RapidWeaver

Got my first real job in web development in over a year, which was good. Had to spend a few days attempting to fix a coding issues that ended up being a hosting issue. It is all good now, finished way ahead of due date. Added lots of features the client didn’t expect. All and all, RapidWeaver is a time saver and great tool for both big and small jobs.

Computer History – Pricing

Having been into computers for decades the one thing I’ve noticed is the normal price brake for a USEABLE base model computer.  Since my Atari and  Apple II days, the high end, or best computer models always ran about $1200.00. To this day, this price point has continued to hold true.

If you want a computer that will be functional and not go obsolete in a couple of years, expect to pay around $1200. This does not include printers and other peripherals and add ons..

Cheaper options include upgrading an older computer.  You can upgrade RAM and Hard drives that’ll help but most of the time only a stop gap solution.  Giving you a year or so of usability.

This price does not include extended warranties. Plus just because you spend $1200 doesn’t mean you will get a good computer. If I recall IBM and Coleco produced computers that were just junk at any price. Again, just my thoughts.

3D Printing, at last.

For years I’ve been trying to find a 3d printer that works reliably and has good support. Started off with a Makerbot kit, which worked well, for awhile. Then Makerbot went crazy with the pricing and went private, so I lost heart in the company.

From there we switched to Solidoodle 3, Supported Solidoodle Press though a kickstarter, took almost two years to receive and NEVER got a good print out of the unit. The unit looked great though. Back and forth with tech support to the point that they wanted me to send back unit for repair. Which I never did, thank goodness. They were out of business weeks later.

A few weeks ago I received notice from Robo, that they were discounting remaining R1+ units, I jumped at it. So far the unit has printed everything I’ve requested, even prints that took 8 hours. A total first.

The units LEDs stopped working, so I contacted Robo, after a few trouble shooting emails, I have new Lights and a have received answers to all my issues quickly and without a lot of template replies. Fantastic printer at low cost.

FlightAware – PiAware

FlightAware was easy to setup and great fun to use. Can track flights flying over your head leaving contrails spoiling your beautiful blue sky. Get the story about a plane and its current flight. Sharing your data with FlightAware gives you free access to their Enterprise plan, well worth it.

Basically you setup a Raspberry Pi, with a ADS receiver which monitors the airwaves for ADS data from flights within range. The area I live in is rather hilly, so at first I wasn’t happy with the units range so I added an external antenna which dramatically increased my systems range. All and all the system cost about $150. You leave it running, then can remotely monitor you PiAware unit over your network through a browser. Plus you can access your data directly from FlightAware’s site, well your data anyway.

Was able to monitor flights in real time.

You can overlay current weather. You can also spend more for better antennas and higher antenna mounting, which would improve your stations reception.

All and all, great fun, nice use of a Raspberry Pi.

UPDATE: After a year of operation the system stopped sending data. Tried a new USB Receiver,  a new Pi, patch cable, nothing worked. Finally changed the power supply, which was on of the nice Raspberry Pi brand ones, with Power LED. That was it, fixed. Unit was getting power, but I guess it wasn’t getting enough. Odd same power supply worked for a year, then just stopped producing enough power. Oh well..

Observation – Video

For the last few days I’ve been converting old 8mm film to digital and I’ve made some observations. The first is the ‘video’s are short, like old YouTube Videos, only 2 or 3 minutes long. Second, people didn’t know how to focus which  I am sure this was caused by the technology itself not really allowing much ‘reviewing while recording’.  What you shot was what you got, in most cases it was garbage. And people paid lots of money for it, film, developing, etc. And sadly I haven’t found a cheap reliable way to convert film to digital. But haven’t given up hope.

There was no sound either. I had to edit the videos and remove the sounds made by the converting process.

In the end I was able to covert 22 8mm files and a Hi8 tape to MKV and MOV. Taking about 5 gb of space of a total of 16 gb thumb drive. I also provided copies of media players and instructions for use on the thumb drive.

The Cloud – Really!

Just thinking:

After watching the development of “The Cloud” as a marketing tool for software companies, I’ve decided it is a con, a way for the developer to control the user and milk them for more money.

There are a many ways to utilize “The Cloud” the two major ones are as a personal storage space like DropBox, OneDrive (and its many incarnations) and iCloud, and then there is the way Nest and many many Phone apps developers  store your data on their servers for ‘security reasons’. Which is just a nice way of saying, oh yeah, we will charge you an unnecessary amount each month to use their app. After you have a few of these apps, the monthly charges really add up.

What happened to Individual Cloud storage, putting your own NAS on the internet and using that? (Hint: Most users don’t hold the skills to setup, no offense), or their ISP makes it almost impossible.. So everyone has to pay more for less.

 

New Weather Station – 1 of 2

After a long absences I’ve finally be able to return to my technology projects.

The first one I needed to get out of the way is the weather station. Had built one a few years back, but it was destroyed by an ice storm. Therefore I had to built a new one with a more permanent foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attempted to make the system completely wireless but somehow no matter what I tried it would be limited in one way or another. So I ended up using a Raspberry Pi that has a UPS board attached to network using a POE adapter. So the Pi gets its power from the network, although the Pi connects to the network wirelessly. And since we had to run one wire, we ended up pulling a 12 volt dc wire also, this allows the addition of more ‘features’ to the pole.

As you can see there are 4 solar panels, 2 – 6 volt and 2 – 12 volt. At this point they are only being used for a string WS 2801 RGB LEDs powered through solar chargers. Sort of controlled Christmas lights. I am attempting to make the LEDs controllable from web site.

The Weather Station consists of an Arduino with a Sparkfun Weather board and sensor array, with a lightning detector attached. A Raspberry Pi connects to the Arduino and a Relay modular.  Currently everything is crammed into a plastic project box mounted on the pole. Will clean it up once new boxes come in.

My neighbors have a hill behind their house, the hill top is about 300 feet away and the hill is maybe 50 feet high. My plan is to add another weather pole on top of the hill, to see how that affects wind and temperature.

 

 

New Office and lots of networks upgrades.

Our new world wide headquarters (ROFL), are almost complete. Basically a 14×14 foot office with storage room that doubles as a network room. We have power, AC, network, internet, TV and work areas. Everything a small development company needs. We have programs in development and electronic projects on the boards. Hopefully we’ll be posting more projects soon, though we might start with a few project updates:

  • Our Outdoor Sensor Array, will be connected to our solar panels and updated to our new offices needs.
  • Lighting and sound systems.
  • Network improvements

Hope to be posting again soon.