Sunday, May 13, 2018

Almost a Year?

Well what can I say?

I've been busy?

Oh well.  Better late than never again...

Details in the next post.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Orange Pi Zero 2+ H5

The Orange Pi series of boards has become a familiar site at my place.  They are cheap, work reasonably well and are actually alot of fun.

My current board that I am playing with is the Zero 2+ H5 version. which is one of their newest boards,

It interested me because of the HDMI display, built-in WiFi and Bluetooth and a 64-bit processor.  Unfortunately since it is so new, Armbian is just beginning to support it.

Besides this board, I have two other normal Orange Pi Zeros, one of which is being used to run my Owncloud server.

Finally, I have an Orange Pi One which I use as my main Internet-facing server.  I use Apache as a reverse-proxy server to serve content from all of my other servers.  I'll have to blog about doing that later.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Single Board Computer Serial Console Usage

When you work with Single Board Computers (SBCs) such as the Raspberry Pi or the Orange Pi, you sometimes do not have the luxury of a full desktop or even an SSH connection to interact with your device.  That's when the serial port on the board becomes quite useful.

In order to use the serial port on these SBCs, you will need a USB to TTL converter cable such as this...

They can be found from several sources, and are relatively inexpensive.

One thing to be aware of is "counterfeit chip"  cables that have trouble using the latest drivers.  I'm not sure how to distinguish them when you buy them, but they exist,  One workaround, if you have trouble with drivers for your cable, is to look for older driver versions.

Anyway, these console cables will include 4 pin connectors... usually colored Red, Black, Green and White.  They are respectively positive voltage (3.3v), ground, RX and TX.  When used on an board that is already powered, the Red lead is usually not used.

Here is where you would plug the leads into a Raspberry Pi...

The cable will look like this...

Once you have connected the serial cable, you can use a terminal application on your computer to access a shell on the SBC.  On Windows, I use PuTTY to connect.  In order to do this, the first thing I have to do is determine the COM port that is being used by the console cable.  To do this I use the Device Manager in Windows.  Once I have the comm port to use, I start PuTTY and set it up like this..

Once you click open, you should be connected and communicating.  You may have to hit return to get a prompt.

If it does not seem to work, you can try swapping your White and Green connections... sometimes the normal convention is not followed.

Well that's it for this post.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

ESP-12F Adapter Plates

I finally broke down and bought some "standard" ESP-12 adapter plates that I see everywhere,..

The nice thing about then that I noticed is that it already includes the pull-up and pull-down resistors needed just to get the ESP-12 working.

All I needed to do was solder the module to the board and then the headers.  All the was left to do was to short GPIO 00 to ground when powering it up to put it "flash" mode.

What have I been up to lately?

3D Printing

Well alot of 3D printing that is for sure.  I have two printers now and a good set of colored filaments for printing things.  The problem is that I am lacking in new things to print.  I really should try working on my own 3D designs.  I am very comfortable with OpenSCAD but it does has some limitations.  One is the "interactivity" aspect of the interface.  You have to tweak script code, refresh, tweak, refresh, etc....  Sometimes it would be nice to be able to grab primitives and move them manually.

Some of the more useful OpenSCAD scripts are for containers and such.  Walter Tsao has a great set.  For example, this useful object...  He includes a nice OpenSCAD file to let you tweak and size your own model.


Another obsession has been with these small ESP8266 modules.  For one, they are programmable through the Arduino IDE which makes them extremely accessible to many.  For me though, the real gem is being able to run MicroPython.  It's an amazingly complete implementation of Python that has built-in libraries for the hardware.

Monday, May 8, 2017

I'm Still Here

Just a quick post to let you know I'm still here.  The times have been busy.  And I have not integrated blogging into my routine of daily activities.

Let's change that.

I should really try to do this on a regular schedule at first... regardless of how little I have to say... (ha ha).  I like to do productive things in the morning... so I think I will try to make an entry in the morning when I have something to say.

Should I try to do this every day?  I will try.

So let's begin...

Friday, November 11, 2016

First Practical Example

Well I have been working on my ESP Widget device and finally have a practical application up and running.  Here it is up and running on my test widget...

What it does is rotate the display between consecutive segments of Interstate 45 as it passes through Houston.  For each segment is will display the average speed and the NeoPixel will be changed to a color corresponding to the speed.

It is actually driven by a backend application that scrapes the public traffic site and formats the data for display on the widget.  Perhaps in time I will publish this as an example.