Flashing Sonoff Wifi Switch

I’m going to flash my Sonoff switches to install a custom firmware on them. I am using the following resources as a reference:

From YouTube:

From the Internet:

  • KmanOz/KmanSonoff firmware – this is a firmware that is designed to work with Home Assistant.
  • Sonoff Tasmota – flexible and fully featured firmware specifically for the Sonoff.
  • ESPurna firmware – this looks like an extremely fully featured firmware that not only supports Home Assistant, but also Google Home, Domoticz, Alexa, and more.

Csongor Varga has a useful Sonoff Cheatsheet here.

Brew Day

Yesterday I had my first all-grain Brew Day! I am making a Belgium Blonde ale based on this recipe kit from The Malt Miller. I used the Brew-in-a-Bag method. I only had a 20L brewing pot, and I filled it with 14L of water which I bought to the boil, and then let cool to 66C. In order to measure the temperature, I used a meat stainless-steel temperature probe. After I bought it, I realised that the packaging says not to completely submerge the probe and cable in water, although it didn’t seem to hurt it. I also experimented briefly with using an infrared thermometer, but the readings from that were totally out. I spent the 90 minutes of Mashing time juggling the temperature. I would let the mash cool to 60C and then lift the bag from the bottom of the pot and heat the mash back to 66-67C.

It was fun adding the Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hops. They had arrived vaccuum-sealed, and there was a delicious smell when I unwrapped them and added them to the Mash.

I made about 19L of Wort, which started fermenting over night. It is bubbling away at the moment. I am really eager to see what this will taste like!

Simple All-Grain Brewing

I am just about to try making my first all-grain home brew beer. Making from grains can be really intimidating. Here is a video going through a very simple Brew-in-a-Bag process. Interestingly he doesn’t do the crash-cooling of the wort which is a core part of the process I’ve seen in other videos.

Using an old phone as an IoT device

An idea I’ve been wanting to do for a while is to use an old phone as an IoT device. A second-hand smartphone is potentially a cheap way to get a processor, screen, and storage. The phone needs to be hackable – I think an operating system like LineageOS or JanOS needs to be installed on it. LineageOS has the best support for different phones. In order to be useful for IoT, the base phone should be extensible to add sensors or micro-controllers.

New Toys!

I’ve had two new toys arrive today! The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ that was released yesterday, arrived today. This is great turn-around by Pimoroni! I’m planning to put Home Assistant on it and use it as a local server.

Continue reading “New Toys!”

New Raspberry Pi 3B+

A new Raspberry Pi was announced this morning – Model 3B+. It has a more powerful 1.4GHz CPU. It has improved networking, both wired and wireless. Wired has a Gigabit Ethernet adapter, although it maxes out at about 300Mb/s. Wireless is 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11b/g/n/ac. The new board has the pins for Power over Ethernet (PoE).

I’ve ordered one to use as a Home Assistant server.

CNC Machining, Mold Making and Resin Casting

The best guide to CNC Machining, mold making, and resin casting that I’ve found online is over at coredump.cx. It is thorough and detailed, and definitely worth studying.

CNC machining (computer control milling) is a “subtractive” method for processing raw material with a drill-like rotating cutter with computer controlled movements of the cutting head.

Michal Zalewski points out that if you can make a mold using CNC milling, the cost of making a small part out of high strength,
engineering grade plastic or tough rubber, is extremely cheap.

He gives practical advice on buying a CNC machine – important factors like mill rigidity to take into consideration.

The part on using resin casting to make the part is excellent too! Go read it!

PCBs, EAGLE and KiCad

SparkFun have a great overview of EAGLE for circuit board design. Unfortunately EAGLE was acquired by Autodesk in 2016, and they have imposed a license server to verify licenses every 2 weeks. KiCad is an alternative Open Source system for all stages of the PCB design process. As KiCad is more in keeping with the Frugal Maker ethos, this is what I will be using to design my circuit boards.

Home Assistant

I’ve been checking out OpenHAB and Home Assistant. I think I will set up Home Assistant in my house. I really like the architecture and the way the code is structured. I’m a big fan of Python too. OpenHAB is written in Java, which I quite like, but for an application like this, I want something that is easier for me to hack.