NatureBytes Camera Kit Part-II

In Part-I of this series, I introduced the NatureBytes KickStarter project and finally got around to building the kit I ordered in 2015. I want to hack it so I can capture photos/ videos at night. I need to identify what nocturnal animals are exploring my yard overnight.

The Camera Kit is simply – Fantastic! Details of the kit and the build instructions can be found here. The first thing that struck me was the quality of the bright green case. This thing is an engineering marvel.

Continue reading

NatureBytes Camera Kit Part-I

On June 24, 2015, a NGO named NatureBytes began a KickStarter campaign to raise money for a wildlife camera kit based on the Raspberry PI. Based in Berkshire UK, west of London, this conservation group set out to encourage kids to get off the couch and explore nature.

Within a month, the campaign raised £34,164 from 303 backers.  This was 108% over the goal of £28,995.  At that time, Ol’ Sopwith was living in London and was one of 50 backers who pledged £85.

It was expected the kits would ship in December of 2015, but there were delays caused by the complicated molding process used in creating the cases. I followed the updates closely because I felt their pain. Anybody who has ever been involved in the injection molding process of plastics knows how difficult this can be.

Continue reading

The AM2315 “How-To” – Updated

As promised, I have updated the AM2315 temperature sensor “How-To” document for modern times. The changes include:

  • The removal of the obsolete quickwire library that caused so much pain.
  • Removing quickwire also removed the dependency on Python3.
  • Added the very capable i2c library tentacle-pi written by lexruee.
  • Use of the Raspian Switch OS means these instructions work on any Pi.
  • Streamlined 6-Step process.

I have tested the new procedures on every Pi that I have in the drawer. This includes a Pi v1, v2, vA+, v3, and the Pi Zero. Yup – they all work using the same software and the same pinout. Sweet!

You can download the new document and test script here.

For all of you that have contacted me in the last couple of months trying to get your sensor working, I apologize for the delay in getting this document updated.

Sopwith

The AM2315 Sensor – Revisited

Hello fellow smoke-breathers. Sorry about the very long absence from my blogging duties.  I intend to be more active now that I no longer travel so much.

Over the last several months I have received some Emails telling me the AM2315 temperature sensor code I wrote long ago no longer works. There are a lot of reasons for this. First, the Google code repository has been taken down and folks are having trouble finding the quick2wire code libraries. They are now posted here.

Second, there were some hardware changes made to the Pi-3 and Pi Zero that broke the sensor detection code in my AM2315.py script. Finally, the use of the quickwire code is difficult due to its size and complexity. There are better i2c code libraries available now.

Since the AM2315 is still a popular hacking sensor, I will plug in an alternative i2c library, test the code on the latest Pi’s, and update the ‘How-To’ document.

Standby for the update – ‘ol Sopwith is working on it.

Sopwith

HP Responds to the Locked Down Cartridge Debacle

In my last post, I railed about the HP decision to lock down their printer firmware to prevent third party print cartridges from working. Interestingly enough, there has been enough of a backlash that HP decided to respond.

This article from ars TECHNICA describes how HP reacted to the consumer backlash by providing a special firmware upgrade that will bypass the new 3rd party cartridge restriction.

It appears HP has backed off from this crazy nonsense (temporarily) because of pressure from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) summarized in a letter from Cory Doctorow.

Here is the response from Jon Flaxmen, CEO of HP, Inc. Read it carefully and note the nuance.

Continue reading

It’s Time to Find a New Printer Vendor (Shame on you HP!)

I came across this interesting article over at the Wired web site this week. Seems like HP does not like customers who buy their printers to use non-HP ink cartridges. HP has modified the firmware in their OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro, and OfficeJet Pro X printers to reject any ink cartridge that is not theirs. Essentially they have DRM’d these printers.

It is one thing to know this going in when you bought the printer; but to lock down the device after you purchase it, is evil. For example, if I walked in, say a BestBuy, and was interested in buying a new printer, and the sales guy says, “Remember, if you buy this HP printer, you can only use genuine HP printer cartridges.” Knowing this in advance, I can make an informed decision if I am OK with this “limitation.” If not, I buy something else.

This is not what happened here.

Continue reading

When it Doesn’t Work – Sometimes it’s Painful

As you well know, the theme of this blog is: “It is works out of the box – what fun is that?” Ol’ Sopwith loves it when things don’t work! That means you have to fix it. Fun!

Today was one of those days when “fixing it” was not fun.

I run a backup server that takes care of all my backup chores. Had it running for years. On all my computers, I run an rsync backup script that backs up everything to this server. The server has a pair of hot-swap SATA drives that get rotated to a fire safe on a regular basis. This setup has served me well.

Continue reading

Excellent Customer Service

Now that I have had a couple of days to use my shiny new Dell XPS-13 (see Part-1 and Part-2), I realized that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS was taking a long time to shutdown. When the shutdown shutdown screen appeared, I hit the <Esc> key to watch the shutdown sequence. It was hanging on several shutdown tasks.

Lots of Googling determined this is a well know issue going back several Ubuntu releases. In one post, it was mentioned that the issue was caused by the Private Internet Access (PIA) client. It just so happens that Sopwith uses this great tool. I have had an account with them for about a year. When my Dell XPS-13 boots, PIA automatically connects to the nearest access location and gives me VPN privacy at all times. I use it on Mrs. Sopwith’s Windows box, and several of my Android phones. It just works.

I disabled the client, rebooted, and then shutdown the laptop. It shut down within a few seconds. Bingo – maybe the PIA client was not accepting the shutdown request.

Even though this problem was annoying – it was not a big deal to me. But just for the heck of it, I decided to submit a technical support issue to PIA so they were aware this might be an issue.

Continue reading

10 Million Raspberry Pi’s

Ebon Upton announced in a blog post on September 8, 2016, that 10 million Rapsberry Pi’s have been sold. This is an incredible feat in the middle of an incredible story. The world is a better place because of people like Ebon and his dedicated team. To top it all off, Ebon is the nicest and most humble guy you could ever meet.

Congratulations and thanks for the coolest gadget of all time.

Sopwith