Astronomy PhD (Incomplete), Software Developer, Video Game Developer, Electronics Hobbyist, Mead Maker
7286 words

2020-11-16

I just finished writing the code for an idea I had about a year ago, but until now I was not sure how to implement it. The code is just a POC at the moment, though I am not sure if this idea has any real value. That said, I did privately share the code with a knowledgeable and trustworthy friend. Perhaps between the two of us, we can determine a use case.

Though I have tentatively set a date -- one or two years hence -- upon which I will release the code as open source, if we cannot find a viable use for the idea. Perhaps there is someone else out there on this planet that can think of an application.

That said, I have taken some precautions to provide proof that I created this idea. I uploaded an encrypted copy of the code to Proof of Existence and paid a nominal fee to have the hash of the encrypted data included in the Bitcoin Blockchain.

2020-09-02

So the IR LEDs that we use to illuminate our daughter's room started to fail recently, enough that we noticed a significant decrease in visibility on the baby monitor. When I inspected the IR LEDs, only 1/3 were working. I found some replacement LED boards on AliExpress, and they arrived yesterday. But the replacements boards were smaller then the exisiting one.

I thought I screwed myself over since I did not check the dimensions before placing the order, but then I noticed something. The LED board was mounted on these long and narrow brass stand-offs, which were screwed into the plastic case. There was a second set of holes inside the case, and they aligned perfectly for the new LED board.

Screwing in the brass stand-offs into those holes took much longer then I expected, but eventually I got them in and mounted the new IR LED board. Now our daughter's room is well illuminated in the infrared.

2020-08-25

We went to the Rockwood Conservation Area, and my daugther had a great time playing in the sand and the lake. Once she realized that the lake was like a giant bath, she wanted to go into the water and splash constantly. I swam across the lake and back, so I am very tired. All in all it was a good day.

Before I went to bed, I tried working with these 8x8 pixel displays I purchased a few years ago. The last time I used them they would only produce random garbage, and when I started using them again I got the same random garbage. For whatever reason I decided to flip the LED panel, and when I did it worked. Not sure if they came assembled incorrectly, or if I switched them when I worked on them last. Either way, they appear to work now.

2020-08-24

We went out for brunch today, and my daugther who has been sick the last week and not always eating or drinking enough, devoured her food and even ate all the bananas and blueberries off my plate. She even drank some of my orange juice, and appeared to enjoy it. We were relieved, and we look forward for her to go back to daycare.

I also had two packages arrive today, and I was looking forward to testing components and assembling the case for my component tester. Unfortunately the mounting holes for the case were off, so I need to drill the holes so that I can shift the component tester a few millimetres, and hopefully assemble the case without pinching or squeezing everything to fit.

Then I tested the transistors I ordered for an auto shutdown switch. These were for alternative that I could build with through hole parts, in case the SMD soldering for the first choice ends in disaster. They were supposed to be P-Channel MOSFETs (Normally Open), but the parts I received are actually N-Channel MOSFETs (Normally Closed). The label on the transistors are correct, but component tester and an independent test using my multimeter indicated that they are mislabelled.

I think this is the first time that has happened. Two nights ago I would have said that it has happened to me twice, but I realized that I was in error. I thought that the OLED display I purchased was supposed to be 128x64 pixels, but I could only ever get the 128x32 pixels version of some Adafruit code to work with it. I came across a few arcade games recently that fit onto an ATtiny85 using an 128x64 OLED. I wanted to try them out, but I thought the only display I had was too small. While searching for other versions of the display, I came across a forum post mentioning my exact situation. The author mentioned their realization, that he just had to set the number of rows to 64 instead of 32 and it worked. I decided to check my display using the Adafruit library, and I was able to get the 128x32 version working. When I tried the 128x64 version, the display did not work. Then I realized that the two demo codes used a different I2C address, so when I changed the 128x64 version to use the working I2C address the 128x64 version now worked! So I was able to resolve an old problem.

It seems that the code that connect to the incorrect I2C address, does not fail as I would expect it would because I did not see an error message in the serial monitor. If that code had displayed an error, I may have spotted the address mismatch sooner.

I also ordered some LiPo charging boards, and two HC-05 Bluetooth Serial boards. The charging boards all appeared to work, providing the correct voltage. When I tested the new HC-05 boards, initially they did not work. I tried swapping the RX and TX pins on the Arduino, and I was then able to get messages from my phone sent to the boards. When I re-connected the original HC-05 board I was still not able to receive a message, so it seems I might have damaged it.

2020-08-22

Had to cancel our trip to Collingwood, our daugther was still not feeling well and travelling with a sick child is not ideal. We will try to do something when she feels better, hopefully that will happen before I have to go back to work.

After I complained to my friend Peter that my electronics knowledge is not as good as I wanted, he asked if I wanted a copy of an electronics book he owns. I thought I recognized it, but I wasn't sure where I may have put it. So I decided to clean up some of the files on my HDs and Dropbox. I removed most of the files I was no longer using in Dropbox, and consolidated my files or made duplicate copies for the more important files. Ultimately I found my collection of PDFs, particularly the Make series I got from a Humble Book Bundle a few years ago, but I did not have the version Peter offered.

I feel a little better about cleaning/organizing my files, now I should tackle all the duplicate MP3s I have. A bigger task will be to correctly name the files, but a slightly less daunting task may be the removal of tracks I do not want. Typically these are tracks I found as part of an anthology/discography for an artist that I wanted to hear from more, but alot of the tracks are not as interesting as the tracks that attracted me to them in the first place. Even after I removed three CDs I did not want to have to skip every time, I still have almost 4000 tracks to listen and decide if I want to keep.

There is also the purging and organizing of my bookmarks, I do not think I should have over 1000 bookmarks in my collection.

2020-08-21

Managed to resume my GMail backups after a 4 year hiatus, using gmvault.

The author created a docker version, and I was able to resume where I left off.

Now I want to set this up for my wife as well, but I will have to use a separate container. Each container runs it's own set of daily and weekly cron jobs to backup the emails. If this works correctly, I should look at what they do so I could use that approach for my personal projects.

I am also taking Monday to Wednesday off for vacation, we are driving up to Collingwood this weekend.

2020-08-17

In frustration, I updated the cron script to reboot the RPi Zero if it is unable to establish a connection to the main router. It is a little heavy-handed, but I was getting really frustrated that the baby monitor was not connected when we needed it. Perhaps I will find a better method of re-establishing the WiFi connection without rebooting the RPi Zero.

UPDATE: 2020-08-21
Our network has stabilized since I added this hack, and the RPi Zero has not rebooted yet. Now that things has settled, I am sure I will forget about this hack. Finding a better solution would require connecting the RPi Zero to a keyboard and mouse so I could test this properly, I just need to find some time. I do have other RPi Zeroes, so I do not have to experiment on the baby monitor itself.

2020-08-16

Turns out that cron script does not work. The baby monitor lost WiFi connection twice, and both times I had to reboot the router for the connection to be restored. Looking at the logs I saw the entries when it was not able to connect to the router, but those commands did not allow it to re-establish a connection.

My parents and my brother came by today to help remove most of the junk we had accumulated in our yard over several years. The first load came in at 695 kg, mostly because of all the extra stone, concrete and slate slabs we had around the property. We also got rid of all the branches we cut down, and we hopefully fixed our downspout issue. Apparently the top was clogged, and then we noticed that one of connections was incorrect/backwareds, causing the water to run along the outside of the downspout. We fixed both of those issues, and took stock of the crumbling/missing mortar between many of the bricks. There is a large portion missing at the bottom of the chimney, which was under the deck. We removed a few deck boards and recorded what we found. We are going to replace as much mortar as we can before winter arrives, as well as finish power-washing the deck to remove all the crud. I would probably have to restain the deck afterwards, so I need to find a stain that matches the newer boards.

While looking under the deck, I found an old satellite dish. I remember finding it several years ago, but I thought we had gotten rid of it. I may be able to use it as a crude radio telescope, but I will need some parts.

2020-08-15

Parts arrived today for the activity centre (a.k.a. busy box) that I am making for my daugther. Some of the surface mounted components are extremely tiny, I may need to buy pair of magnifying glasses so that I can see what I am doing. Perhaps one of the cheap ones available at the pharmacy will work.

Network outages are still happening, but now only in the evening while we are streaming some shows. The outage is short, but still frustating especially if it happens multiple times. The issue with the PiHole seems to have stopped since moving it to my current desktop, but now we are experiencing issues with the RPi baby monitor losing its WiFi connection. I found a small cron script that runs every 10 minutes, and resets the WiFi connection if it fails to reach the router. Hopefully this solution will work, but we will have to see.

I was supposed to chat with my friend last night, but I got downstairs 20 minutes late. He declined the invite that he previously accepted, but did not respond when I asked if he wants to chat on Sunday.

2020-08-10

I was going to write tonight that finding a bizarre entry in the logs files on my old desktop about the Network Manager going to sleep (which is odd for Ethernet connection, rather then a WiFi connection), may have been the cause of all the network outages we were experiencing. I do not know how the Sleep Mode was enabled, but perhaps one of the many software updates that came through added to our network instability.

Then the router rebooted itself twice this evening, in the middle of streaming some shows. I surmised it was the router rebooting since the WiFi signals disappeared, so I could not access any of the machines on the network. Sometimes when we had outages last week, I was still able to access some of the computers on the network and the router itself. Though I would usually not be able to connect to my old desktop, probably because of the Network Manager going to sleep. On some occasions I could connect to the router and my old desktop, but there was no external connection (there was a large Bell outage last week). I do not know the cause of the router reboots this evening, and logs I can access from the dashboard are not helpful at all. We may have to call Bell in the morning, and see if they can address our issue. Perhaps the issue is with the modem/router itself, but it isn't misbehaving at the time, they might not offer to exchange it.

2020-08-09

Went to visit our neighbour this afternoon to catch up with them. Mina mentioned that we may be moving after she finishes her degree, and they were surprised. They assumed we would be staying around for a long time, but we may have to move to wherever Mina can find work in her field. We hope I can also find similar work there as well.

I have been running PiHole on my desktop for the last 24 hours, and after updating the Router and the TV, everything has been working fine. Though I just noticed that my old desktop (the one previously hosting PiHole) lost its ethernet connection, and it has been idling.

Both desktops are connected to the same router (TP-Link AV600 Powerline WiFi Extender), so either the issue is with the ethernet cable or the ethernet port. I don't have one of those ethernet cable testers, but I think I have other ethernet cables that I use.

2020-08-08

Removed the manual DNS on the router, disabled PiHole on my old desktop, installed PiHole on my current desktop and added a manual DNS on the router on point to my current desktop. Everything seems to work, I just need to update the static DNS on the SmartTV and I will see how stable PiHole is supposed to be.

After installing PiHole, but before updating the router it forced my computer to reboot when it was not able to connect to the router. I suspect that could be the culprit, so I will have to see how often my computer reboots. I may want to install RPi Monitor on my current desktop as well.

2020-08-07

Had lunch with Peter and his daugther today, it was good to catch up in person.

I got an email from Amazon, saying the bottle of hand sanitizer I put purchased is not safe to use and is being recalled. The link they shared lists over 50 other brands. I used to refill one of the empty hand sanitizers we use when changing Parisa, but we have not used it yet. I did refill the small bottle we keep in the car, and that one we have used. So we are just going to throw them out, I think we still have bottles of Purell that we can use.

I also caved and ordered some PCBs from OshPark, one is a Push On, Hold Off Power Switch I can use for that Busy Box for Parisa. I was going to order the parts from DigiKey later since I went with their free shipping option, which takes 3 weeks. The fabrication can take 2 weeks. I got an email from them saying they had room in their Super Swift service. So the PCBs will be ready in 5 days, but I still have to wait 5-21 days for delivery. I may have to order those components from DigiKey sooner then expected, but maybe I should wait until the PCBs arrive. In case something is not quite right.

I am going to try install Pi-Hole on my desktop, see if these network issues we are having are related. At least I can easily check the logs on my computer.

2020-08-05

Removed the fallback WiFi connections on the babypi monitor, hopefully that will stabilize the IP address hopping I have been observing. It seems that when it connected to one of the other fallback WiFi access points, the router would assign the host a new IP address.

I also installed shellinabox on babypi and enabled access in the RPi-Monitor dashboard. It worked immediately, so I thought it would be a good idea to install it on my old desktop and enable it in it's RPi-Monitor dashboard. Unfortunately the combination of shellinabox on Ubuntu 18.04 and viewed with Google Chrome v84 did not work, even when I tried downgrading shellinabox to an earlier version.

2020-08-04

Scheduled a lunch with Peter on Friday. Played his game that he created using the Godot engine, it was an exercise for an online course he is taking.

Organized some of my electronics projects into individual bins, but I still have alot of stuff to put away. I need to find a large lockable storage container, like a filing cabinet or something similar, hopefully one that will not cost too much.