Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sonoff 4 channel relay bricked

Sonoff 4Ch R2 Relay

I have an older Sonoff 4 Channel Relay (R2 Pro) which I had flashed with Tasmota firmware version 6.4.1.

In the interest of incorporating easily into my home automation I decided to upgrade the Tasmota firmware to the latest version (9.5.0 at the time of this writing). I want to use it for landscape lighting.

I uploaded the Tasmota minimal which did upload but when the relay rebooted the relay 2 light came on and the relay 1 relay began furiously clicking.

The WiFi was NOT connected as well.   No problem.  I’ll just put the device in boatloader mode and rewrite the flash memory.  You do that by holding down this button while powering up:

Enter boot loader mode (click pic to enlarge)

Great, except it didn’t work.  I was pretty sure it was bricked for all eternity and I was ready to throw it in the trash.   Holding the button down is supposed to short data pin GPIO0 (zero) to ground causing the device to enter boot loader mode.

I decided I would try to manually short GPIO0 to ground by using these pins while the FTDI controller was connected.

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Smart Plug For Home Assistant

Smart Plug

Bought some of these plugs a few years back and never used them much because I put z-wave smart switches all over my house.

Well, I have a “new” house now which was built in the 80’s and it doesn’t have a dedicated neutral line which limits my smart switch choices a bit which leads me back to the smart outlets.

First of all, when you get switches like this that say “Compatible with Alexa or Google” just know  that that means they are made in China and the controlling software and app are made in China and that your smart device is sending info to China.  You can’t be sure because the software is proprietary,

Enter “Tasmota” which is a custom firmware with Open Source code which means you can see the code which makes you feel more comfortable when you say “Alexa, turn on Safe House, Safe Room lights”.  That of course is an exaggerated joke.

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Repair, Not Replace

I’m a big proponent of fixing stuff rather than replacing it.  The “new” home I moved to has a built in audio system in a lot of rooms and on the front and back porches and even a speaker way out in the woods on a deck.

The speakers on the back porch are all fouled up and only produce sound from the tweeter.  The outdoor speakers are all Polk Audio Atrium55’s which are discontinued.

Polk Audio Atrium 55

So, as luck would have it, so are the replacement speakers ( Part Number RD0756-1).  Can’t find them anywhere.

The successor to these speakers seems to be the Atrium 5’s which cost $250 at Amazon, Best Buy, eBay……….everywhere.

So let’s see how I deal with this………

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LED Strips For Lighting and Effects – What NOT To Get

I have a real cool LED strip that I installed a while back.  Details of that build are here.

My Living Room Arch LED Strip Installation

I just built a work/hobby room up and decided to put some effect lighting in there as well.  I did a little research and of all the LED lights that you can buy in Lowes, Target, Walmart, HomeDepot only the Monster Smart Illuminessence lights line at Walmart seemed to be available quickly and they seemed to possess the ability to be flashed by an Open Source Firmware called Tasmota.

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Ring DoorBell Pro Review – Piece of Fucking Shit

Yep.  My blog.  I can say whatever I want.  The Ring Doorbell platform is a piece of fucking shit.

I had a Ring Doorbell for a couple of years and it would intermittently die, would not connect to a live stream if I got a notification and would die for days only to come back to life mysteriously.

So brilliant guy I am I bought another one to replace it.  A Ring Doorbell Pro.   It is two wires and an app connection yet somehow it took me two hours to install and I’m a geek.

It’s a piece of fucking shit.  When it did finally install after I found an obscure reference in their forum that said to turn off cellular data on the phone while installing it was hit or miss on live view.

I got a hair emotional when I wrote this😃.  I’ve edited to add a fact or two but my review stands mostly as is.

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DIY GPS Puck for Uniden Homepatrol Scanners

Yes Uniden makes a GPS kit for their scanners.  It’s $80.  You can DIY one up for less than half the cost.  And it’s fun to make your own stuff and you’ll learn a thing or two as well.

Here’s what you need.

  • GPS Puck – I used a GlobalSat BR-355S4 $35 approx
  • USB cable – USB A to USB Mini Type B (4pin) $4.50.  You will not walk in a store and find one of these. They are just a little hard to find.  I used a Promaster #3696 cable.
  • Skillz – Mad Skillz

Promaster #3696

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Skewing Satellite Antenna for GOES (and others)

I live in Eastern NC and have a ground station to receive GOES-16 East.  No need to skew or tilt the disk.

However, I wanted to get GOES-17 West which requires some skew of the antenna to properly receive the signal.

 

 

First you need your stats.  Go to dishpointer.com and type in your address and the satellite you wish to track.

Awesome. Scroll to the bottom of the page that gets returned from the search and it will indicate Azimuth, Elevation, and required Skew.

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BEST Swiss Army Knife To CARRY

Oh boy, the age old question for people who carry a Swiss Army Knife………Which one is best?  However the question should be……..Which one is best for me for the conditions I’m going to encounter?

I have LOTS of Swiss Army Knives.  LOTS.  And I try very hard to carry and use them all so I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my money.  But invariably you wonder if you could only have one, which one would it be?  I’m going to just get to the point and name the knife I’ve chosen.  Many may cringe.  Some will agree.

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Getting A Great Swiss Army Knife On The Cheap

Do you love Swiss Army Knives?  I love Swiss Army Knives.  I’ve been carrying multi-tools for years.  I’m kind of a fan of the Medium sized knives however they tend to run upwards of $30 or   so and some of them way more than that.  Even though they are worth every penny there is a way so essentially get a “new” knife for just less than $20, even cheaper if you can find an inexpensive source for “Scales”.

Scales are the plastic colored outer housing pieces on your Swiss Army Knife.  They are pretty easily changed as well.

I have kind of figured out that the going rate for an “old” Swiss Army Knife (91mm), unless it is something collectible is about $5.  Go to the antique store.  $5.  All manner of eBay auctions can be won for $5

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The Aftermath of Hurricane Florence

Thanks to TV reporters pretending the storm was a lot worse than it was the entirety of the free world thinks that all of New Bern is destroyed and is now just like the Lost Colony of Roanoke.  I’m not trying to minimize the damage to New Bern as it was substantial but New Bern is a Semi-Large Small Town and everyone doesn’t own a home or business on the River.

Basically the Hurricane created HARD days all of Thursday and Friday with some wind and rain on Saturday but no so bad that you couldn’t perform your recovery actions.

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