Controlling an RS232 Device over UART / WiFi

I recently had the need to connect part of my AV setup to my Home Assistant instance, however to do so I had two options, using the LAN control option built into the device, or via an RS232 serial port.

Naturally I attempted to use the LAN control part first, which involves opening a TCP socket to port 10008 of the device.
But I ran into problems as the connection kept wanting a user to login, even though there was no user account, and I was unable to figure out how to pass the login prompt and send commands automatically.

So I went to JayCar and grabbed one of these:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32722395554.html

Basically, it converts a TTL level signal to RS232 level signals.
I hooked it up to a Wemos D1 Mini, on the ESP, you want to use one of the HARDWARE UART pins, so for me, I went with D4, which is GPIO2 / TXD1.

My equipment had a 3.5mm socket for RS232 control, the manual had a pinout for DB9 to 3.5 so that was a simple cable to make, but your equipment might have something else.

Code wise, this is what ive settled on using and has been working MOSTLY well:

esphome:
  name: sharptv
  platform: ESP8266
  board: d1_mini

wifi:
  ssid: '********'
  password: '********'

api:

# Enable logging
logger:

ota:

mqtt:
  broker: 172.16.0.60
  username: rs232
  password: ********

uart:
  baud_rate: 38400
  tx_pin: D4

switch:
  - platform: uart
    name: "Power On"
    data: [0x50, 0x4F, 0x57, 0x52, 0x20, 0x20, 0x20, 0x31, 0x0D, 0x0A]
    on_turn_on:
      then:
      - mqtt.publish:
          topic: esphome/rs232/sharp/state
          payload: "ON"
          retain: true

  - platform: uart
    name: "Power Off"
    data: [0x50, 0x4F, 0x57, 0x52, 0x20, 0x20, 0x20, 0x30, 0x0D, 0x0A]
    on_turn_on:
      then:
      - mqtt.publish:
          topic: esphome/rs232/sharp/state
          payload: "OFF"
          retain: true

  - platform: uart
    name: "HDMI 1"
    data: [0x49, 0x4E, 0x50, 0x53, 0x20, 0x20, 0x31, 0x30, 0x0D, 0x0A]
    on_turn_on:
      then:
      - mqtt.publish:
          topic: esphome/rs232/sharp/input
          payload: "HDMI1"
          retain: true

  - platform: uart
    name: "HDMI 2"
    data: [0x49, 0x4E, 0x50, 0x53, 0x20, 0x20, 0x31, 0x33, 0x0D, 0x0A]
    on_turn_on:
      then:
      - mqtt.publish:
          topic: esphome/rs232/sharp/input
          payload: "HDMI2"
          retain: true

  - platform: uart
    name: "HDMI 3"
    data: [0x49, 0x4E, 0x50, 0x53, 0x20, 0x20, 0x31, 0x38, 0x0D, 0x0A]
    on_turn_on:
      then:
      - mqtt.publish:
          topic: esphome/rs232/sharp/input
          payload: "HDMI3"
          retain: true

  - platform: uart
    name: "DISPLAYPORT"
    data: [0x49, 0x4E, 0x50, 0x53, 0x20, 0x20, 0x31, 0x34, 0x0D, 0x0A]
    on_turn_on:
      then:
      - mqtt.publish:
          topic: esphome/rs232/sharp/input
          payload: "DISPLAYPORT" 
          retain: true

I say mostly, because when the ESP reboots, it sticks some data out of the pin, which the equipment holds in its buffer. So if the ESP has just reboot, and I try and send a command, the unit wont respond, as it gets more data than it thought. πŸ™‚

This can be fixed by including a line break and carriage return at the START of the command, to clear the buffer, or by sending the command twice. but i havent done that yet because i … havent got around to it… 

Ill also mention, the TX/RX might be wrong on the Chinese board because ive seen a few different photos, if it doesnt work on TX try RX :^)

Ive ordered a handful of these to test making it smaller (think a cable with a bulge in the middle)

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32834977750.html


Vivid 2018 LED IoT Apparel !

Hello! 

Continuing with the tradition of creating something beautiful and covered in LED lights, this year we have something special!

Previously, we had the LED Jacket with Tearschu, and the LED Dress with Naifel. Taking inspiration from these, and solving a lot of the problems I faced with them, I bring the latest iteration of light up fun.

This year, I have taken a pair of high heel boots, and an umbrella from Daiso, added plenty of pretty lights, and of course, this year marks the first year the entire project is connected to the internet.

 

 

The project was built using mostly the same core components for each item. 

The shoes each have:

  • Lithium Ion Battery (1000mAh)
  • LiIon Charge / Boost circuit MP2636 
  • WeMos D1 Mini
  • A random switch for power
  • A strip of WS2812 LEDs

The umbrella is similar, except instead of the MP2636 boost circuit and 3.7v Lithium battery, I used a 3s LiPo battery, and a 5v step down regulator capable of high current.

 

The physical build was pretty straight forward, hook up everything how you please, battery to boost/charge, from there to the WeMos / LEDs, and then route the wires how you please. For LED placement on the shoes, I went with up along the front as I feel this will look the best having the light cover the most area, and for the umbrella I ran the lights down the spokes of the umbrella.

Unfortunately with my design you cant really CLOSE the umbrella anymore but as this is just for Vivid I am not too fussed πŸ™‚ 

To attach the LEDs to the umbrella I initially tried to use hot glue, but it was actually melting through the umbrella, and the parts that didn’t, did not hold very well, so I ended up using clear packing tape, as it does not seem to get in the way of anything and is barely noticeable! 

The LEDs here are hooked up in parallel with each other, so each spoke on the umbrella will be the same.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once it is all made up physically, we can move on to the code.

I was looking into using the McLighting project for control of these, as it has both an internal web interface as well as support for things like MQTT, but I could not get it to work reliably, and it didn’t support running in AP mode, only client mode, which was a big turn off for me.

So what I ended up using was the JSON LED code from BRUH Automation, because I use this for other things at home and it works pretty reliably.

One thing to note here, for my LEDs I had to add the following two lines of code, BEFORE including the libraries, to prevent flickering of the strip. (not sure why this works?)

#define FASTLED_INTERRUPT_RETRY_COUNT 0
#define FASTLED_ALLOW_INTERRUPTS 0

 

(at the verryy top of the sketch)

 

Now my initial plan included taking a small portable router, and a Raspberry Pi 3 out with me to vivid, running a local MQTT server on a local network, with the Pi running Home Assistant (Hass.IO) all locally so I could connect to it to control things. However I ran into many problems attempting to do this, I am not sure if its because I don’t know how to properly setup static IP’s in resin, or just because it hates me, but I kept not being able to connect or it wouldn’t respond to my commands, it just wasn’t working great.

 

One day though, my good friend Mark came over and we needed a project to work on, so what we set up was a private mosquitto MQTT broker, that requires authentication, running in Docker on a Ubuntu Server 18.04 LTS install!

What this meant,  was I now had a secure way of connecting a remote node to my Home Assistant running back home.

 

I went right ahead and adjusted the code on the three items for the new server, forwarded the ports in my router, added the config to my production Home Assistant server, and hey presto, was I glad to see, everything JUST WORKED.

 

I made a view in Home Assistant and threw all the entities into it, and here’s how that looks:

So as you can see, we can control both shoes together, each individually, the umbrella on its own, or everything as a group!

We also can change the animation speed of the various effects.

I will be heading out to vivid to shoot a small video and some photos with this, with my good friend Tsugumi modelling it for me, on the 9th of June 2018 from about 6PM onward, Not sure if I will be at Circular Quay or Darling Harbor yet, keep your eye on my Instagram to find out! πŸ˜‰ 

 

Thanks for reading!!!

Image Recognition for Home Assistant

I was browsing the Home Assistant Community Forums earlier today, when I noticed a post by Robin Cole!

Rob has created a custom component for Home Assistant that allows us to use image classification via Tagbox, on a camera feed that Home Assistant has access to.

Following the instructions on github was pretty straight forward, the only thing I changed was to reference an external image_procesing.yaml rather than having it all in my configuration.yaml as I’m trying to be a bit cleaner.

 

In this case, my docker is running on Windows, the Tagbox instructions were fine for this, I didn’t realise you can just run the image and if its not installed, it will download it πŸ™‚ 

 

So now that it’s all setup it appears to be working great! 

As you can see, the component creates a new entity called image_processing.tagbox_name, with a state of the most likely item in the image, and then some attributes of the next most likely, and a count of any specific tags from the config.

I’ll play around with it to see what I can use it for more practically,  I can think of all sorts of things this component will be useful for! From identifying if a car spot is free or taken, to seeing if the bins were already taken out! 

 

I just wish I could specify a region within a camera feed for it to analyse. 

 

Yaesu FT-897D Battery Project

I decided to build a lithium battery for my Yaesu FT-897D because the official Yaesu Ni-Mh batteries are far too expensive to import here (Then you need the special charger too!)

At present when operating portable, I have been running a lithium battery external to the radio (often a higher voltage battery through a little power supply)

So I grabbed some battery packs made up of four 2200Mah 18650 cells each, three of these adds  up to 11.1v at 8.8Ah, this is plenty for my short trips !

I planned out how to fit them inside, and there’s more than plenty of space, see image πŸ™‚

My preliminary notes were:

The three packs are each four 18650 cells in parallel

Totalling up to 8.8Ah per pack at 3.7v

At full charge it will be at 12.6v and at empty about 9-10v

I have measured how much power the radio draws, and on monitoring it draws around 8w, on transmitting around 18w (at 10w TX power, go figure) so that’s only 1-2 amps, super easy for these lithium batteries.

I’m just waiting for my BMS to arrive from China (battery management system)

As that has over current protection, over charge protection, over discharge protection and short circuit protection for the batteries

Then I’ll use some padded sticky foam to mount them in such a way they’ll get ventilation from the existing fans and good to go!

Gallery below! 

 

Getting a Fargo DTC550 ID Card Printer working

Armed with nothing but the printer and a small handful of blank cards, I set out to get this machine back into working order, and find some way of printing my own access cards with it.

This will be a quick post, mostly for my own reference in the future, so lets get right down to it.

 

The first hurdle was the power supply, the printer is rated at 24v 3.3A ‘max’ the max part leads me to think I can get away with less, considering that I have some 24v 2A power supplies laying around, I attempted with that. I spliced a DC barrel onto one and hooked her up (Center positive) Good news! It powers up fine, 

I poked around the menu a bit and accidentally printed a grey test image onto the last… card? in the machine, its more of a sticker shaped like a card but hey, it printed fine.

Printed a color one next onto a plain white PVC card I had, all went well ! Colours looked good, so I figured it’s time to hook it up to the PC and see what I can find.

Windows installed some kind of generic driver for it, but it didn’t have any information, and I couldn’t access it from any application. So I hit up Google and.. well it’s damn hard to find ANYTHING on this machine.

I know its pretty old but damn, is a driver too much to ask for? 

Even the HID website, that replaced the Fargo website, has a link to the driver, that gives a 404 error !

 

Luckily after searching for a few hours I found a janky ass website that had a zip file with a random string as its file name… being pretty desperate at this point I downloaded it and looked inside, it looked pretty legit.. a couple of ini files, some infs and an exe with a convincing icon…. 

Heading back to device manager I did an ‘Update Driver’ and pointed it to the newly extracted folder to search, and to my amazement, it found a better driver and installed it!

 

The printer now installed itself as a regular system printer, which was great, because it took away the need to find some special software that supported the printer. You can print from anything, MS Paint to Lightroom, Windows Photo Viewer to Photoshop!

Just remember to make sure the images have CYMK colour pallet… 

 

I did find though, that most programs leave a tiny border around the outside, its only a fraction of a millimeter but it’s noticeable. 

The software I am using though, is from HID, called Fargo Workbench.

 

I will attach the two items referenced in this post so that I or anyone else can get them in the future. I’ll rename the driver to something more human friendly too!

 

 

Click Here to download Fargo DTC550 Driver

Click Here to download Fargo Workbench Software

Programming my Gherkin

Over the weekend at the Sydney Mechanical Keyboard Meetup, I got my hands on some DSA keycaps, The intent is for them to replace my dodgy sticker based ones on the Neutrino, but for now I decided to put them on the Gherkin to see how I fair with it having DSA keycaps on it! 

 

I forgot the keymap I had programmed so it is easier to just remake a new keymap imho.

 

Ill document it all here for future reference to stop myself forgetting next time πŸ™‚

 

 

So as usual, we will use http://kbfirmware.com  

 

Now if you havent seen the gherkin its a 30%? 40%? keyboard, that has a 10*3 matrix on it.

 

More info here: http://www.40percent.club/2016/11/gherkin.html

 

Now we’re pretty lucky, on this page we have links to a json file for the firmware builder ! Lets use this!

 

 

The wiring is pretty funky if you ask me, its  very confusing. So i’ll just assume that it’s correct..

 

 

Now mine has LEDs so for those, Ill connect pin D3 on the header to the DIN on the WS2812 strip.

 

Using the handy pictures over here we can see the pinout of that header.

I have 11 LEDs so we will set that in the firmware builder and set it to D3 pin, Don’t forget to disable the other LEDs we aren’t using such as caps lock and num lock.

So ive messed with the layout and happy with this I think for now:

 

Now that I have configured everything, I have a custom json file

 

Lets download the hex file and flash it !

 

and we have success !

 

Everything works as intended πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading !

 

edit: I changed some keys and added an esc key on layer 1 of N key thats all

Why I play around with Home Automation

Hello, I’m posting this just before bed to clear something up. Apologies if things don’t make sense.

When people find out about my smart home setup, the most common thing I get from people next to “was it expensive” is “you’re really lazy”

Its not about the effort I save by not getting up to flick a light switch.

For me, this is my hobby. I take great joy in setting up different systems to work and play together nicely, for example, most of the sensors in my apartment are on a ZigBee network, while most of the lights are WiFi, even the different brands of bulbs, and then there’s a few Z-Wave devices in the mix.

I go to a lot of trouble and effort to set these things up, to maintain them, its very time and effort consuming.

I am learning HEAPS as I go along, about how things work, how different technologies work together, improving my understanding of code and syntax and even learning new languages.

Theres a huge level of satisfaction I get when something I’ve spend hours, even days working towards, finally works.

Such as the other day when I was at work, not even thinking about the weather outside, and I got a Facebook message telling me the temperature in my bedroom had exceeded 27Β°c.

This reminded me I could set the thermostat to 23Β°c befoee I left work, so that when I got home my room was nice and cool.

Or when I walk into the kitchen and the light turns itself on when I enter, turning itself back off when I leave again.

Even simple things like all the lights turn themselves off at 1am in case we have fallen asleep and left them on.

Its all these end results that I work hard to achieve.

The feeling of moving aroundy normal life, and having these things just happen when they need to, makes me feel more free, if I want to watch a movie, I select it on my phone, the tv turns on and starts playing the movie, the lights dim while its playinf, then when it’s finished, the tv turns off and the lights come back up, is amazing, it feels so natural, things happening when I need them, not just when I do them.

So next time you hear that I’ve set up my light to be voice controlled, instead of thinking “that’s so lazy” think more about how it can be helpful, like “wow of your hands are full you can still turn on the lights” or even “wow if you’re tired and don’t want to get out of bed, you can turn them off from there!”

This post isn’t targeted, I’m just attempting to convey my point of view.

If it was a matter of being lazy, I wouldn’t go to the copious amounts of effort that I do in order to setup this stuff.

Emergency anti Jacob device

I have a colleague with an unhealthy obsession with rotating people’s desktops using the control alt arrow key combination.

It used up not be so bad, it would occasionally happen when you left your desk too long, but alas the problem grew ever so much worse. He soon learnt that he could spam the keys and it would queue up the rotations, he could make our desktops spin uncontrolled!

But still, this could be avoided by locking the computer it was not in use however Jacob has gotten more stealthy at this and he now rotates the monitors even when you are at the desk and not paying attention.

It is for this reason that I created the anti Jacob device. it activates the windows lock with a single press of a big red button therefore it gives you a quick and easy way to prevent Jacob from rotating your desktop.

At its core, it is an emergency stop button wired to Arduino Pro Micro. A sketch pulls up gpio 2 and watches it. If the pin is then pulled to ground will activate the windows L combination, therefore locking the pc.

This is our strongest weapon in the war against surprise rotating desktops.

iPhone can finally read NFC tags!

Good morning!!

 

With the release of iOS 11 this morning, Apple has finally caught up with the NFC game and is allowing users to read NDEF formatted NFC tags !

They’re still a bit behind in that, you can only READ tags, not write them, and you have to specifically install an app to read them, the OS doesn’t natively support them.

However in my quick testing, for my implant, the read performance is excellent!

 

I can get a 100% hit rate and very fast responses.

 

Its very easy to locate where to hold the phone, as the antenna is the top back of the device.

 

 

Heres a video of it in action, notice how easy I hit the right spot ?

 

Ill do more tests as I can but as I don’t have an iPhone 7 or later device and for some reason the iPhone 6 apparently does not get NFC unlocked ?? it will be slow.

 

Im pretty impressed so far it will be good to see native support in the OS to allow Apple users to interact with the world just like us Android users have been able to for years!

Setting up RTL-SDR in 2017

Years back I discovered RTL-SDR, that used very cheap USB TV tuners to run Software Defined Radio applications.

Back then I found it super easy to setup,

 

You just download ‘SDR#’ and run the installer, then you’re good to go!

More recently though, AirSpy selling their own SDR products, I recall having more difficulty setting it all up..

 

So let’s give it a shot here today.

Heading over to the AirSpy downloads page

I downloaded the ‘Windows SDR Software Package’ which seems to be similar to the old version, containing SDR#, ADSB Spy etc.
This downloaded a familiar looking sdrsharp-x86.zip file

Extracting this zip gives a familiar folder structure, with an install-rtlsdr.bat file, perhaps it hasn’t changed much after all? Not sure why I seemed to have so much problems last time…
I fired up Zadig as admin after it had downloaded and selected Options > List All Devices so that I could find my RTL device.

And with that its time to launch SDRSharp.exe !

The first thing ill do is pop into the options gear up the top there and change the device to RTL-SDR (USB). Then back into options and ensure the correct device is selected and the RG Gain is turned up a little.

And with that, we’re in!

It all seems to be working fine. I did a frequency correction of 3ppm and got it centered on a carrier wave.
Im now able to use this to identify which frequencies are in use around 500mhz so that I can fix up some wireless microphones that are complaining about interference!

 

It was much easier than last time. Not sure why I had so much trouble….