It has finally arrived!

After shipping, a month ago from the UK, today my Raspberry Zero finally arrived.
Besides the Rzero I also ordered a Zero Essentials Kit because of the HDMI converter and some nice 90 degrees header.

I’m not a huge fan of the Raspberries, but I had to buy this one because of the formfactor. Normally I prefer the Banana Pros a lot more than the Raspberries.
Not sure what the thing will be used for, but it looks nice.
I think I will put an XRF or XBee module on it, and keeping it as small as possible.

Added 1 Raspberry Zero to my stock of goodies.

RC Drivetrain Calculator 1.0 released

The RC Drivetrain Calculator got some good reviews from various users. Thanks for trying out!

From now on the RC Drivetrain Calculator allows the users to customize components and submit components to me. This way the components can be reused for future use. Please let me know if you need some additional components or special features.


Windows 10 IOT Core — Fail for now

Last saturday I received the Raspberry Pi 2. Loaded Windows 10 IOT Core on the SD card and booted it up! Wow that looks cool.
First thing I started is a Powershell session to the RPI! Haha very nice. But..hey wait..where is the FTDI support? FTDI…so basic, and so usefull for the IOT. Microsoft didn´t even take the effort to put something like this in their IOT flagship! Ok ok. The Windows 10 IOT Core is a preview version. I wait for the next release.

EzTemp&RH crowdfunding project

Today Eloísa Romero sent me an email presenting me her EzTemp&RH crowdfunding project.

20140912094736-EzTnRH_labeledI really like it. It takes away a lot of the hassle you encounter when measuring temperature and humidity. It also features some quite precise components, including an auxiliary connection for an additional sensor of your choice. Great for an Raspberry Pi!

Take a look at the projectsite.

Cresta TX320 longer antenna

Last week I bought 5 sensors of the type Cresta TX320 for my Domoticz system. Unfortunately they have a very weak transmitting signal strength. One HR++ glass pane and a concrete floor is too much to reach the RFXTRX433e transceiver. I removed the old internal antenna and exchanged it with a solid wire matching the length of 1/4 of the wavelength of the 433Mhz band. That is 17,3 cm from the PCB to the end of the wire.

Please note that I routed the whole antenna out of the top of the device. Routing it downward causes quite a lot of the signal strength to be absorbed by the batteries, which then are close to the antenna.

This setup still has a weal signal strength, but just enough to reach my transceiver.

Cresta TX320 with longer antenna

Cresta TX320 with longer antenna

Cresta TX320 with longer antenna

Cresta TX320 with longer antenna



Home Automation System – Part I

Last week I managed to get WiFi working on my Pi. Because yesterday my Slice of Pi arrived from Ciseco, I could continue building the heart of my Home Automation System (HAS).

The core of my HAS will be the Raspberry Pi. It will be connected using WiFi but communication between sensors and actuators inside the HAS will be done over 868Mhz using XRF modules. So today it was time to add an XRF module to the Pi using the newly arrived Slice of Pi, and an XRF radio I had in stock.

After assembly I installed Minicom on the Raspberry Pi, and connected to its serial port. Then I plugged in a SRF Stick in my Mac to check the connection using the handy tool “CoolTerm”. Everything turned out to be working. Very nice!

Please note that Raspbian has a getty on the serial port by default. So do remove it to get an interface to the XRF. Remove the references to ttyAMA0 from /boot/cmdLine.txt and /etc/inittab.

Next: Building a framework on the Raspberry Pi in Java which will be used for data retrieval and event triggering. Also have to decide which DBMS will be used on the Pi.

To be continued…..

Soldering the Slice of Pi

Finished soldering the Slice of Pi

Finished the assembly. One problem….the case can’t be closed anymore.

Casing fits after making a hole ;)

Cheap and green homelab – Part III

The last few weeks my homelab made a whole different turn. No ESXi, No Hyper-V, No XEN Server. I gave Proxmox a try, and I’m loving it. You get a fully functional and competing virtualisation environment for free. Yes, you can buy support subscriptions, but apart from that you get the whole package opposed to VMWare.

The web interface is pretty awesome. Taking over the console is easy and uses a small Java applet or Spice. This is a huge pre for Proxmox compared to ESXi and Hyper-V which require a Windows client for management purposes.

Give it a try. You’ll love it!

Raspberry Pi WiFi

Today I decided to buy myself a Raspberry Pi – Model B. Going to use it in my home automation system. Because the Pi doesn’t have WiFi onboard you’ll have to use a WiFi dongle. Still had a Sitecom N300X4 laying in the drawer. After trying some different setups, I now have a good one.

——– lsusb listing of the N300X4
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 0df6:0060 Sitecom Europe B.V. WLA-4000 802.11bgn [Ralink RT3072]

——– /etc/network/interfaces – wlan0 config
#allow-hotplug wlan0
auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet manual
wpa-roam /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf
iface default inet static

——– /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf – WPA2 WiFi
ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev

pairwise=CCMP TKIP

Ditching Ziggo VOIP

After Ziggo (my ISP) announced to stop (april 1st 2014) the free calls between Ziggo members, I decided to take a look at something different. The new offer of Ziggo is to pay them 9,95 Euros per month to get our free calls back. Huh? Free calls? !@*&^%$

Some calculations:
At the moment our subscription consists of a standard 9,95 Euro fee each month. No free minutes in that subscription, but because we mainly call other Ziggo members we get a lot of minutes for free that way. It was a selling point years ago.
An average month:

  • 205 minutes to other Ziggo members = 0 Euros
  • 80 minutes to non Ziggo members = 7,20 Euros

This brings the total of such a month to 17,15 Euros (standard fee + minutes).
As of the 1st of April I will pay them (at least they hope) 35,60 Euros (285 minutes at a 9 cent rate + standard fee). Ziggo, are you nuts?

Ah well, they have their great offer now. If I pay them 9,95 Euros (standard fee) plus an additional fee of 9,95 Euros, I get free calls to everyone. Free calls after paying 2,75 Euros extra each month. That’s not going to happen!

So I decided to take a look at some cheap VOIP providers. I don’t need you for my voice dialling Ziggo!

Looked at Skype, VOIPBuster but eventually ran into CheapConnect. A Dutch company offering VOIP for great rates. At MAX ICT I bought a Cisco SPA112 ATA which can convert VOIP to an analog signal my home telephone can use. This is because when I leave Ziggo VOIP, they won’t let me use the VOIP-port on their modem. 😉

Today I went to pickup my SPA112 and it turned out to be a good investment. Hooked the thing up to a test account at CheapConnect, and I started calling within 5 minutes. Good sound quality and excellent rates.

A calculation:

  • Voip In/Out account = 0,75 Euros per month (8,95 Euros per year)
  • 265 minutes = 6,30 Euros per month (0,0238 Euro per minute)

Compared to the Ziggo offering, this solution is 12,85 Euros per month cheaper! I should have done this much earlier.

Ok, lets be honest. I had to buy the SPA112 costing me 42 Euros, and I have to pay CheapConnect a one-time fee of 5 Euros to port my old number from Ziggo. That’s a one-time investment of 47 Euro which I will earn back in less than 4 months.

Ziggo, thank you! Thank you for trying to let people pay extra for free minutes. Thanks to you I will save 155 Euros each year!