Quickcharge is – you are doomed – or rather – read this urgently. I picked this at random.


SD Speeds and Reliability

For years I’ve been promoting Samsung and Sandisk cards for use with SBCs such as the Raspberry Pi and similar. This article checks out ne A2 class cards and seems to come to the conclusion that the latter hold no benefits – indeed that the Samsung Evo+ in particular is the best choice for general SBC use.

Samsung Evo+ 32GBThe usefulness of SD cards also gets a boost from the news that Raspberry Pi designers didn’t rush to get the (still not working) USB BOOT function on the Pi4 up and running. I read an encouraging quote about Samsung and Sandisk cards there also. 

I plan to move up from 16GB to 32GB cards. I originally stuck with 16GB because the time taken to use Win32DiskImager on the larger cards for backup was prohibitive – with RPI-Clone that isn’t a problem.

Make sure you don’t confuse Evo+ and Evo if looking at Amazon – Evo+ is red, Evo is orange.

Comments and thoughts welcome.

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Umidigi S3 Pro Phone

Umidigi S3 Pro boxThe Umidigi S3 Pro smartphone arrived for me today from Banggood – and very nice looking it is. This large (6.3” FHD – 2340x1080px) phone is inexpensive but sports some great features such as 48Mpx camera images. But here’s a point – it is common to get maximum resolution out of phone cameras at the old-fashioned 4:3 format, for reasons beyond me, whereas most modern screen are 16:9 format or wider. Sadly this usually means using less of the sensor area – a typical 16Mpx phone camera might use 12Mpx in 16:9 format – a waste to be sure but what, 25% waste at most?

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