Black Magic Mirror – Day Fourteen

I’ve spent some time in the last week getting a Raspberry Pi running on my new “spare” TV. I put a new Philips TV into the lounge last week and wrote about that in this communication. I’m coming up to personal isolation day 13. This means I’ve kinda had time to program another Raspberry Pi and get it displaying information on the spare TV. I wanted to have a map of the aircraft in the sky near me and I might eventually look into writing a script that will automatically reload a webpage with password every ten minutes and put it in full screen.

I already have a Raspberry Pi in the loft. It is receiving aircraft ADS-B signals and decoding them. It then feeds the results to 360 Radar, an aggregator website that then publishes all the positions. I wrote about that quite a bit. Just use the search function and find ADS-B.

This time I was working with a program called Magic Mirror. It should be used with silvered glass to create a display mirror but I just want it for the display. The initial program was easy to load and get working. The trickier thing was getting custom modules loaded and then get their parameters working correctly. I had to edit js files all the time and so I found that irritating but rewarding. It’s all about the syntax, which I got eventually.

Magic Mirror Display
Magic Mirror Display

Basically the elements are:

Top_Left – Current date and time.

Top_Center – Two calendars of upcoming things.

Bottom_Center – Three RSS news feeds. One from each of the BBC, Defence Blog and The Guardian. These change at different rates depending on how much there is to read.

Top_Right – Current weather. The temperature is measured in Kelvin – because why would you measure it in anything else? Also, this updates every ten minutes or so.

Top_Right – A weather forecast of the next six days of weather. Again, temperatures in Kelvin.

Center_Right – A feed displaying what is playing on the home SONOS system and in which rooms.

Bottom_Right – which lights are on in the house. I mean I could just look around my house because it’s that small but why would you when you can have the information displayed on a screen.

Bottom_Left – My proudest part of this display. A section devoted to which aircraft are closest to my house and [now] where they are. It takes a feed from the Raspberry Pi in the loft which is decoding ADS-B signals. So, not all aircraft will be shown here but most interesting ones will be. Given that there’s so little flying at the moment the top ten closest aircraft are going out to 180km. Once the world returns to normal it will interesting to see how far out this goes. About 50km I reckon.

Black Mirror Display
Black Mirror Display

The picture above has the added details of how far the aircraft are from my house and in which direction.

This project has taken about ten hours of putting together and playing with the software. I think it is mostly finished. There are a couple of small things and I’m investigating them over time. At the moment the Pi starts in the wrong resolution if the TV isn’t turned on before the Pi. I have looked at this and it seems to be all levels of wrong so I don’t know how to fix it. I have googled like an expert and pretty much figured out what it isn’t. I’d really like the Pi to turn on at a particular time and turn the TV on at the same time. I think this is possible but will take much work.

I currently have the Pi plugged into a Philips Hue smart plug that means I can turn it on and off from anywhere. This is a helpful feature. The TV is then set to turn off after a short while without receiving a signal.

I do feel quite smug at the moment. Also as the TV showed up two RAF aircraft earlier. They must have had their ADS-B signals on and so were cargo/passenger planes. All in all I’m a happy chap.

Infrastructure Dec 2019

Since early 2014 I have written communications on here detailing the kind of equipment I have in the house in terms of internet-networking-stuff. The first communication, January 2014, detailed the set up of the house. I then updated this in February 2017 with the expanded view of the network. There have been some changes. I go through phases of trying to simplify the equipment and getting it to work in the easiest method possible. This is needed every now and then as when items are first set up the quick method is used and this might not be the best. Changes happen over time.

Infrastructure 201912
Infrastructure 201912

The principle changes to the system are the addition of a smart lighting system and the network that runs on along with a wired connection to the lounge cluster running with a gigabit switch. The original 10/100 switch now runs clusters B, C and D. I will admit that the picture isn’t that pretty but given I’m not a graphic designer and I also don’t really care what you think I’ll leave it as it is. I will also admit that this is the second import of that picture because on the first one I forgot to add the AV amp [disaster!].

Other minor changes to the network are the removal of the freesat box and a complete reliance on streaming services, I wrote about that in this communication a year ago. I have no wireless television signals connected to the television, be that a satellite signal or via the television aerial on the chimney. I also now have home voice control via the Google boxes, it’s nice telling the house what lights to turn on. I have written about that but I can’t find it, see my explanations here.

The Clusters

A – The, so called, gigabit computing cluster. This is basically a PC which is now old and a NAS drive which stores all kinds of media and files. The wireless printer is in this cluster but it’s not really gigabit, you know what I mean.

B – The ADSB receiver. I send MLAT and ADSB data to 360Radar. I use a Raspberry Pi connected to a tuned aerial and decode the data before sending it to the cloud somewhere. When this system was wireless there were occasionally issues with the Pi connecting and so I now have it wired through an ethernet over power line connection. This connection runs greater than 100Mbps which is good enough.

C – The lights. I can control the lights in the house either by speaking, using the PC or via a connection from my phone. I can also control them when I am remote from the house. This is handy as I can get the lights on before I walk into the house. I could have this set using location settings but I’m not going to do that. Some lights come on at sunset and shortly before sunrise which is pretty neat. I also bought a light switch which is near the front door for the olds to use.

D – House sounds. The Sonos system is pretty impressive still and used everyday. The Sonos can read songs stored on the NAS or even stream podcasts and radio stations via the internet. While I haven’t set up voice control on this, I can but I don’t like the interface, I can control this system using the PC or phone.

E – The lounge cluster. Yesterday I wired this in using a network cable to which I attached RJ45s. I had to do this as the cable had to fit through a hole in the wall which is smaller that the connector. It was an interesting learning experience fitting my own cable. I also bought a gigabit switch for the lounge and now the devices in there can link to lumps in the computing cluster at high speed. I didn’t have any streaming issues but I just wanted to know that it was future-proof for a little while anyway. The lounge has a smart TV [it’s not that smart as I bought it before decent firmware], Blu-ray player, PS4, Amp and Nvidia Shield streaming device for watching stuff.

F – The wireless cluster. This is basically everything else. There’s a phone, an old tablet and also the Google home pieces. There is a normal Google home and two minis. These are placed strategically around the house to allow for voice control to work wherever you are.

I guess I’ll write another of these in a few years time when I consider the network to have changed significantly. Until then, happy buying of technology.

Infrastructure Update

It’s about time I updated the home network diagram from this communication. The original communication was written in January 2014 so three years seems a reasonable length of time for an update. It shouldn’t really be a surprise that the network has grown. There are some notable additions:

  • Raspberry Pi
  • Wireless Printer

I don’t have any “smart” kitchen appliances or anything like that, I’m not sure I see the point of them! Click the picture for a pdf file.

Infrastructure – Home Network

In 2001 I first got internet access and a home PC. I think it was 2001, it was either then or 2002! It was dial-up access with a bandwidth of around 56Kb/s I first got broadband and wireless in about 2004 or so. Since then I would agree with the “new” hierarchy of needs with Wi-Fi at the base. I feel definitely lost when I don’t have internet access, especially when my phone has no data signal too.

This is a diagram of my home network. Just because I wanted to, you know? This is an hour of my life I won’t get back, but was worth it. Click for a PDF.