HobbyingHome AutomationNews

Quite the year

I’ll be pleased to see the back of 2018. The last few months have been so busy that I barely know where they went, hence the radio silence here. Since the cluster headaches which were nearly 4 months ago now work has been extra busy but we’ve managed to get some major projects off the ground and the personal life is starting to emerge once again.


I built an e-bike from an old GT Arrowhead frame and it’s working out even better than I had hoped. I’ve done nearly 300 miles on it and it’s holding up well, I was going to do a blog post on it, but there are endless build-videos out there on YouTube so you’re probably better-off watching one of those for now. I need to learn some servicing techniques as i’m running on borrowed time (and have stopped commuting on it). I want to overhaul the brakes & gears, and add some water resistance before I go showing it off. From what I can tell 2019 is going to be all about electric scooters and bikes in London.

I got the old LCD enclosure project to a decent point before having to put it on-hold for most of the year, I picked things up again at the beginning of December, hoping I could spend some of my vacation days learning about 3d modelling & printing. Sadly I was ill for most of it so I learnt a fair amount but didn’t get to put much into action. I have 3 test prints of the first design and they have all shrunk to the point they no longer fit the screens – joy. Im hoping I can salvage them with a dremel. I’m due to get inducted on the local makerspace laser-cutter later this week so I can run off the component mounts and the rear panels I need to complete these three prototypes. I also worked out the LCD controller got fried somehow, causing inverted colours on the LCD panels. On the plus side, I now have 6 screens from recycled laptops which covers my initial plan of all our 1:1 meeting rooms. Work levels have risen significantly since we first kicked off the dashboard project that inspired these things so the back-end controller dubbed Kodi Kontroller has yet to make it to a production ready version – we’ll see how much progress I make in 2019 as the main developer and I have slightly larger plans for it now.

Tech wise, i’ve been getting my hands dirty on Windows 10 Enterprise and it’s Group Policy / InTune relationship, but my interest is back on DevOps. I spent a couple of days brushing up on my Chef skills whilst down with flu a few weeks ago, and I want to take a look at Kubernetes. I’ve also built an UnRaid server at home out of my old desktop PC to replace an aging Synology. The system is good to go and I have an 8TB parity drive installed as well as an SSD caching drive, but i’m now in need of hard drives. Hopefully Father Christmas is generous… 8tb drives are expensive.

I run a small web-hosting offering in my spare time, and i’ll be looking to automate that as much as possible next year. The main parts being 1-click installers, better backup management, Lets Encrypt automation with reporting and combining everything into one server where possible.

This site has had a dark-theme overhaul, but I can’t decide on what to do with the front-page so it’s gone for now. I may or may not spend some time on that soon, not sure it’s worth the effort currently.

In my home automation adventure i’ve dragged two more victims onto Homeseer, they now have it running 24/7 on a basic level. The whole thing continues to be a solution looking for a problem, mostly implemented by people who shouldn’t be in charge of a puppy – let alone a company. But I still love it. I’ve taken a much less obtrusive approach with it at home of late, focusing on lighting and CCTV with some monitoring. I use the flic hub in the most used areas of the flat with 4 flic buttons, it was a REALLY disappointing experience when I first hooked it up as the range for me is rubbish (flat with thick concrete walls) I almost need a hub per room i want to use a flic in, and they seem to get unhappy if mounted near metal or some electronic devices. I couldn’t get a hidden under-desk button to work and could only put it down to behind directly next to the metal support. It worked fine everywhere else.

I also have a v1 flic that has some sort of hardware issue keeping the battery in place – flic have been rubbish helping with this, but their support guys have been great on everything else. I go long periods of not thinking about the flics just using them as switches in the house, but there is the odd occasion where they fail to work – usually it’s something down the chain but regardless – when you hit a button set to provide light, you want light!! Home automation needs to work on failure modes or more importantly recovery modes – and Windows 10 needs to stop rebooting whenever it feels like! Urgh…

Added VoIP to the house (my mobile drives me crazy) and hoping to switch the family over this christmas as well. It’s time they stopped paying BT 🙂

Milight continues to be a joy and a pain in the behind – my latest issue is due to their never ending addition of control protocols all developers for homeseer plugins have given up supporting it. I’m now left with a 2nd milight hub at home (to add an additional 4 zones to the house) that Homeseer can’t talk to. Very frustrating. I’m going down the route of building an open-source hardware replacement hub, which looks pretty straightforward here but then writing a plugin for homeseer to talk to the new API, rather than the milight hub. The replacement supports endless zones so wouldn’t need doubling up in Homeseer. Again, we’ll see how far I get with that as I have no experience writing homeseer plugins, and i’m pretty sure it’s .net based. One step at a time.

Found a love for techno somewhere along the way this year and managed to finally catch Charlotte De Witte at E1London having missed her at Boomtown thanks to the cluster headaches, she is such a hardworking woman it is simply inspirational to watch. E1 London is also well worth of note, London is known for it’s disappearing nightlife currently and to find a relatively new club taking things so seriously is re-freshing to say the least. Their sound system has been tuned over a period of 6 months to the point that it simply BANGS. It is so on-point words fail me, you must simply go and feel it for yourself. Walls of subs, freaking WALLS of Funktion One.

Hopefully next year will be calmer, with more blogging, more tech and less stress. With brexit looming i’m sure that’ll all be no problem :O