[OT] Just the right type

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When I started in journalism we were still using manual typewriters to hack out copy that we sent to typesetters to be cast in hot metal. Ah, those were the days. Writing about the flowchart template I acquired a while back made me think about another handy bit of plastic that used to be an integral part of my job…. Read more »

BBC Master power supply – repair or replace?

There are three things that are certain in life – death, taxes and blown capacitors in old electronic equipment. But at least you can do something about the last one. Powering up a 35 year-old computer that has sat in a loft for the past two decades is foolish. But we did it anyway. The BBC Master ran fine for… Read more »

WordPress & Docker: solving the ERR_EMPTY_RESPONSE problem

Having messed around with Docker for the web app I’m using with my robot, Sheldon, I decided to dig a little deeper. Well, that’s probably overstating it. What I actually did was follow along with one of the videos from Traversy Media which explains how to create a Docker container to run a WordPress site. Here it is. It’s the… Read more »

Sheldon robot: the web app on Docker

In a previous post, I described how I’m planning to use a web app to communicate with my robot, Sheldon. Well, it just occurred to me that this is a perfect use of containerisation. Time to learn something about Docker. A web app is the perfect solution for this because HTML and JavaScript offer a very simple way to throw… Read more »

Sheldon robot: crash detection

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It’s sometimes handy to know when things are not going well – for example, when your robot’s collision avoidance systems have failed it and the poor, dumb critter has crashed head-on into something. You’d be surprised how often that happens. Work on my robot, Sheldon, is progressing slowly. I’ve just added some infrastructure (not shown in the picture) that will… Read more »

TTGO ESP32 board with OLED display and Adafruit library

These days, there’s a huge amount of support out there for virtually any device you can buy. But every now and again you need to do a bit of head-scratching. So this post is simply my way of helping out anyone who’s going through the same process I just did. I bought a couple of cheap ESP32 boards that have… Read more »

Installing Pi-Hole for a quiet life

Does anyone really like advertising? I think of it as a kind of social disease, something that runs rampant through our society as an unfortunate consequence of our desire for, well, stuff. So I decided to eliminate as much of it as I can, and this drew me to Pi-Hole, a networking app that helps you strip advertising from your… Read more »

MotionEye on DietPi on Raspberry Pi: keeping an eye on things

You know you have a Raspberry Pi problem when you start searching around for projects just to use them up. But then, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery… PiHole? Check. PDP-8 (plus intranet server and MQTT broker)? Check. Alarm clock? Check. Retro radio thing? Work in progress. Dream machine? Also in progress. Dot matrix printer… Read more »

OpenMediaVault on the RockPro64: not a happy tale

It should have been so easy. I wanted to set up a personal cloud server – a beefier version of what I’d already done with an old Pine A64 and NextCloud. And having seen it praised on so many YouTube channels, I went for a RockPro64 as the computer. And not just the RockPro64 – oh no. A NAS case,… Read more »

AVR basics: Using cheap ultrasonic rangefinders

As part of my cunning plan to develop ‘smart’ sensors, I’ve been playing around with infrared rangefinders (and may do a post on those soon). But the first kind of rangefinder I ever tried was the ultrasonic type, so it was time to reacqauint myself. And, in particular, I wanted to see if I could do this on the cheap…. Read more »

Installing Sigrok under Ubuntu on the Alpha

One of the tools I knew I was going to want straight away on my new LattePanda Alpha is Sigrok – or to be more precise, the PulseView logic analyser tool. I already have this running on my old Windows 7 laptop, but who the hell wants to use that, right? However, Sigrok is created by hackers for hackers and… Read more »

LattePanda Alpha: a platform for hacking

A while back I decided that it would be good to have a Linux machine dedicated to my various electronics, robotics and other maker-y projects. I have an Ubuntu VM on my iMac, which is all well and good. But being able to physically plug stuff into the machine is handy. I trawled the web for small form factor PCs,… Read more »

Into the cloud with a Pine64, NextCloud and DietPi

Dropbox is all well and good – good enough, in fact, that I pay for it. But it does have occasional irritations. And if you want to play around with cloud-based stuff, what could be better than having a cloud of your own? I’ve just received a LattePanda Alpha single board computer on which I’m running Ubuntu 18.04. I won’t… Read more »

AVR basics: reading analogue input

It’s an increasingly digital world, but not all information comes packaged neatly in 1s and 0s. Sometimes you have to deal with analogue voltage levels using the microcontroller’s analogue to digital (ADC) converter. Measuring analogue voltages is made easy in Arduino projects because the IDE comes with a handy analogRead() function. Providing your input voltage does not exceed what the… Read more »