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Devices

IPSec between a FRITZ!Box and a Mikrotik

Due to the death of my FreeBSD router out at the farm a replacement was required. A Mikrotik Router was purchased (because of its compatibility with IPv6) and then the IPSec tunnel adventure began… Read More...

TAM horror

My FRITZ!Box has been getting empty answering machine messages! One every 45 minutes. It turns out that Telstra has a potentially useful service that delivers SMS messages as voice messages. Unfortunately, figuring the service out is less easy. Read More...

Tronixlabs LCD Backpack

For my Raspberry Pi GPS NTP server project I found it useful to have a display available to put up simple status messages for example the IP address and the output of ntpq.

To that end I purchased a Serial I2C backpack for HD44780-compatible LCD modules from Tronixlabs. Although they provide a tutorial for the use of these devices I had greater success with a different Python library. Read More...

Lacie 2Big NAS



I purchased a Lacie 2Big NAS to act as backup storage - it was quiet and nicely designed - it fitted into a home environment. Unfortunately, the device only offered email notifications of failure - which didn’t fit well against my Nagios based monitoring approach. A bit of protocol reverse engineering and studying their released sources resulted in a Nagios plugin that could monitor the NAS’s health.

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Tronixlabs DS321 hardware clock config for Rasperberry Pi

For various reasons I need to make a Raspberry Pi into an NTP time server and for this to work I need time to be roughly right when it starts. hence we need to add an RTC to the Raspberry Pi running Raspberian.



Tronixlabs supplies a very nice module (http://tronixlabs.com/raspberry-pi/real-time-clock/ds321-real-time-clock-module-for-raspberry-pi/) but the instructions are a little less than optimal.


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Do not use a cannon to kill a mosquito

Some time ago I installed a series of IP cameras to keep an eye on the horses at the farm. With the dodgy power, the sometimes less than stellar performance of the IP link to the farm (it is a long radio link) and the generally poor firmware found on domestic IP cameras, it is not a rare event that that the cameras lock up and need a power cycle.

My original plan for fixing the issue was to install an Arduino with an Ethernet driving a relay and have a Nagios event handler tell the Arduino to bounce the relay. I already use something like this to help fix the WiMAX radio link when it gets confused. Reducing the number of calls I make to my saintly mother-in-law and brother-in-law to help bring the link back up.

After a face-palm moment I realised I was over engineering this problem and already had a piece of equipment that gave 90% of the solution - a ToughSwitch POE. This PoE switch has a watchdog facility that reboots devices if they fail to ping for a sufficiently long period of time - I deployed this device to control my outdoor APs in November of 2013 to great success. All that was needed was to make the cameras PoE devices ...
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Ubiquiti Unifi - Followup

In July I wondered if my Unifi Outdoor unit have a thermal problem? The answer seems to be no ... Read More...

Java and Embedded devices

Java has such promise for use in embedded devices: Just download the JVM on the client device and access the embedded device from whatever client OS or platform you wish. Unfortunately the truth is rather less than the promise. Read More...

Do you have Foxtel ...

The power saving power board people have been around … yet another piece of equipment fails due to their poor training.

There is an Australian government program which allows electricity users to receive standby power saving power boards in exchange for the carbon credits the devices are estimated to deliver. Unfortunately, the training given to the people who deliver the boards is poor. The only question they appear to ask is “Is that device for Foxtel?”, and that is the only device they plug in to an outlet that stays on all the time. Read More...

DFRobot Xhouse

DFRobot (www.dfrobot.com) have a demonstration iPhone App and software for their Xboard series of devices. Apart from a small issue with a cable the Xhouse demo project was a fun little diversion - easily built and potentially useful. Read More...

Ubiquiti UniFi

My venerable Airport Extreme base stations at the farm with Ubiquiti Networks (www.ubnt.com) UniFi APs and UniFi AP outdoor. This is a fairly challenging environment for a WiFi network as the house is constructed with Hebel (reinforced foamed concrete) and a number of tin sheds. Read More...

How do you take your tablets?

It is nice to see that there is some usability data to back up my own usage preferences. In iPad users prefer landscape mode, late-night browsing they claim that there is a preference for using the iPad in landscape mode and late at night. Read More...

Zoneminder

Zoneminder (www.zoneminder.com) a recording and security program was surprisingly easy to set up. Video4Linux the drivers for video capture cards for Linux, on the other hand, was a nightmare. Read More...

Foscam Adventures

I recently acquired a couple of Foscam IP Cameras for keeping an eye on my horses while in their stables or their yards. The earlier model went in without a hitch replacing a venerable Swann IP camera which had finally died. The newer model (an FI8910W) kept rebooting every 60 or so seconds … Read More...

WeMo

Belkin released the Australian version of the WeMo (a WiFi controlled switch) a few weeks ago. Some experiments with it showed that it is probably the easiest home automation system out there … but it has a few annoying limitations. Read More...