Tips for T12 Soldering Station

tmpF411Remember my blog entry about the T12 soldering station?  I had a slight concern about tip availability.. solved..

Can’t say fairer than that… £26 inc. post for a complete set.

And these look far more substantial than those in my other soldering station so hopefully they’ll last a while. I just got them in the post. £2.60 each and that includes (I assume) the heater element as they occupy all the available space in the handle.

T12 Series Solder Iron Tips -- 
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Sonoff, Tasmota and Alexa

Sonoff mains switchI always think it is worth periodically re-visiting things you’ve tried before, even when the first attempt led to tears. Things change. And so it was that I pulled out and old (original 4-pin connector) Sonoff Basic recently and gave Tasmota a go. It is some time since I looked at this. Off I went to the Tasmota site looking for a binary file for the Sonoff BASIC. Voila. Binary files for lots of boards including Sonoff Basic.

Next I had to remember how to flash this on my Windows PC. I tried and quickly realised this was not going to work on my PC without figuring out where Python is hiding. It just so happens I have esptool.exe on there, in my c:\espressif\utils folder.

Continue reading Sonoff, Tasmota and Alexa


Geekcreit Large Rainbow Clock Kit

If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for pretty colours, which is why I had to have this Geekcreit Large Size Rainbow Colour Clock DIY kit. I kind of glossed over the kit bit when looking at it, but never mind, I’m up for a challenge (and if you think that a couple of SMT chips and a shedload of SMT LEDs is no challenge, I invite you to try it in your mid-60s after a couple of serious operations).

Enough blether… I need to build this.

Clock kit

That’s a stock photo – I’m about 20% through putting the LEDs in and I’m still baulking at the thought of putting the larger IC on the board. Now waiting for Banggood to come back with which resistor is which. My good pal Aidan is popping over this week to give me a hand with the big chip.

partial build

partial build

More later….

Geekcreit® Large Size Rainbow Color Clock DIY Kit -- 
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Raspberry Pi RPI-CLONE Issues

As I normally rave about RPI-CLONE – I  thought I’d share the dirty laundry this time.

** Update Jan 13 2019

It is looking increasingly likely that the issues I was having were power supply related and one bad SD card. I’ve just finished my 7th successful backup-clone since removing the intermediate battery pack to the Pi and shortening the USB lead. I neglected to note that I’d recently added an Amazon Echo generation 2 DOT into the mix. It is possible that is relevant. Good timing as I’ve just moved to Blynk local server and cracked ESP8266 host names on Windows and I do NOT want to lose that.

** end of update

I have backed up both Pi 2 and Pi 3 hundreds of times, generally without issue, but the last few days I’ve had some cloning problems – generally along the lines of failure – read-only.

Here is a photo of one of my Pi3 units  - – the main controller sits at but is otherwise identical).

Raspberry Pi 3 with OLED display

Continue reading Raspberry Pi RPI-CLONE Issues


3.5 inch LCD Touch Screen and RPI Case

RPI fan case  + LCD

That was in danger of becoming a very long title. I just bought this display/case combo for Raspberry Pi – I’m pretty sure from Banggood (no clue in the package) – but anyway as they have the driver links and the driver was not included in the box – see over the break. The links work.

I have this LCD running on one of my Raspberry Pi 2 boards, I like it but not had 100% success with the touch screen. The package I bought includes the LCD screen and RPI case.  As finding a bezel for these and similar displays is usually half the battle, I thought this was a good idea.

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A9 Mini WIFI HD 1080P Wireless IP Camera

As some of you know I have various IP cameras dotted around both in the UK and Spain – just to keep an eye on things. I just received this odd one at the weekend  – a miniature fish-eye type camera which connects as most do via an app – in this case the free Android App HDMiniCam and claiming H264 1080p. The app can handle multiple cameras as the thumbnails are quite small. My camera is white, not black.


Well, the good news is, it works – it took seconds to connect to my phone via the free app though I’ve not tried a PC connection yet.  What I find interesting about this model is the size and the fact that it has it’s own battery. Oh, and a magnetic stand. Here you see the fish-eye effect.

A9 Camera

Since starting it up a couple of days ago it has worked 100%, plugged into the USB on my PC. The fish-eye view and inconsistent frame rate would prevent using this as a webcam but then that’s not what it is intended for. Sound in and out is fine.

A9 cameraHere is the actual white camera. There are two clearly marked buttons – one for on-off, the other for setting up etc. Yes, the green and blue indicators are bright. One of these cameras would be easily hidden but for the bright lights. Underneath you see the magnetically attached stand who’s base is adhesive, not magnetic. I’ve not tested battery life yet.

The 150 degree wide angle fish-eye lens is as you can see here on the top. For actual use, I could see this going in the car, a lot less obnoxious than the camera I have now in the car and it could be used for recording minor accidents or near misses. Along with others of it’s kind, I’m not sure the magnetic connection would stand up to a severe accident.

The camera takes a microSD, not supplied. I happened to have a couple floating about. 
More Security Cameras --

I like this camera and I think it will do well in my car, but for general use in terms of value for money, my much larger Alfawise camera previously blogged about is better if ultra wide angle isn’t important to you.


The Script

Regular reader will know about the script that Aidan Ruff and I originally developed to put Node-Red and several other packages onto the Raspberry Pi for our own home control purposes. This has been developed with help from several people and in particular my friend Antonio “Mr Shark”.

The Script, ESP-GO and Nano Peripheral

WELL – here is the script which is intended to help set up certain Raspbian, Debian or similarly-based SBCs which now includes logging and handling Raspbian Stretch (tested on Raspberry Pi  2 and 3, 3B+). As well as it's original purpose of setting up a Raspberry Pi, the script also runs well with several other boards.  See right hand side of the above image for what the script does, given a basic operating system install.

January 2019 – while leaving “The Script” in place on BitBucket, I’ve uploaded a new version with mods for Raspbian and in particular Node-Red and Node v8 as currently used by the Node-Red guys. On new installs this may even fit Node 10. I’ve not tried that myself. Starting in your ROOT directory as user ROOT, initially, here’s how to get the script – 2019 version.

wget --no-check-certificate

Read on…

Continue reading The Script


XANES B06 0.96" IPS Screen Smart Bracelet

Here’s yet another smart bracelet – the Xanes B06… I want to bring a couple of items to your attention about this pleasant but otherwise unremarkable bracelet.

Xanes B06

I received the orange version – the display is wide – and lovely – unlike some which use only a narrow area of the available space. This model has USB charging – and you simply remove the TOP half of the bracelet and attach the rest to any USB port. No lead required. Assuming a tight fit of the bracelet pieces I see no reason why the waterproof claim should not be valid. There are two available watch faces.

I do have questions about the claim (see ad) to do sleep monitoring, mentioned in the document but no sign on the watch and the docs so say that this will only show up in the app after a night’s sleep. Seems odd and in fact this morning though the app recorded my last sleep accurately, apparently I didn’t sleep last night.

Continue reading XANES B06 0.96" IPS Screen Smart Bracelet



This promising looking 1080P FHD Auto DVR Camera Video recorder with WiFi ADAS G-Sensor from TomTop will apparently work in the car to take videos (rear or front) and store them on a (not supplied) SD card. I installed an SD I had lying around and plugged the USB-powered camera into my PC. Immediately I went to DEVICES in Windows, the WORLDCAM appeared. Sadly it would not show up in Skype. Nor would it show up in the Windows 10 Camera App. I can’t tell if it is working as it has no internal screen.


ToCan’t find the TomTop link for this camera so here’s a general link to their site: be fair this is not what the camera was designed for, so I elected to go look at the supplied instructions. “The recorder connects the car machine” it said. WHAT car machine I ask? “Find the ES File Browser in the car” it said. I’m pretty familiar with my car and I’m pretty sure the Sat-Nav/Control unit does not have ES File Explorer and that is the ONLY car device with a screen.

This could be the shortest review of the year unless new information comes to light.


Eachen WiFi IR Universal Remote

Eachen from TomTopFirst reviews of 2019 coming up… starting with the Eachen WIFI-IR Universal Remote (touted as Sonoff but it isn’t Sonoff).

This inexpensive unit needs USB power to run and comes with it’s own microUSB cable – the assumption being that you have spare USB supplied lying around (not a good start). The cable in fact was too short for testing (pointless testing it in the office so I took it into the living room where the TV sits – and hence the remote controls it has to emulate).

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Hantek DSO 5102P Digital Storage Scope

The DSO 5102P Oscilloscope was the last Christmas present to arrive and so it has not had a hammering yet but here it is anyway – and it’s a beauty. Not expensive either. The specs look good for an entry-level scope.

Here’s the DSO 5102P oscilloscope on my bench:

Hantek DSO 5102P Scope from Banggood

Hantek have been around for a decade or more and make a wide variety of test instruments. This model scope sits somewhere in the middle of their oscilloscope range as a desktop/portable 100Mhz, 1GSa/S dual channel storage scope. Overleaf you’ll see the Banggood links inc discount coupon supplied by Banggood.

Continue reading Hantek DSO 5102P Digital Storage Scope