Posts filed under Hardware

Enhancing Sonoff TH16 Functionality and Domoticz Integration

In my previous blogpost, the Sonoff worked, but was lacking a manual override. The switch could only be triggered by Domoticz. Since it also has a physical push button (connected to GPIO0 (D3)), it can be switched by hand. All that needs to be done is:

  1. Create a new switch device in the Sonoff
  2. Enable 'Rules' in the Tools / advanced settings
  3. Create a rule
  4. Change the On/Off commands in the switch parameters in Domoticz
Posted on January 1, 2018 and filed under Hardware, Programming, Raspberry Pi, Tips'n Tricks, Domotica.

Flashing the Sonoff TH16 Wireless Switch

The Sonoff TH16 is an inexpensive piece of hardware that can be controlled over WiFi. Apart from the switch (that's capable of handling electrical currents up to 16A) there's an interface for temperature and humidity. The actual temp/humid sensor is sold separately (in most cases).

Posted on December 31, 2017 and filed under Gadgets, Hardware, Programming, Raspberry Pi, Tips'n Tricks, Domotica.

Internet of Things (IoT) and Ransomware

Unfortunately, and no matter how funny the cartoon may be, this may be what the future is going to bring us if we're not careful.

Below are some of the online appliances (just random picks from Google):

The only item I couldn't find was the Internet-connected broom. But I guess that won't take long. The other items can all be bought with some sort of Internet connectivity, and are therefore potential vulnerable for abuse.

Posted on October 10, 2016 and filed under Annoying, Gadgets, Hardware, Internet, Security.

Disable Fritzbox Provider Services

This weekend went my Internet (VDLS) down. The DSL part was still up, but the IPv4 connectivity (over PPPoE) was down. When I checked the Fritzbox (7340) I saw that the DLS had 'trained' on ~100Mbps down and ~30Mbps up. Connection speeds I could only dream of......

Trying to re-establish the IPv4 connection I restarted the DSL modem. Upon reboot, it trained on about 70Mbps download and 30Mbps upload, and the PPPoE tunnel for IPv4 established nicely..... for about 5 minutes.

It turned out that the DSL connection tried to get a better connection, and got it. So starting off at 70Mbps, it could establish a 74Mbps a couple of seconds later, and 75Mbps a bit later after that, and so on, and so on. During this time the PPPoE connection worked like a charm. Until the DSL reached the magical 100Mbps rate. That's when the PPPoE (and the actual IPv4 connection to the Internet) failed.

Posted on May 17, 2016 and filed under Annoying, Hardware, Internet, Tips'n Tricks.

Kodi Media Playback Stops Frequently

Ever since the good-old Popcorn Hour died last year, we've been consuming our media through a Minix media player with XBMC, or Kodi as it's called since version 15. And even though this was a complete package (everything configured and pre-installed), it had a learning curve and required more maintenance than the Popcorn Hour.

A couple of weeks back, we started to experience cut-offs in the media we were consuming. TV shows, and movies stopped for no reason. The image froze, audio cut-out, and the subtitles would go on like nothing was wrong. After a few seconds display goes black, and after 5 to 10 seconds the Kodi-menu would present itself.
At this point we would select play, and the TV show, or movie would continue were it had stopped.

The stopping (or crashing) of the media could occur 1-10 times in a movie and a couple of times in a TV show. One or two times is already annoying, so you can imaging what 10 or 15 'crashes' might invoke....

Posted on December 1, 2015 and filed under Tips'n Tricks, Software, Hardware, Annoying.

Raspberry Pi 2 and PiTFT 480x320 Touchscreen

I'm starting to experiment with the Raspberry Pi form several purposes. For one of my little projects (RTL-SDR Scanner) I need a little TFT screen on the Pi. So I bought the 3.5 inch PiTFT 480x320 Touchscreen.

Getting it to work was not as easy as the tutorial would like it to be. I tried the 'advanced' setup with the DIY Installer script first, but that didn't work at all. The screen stayed bright white. No console or desktop to be found. So after that I tried the easy install where I needed to download an image with all the stuff included.

Posted on June 2, 2015 and filed under Tips'n Tricks, Hardware, Raspberry Pi.

Entering The World Of Android Based Media Players

This is gonna be a good one. An Apple Fanboy Going Android..... WTF!?

Yep, it's true to some extent. The reason for letting myself into the Android world is a media player one. Up till recent I was quite happy with my Popcorn Hour A-110, which I bought 6-7 years ago. Happiness started to fade when transfer speeds and connections to the device started to fail. Networking was never its strongest part, even though it had a 100mbps interface. For some reason it never got above the 10Mbps speeds. Had something to do with the processing priority of the device.

Anyway, lately, larger FTP transfers failed for whatever reason, and using SAMBA transfers.... well, don't get me started on that file transfer protocol. Sending communications by pigeon-mail is faster. And since streaming over the network was not an option for the larger (far less compressed) x264 encoded movies or TV shows, I started to look for an alternative.

The alternative should be able to connect to remote media sources, and have enough processing power for the network adapter to get decent a throughput. Also some additional multimedia features were on the 'very-nice-to-have' list. These features included (but were not limited to);

  • stream various content from the web
  • not limited to just video
  • easily modifiable (apps etc.)
  • prepared for the future (4k video?)
  • xbmc (or something alike)

With this list of requirements, there were about a gazillion candidates, because every player out there tends to support this. So I needed to narrow down the candidates. I did exclude the current Popcorn Hour because of the physical size of there latest models.

Posted on December 27, 2014 and filed under Gadgets, Hardware, Personal, Review, Tips'n Tricks, Video.

Continuous Macro Lighting

When shooting macro, you need a lot of light. Normally you would use one or more (off-camera) flashes to facilitate this. The downside of a flash is that you only get the light when you press the shutter button. This can be challenging a relative low-light environment.

A solution for this is continuous lighting.

The traditional continuous lighting setups would get really hot. A couple of hundred Watts of power was nothing, and, in a small workspace, things could get hot (literally).
Thankfully, we have LED lights nowadays. Small (battery powered) devices with a lot of bright LED's, which are very affordable.

I bought a set of video lights on Amazon with 160 LED's (NanGuang CN-160) each. The devices are battery powered and give a lot of light. The video lights have a dimmer, so you can control the amount of light.

NanGuang CN-160 Video Lights

They take several types of batteries. Including 6 AA-type rechargeable batteries. The problem with the AA batteries is that they drain relatively fast, so I got a set of supported batteries, which normally go into a Sony camcorder (NP-F750F). Not the originals, but a cheaper knock-off. Another advantage of the larger batteries over the AA-types is that the amount of light produced is significant higher, and lasts for a longer period of time.

Batteries not included

The lights itself are relatively light, but with the batteries they tend to weigh around half a kilo each. So this is not a practical setup for handheld macro photography in the field.

To give you an idea of how much light they produce: The following photo was made in a dark room with one of the video lights on full power with the included diffuser. The camera (handheld) / lens settings were:

  • Camera: Fujifilm X-T1
  • Lens: Sigma 105mm F/2.8 Macro DG (F-mount with a X-adapter)
  • Shutter: 1/600
  • Aperture: F/8
  • ISO: 400

All I need right now is to create some sort of a flexible (portable) workspace with a way of positioning the lights independently around the subject.

UPDATE: I received my cheap flexible tripods and (even cheaper) ballheads by mail today. This should make the lighting for my macro photography a bit easier.

The total cost of this setup is around €150 (depending on the currency exchange rate).

Note: The setup is sufficient for the (cheap) LED-lights, but I wouldn't trust them with my Leica or Fuji camera.

Posted on April 25, 2014 and filed under Gear, Hardware, Photography, Tips'n Tricks.

Just Apply Pressure

to wreck the SD-card slot cover of the Fujifilm X-T1. An obvious design flaw if you ask me.

Thankfully, I handle my camera with care, but I don't want to think what would happen if I applied a bit more pressure on closing the memory-card compartment.

Posted on April 25, 2014 and filed under Annoying, Gear, Hardware, Photography.

Sony A7(r) Mirrorless Full Frame Camera

Sony A7

Sony launched the A7(r) camera today. It's a full frame camera without a mirror (like a Leica M). Also known as an Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera (MILC).
It was something I didn't expect (mainly because I'm not that into the Sony rumors). The release of a full frame E-mount camera startled me somewhat. Why? Because the E-mount cameras today (Sony NEX cameras) are well known to work with various lens mount adapters (e.g. Leica M-mount, Nikon F-mount, etc.).

This camera could replace my Nikon D300. I mainly use that camera for macro and the occasional telephoto. I can still use my Nikon lenses on this body through an adapter. Even my Leica M-lenses can be used. This could be the camera to rule them all (all being MY current cameras). It's light, small (smaller than the M9 or the new M type-240) and packs a lot of (photographic) power.

I know what I want for X-Mas

Steve Huff has some additional images from the camera in various setup's (mainly with Leica lenses :-)) 

Posted on October 16, 2013 and filed under Hardware, Photography.