Well, since the PC died I’d been feeling a little disconnected from everything. There’s only so much browsing you can do from a phone and using a work computer. I don’t always bring my work laptop home as I have access to all my files using the cloud. But now, I have a full screen browser: I’m using my spare Raspberry Pi.

I have two Pis. One is in the loft supplying Radar 360 with data of aircraft flying around one hundred miles from my house. The other was in the dining room and ran as a Magic Mirror. The Magic Mirror was my first lockdown project and I really enjoyed it. A problem occurred when I updated the software and it removed all my careful programming. Considering I didn’t use it a lot I decided I would re-purpose the DR Pi and now it is running on the main PC monitor and I have a device I can browse and see web information. I’m almost happy again. I just want my PC working again.


In 1671 apparently not a lot happened in England. Parliament moaned about the rise of Roman Catholicism and someone called Blood tried to steal the Crown Jewels. Around the world I’m sure there was plenty going on but there’s not a lot on Wikipedia. The pope made someone a saint – whatever that really means – and the Ottoman Empire declared war on Poland.

A while back I wrote about connecting my lounge room to the router/modem using an ethernet cable. This was relatively easy as I already had a hole in the wall and the distance wasn’t too bad.

I have a Raspberry Pi in the loft acting as an ADS-B decoder for an aircraft position aggregator site called 360 Radar. For some reason whenever the router reset or rebooted the Pi wouldn’t connect straight away to the wireless network and I had to reboot the Pi as well. This wasn’t bad but mildly irritating. So, after mentioning it at work it was suggested that I hard wire the network in using Ethernet Over Power, which I was, then, already using to keep the entertainment centre wired rather than wireless.

Now, EoP makes a lot of sense. You already have a network of wires in the house and so just adding a high frequency signal into them is easy and won’t affect anything else. How far these signals travel down my street I don’t know. I’d be tempted to plug one in next door and see if I can get a signal there. I have encrypted my signal because I’m not stupid. TP have a utility so you can manage the EoP modules from the PC and I have used it to see what bandwidth I am getting.

Ethernet Over Powerline
Ethernet Over Powerline

As you can see I should be capable of getting 600Mbps over this connection but some things are working against me. The instructions say that these shouldn’t be plugged into extension leads and definitely not multi-gang extensions. Both of them are sorted like that. Who else has that many plug sockets near the IT centre of their house? These aren’t even pass-through modules so that can’t work. To be honest I’m happy with 200Mbps. My internet connection is only 70Mbps and so the EoP can easily handle that. Not that it needs to!

My router/modem has currently an uptime of just over 18 days. In that time the Pi has downloaded 194MB but uploaded 8GB. That’s not a lot really for that length of time.

18 Day Totals are:

  • Pi ADS-B – down 194MB, up 8GB
  • PC – down 900GB, up 66GB
  • PS4 – down 225GB, up 11GB
  • Shield Pro – down 1TB, up 25GB
  • My phone – down 344GB, up 80GB

The other devices aren’t interesting and don’t do as much. The bandwidth of the Ethernet over Power is perfectly suitable for its usage.

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.

It Was Nothing


About a week ago I had been playing Crash Bandicoot quite a bit on the PS4 [ I have to say it’s incredibly frustrating] and one evening when I went to play it the PS4 said the disk wasn’t in. Now, I hadn’t taken it out so I assumed that it must be stuck in the drive somehow without the PS4 recognising it was in there.

I turned the PS4 on and off and tried a few things before looking online and finding plenty of pages that could offer tips on when the disk keeps ejecting but not many for when you can’t eject a disk. Eventually I found a page, and many crappy YouTube videos, of how to prise out a stuck disk. After taking off the shiny cover I had to turn a screw and the disk would slide out.

Except it didn’t.

So, the next step seemed to be to removed the optical drive and see if I could get the disk out that way. For this I needed time and screw drivers. So I spent a while following the dismantle instructions and then realised I need Torx T9 screw driver, which I didn’t have. So, I made the short trip to Halfords and picked up a set.

Once I had returned home I started taking away the screws for the power supply but even with the correct screw driver these didn’t really want to come undone. I was getting frustrated at the screws in the PS4.

At this point my son asked for a torch to see under the chest for some toys. I told him where the torch was and he reported back that he could see a PS4 disk under the chest. Well! That was a surprise. So I went and looked. Obviously it was the Crash Bandicoot disk and I had spend a week trying to get the PS4 to eject a disk it had already puked and somehow left under the chest.

Reasonably cheered by this I went to put the PS4 together again and then test putting in a disk. Check the game ran and then ejected the disk well.

The system is working fine. There wasn’t any need to stress!

Obsessive Pedometry

Since April 2013 I have tracked my daily movement. I started using the rather stylish but shit Up by Jawbone. I bought this while in Washington DC and I loved it. The problem was that they don’t last long. I had three within a year, all replaced by guarantee.

Up by Jawbone
Up by Jawbone

My general thoughts are that this was a new company and reasonably new tech. It seems necessary that their early models would be rubbish to force improvement in the product. The early iPhones were shockingly bad in terms of the technology involved but at least the product worked as advertised.

To see previous communications about the Up by Jawbone, click or touch here.

In October 2015 my final Up band died and I switched to a Garmin Vivofit. Eventually I stopped wearing a watch because the Garmin on my right arm had a clock which pretty much negated the need for a separate timepiece on my left wrist.


At the end of March 2017 I had to replace the batteries in the Vivofit. They had lasted over two years. I don’t recall replacing them before and probably would have written about it within these esteemed communications. The replacement procedure was easy. The device worked within acceptable parameters after syncing with my phone.

While I was in Cyprus I swam in the sea twice in two days. I didn’t take my Vivofit off. I failed to remember that the seal may not have created a seal post battery replacement. On the penultimate day of the trip the Vivofit slowly drowned. I took it off.

When I got back to Blighty I took the Vivofit apart and let it dry out properly for a few days. In the mean time I had started wearing a watch again. I’m not young enough to want to look at my phone for the time. I like my watch. It is a nice looking watch.

I also ordered a Garmin Vivomove as I wanted to track my steps. When this arrived the clock face was too large for my tastes. I didn’t like it. for what it was it seemed quite expensive too. If it had been a third of the price I probably would have kept it and used it occasionally. But the look/price ratio wasn’t the correct magnitude.


When I put the Vivofit back together it seems to work fine. There will be some salt ingestion and I pondered rinsing it out and drying it thoroughly again but I think I won’t. I’m trying to be brave, I’ve taken the batteries out and the Vivofit is currently in a drawer in the bedroom. So, I have decided to give up counting steps.

This unnerves me greatly. But the arguments are sound:

  • I haven’t increased my steps/movement over the last two years. I do try to walk around work a few times a day but that’s not changed for two years.
  • I know roughly how far I have moved because of the years of tracking.
  • I like wearing my watch.
  • Being aware of my steps hasn’t changed my behaviour for a long time.
  • I use different apps for measuring my running and calorific intake.

If I feel too unsettled I can always put the batteries back in the Vivofit and start wearing it again. But overall, I consider this a positive thing. I managed about forty years of my life without a fitness tracker and maybe I can manage some more now. It’s always worth challenging yourself, even if it’s the obsessive part of you.

Too Early (part one)

For too long now I have been an early adopter of new technology [funds dependent]. Sometimes this has caused me issues of new tech surpassing me and then I feel a little left out.

I think the earliest part of trend setting in which I was involved was roller-blading. I know my mum was rather unhappy that I asked for a set of rollerblades (by Bauer) for my 20th birthday. I think she would have preferred that I got an iron or something else sensible. But, I was at university and wasn’t thinking about setting up kit for real-life and houses and things. I practised on the roller-blades during the Easter break from college so I was able to GO|STOP|TURN before I went back to halls. I was one of the first students on rollerblades and one of the first people to rollerblade around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Jason and I would rollerblade around London for an afternoon trying to find the smoothest pavements. It was a good time and I felt as though we were starting something big. In the next few years rollerblading really took off.

In my fourth year at college, a sabbatical year rather than a four year degree, I bought a NICAM Stereo video cassette recorder and linked it up to my new hi-fi amplifier. Watching Star Wars on a 21″ 4:3 CRT television with two hundred watts of sound power blasting out was brilliant and an excellent investment. I remember watching Fry and Laurie on TV and they had a sketch where they played the sound of a telephone ringing. In the early-mid nineties all telephones sounded the same and were plugged into the wall. Whenever they played this effect it sounded as though my phone was ringing! To make the point they put a small picture (now called an icon) in the corner of the television picture whenever they played this sound to save us mere mortals getting up and trying to answer the phone. It was a wonderful piece of television and technology.

Coming up soon in this list of things I-have-bought-before-the-technology-was-mature are HD TV, Speaker docks, wi-fi, mobile phones, pro-logic decoder.

I’m Back

I am back online. I have watched the NFL Super Bowl and don’t have to avoid seeing the result anymore. I managed to watch it on Monday night although I did fast forward the power outage and in the last quarter I had to skip the huddle time. I was getting very tired and knew I could manage to see it all.

It was a thoroughly good match and full of excitement. Really pleased I saw it.

The problem now is that I won’t be seeing any NFL until Septemeber! I’ll have to dust off the Madden game again and complete a championship there. I am considering getting ESPN added to my subscription just so I can see college football but I don’t know what their season is.

New Aquisitions

So, it’s been a busy time. I have bought a new TV to replace my 40″ Sony that I bought in the summer of 2006. I don’t know if six years is a good length of time for a TV. I guess so. The problem is that I am an early adopter of technology [see this post here – currently in draft form].

The old TV was HD Ready which, it turns out, is only 720 lines of beautiful picture. It looked deep and gorgeous in HD. But it was time to upgrade. There were just too many TV advances for me to ignore anymore.

I now have an LG 3D TV. I went for 3D because Gran Turismo will output 3D and I like playing that. Do I think that 3D is a good cinema format? No. But for Gran Turismo . . .

Current TV Room Set Up:

 Home Cinema

Current Equipment:

  • Television – LG 47LM670T
  • AV Amplifier – Sony STR-DN1030
  • BluRay player – Sony BDP-S790
  • Satelite Decoder – Amstrad Sky HD
  • Console – Sony PS3 320Gb
  • Front left and right and passive sub-woofer – Bose Acoustimass Cube
  • Active sub-woofer – Sony
  • Centre, SL, SR, SBR, SBL speakers –  Sony

When I get the chance I also use a Logitech Driving Force Pro steering wheel.